Exploring Mykonos, Folegandros, Milos & Santorini with Andy Kovszun
They say Bali is the island of the gods, but I’d beg to differ. This side of the northern hemisphere, the Greek Islands are most certainly rich with thousands of years of culture, traditions and myths. Where ancient volcanos once roamed, filled with the stories of Zeus, Athena, Hercules & Poseidon, the chain of islands in the Mediterranean is a breathtaking collection of turquoise waters, dry, arid land, stunning sunsets and a damn good food.
I was fortunate to be able to explore this perfect pocket of Europe, brimming with colors, life and a deep sense of tradition. While stuffing myself with as much olives and feta was definitely a highlight, it was also, surprisingly, a beautiful place to remind ourselves of the ripple effect gratitude has. The local Greek people were a testament to how tradition and a simple way of life are heartfelt approach to being grateful for what, and who, you have in your life.
And so it was, I swam, ate, drank, got lost, got sunburnt, danced and stretched my way through 4 islands. All very different to one another. Whether you’re looking for some down time to relax, or a festive place to raise your vibration and share joy and laughter, Greece really does have it all. Below is a guide to 4 very different, and very beautiful islands : Mykonos, Folegandros, Milos & Santorini.
There are many ways to get around from one island to another in Greece. Mainly plane or boat. If you are pressed for time, then plane is definitely the way to go however these can be extremely expensive. The other is ferry. The distances between each island is sometimes quite far and ferries are notoriously unreliable (read: tardy & slow. You’ll find out why further down) – it’s still a much cheaper way to get around and you can choose between fast or slow ferries, depending on how sensitive you are to sea sickness! While I tried both, I actually found slow ferries much more reliable, cheaper, bigger, comfortable and all in all more enjoyable then the tiny sea jets.
Try : Ferries In Greece
Mykonos, otherwise known as the Party Island, is also as the windiest Island of the Cyclades. The central hub is a beautiful collection of white walls, shops, restaurants and bars laid out in typical Greek fashion. The outer edges of the island have many more beaches and hotels on offer that are much more secluded and calm. If you’re not much into crowds, might be worth considering moving away from the central area, known as the “chora” (good for parties, not for some R&R). I was only in Mykonos for the night, and chose to stay close to town, so I’d be able to get the ferry for my next adventure.
STAY: Eternal Suites, Mykonos. Just outside of the Chora, you can walk down to the hustle and bustle and still have your own space and quiet time. The owner is a legend and the view from our balcony was insane!
EAT: Nikko’s in the center of town. Traditional, typical Greek food. Everyone goes here, you won’t miss it, just follow the crowds!
DO: Walk around the "chora" or centre of Mykonos Town. Day or night, it's filled with shops and hosts some the most amazing Greek jewelry you have ever seen.
This island is a little-known secret, one I’m not entirely sure I should be sharing with the rest of the world! I arrived in Folegandros purely by mistake, but now that I think of it, planned by fate, and infused with luck.
Coming back to my “ferries are late and unreliable” statement, I arrived in Folegandros between the hours of midnight and 1 am, after a very delayed and very bumpy ferry ride. Having realized I got off on the wrong port, I watched the boat sail away while I was left stranded on an unknown island in the middle of the night. If you’ve ever heard of the term Serendipity, this was definitely a fateful moment that created an evening I will never forget.
I ended up in a village that was so magical, so traditional and so quaint, I was as if it was straight out of a Hollywood movie. The locals were celebrating a religious holiday in their town centre, where strings of fairy lights hung across the plaza, musicians were playing, locals were holding hands and dancing. Children were running around, albeit at 3 am, with their parents sipping Oozo, the local drink, laughing and singing along. Everything looked staged, yet it all was so real. The genuine joy of everyone around could not have been more contagious.
I found a small room in a kind local’s Airbnb, and decided to stay. Safe to say, best decision I’ve ever made.
STAY: Anywhere, this is the most beautifully traditional Greek island you will ever come across.
DO: Explore the beaches, Agkali in particular was stunning. If you're there at the right time, have a party with the locals!
One of my favorite islands of the trip, Milos is also part of the Cyclades group. A very spacious and chilled out island. The beaches are some of the best I’ve seen, the clarity of the water was unlike any other. Milos is home to the original “Venus De Milo”, also known as a statue representing the world’s most beautiful woman. It also has the most incredible white rock beach you have ever seen, Sarakiniko. I came here and left in awe of the peace, serenity and purity of this otherworldly spot. The sun was setting and the colors of the sky burst into a pastel palette of blues, pinks and purples. A moment to forever remember. A reminder of how the simple things in life impact us in ways we don’t even realize.
STAY: Any Air BnB will do, everything is moderately priced and you will happily find something to suit your budget and needs. Stay close to the port, in Adamantas, as everything you’ll want will be around there.
- Rent a car to get around the island. It’s quite big and you’ll want to explore in your own time! (Side Note: Make sure you can drive Stick!)
- Visit Sarakiniko rocks, you’ll think you’re walking on the moon.
- Go to Firyplaka Beach, there’s a spot of sand nestled between the clifftops that melt into the ocean. The waters are calm, blue, and the sunsets are amazing. I spent most of my time on this beach.
- Have dinner up in Plaka, the old town at the top of the hill. The tiny restaurants are filled with life, good food and high vibes.
- Take a boat trip around the island to Kleftiko. Easily one of the most beautiful views you will ever see, white stone cliffs diving into turquoise waters. You get to swim around and spend the day in this lush playground.
I was a little disappointed in Santorini, at first (yep, I know, hear me out though). The small, much hyped island felt over rated and over-crowded from the minute I stepped off the ferry and onto the port. After having spent a few peaceful days in Milos, the influx of tourist came as a bit of a shock. However, I will say that the sunset from Oia was unlike any other, and the beauty of the village is straight out of a postcard. Everyone should visit Santorini at least once in their life, just try and go in the off or shoulder season.
STAY: Imerovigli, A quieter, less crowded town about 15 mins from Oia and on the same side of the cliff. The village is just as stunning and you will enjoy the sunset just the same. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Like every traveler, I was on a budget. But I struck gold when I found a hotel that proved to be not as pricey as the rest, yet still had that million dollar view. Veranda View is the “sister” company of luxurious, 5 star “On The Rocks,” but for 1/3 of the price. It’s a little-known secret, one that I’m happy to share with SG readers as it’s quite the value for money! If you’re going to splurge, definitely splurge in Santorini. You’ll get access to the 5-star pool and spend the day lounging on the deck, looking out at the most amazing view.
DO: Live like a King for the day and lavish a little! Spend some time at the pool, enjoy the view, the stroll the streets in the afternoon. Santorini isn’t really known for its beaches, since everything is so high up on the cliffs.