What do you picture when you think of the Greek Islands? Blue-domed churches? Romantic beaches? Postcard-perfect ocean views?
Well, I have good news for you: the Greek Islands ARE full of these things, and plenty more besides.
My first brief taste of Greece did not go so well; I felt no connection at all to the mainland cities like Athens and Thessaloniki that I visited last year. But the Greek Islands? They promised to be different.
So, when I began planning the Europe leg of my round-the-world trip earlier this year, a couple of weeks in the Greek Islands was the first thing I put on my itinerary. And I am SO glad that I decided to go back to Greece — because the islands BLEW. ME. AWAY.
I'll be going into a lot more depth on each of the 5 islands I visited on my tour with Intrepid Travel (as well an overview of the tour itself) in the coming weeks, but I wanted to start off with what I'm dubbing “My Big Fat Greek Islands Photo Essay” — as much Greek Islands goodness as I can cram into one post.
My introduction to the Greek Islands was Syros, a marble-paved, smallish-sized island in the Cyclades. There were basically no tourists on this island in early September, and so it was the perfect place to get used to the “slow-slow” pace of life in this part of the world.
If you want to party, Mykonos is the island to visit. With its Paradise and Super Paradise beaches being world-famous (and also very gay-friendly) and its nightclubs being packed even in September, Mykonos was a fun second stop.
Santorini. Ooooh, Santorini. This is the island you see all the postcards of blue-domed churches from. And its cliff-top villages of Fira and (especially) Oia did not disappoint in the least.
A more rural island (yet still known for its party scene), Ios really surprised me with how pretty it was — in a sort of rugged, brown kind of way. If you want contrasts, you'll find them here.
The last island we visited was also the largest — in fact, Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, requiring bus rides to get to its tiny, aging villages. It's also a fairly mountainous island, which was not something I was expecting to find.
Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks, because there's a lot more where this came from!
Based on photos, which Greek island would YOU most want to explore?
*Note: I received a complimentary Greek Islands tour from Intrepid Travel through my partnership with them. All opinions, though, as always are entirely my own.
Agreed! It totally lived up to my expectations, which is saying something since just about EVERYone has certain expectations of the Greek Islands.