En route to Greece with only a snippet of an idea in my head about what I was about to experience. The one thing I was looking forward to was watching the sunset in the beautiful Santorini – along with every other traveler on the island!
Dusk is my favorite moment of each day, so crowded or not the golden hour is always unforgettable. But Santorini has so, so much more to offer, and if you’re willing to go a little bit off the beaten track as I did, you can truly understand why this is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
GETTING TO THE GREEK ISLANDS
It was a long haul getting to the island, one I will definitely think through more in the future. As a backpacker on a budget, I opted for the cheapest flight, which meant flying from Naples-Italy to Manchester-England then a connecting flight all the way back to Santorini. Join the dots… It was a silly move but I did save $50.
Book Now – Papafragas Hotel
HOW TO ISLAND HOP THE GREEK ISLES
The best and cheapest option to get from one Greek island to the other is by jumping on one of the local ferries that operate on a daily basis. I found that Zante Ferries have been very reliable and affordable if you book in advance. You can click HERE to visit their website and book your ferry today!
ARRIVING IN SANTORINI ISLAND + WHERE TO STAY
I finally arrived in Santorini at around midnight and took a taxi from the airport (which was a flash Mercedes) to Tonys Art Villa in Perissa Beach, Santorini. I clicked straight away with Tony, even though I woke him up in the middle of the night to get a key to my room! He was the most humble and happiest person I had come across this summer. I would recommend anyone to stay here.
Click HERE to see a list of accommodations in Santorini, and to book online in advance.
It wasn’t till the next morning that I realized why it was called Tonys Art Villa. The place looked like one big art project, lots of driftwood, fishing nets, broken bottles, stuck to the walls and hanging from balconies. All of which was created by the hands of the man himself! Each piece was crafted with such incredible delicacy, and each was imbued with, what seemed to be, the essence of Santorini itself.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN SANTORINI, GREECE
As I began to explore the island on the quad bike I rented, I was amazed at how long and mountainous this place was. I had only ever seen photos of the blue roofs and white houses of Oia. You know when you see a photo of a famous destination and you have that image stuck in your head, then you travel to that same place and the vibe you get and what you see is different from how you imagined it!? Well I get that feeling all the time, the majority of the time it’s great and other times not so much because it didn’t live up to what I expected.
The township of Oia was a feast to the eyes, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. As a kid, my greek godfather would talk about this place and always speak of the unique structure of houses and churches. So many pretty colors and bougainvillea draping over most shop fronts. It was a lot of fun exploring down skinny laneways and popping my head over the concrete walls of private villas – just imagining myself swimming in their cliffside pools.
It felt like something out of a fantasy book, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the fact that every person that I walked past – both locals and fellow foreign explorers – had their own stories. Their own journeys. It’s a humbling thought to ponder when you realize that you’re just one of many fantastical stories in a saga of a universal scale.
You begin to notice the interconnectedness of everything around you. You begin to see that other peoples’ stories are not that different from your own. This urged me to try to engage in local behavior… and I couldn’t help but start manifesting positive interactions as I meandered down the twisting lanes. It’s a good way to live, wherever you are… you never know what sorts of stories you’ll be told… what unbelievable things you will learn…
After all this philosophizing and politicizing, I, unfortunately, didn’t make the sunset as I headed back to Perissa for an afternoon siesta and lost track of time. I did however meet a couple of fellow Aussie travelers to share stories with back at Tony’s!
NEXT STOP, IOS – ISLAND HOPPING GREECE
My stay in Santorini was short and sweet and I was on a sunrise ferry the next morning to the island of Ios. You may have heard stories of the “party island” in Greece, and the stories are true! I had to see for myself. I’m not a die-hard party goer, but on a good occasion, it’s fun to let your wild side out 😀
Apart from the night scene, Ios was stunning! The clarity of ocean water here was next level. And due to the high volumes of salt in the Aegean Sea, I was pretty well bouncing on top of the surface.
IOS ISLAND, GREECE – GETTING AROUND + WHAT TO EAT
Again, I rented a scooter and spent hours scoping out cliff jumps and swimming spots around the island. If you are looking for a cheap feed, you can get something called ‘gyros’ for around 3.50 euros. It’s similar to a pita kebab that hits the spot.
I was hearing a lot of talk about a place called Pathos Sunset Lounge, a must-do whilst in Ios. I caught the local bus to the other side of the island, crammed in like a sardine. Seems everyone else had the same idea. The venue was fit for a King, boasting a 50m infinity pool, comfy outdoor lounges, chair swings hanging from the roof, and a guest DJ laying down some beats.
The best part of this whole experience was the last 5 minutes of the sun dropping over the horizon, the DJ stopped mixing and put on some soulful opera-like music that sent shivers down my spine! A sunset never to forget!
GETTING TO FOLEGANDROS
A friend of mine suggested for me to head away from the mainstream islands and check out Folegandros! The island was far less populated and on the brink of total abandonment. It is unspoiled and blissful and I felt a more sense of culture here. A much slower pace of life where the locals make a living from fishing and farming.
WHERE TO STAY IN FOLEGANDROS
The Greek woman who runs the hotel Fani Vevis where I was staying was so lovely to offer me some honey and lemon tea upon arrival! I was so appreciative of this small gesture having just commuted for 5 hours to get here. As much as I love living out of a backpack the feeling of taking it off my shoulders is always a relief!
Click HERE to see what accommodations are available in Folegandros and to book online in advance.
Eager to see what Folegandros had to offer, I went on a mission. There is basically only one main road across the steep ridges from one end of the island to the other.
The day was getting on a bit so I headed west to catch the sunset. I came across a pack of mountain goats on the cliffside, the first encounter I’ve had with this animal. I was so intrigued I just sat there admiring these cute, furry creatures for at least 30 minutes.
There was such stillness in the air on this particular afternoon and not a soul in sight. I found an off-road track that leads down toward the ocean and halfway down the mountainside I pulled my bike up at a beautiful church where I decided to watch the last rays from this point.
BEACHES IN FOLEGANDROS, GREECE
Most beaches here are inaccessible by cars and motorbikes, so make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, food, and water as it’s very hot in summer. Or alternatively, you can do a boat day trip around the island. The hike down the rocky path to Livadaki beach is breathtaking although it can be quite strenuous. The terraces of farms stretch for several kilometers, you will see haystacks, market gardens, goats, and donkeys. I gave a farmer a wave as I stopped to watch him loading up his donkey with hay. Old school!
HEADING TO MILOS ISLAND, GREECE
Last but not least I hopped over to the island of Milos. I have to honestly say that Milos was by far my favorite island! I wish I had spent more than 3 days here. The beaches here are magnificent and it’s very easy to navigate around the island.
WHERE TO STAY IN MILOS
I had booked to stay at Achivaldolimni Campground on the island which was quite cheap, around 10 euros per night for a tent and a yoga mat to sleep on. No bedding, so I rolled up my jacket and used it as a pillow. You can however pay extra for a blowup mattress.
Click HERE to see what accommodations are available in Milos and to book online in advance.
BEACHES IN MILOS ISLAND
Sarakiniko is the number 1 spot, a unique beach with white volcanic cliffs. I felt like I was walking on the surface of the moon, the chalky texture on the soles of my feet. The water is a wonderful shade of blue, and you can find a range of cliff jumps for thrill-seekers. I swam in and out of caves and rock pools lucky enough to get some underwater shots with my GoPro hero 5!
I discovered some really cool boat ports, traditional houses by the water’s edge and the greek flag was proudly flapping in the wind in almost every direction I look.
Having not originally planned to visit the Greek Islands on my European Summer trip, I am more than stoked to have made it happen! The locals are lovely, the food is excellent and everyone seemed to be on an all-time high! Greece has found a spot in my heart and I will be sure to be back for more adventures!
If you have any questions about island hopping Greece, please drop me a line and I will respond as quickly as I can!
Happy Adventuring 🙂