Did you know there are over 6000 Greek Islands? That is a lot! I must admit only 227 of these are actually inhabited but even so, how do you choose the right island for you? Below I outline the 4 Greek Islands I have travelled to and who they cater to.
Mykonos - the 'little bit for everyone Island'
First is Mykonos, generally the first visited on an island hopping ferry from Athens. Now Mykonos is a good way to ease into the Greek Islands because there is something for everyone here. Whilst Mykonos is sometimes known as the 'gay island', I can't say I even noticed anything in my time there. It is a great island for all people regardless of sexual orientation including families, young people and couples. There is both budget accommodation at Paradise Beach where I stayed and luxury options like the Belvedere Hotel which even has a Six Senses Spa.
Ferry tip: delays are inevitable so just be aware of this, it is like 'island time' in other parts of the world.
Paros - the 'Relaxed Foodie Island'
My time in Paros consisted of strolling and eating along the waterfront of this relaxed island. The food here is authentic and delicious, moussaka and saganaki (fried cheese) abounds. Our guide took us to the most amazing little bakery on the back streets of Paros where I could not decide between spanokopita (spinach pie) or kataifi (my favourite type of baklava with the vermicelli-like noodles). If you wish to venture off the island, you can take a day trip out on a boat and visit some of the most clear blue swimming spots. The trip we went on even included Greek lunch and famous Greek wine on a nearby island.
My tip: make sure you have a sunset dinner at one of the many waterfront restaurants and maybe even delight in some after dinner 'shisha'.
Ios - the 'Party Animal Island'
Yes Ios has beautiful beaches but it is big for one thing and one thing only: PARTY TIME! Partying from the early afternoon around the pool, dinner, then out until the early (or late) hours of the morning. PARTY. SLEEP. REPEAT. This is Ios in a nutshell. As someone who is not a huge party animal, 2 nights here were more than enough!
Club hopping in Ios town is the thing to do with each bar offering its own singlet challenge. If you haven't heard of the singlet challenge, it involves downing 7 shots in exchange for a free singlet. People try and collect as many different singlets as souvenirs (or badges of honour) to take home with them. There is one bar called 'Slammer Bar' which gives you a helmet to wear whilst they hit you over the head with a mallet, a fire extinguisher or an equally hard item. You are then required to down a dizzying shot. There is also a bar which does a big fire twirling show every night (can you say workplace health and safety?). And if you thought McDonald's was the ultimate hangover food, you haven't tried fresh baked goods from a Greek bakery at 6am.
My tip: if you are staying at Far Out Beach Club, which most party animals do, make sure you you reserve enough energy after dancing all night for the 3km walk back home at 6am.
Santorini - the 'Romantic Volcanic Island'
Santorini is the perfect island for a romantic time, whether it be a wedding, honeymoon or just a romantic getaway. It's volcanic landscape with white and blue buildings, churches and hotels built into the cliff side is the perfect place for a romantic time away. My recommendation is to stay at a hotel with your own private infinity pool to overlook the caldera whilst sipping on some Ouzo. Santorini is also known for its wineries with Assyrtiko, a type of white wine, being the main varietal. One of the most unique things to do from Santorini, is take a boat tour out to the volcano which you can climb up to it's peak in less than half an hour. The tour then takes you to an island called Palea Kameni, famous for its hot springs. Here you can jump straight off the boat into the cool waters then swim into the bay called Agios Nikolaos where the water turns warm and red-tinged from its close proximity to the volcano.
My tip: the best way to get around Santorini because it is quite hilly and arid is to hire a quad bike. Just make sure you ride carefully and have travel insurance!
There are many other island to choose from including Crete, Naxos, Corfu and Rhodes. And if you can't pick one island, you can always visit all four!
What is your favourite Greek Island?