Okay, it’s summer. It’s hot. You need a vacation. Other than a trip to the wintery Southern Hemisphere, your best bet is to head for an amazing beach resort. Few destinations on earth provide more opportunities to enjoy sun and turquoise blue water than the Greek Islands. In fact, the biggest obstacle when it comes to the more than 1400 idyllic isles of the Aegean is choosing which ones to visit.
Thankfully, we here at The ENTERTAINER shed our clothes, tossed our inhibitions overboard and got our “drink on” island hopping throughout the region to bring you our very best bets for a perfect summer getaway. We chose five incredible Greek Islands in the Cyclades group, part of the Aegean archipelago southeast of Athens, to maximize your holiday by minimizing both cost and travel times on inter-island ferries.
In Greece, every island has a personality — from festive partying to relaxing seclusion. And no place satisfies the need to get wild like Mykonos, the Ibiza of Greece. A short 40-minute flight or a 5-hour ferry ride lands you in the Aegean’s epicenter of decadence that at times would make Dionysus blush.
The main center is referred to as Mykonos Town and is packed with luxury shopping nestled in between impossibly cute alleys flanked by even more charming white buildings whose trim is accented with colorful bright paint. In high season (June-Sept), foot traffic can feel like rush hour in Los Angeles.
Mykonos has fantastic bars, clubs and restaurants serving the amazing cuisine of Greece, including fresh seafood like octopus and squid, moussaka (think Greek lasagna) and mouth-watering souvlaki, famously served at Sakis. People dine late and play late here, often until the sun comes up. Sleep from 5-12, head to the beach and lather, rinse, repeat until your liver and skin can’t handle any more alcohol or sun. For a serene change of pace, check out the 16th century windmills of Kato Myli and their gorgeous island views.
The second stop on our “Best of the Cyclades” tour is perhaps the exact opposite of Mykonos’ loud and sexy vibe — Santorini (Thira). Formed by massive volcanic eruption around 1650 B.C., Santorini is the southern-most island in the Cyclades and a 45-minute plane flight from Athens. Where Mykonos is great for hooking up, Santorini is for when you’re hitched, making it an ideal destination for couples. This is where you go to relax and chill on chaise lounges, drinking wine from Santo winery on a clifftop hotel room patio as the sun disappears into the impossibly blue waters of the Aegean. This is the island of romance.
The main town is called Fira, with the other scenic cliff-edge town being Oia. Both feature a wall of bleached white houses that give the towering volcanic cliffs a snowcapped appearance. If you’re afraid of heights, try staying more grounded in a windmill with its own pool at Windmill Villas.
Santorini beaches come in colors. Visit Red Sand Beach near the ancient archaeological site Akrotiri or try Kamari’s black sand. Even better, stay for an open-air movie accessorized with cocktails and popcorn.
It’s time for our most prized secret – the best beaches in the Cyclades are not on any of the islands you’ve heard of — these sandy gems all reside on the lesser-known, volcano-birthed island of Milos. This multi-tentacle-shaped island will absolutely grab the most discerning of beachgoers, as Milos is home to about 80 beaches (That’s right — 80 beaches). They come in a variety of colors (black, white, cream…), consistencies (rocky, pebbled, silky sand and crushed shell), and all these secluded coves and inlets are surrounded by the crystal-clear blue water.
Our top beaches on Milos are: the dreamy white pumice, “snowscape” of Sarakiniko. The red cliffs and blue ocean of Paliochori beach are separated by an emerald green shoreline strip of water that gently laps against a pebble beach. Take a swim and find one of the small pools of warm water bubbling up from the ocean floor’s mineral spring. Another favorite not to miss is Papafragas beach, which resembles a giant, natural, Olympic swimming pool, situated in between two towering cliffs and a large sea cave.
To add even more romance and privacy, most of the beaches are only accessible by boat so we recommend you base your stay in the town of Adamas where hotels, restaurants, bars and boat captains abound.
Foodies must absolutely visit the island of Sifnos, known throughout Greece for its cuisine and our hands down choice as the Mount Olympus of gastronomy in the Cyclades. Plan a September trip to coincide with the Nikolaos Tselementes food festival, named for the famed chef who put Sifnos on the culinary map. Our choice is to stay in the town of Vathy due to its proximity to outstanding seashore restaurants. A word of advice: Sifnos’ food scene is amazing so expect your waistline to suffer. That said, go to the abs-revealing beaches of Mykonos and Milos before chowing down on Sifnos.
Our final choice to end your ultimate tour of Cyclades is Naxos. This is the largest island in the archipelago, and dotted with postcard beaches and truly world-class wind and kite surfing. The real reason to visit Naxos is authenticity. This is where one can still see and feel the traditional life of the Greek islands that has existed for centuries. Stay in the main town of Chora and spend a few days exploring one of the 40+ small villages — you can smell wood-fired ovens baking fresh bread, shop along the cobble-stoned streets of Apeiranthos. And since Naxos is purported to be the birthplace of Dionysus, be sure to go wine tasting at the many vineyards.
Whether you party in Mykonos, honeymoon in Santorini, sun worship on Milos, indulge your inner-foodie on Sifnos or live the Greek life on Naxos, the Cyclades are truly a vacation temple of the Gods. So enjoy the life of the Immortals and book your next holiday with ENTERTAINER getaways on your ENTERTAINER app! You’ll get to enjoy your vacation with up to 60% off your hotel stay!
Do you want to combine your vaycay with some cultural and historical sightseeing in the big city? Check out what’s what to do in Athens right here…