Country Review & Recommendations: Greek Islands (Cyclades)

My Greek Islands (Cyclades) Review

Greece has to be one of my favorite European destinations, if not worldwide destinations. I’ve been twice; once for a mainland tour in 2010 (which was ok) and once for the beautiful Greek Islands known as the Cyclades in 2014 (that was amazing). This post will focus on my trip to the Cyclades only, as there would have been too much content to include all of Greece.

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3. Sailing day trip in Paros (2014)

So, in 2014, after finishing my undergrad degree, I decided to go on a 5 week long vacation in Europe (thanks in part to the gift I received from my parents for finishing uni). I started things off in the beautiful Greek Islands, then continued on to: Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Italy – but, those are adventures for another time. For the Greek Islands, I chose to do Busabout’s Greek Island Flexi-Hopper, which allowed me to travel around with a group of fellow travelers (mainly Aussies) and to stay where I wanted to and as long as I wanted to. After evaluation, some of us came to the conclusion that this option was quite pricey for what you actually got (I think I paid something like $500) and that you were basically paying for a set group of friends to travel with (and the convenience of not having to book ferries). Considering that I was doing this portion of my travels alone and had never traveled alone before, it was worth it for me.

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Sunset in Oia (Santorini, 2014)

So, which islands did we go to? Greece is home to hundreds of tiny and beautiful islands, but we visited four of them, which are part of the Cyclades: Mykonos (Greece’s equivalent to Ibiza), Paros (relaxing), Santorini (who doesn’t know what Santorini is???) and Ios (party all day and all night – literally). I enjoyed my time in each and every one of them and for different reasons. However, make sure to do your research before booking, as every island isn’t meant for everyone.

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Sunset in Mykonos (2014)

My Greece (Cyclades) Recommendations 

7. Ios pub crawl & singlet collection

I chose to include this on my list of recommendations, because: (1) it was the most partying fun I had while in the Greek islands, (2) I am now the proud owner of three bar singlets and (3) well, who doesn’t like to party? In my opinion, Ios is better than Mykonos for partying. I found the atmosphere to be more laid back and open to “simpler” partying, if that makes sense. Mykonos seemed to try too hard to be a second Ibiza. In Ios, everyone was partying in the streets, on the busses, on the beach – everywhere. Plus, to make things even better (because who doesn’t need a bunch of bar singlets?), every bar on the island had a shots challenge you could do to get a “free” singlet. I ended up with three in one night, but definitely did not consume 21+ shots. The only downside to Ios is that getting back to your accommodation can be quite challenging. I stayed at Far Out Beach Club, which I now understand why it’s called that. During the day, it’s the perfect location; right by the beach and they even have their own pool parties. But trying to get a taxi back at 3 am is virtually impossible, so be ready for a long walk home (on the plus side, you can hit up the Scorpion Night Club on your way back, like we did).

 6. Mykonos’ beaches

Mykonos had the most beautiful (and accessible) beaches of the four islands I visited. As Paradise Beach was booked up, I stayed at Paraga Beach right next door, whose beach was equally as beautiful.

 5. Mykonos Village

When in Mykonos, take the time to explore Mykonos’ beautiful village, with its white houses accentuated with blue window sills and the famous windmills.

 4. Quad bike around Santorini

A few of us chose to rent quad bikes to get around Santorini and it was the best idea and way to see many of the sights. We visited a few of Santorini’s beaches, including the famous Red Beach (named so for its red sand) and then went all the way to Oia in time for the sunset (the drive back in the dark was a bit scary).

 3. Sailing day trip in Paros

One of my Greek islands highlights was a sailing day trip we took in Paros (organized though Busabout). The place where we stopped for lunch had some of the most amazing turquoise and clear waters I have ever seen (trust me, I’ve seen a lot of beaches) and the Greek lunch was delicious.

 2. Greek islands sunsets

Sunsets in the Greek islands were amazing everywhere. From Mykonos, to Santorini and Ios, each island offered incredible sunsets. To witness the sunset in Oia is a bit of a workout, as we were trying to find the best place to see it (this involved climbing over a wall). Make sure to find a good spot to see the sun set in the distance over the caldera and all of the beautiful houses and blue domed churches. In Fira, make sure to grab a spot at one of the many cliff side bars or restaurants to watch the sun set. In Mykonos, the best spot is by the water where the five imposing windmills are.

 1. Walk around the streets of Oia (Santorini)

On my third day in Oia, my friend Anita and I headed out to Oia in the afternoon to have a walk around. Oia is a very beautiful town in Santorini, with its famous blue domed churches and white houses. We went into a jewelry boutique, where we saw some coins on the corner of the floors and asked the shop attendant why they were there. She explained to us that she had just opened her store and that people had put them there as a good luck charm. We proceeded to put some too, in order to wish her good fortune and luck and she was so moved by our actions that she gave us some beautiful bracelets with the famous evil eye. It was a very nice moment that I’ll always remember.

UP NEXT: my review and recommendations on MAINLAND Greece!

*All pictures are my own (or taken by someone with my device, or of me)

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