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GREECE is the Word! Your 2021 Greek Vacation Guide

GREECE is the Word! Your 2021 Greek Vacation Guide

As the weather warms, COVID fatigue is beginning to fade for some, and with no shortage of testing/vaccination options in the US, trips abroad are becoming easier. With that said, if you’re like me and just plain missing Europe, you’ll appreciate the timely news of this feature destination.

When it comes to warmth and hospitality, the omnipotent influence of Zeus (god of hospitality and protector of travelers) still reigns in Greece, and can be deeply felt wherever you find yourself there.

It’s no wonder, then, that Greece is also one of the first EU countries in 2021 to cautiously open its post-pandemic doors—just in time for spring and summer travel. On May 3, cafés, bars and restaurants were green-lit for opening across Greece, as long as they could offer seating in open areas, which—given the current climate and Aegean seascape—should see tourism on the rise in the coming months.

US citizens will be first amongst the chosen few countries admitted as of May 10, provided travelers can produce proof of (full) vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel.

With hundreds of inhabited islands—25 with their own airports,  the sheer amount of choice can be overwhelming, to say the least. So while there’s no inoculation for the travel bug, read on as we help you unpack some of our favorite island options—so you can be sunset sailing and sipping Ouzo before you know it!

ATHENS

Travel to Greece’s most popular island destinations, including Crete, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu—is now possible, via direct international flights to Athens. Since you’ll need to connect there first, plan to spend at least a night or two before launching to the the islands if you have time to spare! A mere 30-minute drive from Athens Airport is the city center—here’s how to make the most of it.

A note to island hoppers—to move between the islands, you will need to show your vaccine passport or negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to departure or rapid test taken 24 hours before departure.

THE VIBE

Cosmopolitan-yet-old-world, eclectic

Athens is famous for its fish tavernas, cozy bars and cafés overlooking the bay—which boasts heart-stirring sunsets and a beach that beckons for long, captivating walks. Its natural port is Piraeus, the largest in the Mediterranean, with an annual average of 7.1 million passengers. Take a tour of the Acropolis, and if you have a hankering for some local flavor, most of the places to eat along the harbor are métrios (the Greek word for mediocre!) at best, so try a few blocks over near Plateia Korai where you’ll find the best tavernas (and least amount of tourists). If you have a bit of time to burn, also consider taking a scenic car ride (approximately 90 minutes) to Nafplio, the original capital (and what many consider to be ‘The Real Greece’) for a dose of history and old-world charm you won’t find anywhere else.

 WHERE TO STAY

Opened in 2019 and touting the title as Greece’s first Four Seasons, the Astir Palace Hotel is located right on its own peninsula in the Vouliagmeni region of the Athenian Riviera, where spellbinding greenery and pine trees set the stage. Lounge by the Mykonos-style pool area with private bungalows, each including its own private beach access. Also home to a marina with luxury yachts, when it comes to enjoying the element of water, Astir Palace invites you to pick your Poseidon…er, poison. For island-hoppers: a mere 30-minutes drive from Athens Airport as well as the city center, it also features its own heli-pad, and boats are available for hire to sail directly from the hotel’s tender.

WHO SHOULD GO

 History buffs, active travelers, sailing enthusiasts—although there’s truly something for everyone

 SANTORINI

THE VIBE

Sexy, solar, sail-worthy

Prevailing wisdom says that if you visit just one island in Greece, it should be Santorini. Built into the volcanic cliffs are white-washed villages amid the shimmering Mediterranean waters, it’s as if Santorini exists to pay homage to the sun. Whether you choose to set sail on a sunset cruise, hike the mountainous terrain or just soak up the myriad of ways to relax, there’s no shortage of magic or romance to be had here. Food and wine are definitely a thing. Blessed with a mineral rich ecosystem given its unique volcanic geology, Santorini is also known for it’s fantastic produce and dynamic viniculture.

 WHERE TO STAY

An iconic cliff-top masterpiece, Canaves Oia Resort has 5 unique sections—a boutique hotel, villas, suites and the new Canaves Oia Epitome—all noted for rooms with panoramic Aegean or caldera views, many of which with their own private plunge pools.

Perched upon the cliffs overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean, Grace Hotel—an Auberge Resort—was designed with everyone in mind. It boasts one of the largest pools on island and has one of the very few kid-friendly cliff-top hotels on Santorini, family dinners hosted by a spectacular sunset are a snap, courtesy of an on-call private chef and butler—included with your villa.

WHO SHOULD GO

Wine lovers, honeymooners, couples and sophisticated families

MYKONOS

THE VIBE

Sultry, sophisticated, sun-soaked

For those jetsetters who love to party and be seen, Mykonos is the place to be. It’s known for its great clubs, day and night, tantalizing beaches, and a surprisingly charming capital village.

WHERE TO STAY

Inspired by the laid back glamour of Mykonos, Kalesma is a stylish 5 star hideaway tucked away on the hillside above Ornos Bay. Fusing modern design with organic elements, all suites and villas boast their own own plunge pool and breathaking seaside views.

For those who don’t want to hideaway, a stay at Mykonos Blu Grecotel is in order. Set on stunning Psarou Beach, known for it’s chic Greek art collection, with bright and airy stone bungalows and villas, a stay here may inspire you to age in reverse.

WHO SHOULD GO

Getaway girls, party people, sailors, groups

 PAROS

THE VIBE

Beachy, bustling, history-laden

One of the lesser known Cycladic islands of Greece, Paros should not be overlooked and makes an excellent counterpoint to (and hop from) Santorini or Mykonos. Here you can explore the otherworldly Kolymbithres Beach—known for its interesting rock formations—meander through charming Naoussa or day trip to Antiparos – its glamorous and secluded cousin in the west.

WHERE TO STAY

In full harmony with it’s natural surroundings, Parilio Hotel embodies the type of laid back luxury that is endemic to the island it inhabits. Highlights include its cross shaped pool marked by two large rock formations and it’s zen-like all-suite accommodations.

Located in the beautiful bay of Parasporos, just a short walk from the beach and among verdant orchards and gardens, Yria Boutique Hotel is an oasis from the dry and rocky scenery of Paros.

WHO SHOULD GO

Couples, adventurers and beach bums

MILOS 

THE VIBE

Soothing, low-key, ethereal

The southwestern-most island of the Cycladic archipelago, Milos, instills an unmistakable sense of peace. At 220 meters above sea level, Plaka, the island’s capital, is the absolute, must-visit spot in Milos. Take in views of the Venetian Castle dating back to the 13th century, as well as the Paleo-Christian Catacombs and Sea Caves of Kleftiko that are accessible only by boat. Characterized by sweet little paths, unexpected scenic shortcuts and the epochal churches, you cannot help but find yourself entangled with history and culture. Hikers and crystal aficionados will marvel in a hike to the top of Nichia. This trail leads to the site of Milos’ ancient Obsidian mine and factory, which is still teeming with ancient remnants that date back to 3,000 BC.

WHERE TO STAY

Stay at the eco luxury Skinopi Lodge which sits atop the bluffs of Milos. Each of its private villas are outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the pristine waters of the Aegean and the stunning 9-acre property that’s crawling with lavender and thyme. Recharge in the geothermal hot springs and take your pick of any water activity you might fancy.

WHO SHOULD GO

Nature-lovers, artists, couples, creatives, healers

CRETE

THE VIBE

Ancient, saturated, authentic

Explore the roots of Greek civilization in the largest and southernmost island of Greece. Visit Crete to experience an array of world class beaches, hike among its remote mountainscapes, explore its vast collection of ancient monuments and ruins and delight in its gastronomic traditions. Warning—do not rush Crete— be sure to carve out at least 5-7 days here.

 WHERE TO STAY

Less than a one hour’s drive from Heraklion’s Int’l Airport, Daios Cove is located on the northeast coast of Crete. Hugged by the hillside’s natural amphitheater on its own private bay, the view from every angle—namely through the lobby’s floor-to-ceiling windows—will leave you absolutely spellbound. They also offer a top-shelf, all-inclusive option for the six on-site dining venues.

Set near the beautiful village of Elouanda and perched cliffside above Mirabello Bay, Domes Elouanda enjoys views of the ruined fortress on the island of Spinalonga and takes its name from the domed roofs of its 78 suites—many of which have private jacuzzis or plunge pools.

 WHO SHOULD GO

Epicureans, Active families and history buffs

 CORFU

THE VIBE

History-laden with simple pleasures and Euro-tones galore

On the Ionian Sea, just south of Albania you’ll find Corfu—the second largest island of Greece and the perfect base to explore the smaller Ionian islands. Corfu town, it’s charming, history-rich capital, with both Venetian and British influences, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit European destination. You’ll want to charter a yacht or hire a car to experience the best of Corfu, which includes cliff-bound monasteries, secluded coves and idyllic beaches. And if you’re madly in love, be sure to visit the Canal d’Amour Beach. Legend has it that couples who swim through the opening will get married within the year. Dubbed the ’emerald island’—Corfu is known for it’s sparkling coves, lush green hills and biodiversity will appeal to both sun worshippers and hikers.

 WHERE TO STAY

When traveling with family, set your worries aside at the the luxe and all-inclusive Grecotel Daphnila Bay located on the Corfu Kommeno Peninsula. With a sandy beach and sheltered cove perfect for swimming, three pools, five on site restaurants, four bars, a beachside gelataria and wine library, everyone’s needs will be easily satisfied.

Invoke your inner god(dess) and bask in the offerings the (adults-only) Domes Miramare has to offer. Think hammams, ancient olive groves and Michelin-starred gastronomy. Accurately self-proclaimed as “hospitality with soul”, the Haute Living selection offers a seemingly impossible ‘upgrade’ to your resort experience that is second to none, providing the best of locally made products and complimentary Le Chemin toiletries, to scratch the surface.

WHO SHOULD GO

Hedonists, adventurers, luxe-loving romantics and nautically-inclined families

Have we inspired your wanderlust for all things Greek? If so, contact Jen Terra Travels to plan your Greek island adventure today!