This is part four of my four-part series about my trip to Greece. Check out the previous installments:
Island hopping around the Greek archipelago was one of the highlights of my travels. I was able to visit many different places that were all beautiful but also expensive. While the local vibe is laid back and very welcoming, it was less adventurous and more touristy in my opinion.
Santorini was just as stunning as it appears in pictures. It had some of the most beautiful beaches with white backdrops of houses and hotels. While the blue roof-topped buildings are a staple, there are only a few of them and the space leading up to them is very limited. I also hiked up to the red and black beaches in Santorini. They were both nice but nothing amazing. The white beaches were unreachable.
While island hopping, I took the fast ferry to every island that I possibly could. In my opinion, this was the best option, so I highly recommend it. It drastically cut down my travel time from 4-8 hours down to 2, which is always a win in my book. If you don’t wish to travel by ferry, then plane tickets are your next best bet. Same-day tickets are super cheap—usually under $100 USD. Utilizing a combination of ferry and plane tickets made my trips very smooth and convenient.
Crete is Greece’s largest island and has a lot to offer in terms of cities to visit. There’s so much to do on the island of Crete, so just take your time for a week or two so that you’re not rushing to enjoy it all.
I enjoyed the old town of Chania with its unique restaurants and shops around every corner. I had a long adventurous drive to Balos Beach with a good hour-long hike down the mountain. This beach was only accessible during low tide and had some amazing lagoons. Just remember to bring your umbrella if you don’t want to rent one because there’s no shade anywhere on the beach.
There are also a few other things to note at the very beginning of the trail: bring your own beverages if you don’t want to buy any at the stand; take heed that this is where the only restroom is located; and lastly, there’s an option to rent a donkey that will take you up and down the hill, which was something I bypassed because it just seemed too slow.
Overall, this was a very beautiful place that was well worth the effort. It had nice water temperatures and the drive navigated through olive tree farms with cliff views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. From the beach, I headed to the picturesque town of Rethimno to tour the narrow streets and quaint shops.
From Crete, I decided to fly to Kos island mainly for two reasons: One, the ferry doesn’t run every day to Crete like it does to Mykonos, Santorini, and Syros. Two, this ferry was not the fast one, which meant that I would be cutting into my beach time and spending at least 10 hours out at sea. With that being said, it was an easy decision to book a 30-minute flight at the last minute for only $90 USD.
When I arrived in Kos, I rode the bus to the city, which was surprisingly super clean and very pretty. The overall ambiance of the island was near perfect. Honestly, I didn’t expect much since this wasn’t on my radar as a superb popular place, but wow did it deliver! I enjoyed strolling through the city streets and relaxing at restaurants while tasting different wines. Walking along the harbor was beautiful, and I’ve seen enough beautiful places to recognize one when I see it. The streets seemed to be lined with flowering trees everywhere, and the city squares were both inviting and attractive. As a city that I only planned on passing through, I couldn’t have been more impressed.
Jonathan Dryer: The Unofficial Traveler.