Greek Islands - Our Impressions & Travel Advice

Beautiful Beaches Ios Greek Islands Greece
Beautiful Beaches - Ios, Greek Islands, Greece
Amazing Sunset Oia Santorini Greece
Amazing Sunset in Oia, Santorini
Wonderful Old Town Streets Greek Islands Greece
Wonderful Old Town Streets 
- Greek Islands
Interesting Traditions Donkeys in Santorini Greece
Interesting Traditions 
- Donkeys in Santorini
Girls Women Bikini Having Fun Greek Islands Beach Greece
Having Fun on the Greek Islands

Our Impressions and advice on traveling the Greek Islands (mid-May to mid-June 2009)

As we took our last Greek Island ferry back to the Greek mainland, a few general impressions come to mind. 

The people on the Greek Islands were genuine, friendly, and helpful. A traditional Greek nod of the head to the right would light up even the most stoic face.  

Beautiful Santorini greece
Beautiful Santorini
Map of the Greek Islands
Map of the Greek Islands
Memories abound from the islands we visited - the astounding beauty of Santorini; the beautiful beaches, main town, and party atmosphere of Ios and Mykonos; the wide-open beaches and sprawling old town of Naxos; the quaintness of Paros and Antiparos; and the hillside villages, dovecoves, and religious enthusiasm of the Greek people revealed in Tinos.

These Greek Islands are known as the Cyclades, rich in historical significance, and are some of the most popular. They can be summarized as being sun-drenched with winding stone streets and trellis-covered tavernas. 

Visiting them from mid-May to mid-June is a great time. Although the water has not completely warmed up, the weather is nice and the huge crowds are not here yet. In July and August, these islands are packed; prices double and you are lucky to get a room or a spot on the beach. 

You can drink the water and Greek food is healthy and prepared largely with olive oil. The lamb and beef dishes are wonderful. A Greek salad or gyros sandwich (made here from pieces of pork or chicken instead of ground meat) is a nice budget alternative. Given the large amount of tourism, the service is generally good.

Mykonos Beach Greece
Mykonos Beach
Romantic Restaurants greek islands
Romantic Restaurants
Known for beaches and old towns with tourist revelry in summertime, these islands have hundreds of small churches dotting the hillsides and residents are serious about their Christian faith and are basically traditional. Also, astoundingly, the hillsides are largely terraced with miles of even stonewalls. The labor of the ancients is apparent. You can find ancient ruins from many cultures built 1,000 (sometimes 2,000) years ago that would be difficult for us to construct with modern technology.

Traveling the Greek Islands was less difficult than we had anticipated. English is spoken almost everywhere. Because air fair cost to the Greek Islands has dropped significantly lately, we flew from Athens direct to Santorini and then used ferries between the islands. The ferries are comfortable, efficient, on time, and clean. 

Beautiful Harbor Towns greek islands
Beautiful Harbor Towns
Abundant History greek islands
Abundant History
Interesting Sights greek islands
Interesting Sights
Fun Times
Fun Times
Relaxing on Paradise Beach greek islands
Relaxing on Paradise Beach
Traveling without a schedule made our Greek Island venture more of an adventure. With some research of good travel books, we developed a strategy (best for us) of where to stay on each island and then looked for hotel owners on the dock with signs for that area. With a bit of negotiation and sorting out of options, we found budget accommodations (about $40/night) close to the best areas (usually best beaches for us) and bus stops to take us to other areas (like the main town for dinner and wandering). ATV and car rentals for a day allowed us to access the more remote areas with a minimum of driving (the islands are not too large).

For those who wish a little less ‘adventure’ in their travels, there are plenty of travel agents who specialize in providing structure (schedules and preplanned transportation and lodging). We met a lot of people enjoying traveling the Greek Islands this way although we still recommend doing some research and off the beaten path explorations in order to enhance your experience of the Greek Islands.

One wonders what these islands will be like in 20 years. Now you can sleep in a modern apartment with Internet access and be woken up by a rooster or donkey in the morning. Goats still cross the roads. The harbors, fishing villages, and beaches are in transition, not knowing what they want to be. The past fishing influence can still be seen with small fishing boats lining the harbor next to new pleasure boats and yachts. Fishing nets can be found on the sidewalks near modern restaurants and bars. The tourists are coming so visiting soon should be considered.

Pat and I came here 21 years ago on our honeymoon on a large cruise ship. Then, spending just the day on several Greek Islands left us wanting to come back some day. After now spending a month on seven islands, we left with a little sorrow, still wanting to come back again.

This is an overview of the Greek Islands. To learn more more about the beautiful Greek Islands, please see our 11 blog posts:

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