Imagine for a moment that you are soaking in the warm rays of the Greek sun in your own private swimming pool overlooking the sea. It feels nourishing and healing- as all your aches and pains just fade away. Welcome to Meli Suites in Skala Potamia, a little piece of paradise!
We visited the Meli Suites Isle before and loved every single bit of our stay. Having chatted with the staff it sounded like we shouldn’t leave the island without taking a look at the Meli Suites, the original hotel of the Meli Suites hotel collection.
Meli Suites is mainly comprised of stylish suites embracing a mixture of Scandinavian and Aegean architecture with private swimming pools and sea views. Inside the suites, the luxury brief is taken seriously with eye-popping decor and details that recall the famous, white-washed Cycladic islands.
Lavish interiors aside, Meli Suites is located in Skala Potamias centre, right next to the busy seafront with a number of bars and restaurants, making it the perfect launchpad for exploring the village on foot. It didn’t take much to persuade my husband that we had to extend our stay on the island. Thankfully, the idea was equally appealing to him, too.
We stayed at the Superior Suite and our time here can only be described as indelible!
With a private balcony that featured our very own swimming pool, big, comfy sunbeds and spectacular sea views, we didn’t see any need to leave the hotel and travel further afield. In the morning, we would indulge in our homemade breakfast by the main swimming pool, then sunbathe on our private balcony and would only leave to take a quick dip in the sea before lunch. At night, we would drop into one of the seafront bars and enjoy a cocktail while gazing at the sea.
But enough with the words, let the pictures speak for themselves!
If you are thinking of visiting the verdant green island of Thassos, then Skala Potamia is a good place to start. From here you can embark on daily trips to the nearby villages of Panagia and Limenaria, and explore beaches like the Giola Lagoon with its crystal emerald waters. Beyond this, Meli Suites is the most luxurious and stylish hotel in the area so book your stay in one of their luxurious suites and let the positive vibes of this unique hotel work wonders for your mind and body.
If you are after a chic-but-private, honeymoon-style sanctuary amid the Thassos island bustle, Meli Suites Isle, the latest hotel of the Meli Suites collection in Skala Potamia, offers an elegant stay with style, relaxation and culinary delights- all achieved in one place.
The striking architecture of Meli Suites Isle is the first thing you notice when walking through its stone-built entry. Picture scattered olive trees, beige sandstone walls, rattan hanging chairs and outdoors raffia roofing all intertwined with one big swimming pool – the focal point of the entire place.
But it’s not just a swimming pool! Just as ‘meli‘ (honey in Greek) is the ingredient that makes any Greek breakfast special, respectively, this swimming pool is the ‘meli‘ that makes this place so unique- as it connects the rooms giving access to the water directly from each suite.
This concept is not only one I’ve never seen before but it also contributes to the harmony of the entire place.
“It takes an architectural genius to build a place like this,” is what another guest told me while we had our breakfast by the pool one morning.
Then, you get to know that the owner, Stelios Nikoloudis, is a London-based civil engineer with a keen eye for textures and materials.
The isle in the middle of the swimming pool with a growing olive tree, the brilliant marriage of all the textures and natural materials, plus the painstaking attention to detail, and then it all makes sense.
There are three rooms and eight suites all individually styled and named after their unique features. We stayed in the Arch Room and every morning it felt like waking up in paradise with views of the swimming pool and the swim-up private deck with direct access to the water right by our bed.
Having breakfast by the pool was another unique experience. The owner, Yianna, is the epitome of Greek hospitality, serving you a homemade breakfast and being there to facilitate you in any way she can, let that be making recommendations for places to visit on the island or sharing local secrets, including how to find the most gorgeous beaches.
We tried the floating breakfast on our last day in the hotel and it was the ultimate luxury! Presented on a large tray complete with homemade Greek pastries, freshly squeezed juices and eggs- it was the best start to our day and something to remember.
There are plenty of spaces to stay in Skala Potamias but Meli Suites Isle is most certainly our favourite place to book. Not only will you fall in love with the impeccable design and architecture of the place but you will also adore their hospitality. Book your stay at the Deluxe Suite with a bathtub now and you can thank me later.
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 Filippaspsistaria 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.
It is easy to see why Marbella Elix is popular with discerning families who look for fun and convenience. Calm, modern design rooms peer over dense olive groves and azure waters- a place to stow away and let off steam. This is most certainly Epirus’ best-kept secret!
Shy of the beautiful town of Parga, Marbella Elix is a luxury hotel where relaxation and tranquillity acquire a whole new meaning, where all-inclusive does not confuse abundance with quality and where food is seasonally sourced and cooked. It is no surprise after all that Marbella Elix was included in Condé Nast Traveller’s 2022 Hot List!
Style & Feel
Amphitheatrically built and perched on a hill by Karavostasi beach, Marbella Elix visitors are amazed by the big glass walls and sea views once entering the lobby. “Blue as far as the eye can see” is what everyone kept saying to each other whilst the concierge took care of our luggage.
The lobby lounge has a laid-back feeling that makes you want to spend your evening gazing into the deep blue water. It works overtime as a cafe and bar and does a pretty good job of calming you down especially if you have travelled all day long. The interior decor is a well-matched mix of local traditional elements and Moroccan features- think of big armchairs, wooden tables, metal lanterns with an antiqued bronze finish and soothing neutral beach colours, it sold me!
I’ve expressed my love for the Marbella Collection 5-star hotels many times in the past. I had the pleasure of staying at the Marbella Corfu and I have also visited the Nido Suites but this was the first time I stayed at the Marbella Elix and from the first glance I could tell that the same quality and attention to detail applied here, too.
Tall handmade headboard? Check. Contemporary details mixed with classic features? Check. Impeccable interior decoration? Check. Big rainfall shower? Check. Coupled with a big balcony, comfy sunloungers and a big glass deck railing to make the most of the breathtaking sea views and views to the islands of Corfu, Paxos, and Antipaxos, it was difficult not to fall in love with the place.
I loved every detail, from the cushions in the living room to the natural variations in the grain and colour of the wooden wardrobe!
There are multiple rooms- some have their private swimming pools others are closer to the beach. Our room was next to the swimming pool and Indigo bar, as soon as we checked in we took a stroll around before ending up in the baby swimming pool with our little M practising her swimming moves.
I have already waxed lyrical about the food at Marbella Elix; it is freshly cooked with locally sourced ingredients and caters for all tastes and preferences. There is a little fine dining corner for those who seek luxury and then there’s Greek food, seafood and special dietary requirements food catering to vegans and people with intolerances. And by vegan food, I mean spinach risotto and vegetable moussaka, not just fries and boiled veggies.
Those with a sweet tooth wouldn’t be left unsatisfied either. Marbella Elix has a magnificent selection of desserts you must save room for; from perfectly baked Greek sweet pies to white chocolate mousse and mocha pots de creme, it was nearly impossible not to try at least two different puddings at a time.
Decadent, rich, full of flavours, a proper feast for the eyes!
To top the dining experience off, the hotel offers a culinary series called Greek Chefs Abroad where, as the name suggests, Greek Chefs from abroad cook for the hotel’s guests giving them the chance to taste menus they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so otherwise.
The beautiful beach of Karavostasi unfolding below the hotel is easily reached by the funicular railway, making access to the sea easier if you have mobility issues or if you are carrying a baby stroller around like myself. But if you are more of a swimming pool type, the infinity pool at the Indigo bar will no doubt have you smitten with its striped bean bag sunloungers, sea views and calming scenery.
Into sports and outdoor activities? Then, go trekking in the pine forest hills surrounding the hotel or go kayaking in the colling waters of the Ionian Sea. Into relaxation and mindfulness? Visit the spa, join one of the yoga classes at the gym or, even better, follow one of the Digi Detox Activities! Looking for kids’ activities? Let your kids join “The Grasshoppers” Kids Club & Creche. Supervised and cared for by multilingual childcare professionals this club offers activities for those between four months and 12 years, letting the parents the time to soak up the sun by the pool and enjoy the serenity of their private balcony.
Marbella Elix is truly a place that caters to everyone’s liking!
Until now, I had the softest spot for Marbella Corfu, but I think I’ve found a Marbella Collection hotel that’s taken over the top spot! We had the most wonderful time at Marbella Elix and I cannot wait to return back soon.
The post-lockdown Greek tourism explosion is real so if any of you reading this are thinking of a last-minute holiday in Greece, this is the time to do it or book your trip for next summer – any excuse to start planning your next adventure, right?
Plaka, built in the shadow of the Acropolis, is an authentic sample of where old-world Athens meets the new.
It’s a place where you will find ancient ruins on almost every corner; as well as a variety of charming cafes serving coffee, drinks and desserts, with the most historic views.
Here, we’ve rounded up our favourites when visiting this beautiful part of the city!
Yiasemi is a picturesque spot that’s become the Instagrammable bistro-café in the neighbourhood thanks to all the jam-packed tables lined along the staircase. You can sit and relax, watching people go by, while also sampling the great vegetarian buffet breakfast that features delightful dishes made using fresh, local produce. A: (Mnisikleous 23)
Café Melina is a retro café dedicated to Greek actress and political activist Melina Merkouri, features plenty of images and decor honouring the late actress. With an indoor and outdoor seating area, the all-day menu includes mezedes, as well as crepes and homemade desserts. A: (Lysiou 22)
Kimolia Art Café, a colourful and unique cafe that’s hidden in the alleyways of Plaka; Kimolia is set in a historic 1925 building, allowing visitors to step back in time with its traditional decor and ambience. A: (Ypereidou 5)
Anafiotika Café, located on the most famous steps of the neighbourhood; is the ideal place for a coffee during a morning stroll or a Greek meze later on in the day. A: (Mnisikleous 24)
Café Plaka is a great place all year round but we love it even more in winter for its fireplace and a wonderful roof terrace where you can sit and enjoy the sunny mornings. Tip: try the pancakes and take photos in front of the pink house. A: (Tripodon 1)
O Glykys is a traditional kafeneio that serves great Greek coffee, tsipouro, and homemade delicacies. Here you will find locals enjoying a game of tavli (backgammon), of course. A: (Geronta 2)
Dioskouroi, located right in the centre of old Athens, this cafe recently received a new design without losing its traditional atmosphere and appeal. It’s a favourite amongst students, locals and tourists alike, who come here for a coffee in the morning and a cocktail or wine during the evening. A: (37-39 Adrianou)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A: Apollonia/ 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
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.
Not your average bar, Grasshoppers near the centre of Athens is a place where all the details have been seen to, and the cocktails are no exception.
By Gina Lionatos
The low down… Grasshoppers is a striking contrast to the all-day cafe across the road (incidentally under the same ownership) in the neighbourhood of Neos Kosmos. Here you’ll find an intriguing space, a thought-provoking cocktail menu designed by mixologist Nikos Sotiropoulos, and a focus on seriously good bar food. Just a stone’s throw away from the Onassis Stegi Cultural Centre, Grasshoppers opened its doors in May 2022 and is already a favourite among Athenians who take their drinks seriously.
Décor/ Ambience: There is something decidedly grown-up about Grasshoppers, despite the associations of youth and inexperience that the name conjures. The use of the signature dark blue hue throughout the space, textural touch points (from the walls to the menus) and sleek interiors make Grasshoppers a bar that could easily be found in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Something to drink: The cocktails have been named after the types of couples you might find at a bar (see: Flying Lovers, Fervid, Unbearable). The Vulnerable is a delightful concoction of dry gin, chamomile, peach, almond, citrus and fresh herbs.
Menu: The menu offers classic cold dishes like beef tartare and salmon gravlax as well as sandwiches and cheese plates. All are made to order and prepared next to the bar.
Order my fave dish: The Vitello Tonnato boasts delicately sliced veal, dressed in lemon sauce with tuna, mayonnaise, mustard leaves, smoked eel and capers.
Price range: Bar food ranges from 6-9 € and a cocktail will set you back 10 €.
Perfect for: A night of sipping, chatting and mingling with friends. A great date night option.
Location: Eurudamantos 6, Athens
Opening hours/days: Closed Mondays, Open from 6pm-2am Tuesday-Sunday.
Platitudes and every travel cliché in the book have been used to describe holidaying in Pelion – sun, sea, lush greenery – but the thing that you have to keep in mind when it comes to it is that in Pelion there is an array of traditional accommodation stays that allow you to fully immerse yourself in an authentic Greek cultural experience. Here’s one such accommodation we recently stayed at – Victoria’s Country Apartments in Zagora!
Decades from now, my daughter will ask in awe ‘Did we really go on holiday in Pelion when I was 7 months old?’, to which the only response is ‘Yes, we drove several hours until we reached the beautiful village of Zagora in East Pelion and received the most heartwarming welcome from our hostess Victoria who made our trip unforgettable in so many ways!’. Then, I will proceed by showing her some pictures of our room.
There are eight spacious, two-bedroom apartments, all of them designed uniquely with treehouse beds and traditional stone-built walls by Victoria herself. We stayed at the Peacock – a large room on the first floor with a big wooden bed that was surrounded by colourful hand-painted peacocks on the walls. We had a wooden Greek-style kitchenette (where I prepared my daughter’s breakfast every morning), a sitting area, a Moroccan-style bathroom with in-build shower and spectacular tiles, and a balcony with a stunning view overlooking the Aegean!
Every morning Victoria would wake up early to prepare and serve us a feast for the eyes kind of breakfast with no two breakfasts alike regardless of how many days we stayed in her traditional accommodation.
Our options would vary from traditional Greek phyllo pies with fillings from Victoria’s organic vegetable patch, omelettes, fruit salads, pancakes, Greek yogurt with plums and cherries and freshly squeezed orange juice accompanied by the standard tea and coffee. We would sit on the balcony and have small sips of the coffee while devouring the omelettes and nibbling on the pies and pancakes. All while taking in the sea and mountain views with the sound of birds chirping in the background.
But what makes Victoria’s room so special is not just that, foregoing the beautiful, clean rooms and delicious food, and taking part in the local activities will make for an altogether richer and more rewarding holiday in Zagora.
Luckily, Victoria’s daughter, Kiki, is happy to show you around the most well-sought places to explore, connect you with the local travel guides and tell you about the history of the place.
From here, you can embark on the square of Zagora for a coffee or souvlaki, have a little shopping trip around Sindetiras jewellery store, Istos Pelion for traditionally woven scarves and cushions from the loom of the owner Kaiti, Gi Anatolis for souvenirs and higgledy-piggledy gifts, and the Women’s Agrotourist Cooperative of Zagora store with the delicious jams and liqueurs.Into history? Then visit the Museum of Zagora, situated a short car ride away on your way to Horefto beach. There is a parking space and the famous school where Rigas Feraios studied is just opposite the museum. Then, there’s also the Public Library of Zagora with an impressive collection of original manuscripts but you better make sure it is open before you visit.
Whatever you decide to do, I am sure you will have fun!
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.