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Greek Islands

Author: pakce  |  Category: Destination Greek Islands

From ancient archaeological sites to the plethora of beaches, active volcanoes to white adobe architecture hugging seaside cliffs, the islands of Greece beckon visitors with so much to see and do. A relaxing cruise of the mystical, enchanting Greek Islands is one way to sample the islands’ different personalities and offerings. Here’s a peek at just three popular ports of call on cruises of the Aegean Sea: ^Top

Sublime Santorini

Santorini is composed of a cluster of islands that were formed by a massive volcanic eruption more than 3,600 years ago. Prior to the eruption, it was one large island; now it is a crescent-shaped caledera. Santorini is also the name of the largest island of the group, also known as Thira, Thera or Fira, the island’s capital city – confused yet?


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Don’t worry – semantics don’t really matter when your ship docks at Santorini, often considered the most beautiful island in Greece, and you have the day to explore the area. The towns of Thera, Oia and Thirasis – dotted with those famous cube-shaped, white-washed houses – are perched at the top of steep cliffs. To reach Thera, visitors either travel by donkey or cable car up the incline; or if you’re feeling extra ambitious, walk up the 600 steps.

Once you reach the main town, consider snapping your own photos of the often-photographed Agiou Mina, the 18th-century church with its blue dome and white bell tower. Another highlight is the interesting archaeological museum that houses prehistoric artifacts. Wine produced in Santorini is excellent, and you can sample offerings throughout the towns or by visiting a winery.

Still other ways to get up close and personal with Santorini: stroll through the winding maze of cobblestone walkways in the charming village of Oia; take in the scene at bustling Red Sand Beach, so named for the iron-rich cliffs that rise from the shore; travel by boat to the active volcano of Nea Kameni and nearby mineral-rich hot springs.

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Marvelous Mykonos

 

 

With its famous windmills, dozens of beaches and picture-perfect setting against the crystal-clear Aegean Sea, Mykonos is the most popular destination in the Cyclades island chain. Here, you’ll want to see the pretty white windmills, a symbol of the island, and keep your eyes peeled for the local celebrity – a pelican. Typically at the waterfront, Petros the Pelican is probably the most well-known inhabitant of the island.

If you explore the main part of town, also called Mykonos Town, Chora or Hora, be prepared for a maze of ancient streets that were originally constructed to confuse attacking pirates. (Local shop and restaurants owners are accustomed to throngs of tourists; they’ll be happy to direct you if you get lost.)

For a taste of history, book a shore excursion to the nearby island of Delos, one of the most important historical, mythological and archaeological sites in all of Greece. Excavations here reveal that it was inhabited as early as the 3rd millennium B.C! Archaeological treasures here include the Temple of Apollo and the Terrace of the Lions, the 6th century B.C. Minoan Fountain, and the now-dry Sacred Lake, from which ancient inhabitants once drew their fresh water.

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Sunny Rhodes

 

The largest island in the Dodecanese chain boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year, so it’s no wonder visitors flock here to enjoy its ideal climate while relaxing on the beaches, strolling through the medieval town and learn about the ancient past with a visit to the Acropolis.

Rhodes “old town” is still encircled by its medieval wall. Inside, historic alleyways and pedestrian-friendly streets beckon with souvenir shops, goldsmiths and cafes. Here, the Knights of the Order of St. John founded a hospital that dates back to 1489, and it now houses the Archaeological Museum, with many pieces of ancient pottery and sculpture. Because of Rhodes relative proximity of Turkey, there is some evident Turkish influence on the island, namely in the form of the municipal baths, found in a 7th-century Byzantine building in the old town.

About 35 miles from Rhodes town is Lindos, a charming village set on a hill. For phenomenal views of the surrounding coast, make the climb to the Acropolis archaeological zone. Here, view the remains (and some reconstructed portions) of ancient temples, public buildings and a stadium


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Wherever you dock in Greece, be sure to seek out some of the savory cuisine. Naturally, seafood dishes reign supreme, but then you’ll also fine local delicacies such as pseftokeftedes, or meatless meatballs, in Santorini or papoutsaki, stuffed eggplant, in Rhodes. At nearly any of the islands’ many tavernas or sidewalk restaurants, there is the ubiquitous “Greek salad,” made with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and olives, as well as tzatiki, a cucumber-yogurt dip served with bread. The national liquor is ouzo, a licorice-flavored drink, and wine is drunk with most meals here. Wine is relatively inexpensive, so have fun sampling some of the locally produced varieties!

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