A love letter to… Greece

Travel inspiration

By

By |

Greece is Southern Europe’s eternal paradise. Come and discover what makes us adore it so much.

Greece has forever been a popular holiday destination. Even throughout 2021, which hasn’t been the easiest year for travelling, the country welcomed over six million tourists. For many, it wasn’t their first time to Greece, and indeed, it won’t be their last. It’s simply impossible not to fall in love with its ancient history, turquoise waters and delicious cuisine.

The islands and their beaches

The moonscape of Sarakiniko Beach on the island of MilosThe moonscape of Sarakiniko Beach on the island of Milos — Shutterstock

Thousands of islands belong to Greece, but only 270 of them are inhabited. People can’t get enough of these archipelagos surrounded by the blue waters of the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas. Very few will have time to visit them all, but here are some that we think are extra special:

  • Santorini — pretty as a picture with its whitewashed buildings, black volcanic beaches and luxurious hotels
  • Crete — known for its exquisite food, great for sightseeing, boasts stunning beaches and a vibrant nightlife
  • Rhodes — lots of historical architecture, surfing opportunities and tranquil hot springs, guarantees great weather all year round
  • Mykonos — offers boutique hotels, a dynamic nightlife and charming Cycladic architecture
  • Zakynthos — renowned for its amazing beaches, on one of which sits a mysterious shipwreck (see below), and loggerhead turtles can be spotted in the waters
  • Corfu — great for romantic breaks as well as family holidays
  • Kos — for sporty types, with countless outdoor activity opportunities such as mountain biking, diving and horseback riding
  • Kefalonia — one of the larger yet more peaceful islands, famous for its delectable Robola wines
  • Skiathos — lovely provincial towns nestled in amongst pine forests

Navagio beach from above, the famous shipwreck just visible on the leftIts picturesque bay and strange shipwreck make Navagio a must-see beach — Shutterstock

Of course, the perfect Greek resort would be nothing without the perfect beach. We recommend:

  • Navagio Beach (Zakynthos)
  • Porto Katsiki (Lefkada)
  • Myrtos Beach (Kefalonia)
  • Balos Beach (Crete)
  • Elafonisi Beach (Crete)
  • Agios Prokopios Beach (Naxos)

Ancient culture

Tourist takes a photograph of Acropolis in the early evening sunlightLocated in Athens, Acropolis is a marvel of ancient craft — Shutterstock

Greece is considered to be the birthplace of European culture for a reason. We owe Hellas for its extraordinary literary masterpieces, as well as for the bases for mathematics, and Western science and philosophy. Naturally, Ancient Greek art and architecture are also iconic. The crème de la crème of the monuments from this period is the Acropolis — a temple complex from the 5th century BCE, built on a hill overlooking Athens.

The amphitheater of EpidaurusThe amphitheater of Epidaurus — Shutterstock

The ruins of Delphi, a religious sanctuary at the foot of Mount Parnassus, are a prime reminder of the Ancient Greeks’ staunch belief in their mythology. Meanwhile, in the Peloponnese, you’ll find the Epidaurus amphitheater, built around 330 BCE. The sheer scale of the construction and its stellar acoustics are breathtakingly impressive, a nod to the importance of the theater in Hellas as a vehicle of culture.

A feast fit for the gods

Two glasses of white wine and a selection of snacks on a table against the backdrop of SantoriniYou can’t go to Greece and not try the wine and the olives — Shutterstock

Wherever you are in Greece, on the mainland or on the islands, you’ll come across vineyards and olive groves. Anyone who knows even just a little about Mediterranean cuisine understands that good-quality olive oil and wine are absolute staples. Mix these simple ingredients with some freshly-caught fish and local vegetables, and there you have it — a typical Greek meal that’s both mouth-watering and nutritious.

Olives play a vital part in Greek cuisine, and those from the Kalamata region are supposedly the healthiest in the world — rich in unsaturated “good” fats, iron, calcium, fiber and vitamin A. Eating these little pearls of elixir will (maybe) counteract the negative effects of excessive consumption of a certain grape-based beverage, that we may have just mentioned.

When it comes to sweets, make sure to try baklava, loukoumades — kind-of mini donuts, and bougatsa — a custard pastry. These delicious treats usually come dripping in honey and/or sugar, so they’re nowhere near as healthy as the olives, but come on — you’re on vacation.

The Greek way of slow living

Woman having breakfast in the foreground of MykonosCoffee tastes better with a view of Mykonos — Shutterstock

Nikos Kazantzakis’s Alexis Zorba one of the most famous characters of modern Greek fiction personifies the great joy in life that the Greek people have. Their friendly openness, their serene, laid-back nature and their gentle pride in where they come from will make you fall even deeper for this nation (after having been to the beaches, of course).

Copying the locals’ way of life is certainly appealing. Sip fresh coffee or a measure of ouzo in a quaint little café while enjoying pleasant conversation. Partake in an obligatory siesta in the early afternoon. Finish your day in one of the local taverns to hear some traditional music, where there might be some traditional dancing to go with it. Allow yourself to slow down and relax — you’ve earned it.

Do you want more travel articles? Visit Kiwi.com Stories.