I want to start by saying that Greece may have just topped the list as my FAVOURITE country in the world – bold statement I know. While this is not the place you want to be in the winter, the summer here is like no where else. The clear blue waters, incredible beaches, amazing food, white washed buildings and relaxed and welcoming people give this country its own unique signature. As I didn’t spend much time on the mainland (even though I definitely will one day) the main focus of this post is the well known Cyclades -Santorini, Paros and Mykonos. I have two other posts on Greece – one on my time in Kalymnos in the Dodecanese as well as one on Athens. I highly recommend reading these if you have the time or are heading to Greece in the near future.
It’s so hard choosing which islands to go to and so hard to see them all but honestly, while each island has its own character, all in all every single one of these islands is absolutely stunning. You cannot go wrong.
An island on the bucket list of many, Santorini definitely lived up to expectations. If you are looking for those picturesque white washed buildings overlooking the caldera than make sure you stay in Oia. While staying in Oia is extremely expensive, especially if you want a caldera view, we really lucked out with our accommodation. We stayed at a place called Hotel Aethrio which I cannot recommend more. The location was perfect and while we didn’t have caldera views, our hotel backed onto the main strip of Oia and was great value. The meals in Santorini are also extremely expensive and that is where the majority of our money went. We had our own kitchenette at Aethrio so if you are on a budget this place is somewhere you should definitely consider. The other major town you could consider staying in is Thira (Fira) which is the town where the ferries come in.
When in Oia, its impossible to take a bad photo on the main strip along the caldera. There are so many amazing restaurants along this strip that I don’t think you can really go wrong. All I can say is make sure you try the fava! Fava is a yellow split pea dip and santorini is famous for it for a reason… Yummmm!
Also check out Byzantine castle and walk down to Amoudi Harbour on the west side of the town. While it is 300 steps to the bottom this is where you can have a drink literally right on the water and can see the iconic donkeys. My shoe broke as soon as I got to the bottom so I had to walk back up the 300 steps of hot pavement barefoot, avoiding donkey s#*t… So no complaining please people. You can also find a nice beach if you walk around the island from the port and do the swim to the Isle of Saint Nicholas. From here you can get a view of Oia and the caldera and if you are brave enough you can do some cliff jumping into the clear blue waters.
Make sure you view at least one sunset from the Amoudi Harbour/Byzantine Castle side of the town. There are a lot of people so you might get lost in the masses however there are also a lot of side streets. We managed to find a fairly secluded spot… A once in a lifetime experience <3.
Another absolute must is to rent ATV’s and drive around the island. Everyone always talks about Santorini and its white washed buildings but one thing no one ever mentions are the beach bars and cabanas from Perissa to Perivolos beach. With more of a South American vibe than European, if you are looking for a bit of a party scene or are a backpacker or solo traveler on a budget you should definitely consider accommodation here. A stark contrast to romantic Oia.
As we were short on time we didn’t get to see the Red beach or Akrotiri, the remains of ancient ruins that were destroyed by a volcano (Santorini’s version of Pompeii). I have heard though that you can hire boats and go beach hopping all along that south western coastline (Mesa Pigadia, White Beach, Kambia and Red Beach) which Im sure would be amazing.
My favourite island in the cyclades! The overlooked girl next door that is the perfect mix between insane party animal Mykonos and alluring supermodel Santorini.
The two main towns are Parikia and Nousa. While Nousa is beautiful and I definitely recommend going, we only made it there for a few hours to look around the port. Since we spent most of our time in Parikia and stayed in Parikia that’s all I can really talk about in regards to Paros. We stayed at Hotel Dina which was perfect! Dina owns the hotel and still runs it herself so it felt like more of an Airbnb than a hotel. It was also in the heart of Parikia and we had our own beautiful terrace overlooking a blue domed church and the cobblestone pathways.
There are so many places to eat scattered throughout the town especially along the main strip along the water. The best Euros we had in Greece (aside from in Kalymnos of course ;P) were along this strip at a place called Brizoladiko Steakhouse. The meals here were amazing, massive and cheap. We actually got our left overs take away because they were so big and ate the rest for dinner on the beach while we watched the sunset. Also do yourself a favour and go to Vanilla Gelato. Choosing only two flavours from this place was probably the most stressful part of my trip. They are all soooo good!
If you are looking for nightlife there are two main places to go out (that we could find anyway). Start off at the Alga Bar for a few drinks and then work your way to the Dubliner. These places don’t really kick off till later though (like after 11) as most people don’t eat dinner till around 9/10.
While there is a beach to the south of this main strip there is a larger, nicer beach to the north called Livadia Beach. If you walk up there you will find reclining chairs on the beaches and people offering massages… the perfect place to spend your day or cure your hangover. You can also hire ATV’s and go exploring to find your own beaches outside of the main towns. Another thing a lot of people do is to take a boat to some of the nearby islands including Antiparos to see the antiparos caves. Definitely upset I missed the chance to do this, but Paros, I’ll be back for you.
“Welcome to the jungle ladies” were the first words we heard when we got off the ferry… Pretty much sums up Mykonos. We stayed at Stellios which was a great location in Mykonos Town however in order to have the view you had to climb the stairs (which sucks when you fall off a table at Tropicana and sprain your ankle on the first night… things to consider right?). I would recommend staying either in the town like we did or on the beaches down by paradise or super paradise beach. Paraga is also a good cheap area for backpackers.
While the town has a ton of bars and clubs the main attraction is the beach bars. I need to go back to Mykonos as we only managed to see Paradise beach. At 26 it was still amazing and so much fun and everyone our own age told us that it was way better than super paradise but I am yet to draw that conclusion on my own. From what I had heard -Paradise (for the youngens), super paradise (for those over 20) and Paraga (for backpackers). If anyone has anything to add please comment on the post! Would be nice to have a better idea for the next time I go back. We only really had one solid night of partying as my friend busted her ankle and as it was just the two of us we took it easy from then on out. I guess we made the most of our first night in Paradise. I don’t have many photos from paradise beach (Because… and don’t judge me A/ I got a little too drunk and B/ I mostly took videos and I’m too cheap to pay to put them up on my blog) but take my word for it, it really is an awesome experience to be partying right on the sand like that. One thing is that you CANNOT rely on the taxis at all simply because there are not enough of them on the island. Busses will be your main mode of transport so if you plan on getting hammered every night definitely stay at the beaches as you won’t want to be bussing back to the town.
Other things to see and do on the island apart from relaxing on the beautiful beaches is exploring the town. Walk around the harbour and explore the cute side streets. Make sure you see the windmills which have an incredible view and also go and see little venice. Its all extremely beautiful.
I hope this has given you a bit of an insight into these islands and has either increased your excitement for your upcoming holiday to Greece or has motivated you to finally book those flights. If you have any comments on these islands (or on any of the greek islands to be honest) please message me or comment below! I’d love to hear from you!
Amberlee Jane xx