Paros sits in the heart of the Aegean Sea and has both modern and traditional aspects to suit your tourist wishes. It has stunning Cycladic and Venetian architecture, good nightlife, beautiful beaches, isolated villages and historical monuments. It also has fantastic water sports available on the beaches. It isn’t one of the most popular islands but is a good start to an island-hopping holiday for the authentic Greek experience.
Next, you can go to Naxos; a self-sufficient island even though it’s a forty-five minute to one-hour ferry from Paros. Like Paros, it has Venetian towers, magical churches, villages, mountains and beautifully eerie caves. The water surrounding it is a famous turquoise blue like most of the Aegean, and it even has its own castle which has been inhabited for centuries.
Then, prepare to party in Ios – one of the most famous party islands in Greece! The clubs and bars are open until dawn in Hora (the capital town of the island), perfect for letting loose after a relaxing few days on beaches, and seeing cultural and historical monuments. For those studying Classics or English Literature (or anyone who’s a bit of a literature geek!), you can visit Homer’s grave on this island. That’s if he even existed, of course! You’ll also be able to find the largest known settlement of the Protocycladic period amidst the night-time chaos. This island, though known only really for its wildness, just proves that Greece has it all to offer: history, culture and party.
Of course, if this isn’t your cup of tea, you’re still in Greece – you will always be able to find a cheap, family-run taverna!
Santorini proves to be a good next stop after Ios; one of the most popular Greek islands, known for its crystal-clear beaches and pristine white and blue houses, it’s rather popular with celebs these days, meaning that it’s certainly a place for a treat. It has a plethora of upmarket restaurants, clubs and beach bars. Of course, if this isn’t your cup of tea, you’re still in Greece – you will always be able to find a cheap, family-run taverna! Santorini is actually the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Arc, though what remains today is a water-filled caldera that you will likely see as you head to the port of the island. For this reason, unlike the other islands, Santorini has little architectural history because of its past eruptions.
Finally, a perfect stop is Mykonos. Viewed as Santorini’s twin, Mykonos has picturesque blue and white houses alongside its Caribbean-like beaches. The party never stops in Mykonos too, as the gay capital of Greece, there’s always somewhere to have fun.
This tour of the main Cyclades Islands is the perfect way to capture Greece as it explores Greek culture, history, party and amazing food. Though if you aren’t keen on doing the island-hopping thing, a recommendation I would stress is Kefalonia. It’s the largest of the Ionian islands in the West of Greece, known for its popularity with turtles. You can even visit to help save the baby turtles who struggle to reach the sea from the beach on their own! Like Paros and Naxos, it has plenty of Venetian architecture and history. It was also ruled by Britain at one point and France at another, so the stamps of different countries can be found all over the island. It has caves to explores, amazing mountains, restaurants galore and has a great nightlife. In my experience, after having been to five other islands, I felt it really captured the essence of Greece.
Of course, for all Greek destinations, summer is the best time to go. By June the highs of temperature can be around 27 degrees Celsius which has been known to raise to around 35 degrees Celsius by August. It’s normal to stay above 20 degrees Celsius towards the end of September, so can make a perfect break before returning to University.
Greece is one of my favourite places in Europe because it really does have everything, so give it a go!
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