Take a chance!
- with accommodation (unless it's peak peak season or there's a festival on). We've always found it much cheaper to go for one of the places offered to ferry arrivals than booking in advance.
- there's almost always room-owners touting as you disembark, and they are competing against each other. If you don't like the room, you can always move on the next day. This way we usually pay €25-35 (for the two of us) and even as low as €20 on one sleepy island. That time the room was new with en-suite, balcony, fridge, kettle. Never had a bad room yet, some mediocre, but let's face it, you're there to explore, eat out, drink... The room is to sleep and shower. Breakfast on your balcony saves money too - usually rooms also have kettle/small stove.
Most islands (except Argo-Saronic which fill with Greeks from Athens); all the Cyclades (except Folegandros where we had to take a bus to the Hora and walk round asking at places advertising rooms). But worth it for the most lovely Hora, food and views.
After hours of searching for affordable accommodation in Athens we found this delight.
Inside it is clean and friendly, has free Wi-Fi and a lovely garden courtyard where they do a good cheap breakfast in the morning and a good cheap beer in the evening.
When you step outside you're right in the heart of the Plaka and surrounded by tavernas and cafes. A five-minute walk along the cobbled streets takes you to the Acropolis, the new museum and Syntagma Square. A four-person room with facilities is €100 per night.
16 Kydathineon, Plaka
The port of Rafina is only 10 kilometres from the new Athens International airport. It is far easier to access for ferries to the islands than Piraeus, with plenty of buses charging only 3 Euros for the journey, and with none of the chaos that exists at Piraeus.
If you open any Santorini travel guide, you will read that Santorini is an amazing island, of sublime beauty, with unique natural scenery. This is absolutely true. They also mention the wonderful sunset and the romantic atmosphere. This is absolutely true as well. Santorini, however, offers many more options and this makes it ideal not only for couples but also for solo travelers. Being a solo traveler myself, I always want to find activities that will give me the opportunity to explore and discover new things. As I was staying at Kamari, I decided to do a hiking from there to Ancient Thera.
I started rather early in the morning in order to avoid the sun and the heat. I took the paved, winding road that goes uphill. It was not very easy, but I had the chance to see parts of the ancient cemetery and a panoramic view of Kamari. The pine trees at the side of the road provided me with a few shady places where I could catch my breath. Plus, I was not the only one following this route and this gave me more courage! As I was not in a hurry, I did a detour and went to the chapel of Zoodochos Pigi, too, where I relaxed for a while on its cemented benches, as the shade of the huge tree keeps the place cool. Right next to the chapel, there is a small cave, but you will need extra light if you want to see it. After that, I returned to the main path and headed towards the archaeological site of ancient Thera, the main settlement of the island from the 12th century BC until the first centuries AD. It did not take me a long time to see it all, but it was one of the most interesting places on Santorini.
Totally, it took me about 2.5 hours and I admit it was tiring at some points, however I think it was one of the most interesting and original things I did while being on Santorini. I enjoyed the open, panoramic view of Kamari and the Aegean Sea -a totally different sight from the caldera but equally beautiful- and though I did not walk on volcanic ground, the thought that I was walking on the oldest part of the island charmed me. I recommend this route to everyone and I hope you will find it as interesting as I did.
I found all the info I needed at this site:
Away from the hubub and mass tourist market, the small town of Plakias lends itself to hiking the mountain paths and wonderful cliff walks during the day and relaxing in the pleasant seaside atmosphere in the evening.
Budget travellers can stay at the Plakias Youth Hostel run by amiable manager Chris, while the more well heeled can rent a small apartment for a few more Euros.
Situated at the foot of the famous Acropolis, this stunning new museum dedicated to the findings and artefacts is now open. At an entrance price of only €1 it is a bargain for visitors. As you move to the upper levels, the full glory of the Parthenon and the Acropolis itself are magically manifest.
Gavdos is a tiny island in the Lybian Sea, just an hour and half of ferry from Crete South coastal village of Hora Sfakion (or Sfakia). Apart from August, when the island can be quite crowded, you can enjoy the feeling of being away from the world (or not necessarily too far away, it's up to you).
From the port you can get a lift to Korfos, where an easy path leads to Tripiti in an hour walk. In Korfos there are a pair of good tavernas where nice and clean rooms can be rented, but my wife and I, we spent a week on the Tripiti pebbly beach with our tent, only coming back to Korfos when we need to refill our water tank or to enjoy the local food, sitting in a taverna porch. It was September, the days were very hot, but the nights were incredible: fresh with a sky full of stars, the silence complete, only the sound of the waves.
But you don't need to be so naive; staying in Korfos (where there is a nice little beach) and going sometimes to Tripiti is a good experience.
Yet, when the last daily tourist (if there were someone) has gone, the beach and the cape are your, till next day. It's a unique experience. And consider that you don't need a lot of camping gear, a sleeping bag, some water and tinned food are enough. Don't be afraid to be alone, there isn't any danger at all, apart that ones that you can provoke: don't light fires!
With a fifteen minutes walk along the beach and then on a path over the rocks, you can get the big concrete chair just over the cape: climb over it and enjoy the sight!
From Hania (where you can arrive by plane) there is a bus service to Sfakia, where the ferry sets off to Gavdos.
Looking at www.sfakia-crete.com/sfakia-crete/ferries.html you will find the ferry timetable for Gavdos as long as bus timetable for Hania-Sfakia service. Hania is the nearest international airport.
Sarakiniko is the Gavdos main hamlet, with a good choice of domata (rooms) to rent, tavernas and a wide sand beach. There is a supermarket, too.
One of the most beautiful Greek islands, with superb natural beauty and traditional villages, take visitors back in time.
On the island there are three Venetian castles; the impressive cave of Saint Sophia with the Byzantine frescoes of the 13th century, the enchanting location Watermills with waterfalls and lakes, and beautiful beaches with crystal blue waters.
Super beach near final stop for Koukinares bus. Cross road from bus stop and follow dirt road up and over using banana beach signs to guide you.
Beautiful water and sand with a couple of decent bar/cafe's. There is a nudie section up the far end if you want to get naked with all the other middle aged swingers. Expect to pay £8 parasol/lounger combi.
By the sea - last stop on island bus service 26(i think)
Maria's walls are illustrated with characters from children's fairy tales. This kooky charm extends into the handwritten jotter style menu's.
True to form the food is magical and if the characters could come to life they would surely follow cartoon wafts of delicious food all the way to your table. Pizza's are fantastic with a choice of mozzarella or feta cheese with more or less what ever else you want (the feta one is better). Feta stuffed garlic bread is the best I've ever had and jugs of house red and white are just as good as any of the overpriced bottles.
All this takes place al fresco under the leafy protection of a beautiful Mulberry tree. There is limited seating inside.
Only open at night. Expect to wait for a table at high season. A pizza and salad (both shared between two) + wine came to under €30. There is a great jeweller's/treasure trove next door where you can browse and chat to Harris(the owner) while you are waiting.
Skiathos sqaure near the church
There are many day-trips to the volcano. Most will collect you from the quayside for a run to the crater and straight back again.
If you want to see the quiet villages of Nikia or Emborio on the crater rim as well (and the view from Nikia in particular is terrific), you may need to make a few enquiries - there are a few guides who go a bit further, but not many!
Alternatively, there is a limited bus service into the interior.
Although it sits dauntingly high above the little town, the ruined castle is a straightforward, rocky, if tiring, 30-minute walk from the centre.
The path is fairly simple to follow - if in doubt, look for the ankle-level lights that mark the way. At the summit, you can scramble around the ruins and take in the view of Tilos's central plain and surrounding mountains, as well as the beaches at Plaka and Agios Antonios.
Arriving from Livadia, you may see a sign directing you. Failing that, just walk back along the road from the central bus stop.
Tucked into a secluded corner of beautiful Parasporos beach, is a rare treat. A restaurant serving top quality international and Greek dishes sourced entirely from local produce. The menu changes seemingly daily, (at least it did every time we visited), so there is always something for even the most jaded of palates, and with the wide selection of beers and wines it's easy to spend the whole afternoon eating, whilst drinking in the view of the sea as it laps at the edge of the beach, mere feet away.
Shirley Valentine would love it!
To the side of the big beach bar at the northern end of Parasporos Beach approx 2km from Parikia.
Either go by foot along the road to the airport and take the turning for Delphini beach, and keep going alomg the track for another 500m or so, or take a cab (about 5 euro from Parikia)
Avoid Corfu's grisly package resorts and club 18-30 rep-enforced 'fun' - if you really want a clubbing holiday with sun, sea and sand, it's far cheaper to stay in a hostel.
The Pink Palace is legendary on the backpacker trail for it's beautiful location on the beach, private rooms with (free!!) air conditioning and wild parties.
More like a bargain resort than a hostel, you never have to leave the Pink Palace - the staff will pick you up from the airport or port, and have devised a jam-packed events and excursions calender if you want to do more than veg out on the sand.
The price includes countless extras, from a delicious full cooked breakfast (the perfect hangover cure) to a traditional Greek home-cooked 3 course feast at night, served in the rooftop garden overlooking Agios Gordios Bay.
The 24-hour bar (with a 5-hour happy hour!!) and access to the Palladium nightclub will keep party animals entertained, and you can recover the next day on the private sun-loungers on the beach, in the jacuzzi or in the spa room.
We were amazed at the activities on offer - the 'booze cruise' took us around the island to sea caves, places to snorkel and cliff dive. The Quad Biking 'safari' was a more adventurous way to see Corfu, we found ourselves off-roading through olive groves and scaling the mountain tops!
There was also a Kayak safari, hiking and trail walking, volleyball and basketball tournaments... but we didn't have the energy to tackle them all!
Aside from all the extras, the hostel has all the facilities you'd expect from a hotel- lockers in the dorms, washing machines, a 24-hour reception, a swimming pool... and like some other hostels in Europe, there's no curfew.
The staff were super-friendly, and everyone staying there was out to have a good time.
This beautiful 17th century monastery is a hit with the tour buses, but even with the crowds it's a wonderful diversion from the beach, and a great way to see the entire island unfold from your car window as you climb Corfu's hills.
Perched high on a headland and surrounded by wild flowers, the orange buildings are wonderfully ornate inside, and you can look at the famous ceiling carving of the ‘Tree of Life’.
Be sure to cover your shoulders or wear respectable clothing, no matter how intense the summer heat!
Above the beach resort Paleokastritsa
A hangover from the island's British military and colonial past, we were surprised to find that cricket is a popular game in Corfu! The first game took place here between the two military groups on St George’s Day in 1823, and today you can have a game all over the island. The most popular greens are the Esplanade at Corfu Town, (although alot of that space is a car park now) and the brand new ground at Kontokali Marina. Things really kick off in July, and games last 35 overs.
Watch a game, or bring your own set and play!
Esplanade - right in the center of Corfu Town.
A Greek Ghost town (or village), Old Perithia was built in Byzantine times, and is hidden in the hills of Corfu.
This mountain village was once the bustling home to 1,500 people, but today about six people live here, and the rest of the village is a tangle of crumbling stone walls and deserted squares.
An interesting insight into how tourism has affected the island - as the original villagers fled to the coastal resorts for jobs, leaving their olive groves behind.
We wandered around for a few hours in amazement at all the empty houses, and then cooled off in one of the remaining tavernas.
An eerie afternoon, but a refreshing change from our busy resort!
Old Perithia, off the main road between Kassiopi and Acharavi.
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