Traveling to Greece
PAIR AN ANCIENT BUSTLING CITY THAT’S GOT A MODERN VIBE WITH A TRENDY ISLAND LOCATION FOR A VACAY THAT IS ABSOLUTELY MELODICAL. AND THAT’S ABSOLUTELY TRAVELING TO GREECE.
The antiquity of its cities is literally the stuff of which myths are made. The beauty and spirit of its isles are captivating. The culture of both meshed together offers two experiences. They are intertwined at many levels but also individual adventures that fascinate all on their own.
Taking in Athens
Take Athens and Mykonos. There is only a two and a half hour (fast) ferry ride between them. But they are worlds apart but the perfect combination to get the flavor when you are traveling to Greece. (We’ll get to the actual food spots soon!). Starting in Athens, this bustling city has modern structures and citizens, set against the hilltop backdrop of the Acropolis. Do not simply take in the view from the bottom. Purchase the entry fee for 20 euros and climb this ancient citadel, from the fifth century B.C., in the heart of Athens for the true experience. Pass the Parthenon on your way to the top. There you’ll marvel at a collection of still more Ancient Greek structures and monuments. There are tons of photo ops along the way. Before you know it, your view will be looking down over the city of Athens. Spectacular.
The stretch of restaurants across from the Acropolis Museum are full of Greek flavor but not too pricey. Or look to the northeast side of the Acropolis to an area known as the Plaka. There are cobblestone streets among picturesque buildings and flowering trees, Here family-run businesses sell everything from ceramics to jewelry and musical instruments to food. The fare ranges from street fare to the finest dining. Calamari spaghetti, fava bean spreads, spanokopitas, gyros and more. And debonair maitre d’s beckon you over until late into the night.
Spend another day when traveling to Greece perusing the architecture this city is known for. Choose from the Temple of Olympi-an Zeus, the Temple of Athena Nike or the Theatre of Dionysus. Climb Mount Lycabettus for the best panoramic views of the city. Or visit any number of top-rated museums, including the National Archaeological Museum. Make sure to leave a day for a ride outside the city to one of the many outlying beach cities. Nafplio, a two and a half hour ride away, is a favorite with a quick stop at the ancient designed Corinth Canal. In Nafplio, ask to be dropped by the marina and wander through the pedestrian-only cobblestone streets lined with specialty stores, pastry and gelato shops, squares and al fresco dining throughout. Look for pre-booked tours to Nafplio or hire a car and driver from a reputable company like Welcome Pickups (welcomepickups.com).
Off to Mykonos
To travel from Athens to Mykonos, you can either fly or select from several ferries. Your choice, just depends on the speed at which you want to get there. For when you’re there, decide if you will rent a car (about 60 euros per day) and drive on the narrow streets (most do) or call car services (there are only 30-plus taxis on the whole island); just note that car services charge upwards of 50 euros per trip on the island.
Whatever mode you choose, get ready for the speed of Mykonos, not just an idyllic island here. It’s historic, but a hip and trendy side of traveling to Greece. While it has the white-washed houses and the beautiful, sandy beaches abutting the Aegean Sea, Mykonos, unlike the quieter Rhodes or Paros, is for the crowd that likes to see and be seen. Beach clubs are all the rage, and range in all the prices (be sure to see if beach bed rentals require per consumption in addition to rental fees). One to check out is celeb favorite Scorpios (scorpiosmykonos.com)—if you don’t reserve a bed here, be sure to go at least for a drink at sunset. The views are beyond amazing. Other luxe beach club spots to try that are known for their clientele, food, drink and all day and all night entertainment include Nammos (nammos.gr), Kalua (kalua.gr) and SantAnna (santannamykonos.com).
Where to Eat
There are also beaches that just charge for chairs without the club environment (less expensive and less scenery). Like Elia Beach to the south. Still, if you don’t want to pay for your beach chair, there options. Plenty of pretty spots exist where you can just bring your towel and be one with the sand. An example is Fokos Beach, where there is a delightful Fokos Taverna (fokosmykonos.com) nearby to eat. The tiny cove of Agios Sostis Beach is also free from tourist amenities. But it’s one of the most picturesque places to swim while you wait to be seated at the 14-table, open-air Kiki’s Tavern. No reservations accepted and the ceiling is made of tree coverage with the out-door grill cooking up delicious fare. (Talk about authentic). They serve wine and water to those “in line.” And the menu is certainly worth the time spent basking in the nearby chairs or sand while you wait.
For restaurants with rezzies, think about Spilia Seaside Restaurant (spiliarestaurant.gr) that’s literally in a cave, open to the sea on one side where diners get front-row seats to a light show over the water. Overlooking the famed, 16th-century windmills in the Little Venice part of Mykonos, try Katerina’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar (katerinaslittlevenicemykonos.com) for a breathtaking view of the water and iconic windmills. Then there is Hippie Fish (hippiefish-mykonos.com), right on the sand of stunning Agios Ioannis Beach. As you may imagine, the restaurant serves up creative, local fish dishes—and the atmosphere is like a tiki beach bar looking out over the Aegean Sea. And that’s just to name a few.
Restaurants also dot the quaint-but-hip Mykonos town. High-end and specialty shops are neighbors in white-washed buildings along narrow and curvy, stone-clad, pedestrian-only streets. There are picturesque steps from town that take travelers straight to the windmills or stay at street level to meander the shops and stumble upon some of the most delicious dining—from super casual to more distinguished menus. Look for tucked-away favorites like Eva’s Garden (evas-garden.gr), which serves local specialties in a romantic vine strewn garden or those more in the center of town where you can eat and people watch, such as M-eating Restaurant (m-eating.gr) and so many more. Wait staff and hostesses call would-be diners over—so don’t be shy. Look at the menu, there are plenty to choose from and choose what you like.
Either before or after lunch or dinner, make sure to take in the wonders of Mykonos town. There are plenty of special spots to purchase tokens or other pieces to remember traveling to Greece and the most fantastic photo-taking opportunities. Then put your lenses down and take a moment to take it all in with your own eyes: the views, the architecture, the culture, the fashion, the idyllic streets, the history—the magic of Greece.
Photographs by Peyton Nebens