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.

Marbella Elix, a Stunning New Luxury Resort

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!

Rooms

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.

Food

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.

Facilities

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?

Images by Anastasia Fountouli ©

Best Cafes in Plaka 

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)

Insights Greece - Best Cafes in Plaka 

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) 

Insights Greece - Best Cafes in Plaka 

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)

Insights Greece - Best Cafes in Plaka 

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)         

Insights Greece - Best Cafes in Plaka 

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)

Insights Greece - Best Cafes in Plaka 

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)

Insights Greece - Best Cafes in Plaka 

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)

Insights Greece - Best Cafes in Plaka 

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

Grasshoppers: a hot new entry to Athens bar scene 

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.

 

Traditional Accommodation in Zagora

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 storeIstos 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!

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.