Villy from Unforgettable Cruises is a Greek native, currently living in Athens. We caught up with her to find out her top tips and best advice for anyone traveling to Greece, check out what she said.
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I was born and raised in Athens, but I do have a connection with the south part of Peloponnese, called Kalamata, because it was where my mother was born. We also have a have a family home there, so it was where we spent many of our summers when I was a kid.
Athens is a very fascinating city. Everyone knows the historical areas and sites to visit, like the Acropolis and Parthenon, but many people do not know that just a short 10-minute drive from the center is the beach. You will find beach bars there, people swimming in the sea and you live like you are on an island, a completely different feel from being in the city.
The South part of Athens, which they call the Athens Riviera, is very interesting because it feels like a summer destination. It is very nice and upscale. This is a contrast to the North suburbs, which are very green and have maisonette houses, not apartments like you would find in the center.
The good thing about Athens is that it has a very interesting and unique mix. For example, if you go to Rome you will see so much history and everything is in order. When you come to Athens, it may look a bit strange because we don’t have an ancient neighborhood or the modern neighborhood separated, everything is mixed together. People just visit Athens for one or two days, but if you spend some time there you feel all this history around you and realise how old the city is. There are new places you can discover and when you live in Athens you are always uncovering a new bar, restaurant or a trend. Athens is quite laid-back and relaxed compared to other cities, but it also gives you many inspirations and offers you the chance to see so many things.
I would say that it depends on the destination you are visiting because you can visit Greece all year round. July and August are the peak seasons, so if you are planning to visit during that time I would recommend combining a trip which includes visiting the main islands as well as some of the lesser known destinations. That way you can have a better experience of seeing different parts of Greece which are quieter and more authentic. If you can avoid visiting Greece in August, then you will find that the prices are cheaper and many of the popular destinations like Mykonos and Santorini are less busy.
You can also visit Greece in the winter season and explore the mountain villages and ski resorts that many people are unaware of. These villages are very close to Athens, many are just an hour drive away from the city, so you could be in Athens one minute and a totally different area the next. I think as a destination, Greece has a lot to offer throughout the year, no matter the season or time of year you are traveling.
I think the best tip I could give you is to research before you travel and make sure you have as much information as possible about the island you are visiting. In Greece, it is very difficult to find places to visit and things to do, aside from the classic tourist attractions. Some people go and visit a destination and there are so many new and authentic experiences to try, but instead they just visit the typical tourist sites and they don’t have the opportunity to visit the less touristy parts of the island. For example, Mykonos is a very busy and popular destination, but if you research before you go then you could discover the quieter places which tourists are unaware of. Personally, I think the more up to date information you find out before you travel, the better time you will have on your vacation in Greece.
It is very difficult to pick my favorite because every island in Greece is totally different. They each have different characteristics, architecture, food, culture, different everything. I think for me, my first top three favorite islands would be Santorini because the landscape is unique, and the island has great energy. Crete would be my next choice because of the culture and how hospitable everyone is there. The third island would be Folegandros. Folegandros is a small island, very close to Santorini and it has very nice waters, as does every Greek island, but because it is small you can explore the entire island. It is similar to a place I visited this year called Thrirassia, it is a totally unspoiled island, 10 minutes away from Santorini by boat. Being on the island is like going back in time and visiting Santorini 50 years ago, there is nothing there. It was an amazing place to visit and is my favorite island I visited this year!
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