Greece – The Sapphire Travels Way!!

Greece – a country in southeastern Europe with thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas. Influential in the ancient times, it is often called the cradle of the Western civilization. Athens, its capital, retains landmarks such as  the 5th-century B.C. Acropolis citadel with the Parthenon temple.

Greece is also known for its beaches, from the black sands of Santorini to the party resorts of Mykonos.

So ,how do you start your remarkable adventure to a destination full of ancient architecture and mind blowing partying in all its glory? Well, get on board one of the many flights to Athens. What we recommend is that you  make this your touchdown point in Greece. Spend a minimum of two nights exploring this amazing city in all it luxury and  glory, looked over by the 5th Century architectural marvel – The Acropolis.

Athens Acropolis

Now that you have landed , here is what you should look out for in this magnificent city:

1 The Parthenon : Even if you don’t care about archaeology or the fact that if it were not for the ancient Greeks you might be living in a far less civilized way, you can’t come to Athens and not visit the Acropolis and see the Parthenon. If you do nothing else on your visit to Athens, this is the one thing you should do.

The Parthenon(pic courtesy – NY Post)

2. The Agora – Athens Central Market No matter how you feel about fish, meat and vegetables, you won’t find a livelier place than the Central market on Athinas Street, also known as the Dimotiki Agora (Public Market) or Varvakios Agora. Irrespective of your ‘jet lag’, it is highly recommended that you set foot here in the early hours of the morning(the best time to visit is between 7am – 1pm).

3. Mount Lycabettus It is hard to miss this green mountain rising out of the centre of Athens. Climbing atop is definitely worth its while as there is something important up there – An amazing view. Also a great cafe, not to mention an amphitheatre where you can see such renown acts as Leonard Cohen, Peter Gabriel, James Brown and many other acts who visit Greece in the summer. There is no more impressive place to see your favorite band or musician than this. And you don’t have to climb. There is a strange looking train that will take you almost to the top. Walking down is a lot of fun and you never know which neighborhood you are going to end up in.

Mount Lycabettus Train

4. The Plaka A walk through the oldest neighborhood in Athens is a must and is one of the most pleasurable activities to indulge in, especially in the early evening. There are hundreds of shops from kitschy touristy to the workshops of some really great artisans. There are several good restaurants where you can sit outside almost the year round.

The Plaka

5. Psiri came of age as the center of Athens nightlife during the 2004 Olympics and regardless of what people say about its commercialism, you won’t find a cooler place to be in, in  any other city in Europe or America. Psiri, with its endless small streets of cafes, ouzeries, restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres and galleries, all within a minute’s walk from Athinas and Ermou streets or Monastiraki Square, is one of the most up and coming areas you need to visit for its quaint cafes, bars and nightclubs.

Psiri

6. The Temple of Posideon There is a small beach below and a sea that looks and feels like the islands, as well as two small fish tavernas and many more on the way there and back. Go in the late afternoon, have a swim, and an ouzo and some mezedes, and see the temple and watch the sunset before going back to Athens for a quick shower and a nap before going out to dinner and maybe out on the town later. For die hard romantics – this is where you find the best sunsets – and you better not miss it in case the lady loves being floored by nature’s romantic showcases.

7. Monastiraki Flea Market It is not really a flea market in the way most of us think, except for Sunday when people seem to come from the hills to lay out their blankets and sell all sorts of stuff. During the week it is an assortment of tourist shops, clothing stores, fur and jewelry stores dotted with some pretty interesting shops, especially if you like vintage vinyl and rare CDs or really stupid T-shirts. Monastiraki Square is still one of the most lively squares in Athens and at night it is filled with young people, street venders.

8. McArthur Glen Not many travel providers will tell you about this place, but if you are one of those who want the big brands at factory outlet prices, well this is where you rather be at. It has every big fashion label you can think  or stores that you may window shop at in the city ,wondering if you could lay your hands on all that stuff at subsidised prices(yes we try to be subtle with our words).

Mc ArthurGlen – Designer Outlet

Enough of Athens? Nah! Well, there’s a lot more, but when you are on a vacation in Greece for a limited number of days, and wish to explore all of Greece, we recommend you keep it to 2-3 days at max in Athens and then move on to some of the more adventurous of the Greek Islands.

SANTORINI – one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia. YES! we are talking about the fabulously famous “all white” place you drool over  in pictures or movies. We recommend you stay here at least for 3 nights.  Anything less will not  do justice to this mesmerising place.

Santorini Island

Arriving here is easy – just catch a flight. They have an airport here… Duh!! This flight takes you about 45 minutes at max, so you land practically as soon as you take off(as they say), but there’s something in store for the more adventurous- You can take a ferry. A high speed ferry will take you about 5 hours by sea but there are others which will carry you and your cars(which is a big help to have in Santorini) for an approximate 8 hours by sea(yes they are slow , but they get you there)

The high speed ferrys have seats in economy as well as business class or as they like to call it ,the PLATINUM class(in case you are one of those Business class travellers 😉)………

What we recommend you do is, hire a smart car as soon as you set foot on this beautiful island. This will ensure that you don’t have to walk too much and everything which is already close-by becomes even closer(no, not like the song – Closer-by Chain Smokers).

Ok, now that we are actually here, here’s a look at what to do and where to stay in Santorini.

The whole complex of Santorini islands is still an active volcano (the same as Méthana, Mílos and Nísiros) and probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea.

So here are the basics of exploring Santorini – Yes,the basics !!

Once you have placed yourself in your accommodations and settled down after soaking in the beauty outside the window – start with Firá – the picturesque capital of the island; perched high up on the edge of the Caldera – it looks like a marvellous painting. Firá, together with Oia, Imerovígli and Firostefáni located high above on a cliff, make up the so-called “Caldera’s eyebrow”, the balcony of Santorini, which offers an amazing view of the volcano. Some other famous smaller villages are Akrotíri and Méssa Vounó, with their famous archaeological sites, Pýrgos, Karterádes, Emporió, Ammoúdi, Finikiá, Períssa, Perívolos, Megalohóri, Kamári, Messariá and Monólithos. Some of the villages are cosmopolitan, some more peaceful; they are surrounded by vast vineyards; whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles offering amazing views out over the Aegean. Soaking up the villages’ distinctive traditional atmosphere is a very rewarding experience.

The map below highlights the places to stay at, on Santorini Island. Fira, Oia & Imerovigli are on our highly recommended places list  to stay at. These places offer you the most out of the Island experience. Staying too far west or south is recommended only for those who want to stay away from the hustle and bustle. These parts offer resorts that are a wonderful setting for those who are only looking to DO NOTHING and  relax.

The top 3 recommendations  we made are places for 1st time visitors who want a complete Greek Island experience. You will find resorts about 300-500m walking distance from Fira. These are ideal because you will be staying in isolation while having the option to walk to places to hang out and mingle and party. Fira This is where you will find most of the bars and nightclubs on the island. It would be no surprise to sight Greek and international A-list celebrities here from time to time.

The most famous joints to party here are – The TWO BROTHERS BAR, MURPHY’S BAR, KOO CLUB, ENIGMA & TROPICAL. They all have their own distinctive outlooks and themes, so bar hop a bit to choose your perfect match.

The party at Fira usually begins and ends at the main square, which in high season is rarely ever quiet.

Most nightclubs in Fira have cover charges of up to 10 Euros, and don’t expect to get in wearing sandals and swimming trunks

Santorini(map courtesy Greeka.com)

A visit to Santorini is the ultimate gastronomic experience. The island is a true culinary paradise! Treat your taste buds to some famous traditional products like cherry tomatoes, white egg plants, fava, caper and “hloró tyrí”, a special kind of fresh goat cheese found on the island, or why not try some of the exceptional wines produced from grapes grown in the volcanic soil of the island! Assyrtiko, Athyri, Aidani, Mantilaria and Mavrotragano are just some of the distinctive varieties that you can taste at the island’s famous wineries (some of them operate as a museum as well) or at restaurants.

Click Here for a list of the Top Restaurants to eat at in Santorini as accumulated on Trip Advisor.

For all its reputation of being a quiet honeymoon island with nothing but couples holding hands while watching the sunset, there are quite a number of hotspots that makes the Santorini nightlife live up to the party image of the Greek islands.

It is not just about staying on an island and relaxing… Santorini can be experienced in many more ways such as:

1.Cable Car Rides

2.Volcano Cruises

3.Photography Tours

4.Wine Tours

5.Jet Skiing

6.Volcano Walking

7.Hot Springs

8.Paths, Alleys, and Stairwells of Oia and much more…

But we have a special pick – A Private Boat Cruise on board on of these:

Sunset Oia Lagoon Cruises

A Premium Semi- Private Yacht – Lagoon 500

Description:

Duration 5 hours

Our magnificent catamaran ‘Sunset Oia’ Lagoon 500 starts from the Ammoudi port of Oia at 09.45.

There is a roundtrip transfer from your hotel provided by our mini buses.

The Lagoon 500 has an award wining design for its comfort and space.

ROUTE

The cruise starts with sailing close to caldera cliffs.

– First stop: Hot Springs for mudbath. Sailing close to Aspronisi, Ancient light house, Akrotiri and Indian rock

– Second stop: White Beach for swimming, snorkeling and for the barbeque on board.

– Last stop: Red Beach for snorkeling and photoshooting.

The tour finishes in Vlychada and our mini buses take you back to your hotel.

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

– Snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel & fins )

– Unlimited drinks (soft drinks, white santorinian wine, beer, ouzo and water)

– Towels (to be returned to the crew)

– Jacket (to be returned to the crew)

– Map with extensive info on the landmarks and destinations

– Wi-Fi available on board

MENU

Greek Menu prepared on the spot:

  • Grilled Chicken and Pork Skewers
  • Greek Salad
  • Shrimp Saganaki
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Italian Pasta with red Sauce
  • Stuffed Vine Leaves
  • Vegetarian Meal

Sure, the Santorini nightlife cannot provide the wider club scene of, say Ios or Mykonos, but if you know where to go, you are almost guaranteed a sensational time. So, here’s where we recommend you head to, after your stay in Santorini is complete – straight to MYKONOS !!

Mykonos- popularly known for its summer party atmosphere. Beaches such as Paradise and Super Paradise have bars that blare thumping music. Massive dance clubs attract world-renowned DJs and typically stay open well past dawn. (According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. And did you know that the island took its name from the grandson of Apollo, “Mykonos”?)

So lets arrive here in style, how about on board one of these(although you can fly in directly from Athens, yet this is how we reckon you plan it – ‘after Santorini’) :

SEAJET – Ferry from Santorini to Mykonos

Seajet – no, this is not a sponsored ad… yet, aren’t they impressive? Well, not only them, there are others like them too. And yes they are stylish….

Mykonos – A Look Around!!

Mykonos(Pic from Pinterest)
Mykonos – (Pic from Lonely Planet)
Mykonos(Pic from travel away)

Yes, we are impressed too! MYKONOS packs a punch for romance in solidarity till the sun starts to go down and PARTY like crazy once the sun rises(you read that right – they party all day).

Mykonos-photo-from-the-party-clubs-Facebook-page

Exploring Mykonos Stroll around its narrow marble streets and admire whitewashed houses with colourful doors and window frames, bougainvillea trees in purple bloom and hidden churches. Pay a visit to the church of Panayia Paraportiani, the Town hall and the castle situated above the harbour. Don’t forget to visit the Archaeological, Folklore and Maritime Museums to take in a little history. Wander around the pedestrian shopping streets of the Hóra, always colourful and busy. The most glamorous of all is Matoyánni Street, lined with brand name stores, charming cafés and stylish restaurants.

Alright, we will not defer from the topic that makes Mykonos interesting – PARTYING!!So, if you need(why “if”, though??), a different kind of an adrenaline rush , using the Hóra as your base, set out on a trip to discover the beauties of the island, in particular, its sun-kissed beaches. Along the southern coast, you will find a great selection of the most cosmopolitan ones. Here, wild parties keep the crowds rocking day and night. Paradise and Super Paradise may already be familiar to you. Órnos and Psaroú are favorite family spots. Try visiting  Platis Yalós, with a well-organized beach where you can soak in the sun lazing on a sun lounge. However, if you are looking for a serene beach to unwind with a book, pick a less organized one on the northern coast of the island, like Ayia Ánna, Houlákia, Kápari, Agrári and Ayios Stéfanos.

ARE YOU READY FOR GREECE YET? Call us now – 09999065555, watcha’ waitin for??

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