It is a pretty village in Mani that combines crystalline waters and distant mountains from where you get beautiful sunsets of the Messinian Gulf. Gorgeous beaches (Ritsa, Salio,Limanaki, Kalamitsi, Foneas, Delfinia,Kalogria, Stoupa), amazing food (restaurant Elies is simply great), friendly people and nice bars.
It is in the Southern Peloponnese. Nearest station is Kalamata. The restaurant Elies is at Ritsa.
Literally anywhere on the south west coast of Crete; a mix of bustling little ferry 'ports' (Sfakia, Ag. Roumeli etc.), bijou mini-beach resorts (Loutro), deserted beaches with nearby basic rooms and authentic tavernas (Licos, Phoenix). Just sit back and relax watching the crazy hordes head off to the Samaria Gorge and guessing which ones will be half dead by the other end having never walked to the supermarket let alone tackled a challenging lengthy hike wearing flip flops!
Start off on the harbour side at Chorio Sfakion (Sfakai) but be sure to buy ferry tickets from the office near the bus stop first.
A short ferry ride - or in our case an exhilarating speed boat ride - from the bustling resort of Nidri on Lefkada, lies the tiny island of Meganissi. There are just three villages on Meganissi - Vathi, Spartochori and the capital, Katomeri, all of them small with narrow streets, a handful of places to eat and a couple of mini-markets but mainly untouched by the trappings of mass tourism.
The sheltered bays round the island make it a good place to hire a motor boat for a day or two to explore some of more remote bays, caves or the "tail" of the island. The next best way of exploring is to walk - gravel tracks follow quite a lot the coastline and we took several circular walks, lasting a couple of hours. The scenery was beautiful and constantly changing as we rounded the corner into yet another bay. There are splendid views round the island to the Onassis owned island of Skorpios or over to Lefkas and towards the islands of Ithaca and Kefalonia in the hazy distance.
There are no sandy beaches on the island but some pretty pebble or shingle coves. Our favourite was Fanari Beach, a curving beach of fine shingle with mill pond like still, turquoise water and an idyllic setting. The water was quite cool but crystal clear with lots of little fishes. We also like the beach at Agios Ioannis, a narrow pebble beach, a bit more lumpy on the behind - but another pretty spot backed in places by palm trees.
We travelled there in late September with Ionian Island Holidays. We got a late deal on a lovely three bedroomed villa, set amongst the olive groves on the hillside overlooking the harbour at Vathi. Transfers were by taxi and private boat, making the whole process much easier, quicker and less stressful. Though relatively easy to get to, Meganissi feels like it is a million miles from the bustle of the livelier Greek resorts. It was certainly a peaceful and relaxing place that I would recommend to anyone who likes the quieter side of Greece.
Vassiliki is a quaint fishing village on the southern coast of the Ionian island of Lefkada. Excellent restaurants line the harbour front where diners can enjoy their meals while watching local fisherman tending their boats. There are many small B&Bs or flats to choose from and from which you can explore the surrounding area. It is an easy drive to the island's dramatic west coast beaches or the local winery. There are also several isloated beaches within walking distance from the village. The bay is a popular wind-surfing spot in the summer.
Vassiliki is on the west coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea. It is only 5 1/2 hours from Athens by car, or 45 minutes from the closest airport at Preveza.
The small island of Santorini is stunningly beautiful, with its old world traditional Greek charm and breathtaking views. However, it is one of the most expensive of the Greek islands, so our advice is to stay on the much cheaper east side of the island in a resort such as Kamari or Perissa. In the evening you can take a short bus ride (cheap fares and frequent service) to the more exclusive west side villages of Thira and Oia where you can dine in the cliff top restaurants whilst watching the spectacular sunsets. The other advantage of staying on the lower east side of the island is that this is where the beaches are located. Whatever you might read in the guidebooks, Oia does not have a beach! Many tourists make the trek down the long, steep winding path to the sea, in the sweltering heat, only to find a disappointing pile of rocks and pebbles awaiting them!
Amathia is an uninhabited island off the coast of the larger island of Kassos in the Dodecanese. A local boat will take you to Amathia where you will find deserted beaches, clear waters and, usually, very few othewr people. It is a tranquil place where a day passes like a dream. Take food and water with you.
There are flights from Athens to Kassos via Rhodes, or ferries from Piraeus,Crete and Rhodes.
'Corfu' and 'island retreat' may not be words which the traveller may think go together but there are still a few underdeveloped pockets located on the Albania-facing coastline of this green Greek isle. Tucked into the north-east is the village of Kalami, which makes a great base for exploring this rocky peninsula by bus, car, moped or legs. Heading north along the pretty coastal path leads you to a bay backed with swaying eucalyptus. Here at Kerasia, the lone taverna is the coolest move to avoid the midday sun. South of Kalami, a more rugged path, which itself passes through deserted bays and coves, ends at Agni. This gourmet's paradise plays host to three tavernas - all revered by gastronomes from the island and afar. Indeed, the most popular, Agni Taverna, was the purported location of the meeting between Peter Mandelson and George Osborne last year. I guess they thought it was a neat retreat as well!
Hotel Andreas on Agistri. This is a really friendly place for couples and families who don't want the usual hotel package with entertainment et al. The best recommedation for Agistri is that it's where the Greeks go for holidays! We love the place. Also known as the best-kept secret in the Saronic Islands, only an hour and a half by catamaran from Piraeus.
By far the best way to visit Greece is to take a flight only into Athens then take the one hour bus ride to the port Piraeus. Have a mental list of islands you wish to visit - use the many ticket agents to find a conveniently timed ferry. Outside the period mid-July to end of August finding accommodation is easy as people will meet incoming ferries. In Naxos I recommend Hotel Galini in Naxos Town. Other islands worth visiting, which can be reached easily from Naxos, are Syros, Amorgos, Folegandros and Donhoussa. Read a good travel book before you go!
Fortunately none of the major package operators go to Milos but it is still relatively easy to get to. Stay in Adamas at the Chronis Hotel which has the most amazing buffet breakfasts.
For something very different and to see parts of the island that no-one else will, then try sea kayaking organised by an affable Aussie called Rod. It's a really memorable day out.
Mykonos does have the reputation for being a party island but if you are looking for a serious bit of R&R, head to Ostraco Suites. Situated on a hilltop just above the hustle and bustle of Mykonos town, this is a fantastic place to stay. We were met at the airport by one of the staff and welcomed with an upgrade on arrival to a suite for a few nights which was heaven! Rooms are really luxurious and the breakfasts are served on the veranda - fresh fruit, home baked breads and so on - the list goes on. If you do feel like heading into the lively town centre, try Interni restaurant, an incredible setting tucked away in the old town and delicious food/cocktails. One other tip, Ostraco Suites will organise jeep hire for you - we hired one for a few days to explore the island and stumbled across beautiful Fokos beach, deserted with a huge stretch of white sand (just remember to take your own picnic/water etc as there are no bars or kiosks nearby, just one taverna on the beach only open from 1-7pm!)
Tucked away at the south eastern corner of Rhodes island is the fish restaurant of your dreams. Mediterranean blue wooden chairs and gingham tablecloths. A gallery of fresh fish to choose to get cooked for you, home made chips, tzatiki,greek salad, beer and a deserted beach or a wild flower strewn hill to walk after. Octopus hanging up to dry. Perfect.
Head for Plimmiri. You can't miss it, all there is there is the restaurant and a church.
The island of Ikaria feels off the beaten track in Greece. It is a mountainous island, near Samos in the eastern Aegean with some beautiful beaches. You need your own transport as buses are almost non-existent and when you are away from the main roads you often find yourself driving on dirt roads. Ikaria is a bit of a voyage of discovery. For me, a special place is to be found near the small village of Arethusa, half way up a mountain side, with a wonderful view of the sea – here you find the Ikarian Centre, where you can stay, and if you wish, join a Greek language course. I stayed there for 2 weeks in 2008 and it felt like I was part of a small community for a couple of weeks; a world away from busy urban life and busy tourism. We learnt some Greek, and we learnt about the island, and Greece; we went hiking, had a cooking lesson, learnt some Greek dances and had plenty of time left over to swim and explore the local tavernas.
For those of you who need to pinch the pennies this year, I'll let you in on a little tip.
The full-on party resort of Laganas in Zante is often top of the list for cheap and cheerful package bargains with tour operators, but it is also a little too hectic and youthful for those of us who are after a relaxing break away from it all.
However if you want to take advantage of low prices and have a civilised holiday experience simply take a short and scenic walk west along the beach, around a headland and past a tiny islet, to discover a small, welcoming and attractive village with its own beautiful beach and a much more authentic feel.
An uninhabited island called Marathonisi, or Turtle Island, lies opposite Aghios Sostis' bay and is named after the creature its shape resembles - the Loggerhead turtles that nest their eggs on the pretty beaches surrounding the island. The rural setting of Aghios Sostis is set against the peaceful countryside of olive groves and pine trees and an imposing mountain backdrop.
If you want to get out and about in Zante there is plenty to see and do: Navagio (Smugglers) Cove with its impressive white cliffs and pale sands is a sight to behold; the Blue Caves, discovered in 1897, are breathtaking for snorkelers and sightseers alike; the Byzantine and Venetian capital of Zante, Zante Town, is the island's cultural and commercial centre with many shops, museums and churches; and last but not least, there are many tiny and traditional mountain villages to be explored.
So for a credit crunching holiday - stay in Laganas but holiday in Aghios Sostis!
Aghios Sostis, Laganas Bay, Zante, Greece.
A fantastic beach, about a two hour walk from Karlovassi. The beach can only be reached by foot or boat and there are no facilities whatsoever. The walk although difficult in places offers outstanding views but make sure you take plenty of water and sun lotion especially if walking in the summer months.
From Karlovassi head towards Potami and follow the track up the hill at the end of the beach road.
A great restaurant with fabulous views situated in small town of Glossa in the NW of the island of Skopelos (recently made famous by Mamma Mia). Excellent food, wine and olive oil with locals and tourists equally welcome. See photo of view from one of the balconies.
Tel: 0030 24240 33076
Address: GLOSSA, SKOPELOS 37004, GREECE
Paros Heaven is set on the Greek island Paros in the Aegean Sea.
We stayed there for two weeks in June and felt really part of the Greek Nature and Culture. It has amazing views over Anti-Paros and Angeliki made us feel really at home.
This tiny secluded and perfect beach has clear turquoise water and beautiful multi-coloured pebbles. The climb down was steep but worth the effort and the fact it was a little out of the way meant it was almost deserted.
2 miles east of Potami on the north coast of Samos
On April 28th 2009 you will be able to experience the Greek Easter celebrations. A Greek or a Cretan Easter is nothing like our own and involves a lot more than giving chocolate eggs.
Families give and receive red eggs, dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. During the day families and friends get together to have a huge BBQ and usually spit roast a pig or lamb and break Easter bread, cooked for generations by a recipe handed down from mother to daughter.
At night you will see great firework celebrations and bonfires, and the little villages go mad for a night. If you book a nice family hotel or know a Greek family you will of course get dragged along to the celebrations and I can tell you it’s wonderful, I got given a handful of firecrackers and was told just to go mad.
You really have to visit Crete at this time, and after spending the past 4 Easter's in Malia I can heartily recommend seeing this town at its traditional best, this is of course before Malia becomes the hectic and debauched party town it’s known for in the summer months.
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