The Romantic Getaway on Everyone’s Lips in 2015
Without a doubt this summer belongs to Greece. The country has not only been a hot topic for the last couple of months due to its economic crisis, but, it was also on the lips of everyone planning an affordable summer vacation with his or her significant other. This beautiful and archeologically dense country whose income is based largely on tourism is obviously an important topic for the LeafCanoe team, as we always strive to give you the most reliable and updated traveling tips and information.
In July, we’ve already written about “Pros and Cons” of traveling to Greece during its economic crisis (READ MORE), and right after our article, we have received many questions from the community regarding safety measures and other practical tips on traveling to Greece this year. You’ve asked, so we decided to investigate further and find out the details, as well as special recommendation on where to travel during the economical crisis in Greece.
We interviewed Alex, a LeafCanoer who traveled for 2 weeks across Greek’s islands with her boyfriend and another lovely couple. They came back with the hottest news and still-fresh memories of Greece! We are happy to share the details of their stunning journey and hopefully help you in planning your own dream trip to Greece in an efficient way!
Alex’s Point of View: 9 Things She Learned About Traveling In Greece In 2015
Alex, you traveled to Greece from Switzerland with your boyfriend and another couple by car….
1. Is Greece indeed a great destination for a couple?
It has the most romantic sunsets in the world, friendly people and angelic landscapes: just white and blue all around you. Plus, there are a lot of activities for couples who plan to stay for 2 weeks, including quad rides, kitesurfing or donkey rides, so you won’t get quickly bored.
2. Sounds fun. Just wondering, why did you choose Greece, again? You’ve been there for three times, already…
First of all, I’ve never been to islands before as I was hanging out mostly in the mainland exploring (for example) Athens. There’s plenty of things to see in Greece and one week will never be enough, unless you want to run instead of enjoying a truly romantic time with your significant other. Secondly, Greece is pretty cheap and only gets cheaper, and we planned a 2 week holiday on a budget in Europe this year.
3. You weren’t concerned about the big Greek economical crisis?
I was thinking about it for a while, but then we found a really good accommodation deal and read through many positive reviews of others traveling to Greece. We decided to take the risk and it was worth it. At the end of the day there was practically no sign of an economical crisis everyone was talking about. Well, we haven’t been to mainland Greece this time, so it’s hard to say what’s happening there, but on the islands it was just like an old, beautiful Greece – full of chilled people, delicious food and wonderful landscapes with lively-as-always villages.
4. How did you get to Greece from Switzerland?
By car through Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Albania…and it was a big mistake. Half of the time it took us getting somewhere, so out of 14 days of holiday, only 4 days I spent on my favorite activity which is beachin’. From the other side it was great to see majestic mountains and Vietnam rice paddies-like fields in Croatia, but if I had to choose I would simply fly over to Greece next time. Just to save more time for chilling in Greece.
5. What place on the way to Greece did you love the most?
Probably Dubrovnik in Croatia, where they shot Game of Thrones…
6. How long did the journey take?
Well, if you go straight to Greece it would probably take around 30 hours, since there’s around 2,500 km to do, but we stayed in Croatia and made other stops on the way to Greece. Also, roads of Albania are not the best, so forget about driving 100km/hour…you’d better have good driving skills if you choose mountainous roads on your way to Greece from Switzerland.
7. You mentioned that Oia, Santorini and Naxos were the best parts of your trip in Greece. How about other spots you visited there?
I did not like Fira that much, because it was crowded and a bit dirty. In my opinion you could easily miss out this part of the trip if you’re running out of time. About museums – I am a big fan of culture and art, but the museums on islands all seemed just the same to me. In every corner you saw the same folk culture. It’s enough if you visit the one museum and the rest of your time you spend outdoors.
8. The best memory?
Quads in Oia! You should try it too! It’s lots of fun.
9. What are you planning to see next time in Greece?
Kreta, Korfu and Zakynthos. I like history so this time I am going to choose places of even bigger archaeological value.
Alex’s Point of View: Two Must-See Romantic Islands of Greece
Naxos is the most fertile and the largest of the Cycladic islands – no wonder why it’s called the city of god. It had to be blessed by the god himself since its natural beauty, including the romantic sunsets and endless ocean horizons, are simply divine. All of this of course works like a magnet for the paradise-seeking travelers, especially for newly married couples.
However, apart from its highly attractive visuals, Nexos also boasts an interesting history. Did you know that the city was the birthplace of Zeus, king of the gods? Or that Theseus has infamously abandoned Ariadne after she had helped him escape the Cretan labyrinth? Fortunately, it did not take long before Dionysos (the happy god of wine and ecstasy!), took good care of her. From then on, the wines of Naxos have been efficiently soothing the pain of travelers’ broken hearts, but even if your heart is in good shape I would still suggest you try the wines!
In addition to the great wines, you will also find remnants of impressive archeological monuments and museums as Naxos is a unique blend of ancient ruins and beach culture. Now, lets’ see what other attractions Naxos has in store for couples searching for fun and romance. Read about 5 things you and your significant other should do while in Naxos:
Portara will be first thing you’ll see from the ferry upon arrival in Naxos. Portara is a marble gateway to an ancient temple that no longer exists and the symbol of the island. It’s also the spot of the famous sunset view of the island, so be prepared to wait a bit in a queue to take a shot there. To hike over there, choose a causeway to Palatia, as the marble gate standing on top of a small islet is connected to the Town of Naxos through a small passageway. This gate is the only one remaining from a 6th century BC temple of Apollo.
If you like hiking, don’t miss Mt Zeus (1004m; also known as Mt Zas) – the Cyclades’ highest peak lying in the vicinity of the enchanting villages of Halki and Apiranthos with traditional footpaths to follow between villages and picturesque churches. Just be careful because the village of Halki is known for producing one of the best citron liquors, like for example the liquor of Marc F.Vallindras a trusted family secret keeps producing the aperitif from the fifth generation. Go and visit Vallindras Traditional Distillery of Kitron, which offers a tour of the kitron liqueur distillation process. At the end of the tour, you can sample this traditional drink of Naxos.
2. Enjoy the stunning beaches…but which one?
The ones in the western side of Naxos of course!
Beaches from Agios Georgios and Agios Prokopios down to Mikri Vigla and Alyko have crystal water and soft sand. Even though they are acclaimed, you can still find totally remote spots, another reason to recommend the accommodations on this beachside. However, if you like more “raw” beaches, Naxos also offers pebble beaches and beautiful black beaches typical of most volcanic islands.
If you are more of an active couple, try windsurfing in the lagoon of Agios Georgios, which is claimed to have ideal windsurfing conditions. Or, if you prefer kiting , one of the best kitesurfing beaches is the beach of the Mikra Vigla.
3. Have a romantic walk!
If like taking romantic walks, definitely check out Kastro, where you can explore on paved patches and among the ancient stone buildings. Kastro is called the Greek Venice and it’s the oldest quarter in Naxos Town. And no wonder — Kastro was indeed constructed by the Venetians in the Medieval times!
4. Visit Churches
Mix with the locals and follow them to panigiri (religious feast) in the picturesque churches. The panigiria include a litany of the saint’s icon all around the village. And then — dancing, eating, drinking, dancing, eating, drinking… in the central square till you drop out at dawn. There are many religious feasts being held all around Naxos you can’t go wrong.
5. Participate in the Naxos Festival in Bazeos Tower
The Naxos Festival originally started in summer 2001 and takes place in the restored Bazeos Tower in the center of the island. The Bazeos Tower has been functioning as a monastery of Holy Cross from 1600 and now serves as residences and workshops of ceramists. For the last 100 years the tower has hosted exciting cultural events, especially during its acclaimed Naxox Festival. To get a great taste of Greek folk culture, be sure to participate in the plentiful musical concerts and art exhibitions. Festival lasts from July to September, read more here.
The road to Oia was narrow and steppy. The village can be reached by a road that meanders along the steep cliffs located to the eastern periphery of Santorini. At certain points this road is so narrow that it looks more like a ridge that can barely accommodate two lanes with no railing for protection.
Santorini is gifted with a unique natural beauty and a wild scenery created by past volcanic eruptions. It is known for the beautiful caldera and two small islands of black lava that are also the youngest islets in the Eastern Mediterranean.
White-washed and brightly trimmed buildings glittering in the Sun on a striking volcanic cliff, the crystal clear blue Mediterranean ocean, endless horizon and churches blue domes decorate every corner of the picturesque landscapes. There’s soooo much to see. Do NOT forget your camera! Like most volcanic islands, Oia has a rather a raw beauty covered with dark pebble beaches and sharp volcanic rocks. I’ve compiled a list of possibly best experiences to try out and enjoy in Oia based on Alex recommendations, so read what you should do below:
1. Embarking on Caldera sailing cruise
Oia is often crowded during the touristic season as it has plenty of bars, restaurants and hotels positioned right on top of rocky ridge lines and promontories. Best known for its fabulous panoramic view and sunny Mediterranean backdrop, the Santorini Caldera will not disappoint. Oia lies above an under-water volcano; the northernmost part of the Caldera’s crater-like structure was formed by the collapse of land following a massive volcanic eruption. The crater actually looks like a “cooking pot”.
Some calderas are highly mineralized, thus are known for the healthy properties of their hot springs. Rent a boat and take off to the shore to swim in the natural hot springs all around. It’s surprising, but this part of ocean often has rough waters, so this swim isn’t for novices… be careful. Even strong swimmers can have a tough time to making it to the shore. Stick close to the boat. If you don’t feel like being a swimming champion, enjoy the cruise from inside of the boat. Be sure to take plenty of memorable pictures, eat, drink and observe the super romantic sunsets. I promise that you won’t get bored.
2. Watching the sunset
Talking about sunsets. Many travelers agree that the sunsets of Santorini are the most beautiful anywhere on earth. The best news is that the sunsets can be savored from countless vantage positions all over the island, and Oia is definitively one of them. Romantic lights decorate the newer buildings, including hotels and restaurants built on the cliffs, starkly contrast with the deep blue of the ocean and raw dark volcanic rock landscapes, providing you with truly mesmerizing views of Santorini’s natural beauty and rich Mediterranean history.
A truly great way to experience Santorini’s incredible sunsets is by embarking on a romantic sunset cruise. It doesn’t get any better than that.
3. Hiring a quad or a bike and riding around the island!
Hiring a quad or a bike is a lot of fun and it’s still a pretty cheap activity (around 15€ for the day plus fuel), and all you need to rent it is to have a standard driver’s license. Touring the island in this way will offer you a more intimate look at the landscape. That way, you will discover areas that are not normally accessible by bus plus you will have the amazing summer experience of salty Mediterranean breezes ruffling your hair. Who wouldn’t love that?
One of the safest roads are near Kamari and Perissa, where you can cruise down to their famous black sand beaches if you want to chill.
4. Staying in a Cave house
There are many lovely hostels “set in stone” and one of them is undoubtedly Caveland in Karterados. Due to its white-washed styling, bright blue doors decorated with fuchsia flowers, it is quintessentially Greek. And if you are a romantic couple, Oia is a perfect getaway and has definitely the best view of the caldera while remaining far away from the lively and crowded Fira. Couples who prefer to be in the center of action should choose Fira over Oia, but this is the chapter of a whole new story, since this time we are focusing on quiet and relaxing Greek islands.
Conclusion? Even with the economical issues, Greece is apparently more popular this year than we’ve seen it in many other years. The prices are cheap and the U.S dollar is strong. Romantic Greek island getaways continue to be attractive to travelers. So, if you are looking for lovely locations and breathtaking landscapes with staggering sunsets, Oia Santorini and Naxos are highly recommended by couples just like you. Whatever you choose, Alex recommends spending at least 4 days of getaway time on those beautiful beaches and relaxing in two of the most picturesque islands in the Mediterranean. What a great way to charge your battery for the wintertime.
Oia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oia,_Greece
Santorini link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santorini
Naxos link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naxos
Kreta (Crete) link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crete
Korfu (Corfu)link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corfu
Zakynthos link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakynthos