Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece.

Santorini

Magnificent blue waters, beautiful, simple white dwellings, and picturesque domed churches – Santorini is the idyllic Greek Getaway of your dreams. A popular European summer vacation spot, Santorini is best enjoyed in late spring or towards the end of summer, to avoid the cruise ship crowds.

Karma
Greek Salad at Karma

Karma is a cozy cafe, nestled in the middle of a small street in Oia. With outdoor seating in a terracotta garden oasis, Karma offers an assortment of traditional Greek dishes. They also offer several vegetarian and vegan options. The Greek salad was unbelievably fresh and delicious. Warm pita and the most delightful tzatziki – freshly made with big, beautiful sprigs of fresh dill, was also on the menu. This meal made for the perfect introduction to all the wonderful food in store on this trip.

Castle of Oia
View of Oia – from Castle of Oia

The Castle of Oia, also known as The Castle of St. Nicholas, dates back to the 15th century. It was home to Byzantine aristocracy, and eventually used as a fortress against pirates invading the Greek islands. Head to the castle ruins for “the most beautiful sunset in Santorini.” Be sure to get there early to get a good view – it gets crowded for sunset.

Melenio Cafe

Famous for pastries and desserts, Melenio Cafe is worth a stop. There is a lovely rooftop terrace with unbeatable views of Amoudi Bay. This place was recommended by a local, and for good reason. It is a hidden gem! Try the Greek yogurt smoothies!

Get lost in the winding paths and whimsical stairways in Santorini for a magical experience that you will cherish forever – I know I will. Touching down on this idyllic Greek island is the perfect way to start this trip of a lifetime.

Blue Dome Church, Oia, Santorini.

To get between islands, the ferry system in Greece is an interesting experience. Navigating the Greek islands this way is pretty wild, but made for some fun stories and fast friends.

Mykonos

Cats are everywhere in Greece.
Petros the Pelican

Let us begin in Mykonos with the legendary – Petros the Pelican. Petros was a wounded Pelican who was found in 1958 by a local fisherman in Mykonos. After returning to health, Petros made Mykonos his home, and quickly became the official mascot of the famed Greek island. Sadly, Petros was struck by a car and killed in 1985. Today, three new pelicans take residence on Mykonos. One of these Pelicans has been named Petros in honor of the late bird. While the original Petros was white, today’s Petros is pink!

Petros looks for a seat at the bar.
Earth Spa

Mykonos is the perfect Greek island to indulge in some self care. For a tranquil spa experience, head out of the central Mykonos area to Earth Spa. The facilities – located within the Androniko Hotel – are beautiful. The spa offers several massage options and body treatments. There is also a sauna, and many of the massages include complementary sauna time. Delicious, fresh juice with basil and mint is served. Bath robes and slippers are provided for your time in the spa. The staff at Earth spa are kind and hospitable. This experience is just what is needed to recharge for the rest of your journey.

Earth Spa
180 Degree Sunset Bar

Fancy cocktails, a carefully curated menu, live music, and, as the name suggests, 180 degree views of all of Mykonos. Full disclosure: this place is expensive, and requires a minimum to reserve a table – but the experience is priceless. I can’t recommend this place enough. The charcuterie board is a work of art, stacked with local artisan goat and sheep’s milk cheeses and drizzled with traditional Greek olive oil. The cocktails are works of art, mixed with care using premium ingredients. Everything was delicious!

I still dream of the dessert I devoured here, taking in this incredible sunset – Greek yogurt vanilla bean gelato with a lemon curd situation split between two frozen lemon rinds and enveloped in lemon verbena leaves. I’m certain they serve it in heaven. 180 Degree Sunset Bar is a perfect place to commemorate any occasion. Life is short, eat dessert first!

Mykonos.
Scandinavian Disco

Mykonos is the island for parties in Greece. What better way to end the evening after a fancy dinner than dancing the night away? Enter Scandinavian Disco. The Scandinavian Disco is a multi-level, multi-building bar, with a large dance floor and plenty of good people-watching spots. The music was a fun mix of disco, dance, and 90s throwback jams – a welcome change from Mykonos’s usual EDM remixes.

The Mykonos Windmills
The Mykonos Windmills

The Mykonos Windmills are an iconic landmark on the island. Mykonos has 16 windmills in total – but the most famous windmills are the 5 that welcome visitors coming into the Harbor of Alefkandra. The Cyclades are known for being very windy. The harnessing of this energy, primarily for milling wheat, is a rich part of the history of Mykonos and the Cycladic Islands. The windmills date back to the 16th century, and were originally built by the Venetians. They were an important source of income for locals until their eventual decline in the mid 20th century.

Athens

Athens is a wonderful city. A bustling Mecca of history, Athens is the capital of Greece. Athens is also described as “the heart of Ancient Greece.” The culture and historical relevance of this city is palpable in every corner. I instantly fell in love with the city of Athens.

The Erechtheion overlooking Athens.
Acropolis

The Acropolis in Athens can’t be missed. The vast amount of history housed in Athens is remarkable. There is no better place to start uncovering it all, than the Acropolis.

The Propylaia – Gateway to Acropolis

The ruins of the Acropolis date back to the 5th century BC, and are a humbling example of the test of time. Temples, Legends, Greek Gods, and Goddesses, the birthplace of Democracy – The Acropolis is a wonder to behold. Careful attention has been paid to preserving the sacred history of Athens. Be sure to visit the Acropolis Museum to see a snapshot into Ancient Greece, and to beat the Athens heat! The museum is artful and informative, and showcases incredible archaeological finds. The top floor of the museum boasts a beautiful view of the Parthenon, but the view isn’t the only highlight. The entire top floor has been laid out to resemble the Parthenon, with archeological sculptures and murals displayed to resemble the original positions and placements. I highly recommend taking a guided tour. There are tours led by archeologists continuing to work on recovering and preserving Greece’s history in Athens. Gaining insight from a passionate local archaeologist is an incredible way to learn about the legends, historical and cultural significance, and preservation efforts at the Acropolis.

The Market
Olives in the Market

In Athens, the market is a bustling place with many sights and smells to explore. A food tour through the market is a fun way to learn about the local foods, and to taste several offerings along the way. Some examples of foods available to taste: real barrel-aged feta, local olives and spices, anchovies, calamari, fresh salads, dried meats (including camel!), Greek wine, and traditional Greek liquor- ouzo. Learn to live like the locals live and immerse yourself in the experience. Don’t forget to bring a bag to bring home treasures.

Spices at the Market
National Garden

The National Garden in Athens is a public park near Parliament with meandering pathways and beautiful foliage. Tortoises freely roam the garden. A small zoo with goats, rabbits, geese, and other birds is hidden within the park. There is also a koi pond, and plenty of beautiful plants and trees.

Near the National Garden, just outside of Parliament, is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is dedicated to Greek soldiers killed during war. Here, you can watch the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place every hour, on the hour.

A is for Athens

After all that exploring, you are going to need to cool off with a cold drink. Athens has several world famous bars to choose from, but I recommend A is for Athens. The drinks are good, and the views of the Acropolis are even better. Other notable bars worth visiting: Saint and Clumsies.

A is for Athens

After a night of exploring what the world’s best bars have to offer – be sure to get a gyro. Some things are culturally universal, and drunk food is one of them. While gyros do seem (and are) very Americanized, the locals assure me that the Greeks have adopted the gyro as the national street food – so your trip will not be complete without one. You’ll thank me later!

Greece is a magical country filled with incredible history. It is the origin of many of our modern day customs and ideas. There are so many places and islands to explore; I am already dreaming of my next chance to go back and see 🧿 more of Greece!

Sunset in Oia.

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