Leisure and Luxury on Three Greek Islands
Boasting glorious locations that evoke the divinity of ancient gods and heroes, Greece is an intuitive place for yachters to stop and relax. With thousands of islands (only several hundred of which are inhabited), the question of where to stop can be a bit daunting. Many elements of Ancient Greek culture still thrive on these islands. They ooze cultural diffusion through Roman and early Venetian architecture, which blends in beautifully with modern sensibilities. But if you can only choose three greek islands to visit, make it Santorini, Crete, and Corfu.
Forget your stress amidst cerulean skies in the southern Aegean Sea and enjoy the luminous Amoudi Bay or the rare black sand on Santorini’s beaches. Volcanic activity here is said to have suspended the settlement of Aktorini, as well as the Minoan civilization on nearby Crete. Two thousand years later, war and earthquakes decimated many of the island’s buildings. What remains includes the Aktorini Archaeological Site, which features multiple frescoes. The most evocative one depicts a young woman being offered crocuses—theorized by some to be a treatment for menstrual pain. Hikers can take the trail from Fira to Oia and enjoy views of the volcano and sea.
Fans of architecture and religion should check out the blue-domed Three Bells of Fira or the picturesque Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Multiple wineries—some located near the shoreline—keep travelers pampered and in good spirits. For a VVIP experience worthy of Aphrodite, head to t Seaside by Notos and arrange a private table for two on Perivolos Beach. You’ll feel like a celebrity and have a romantic and unforgettable experience. If you appreciate natural beauty, history, and serenity, Santorini will not disappoint.
As the largest and most populated island in Greece, Crete offers an abundance of to-dos in a breathtaking setting. Check out the colorful Old Venetian Harbor that hearkens back to the 1200s to 1600s, when Venetians ruled the island. One glance at the historic Lighthouse of Chania will inspire awe in even the most seasoned travelers. Elafonissi Beach and Balos Lagoon boast endless natural views and a sea so blue that it looks almost artificial. Lovers of all things water must also visit the Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Center for some face-time with the animals.
For a little R&R, try a lavish stay at one of the many Luxury Villas on Crete. In fact, many regular visitors end up buying one, which ranges in size from small bungalows to sprawling compounds that can sleep 20, and most are situated on or near the beach. Those looking to brush up on local history can visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which features a distinctive Minoan collection, while foodies shouldn’t miss a tour of the Cretan Olive Oil Farm. They offer classes on olive oil production, cheese making, pottery making, and cooking, so you can learn what it means to be an old-world Cretan.
Situated between Greece and Albania, Corfu’s unique placement has resulted in a culture brimming with novelty. Check out the Byzantine-era Angelokastro (Castle of Angels), high on a hill for maximum views. Equally grand views can be enjoyed at Domes Miramare Corfu. Once inhabited by the Onassis family, this five-star hotel offers impeccable service, exceptional amenities, and a rarefied atmosphere for elite guests, including access to a private swimming pool and the ever-sunny Haute Living Room lounge. Anyone searching for 19th-century architectural feats and perhaps a cocktail or two should visit the Liston, Corfu’s Old Town. The medieval Paleokastritsa Monastery presents activities beyond worship, including a garden on the first level and a museum upstairs.
The island is well-known for its abundance of ruins dating back to the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., including the Temples of Artemis and Hera and the Tomb of Menecrates. Travelers looking for a more laid-back experience can slip down the waterslide at Sidari Water Park, which is also a reputable hotel, while animal-lovers will love the Corfu Donkey Rescue, where you can snuggle retired donkeys.
With the Mediterranean’s warm climate and blue waters, Greece is a fabulous choice for travelers looking to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Santorini, Crete, and Corfu are top destinations, especially for yachters. Whether indulging in a local winery, gazing at a lighthouse in the harbor, or strolling through the remains of an ancient temple, visitors will find endless things to do on these leisurely three greek islands.
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