The “Other Cyclades”: Kea and Kythnos

Take a break from Mykonos, Santorini and Paros, and take in the must-see spots of Kea and Kythnos- two Cycladic islands that have long been favoured holiday escapes for Greek locals in-the-know.  

Stop 1: Kea

An hour’s ferry ride from Athens’ Lavrio port, Kea’s rugged, rocky terrain is in stark contrast to its sparkling blue Aegean waters. The most popular beaches on the island Koundouros and Koundouraki boast incredibly inviting pristine waters that will keep you going back in for more. The beaches of Spathi and Xyla subscribe to the saying that “nothing good ever comes easy”, and are well worth the 10-15 minutes of bumpy dirt track to get there. Most beaches on Kea offer sunbeds at around 20-25 € per set, but also have plenty of space for those with their own umbrellas.

The ancient archaeological site of Karthaia is located on the southeastern side of the island and can be accessed via a 45 min rocky walking path. The walk is rewarded by impressive ancient acropolis remains, perched rather majestically on the sea and makes for the perfect post-hike swim. Mythology says that the Lion of Kea (located near the town of Ioulida) was created by Zeus in response to the pleas of the island locals who were troubled by the muses. The lion’s impressively lifelike features make it worth visiting, particularly in the early evening when the summer sun is a little more forgiving. 

All this swimming and hiking will no doubt work up an appetite, and Filippas psistaria in Korrisia is known for the best grilled meat on the island (try their lamb paidakia)9 Kores sits on the small beach of Vourkari and offers excellent fresh seafood (try their mussels steamed in wine). Steki tou Kalofagadon in Ioulida is your quintessential taverna with an excellent array of traditional cooked dishes like mince-stuffed zucchini topped with avgolemono sauce.

Stop 2: Kythnos

After a blissful few days on Kea, jump on the one-hour ferry ride to nearby Kythnos. While you’ll probably never get to see all of Kythnos’ 99 beaches, Kolona beach is its crowning beauty and a hot favourite of the super yacht crowd (insider tip: due to its open landscape, Kolona is best visited on a low-wind day). After deciding which side of the sand bar you’ll rest on, take a dip in the crystal waters and then make your way up to the church for a birds-eye view of Kolona in all its glory. Nearby Apokrousi beach is another stunner, while the seaside town of Kanala is a sweet little spot for a quiet afternoon dip. Hamsa beach bar is located near the port and offers a relaxing all-day beach bar experience.

The small town of Dryopida and its characteristic sokakia are lined with tiny cafes and restaurants and make for a lovely morning stroll. While there, step into the folklore museum, which is a beautifully restored traditional home of Kythnos.

Chora is where the island gathers in the evening and has no shortage of food and drink options. To Steki tou Ntetzi will scratch your Greek taverna itch with excellent grilled meats (try their pork kontosouvli) while Margiora offers a modern take on Greek food (try the watermelon and beetroot salad) with an exciting cocktail list and range of Greek wines.

Porto Limniona, Zakynthos’ Most Stunning Cove 

Porto Limniona, located along the west coast of Zakynthos, is by far one of the best places to swim when visiting this Ionian island! 

Surrounded by lush, rugged cliffs and boasting beautiful turquoise waters, this picturesque spot invites visitors to sit back and relax, while enjoying the idyllic scenery.

Set a few kilometres from the charming village of Agios Leon, from here the road leads you down the coast- making for a spectacular drive as you simply follow the signs for Porto Limniona. 

Once you reach the bay, there is a large car park at the top and from there you can make your way down the steps and jump straight in for a swim and a snorkel. Otherwise just kick back on one of the sun lounges (10 € per set) and order a drink while taking in the spectacular views. 

If you visit during the peak summer season, we suggest getting here early- by at least 10:30- 11 am, as it gets packed out by midday and can be difficult to find both a car spot and a sun bed. Just keep in mind there is no shade, nor sand, which means you can’t bring your own umbrella. So if you are planning on making a day of it, just be prepared! 

After diving off the rocks and exploring the fabulous sea caves, walk over to Taverna Porto Limnionas, which offers uninterrupted views of the bay. The traditional restaurant serves a range of seafood and meat dishes, along with mezedes and fresh salads.

Open for lunch and dinner, the best time to sit on the outdoor terrace and sip on a glass of wine is while watching the sunset! 

Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE ©

Exploration, Wellness, and Unforgettable Beauty

Greece’s mountainous and varied terrain make it a hiker’s paradise, especially in the milder climate of Spring and Autumn. For those wanting to explore Greece’s lesser-known corners, Nefeli Nine offers a balanced wellbeing retreat focused on exploration, wellness and good food.

Nefeli Nine founder and hostess Stephanie Contomichalis grew up in the U.K and, after spending some time in her ancestral homeland of Greece, she became so connected to the land that it became her mission to help others connect with Greece’s nature and culture, while also taking some time to connect with their inner selves. And so, the Nefeli Nine signature week-long retreat was born.

Retreat activities

Imagine waking up in the serene surroundings of a Greek village, in the comfort of your own luxurious room, and starting the day with an invigorating yoga session led by a qualified yoga trainer. After the chorus of “namaste”, a nutritious breakfast is served to fuel you for a day of adventure.  

Next, it’s out for a hike to explore the rugged, natural beauty of Greece. Hikes are moderate in difficulty and can run from 1-4 hours in length, depending on the day and the location. Whether it’s a mountain, a forest, or even a gorge, your expert hiking guide will take you on an unforgettable journey, while telling you all about the history and local flora and fauna of the area. You might even be rewarded at the end with a swim in a secret beach or waterfall accessed only on foot. 

After lunch, the afternoon portion of the day usually includes a stroll through the nearby town, evening yoga or a scheduled massage, followed by dinner and free time.

Food

Nefeli Nine Retreats follows the Blue Zones diet, associated with the island of Ikaria and other Blue Zones known for the longevity of their inhabitants. Unlike the strict detox diets that some retreats offer, the food here is plentiful. Breakfast is designed to fuel you for your day of adventure. What’s more perfect after a morning of hiking than a hearty lunch at a taverna by the sea serving the freshest seafood? The week usually involves 2-3 meals out at the best local eateries. Dinner is served up family-style, for people to connect over food and reflect on the day over good food and a glass of wine. From the moment you arrive to the day you depart, all meals are taken care of, and dietary requirements are accounted for.

Ideal for

Nefeli Nine retreats are usually limited to 6-8 people per retreat and are ideal for solo travellers who are passionate about wellness and exploring the lesser-known corners of Greece. Aside from solo travellers, the retreat is also a great option for smaller groups of friends or family members. Interested in a retreat for a larger group or even a corporate group? Don’t hesitate to reach out for a customised program that you can build together with the Nefeli Nine team. Although it’s not a requirement, having some experience in hiking will help you get the most enjoyment out of the activities. 

What else can you expect?

  • All activities are optional. So, if you feel like staying in and enjoying your book one day, you’re free to do as you please. It’s your vacation, after all!
  • Destinations vary throughout the year. The one constant is that accommodation is beautiful, extremely comfortable and guests always have their own room. 
  • From beginning to end, once you book your spot with Nefeli Nine, all details are painstakingly seen-to by the team, so that you don’t need to organise a single thing. 

To find out more, visit nefelinine.com

This article was written by an IN+SIGHTS GREECE writer who was invited to experience the Nefeli Nine retreat first-hand.

24 Hours in Kalamata

Whether you’re staying in Kalamata for a mini break by the sea or stopping by on your way to picturesque destinations like Kardamyli, Mani or Pylos, don’t miss these spots to swim, eat and play.

Grab your morning coffee at: Flirt

Located in the heart of Kalamata town, Flirt (Φλέρτ!) is anything but traditional. Serving up quality coffee by Athenian roasters Area 51 as well as cold-press juices and milkshakes, there are also brunch favourites like poached eggs, bagels and Flirt’s homemade pies of the day. While Flirt is a great place to kick-start your engine for a day of adventure, once you get a peek at its sleek Art Deco surrounds, you’ll also be tempted to head back in the evening for a negroni or two.

Take a relaxing dip at: Ego All Day Beach Bar

Since opening in 2020, Ego presents a decidedly modern and comfortable setting in the midst of the endless stretch of beach bars on the Main Street of Navarinou. Cushioned sun beds and attentive service staff make for a relaxed start to the day (insider tip: the early bird gets the sun bed) and the bar menu has a great selection of food options like tacos, salads, burgers and more. 

Continue your fun in the afternoon sun at: Verga beach

A short drive from Kalamata’s main beach, Verga beach is a great spot for an afternoon dip and beachside cocktail. Bustling beach bars like GinGer, Abat Jour and Almyra sit side by side in the heart of Verga beach and will draw you in with their sun beds, beats and relaxed smiles of fellow sun worshippers. 

Take in a magical sunset at: Kitries

Drive further south from Verga beach to the small town of Kitries, where the landscape is decidedly green and lush on one side and enveloped by the sea on the other. Gaitanaro’s and Mimi’s are stalwarts of the beach, known for their Kritharoto Thalassino (orzo with seafood)whereas next-door neighbour Kitro is a great option for lovely mezedes including a standout tirokafteri that’s whipped to perfection with a hit of hot red peppers. Wherever you choose to stop, you’ll be treated to an exceptional sunset view.

Drink your cocktails at: Le Jardin

As the name suggests, this tiki bar is set in a pretty garden with lush leafy surrounds and accents of marble and earthy colours. Cocktails like the Fresh Melon with gin, mint, melon and lemon or classics like the Zombie or Mai Tai will get your night started in the best way possible.

Boogie with a view at: Arossa 

Once you’ve made the drive from Kalamata town over to upper Verga, and walk through the entrance at Arossa, you’ll be glad you did. This impressive open-air club is perched up high, with a sweeping view of Kalamata down below. At Arossa, the DJs seem determined to bring smiles to the many revellers, and the bar staff serve up quality cocktails with impressive speed. This is where you’ll dance the night away until the early hours of the morning. 

End the night right at: Souvlakia o Tzimis

No trip to Kalamata is complete without a stop at this classic, located in the heart of Kalamata town. Tzimis opens at around 1pm and in the words of the staff there “we don’t have a close time, we’re here until the last person awake needs a souvlaki”. Tucking into a pillowy pita packed with meat and a generous serve of patates tiganites just might be the perfect way to end your day in Kalamata.

Main image by Ego All Day Bar 

Traditional Kafeneia of the Cyclades

Whitewashed walls, Greek coffee poured from a copper briki, the sound of dice rolling across a tavli board, spontaneous live music, and handmade mezedes (at affordable prices). These are the traditional kafeneia of the Cyclades; picturesque gems where you will find friendly locals- offering a glimpse into their relaxed, everyday island life. 

O Megalos Kafenes – Tinos

“Megalos Kafenes” has been operating for over a century in the only square of Pyrgos (with the famous ancient plane tree) in Tinos. A hangout that combines the old with the new, thanks to the creative flair of architectural designer Dimitra Papadopoulou, who supervised its renovation. Enjoy the tranquility of the village and savor homemade sweets like galaktoboureko, orange pie with ice cream, and ekmek with a Greek coffee in the briki or salty mezedes with ouzo. 

A: Panormos/ tel. 2283 031647

Stou Stratou – Serifos 

In the heart of Serifos’ Chora, against the backdrop of the imposing City Hall and the church of Agios Athanasios, is the traditional café Stou Stratou, with its blue tables and chairs welcome visitors for a morning coffee on embers and a tasty omelette. In the afternoon you can taste homemade sweets (try their famous chocolate cake) and appetizers accompanied by ouzo or rakomelo from noon onwards. Spend a few minutes (or even hours) viewing the menu since that also features art and poetry (literally). 

A: Chora Serifos /tel. 2281 052566

To Kafeneio Tou Drakaki – Sifnos 

With more than 100 years of life, Drakakis’ kafeneio, in Apollonia, offers the ambiance of a Greece that is reminiscent of black and white movies. With tables spread across the paved central alley, you can enjoy a rakomelo with delicious traditional appetizers of Sifnos. Espresso coffee or filter coffee are unknown words here!

AApollonia/ tel. 6972123571

To Kafeneio Tis Charas – Schoinousa 

In the picturesque Chora, one of the oldest buildings hosts To Kafeneio Tis Charas. Famous for its rich breakfast made with local products from small producers- here you will taste fresh eggs and handmade sweets. In the evenings the rakomezes take centre stage, as you take part in the improvised celebrations featuring violins and lutes. 

A: Chora Schoinousa/ tel. 2285072026

Photodotis – Amorgos 

Away from the hustle and bustle of Chora, in an upper neighborhood, you can relax at Photodotis. This traditional kafeneio features white and shades of green, plus a courtyard with wooden and iron tables, where you can enjoy local products such as Amorgian xynomyzithra, pumpkin meatballs, and dolmades with fresh vine leaves; handmade sausage or hunkiar begeti with local veal- dishes that are all prepared with a lot of love! Often violin nights are also held here.

A: Chora Amorgos/ tel. 2285072059

Insights Greece - Traditional Kafeneia of the Cyclades

Kali Kardia (Bohoris) – Kimolos 

Kali Kardia or the café of Bochoris -as the locals call it- is a traditional trademark found on the main road of Kimolos’ Chora. Operating as kafeneio, tavern, and convenience store- here you’ll find classic black and white tiles on the floor, wooden chairs around marble tables, and a jukebox. You can try the same traditional recipes that have been used since 1920, featuring pure, fresh, and local ingredients only. Ouzo and tsipouro appetizers, plus some signature mom-cooked dishes are also on the menu. Tip: if you are after something sweet, order the orange pie or kataifi. 

A: Chora Kimolos/ tel. 2287051495

Kafeneio Nios – Ios 

In the picturesque square of Chora of Ios, under some pretty bougainvillea, lays Kafeneio Nios. Enjoy your coffee in the morning, varieties of cheese and cold cuts during the day, and (every day) live music (bouzouki, tomberleki, and baglama) will accompany your rakomela at night. 

A: Chora Ios/ tel. 2286092164

7 Reasons to Spend Your Summer in Karpathos

The second-largest island of the Dodecanese, Karpathos is a picture of wild, untouched beauty.

Once you’ve driven around the island, explored its stunning beaches and taken in the unique geology that surrounds you, you’ll feel like part of a secret club of those who have been fortunate enough to visit this very special part of Greece. 

Taking in the beauty of Apella beach

The road to Apella beach along the east coast of the island boasts a view of deep blue that sets the tone for the beaches of this island. Somewhere on the road from Kyra Panagia beach to Apella is a section of the road where you can stop the car and take in the beauty of Apella from above. After taking in the majestic bird’s eye view of the turquoise sea lapping against white rocks, drive down the winding road towards the nearby taverna and head the rest of the way on foot. Once you pass through the rocky corridor leading to the beach, find a spot to leave your things and, quite simply, forget about them. You’ll spend the rest of your time floating blissfully in the salty, clear water that will softly nudge you into vacation mode. Insider tip: Apella is, with good reason, a popular beach. Get in early or on a weekday to enjoy this spot without the masses that often follow. 

Strolling through the village of Menetes

The village of Menetes sits between the two coasts of Karpathos. Its alleys lined with colourful homes perched upon the mountain make for a magical late afternoon walk. As the sun starts to set slowly, it leaves a soft glow on the colours of peach, pink, lemon yellow and soft blue. Once you’ve strolled through the town, head to the Church of the Assumption for a picture-perfect view of the town in all its colourful glory. 

Lunching at Folia Taverna 

Spoa is a small, slow-moving village, and that is exactly how the locals like it. Folia Taverna is the quintessential village taverna, serving up classic dishes like souvlaki, fried garidakia (baby prawns) and calamari. Spoa’s close proximity to the small port of Agios Nikolaos means that the seafood is freshly caught, and it also means you have the perfect swimming spot before or after your lunch. The balcony at Folia boasts sweeping views of the village and sea below, however, there is a more authentic local experience to be had at the street-side tables which are usually frequented by the older inhabitants of the village who spend the afternoon in discussion over a beer. 

Swimming at Diakoftis beach

Also dubbed “Paradise beach”, Diakoftis is a beach that lives up to its name. Slightly tricky to find (drive around and behind the airport and take the bumpy road all the way to its end), the reward is a pristine stretch of turquoise that could leave you thinking you’ve been magically transported to the Maldives. Lined with soft white sand, the beach of Diakoftis has two sides to choose from and both promise clear, slightly cooler water. Insider tip: try to plan your trip to Diakoftis on a less windy day for maximum enjoyment. 

Chasing the sunset along the west coast

After taking a late-afternoon dip at the beautiful Lefkos beach, hop in the car and follow the road along the west coast of the island. The low sunlight throws a magical glow on the rocky landscape of the island and leads you all the way to the traditional village of Olympos, where time seems to have stood still. Aside from the ladies dressed in traditional Karpathian costumes selling trinkets, you’ll find a sunset that’s so breathtaking, that even the locals stop what they’re doing to take the view in.

Sampling the local speciality – Makarounes 

When the Italians invaded Karpathos in the early 1900s, they brought with them their love of pasta. Makarounes is the Karpathian combination of handmade pasta and local Greek cheese. A soft, curled pasta made from flour and water, Makarounes are usually served with sautéed onions and topped generously with grated sheep’s or goat’s cheese. Makarounes are found on almost every menu in Karpathos and must be tried at least once. You can also find them dried and available to buy in packets throughout the island to take home with you.

Spending a blissful day at Mikri Amoopi beach

For a day of doing absolutely nothing other than relaxing by the most crystal clear beach you can imagine, head directly to Mikri Amoopi beach. Located next to the larger Amoopi beach, Mikri Amoopi is a smaller bay with a handful of sun beds, often nabbed early in the day. There’s a tavern and a hotel restaurant nearby, which is a good thing because once you arrive at Mikri Amoopi, you’ll want to stay all day.

Mini Guide to Pylos 

A pretty seaside town located in the Peloponnese, Pylos is surrounded by lush vegetation, breathtaking natural landscapes, ancient monuments, and fabulous authentic taverns serving fresh local dishes from the region. 

Must see: Three Admirals’ Square remains one of the busiest places in Pylos. This is the main focus of the town square, as it’s a monument dedicated to the three admirals who participated in the legendary Battle of Navarino. Nestor’s Cave tours are a great way to discover history. Stroll through the unique archaeological site called Ancient Pylos, with its many ruins of unique ancient buildings; the most splendid of which was the Palace of Nestor. 

Must do: Head to the small town square next to the harbour and sit back and enjoy a coffee, dessert, or late lunch at one of the many tavernas, cafes, or restaurants. When the sun goes down it turns into one of the most romantic places in the city. Here you can just walk, admiring the panoramic view of the coast, or dine at one of the local restaurants. 

To swim: There are no beaches inside Pylos, however, there is a boat trip around Sfaktiria and Navarino Bay, with daily cruises. Only five minutes away by car you can swim at Gialova and you will be blown away by the nearby Voidokillia Beach, which has been named one of the best beaches in Greece. 

Don’t leave until: You visit the Archaeological Museum of Chora, where you will find numerous archaeological findings from the site of the Palace of Nestor; also head to the Archaeological Museum of Messinia, where you’ll discover collections that focus on the Mycenaean civilization. 

Eat: There are so many wonderful places where you can try local dishes and delicacies, including Hilopites (handmade pasta) with Myzithra (local cheese), Spinach with black-eyed peas, and Sausages seasoned with oranges, Barbounia (mullet) and Liopita (olive pie). Some of our favourite taverns are Fifty/Fifty for perfectly grilled calamari and other seafood dishes; O Koukos for traditional oven-baked dishes accompanied by local wines; Poseodonia for great grilled food and amazing views of Navarino Bay; and Aetos for the freshest fish and salads! 

Drink: Kookoonari Beach Bar is close by and is the perfect spot for kicking back and for listening to crashing waves, taking in stunning sunsets, and sipping on sherbet-coloured cocktails; or for a casual drink with the locals, head to Ethos Café Bar in the town square.  

Extra tip

Definitely take a boat trip around Sfaktiria and Navarino Bay. Cruises start off from The Marina – the harbor of Pylos, where you can spend the entire day exploring remote little beaches and bays at your own pace. 

Getting there

The quickest way from Athens to Pylos is by car and it’s around a three-hour and fifteen-minute drive. KTEL Messinias operates a bus from Athens to Pylos twice daily (five-hour trip). 

Celebrating Summer Solstice 2022

Today, June 21 marks the official start of summer and the longest day of the year in Greece, and all of the Northern Hemisphere; and with this comes plenty of sunshine, high temperatures, and a romantic vibe!

The summer solstice, also called midsummer, has long been celebrated around the world in many different ways; from beach parties to large festive gatherings in town squares.

The importance of the summer solstice to the Greeks dates back thousands of years, to the creation of calendar systems, many of which were developed based on geographical region. It is said that the Athenian calendar spanned from summer solstice to summer solstice, and the Delphic calendar began around the first new moon after the solstice. 

In Ancient Greece, the summer solstice also marked the one-month countdown to the opening of the Olympic Games and it also fell around the time of Kronia, a festival celebrating Cronus, the god of agriculture.

In Athens today, June 21, 2022 sunrise takes place at 6 am while sunset will be at 8:50 pm- allowing locals and visitors to enjoy a long, leisurely day filled with plenty of sunshine.

Temperatures around Greece are also expected to rise over the next few days, and according to the National Meteorological Service, the highest temperatures are expected to reach 40C-41C.

On Wednesday, temperatures will reach 38C to 39C in mainland Greece and 35C in the islands from Wednesday to Friday.

Temperatures in Athens on Wednesday and Thursday will reach 38C-39C.

On Thursday, the highest temperatures expected to prevail in Greece are 40C-41C. 

There will be a drop in temperatures on Friday and Saturday, but a new rise is expected again on Sunday 26 June. 

Complete Travel Guide to East Pelion

Pelion is a place close to my heart. This is where I met my husband, where we fell in love and got married. A less-visited place- it’s rich in history, has delicious food, blissful beaches and welcoming locals. Since then, I’ve come to love the word ‘Pelion,’ as it has gifted us so many moments that we will cherish forever.

When we received an invitation for a week away in East Pelion, I could not believe our luck. I remained standing in front of my inbox with a look akin to a deer caught in headlights. We hadn’t visited Pelion for almost two years now so we, of course, welcomed the opportunity and within a few days found ourselves in Zagora.

We were very lucky to have friends who live in Zagora (Kiki Tsourou I am looking at you!) and were happy to play the tourists in their own town, showing us the best of what East Pelion has to offer including all the activities one can do here, the places one has to visit and the places to go for food and fun. Here, I’ve compiled a list of all the things we did for when you visit.

Getting There & Getting Around 

Pelion is located in the municipality of Magnesia in the middle of the Greek mainland. It is approximately a 5-hour drive from Athens and a 3-hour drive from Thessaloniki. There are also daily flights to Volos airport which is an hour’s drive to East Pelion. Depending on how much you want to explore while in East Pelion, I strongly recommend you hire a car as access to some places is not doable with public transportation, which is not the best and with the most regular routes, if you ask me. Also, the road to get to East Pelion is a bit wonky and has a series of bends, so keep that in mind when driving around.

But with views as such, who would mind a few bends and turns?

Where to Stay

If you would like to experience both the mountain and the sea, I strongly recommend you spend half of your time in Zagora and the other half in Horefto. If you, however, prefer the uncharted and unexposed beauty of mountain villages then Pouri and Tsagkarada may be the ideal ones for you.

Where to Sleep

If you would like to stay in Zagora then look no further than Victoria’s Country Apartments in the centre of Zagora. This traditional accommodation was built in harmony with the unique architecture of the area in 2003. They offer spacious, two-room apartments with the best sea views but what makes this accommodation so special is the owner herself, Victoria. A smiley lady that decorated each room with taste and offers you daily the tastiest breakfast prepared by her own hands. If you are more of a beach person though, then Aeolos Hotel Villas in Horefto beach is for you. Think of white-washed houses in a secluded rose garden with sea views and two swimming pools for those who like to have the best of both worlds. If you are more of an adventure person though and camping, or even glamping, is your jam, Camping Horefto is for you. A 5-star camping site with facilities for the disabled, glamping tents and a cafe area, it gives an extra twist to camping as you know it.

Where to eat and drink

In Zagora, taste local grilled meat at Stou Psilou a few steps further than the central square of the village. Ylien Cafe in the square is another great place to have a cold beer and try their pizza or one of their traditional desserts. In Pouri, go to Polydroso restaurant at the little square for local meze and views of the mountain. On your way to Elitsa beach turn right and visit Plimari Tavern located on the less known Analipsi beach. To get there you will get off the beaten path as Analipsi beach is a secluded area but it is worth the ride. Plimari Tavern offers the complete Pelion experience with fresh seafood, ouzo, and grilled meat in a seaside setting. From here you can go for a walk along the Analipsi beach, have a swim and come back to enjoy another dish or have some coffee. Sevah Horefto is another great tavern that you must visit when on Horefto beach. Located in the middle of the main road, under centuries-old plane trees, just a few meters away from the sea, the owners Matina and her husband Spyros will make you feel most welcome. Try the penne with salmon alla vodka or ask for the catch of the day, as Spyros goes fishing and cooks it fresh every day.

Best Beaches

East Pelion beaches have pristine, crystal-blue waters! Horefto beach is a great place to start, especially if you are looking for bars, supermarkets and restaurants nearby. Ideal for families and those who like to play on the beach and dive in and out of the water many times per day. Elitsa beach with the famous heart-shaped rock is another great choice. For a morning swim go to Analipsi beach and then have a light lunch at Plimari Tavern. If you are looking for beach bars then Agioi Saranta, Agios Ioannis and Plaka beach are for you. Damouchari beach is the famous place where parts of the movie ‘Mamma Mia’ were filmed, a must-visit place if you are in East Pelion! Last but not least, Paralia Fakistra and Paralia Milopotamos. It’s a long drive to go but when you dive into the cold waters with the wavelengths of light playing on the surface of the sea, you realise that it was totally worth it!

East Pelion’s history

Since ancient times, Pelion has played a major role in the country’s history. According to Ancient Greek mythology, Mount Pelion was the homeland of Centaurs, the mythical creatures that were half-men and half-horse. So much was their adoration by humans that Chiron, the wisest and justest of them all became the tutor of Asclepius the father of medicine, and showed him how to use herbal medicine to heal humans. Spending time in East Pelion and seeing the dense, jungle-like forest and wild herbs surrounding the villages, is enough to convince you that these myths are not entirely narrated without a sound basis.

Just walking through the villages of Zagora, Tsagkarada and Pouri you notice distinct elements of mixed Ottoman and Venetian architecture revealing the once rulers of the area.

More particularly, in Zagora, you will find the Kassavetio Girl’s School, which was the first girls’ school founded in Ottoman Thessaly in the 19th century, the Rigas Feraios school where the writer was educated, the mayor hall of Zagora, a majestic building with thick walls by the square of the village and The Women’s Agricultural Association of Zagora, a place where local women using old recipes create magnificent delicacies that are sold all over the country.

Can’t leave without…

Going for a hike through the beautiful mountain Pelion with a registered, professional guide like George Xiradakis from Pelion Scout. George’s aim is to safely guide you through the hiking pathways of East Pelion, tell you about the story of the place, show you the vegetation and explain all about the area’s microclimate. If you are lucky enough you may even pick some mushrooms as we did. Into culinary experiences? Then book a session with Pelion Scout and Taste Pelion! While George will guide you through the mountain, Chef Vaggelis Vouzaras will cook for you in the great outdoors. Choose the trail to ‘Vathres’ (natural plunge pools in Greek), it is ideal for people of all fitness backgrounds and a very enjoyable one as you see the scenery of the mountain changing while on course. Into multi-day adventures? Then book a sea caves adventure, sail to uninhabited lands, swim in the translucent waters of wild sea caves, wander along scenic seaside paths, and feast outdoors on authentic Greek delicacies! Into Greek language retreats? Then be a Greek for a week and book yourself a language retreat with Mona Spachi at Pelion this summer!

No matter what you choose to do, I’m sure of one thing- once you leave you will want to return back!

Images by Anastasia Fountouli ©

Qatar Begins Direct Flights from Doha to Santorini 

Qatar Airways has launched its new direct service from Doha to Santorini, and the resumption of flights to Mykonos island. 

As the holiday season gets underway, Qatar Airways is making it easier for travellers to visit the Greek islands with the launch of its new service to Santorini (JTR), and the resumption of flights to Mykonos (JMK).

The first flight from Doha to Santorini took place on Tuesday 7 June and was operated by an A320 aircraft and was welcomed by Senior Executives from Fraport Greece as the aircraft landed at Santorini International Airport for the first time.

The airline marked the occasion by creating a bespoke in-flight food menu, designed to embrace traditional Greek cuisine, with specially decorated cutlery bands for all passengers, and an illustrated menu card for Business Class customers. Passengers were also gifted celebratory cupcakes to mark the occasion.

The island destination joins Athens and Mykonos to become the third Greek gateway to be served by the national carrier of the State of Qatar.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The Greek Isles are a leading tourist destination and an important market for Qatar Airways. There is high interest from across our network for flights to Santorini, specifically in the leisure segment. We are committed to offering our passengers as many seamless one-stop connection choices as possible. I am sure visitors from the Middle East, Asia, Australia and the Americas will be pleased to have Santorini served by our airline.”

Seasonal flights to Mykonos resumed on the 3rd of June, with four weekly flights, and flights to Athens have increased to a double daily service, offering greater choice for business and leisure passengers alike. 

Best Greek Islands for Beaches

Let’s be honest, the perfect Greek island summer holiday entails arriving at the beach in the morning (ordering a Freddo Cappuccino as soon as you get there) and leaving when it’s almost dark (after that last post-sunset swim and a cocktail at the bar). 

Whether you prefer kicking back on a sun bed listening to famous DJs playing the latest and hottest tracks, or discovering remote spots that offer complete and utter privacy- we’ve rounded up the best Greek islands for those (like us) who love spending endless hours at the beach every summer!  

Crete

Greece’s largest island is filled with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and whether you visit Chania, Rethymno, or Heraklion- you are in for a treat! 

Best beaches in Crete

Vai (about 2 hours from Heraklion), Preveli (closest to Rethymnon), Balos (55 km from Chania), Elafonisi (1.5-hour drive from Chania), and Seitan Limani (in Chania). 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Gramvousa Beach
Koufonissia

This small Cycladic island offers breathtaking beaches and stunning waters; the bonus is you can easily get around from one beach to another without a car! 

Best beaches in Koufonissia

Finikas, Fanos, Ammos, Italida, Pori, Charakopou and Parianos. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Kasteli Beach
Lefkada

Postcard-perfect beaches are scattered all over the island! From famous Porto Katsiki to remote little bays that boast crystal clear waters- Lefkada is a must for water babies! 

Best beaches in Lefkada

Porto Katsiki, Egremni, Kathisma, Pefkoulia, Agiofili and Avali.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Porto Katsiki
Zakynthos

Lefkada’s neighbouring Ionian isle is also renowned for its stunning waters that are surrounded by lush cliffs that make for memorable days at the beach. 

Best beaches in Zakynthos

Navagio (for the views), Marathonissi island (a small boat ride from town), Gerakas, Dafni, Limnionas, Porto Vromi, and Xyngia. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Marathonisi
Milos

Fast becoming one of Greece’s most popular islands, Milos is home to some of the Cyclades (if not Greece’s) most beautiful beaches. 

Best beaches in Milos

Sarakiniko, Firiplaka, Tsigrado, Papafragas and Fyropotamos.

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Tsigrado
Naxos

This is the largest island of the Cyclades and an ideal destination for those that want to spend all day and night on a long sandy beach that’s lined with taverns and bars- so you don’t need to move!  

Best beaches in Naxos

Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Agios Giorgios, Sahara and Mikri Vigla. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Agios Prokopios
Donoussa

An under-the-radar island that offers striking beaches that are quiet and remote; this is the ideal island for those who prefer privacy and tranquility during their summer getaway. 

Best beaches in Donoussa 

Kedros, Livadi, Kalotaritissa, Fikio and Stavros

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Livadi Beach

Rhodes

With water temperatures that are ideal from early Spring through to late Autumn, Rhodes is by far one of the best Greek islands for those that want to make the most of the magical Mediterranean Sea! 

Best beaches in Rhodes

Anthony Quinn, St Paul’s Bay, Kallithea, and Tsambika.   

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Anthony Quinn

Skiathos

Part of the Sporades group, Skiathos offers some of the most unique beaches in Greece, that are surrounded by lush pine trees and soft sand. 

Best beaches in Skiathos

Lalaria, Koukouniares, Vromolimnos, Elia and Mandraki. 

Insights Greece - Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Lalaria

Main image | Anthony Quinn Beach in Rhodes | by IN+SIGHTS GREECE ©

Explore Kythnos Like a Local

Welcome to Kythnos! Not sure how I can describe in a few hundred words an authentic Greek island, its beauties, its tastes and smells but also all the other senses it engages you with- from the moment the boat door opens and you inhale an aroma mixture of thyme, fennel, sage with salt and sea air- but I will try to convey all the love I have for this place, through the following.

By Julia Vagiani 

The island is only accessible by two ferry routes. One from Piraeus which takes about three hours, and another from Lavrion port which is less than two hours. You can also visit Kythnos direct from other nearby islands in the Cyclades. The closest airport is Athens, which is only 30 minutes from Lavrion port. Of course, you can rent a yacht or a speed boat, even a helicopter if your budget allows since there is a helidrome on the island.

Kythnos has come under the spotlight over the last few years, thanks to the advantages of proximity, natural quiet beaches, relaxing landscape, and picturesque villages. 

Where to Stay

The accommodation proposals are still growing due to the popularity of the island and it strives to provide availability in the high season months but also over time for all budgets. Prices and offerings range from traditional houseshotelssuites, and villas, or private studios and apartment rooms- there really is a wide range to choose from.

What to Do

Activities are developing and visitors are able to go kayaking, do yoga on the beach or in private, go island hopping with speed boats or sail around the island with a yacht, enjoy some hikingscuba, snorkelling, or take pottery classes.

Where to Swim

Kythnos has approximately 100 beaches formed like a surrounding lace that creates shores, coves, bays and hidden tiny beaches that can be explored- from organised with beach bars to literally tranquil “deserted feel like” points, that can’t be seen from above. Others are accessible by car, some by boat or by foot, from white irregular pebbles, crispy sand with tamarisk trees to cast a shadow or totally bare for those who can’t get enough of the Greek sun!

Just the view of the rocky surrounding, the sun peeking through, the whiter whites, the browns and greys, glowing metallic blue, crystal clear transparent turquoise blue waters, one can find at least one beach to call his favourite. The most famous beach on the island, Kolona, which took its name from the shape of the wide sand beach that divides the sea in two and connects the island with the island of Agios Loukas, is crowded with boats that visit from spring to autumn; it remains as a highlight attraction.  

Apokrousi beach is one of the longest beaches with armirikia (tamarisk) trees that offer shade, a couple of beach bars one on the side and another in the middle of the beach, and two tavernas to serve your appetite if you decide to stay all the way till the mesmerizing sunset. The road allows access for all types of cars and motorcycles and that makes it very attractive, especially for the last swim before you catch the return ferry!

Where to Eat

Bars & cafes are in every town the island has from your arrival at the port, going to Chora café bar or brunch, or arriving at Loutra, try having a café on the beach or a delicious waffle with ice cream. 

Eating on the island is an exploration in itself. From having breakfast at traditional kafenio (coffee shop) eating pies (cheese pie with fresh eggs, local cheese and fennel) and kolopi (horta/green vegetable pie), buy handmade pasteli (sesame and honey-sweet) and amigdalota (soft, rose-scented almond cookies) to delicious desserts, fresh fish, Mediterranean seafood, traditional taverns with handmade products of their own production and breeding, to the most modern restaurants with gastronomic and gourmet suggestions, Kythnos covers all tastes!

Not to be missed, the delicious taste of local lemon juice pork, the remarkably unforgettable red sauce goat, ambelofasoula (green long been salad) which you could sense the chlorophyll tingling your mouth, (saliagous) snails cooked in onion red sauce, a plate of the famous sfougato a kind of small cheese ball croquette made with local cream cheese – and of course the caparosalata (caper salad mash) a mouthful of gourmet in its most simple form!

What to See 

Visit Panagia (Holy Mother) Kanala church, which is the patron saint of Kythnos to worship, light a candle in her icon which is considered miraculous and admire the temple and the location. Other churches and chapels can be visited, especially if your visit falls on a celebration of a saint and the local panigiri (festivity) it’s worth going and mixing with the locals, to enjoy the traditional music, dances, food and wine offered.

Katafiki cave is believed to be one of the biggest caves in Greece and was first encountered in the 1830s. It has unique and interesting stalagmites and rock formations. Till 1939, it was used as an iron mine and locals used it to keep food cool, but also as a place of gathering and celebrations. Located in Driopida, it’s worth visiting if you find it open to the public.

In Chora, you will find the Folklore Museum, in a traditional house with an extensive collection of the traditional setting of how households, clothes, furniture and significant folk-art objects. The exhibits provide an idea of life in the past and have historical significance.

Buy your gifts to take back home to your friends from handmade wood art objects, to sublime cosmetics or buy a jar of local thyme honey and other gifts, but most important take back the calm and rest you have captured, tell your friends about Kythnos, show off your amazing tan and those pictures you took!

For more information and details about the island head to Your Kythnos  

Images by Julia Vagiani ©