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Greek Islands City Guide

by Stephanie

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Hopping around the gorgeous Mediterranean islands of Greece doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. So if you’re thinking of taking a cruise of your own, you are going to want to check out interior designer Sophie Carr’s amazing guide to shopping, dining and lodging around these historic island locations. Her insider tips are great for getting the detailed scoop- I just hope we can all join her on her next trip –Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…

Greek Islands City Guide

The Greek Islands are the “poster boy” for a European summer vacation. Glowing, white washed buildings draped in fluorescent bougainvillea, water so clear it’s like looking through glass, some of the worlds finest food and its seriously GOOD LOOKING!

I was lucky enough to spend the month of June traveling through the islands to some of the the well known spots and to places that are off the beaten track and not overrun with tourists…yet!

First stop was the most cosmopolitan of them all – Mykonos. Now, I have to get one thing straight – Mykonos gets a bad rap and I want to clear it, it has been labeled “the party island” which, yes, is fair, but don’t be disillusioned by this if that’s not your scene! There is something here for everyone. Santorini was next on the list with its picture-perfect, postcard views and incredible sunsets. A very different experience to Mykonos, Santorini is geographically the opposite and built on the highest points, making it difficult to navigate your way around without a pair of wheels. We resided in Oia (pronounced Ea) which was the perfect place to wind down and relax. Then not far, almost a skip across the sprawl of islands in Greece, was Ios. A beautifully vast island with incredible beaches and a tribe of goats. Our last stop was the island of Folegandros, and wow, was it worth it. The complete opposite to the other three, this island has a humbling, traditional feel about it, pure and preserved from mass tourism and crowds – BLISS! Farmers still practicing traditional methods of harvesting, using donkeys as their primary mode of transport.

If you are planning a trip or thinking about visiting the Greek Islands, you will not be disappointed. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

  • My insider tip: Ask for the local house wines – they are just as good as the bottles and half the price!
  • You will need: A mode of transport other than your feet – these islands are large and you will only see them at their best if you explore!
  • On my feet: Soludos Espadrilles – the perfect shoe for the beach, the city and everywhere in between.
  • Indulge in: Too much tzatziki…it’s just too good.

Greek Islands City Guide

MYKONOS

STAY:

SAN GIORGIO Mykonos – I knew I would love this hotel and the pictures are NOT false advertising – this is paradise at its best. Everything about this hotel is classy from the moment you arrive and see the iconic hammocks slung over the pool – for an interior designer this is almost as good as it gets. With only 33 rooms you feel at home as there is no formality and their FANTASTIC staff become your friends. The rooms are spacious and pared back, made so very romantic with built-in canopied beds. Breakfast is included in the price of your room and it’s not just the typical buffet, it is a perfect selection that will meet everyone’s breakfast standards and preferences. Plus the poolside bar serves ridiculously good cocktails (try the Rosemary Mojito!). Total understated luxury.

CAVO TAGOO – Ingeniously positioned and built into the cliff-side, Cavo Tagoo is a spacious and contemporary getaway that overs a multi-pooled paradise.

EAT:

KIKI’S, Agios Sostis Beach – There is no sign, no fancy interior, just a tree-shaded terrace overlooking Agios Sostis Beach. This institute is a food heaven specializing in BBQ meat and seafood accompanied by the most incredible rustic, chic salads I have ever laid eyes on! Warning – there is a non-booking policy and there are only minimal tables, so if you aren’t there early you will be waiting – but it’s worth the wait!

AVRA 27, Kalogera Street – For those looking for a quiet, romantic garden restaurant right in the center of busy Mykonos – this is it. Its bougainvillea-covered terrace is the perfect place to take your loved one!

DRINK:

CAPRICE, Little Venice- Either before or after dinner this watering hole is the perfect place to soak up the Mykonos bar scene. Situated on the water’s edge, it is one of the finest places to sit and watch the sun go down followed by downing one too many cocktails.

ALEMAGOU BEACH BAR, Fetelia Beach – Located on one of Mykonos’s many sandy beaches at the end of a dirt road is this relaxed and comfortable sanctuary. Alemagou (an ancient Mykonian word meaning ”at last!”) is a blend of a traditional Greek tavern with a twist of design. Its natural reed thatch ceiling canopy and handmade pumpkin shell pendants sway with the breeze and speckled sunlight filters down – the ultimate designer beach bar! Great for a lazy day at the beach with afternoon cocktails, or cocktails and dinner.

GO:

ELIA BEACH – This beach has something for everyone – an abundance of umbrellas, sun beds and it’s very social! Enjoy the beach or try Elia Restaurant for lunch.

PLATIS GIALOS – A seaside village located in the east side of the island. Its beach is lined with an endless restaurants and facilities, attracting lovers of sports and food and making it one of the island’s most popular beaches. From there you can reach the most famous beaches of the island – Paradise and Super Paradise by boat.

KAPARI BEACH – One of the few beaches in Mykonos that has no hotels to crowd its shores. Sit back and relax.

CULTURAL:

The windmills are the quintessential symbol of Mykonos’s landscape. Set above Little Venice, it’s the perfect place to watch the sun go down and marvel at the history and beauty of this island.

SANTORINI

STAY:

KATIKIES, Oia – Luxury! Overlooking the Volcanic Caldera and chiseled into the rockside of Oia, this hotel will provide the perfect setting to a memorable stay.

EAT:

KATHAROS LOUNGE – Located on the cliff right above Katharos Beach, this restaurant is ideal to watch the sun go down. They don’t lie when they say Santorini has some of the world’s best sunsets, and this hidden spot is the place to enjoy it, far away from the maddening crowd that perches on the walls of Oia to watch. Great food and cocktails – we stayed for hours after the sunset!

GINGER SUSHI LOUNGE, St.Gerasimos Square Firostefani – Why eat sushi when in Greece? Why not! A nice reprieve from the unlimited amounts of tzatziki consumed, Ginger is a nice surprise and beautifully fresh.

KANDOUNI RESTAURANT, Oia Village –  They call him the “Cannibal” – this owner/chef knows his meat and all is hand selected by him from local farmers. Great food that is selected and prepared to your liking – you will not leave hungry!

DRINK:

WET STORIES BEACH BAR, Perivolos Beach – The island isn’t known for its beaches, but this beach and bar tick all the boxes – great food, guest DJs, beach volleyball and sun beds all in front of the sea.

TANGO Firá Santorini – perched on the hillside of Firá, this is a bar that offers the perfect mix of fun and sophistication. Great cocktails, too!

CULTURAL:

Santorini is best seen by water and renowned for its spectacular sea-filled Volcanic Caldera, surrounded by steep cliffs. Take a day trip by boat to view its extraordinary landscape and swim in the springs.

IOS

STAY:

PETROS PLACE HOTEL – A fantastic family-run hotel away from the crowds and a short stroll from the Port. With its fresh interiors decorated in Cyclades style and large private pool, you are set to relax at this hotel.

EAT:

KATOGI – If you go to Ios, do not miss this eclectic restaurant with oddities adorning the walls and its bougainvillea-canopied outdoor terrace. The food is that good. We returned three times during our stay. Traditional Greek food with a twist, it is utterly delicious!

GO:

KOUMBARA BEACH – Tucked around the corner in a secluded part of the island is Koumbara beach. A peaceful place to sit and enjoy the sun or enjoy the incredible food at the Koumbara Beach Restaurant.

 

Greek Islands City Guide

FOLEGANDROS

STAY:

PROVALMA STUDIOS, Ano Meria – This island is known for its scenery and beautiful beaches, it also should be known for this family-run boutique hotel. With the most exceptional views of the island and the Aegean sea you will feel nothing but peace and tranquility when you arrive. With only five rooms, you feel like you are staying in a private villa or guest house complete with a delicious pool overlooking the the center of Folegandros. Every morning you are delivered a fresh breakfast in a wicker basket which is selected by you the night before – fresh juices, homemade cakes and jams and most importantly, coffee! A delightful introduction to the island – we will be back!

ANEMI  – This hotel is luxurious, but also is authentic and traditional with strong references to Cycladic architecture.

EAT:

EVA’S GARDEN, Chora – Located in the central town of Chora, this restaurant offers beautifully traditional Greek dishes with a twist, with a delightful courtyard setting.

CULTURAL:

CHURCH OF PANAGIA – Panagia is the most well known church of Folegandros, built high above the town. Its whitewashed facade and stone paved path zigzagging up the hill make this the perfect place to watch the sun set and offers incredible views of the island. It can only be reached by foot but it’s well worth the walk!

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Comments

  • folegandros is the best!!!!! wish it would be kept a secret but looks like the secret’s out! :0
    even if you don’t stay at the anemi, you can have a drink on their patio. it’s right by the church mentioned above, so you can combine the visits for a spectacular sunset walk & drink. so lovely.

  • What was the time frame and mode of transport? Btwn islands I assume ferry. Did you start and stop in Athens?

  • I ‘m so glad you had such a great time! Every Greek island has it’s own style & worths a visit. I hope you will come back next summer & explore more!
    @Laura, ferries are the basic transport, but some islands (Mykonos, Santorini & others) have airports!

  • I spent a summer in Greece when I was in high school. My sister and I attended the Greek Orthodox Youth of America summer camp (GOYA) that David Sedaris wrote about in a hilarious essay in “Naked.” I’ve only been back once since then, and this fantastic post about the islands makes me eager to return. Santorini now has an art biennale, which adds another interesting feature to consider for future visits. I’d love to hear about other islands which have been visited by readers. One of the greatest of culinary delights in Greece is the freshly made feta cheese. Unlike the imported hard and crumbly feta cheese that we sprinkle on our salads, feta cheese in Greece came to the table in a small tub, so creamy we spread it on the delicious bread like cream cheese. It’s just wonderful. And of course–lemon with everything, starting with the freshly caught and grilled fish.

  • We spent two weeks in Tinos this past summer. Tinos is the island that is right next to Mykonos. It was the best time of my entire life! I want to come back soon!

  • Ahhhh…IOS!!! I spent half a year living in Manganari, the quiet side of the island which faces Santorini…love those goats!!! :-)

  • If you like the sun, the blue waters, the sunny sky, the smell of lime from the streets and the elements of nature awaken the senses, you can live an unforgettable experience in Mykonos. You can go there on holidays and enjoy your best break from the daily routine!

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