The Greek Islands have been top of the travel destination list for my husband and me for as long as I can remember. We have talked about visiting for YEARS and, I am so thankful we were finally able to make it there; it was a dream vacation.
We were on the Greek Islands for nine days total. Two nights on Mykonos, three nights on Naxos, and three nights on Santorini. My husband is the planner in our relationship and planned most of our trip with the help of SantoriniDave.com, a wonderful and thorough resource if you are planning a Greek vacation.
Where we went in The Greek Islands
We arrived in Mykonos from Athens via ferry (Superferry II), we upgraded to a cabin to take a nap on the 4-hour boat ride. That 60 Euros, was well spent we were asleep before the boat even left the dock!
We stayed in Ornos beach and, I can’t recommend this side of the island enough; the beaches are beautiful, it’s much less windy, great food and lodging options, and it’s less touristy than Mykonos Chora. We stayed at the Casa Bianca hotel and had a wonderful experience, they provided port transportation and daily breakfast. It was a 3-minute walk to the beach and about $100 a night, the hotels down the road on the water start at $600!!
Mykonos is the party island and the most expensive island that we visited. Mykonos has a ton of American tourists and, it is a very LGBTQ-friendly island.
From Mykonos to Naxos, we took the Seajet Superjet ferry, it was a super-fast ride and around 40 Euros BUT, if you have ever gotten even a tiny bit seasick, I can’t recommend it. It’s a rough ride!!
Naxos is a much more relaxed and affordable island, a popular travel destination for Greek tourists; we also ran into a lot of Naxos is a much more relaxed and affordable island, a popular travel destination for Greek tourists; we also ran into a lot of Eastern Europeans while on Naxos. Greek mythology says that Naxos is Zeus’s childhood home. If you hike Mount Zas, you can visit the cave (Cave of Zas) where according to Greek Mythology Zeus grew up.
We spent most of our time on Naxos relaxing on the beaches, enjoying time in the Aegean Sea and Greek Rose. We did spend one-day visiting Chalki, a small village known for its olive cultivation and citron leaves liquor, Kitron. A beautiful day trip and the start of many hikes on the island.
While on Naxos we stayed in an Airbnb one block from the beach, it was a traditional Greek apartment so while that does include some dated appliances, it had the most beautiful view.
I had a ton of Pork Gyro Pitas while in Greece but, the best one I had was in Naxos at Leftos 10/10 recommend!
From Naxos to Santorini, we took the Golden Star super express ferry about a 2-hour ride; the boat was big and beautiful and so much smoother than our experience from Mykonos to Naxos.
Santorini, my favorite island, looks exactly what I pictured the Greek islands to look like; big white & blue buildings on the side of cliffs, stunning.
Although I think the buildings on the side of the mountain are so beautiful, I am so thankful we did not stay on that side of the island. It is much more touristy and doesn’t have access to the beach. I was recently listening to a podcast and, she was talking about Santorini and described it as romantic and boring with horrible beaches and, I think she just stayed on the wrong part of the island. We stayed in Perivolos Beach, which has beautiful black sand beaches and so many restaurants and hotels on the water.
The most recommended activity on Santorini was the hike from Fira to Oia it is known as the most beautiful walk on Santorini let me tell you it didn’t disappoint, it is a must-do on Santorini. It is a moderate 6-mile hike that takes about 3 – 4 hours. The path is rocky so thick sole shoes are encouraged. I wore very flimsy shoes and, by the end of the hike, the bottom of my feet were killing me.
My favorite restaurant we ate at in Greece was in Perivolos beach on Santorini. It was just a traditional Greek Tavern appropriately titled Fish Tavern; their Santorini salad was out of this world, the location was perfect and, the service was so good.
Additonal Greek Island Information
September weather on the Greek Islands is perfection. Low 80’s during the day, high 60’s at night, the arid-warm weather reminded me a ton of Southern California and Baja California. The Aegean Sea is cool but refreshing and SO buoyant, that kind of water that perfectly holds you up.
Greek food is next level, magnificent, extraordinaire, I can go on for days about Greek food. Two of my favorite foods in the entire world are tomatoes and yogurt so I was in heaven. Everything we ate was so fresh and delicious and, now I want to eat greek food every day for the rest of my life. Greece is famously known for its pork dishes but on the islands their menus are full of fresh, delicious fish. If you are not as keen on Greek food as I am, every restaurant we visited also offered Italian options.
If you are intimidated by the possible Greek language barrier, don’t be. English is the common language in most European countries and, that was no different in Greece. We did not run into one person who didn’t speak English. Most everyone we spoke to spoke Greek, English, and a lot spoke French and Italian.
Transportation On The Greek Islands
We took the bus everywhere, the rates varied anywhere from .50 – 5 Euros depending on which island and the distance you were traveling. A lot of people rent scooters, motorbikes and, quads on the island but Greek drivers are a bit aggressive (especially their bus drivers) and that option seemed terrifying. The bus system on the islands is very reliable, not the most prompt but reliable. We took taxis when we were transporting our luggage other than that it was always buses.
Most Americans’ largest expense when visiting the Greek Islands is the cost to travel from the States. We used miles to book our flight so, that was a major cost saver.
Greece is one of those places where, within a mile, you could stay at $2000 or $100 a night accommodations, it depends on your preference. We spent two nights in a hotel in Mykonos and six nights in Airbnb’s all of our accommodations were around $150 a night.
Covid Precautions on the Greek Islands
I got so many DM’s about the Covid restrictions we encountered on the Greek Islands, so let’s talk about it. When we arrived in Greece, before we went through customs, we went through a line where we had to show our vaccination card. It does not matter what country you are flying from everyone must go through this line. At this time, Greece has no mandatory quarantine for its tourists.
The Athens airport was the first place we had to show proof of vaccination. We were additionally asked six times to prove vaccination status. Those six times were: every time we got on a ferry, to enter a restaurant on Mykonos, and while entering a bar on Santorini. This was specific to my experience on the Greek islands; rules may be different on the mainland.
I live in a mask-mandated state and, the rules were the same on the islands as they are here; masks are mandatory anytime you are indoors and strictly enforced anytime you are in public transportation.
International Travel Tip in the time of Covid
When returning to the United States, you must have a negative Covid test within the last 48 hours. This is mandatory to step foot on an American-bound plane. I did not want to hunt for a testing site so, I found an at-home Covid test. This test came recommended by the points guy and approved on the United Airlines website. It runs around $25 a test and, you must have a good wifi connection to take. Besides wifi, everything you need is in the box, you call a number, similar to facetime, and they watch you take the test, the company then reports your test results to your airline. At-home covid tests can be purchased here: https://www.emed.com/.
Greece was the trip of a lifetime; I am so glad we were able to go. Now, if I could find a proper Gyro in Chicago, I would be one happy camper. If you are planning a trip to one of these islands and have a question, my dm’s are always open!
What I Packed
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