Our Aegean Adventure
Greece had been on our travel wish list for a while and this holiday couldn’t have come at a better time. It was a perfect opportunity to leave behind the hustle and bustle of London and bask in the beauty, history and local cuisines of Greece. Our backpacks were at the ready. We were travelling light, with only essentials like bikinis, shorts and sun cream. There wasn’t a hair straightener in sight.
And we were off. Our island hopping adventure started with a few nights in Athens. Public transport there is great; everything is accessible and easy to navigate. We were instantly in our element walking down the busy streets, enjoying the atmosphere and noticing how modern life sits in harmony with the history that surrounds it.
On a guided tour around the old Olympic Panathenaic Stadium, we walked in the footsteps of the people who competed there all those years ago and it felt pretty special. The tunnel that competitors walked through to enter the stadium was a highlight for us. So many Insta opportunities!
We found a local traditional restaurant for dinner in the evening and found ourselves watching the sun go down over the Acropolis. The food was delicious and incredibly affordable. We had lots of small plates and enjoyed some Greek beers, which went down a treat after a long day of walking around in the warm weather.
On our second day in Athens we headed to visit the Acropolis. We could see it from our hotel room and couldn’t wait to explore. After a short metro ride we arrived at the bottom of the hill leading up to the ancient site. The views from the top were spectacular and getting so close to a place of ancient history was another highlight of the trip. Top tip: wear comfy shoes as it’s a quite a hike up there!
The next morning, we made our way back to the airport to fly to Santorini, where we took a taxi to our hotel in Thira. We chose to stay here as it’s less touristy than Oia, but actually Santorini is such a small island it doesn’t really matter where you stay. All beaches, towns and attractions are all only twenty to thirty minutes’ drive away. Transport hire is a good option as it saves waiting around for taxis or buses. We opted for a scooter, which is probably not for the faint hearted, but was cost effective and allowed us the freedom to explore the island in our own time.
Santorini is mostly black sand beaches so if like us you enjoy taking a dip to cool down, we’d recommend accommodation with a pool. Santorini was beautiful but it was incredibly expensive and somewhat overrun with tourists. We’re definitely glad we made a stop there, but in hindsight we wished we’d spent more time on the smaller islands or visited another one entirely.
On day five we set sail for Ios. Having upgraded to first class, the journey was pleasant. Sailing into the harbour was like something out of a film. We were greeted by a picturesque fishing village with small restaurants and local taverns gearing up for summer. We explored the island on foot and stopped at Alimia beach for some lunch and a spot of swimming.
Everything was so inexpensive and yet the food was delicious and the hospitality was amazing. Eating dinner at a restaurant on the harbour that we had sailed into earlier, we sipped a glass of the house red while enjoying the sunset. We wished we could have spent longer on Ios.
Day six and another ferry ride across to our next island, Paros. This ferry was delayed slightly, which meant a frustrating wait around the port, but when we finally boarded the journey was short and soon we were approaching Paros. We had pre-arranged a transfer to our accommodation and the host was waiting for us. Within ten minutes we were all settled into our room. We explored on foot to begin with, but soon discovered it was much bigger than Ios, so we took a cab to the beach that we had set our sights on. Small and hidden away off the beaten track, it was called Kolymbithres and was absolutely stunning. With just a few locals dotted around it was almost like we had private beach. Bliss!
The only thing we hadn’t accounted for was the fact that because it was so secluded, there were no restaurants or cafes nearby. So we had a swim and a few hours in the sun and then made our way back for lunch at a restaurant we had passed. We headed back to the harbour for the evening to have some traditional Greek food and a walk around the local shops. Paros was by far our favourite island and we definitely wished we had spent more time there!
Day seven and our final ferry. This time back to Athens. This was the largest one we had been on and the longest journey yet. It was about four hours in total and once again we upgraded to first class which meant we could access a lounge to escape the school groups, and a private bar which saved us queuing for drinks. The weather was so beautiful and there was a cooling sea breeze, so we spent the entire journey on the open deck reading and chatting. Four hours flew by.
Arriving back in Athens, we took the local train back to the area we visited at the beginning of the week and checked back into our hotel. On our final day we just wanted to chill out after being on the move so we spent most of it enjoying the weather around the pool. And then it was off to the airport for an early evening flight back to London.
We absolutely loved this trip and would highly recommend this kind of holiday to anyone who gets bored sticking in one place. If we did it again, we’d spend less time in Athens. You definitely have to do it once, but it’s a city: it can be beautiful but it’s far from relaxing. The smaller, lesser-known islands were total wonders. We can’t rate them highly enough and we can’t wait to explore more of the Greek islands. If the small selection we visited are anything to go by, there are many more hidden gems waiting to be enjoyed.
Aimee and Chelsea x