Greece has 6,000 islands, and 227 of those are inhabited, and island hopping isn't quick. Island hopping can be costly, so I'd choose which islands to visit wisely. With that said, you can't go wrong no matter which island you pick my recommendation is to use the map to help you determine which islands to visit. This blog is about my time on the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Hi, my name is Toni Reid, and I love to travel, I want to inspire others to do the same despite having a 9-5. From the port of Piraeus, I arrived at the island of Mykonos by the Champion Jet Ferry in three hours which was an interesting experience because they loaded us like a herd of animals. I'm not trying to be disrespectful but it is the most accurate description, in my opinion. Once the ferry arrived at the port, everyone boarded basically at the same time, drop your bags off to the side (literarily), and proceed up the stairs to my assigned seat. Although this is probably standard it was the worse part of my experience but my boat was quite lovely. It was like a plane and train ride combined. The ferry had leather seats, a snack bar, air-condition, plug and play entertainment, and access to the balcony to enjoy the Aegean Sea as I cruised the sea. At deboarding, I was met with a crowd of people offering transportation to hotels and excursions. I'd recommend coordinating your ride to your hotel in advance to avoid confusion. Once I found my private driver, we took to the winding mostly unpaved roads up and around cliffs mostly that had no railings (scary), but the view was impressive as it overlooked the harbor. I finally arrived at my perfect city-centered accommodation, petinos Mykonos hotel.
Although a heavily touristy destination, the island certainly lived up to its reputation and was not short on entertainment and visual stimulation. After my eight-minute bus ride from my hotel to Little Venice, I walked through a cobblestone parking lot, down a set of wide stairs and towards the Aegean Sea for a more intimate experience. The picturesque town of "Little Venice" was one of my favorites and goodness this place was gorgeous with its whitewashed houses and landmarks. On the left were the iconic Mykonos Windmills of Kato Mili. To the right were several perfectly cozy little restaurants, boutiques, clubs like 180 Degrees Sunset Bar, Scarpa bar, and Montparnasse. The piano bar, right on the water, and locals made it a perfect opportunity to sit and sip while gazing at the sea. The Greek Islands is not Athens because it's more expensive in comparison, but isn't that relative? A must photo opp was atop the Paraportiani Orthodox Church and walks along the winding street of Matoyianni that were adorned with bougainvillea.
I enjoyed gazing at the clear turquoise sea during my free buffet breakfast in the Blue Myth Restaurant each morning. One of the great things about my hotel location was I was steps away from the famous Platis Gialos Beach, where I did a "fish pedicure." Fish pedicures is popular in Greece, and mine was free because I just sat on the edge of the wall by the sea and dipped my feet into the Aegean ocean. Next, it was Mykonos South Coast Beach Hopping Boat Tour time with a stop at Ornos, Psarou, Paradise that had plenty of places to eat, drink, and shops right on the beach. Super Paradise, which is known as the party beach, Paraga beach, and the largest beach area is known as Elia, and this beach it's typical for nudism. Imagine my surprise when deboarded my boat and saw nothing but males and females strolling the beach in their birthday suits, but when in Rome, right so I yes, I joined in? On another day, I take advantage of my travel rituals, which are getting up with the birds to and explore my destination without the distraction of people, cars, or noise. I hiked The Platis Gialos Beach, up the coastal path towards Paraga Beach. It is a narrow and winding path uphill towards a cliff to watch the orange sunrise, and it was amazingly peaceful and beautiful to watch!
Disembarking my ferry at arguably the most beautiful of all Greek islands with its colorful villages and world-famous sunsets. The beaches along the Santorini coast are comprised mainly of dark, volcanic sand, giving them quite a different appearance than your typical sandy beach. This is because Santorini is a big C surrounding the caldera (active volcano area). My hotel the Rosebay was not the city center. Still, it was located on Kamari Beach, which is considered one of the best beaches Santorini has to offer in comparison. Many restaurants are offering local food and drink and water sports. My hotel did not meet 4-star standards, and the pictures of the property are not an accurate representation. The room aesthetics are unappealing, and there was more of a retired community throughout the property.
The second form of income in Santorini Greece is their wineries, which can resemble parts of Italy with their countryside landscape. Still, the views of the caldera and volcanic cliffs are what make Venetsanos Winery unique. Similar to most wineries, you can pick your own wine or do a winery tour. I elected for a winery tour and tasting at the Venetsanos Winery in Megalochori, Santorini. My journey ended with me being taken to the downstairs terrace, being seated at a small table with breathtaking views of the sea. It was a pleasant experience as opposed to lining the glasses up at a bar. I'm not a drinker. Still, the ancient Greek tradition of wine sampling was an experience I was not going to miss. The Venetsanos Winery is the very first industrial winery on the Greek Island of Santorini, and they have great hospitality to match.
Fira (Thira) and Oia - la Village
Fira is atop a high cliff overlooking the blue water of the Aegean, and it's not only the biggest town in Santorini, but it is also the island's capital. Whenever you see pictures of Santorini, it's most likely Fira and Oia. The worse news about Fira is it is usually very crowded. I was able to escape the winding streets to explore hidden chapels, arching doorways, and sunbathing cats.
Oia is as gorgeous as they say! Situated on top of a cliff with a spectacular volcano and the island of Thirassia. At the entrance of the village, there is a parking lot where visitors can leave their vehicles to include tour buses. This parking lot isn't that big compared to the amount of traffic it gets. From there, you'll enjoy a long walking path where there are expensive restaurants, great shopping, and incredible chic hotels hiding inside caves, and local homes. It also has small taverns and coffee shops. Oia is the place to go for the classic view of Panagia Platsani church dome. It was super crowded combined with those turns and twists of the paths made it difficult for the pirates manipulate but luckily I had a private tour guide. To show me Down one of these narrow streets, I enjoyed an excellent chicken pita gyros at Lucky's Souvlakis before I stumbled upon breathtaking views of the blue domes and white houses. around and manipulate the streets of the town fast.
The Armeni is a tiny port that is 350-400 meters (1,312.3360 Feet) under Oia at the bottom of the village. Armeni used to be the main pier, but luckily for us, it's the home of small yachts and boats that are also available for rent. But before getting to the port, there is an amazingly scary descend to get to the Bay! One option down the unstable Red rocks and pumice is to take 275 steep steps down. Another is to ride a mule, donkey, or you can ride in a vehicle down a really steep, narrow, and curvy road, which is how I arrived at the Ammoudi Bay. Once at the bottom, a must experience is the Taverna Katina seafood restaurants, where I totally enjoyed the photo ops overlooking the deep blue sea. The finale was my cruise on the Catamaran party yacht complete with great Greek food & drinks. The party yachts made unforgettable stops at the hot springs and Palea Kammeni island, where I jumped in for a swim. There was plenty of room to layout, dance, and for everyone to have an unobstructed spot on the yacht to watch the impressive sunset! Check out my blogs about my time in Athens and Delphi for more inspiration.