A Greek Island Summer Vacation Guide

A Greek Island Summer Vacation Guide

Happy Friday! This week's blog is a brief Greek Island summer vacation guide. Whether you are making the trip this summer, planning on someday making a trip, or simply reading along as a wishful bystander, I hope that this blog can provide either some information or imagination for you. I have been to Greece three times in my life, and after returning last summer, I want to make it a goal of mine to go as often as possible. In this blog, I am going to highlight a little bit of everything you can expect to encounter while in Greece.


The "Popular" Islands

The Greek islands are far and away the most talked about area of Greece, with their vibrant beaches, crystal blue waters, and either relaxing vibes or party vibes, depending on where you chose to go. The main islands you probably have heard about by now are Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete. Santorini is known for its beauty, I think of it as the perfect island to go to if you were planning to propose to someone, which is why I nickname it the Romance Island. There are upscale restaurants, beautiful sunsets, and plenty of beaches and shops to keep you busy. Mykonos is the party island. Mykonos has beaches, but the main attraction is the nightlife. A perfect place to go in your mid 20s with a group of friends. There are also plenty of shops, and, because it is a tourist-heavy island, many English speaking store owners. Crete, where Mr. Nick Mourtzakis (founder of Nick's) is from, encompasses a little bit of everything. As the biggest island in Greece, Crete has both large cities (Heraklion and Chania) for busy street and night life. As well as lesser known places (Rethimno, Agios Nikoloas, and Sitia) which boast cute shops and beautiful beaches. Crete also has Knossos, a Bronze Age archeological site for those who are more interested in history.

This past summer, I spent almost two weeks in Crete alone, and enjoyed every day. There was always something new to do. As far as commentary for Santorini and Mykonos...there is a reason why they are popular, they are amazing, but I do have complaints/advice. They are both VERY expensive, as compared to other islands. This makes sense, as they are catered more towards tourists than to visitors from within Greece. During the summer time, both of these islands get very crowded, almost to the point that it is an inconvenience. For me, when I am on vacation, the last thing I want to do is be inconvenienced, vacations are supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation from our busy lives.

Another thing to look out for is dining. When you are vacationing in Greece, you eat out for almost every meal. And while you might think that would lead to crazy costs, it usually doesn't, as food in Greece is so cheap! In Santorini and Mykonos though, there are tourist traps in and around busy spots. These restaurants are usually right on the water, or in another prime real estate location, and have okay-ish foods for absurdly high prices. Make sure to look out for these places. The first meal I ever had in Greece was at one of these tourist traps. I ordered a steak (not something you should do in Greece, if you want meat, get the Gyro or Souvlakia... ALWAYS!) and the cost must have been around 30-40 euro. My sister, an 8 year old at the time, got Alaskan King Crab legs (upwards of 80 euros). I don't think I have had a worse meal in Greece since that first night, and I don't think I have had a more expensive meal either! A few nights later (in Santorini) my dad and I were hungry, it was later in the evening, and we took a walk to a local gyro cart. If I remember correctly, the gyros were about 3 euro each, and to this day, it might have been the best gyro I've ever had, which is saying something, because I have had my fair share of phenomenal gyros in Greece. 

 The "Lesser Known Islands"

Away from the "Big Three" (my nickname for Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini) are a plethora of unexplored (for tourists) islands. Greece has 227 inhabited islands, many of which are vastly underrated. In this blog, I want to highlight three islands which I believe have not yet received their time in the spotlight. Ikaria has a little bit of everything. With largely untouched forests, there is a rare natural aspect to this island that you do not find in many other areas of Greece. Ikaria is a wonderful place to connect with locals and learn more about the history of Ancient Greece. Ikaria is the origin island of the Greek dance Ikariotiko, known as the "sailor dance" which sailors coming to and from Ikaria (in the Northern Aegean sea) would perform this traditional dance on the boat. Ikaria also has their share of beautiful streams and beaches, and many festivals in the summer time. Milos is in the Cyclades region (near Santorini and Mykonos) though with half the crowd. Famous for its moon-like landscape, which contrasts perfectly with the clear blue waters. Over 70 beaches span across the small island which only has a population of 5,000 permanent residents. Don't be fooled by such a small population size though, there are many charming towns with tons of tasty Greek restaurants. Many people who live in the mainland of Greece move to the islands during the summer time to take advantage of the tourism in the Greek isles, thus leading to a much larger population of natives on Milos (and the rest of the Greek islands) during the summer. Naxos, the final island in this guide, is also from the Cyclades region. As the biggest island in the region, Naxos boasted a diverse landscape that allows for a jam-packed itinerary that is all-encompassing. From hiking up to historical Churches and castles, touring olive groves and goat farms, enjoying the weather on beaches of sparkling turquoise water, and much, much more. I would recommend that you rent a car when visiting this island, and move around as much as possible, because there is so much to see!

This was a brief guide, and there are so many more lesser known islands which deserve to be highlighted, as I could go on for thousands of words describing the hidden gems of the Mediterranean. Truly, you cannot go wrong with selecting an island in Greece to vacation. Every island has something that makes them special. Many travel to the "Big 3" because they are popular, though they are also quite convenient to get to. They are staples for tour guides, and have larger ports and airports than many of the smaller islands. That being said, if you do get a chance, do your own research, and find an island that is tailored to what you hope to experience on your vacation. I am sure you will not be disappointed!

Thank you as always for reading along, enjoy your weekend! As a reminder, Nick's will be closed the week of June 24-28th for vacation. We will re open on Monday (7/1) to the public. 


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