“Happy is the man who has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea”
Or so they said long ago. And true, Vijay Ram was a happy man indeed. While he did not exactly sail the Aegean, he decided to spend one week in Greece and explore Athens and Santorini to his heart’s fill. Want to become that explorer yourself? Get started here!
You can make a thousand trips and still have one exotic island to visit each time – Greece has more than thousand islands. My target was mainly Santorini filled with pretty white and blue buildings, active volcanoes, black sand beaches and amazing sunsets. Santorini is very small with only 45 mins travel from end to end, so you can spend as much time by the beaches and enjoy the best sunset in the world. You can plan along with Athens where a lot of rich history and ancient civilization is there. Visit the old temples in Acropolis, worlds first Olympic stadium, archaeological museums. One cannot miss out the memories you get from a Greece trip.
Tips before going to Greece:
Don’t forget your sunscreen as Greece is extremely hot during months June to August.
It’s better to avoid peak season from July till September as summer holidays begin and rates are very high and its crowded everywhere.
Book flights, ferries and hotels at least 2 to 3 months early, as rates increase quickly.
Take sufficient Euros as some restaurants/local markets do not accept cards, and withdrawing from local ATMs would take some commission for each transaction.
Make sure you plan your museum visits accordingly, as some places are closed on Sunday and Monday. Check online and confirm on the timings.
Carry an umbrella as the weather changes quickly and you may be in for a surprise shower during Spring/Autumn weather.
Top Things to see in Santorini
Watching Sunset from Oia – Oia is a slice of heaven where you get to click the most gorgeous photos. It’s a tiny town in Santorini and has beautiful clusters of white houses overlooking the bluest of sea. One should sit by the cliffs of Oia to enjoy evening sunset, which is best of memories you’ll get.
As the sun slowly sets, the colour of the sky blends beautifully with Oia. I loved the transformation from evening to night where I was totally lost in the beauty. You should walk along the cobbled streets of Oia and each turn surprises you with better views. There are few windmills which make a great focal point for photos.
Visit Red/Black sand beaches – Santorini has got some of best black/red sand beaches. If you are staying around Fira, there are direct buses every one hour taking you to Perissa, Kamari, Perivalos black sand beaches. Red beach is also famous and due to active volcano present nearby red and black pebbles lay along the shores of this beach. You can get best fishes, prawns and seafood by the beaches. If you are staying more days in Santorini, there are few other beaches like Vlychada, Cape Colombo you can spend time.
Imerovigli village – Another village adjacent to Santorini’s capital Fira and yet another location where you can get amazing sunset views. Imerovigli has lovely churches made in their traditional cycladic style. There is the famous Mama Thira restaurant here, where you get the best seafood and sit by the balcony and enjoy the views. If you continue the road to Oia, the lower plains of Imerovigli also have wonderful sunset east coast views.
Volcanic tour of Nea Kameni – This is a small island close to Santorini, and there are regular ferries taking you across to the volcanic region. You can walk on the lava rocks and feel the smell of Sulphur all around. The last eruption happened in 1950 and the volcano is still active. The volcano is present in the centre of the island and one can take a walk around for 20 mins. It was quite a unique experience and I felt it was totally worth it.
Akrotiri tour – An archaeological site which got destroyed completely due to volcanic eruptions, Akrotiri’s remains are now preserved in the form of museum. It is worth taking a visit here to understand how people lived in the 17th century. Some amazing fresco paintings have been discovered here showing the lifestyle of people.
Top Things to see in Athens
Acropolis Region – Most popular place to visit in Athens would be the Acropolis region. It’s a huge rocky layout and has all the ancient historical temples, museums, natural heritage sites you would like to see. You should visit the Parthenon temple, Erechtheum at the top of Acropolis for its historical significance. There is also the temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Poseidon which you can visit if interested. With a group ticket, 4 temples can be visited. It is best to stay in a hotel close to Acropolis, as you can take a walk around day and night exploring the old market, various food stalls and do some shopping.
Panathenaic Olympic Stadium – Visit the first Olympic stadium of Athens which was built long back and Olympic games happened in 1896. Also known as Kallimaramo, the stadium has been build fully in marble. It just has a racecource in the centre and has a small museum at the side where you will be refreshed with all the Olympic history. Its walking distance from Acropolis central. You can also visit the modern Olympic stadium of Athens by catching a tram and getting at last stop.
Traditional Greek night – A Greece trip is not complete without having a traditional dinner. Greek is home to some of best Mediterranean food. There are lots of restaurants around Acropolis region, where you can try various cuisines. You shouldn’t miss out on Greek salad with feta cheese and olive oil. There are few restaurants in Acropolis which serve a 2 course meal and wine with Greek folk dances all night, which is worth the experience. You need to book a table in advance to make sure you don’t miss out the show.
Ideal time to visit – Its best to travel in the months March to May or September to October as its cheaper and less crowded everywhere. June to August is peak season and hotels, flights everything comes expensive. Plus its very hot during those months.
Ideal Stay: 1 week is needed to have a relaxed trip, enjoying Santorini (atleast 4 days min), if planning on one more island Mykonos, Corfu or Rhodes would be my choice which im planning on my next Greece trip. 2-3 days enough to cover Athens based on how much interest you have towards history and ancient ruins.
Foods to try
Moussaka – It’s a famous Mediterranean dish with meat, aubergine, tomatoes and cheese.
Greek Feta salad – Most popular salad dressed with various vegetables, feta cheese and olives.
Grilled Fish – Greece is quite famous for Calamari grilled with lemon and oil dressing
Tzatziki – Yogurt and garlic mixed with olive oil. A nice try !
Pita breads – There are various pita types with cheese, meat and spinach fillings. My favorite
Signing off with few beautiful photos. Hope you visit Greece soon!
Vijay is a techie, globetrotter, a bookworm with an endless bucket list. Began with a trip to Asia with his friends, he has travelled across Africa, Middle East, United Kingdom and Europe. 39 countries and counting.