Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Greek Islands.


Sunset in Santorini.  (Photo from Exotic Place)

Wwe have about two weeks, give or take a day or two, to spend in Greece and in my opinion, you can't go to Greece for that long and not go to one of its famed islands.  Question is which one or ones?  With 6,000 (yes, 6,000) islands to choose from, making a decision will not be easy even after eliminating the uninhabited ones. Only about 230 Greek islands are inhabited and, of these, just 80 or so have more than 100 permanent inhabitants.



The Greek Islands are divided into six major groups; most of the islands are found in the Aegean Sea with the remaining ones in the Ionian Sea.

The Northern Aegean Islands which include the popular holiday destinations of Thasos, Ikaria, Lesbos,and Samos.

The Sporades Islands which is a small island group just off the east coast of Greece. Popular spots include Skiathos, Skopelos, and Skyros.

The Saronic Islands lie in the Saronic Gulf near Athens. Popular islands include Aegina, Poros, Spetses, and Hydra.

The Cyclades Islands is a large, dense group 56 islands, include the popular tourist hotspots of Ios, Mykonos, Naxos, and Santorini. There's also a cluster of islands collectively known as the “Minor Cyclades” comprising Donousa, Irakleia, Koufonisia and Schinousa.

Christos Church on the island of Kos (Photo by Dreizung)

The Dodecanese Islands is a long and loose string of islands that follow the Turkish coast. Popular destinations include Kos, Rhodes, and Patmos.

Each island group has its own flavor and each island within a group has its own character.  For example, the Cyclades are 'typical' Greek islands of whitewashed cube houses on windy, rocky outcrops while the Ioanian Islands are known for their lush greenery.

Last but not least, there's the island of Crete and the smaller islands that surround it.

Traveling to and from the islands can be done either via ferry or in the case of the larger islands, plane. We don't have enough time to really island hop and ferry schedules will be a little more limited during the time we'll be traveling so there will likely be some constraints that will dictate which islands we'll be able to go to. I definitely prefer a quite locale with lots of local life but I am certain that no matter we end up going, we'll enjoy ourselves immensely. I just hope for warm sunny days that are perfect for relaxing and soaking in local Greek life and cuisine!