Ios was one of the first party islands in Greece, being a spot for hippies and backpackers in the 60s. These days this reputation as a party island still somewhat remains yet it is far less deserved. That is not to say that the island doesn’t have a good nightlife, it has just mellowed out and become a more rounded destination. In this article we’ll show you what else the island has to offer by taking you through a list of the best things to do on the island.
How to get there
Ios doesn’t have an airport, and this means you have to get a ferry. The nearest island which you can fly into is Santorini. The ferry takes around 30-60 mins depending on the speed of the ferry. You can fly directly into Santorini from London Heathrow, London City, Bristol, London Gatwick, Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Stansted, Newcastle and East Midlands.
Visit the Islands Many Beaches
A staple of the Greek Islands, beaches are one thing UK holiday makers look for when they book a destination. Ios has some of the best beaches in Greece with Mylopotas being a particular highlight. This stunning beach sits in a bay just 10 mins drive from the Chora and has golden sands and beautiful blue water, it is however probably the most popular beach on the island and therefore may be quite busy. Others near the Chora, where most of the accommodation is located, are Gialos Beach, Koumpara and Kolitsani. If you go a bit further into the island you can find some great beaches that will be less busy such as Kampaki and Plakotos in the north of the island, which are secluded and both pebbled. Ios has a mixture of both pebble and sand beaches so take your own preference into account when choosing beaches. All of the smaller beaches can be reached by road or track but you may prefer to take a boat to them. Further to the south are the beaches of Theodoti, Plakes and Pikri Nero, all of which are sandy beaches. Theodoti has some accommodation and a café there, the other two are fairly secluded. Finally, if you’re staying in the south and want a bigger beach you must check out Magganari, in the village of the same name. The large beach stretches across two coves and its golden sands are met by beautiful blue waters.
Visit the Chora
The name of many of the main villages on Greek islands, the Chora on Ios is the largest village on the island and also acts as the port. Chora has most of the accommodation on the island, which is smaller boutique hotels and villas, but there are 5* properties there as well. The streets of Chora are lively and all the buildings curl beautifully up towards the church of Ekklisia Panagia Gremiotissa and the chapel of Agios Nikolaos. This also the best spot on the island to watch the sunset which, as it falls over the horizon gives you views across the bay as well across to Sikinos. Many different styles of cuisine can be found by walking round Chora’s narrow streets and they provide excellent spots to sit in the sun with food or a drink. Also in Chora is the windmills, a must see on any Cycladic island these windmills provide an excellent backdrop for a photo.
Discover the History of the Island
As with many Greek islands, Ios has abundance of history and this can be seen in the many sites across the island. Most of the sites are around Chora and the surrounding village of Mylopotas. A must see is the Archaeological site of Skarkos just outside the town. It dates back thousands of years and is one of the oldest examples of settlement in the Cyclades, which may have been key in the area. It shows a different side to Greek history which predates most of what we associate with Greece when it comes to its ancient history. If you want a further fix of archaeology, then check out the museum in Chora which houses finds from across the island. For a great view and a bit of history visit the Odysseas Elytis Theatre, this modern build theatre was built to emulate the amphitheatres of the time and looks out to sea. In it you can see performances of shows and concerts. Finally, take a car to the north of the island to see the tomb of Homer, the legendary poet who’s famous works the Iliad and the Odyssey are known the world over. Here is where he is said to have spent his final days and was buried. In the theatre they regularly perform his plays in honour of him.
There we have it, some of the best things to do in Ios. There are many more but we would be here for ages. We hope this has given you some insight into why Ios is much more than a party island and no longer deserves that reputation. To find out more about the rest of Greece, take a look around our website or call us on 01157843388. If you know where you’re looking to book, call us, email email@example.com or fill in our contact form with what you’re looking for. Don't forget to follow us on social media to find out the next Destination of the Week and for all your Greek Holiday needs. If you've been to Ios, where was your favourite place? What was the best thing you did, or do you think we missed anything? Let us know in the comments or on social media, just click the buttons below which take you to our social pages
Athens, a bustling metropolis which is great for a city break and is the gateway to the Greek islands. If you’re someone who loves a city break but is looking for the authentic Greek experience than look no further than the birthplace of democracy. In this article we’ll show you why Athens is perfect for those looking to get a taste of Greece over a long weekend or at the start or end of an island hop.
How to get there
You can fly directly to Athens from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Luton, Edinburgh, Manchester and Stansted as well as well as almost every domestic airport in Greece. Athens’ 3 ports; Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion are the gateways to the Greek islands, especially the smaller ones, so it is perfect place to spend a few days at the start or end of your island-hopping trip as depending on your island choice, you will have to go through Athens to get there.
A Uniquely Greek Experience
Athens is unlike anywhere else in Greece, similar to how London is with England. It has a unique blend of history and modernity, managing to balance them perfectly without the scales tipping too much to either side. Because of this there is something for everyone there, and due to its size and narrow, winding streets you can immerse yourself in bustling markets or perhaps instead find a small quiet square where you can sit in the sun and enjoy a relaxing drink. Hotels and all buildings are now beginning to put their focus on rooftop bars, most of which have a view of Greece’s most famous monument – The Acropolis. And with the city not allowing buildings above a certain height you can always be sure to find somewhere with a spectacular view, day or night.
A long, thin island with beautiful contrasts in scenery, Karpathos is one of the largest islands in Greece yet is still only recently becoming more popular with tourists. The north of the island is mountainous whereas the south is lower lying and greener. In this article we’ll take you through the best villages to visit whilst on the island, so that we can help you see why you should add Karpathos to your list of places to visit.
How to get there
Karpathos has a small domestic airport in the south of the island which links with Athens, Rhodes and Kasos. We recommend flying into either Athens or Rhodes and then catching a connecting flight. If you don’t want to fly you can catch a ferry which runs five days a week in the summer months. We’ll help you work out where best to catch it from.
Pigadia is a seaside town which is the capital of Karpathos. Contrary to the title of this article, Pigadia is a town but as a settlement with a lot to do we thought we’d include it. Pigadia is also the main port of the island, so if you arrive by ferry this is where you’ll come in. The town has a great traditional feel and as you walk around, you’ll be greeted by beautiful architecture and cafes and restaurants lining the glistening waterfront. Coming in on the ferry you’ll see Vouno Hill on which sits the acropolis of the ancient settlement of Potideon sometimes called Poseidio, named after the god of the sea. In keeping with the theme of Poseidon, take a visit to the Cave of Poseidon, a natural cave just outside the town. There’s one beach in the town and a few nearby, where you can relax and catch some sun. Pigadia has all the amenities you could need from a town and there is much accommodation here.
Lemnos is the 8th largest island in Greece, which means it has plenty of coastline from which to choose the best beaches on the island. Due to its large amount of beaches, its tough to narrow it down to just a few. What we’ve tried to do in this article is split them up into three categories in terms of how well organised they are. We know people prefer different things when it comes to a beach so this way we’ve given everyone a few options no matter what they want, so that they can make the most of their holiday to Lemnos
Located in the south of the island near the town of Moudros, Mikro Fanaraki and its neighbour Fanaraki, are some of the best equipped beaches on the island. Near to a number of hotels, it has many sun loungers and umbrellas as well as bars and food stalls to keep you happy whilst there. Its sands and shallow waters make it great for families and there are a number of sea caves to explore nearby, most famously Seagull’s Cave.
Next to the northern end of the capital Myrina, this beach is excellent due to its location to the town and the facilities that affords. With sunbeds and loungers as well as cabanas, you can stay in the shade or there is some open beach to play around on if you want a bit more space.
Not far away from Myrina in the village of Platy is its namesake beach. Curving around the bay, this beach is one of the most popular on the island. Its easy to see why, with golden sands lapped at by deep blue waves its shallow waters are safe for families to play on and it has plenty of services should you want drinks and snacks.
Despite having a number of facilities including a court for games and a hotel at one end, the beach is fairly secluded and doesn’t have many sunloungers. If you’re looking for a beach with some facilities but a different feel, Avlonas may be the one for you.
Milos has received a lot of attention recently for being one of the Greek islands rising in popularity, even on its way to becoming the new Santorini. Now that is lofty heights indeed, however as we have found on our travels around Greece, every island is different. Milos is known, similarly to much of Greece for its beaches. Where it stands out is in its unique landscape, being a volcanic island much of it has been sculpted into weird and wonderful shapes. Alongside this, it is a very laid-back island where life goes at its own pace and where you can take your time with your holiday. In this article we’ll tell you more about the island to show you why its becoming more popular and perhaps you’ll make it part of your next Greek holiday.
How to get there
Milos has a small domestic airport so you can fly in, we recommend doing so from Athens. If not you can use the ferry. Milos is on the western Cyclades line and ferries run around 3 times a day from Athens Piraeus and once from Santorini, if you’ve flown in from there but that is generally more expensive.
Located in the Dodecanese just off the coast of Rhodes, Halki (sometimes spelt Chalki) has been largely untouched by mass tourism. This makes it a great place if you’re looking for a flavour of life on a traditional Greek island. Because of its size, it is also sparsely populated, which makes it the perfect place to relax whether be a short trip from Rhodes or for an extended stay. In this article we’ll tell you why this is a great place to relax and experience the quiet island life of traditional Greece.
Halki is way too small to have its own airport and therefore you have to get a ferry, in the past these ferries were infrequent which is perhaps why it remains untouched by mass tourism, but as they improve this may change. This is all the more reason to go experience it now while you can. Getting the ferry does add to the experience and as you come into harbour you’ll see the picturesque orange tiled buildings stretching up the hillside like a theatre. This stunning entrance is the first impression you get of the islands port and largest town Nimporio.
This week’s Island of the Week is Thassos. We put it in our Outstanding Oddballs as it doesn’t fit with many other islands, despite being in the North Aegean just off the coast of the Macedonian region. Similar to Corfu and Skiathos in that it is luscious and green, covered in pine forests yet it is far less busy than them. It is perfect for families and those looking to relax or get involved in activities. In this blog we’ll take you through our favourite 5 things to do on this picturesque island, yet there is so much that is worth doing, we would be here all day otherwise.
How to get there
To get to Thassos you need to fly into Kavala, which is in the northern Macedonian region of Greece. You can fly into Kavala directly from Birmingham, London Gatwick and Manchester. From Kavala you then transfer by ferry to Thassos, in the summer these ferries run hourly (and the journey only takes 40 minutes).
1 – Thassos Archaeological Museum
Located in Thassos Town, the archaeological museum in Thassos is one of the largest in East Macedonia and Thrace. With 18 galleries it covers from the Neolithic Period to the 7th Century AD. During antiquity Thassos had a large marble quarry and gold and silver mines. Many of the pieces in the museum come from this period as well as archaeological sites from across the island and on the mainland. Very near to the museum is the ruins of the ancient city of Thassos, the main part of what is left is the theatre which is mostly intact and is great for history enthusiasts and gives you stunning views out to sea.
Paros is sometimes called Mykonos' little brother. Despite the fact that thousands descend on Paros each summer, the island has managed to maintain an authentic Greek island atmosphere which makes it more relaxed than its neighbour. Not only that, but it has so much to offer. In this blog we’ll narrow Paros’s many delights into a top 5 of things to do and places to visit on the island.
How to get there
Paros does have an airport but you can’t fly directly into it from the UK as it is for domestic flights only, therefore you have to fly from Athens or in the summer, Thessaloniki and Heraklion. Flights from Athens only take around 40 mins. Alternatively you can take the ferry to get to Paros, not only is it one of the largest islands in the Cyclades but it is also one of the main ports and therefore is usually one of the first stops on the route. Its also great if you’re wanting to island hop as it has great links with other islands in the Cyclades.
1 - Parikia
The islands main port and capital town, Parikia should be high on your list of things to do when on Paros. Full of the typical whitewashed houses you expect from the Cyclades, it makes for stunning scenery. As well as these, there are the remains of the Kastro (castle) which was built by the Venetians in the 13th century. Parikia is filled with close streets bustling with cafes and tavernas that stretch all the way down, and along the waterfront providing a scenic spot for food. If you want to be in the middle of everything that is happening on the island Parikia is a good place to stay, and it is very accommodating to tourists with all the amenities you could need such as banks and supermarkets. Parikia is also home to one of the places you should definitely visit when on Paros, Panagia Ekatontapiliani, a church which is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in all of Greece. If you’re on the island on the 15th August then you’re in luck as it is the feast day for the Dormition of Our Lady, to which the church is dedicated and there is a huge celebration on the island.
Symi is an island in the Dodecanese just 24 miles from Rhodes. This makes it a popular destination for day trippers from the island, but the island has a lot more to offer for those wanting the stay longer as well and can be a good addition to an island hopping itinerary. We’re also seeing an increase in enquiries for those looking to do the majority of their stay on the island. This is because before and after the day trippers leave, and if you venture further from Symi Town the island takes on a whole new personality. In this blog we’ll take you through why Symi is much more than a day trip island if you’re staying on Rhodes.
Explore the town
Symi Town is not only the capital and largest settlement on the island, but is also the port of the island. The capital has two distinctive sections to it – Chorio (at the top) and Yialos (the bottom). They are linked by 400 steps called Kali Strata. They each have their own tavernas, shops and cafes as well as their own atmosphere. When you enter on the ferry you are immediately taken aback by the beauty of the port area, it looks like something only possible in your imagination. The many beautiful houses and buildings lining the port hint at the islands past as a commercial centre. Another reminder of its past is the Venetian castle which sits overlooking the town. The history of the island can be learned about in the Nautical and Archaeological museums in Symi Town.
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands and is slowly becoming more popular for tourists. With an airport for internal flights and excellent ferry links, its not a difficult place to get to and is great if you’re looking to stay on one island or as part of an island-hopping trip. In this blog we’re going to show you why, if you’re looking at the Cyclades, Naxos should be your first choice.
How to get there
As we mentioned earlier Naxos has a domestic airport and excellent ferry links. If you’re going to fly we recommend flying into Naxos via Athens, Mykonos or Santorini. As Naxos is on the main Cyclades ferry line, boats are regular and so it is not difficult to get to, no matter where you are coming from. We will sort ferry times to line up with flights at the time of enquiry.
Come for the beaches
Many people come to Greece for the beaches and Naxos can certainly deliver on that front. Being the largest island in the group, it has plenty of beaches (over 90kms). It has several organised beaches but there are many which aren’t and can be a lot more private. Most of these organised beaches are in Naxos Town or the nearby Agios Prokopios. Those looking for the smaller, more quiet beaches can travel around the island, either via public transport, excursion or hire car. Most of Naxos’s beaches have fine white sand, there are however some pebble beaches and rocky ones as well. Its many beaches make it perfect for a number of water sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing.
The Peloponnese is the name given to the southern part of the Greek mainland, from the Corinth Canal downwards. This is where Greece shines through – the food is amongst the best in the country, the regions vineyards provide some of the new guard of Greek wines that are winning awards but most importantly the ‘filoxenia’ or hospitality really is visible here. The area has so much to visit as well, such as beautiful beaches and lovely towns, however it is also home to many of Greece’s historical landmarks, especially from the classical period. Unless you want to stay in one place for the majority of your holiday, you will need to rent a car and this opens up opportunities. In this article we’ll take you through how to do a 7 day road trip across the Peloponnese, starting and ending at the areas airport of Kalamata, in which you can take in most of the historical landmarks of the area. At the Greek Specialist, we can all the stress out of it and organise the whole thing from flights to accommodation and car hire, it can all be discussed at the time of enquiry.
How to get there
Kalamata is the airport to fly into for the Peloponnese. You can fly into Kalamata from London Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester. For most of these destinations there is only one or two flights a week, giving us our timeframe for a 7 day road trip. Flights into Kalamata for 2022 go on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, although most tend to be at a weekend.
After landing in Kalamata, you can either spend the day exploring all the city has to offer and stay the night there or you can drive to Sparta, which takes just over an hour, from which you can then explore the next day. If you’re staying in Kalamata, there’s plenty to explore, whether it be museums or churches such as the Church of Agioi Apostoloi or relaxing on any one of the beaches on the cities coast. If you drive straight to Sparta, there’s many places to get some food whilst you walk around the city and take in the sights and sounds.
Once you’re in Sparta, the two main historical sites are the remains of Ancient Sparta and Mystras. The archaeological site of the famous ancient Sparta is in the north of the town. Here you can explore the fascinating area and see the sites of the Acropolis, Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia and the theatre amongst others. These sites which remain date back as far as nearly 3000 years ago. Think about the history they have seen, walking through you can imagine what it was like in its heyday. Not far out of the town is Mystras, a Byzantine settlement dating back to the 13th century. Built around a large hill, although ruined much of the settlement is still standing and one of the churches hosts a museum holding various items from the city. Not only has this settlement still got many of its original buildings, all of which give a good idea of the importance of the city in the region, but also it has a wonderful panoramic view across the surrounding landscape.
From Sparta you then drive north towards Nafplion, if you want to however, you can detour to Monemvasia. Known as the Gibraltar of the East, Monemvasia’s main town is on the easternmost of the Peloponnese’s peninsulas. The castle and part of the town is located on a small outcrop which is attached to the mainland by a 200m long causeway. The settlement dates back to the 6th century AD and is another example of the Byzantine era of the region. Much of the town keeps its original rustic appearance and many of the buildings have been restored to keep up the appearance of the town. It should be visited if you have the time.
Spetses is not a large island, only 10 square miles, and most of the population lives in the main port of Spetses Town. This means that if you’re looking to escape the town and explore and relax it can be done in about a 30-minute walk. Known as a retreat for wealthy Athenians, it can be reached in less than two hours by boat from Piraeus. In this blog we’re going to go into more detail about the places you should do and visit whilst on the island, and show why, if you’re visiting the Argo-Saronics, you should visit Spetses.
Bike or Moped Round the Island
Cars are banned on Spetses so the only way to get around is via bus or our preferred method, bicycle or moped. Our personal choice would be bike as it allows you to take in the beautiful, serene surroundings as you cycle around. Using a moped, you can follow the track that goes around the island in just over 2 hours, so if you want to take it at a more leisurely pace, bicycle is the way to go. The track running around the island is only partially concreted so a bike may be more suited to adventuring.
The beating heart of Spetses, the town is where the majority of people who live on the island and the hotels and apartments are. A figure you will likely see around a lot in the town is Laskarina Bouboulina, a legendary figure and admiral in the Greek War of Independence. Leading the efforts of the island as part of the Greek independence movement against the Turks, she is commemorated in a statue in the main square as well as having a museum about her, which is based in her old home. Another museum to check out is the Chatzi-Giannis Mexis Museum which tells the history of Spetses. The old port area of Spetses, in the south of the town has less tourists but is still full to the brim with life and packed with restaurants. Spetses is home to a number of churches as well, all of which vary in age but are all equally beautiful.
Andros is an island that is the best of the Ionian islands and the Cyclades thrown into one. With the beautiful, whitewashed buildings and warm, sandy beaches it fits in with its neighbours as part of the Cyclades. However, one half of the island is full of luscious greenery, filled with different types of trees and shrubbery. This mix of the two gives it a very different feel to others in the Cyclades and makes a refreshing change if you’re island hopping or staying for a night or two from Athens. Andros is one of the most authentic Greek islands and is largely unaffected by mass tourism, instead it is a popular spot for many Athenians to go on holiday due to its proximity. In this article we’ll take you through what makes Andros great and why you should make it a stop when visiting the Cyclades.
How to get there
Andros is the closest of the Cyclades islands to Athens and therefore it isn’t too far on the ferry. This also makes it a good first stop if you’re embarking on a island hopping trip of the Cyclades. It doesn’t have its own airport so we recommend flying into either Athens or Mykonos. If you’re thinking of flying into Athens, the ferries will go from Rafina port which is served by a bus service which runs every 25 mins from Athens airport. You can fly into Athens or Mykonos from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted. Check the individual pages for Athens or Mykonos for other regional airports, but we will advise you of this at the time enquiry.
Ikaria has been identified as a ‘blue zone’, one of 5 in the world where the population lives consistently longer than the average. Maybe this is due to the island’s remoteness or maybe its something in the water. That is very possible as Ikaria is famed for its thermal springs which are unique in their chemical composition and radiation. The only true way to find out is to visit, and with 102km of coastline filled with beautiful white, sandy beaches what a better place to figure it out. In this blog we put forth our argument as to why this is truly a unique place that you must see.
How To Get There
As part of the Northeast Aegean islands, it is just off the coast of Turkey. The southernmost of these islands, Ikaria has a small domestic airport. You can fly into Ikaria from either its neighbour Samos, Athens or Thessaloniki. There are ferry services that run but they are irregular, so we recommend flying into Ikaria. You can fly into Athens direct from the four main London airports, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
14 kilometres from the tourist hotspot of Corfu, Paxos could not be more different. As one of the least commercial islands in Greece, here you can really explore the real Greece and sit back and enjoy everything. In this blog we’ll take you through the areas of the island and highlight the best things to see and do in Paxos.
How to get there
As Paxos isn’t large, it doesn’t have an airport so we recommend you fly into Corfu and then get the ferry over to Paxos from there. You can fly into Corfu from many UK airports including the main four London ones, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Bristol. Ferries run multiple times a day leaving from Corfu Town and arriving at Paxos’s main port Gaios.
The capital of Paxos, Gaios is also the main ferry port for the island and this is where the ferry comes from Corfu. From here you can also take the ferry to the smaller island of Antipaxos. Although it is the capital of the island it is still fairly small and operates as a fishing port first and foremost rather than catering primarily to tourists. Despite it’s size that doesn’t mean it is lacking any of the amenities that you need and the narrow, winding streets are packed with cafes, bars and tavernas as well as shops, banks, chemists and more. It is here in the cafes and tavernas of the bustling streets that you can sample the local food and a spread of other cuisines. You can choose whether to sit in the square on the waterfront and take in the atmosphere or you want to get out and explore what the town has to offer, either work equally as well. One of the most recognisable sights of Gaios is the statue of Georgios Anemogiannis, a hero of the Greek war of independence, this statue lies to the south of the town. You can also venture over to st Nicholas’s Island across the harbour, this island what makes Gaios such a great sheltered harbour as it blocks the winds coming across. St Nicholas’s Island which has two churches and the ruins of a 15th century venetian fort on it which are well worth exploring. This is not the only remains of the venetian occupation as many of the waterfronts building are built in venetian style.
Rhodes is an island that offers lots of different aspects of Greece all in one place. Rhodes Old Town holds a lot of history and is made of winding cobbled streets and alleyways which lead into open squares full of markets, churches, restaurants and cafes. Pefkos is a beautiful resort with a gently shelving beach and crystal-clear waters. Perfect for family holidays, there are also a number of good tavernas where you can sample traditional Greek dishes. Lindos is a combination of Rhodes Old Town and Pefkos with a wonderful sandy beach and a town awash with historical buildings, the highlight of which is the acropolis which features the site of an ancient temple and a 14th century castle. In this article we’ll take you through our Island of the Week discovering why it is somewhere you absolutely have to visit.
How to get there
As one of the most popular islands in the Dodecanese and Greece itself, Rhodes has a large airport which you can fly into from many UK airports. You can fly direct into Rhodes from Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Belfast, the main four London airports and many more. As a centre for the Dodecanese you can also get a ferry from either Rhodes Town or Kamiros Skala if you want to explore nearby islands such as Kos, Symi and Kalymnos.
A beautiful region in northern Greece characterized by its 3 peninsulas, often referred to as the ‘fingers’ or ‘claws’, has a wealth of wonderful things to see and do. Our Destination of the Week, each of Halkidiki's peninsulas is different and offers a unique experience which means you can feel the real Greece in every step you take. In this article we’ll take you through some of our favourites to make the most of your trip to Halkidiki.
How to get there
Halkidiki doesn’t have an airport so you will have to fly into Thessaloniki. From there it is only a 40 minute drive to the top of the Kassandra peninsula which is the nearest and most westerly. To Sithonia (the central one) and to Aristotelis (the eastern one) it is around 2 hours. You can fly into Thessaloniki directly from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Stansted and Newcastle.
Things To Do
1 – Visit Ammouliani
Ammouliani is a small island located just off the coast the Aristotelis peninsula, between it and Sithonia. Meaning ‘fine sand’, the beaches on Ammouliani definitely live up to the name. The island has some of the best beaches in Halkidiki. You can even rent a boat or join a tour discovering the little inlets and coves across the island as well as spending time on the even smaller island of Drenia just south of Ammouliani. Along with the beaches the island is made up of low, rolling hills dotted with olive trees and houses. The port town is also named Ammounliani and is home to the local museum of folklore as well as the church of Agios Nikiolaos. The streets are full of tavernas and when there you have to try the fish and seafood, all of which is caught freshly.
This week’s Island of the Week is our personal favourite here at The Greek Specialist, the Cyclades Island of Sifnos. Located in the west of the Cyclades, Sifnos very much has a similar feel and look. Most notably with the white-washed houses with shutters and the white walled churches with the blue roofs. It has a number of great beaches and its capital Apollonia, is full of close winding streets packed with restaurants and tavernas, so much so that in July and August it resembles a little Mykonos. This time of year is also when the nightlife is the best. From experience of having been there countless times here is our list of the best things to do in Sifnos.
How to Get There
Sifnos doesn’t have an airport so you will need to fly into Athens and then get the ferry from Piraeus port. Sifnos is on the Western Cyclades line and ferries tend to run at least twice a day from there. You can also fly domestically from Athens to its neighbour Milos and then get the ferry from there which takes around 45/50 mins. You can fly into Athens directly from Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Luton, Edinburgh and Stansted.
One of the things that really sets Sifnos apart from the rest is its food. Known across Greece for their skills in the kitchen, people from Sifnos have a number of recipes which really delight. There’s even a rumour that if you’re in the Greek Navy and the cook on your ship is from Sifnos, you should feel very lucky. The dish that the island is most famous for is Revithada, a chickpea soup slow cooked for many hours. If you’re on the island on a Sunday we think this is the best time to get it, as the chefs take it down to the bakers on Sunday morning and it is slow cooked for 6-8 hours making it perfect for Sunday lunchtime. Our personal favourite restaurant for it is called Meropi. Another restaurant you must check out is Nus which has its own farm which creates a lot of the produce for the restaurant making it organic and delicious.
This week's Destination of the Week is Pelion (Pronounced Pilio in Greek although spelt Πήλιο), a peninsula stuck out like an arm in eastern central Greece. The peninsula is one of the most beautiful areas of the mainland covered in luscious green forests which, in Greek mythology were said to be home to the centaurs. Unlike many popular areas of Greece, although it gets many tourists, tourism isn’t the area’s main source of income and it gets that instead from land and sea, producing large amounts of apples, pears, peaches and olives. If you want a flavour for the real Greece, Pelion is where you can find it. It’s mountainous and forested terrain means there is plenty to do and see here. In this article we’ll take you through the best things based on our personal experience with the area to help you make the most of your trip.
How to get there
To get to Pelion you have to fly into Volos which is the regional capital of the area. You can fly into Volos from London Gatwick and flights start at the beginning of the season at the end March. To best enjoy Pelion its worth renting a car to drive between the towns and villages of the peninsula, from Volos airport it can take you anywhere from 45 mins to 2 hours depending on whether you are staying in the north or south of the peninsula. Places such as Ano Lechonia, Afissos, Chorto or Damouchari are good to stay in but we can advise further at the time of enquiry.
1 – Take a train up to Milies
From the town of Ano Lechonia you can take The Pelion Train up the hill to the village of Milies. This train began operating more than a century ago in 1903 and is still run by steam train today even maintaining its vintage aesthetic both inside and out. When you reach Milies there are a number of things you can do there. There is a folk museum full of local artefacts and there are some beautiful frescoes at the Taxiarchis church (Church of the Archangels).
This week’s Destination of the Week is Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece, has a very modern feel in part due to the major shopping streets around the centre and also the large student population from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. This doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of historical landmarks, some of which we will highlight in this.
How to get there
You can fly direct to Thessaloniki from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Stansted and Newcastle. As well as this it has many domestic flights and can be used to connect and reach some of the Islands. Thessaloniki is also the gateway to Halkidiki, if you're looking to go to Halkidiki read our best things to do there
1 – The White Tower
The White Tower is probably Thessaloniki’s most famous monument, built in 1430 it was originally part of the city walls and held prisoners. Today the tower houses the White Tower Museum which is dedicated to Thessaloniki’s history from the Roman Era to the present day. These exhibitions are held in its many small rooms up and down the tower and give you an insight into the forces that have shaped the city into the place it is today. The stairs will take you to the top and from there you can see out across much of the city.
Greece is a love affair for The Greek Specialist. Our first visit to the country came in 1997 and since then