Last month one of our senior advisors, Tina Woolbright, travelled to several Greek Islands with Classic Vacations. Tina had an excellent time wine tasting, touring hotels, and checking out the sights, and she’s written this summary of her trip with suggestions of what to do on your next trip to Greece! If you’re interested in planning a trip to any of the Greek islands, Tina has certainly become an expert in where to stay, what to tour, and what to eat.
We arrived in Athens and checked into our hotel, the Grand Betagne, which was absolutely gorgeous. Located near Plaka and Syntagma Square, the hotel has a historic, old world feel. I would have been totally satisfied staying here the whole time! While we were there we did this wonderful Greek wine masterclass at the hotel, which included a six wine tasting of wines of different regions of the country. Our wine tasting was followed by dinner at the rooftop restaurant of the King George hotel, which had a lovely view of the Acropolis! If you’re going to Greece for the first time, start here. Ultimate luxury, stunning scenery, and friendly tour guides made this a wonderful first stop.
On the morning of our second day we were met by our tour guide at the hotel and were taken to the Acropolis and Parthenon.
Pro tip: It’s best to do this in the morning to avoid crowds and heat! Thanks to our wonderful guides who know the city as well as they do, they knew to take us in the morning and we had a fantastic tour of both historic sites. We packed a lot in on this morning, also stopping by the Acropolis museum. This is a great option for folks with mobility issues; one can still put eyes on the Acropolis and learn about the history of the site without having to do extensive walking up or downhill. After spending the morning walking and exploring with our guide, we jet-setted off to Crete to enjoy a 2-night stay at Blue Palace.
Fun Fact: Blue Palace, on Crete, overlooks Spinolonga island, a former leper colony made famous by the book “The Island”, written by Victoria Hislop. I had no idea of the history of the colony, but it’s fascinating! The first evening on Crete we are at the Blue Door Taverna, where I was overwhelmed by the generous Greek offerings. Greeks LOVE to feed people, and I tried fresh anchovies and octopus for the first time in my life!
Remember that leper colony I just mentioned? Well, we spent day three cruising around it to get a closer look! In the morning we explored some beautiful properties definitely worth staying at: Elounda Mare and Elounda Gulf Villas. In the afternoon my tour group hopped on a champagne cruise around Spinalonga, which ended in the village of Plaka for shopping and drinks. Plaka is centrally located to Blue Palace Resort, so we had a great time trying out some Greek festive beverages, grabbing souviners, then taking a short, five-minute stroll back to the property.
Day four was spent on Santorini, and I have to say the island really is as beautiful as the photos. The views are beyond breathtaking- but be prepared for A LOT of steps and steep climbs, often with no hand rails for support. While Santorini truly is beautiful, I would not recommend this island for folks with mobility issues. That said- the water ferry via Champion Jet from Crete to Santorini was an easy, smooth ride, and we were set up today for a two-night stay at Mystique, a clifftop hotel in Oia. While we were on Santorini we enjoyed a catamaran ride and sailing along the Caldera on the Aegean Sea. This particular sailing was one of the highlights of the trip for me. The Aegean waters are stunning- even if you can only find an hour to get on the water, do it- it’s so worth it!
Today brought us to Akrotiri, a volcanic historical site on Santorini. We learned through our tour that Akrotiri is a Minoan Bronze Age settlement, destroyed sometime in the 16th century BC and buried in volcanic ash. Because the settlement was covered in ash, much of the art was well preserved. I must admit, standing in the middle of that settlement and looking at art with so many centuries behind it was humbling. Travel is a gift; we realize just how big the world is- and how small- we are. It was AMAZING. For dinner this evening we dined at a delicious restaurant called Mystique, set in a wine cave. That alone was a great experience, but they served the best kale salad I have ever, ever had. If one travels to Santorini, this restaurant is a MUST.
After our adventure on Santorini we took a ferry over to Mykonos, where we stopped at Ios and Naxos, two other small Greek islands. We stayed at the Myconian Ambassador to finish out our trip. With bright white and blue decor, Myconian Ambassador is the epitome of a luxury Greek hotel. If travelers are looking for simplicity and luxury, this is the place to stay. After a full six days, these past couple were spent relaxing and preparing to go back home to my agency and reality!
To make your reservations for your Greek adventure, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention Tina and she’ll help you plan the trip of your dreams!