There aren’t too many places on earth where the troubles of the world seem to float away. Where you can rewind those halcyon days over and over again, because the landscape, the culture, and the people make every time feel just like the first time you saw it. As you cruise through quaint, white villages on a quad bike, passing golden shrubs and rustic farmland, you see the glimmering Aegean Sea in the distance. You catch yourself thinking ‘So, this is what freedom feels like’ and it’s at that precise moment, you know that you’ve fallen in love with something far greater than yourself. For those who have yet to experience the power of Greece, there are ways to prepare for this moment. Here are a few simple ways you can get excited for a trip to Greece!
Travel to: Greece
1. Watch Kings of Mykonos
While you’ve no doubt heard of films such as ‘My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding’ and ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘The Kings of Mykonos’ captures the beauty and vibe of the eponymous island perfectly. The soundtrack is exactly what you can come to expect on Mykonos, the world-famous party island where sun, sea, and positivity not only rule the land but are a way of life. No trip to Greece is complete without an all-night party here, and this film delivers that vibe in spades!
2. Begin choosing your beachy wardrobe
If you’re visiting Greece in the summer, you won’t need a whole lot considering it’s hot and you’re surrounded by magical topaz beaches. Don’t forget to pack your shorts, sleeveless shirts, a few tees, swimsuits and something fancy for the unexpected evenings. Sunscreen, tanning oil (if that’s your thing), and aloe vera gel (for when you realise that that ‘thing’ isn’t really your ‘thing’ anymore) cap off the essentials.
Thinking of packing cards like you do every trip? Don’t. Seriously, when’s the last time you actually played cards? When you aren’t dancing on Paradise Beach in Mykonos, a good book never goes astray. Plus, there’s almost no chance of someone running off with it, a well-known paranoia of every Kindle owner. Important note: Do not forget to get, and pack your international driver’s license. To miss out on exploring the islands by quad bike, motorcycle, or scooter would be a modern-day Greek tragedy.
3. Tease your taste buds with a visit to a Greek restaurant
Gyros, baklava, calamari, dolmadakia, tzatziki, saganaki, ouzo, Retsina, Mythos. Not sure what any of these things are? Chances are, you’ll have to wait until you get to Greece for the authentic flavours and the real deal, but in the meantime, here’s what you should do: seek out an authentic Greek tavern in your city and order the Greek way.
‘What’s the Greek way?’ I hear you ask. It’s when you say to your waiter ‘I’ll have a bit of everything. Anything. Whatever you think is good.’ Trust me, they’ll take good care of you. Greeks are famous for their hospitality and they love showing newbies just why the cuisine is so revered.
I loved spending three weeks on the island of Naxos. We chose Naxos because it is not a stop for cruise ships. No matter how charming a Greek island is, it loses some charm when several thousand day-trippers arrive! We loved becoming locals in Naxos Town, trying many restaurants, and exploring the island a little. We are actually doing it again, returning to the same Naxos hotel for two weeks this summer, and we plan on going back to all of our favorite restaurants and visiting our favorite locals again. So nice to be able to travel deeper into Greek island culture rather than moving on after only a couple days. – Eric, Travel Babbo
4. Break out the books
Greece is a modern-day paradise not only for nature enthusiasts, but historians and bookworms alike. Reading about the ancient history of Greece, its myths, legends, gods and goddesses, and then stepping out from Athens airport pays dividends. You’ll understand the archaeological ruins with a deeper appreciation than if you turned up, read a plaque, and left.
If you take the time to read up on the important philosophical and ethical lessons found in works by Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, and then happen to walk on by the very steps where these philosophers taught their students, all of a sudden that marble podium nestled amongst an urban metropolis becomes a surreal nod to centuries past.
5. Begin daydreaming (with a little help from Google)
It’s so simple but oh so effective. Jump onto Google Images and search for Mykonos, Mykonos parties, Santorini, Rhodes, Athens, Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Cavo Paradiso, Ios — the list is endless! The destinations, inspiring. When you’ve exhausted Google, hit up Instagram and prepare to be sucked into a blue and white world where excitement is the mantra and sunshine, everlasting.
The ancient structures of Athens may be a relic of bygone times, but this is your time, and Greece has continued to evolve from the birthplace of democracy and philosophy that went on to rule the world, to a destination which embodies what it truly means to celebrate life.
I loved every bit of my travel in Greece, and my experiences varied so much from island to island — it’s hard to pick a favourite! But perhaps the most unexpected occurred during a two-day stay in Chios, a small and not-so-touristy island near Turkey. I rented an Airbnb apartment and befriended my host, Maria. I knew very little about Chios and hadn’t really intended to do much exploring; I mostly wanted to relax. But Maria took me under her wing and showed me her beautiful island, including her old childhood home with its beautiful orange orchard, and the most incredible surprise: Pyrgi, a small town covered entirely in a geometric design known as “xysta.” I hope to go back to Greece next year and explore some even more remote islands, and hopefully take advantage of a small sailing adventure in the Aegean. – Candice, Free CandieThe highlight of my trip to Greece was spending the time to explore less common small islands in the Western part of the country. By jumping way off the beaten tourist track, I had the chance to experience life as most Greeks experience it – and to be among the only US tourists in these towns on any given day. It was one of the most culturally immersive trips I’ve taken, and I came away feeling like some part of me is now Greek at heart.If I were to go back, I’d spend time planning a long cruise through all the islands in the West, South, and East. While the Greek mainland is interesting, I would love to contrast the different islands and how life is different on them. Ithaka and Kephalonia are very different from Santorini and Mykonos; I’d like to experience that myself, with a lot of sailing and swimming in between. – Valerie, Valerie and Valise
So my final piece of advice? Stop looking and start booking. Time off work, airfares, island hopping tours, the works! Greece has something for everyone and it’s only a plane ride away. Heading to Europe and sitting on the fence about Greece? Don’t be that traveller. Trust me. A trip to Europe without a couple of weeks in Greece is hardly a Euro trip at all.