Discovering the Cyclades » Folegandros & Santorini

After 3,5 days sightseeing in Naxos, it was time to visit my 2 most anticipated islands of the Cyclades: Folegandros & Santorini.
Both islands are very different in many ways but nevertheless extremely beautiful in their own right.


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Folegandros and Santorini

Folegandros
From Naxos I took the ferry to Folegandros but if you do, always make sure you check the ferry times before planning your trip.
My ferry stopped at about 3 different islands before arriving in Folegandros and by that time it was evening and I missed a whole day.
When you arrive in Folegandros, you can take a public bus to the village which cost about 1.80 euro’s per person and takes you there in less than 15 min.

The island is very small and you immediately get a sense of the peace & calmness this place represents.
It was easy to find my bed for the night because all the locals know each other and when I asked for my reservation at “Castro“, I was pointed in the right direction. The more steps I took, the more I fell in love. Guesthouse Castro owes its name from the location where it’s found, in the region of the medieval Castle of Folegandros. The Castle of Folegandros functioned as a defensive fortress and.. I got to sleep there. How cool!
The friendly owners guided me to my room and although it was getting dark, my mouth fell open when I saw my balcony with probably the best view in town!

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The amazing private balcony at Castro’s

At night, the town turns into a romantic bohemian village. Trees with lights cover the top of outside restaurants. There are 6 different squares divided and each one of those has another cute place to eat.
I arrived on a Saturday and because most Greek people are free on Sunday, the town is vibrant and alive.
You will see everyone having a drink, pretty much everywhere where they can sit. If you want to join in the fun, you should try Raki, Ouzo or a hot drink I wasn’t familiar with, called Rakomelo. It tastes a bit like Glühwine and is delicious!

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A bohemian dream

Folegandros is too beautiful to lay in your bed for too long, so I advice you to get up early. The town is wonderful in the morning and great to shoot some nice pictures.
My balcony was a great place to have breakfast but you should also go into town and sit in one of the beautiful gardens to drink coffee. I had breakfast at Pounda where you can enjoy a Greek breakfast whilst looking at beautiful flowers.



The town of Chora is beautiful for walking around


Feeling 
completely zen at  Agios Nikolaos beach. Wearing a colorful bikini of Triangl

The best beaches in Folegandros are Agios Nikolaos beach (if you like peace and quiet), Agali beach (more popular) and the beach near the port, Karavostasi beach.
I wish I had more time to explore this special island but I had already booked my next ferry to Santorini. If you are planning to visit Folegandros, I would stay at least 4 days.

Santorini
With the fast boat you can get to Santorini within 45 min. Ferries can be late sometimes so always prepare yourself for this. Book your ferry ahead as it will save you money and you can do this online or at one of the tourist offices you will find in the main areas.
Coming into Santorini is something special. The impressive rock formations leave your mouth wide open and the thought that this island lays next to a vulcano, makes it even more special.

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The ferries look small compared to the impressive coastline. The volcano on the right.

Santorini is an island that attracts many tourist so if you are doing the Cyclades tour, this is the one you shouldn’t miss. It is rather special. If you want a little less touristy but still enjoy the amazing views whilst waking up, you should definitely book your accommodation in Imerovigli.
With the busy Oia on the right side and the main town of Thira only 10 min away, it’s the perfect place to stay and enjoy breathtaking views.

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Breaktaking views from the Absolutely Bliss Hotel in Imerovigli. 

Did you know Santorini has a White, Black and Red beach? The island is not known for it’s beautiful sandy beaches but if you get a chance, you should visit Red beach and Kamari Beach where you can find sunbeds, beach restaurants and shops.

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A red beach, who knew!

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Red or Black. Only on Santorini

If you visit Santorini with your partner, you should definitely book a romantic dinner for 2 but… do something different and eat in one of the old villages like Pyrgos. Why? Because it’s authentic, the food taste amazing and it’s half the price!
Still enjoy a meal with that-oh-so-amazing-view? Have breakfast at one of the many hotel breakfast options along the cliff. If you want to shop for some nice jewelry and high-end clothes, you should visit Oia but do it at the end of the day or early in the morning when it’s not boiling hot. Yes, there will be a lot of tourist so prepare yourself and breath in, breath out. You’ll be fine 🙂

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Romantic dinner for 2 anyone?

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Realizing the craaazy view. Picture shot at Oia.

One of the other must do’s in Santorini is to walk to the top of Skaros Rock right across Imerovigli.
It’s about a 20 min walk when you start across and you can get right to the top if you can get past your fear of heights.
My legs were shaking a little bit while I was climbing up the last bit, but it was totally worth seeing the sun disappear into the sea. 
You can also get up early and walk all the way to Oia or back. For this walk you need some trainers or steady shoes. It takes about 3,5 hours from Thira to Oia and about 1,5 hours from Imerovigli.

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Skaros Rock on the left with Imerovigli on the right

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And on top of the world on Skaros rock. (still weak in the knees!)

As I said, Folegandros & Santorini are two different and unique islands, but they also have a lot of similarities.
To make things a little easier…

Romance? Check.
Best views? Check.
Tasty cuisine? Check.
You want to chill to the max? Pick Folegandros.
You want to shop and feel like a princess? Pick Santorini.
You want to see paradise? Pick both.

Love,

Elke

Missed the previous adventures of Elke’s Greek Island hopping tour?
Check her post about Naxos and Mykonos.

Naxos » Discovering the Greek Cyclades

From Mykonos it takes about 2 hours to get to Naxos with stops in Paros and Amos. Naxos is the larges island of the Greek Cyclades but much more authentic and laid back than party island Mykonos.


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How to get there

When you arrive by ferry you can see the “Portara” on the hill next to the harbour. They call it “the door of Naxos” and it’s one of the many archaeological landmarks you will find here. Naxos has everything I missed on Mykonos. The food is better and more affordable (a lot more!), the beach bars are more laid back and you’ll see a lot of couples and families here. I stayed at a simple hotel with a perfect location. My hotel was about a 10 min walk from the port and 1 min from the town beach Agios Georgios. Chora (centre) is vibrant at night with lot’s of restaurants, shops and bars. The streets smell of sweet waffels and crêpes that you find on almost every corner.

Elke in Naxos, Greece
Walking around in Chora, Greece

For dinner I can recommend almost everything. Just double check of they serve traditional Greek food and you’re good. A main course meal should cost you about 5 to 10 euro’s and is served with bread. (They charge you about 1 euro for the bread, this is normal)


So much food to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with a Greek Pita Giros!

Getting around on Naxos

First things first: rent a scooter or a car. Make sure you rent a scooter with enough power as you might need to drive uphill depending where you’re travelling to. I saw pretty much everything. The whole west coast, where you can find some really nice beaches, is done in one day (including some swimming) and I took a whole day to explore the old towns (middle of Naxos) and the North back to the west coast and where I started.
Both routes are completely different in scenery.

The Westcoast route »

Start by having breakfast at Agios Georgios Beach where you will find a chill surfer beach restaurant all the way at the end called “beach cafe”. They serve tasty fruit smoothies during the day and colorful cocktails at night. Each week they have a BBQ including fresh fish. Continue towards the south and visit Mikri beach where you can find the wind and kite surfers. It’s not cheap to get a lesson but it’s free to watch and that’s a sight on it’s own! End at Kastraki beach where you will find some beaches where you can enjoy the waters in your birthday suit (if you know what I mean!)

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Feeling the “surfers”vibe at Mikri Beach

The old town route »

‘You haven’t visited Naxos if you don’t visit the old towns.’ a local told us. From Hora (Chora) you drive towards Halki (on the roadsigns it’s written like “Chalki”.) This historic village is very cute and you will find a few tavernas (restaurants) where the food is extremely authentic and fresh. I stopped for an iced Frappé coffee and drove up to Filoti where you can find the Cave of Zeus where you need to continue on foot and climb up for about 20 min with incredible views along the way! Tip » Bring enough water and some lighting for in the large dark cave. 

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The old town of Halki is something special

After that I kept going towards Stavros, Koronos, mesi and Apollonas until you reach the most northern part. In between I drove down to Liona Bay where you will find a rocky beach with black sand and 1 or 2 restaurants. Great for cooling down before heading on.

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Rocky beach of Liona Bay

Naxos
Scenery in Naxos kept changing..

The views on this route are rocky, but in some area’s extremely green and fertile. From the North you drive back along the coast where you will end where you started. It’s a long drive (2-3 hours) but so worth it! Naxos is a great destination to stay for about 3-4 days if you’re travelling through the Cyclades. It’s authentic, great for all sorts of travelers and won’t hurt your wallet.  Folegandros and Santorini are not far, so you can make Naxos part of your Greek island hopping tour.

Love,

Elke

Top 5 » Best beach bars in Mykonos

 

If you’re going to visit Greece this summer, you will probably also visit Mykonos, the Ibiza of Greece. Situated east of Athens in the Aegean Sea, a great glamour island with lot’s of high end beach parties.
Besides exploring Mykonos town – known for it’s white little houses with colorful flowers and blue windows – you should also explore the impressive beach bars on this island.

We’ve listed the TOP5  beach bars for you!

Read more

Explore The Greek Ionian Islands

If you’re planning the perfect European vacation but you aren’t quite sure where to go this summer? Look no further and check out the stunning Greek Ionian Islands.

Greece has been my favourite European holiday destination since the age of 3. I used to spent all my summers in a little village called Perdika and had some of the most beautiful childhood memories there. But when I was old enough to explore the world on my own, I started traveling around the rest of the world. However, I always enjoy coming back to the Greek islands and this is why.


My first love, Perdika


Perdika, only 2 hours from Lefkas


Acheron River, Gliki

Driving from Perdika, you must have a stopover at the Acheron River in Gliki. The springs of River Acheron are surrounded by wild rocks, waterfalls and lots of greenery. Ancient myths say that this river led to the gates of Hades. (whatever that means!) You can hike or water raft all the way up and down but the most fun way is to walk, climb and swim through the river. I’ve done this wild water hike about 6 times but it never get’s boring. Beware, the water is cold at first but after a while you get use to it and your skin feels incredibly soft afterwards! At some parts are so deep that you need to swim so make sure you have a waterproof camera if you want to take some good shots! 

Tip » buy some water shoes to protect your feet, these will come in handy at some of the rocky beaches.

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Ice cold, but so worth it! (here, trying to keep my lunch dry!)


Lefkas

After this refreshing hike, you drive further up towards the first Ionian Island; Lefkas (Lefkada in Greek) This island has pretty much left unspoiled by massa tourism. Prices are low, and if you walk far enough, you can find some pretty long deserted beaches. I advise you to rent a car or otherwise a scooter. This way you can really explore Lefkas and get to the best beaches. I stayed at Sofia Apartsments in Nydri where the friendly owner welcomed us with a traditional Greek drink from the island. His grandmother even baked us a cake! This is why I love the locals! From Nydri you can easily acces all the main roads and enjoy the night market.

Local food

The food in Greece is a-ma-zing and in Lefkas you can enjoy the islands traditional disches like lentils and chickpeas. One of the best restaurants on the Island is without question Rachi. Beautiful ocean views and delicious food makes this restaurant extremely popular, so expect to wait for a table during high season.

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Stunning views whilst having dinner at Rachi

The best beaches

I have been to a few incredible beaches in my lifetime but the beaches you will find here are something else. The water is crystal blue so prepare for some jaw dropping moments. My 3 favourite beaches on the island are Egremni beach (400 steps down!) Porto Katsiki and Kathisma beach.


Just looking at the bluest sea..ever! (Egremni Beach)

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Walking down to Porto Katsiki beach in Lefkas

Off the Beaten Track Tip » If you walk a towards the right side of Kathisma Beach and all the way in the end you will find a perfect spot, just for you. A beautiful long beach with no one around. Crazy! If you are brave enough, you can even go skinny dipping!

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A private beach? Hell yeah! (Kathisma Beach)


Kefalonia

From the port in Vasiliki (in Lefkas) you can take the boat to Kefalonia which takes about 3 hours and departs daily. Check http://westferry.gr/ for ferry times. This island is larger than Lefkas and with that a little bit busier. One of the main attractions is the Melissani cave, where can pay a small fee for a quick tour in this world wonder. The roof collapsed 20.000 years ago and when the sunlight kisses the water at noon, this results in an amazing blue/green colour of which many tourist want to see. It’s worth it if you want to take some good shots of this geological phenomenon.


Melissani Cave. A must see

Explore by scooter

Kefalonia is also home to some beautiful beaches of which Myrthos beach is the most popular. Make sure you bring a sun umbrella as there is no shade except for underneath the rocks and that almost cost me my head! (mountain goats created a small lawine on top of the cliff and rocks started falling down which just missed my head!) I rented a scooter and this is the perfect way to explore. Be aware that renting a scooter in high season is only possible when you hire one for more then 3 days. Because I don’t like the mass tourism, I picked a cute village to spend my first 2 nights.

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Myrthos Beach, Kefalonia

Cute Villages

My favourite town on Kefalonia is definitely FiskardoThis fishers town is full of boats and cute shops where you can buy art, homemade nougat and olive oil. At night when the sun goes down and the lights are glowing, the town changes into a magical place with Mediterranean vibes and delicious seafood. Tip » Plan a full day trip as it’s all the way up north depending where you will depart from.


One of the many cute stores in Fiskardo

From Kefalonia you can take a boat to Zakinthos (the beautiful beach you see on every travel instagram feed) I decided not to go. I was happy here without too many tourist and it was perfect. This part of Greece is relatively cheap if you compare it to the eastern islands like Mykonos and Santorini. (where I will be going this year!) So if you plan your trip way ahead, you can have a a brilliant holiday for little money.

Ionian Islands

So what will it cost you?

  • Flights » 350 euro return flights from Amsterdam to Corfu
  • Propellor flight » 55 euro’s one way from Kefalonia back to Corfu
  • Ferry » about 50 euro’s all together
  • Accommodation » about 25 to max 65 euro’s per night
  • Car hire » 30 euro’s per day
  • Scooter hire » 15-20 euro’s per day
  • Food » Main courses are about 8 euro’s per dish
  • Shopping » You can really make it as expensive as you want!
  • Tip » Avoid the tourist markets and go for something local.

Love,

Elke

More Greece?

5 reasons to love the world..

Watching the news lately, it might seem a bit grim these days.
But let’s not forget the beauty of this world.
So lift your anchors, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the wind in your sails and go on a journey. Pack your bags, wander, explore and enjoy this world as much as you can.

After all, travel is the only thing you buy, that makes you richer.

Here are 5 reasons to love this world..

1. Because there really is water as blue as this.
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Egremni beach, Greece

2. Because we can pose like this with a view like that.

The Grand Canyon, USA

 3. Because of something called; The Magic Hour
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Perdika, Greece

4. Realising that you’re pretty much the only person on the Island..
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Ko Lanta, Thailand (secret beach)

5. Because of winters like these..
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Sunset, The Netherlands

Tell us why you love this world!
Check our bucketlist for more beautiful pictures of the world!

Love,

Elke

Top 5 » Why you should visit Greece

I have been coming to Greece since the age of 3. This country is very close to my heart. Unfortunately Greece has a lot of financial struggles at the moment but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit! Greek people live of tourism most of the time, so I can only recommend you go. So why visit Greece?

1. The Beaches
I have been all over the world but the best beaches I have seen so far were all in Greece. The water is so blue that you think it’s a swimming pool!

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Egremni beach, Lefkas

2. The Food
OMG. The food. Whats not to love? I don’t even eat meat but even then they have one of the best cuisines. From stuffed tomatoes to the amazing calamari.. Yummie! Be sure that there will be a recipe on our blog soon!

3. The People.
Greek people are welcoming, warmhearted people. Even in Athens the people have always been so good to me. Last summer I stayed in an apartment and the owner welcomed us with a home baked cake from his grandmother. Just because their like that.

Why you should visit Greece

4. The Music
Ok, not everybody is a fan but once you’ve learned to dance to it, it’s amazing!
I was taught at a young age so I know 1 or 2 traditional dances. If you do it well, someone will give you a free shot (they call it a svinaki) or they smash some plates! 

5. The Weather
Yes, this wouldn’t be a good top 5 if I had not mentioned the weather. During the high season it’s between 25 and 30 degrees which is the perfect weather for me but Greece is still wonderful in October with 18 to 25 degrees. Happy days!

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Kathsima beach, Lefkas

Enjoy the beauty of Greece!

Love,

Elke