A hive of activity at the foot of the Acropolis, Athens is captivating beyond expectations. The aweinspiring ruins of the ancient city’s spiritual center inevitably draw the eye, but the modern-day capital, composite and cosmopolitan, is the best place to experience the atmosphere of the real Greece. Sipping a cup of strong, sweet coffee at a sidewalk café in the chic Kolonaki district, savoring a dish of octopus washed down with ice-cold ouzo at an informal eatery on the port of Piraeus…
In the summer, the islands offer the promise of cooling breezes, a welcome respite from the sweltering Athenian heat. Sweeping across the Aegean Sea from the north, the Meltemi winds have filled the sails of this seafaring people for millennia. Sometimes reaching gale force, they bend the ancient olive trees and turn the blades of the windmills that mark the coast of Mykonos, the most popular destination in the Cyclades. Around the port of this “Little Venice,” the houses extend their balconies out over the turquoise sea and narrow streets. Once known as an island of sea captains and ship owners, Mykonos has become a magnet for fun-loving tourists, who flock to its trendy cafés and fine sand beaches.
Sixty miles to the south, the vertiginous cliffs of Santorini rise in a crescent, lined with beaches of black volcanic sand. Huddled in tight clusters, the whitewashed villages stand out starkly against the dark land. Their cubic houses, blue-domed churches and alleyways bursting with bougainvillea cling to steep slopes overlooking the submerged crater of the ancient volcano. The fascinating colors of the frescoes of Akrotiri, the Greek Pompeii, reflect the influence of the early and highly-developed Minoan civilization, which arose on the nearby island of Crete more than 4,000 years ago. The birthplace of Zeus, father of all gods, and the kingdom of Minos, Crete is the cradle of Greek mythology. The myriad bullfighting images that adorn the walls of Knossos Palace evoke the magnificent white bull that seduced Pasiphaë and the Minotaur, monstrous fruit of their tragic liaison, imprisoned in his labyrinth. Which was not the only maze in Cretan history… Today, a stroll through the intertwining lanes of Chania or Rethymno reveals the unique heritage - Greek but also Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman — of this long-coveted island.
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. On the native island of Zeus, the King of the Greek gods, sits the Elounda Mare Hotel, with its white cottages that look out onto the turquoise waters of the Mirabello Bay. An ethereal light bathes this retreat and its maze of sweet-smelling gardens. The spacious and intimate bedrooms, the bungalows, all different but all with a private pool, enjoy magnificent panoramic views. The hotel’s location is the perfect place from which to discover Crete and its legends, monasteries and chapels bequeathed by the Byzantine civilization. There is even a chapel overlooking the hotel’s private bay, offering stunning vistas of the Mediterranean. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Imagine a rhapsody in blue and white, the Cycladic architectural tradition hand by hand with the contemporary good life, a parade of Greek flavours and a set of sunsets over the volcano of Santorini. You are at Kirini Suites & Spa. Nestled in the village of Oia, famed for offering the best views in Santorini, Kirini is literally the idyllic splendid retreat of the Aegean Sea. Suites of white perfectionism, the Anthós Restaurant sculpted into the rocks by the pool, an ambient spa that deifies all senses and an exceptional – always present and always discreet – service. No wonder Kirini is the icon of elegant accommodation in Greece. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Right above the famous Platis Yialos beach and surrounded by gardens, this temple of excellence and wellness has an exceptional location with breathtaking sea views near the finest sandy beaches and Mykonos town. Here you will be delighted to enjoy the exceptional services and charming Myconian hospitality. After exploring the treasures and beautiful landscapes of the Greek islands, indulge in some highly deserved pampering in the superb thalassotherapy centre, which offers massages, baths and divine treatments. Also on site are three indoor seawater pools, each with rigorously monitored salinity and temperature. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Whitewashed blocs clinging to the rock above Elia Beach, offer stunning views down over the sea and distant islands. This ‘place of perfection’, with its traditional architecture, modern materials, original artwork and contemporary furniture, invites you to enjoy the best that Mykonos has to offer: watersports on the private beach, lounging beside the infinity pool, which appears as if suspended over the sea, or relaxation on the terrace. All hotel guest rooms boast stunning sea views. And a regular shuttle to the picturesque port of Mykonos offers you the opportunity to enjoy island life. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel on the seafront. You will never forget these views, in the bright light of the day which makes the blue waters sparkle or at sunset when the horizon is set ablaze. Carved into the rock of a cliff, this intimate hideaway overlooks the caldera of Santorini, a dream setting for a romantic dinner or lounging by the pool in the afternoon. Both plain and sophisticated, in harmony with the traditional architecture of the island, the few rooms are like a cocoon, cool and soft with their vaulted ceilings, their white walls and their cement floor. An ideal retreat for a couple, to savour the unique atmosphere of this pearl of the Cyclades. ... Learn moreless