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The top five, must-see Greek Islands


About Travel Like A Local

Travel for me is an opportunity to get a glimpse into another culture's day-to-day.

I'm no professional traveller, but I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.

 


Each island has its own unique personality. Here, I break down the best.

In the two years that I lived in Europe, I spent three summers on the Greek Islands.

I could talk all day about how Greece is paradise. Every island has it’s own personality that sets it apart from it’s neighbours. Is it quiet, is it busy, is it traditional or not? Is it known for beaches or climbs, for fresh seafood or fresh fruit?

Over the four months I spend exploring 13 islands, here are my top picks that are a must-see on your next trip to the Mediterranean.

Naxos

Our Greek home away from home. Three out of three trips included a stint on Naxos and I can wholeheartedly say it’s my favourite place in Europe. This island is everything you want and more.

Read more from Travel Like A Local: Six local foods you must try in Europe

Naxos is the perfect balance between tourist and tradition, to the point where you end up feeling like a local. It boasts great beaches, awesome food, the friendliest locals and cheap accommodation. But it’s more than that. Naxos has the X-factor. A must, must, must see.

Top tip: Hire a car and stay out on Agia Anna for a few days. This is the island’s nicest stretch of coast for swimming and there are some fantastic restaurants, bakeries and cafes out there. It's about a 15-minute drive into town.

Portara, Naxos Island.

Portara, Naxos Island

Crete

Crete has something for absolutely everyone. As the largest of all the Greek islands, you may want to plan multiple stops.

Heraklion, a port city, is a must for history buffs. Famous historical sites such as the Palace of Knossos will blow your mind.

Looking for more of a quiet retreat? Try Bali, a little seaside village, which is great for a rela day of kayaking or paddleboarding.

But the real star of the show is Chania. Absolutely stunning. Having a traditional Greek dinner along the beautiful harbour every night will ensure you never want to leave.

Top Tip: Don’t rush into ordering desserts at dinner. Most restaurants will give you a complementary dessert or bottle of ouzo to finish off your meal. Yamas!

Flights from Australia to Athens start at around $1300 return with

Old Venetian Harbour, Chania.

Old Venetian Harbour, Chania

Santorini

What kind of a list would this be without Santorini? 

Yes, it’s full of tourists. Yes, it’s massively overpriced compared to its neighbouring islands. But you’ve got to give credit where it's due - Santorini is the epitome of a Greek island experience.

The bright-blue and crisp white, the photographic cliffsides, all the women in their flowing linen dresses. I’m more drawn to the traditional, quiet islands so I’m not sure I’d go back, but Santorini is truly something to tick off the bucket list.

Top Tip: Book a day tour over to Nea Kameni, a small, uninhibited volcano just off the main island. Climb to the top of the black volcano and then continue the tour to the natural hot springs, famous for their healing powers.

Nea Kameni Volcano.

Nea Kameni Volcano

Andros

If you’re looking for something much quieter, try Andros.

I was just about brought to tears while hanging out the window of our taxi, taking in the incredible coastline from the ferry port to Batsi.  If you do choose to stay in Batsi, a little seaside village, rather than in town, you’ll never be more than 60 seconds from a beautiful beach, the freshest seafood and locals who will have clocked your presence the second you get out of the taxi, and will memorise your coffee and biscuit preference immediately.

This one is a winner.

Top Tip: it’s only about a two-hour ferry from Athens, making it the ideal first stop on your island-hopping adventure, ensuring you’re fully immersed in Greek culture and Greek time (slow) before you hit the big ones.

Accommodation is super cheap in Greece. To compare prices, head to for a pleasant surprise.

Beach to ourselves in Batsi, Andros.

Beach to ourselves in Batsi, Andros

Syros

The Greek islands are divided into groups, and Ermoupoli is the capital of the island of Syros and of the island group, the Cyclades.

Because this island is pretty darn important, you’re going to find hardcore Greek traditions here. It’s big, it’s busy, but it’s not overrun by tourists. If you’re a purist, or if you’re interested in the Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic religions, this is going to be a great choice for you.

Top Tip: If you can, plan to go over the Greek Easter weekend and make sure you head down to the main square to see the religious festivities (ask the locals when they start).

They also have an impressive fireworks display at midnight as the clock ticks over to Easter Sunday, when you’ll see locals watching from their rooftops and the streets below. Xristos Anesti!

Easter in Ermoupoli, Syros.

Easter in Ermoupoli, Syros

Do you have any contributions to make to this list. Feel free to share your favourites in the comments box, or in a post via your personal member dashboard.

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