At a tranquil village on the island of Symi, you will find a gorgeous little villa designed for couples to connect, de-stress or just relax along the stunning waterfront.
This tiny fishing cottage “On the Rocks” in Nimborio, is a place where you can unwind and feel totally at peace. From a quick dip at a nearby beach to enjoying a coffee and some light reading, or a candlelit dinner on the private terrace- this small sanctuary for two provides the perfect base for couples on a romantic getaway.
With the option to do what you like, when you like, the space offers privacy, freedom, and a mini home away from home vibe. Featuring one bedroom, one bathroom, a private terrace, wardrobe space, air-conditioning, and free WiFi, the holiday cottage is a short walk away from a traditional Greek taverna, a hotel restaurant, and a beach bar serving food all day long.
For those who wish to explore the rest of the beautiful island, guests have easy access to Symi’s main harbour town using the regular water taxi service, which also connects to many of the island’s breathtaking beaches every morning and afternoon. Water taxis can also be booked privately in the evening for those wishing to head to town at night- where you will find a great range of eateries and bars to choose from.
So if you’re planning your next Greek island escape for two or even looking for an ideal retreat as a solo traveller (for the ultimate me-time), this is the perfect place!
People from all over the country and the world arrive in Naxos each year to visit Melimilon, home to Greece’s most sought-after homemade marmalades.
Local Evangelia Lianopoulou has spent the last few years introducing authentic Naxian flavours to thousands of people from all over the world through her delightful creations including homemade jams, marmalades, spoon sweets, and liqueurs, which are all made from locally sourced produce.
“My passion has always been to give people a true and authentic Naxian experience. I try and use as many local products and Cycladic flavours for people to taste,” Evangelia tells IN+SIGHTS GREECE.
Ancient Greeks referred to marmalade as Melimilon, which is the name Evangelia chose for her thriving family business that now includes her famous range of homemade products, an all-day cafe and this year they also opened a concept store in the heart of town, where people can purchase an even wider range of Melimilon products.
Evangelia’s creations include her apple and plum marmalade, prickly pear jam, and sweet potato jam; as well as a special tomato and onion marmalade- and if you are lucky you may be able to get your hands on limited edition beetroot, zucchini or pumpkin flavours.
“I try to use ingredients that give people more opportunity to try a different range of flavours, aromas and tastes of Greece and more specifically from our beautiful Cycladic islands,” she says.
Evangelia reveals it was her grandmother’s cooking that inspired her to launch her products, as her grandparents’ garden was always full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, all organic “with the most wonderful taste. I had to create something special and allow others to taste the wholesome goodness.”
After seeing the instant love people had for her homemade jams, Evangelia decided it was time to expand and she opened up a cafe, where visitors had a chance to try the marmalades before they purchased them. From its inviting courtyard setting to its chic old-style interior, which is filled with Melimilon products, the light and breezy cafe has quickly become a favourite breakfast spot on the island.
The enticing menu includes free-range eggs made in a variety of ways, tiganites (Greek-style pancakes) topped with local cheese and Melimilon’s marmalades; cheese and spinach pies served with homemade spiced preserves, as well as freshly baked sweets and a range of coffees and juices.
Melimilon’s success has seen it expand once again and this year they opened a charming store located in the island’s old town, where people can purchase a range of homemade jams, honey, liqueurs, spices, herbs, and other local goods they can take home.
What makes Melimilon so special is that it allows visitors to experience an old-world charm, when Greece’s life had a slower pace, and locals from the island gathered food from their garden and shared it with family and friends. This is what Evangelia now wants to share with the rest of the world.
As you drive from one side of this beautiful Ionian island to the other, you are warmly welcomed by quaint villages, lush greenery, and the most breathtaking turquoise waters! Read more to discover our complete guide to Lefkada.
From remarkable natural landscapes and world-famous beaches (that are even more beautiful in real life) to verdant mountains, delightful local cuisine, and a noteworthy winemaking tradition- this is the perfect spot for a summer getaway. Here we reveal where to eat, stay and play when visiting Lefkada.
Getting there & getting around
This is the only Greek island connected to the mainland (via a bridge). Located in the Ionian Sea, Lefkada is set on the west coast of Greece, and the closest airport is in Preveza; from here it’s a 30-minute drive. If you are arriving from Athens, the distance is 280km, which is around 4.5 hours by car. You can also reach Lefkada by ferry from the islands of Ithaca, Kefalonia, and Meganisi.
Seeing it’s a large island, hiring a car will allow you to explore more areas. Alternatively, you can use public transport, with most buses departing from Lefkada Town.
Where to stay
Lefkada Town is located North of the island. This is where you will find a range of restaurants, cafes, shops, and plenty of sandy beaches close by – making it a suitable option for families. A few kilometres away is Agios Ioannis, a beach town popular amongst those who like wind and kite surfing. Nikiana is a quaint little village town with a small beach and a nice range of waterfront taverns. Nidri is Lefkada’s main resort town with lots of places to eat and drink- just keep in mind it’s packed with tourists over the summer. Vassiliki is the perfect spot if you enjoy water sports, plus there is plenty of taverns and shops to choose from. Whereas Agios Nikitas is the prettiest part of the island- ideal for couples.
Where to sleep
If you are looking for apartment-style accommodation (run by local families) check out Sappho Boutique Suites or Kavadias Apartments, which are both located in Vassiliki. For a modern stay in the heart of town, we recommend the Secret Boutique Hotel. And for couples seeking privacy, Katouna Suites in Lygia is a luxury adults-only hotel. Crystal Waters located in Nikiana village is one of the newest hotels on the island and offers stunning water views, while Pavezzo Retreat, which is set in Katouna village offers a unique, secluded escape.
Where to eat
When it comes to dining, there are plenty of good restaurants scattered all over the island. For traditional Greek cuisine try Andreas Tavern in Ponti, To Balkonaki tis Zois in Agios Petros, Sesoula Tavern in Dragano, Batzanakias The Tavernof the Village in Vassiliki, T’Agnatio in Agios Nikitas, Tavern Ionio or Avra Tavern in Athiani, and Kollokas Taverna in Katouna. Also, add Mavros Lagos and Nirikos to your list for their tasty local dishes. T’ Aloni is definitely a standout, with dishes that are made using fresh ingredients from the owner’s garden. And for a good range of fish taverns head to Sivota (our pick is Spiridoulas). For a more creative and modern food experience try Kato Rachoula Nouvell and Rachi in Exanthia, where you can also catch a beautiful view of the sunset. And for the freshest seafood by the water book Errikos in Meganisi.
For some handmade gelato head to Ciao Gelateris. If you are looking for traditional Greek pastries and desserts check out Once Upon A Pie, and for a variety of local sweets and biscuits head to Sivota Bakery, My Bakery in Nidri, and Loli Bakery in the Old Town.
Where to drink
For delicious cocktails in Lefkada Town head to Xartes or Karma Café. If you are looking for a nice little wine bar, make your way over to Mavros Lagos, which is also in the heart of town. For late-night drinks with water views check out Amente Restaurant & Café Bar in Kathisma, I Gonia Bar in Agios Nikitas, Tree Bar in Nidri, and NV Bar or Pavezzo Vintage Bar in Nikiana. With plenty of beach bars to choose from, some of the most popular spots are Areaia andCopla Beach Bar at Kathisma, NV Beach Bar in Nikiana, and Island Beach Bar in Nidri. Also, add Mylos Bar to your drinks list- this converted windmill serves great cocktails and splendid views of the sunset.
Local delicacies & dishes
Lefkada is renowned for its Lentils of Egklouvi, which are grown in the most mountainous village on the island. They are served as a salad during summer and as a soup over the cooler months. The other famous legume dish to try here is Lathiria (field beans grown in the plains). For mains, we recommend Kokoras Kokkinisto (chicken and handmade pasta in a red sauce), Savoro- freshly caught fish that’s cooked in onion, garlic, and rosemary, or the Octopus with Macarotsinia (handmade pasta). This island is also famous for its Riganda, a hot roasted bread with olive oil and oregano, and the Ladopita, an olive oil-based dessert featuring almonds, sesame, semolina, and cinnamon.
For small goods, the local salami and sausages made with pork and peppercorns are a standout. And if you would like to take some local delicacies home, look for some Pasteli (sesame seeds with honey), Mantolato (nougat), and homemade spoon sweets. Lefkada also produces some good local wine- if you find Vertzamo or Syflogo on the menu, we recommend you try a glass. Speaking of beverages, also taste Soumada– made from bitter almonds, then finish off with a sip of Rozolo– a traditional liqueur with subtle hints of orange and cinnamon.
Where to swim
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are found in Lefkada and let’s be honest, the crystal clear waters are one of the main reasons people visit here year in, year out. The beaches located on the west coast of Lefkada (between Agios Nikitas and Vassiliki) all magnetize visitors who can’t wait to dive in. And when you are on this side of town, add Mylos (a local secret), as well as Kalamitsi and Lygia to your list.
In no way is a trip to Lefkada complete without a swim at Porto Katsiki. If you think the photos are filtered- no chance- images actually don’t do it justice. This beach really is a slice of heaven.
The other absolute standouts are Egremni,Kathisma, Pefkoulia, and Agiofyli, which are all sublime with their white sand and turquoise waters. For a gorgeous little bay, that’s perfect for families and not so crowded drive over to Ammousa.
Surfers from all over the world make their way over to Poros Mikros Gialos each year, while those that enjoy windsurfing can be found at Vassiliki or Sivota– home to the World Windsurfing Championships. And if you get a chance, also dive into the stunning waters at Megali Petra and Avali Beach- favourites amongst locals thanks to their clear waters and stunning landscape.
Lagoons and waterfalls
Divari and Ivaria lagoons surround the historic town of Lefkada, and don’t miss the stunning waterfalls of Nydri- it’s one of the best in Greece. The walk to the waterfalls is about 15-20 minutes and is quite easy to get there (even with kids). For even cooler waters and just a short drive from the town of Nydri, the Dimosari Waterfalls offer a refreshing dip during summer.
-For a deeper understanding of Lefkada’s history and culture, visit the Archaeological Museum, which presents artifacts dating from the Paleolithic era to the late Roman period.
-Make your way over to the Temple of Apollon and also check out the medieval Castle of Agia Mavra, which was built by the Franks in 1924. The castle was later occupied by the Ottomans, who built mosques, a couple of schools, barracks, and several other buildings inside its walls.
-The 1913-constructed lighthouse located in Cape Doukato at the very south of the island offers a breathtaking view of the open sea and the surrounding white rocks.
–Naos Pantakratora was built in the 18th century and is the first neo-classical building of Lefkada; here you will also see the Tomb of the famous Greek poet, Aristotelis Valaoriti.
–Viviliothiki Lefkas is a historical library founded in 1953 at the Palio Neoklasiko and has more than 60,000 books.
– Tour the Venetian Olive Grove, a historically unique and living environmental monument that is home to olive trees that were planted in 1684 with the support of the Venetians, who took over the island and wanted to turn the people of Lefkada away from the sea and towards agriculture. Here you can enjoy a walk or a bike ride through the everlasting olive trees.
-Agios Nikolaos Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries dedicated to
Saint Nicholas. Here you will be greeted by a friendly nun who produces a range of honey, oil, and oregano.
-Panagia Faneromeni is the most important monastery of Lefkada and houses a small ecclesiastical museum with Byzantine icons and other religious relics.
-Agios Ioannis about 3km from Lefkada Town is the oldest church on the island. It is said that Apostle Paul walked here on his way to Rome.
-The church of Panagia Hodegetria is one of the oldest Byzantine monuments of Lefkada and is also popular amongst pilgrims.
Must visit villages
– Drive through Lefkada’s pine and chestnut-filled mountainous villages and on your way make sure you stop off at Agios Nikolaos, Agios Petros, and Eglouvi (famous for its lentils). Sit at one of the traditional cafes and enjoy a Greek coffee with the friendly locals.
-Walk to the charming village of Agios Nikitas (cars are not permitted here) and explore the wonderful surroundings on foot.
-Exanthia is worth a visit for its unique architecture and local traditions.
-Karya is one of the most picturesque villages on the island. Here you will be able to see traditional embroidery “Karsaniko”. The textile technique is very unique, as all pieces of art are still handmade by locals using traditional methods. You can discover more at the textile museum.
-Sivota is a quaint little fishing village, an ideal spot for lunch.
Stroll through Lefkada Town
The capital of Lefkada is filled with narrow cobbled alleyways and traditional architecture. Here you can buy some local souvenirs and delicacies such as homemade liquor, honey, and spoon sweets that are all unique to the island. You will also come across numerous cafés, taverns, a nice harbour, and a welcoming sea breeze on a warm night. Make sure you walk across the wooden bridge, which is one of the island’s landmarks and a good spot to catch the sunset.
Can’t leave until you…
-Fly above the beautiful landscapes. If you are a thrill seeker make sure you paraglide!
-Grab yourself some locally made pine honey from the street stalls on Dragano on Epar Od. Komiliou.
-Hike up to Profitis Ilias. It offers a wide view of the surrounding landscape and sea- the perfect spot to take photos.
-Go windsurfing, kitesurfing, scuba diving, flying on a propeller plane, horseback riding, mountain biking, and sailing around the surrounding islets- these are some of the adventurous activities on offer in Lefkada.
-Drive through the Stavrota Mountains. Lefkada is not only blessed with beautiful beaches but also lush greenery and an endless horizon. The open roads allow visitors to capture the best of both worlds.
– Soak up the views from the Lighthouse in Cape Lefkatas (sunset is the best time to visit). Here you will also find the rubble that was once the Temple of Apollo, where sacrifices were made to the gods in ancient times.
Day trips from Lefkada
Lefkada is also an ideal base for those who want to explore nearby islands. Kalamos Island across the village of Mitikas is a remote spot that offers complete privacy. You are also able to sail to Ithaca, Meganisi, and Fiskardo harbour in nearby Kefalonia. Other great day trips include Pringiponisa and Kastos. If you get the chance, also cruise to the famous Skorpios “The Island of Onassis,” which is set to become a resort for the super-rich and famous.
Located a little over two hours away from Athens, the luscious island of Spetses is a perfect weekend escape from the Greek capital. This idyllic, car-free island of the Argosaronic Gulf is a favourite spot for affluent Athenians and international jet-setters. Here we share our 20 favourite things to do on Spetses Island.
1. Enjoy an afternoon or evening stroll around the buzzing harbour of Dapia Port. The tiny port of Dapia is surrounded by whitewashed, Neoclassical houses and surrounded by chic cafés, and stylish boutiques.
Outside the Poseidonion Hotel
2. Stay at the famous Poseidonion Grand Hotel or at least enjoy a coffee, cocktail, or dinner at Poseidonion Restaurant in Spetses Town, an awarded eatery that uses products from its Organic Farm and has a beautiful veranda where you can enjoy the view of the Saronic Gulf.
3. Grab some pastries at Klimis, housed in Klimis Hotel; this long-running family shop is famous for its sokolatina (chocolate pie), galaktoboureko (custard pie), ekmek (cream and kataifi pie) and voutiki (serano dipped in chocolate.)
4. Visit Panagia Armata Church. Surrounded by lush greenery, the white and yellow chapel located on a hill above the old port of Spetses was built between 1824 and 1830 by captain Ioannis Koutsis, to commemorate and honour the defeat of the Ottoman fleet during the naval battle of 1822.
5. Swim at one of the many beautiful beaches including Palaia Garifalos, Paralia Agioi Anargyroi, Agia Marina, or Agia Paraskevi.
6. Eat at Agios, a family-run tavern that offers authentic Greek food and service with a smile.
Crystal blue waters of Spetses
7. Visit the Cave of Bekiris, located at Agioi Anargyroi beach. Inside the cave, you can make your way by foot to the fountain which has been created naturally from stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave.
8. Have a swim in the bay of Zogeria and then head straight to the tavern right on the water and enjoy a small menu with simple but delicious dishes.
9. Head to Bikini Bar for some lush cocktails, lounge music, and a great vibe.
10. For dinner, make your way to Orloff where they serve creative dishes using pure ingredients; highlighting traditional Greek cooking, they offer exceptional hospitality, great service, and a magical view.
11. The House of Bourboulina is an absolute must. Created in honour of the world’s first female admiral, it was built around the end of the 17th Century. Bouboulina was a heroine who played a significant role in the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
12. The Hatzigiannis- Mexis Museum, housed in a beautiful 18th-century mansion, is also well worth a visit. Here you can see relics and letters written in wartime during the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
13. Admire the Cathedral of Agios Nikolaos, Greece’s Holy Patron Saint of the Sea. With a charming white-marble bell tower, the monastery is located at Hydra’s port and it was here that the islanders first raised their flag of independence.
House of Bourboulina
14. Enjoy the car-free island and make the most of cycling around town on a bike or enjoy a romantic horse ride.
15. Sail to Xylokeriza, a secluded beach 8 km from Dapia, on the south-eastern part of the island.
16. Head to Vanilia, a wonderful local patisserie in the centre of town, just behind the church of Agios Antonios, and try one of the island’s famous amigdalota (almond sweets).
17. Explore the Korgialenios School of Spetses. The Anargyrios and Korgialenios School of Spetses is a historical and cultural heritage site of the island of Spetses. It was established in 1923.
18. Try some local honey, as Spetses produces excellent varieties from the many pine trees around the island. This honey has a distinct taste and flavoured aroma that is amazing with a scoop of Greek yogurt.
19. If you are in the mood for some great music and an uplifting vibe head to Kaiki Beach Club restaurant, which has a great atmosphere.
Ride around town
20. Taste the local specialty la Spetsiota– a delicious seafood dish of Spetses Island. Prepared using freshly caught fish fillets that are marinated in lime juice and ground pepper; the dried fillets are spread over breadcrumbs and drizzled with a fresh tomato and garlic sauce.
How to get to Spetses
There are several daily departures of flying dolphins to Spetses from the port of Piraeus in Athens.
The duration of the trip is approximately two hours with the flying dolphins and 2.5 hours with the flying cats.
Patmos is an island where you feel a sense of peace as soon as you arrive. With the old town, the Holy Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, and the Cave of the Apocalypse, all named UNESCO-protected monuments, Patmos not only attracts those seeking a rich spiritual and cultural experience but also those who want to holiday on an authentic Greek island with a cosmopolitan feel.
Local and international artists, authors, fashion designers, business people, academics, and thousands of pilgrims arrive here each year to take in the natural beauty of the island, as well as its laid-back yet chic style. Although it’s located in the Dodecanese it features a Cycladic look with its whitewashed mansions, pretty beaches, and lots of lovely spots to wine and dine.
Here are the Top 12 Things to Do when visiting Patmos
Holy Monastery of Saint John
1. There are around 360 churches on the island, and you can definitely sense the island’s unique spiritual energy as soon as you step off the ferry. Patmos is known around the world as the island where around 95 AD Saint John the Baptist wrote The Revelation, in a cave that can now be visited in the island’s Holy Monastery of the Apocalypse. Also make sure to check out the Monastery’s museum next door, containing a number of ancient texts and religious items dating back hundreds of years.
2. Patmos’ capital and main town Hora, is filled with charming alleyways, beautiful chapels, and lush courtyards. If you walk through the small streets you will come across whitewashed homes and mansions that belonged to very wealthy families, including the Nikolaidis Mansion, which has now become a museum. Hora also offers gorgeous boutiques, and a wide range of restaurants, taverns, bars, and cafes to suit all tastes.
3. Also spend time at Skala Town and the charming village of Kampos, which both have a unique beauty and are perfect places to bump into locals who make visitors feel welcome. The port town of Skala is where most people head to at night, as soon as Hora goes quiet after a certain hour. Skala is filled with lots of shops, tavernas, and all-day cafes and bars, where you can grab a drink and enjoy the town’s squares and charming little streets. Among the many sights of Skala are the ruins of the ancient acropolis and the convent of Zoodochos Pigi.
4. It’s definitely worth making your way around the bay of Skala to the 18th-century Monastery of Panagia Koumana, one of the Holy Seats (or Kathismata) of the island, serving as hermitages for monks. This one was built against a rock on of a hermit’s cave.
5. Swim at Agrio Livadi, Psilli Ammos, Plaki, or the pretty little bay of Vagia. Then head to Lambi, which has a great little tavern right on the beach. Livadi Kalagorion is perfect for a peaceful swim as well as Livadi Geranou. Make sure you also add Kambos and Petra to your list.
6. When it comes to eating, there are plenty of options from casual eateries to fine dining. We recommend Apocalypsis Restaurant, Astir, Ostria Taverna, Oklaca Italian Restaurant, Kyma for seafood, Pernera for great vegan and for something sweet make your way to Glykaki Patmos. If you have time also try Pandelis on Marathi islet (you can only reach by boat) and Giakos Pantheon.
7. For an after-dinner drink head to Thalami, Stoa Bar, or Koukou.
8. For a very special evening, make a reservation at Nautilus and watch the sunset while sipping on your favourite beverage and tasting some modern Greek flavours.
9. Get up close to Patmos’ iconic windmills, which have been operating for the past four centuries. The one windmill is a museum. Organic flour is ground there, with the milling process open to the public. The second windmill turns wind power into electricity. A contemporary use that benefits the island, for sure! And the third windmill focuses on water. Ever since they have been the true power of the island and its people.
10. Explore the Nunnery of the Annunciation, a convent that started off as a small chapel with a hermitage until 1613 when Nikiphoros, an abbot from the monastery of St. John the Divine, renovated the building and dedicated it to Luke the Evangelist. The nunnery is home to over 40 nuns who always pray for and support their local community. The sisters also grow their own vegetables and herbs, make honey and create Byzantine embroidery called the”spitha” (spark).
11. Make a note of visiting the gorgeous nearby islets Makronissi, Aspronissi, Tiganakia, Arki, and Marathos that are all visitable by boat. From Skala, boats leave daily for all the isles. They are quite remote but offer good taverns, crystal clear water, and beautiful coves to swim in.
12. If you are looking for some Greek jewellery, sandals, or art, head to Ivli, Thanos, White Greek Designers Store, Kapopoulos Art Gallery, or Tourlou Art Shop.
Stay at a historic house by Chora Patmos 360
There are some great accommodation options on the island and for some wonderful villas check out Patmos Eye, for boutique-style hotels head to Petra Hotel Suites to Patmos Aktis Hotel. And the beautiful range of historic houses by Chora Patmos 360 is a wonderful choice that is sure to make your stay here extra special.
Patmos does not have an airport and is reachable only by an eight-hour ferry boat trip from Piraeus port, which departs Athens about 3 times a week. Patmos is also connected by ferry with Rhodes, Kos, Leros, Lipsi, and Kalymnos.
A beautifully renovated windmill on the lesser-known Cycladic island of Kea is the ideal place to stay if you are looking for a unique and authentic experience in Greece.
This wonderfully renovated windmill villa stands in the area of Koundouros, in an elevated position that boasts unobstructed views of the sparkling blue sea and surrounding countryside, which at sunset is magical.
A five-minute walk takes guests to a pebble beach just below the villa, while just a short drive away you can enjoy wonderful beaches with umbrellas, sun loungers, water sports, food, and drinks, including the sandy beaches of Koundouros (ideal for families) and delightful Koundouraki. There are also a number of charming villages in the area, such as Pisses, with its lovely sandy bay, mini-market, and a traditional taverna serving authentic local dishes.
Built on a private plot, the Mill on the Hill featured the impressive old windmill itself, lovingly restored to provide all modern comforts, along with three independent guest houses.
The windmill is laid out over three main levels, plus a recently built extension at ground level to accommodate the air-conditioned TV room and a fully equipped kitchen. On the ground floor, there is also a cozy living room with a fireplace and storage space.
The first floor features one double bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. There is another double bedroom with an en-suite bathroom on the second floor, which connects with the air-conditioned attic that has two single beds; ideal for children.
Right next to the windmill are the guest houses. The first has a double bedroom, air-conditioning, en-suite bathroom, and veranda access. The second has two double beds, an en-suite bathroom, air-conditioning and opens onto a pergola-shaded veranda. Situated just behind and slightly above the first two, the third guest house has a double bed and sofa bed, air-conditioning, and an en-suite bathroom. The guest houses have spacious outdoor areas for outdoor dining or relaxation and, like the bedrooms in the windmill, you can enjoy majestic sea views.
The natural slope of the hillside means the private land surrounding the property is on different levels, offering guests a variety of choices for outdoor activities and socialising. At the lowest level, there is a large, private, seawater swimming pool with loungers; the ideal spot for soaking up the sun and a refreshing dip at any time of day.
The Cyclades made up of around 30 inhabited islands, are not only characterised by dazzling coastlines, rugged landscapes (except for Andros, known for its abundance of water and greenery), a rich ancient history, whitewashed box-like buildings with cobalt blue shutters and but also by the simple, succulent, generally healthy and pure cuisine of the island group.
Occupations by pirates, the Franks, Venetians, Ottomans and Maltese left their mark on these islands on many levels, including their culinary philosophies.
Since 2000 when the face of tourism began to change the islands, their cuisine changed too, with more international styles, techniques and ingredients bringing more creativity, finesse and sophistication to their valuable PDO products like bresaola-style louza, honey, Santorini tomatoes and fava, a variety of cheeses and capers.
Winemaking too has become a common attribute of this island group, with Santorini (and its 17 wineries) remaining the star. Here we offer you a guide to help you know what not to miss when you’re travelling around the Cyclades.
The Cycladic islands are more meat (especially pork) oriented than fish, although the beloved kakavia fish soup is made in different renditions. Kakavia, traditionally the “fisherman’s soup” is made by combining various kinds of fish or parts of fish, with tomatoes and in some renditions with celery as well as plenty of olive oil and lemon or avgolemono (egg-lemon) sauce.
In Syros fish dishes are more unique – atherina fish is cooked with onion, tomato and egg, and locals also have a real taste for shark meat.
The Cyclades are known for their delicious cheeses: goat an cow’s milk gruyere (graviera) and mild myzithra from Naxos, sharp xinomyzithra from Paros and flavoursome San Michali from Syros, trovolia from Mykonos (also made in a version with sugar and dry figs) which is the star of the island’s beloved kopanisti, also loved in Astypalea and Chios.
These and other cheese become the inspiration for pies – both sweet and savoury – made in different styles in each of the islands; small and fried, large and mixed with herbs, drizzled in honey and sesame and other dishes.
Thin, long green beans known as ambelofasoula are easily found in the Cyclades, and they’re often eaten boiled as a salad with lemon and oil or even alongside skordalia garlic sauce in some islands.
Black-eyed beans are also commonly served around these islands, served with Feta, tomato and cucumber as a salad, or sautéed with greens. Chickpeas are especially popular in Paros and Sifnos, where they are traditionally slow-cooked overnight in a revithada soup made in a clay pot.
In Sifnos revithokeftdes (chickpea patties), like falafel crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, are also a popular treat.
Santorini is known for its creamy, rich yellow fava, made with split peas and usually served with a topping of raw or caramelised onions, capers and lemon juice.
Capers (which are actually flower buds that when left to blossom create beautiful purple and white flowers) grow wild on rocky walls and enclaves around the Cyclades, and in-the-know locals rush to gather them at the end of June to pickle them in saltwater and then vinegar for the year.
Santorini is famous for its flavour-packed tomatoes, grown by hydration rather than watering, and these make for not only excellent salads and sauces but the island’s well-known tomato fritters (domatokeftedes). In Andros, most green grocers sell the massive courgette-like vegetable called lyraki, which is eaten boiled with oil and lemon.
Pork products especially are characteristic of Cycladic cuisine mainly rooting back to the annual pig slaughtering tradition that began in pre-refrigerator days, when the animals were killed and every part of them was made use of in a fresh but mainly preserved form – sausages and cured louza ham. Other popular meats are lamb and in some islands, game.
If answering business calls and sending work emails with the Aegean Sea as a backdrop sounds like a dream, now could be the best time for you to pack your laptop and head to Greece, as the country is looking to make the move as easy as possible for digital nomads.
According to the publication Protothema, Greek authorities are looking to launch a special visa for digital nomads, who are classified as people who work remotely, telecommuting rather than being physically present at a company’s office.
With more and more people working from home and realising they have the ability to perform their duties from anywhere in the world, Greece is set to draw an increasing number of digital nomads, with authorities looking to introduce a special visa for remote workers.
“We must create an attractive environment for people that choose this advanced way of working,” said Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi in an interview with Protothema.
This comes after legislation passed in Greek Parliament last December, allowing digital nomads to half their income tax for the first seven years. From January 2021, the scheme opened to both employed and self-employed workers as long as they have not previously been a tax resident of Greece.
And if you still aren’t convinced Greece should be your next stop for work and play, chief economic adviser Alex Patelis says, “Greece is naturally blessed with a great climate, lots of sunshine, and it has both beaches and mountains.” Apart from the great weather and beautiful landscapes, he also added that working from Greece has other benefits, such as “a strong currency, the euro, and the safety of the EU.”
And from a technical perspective, the rollout of 5G networks has already begun in major Greek cities and towns and will also be introduced to the Greek islands, which is expected to be viewed as an advantage for those looking to live and work anywhere across the country.