Sun, sand and maybe a little ouzo are calling your name in Greece. This vacation hotspot holds something for just about any type of traveler. By day, lounge on the soft pebble beaches or explore ruins and historic sites older than anything imaginable. This is your opportunity to soak it all in and relax. By night, hit. the. club. Dance your face off in some of Europe’s hottest night clubs. After all, what happens in Greece, stays in Greece. Not into the club scene? No problem. Greece boasts some of the most incredible cafes, restaurants and chill bars, making it easy to unwind after a long day in the sun.
See what each island has in store for you…
Known for the non-stop parties, beach bars and nightclubs featuring world-renowned DJs, Mykonos is the island equivalent of that popular kid in high school whose parents were never home on the weekends. A haven for young backpackers and EDM revelers, it isn’t hard to strike up a conversation (or dance battle) with travelers from around the world. There is a softer side, with nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites and serene coastal havens; Mykonos is the best of both worlds. Popular beaches like Paradise Beach and even Super Paradise Beach (yes, that’s its real name) make it difficult to leave this sunny, festive island.
One of the most loved beaches of the island, this sandy haven offers the opportunity to relax in style. With sun beds, restaurants, bars and games available, you can choose to lay out with that bestseller you’ve been meaning to read. Or, try something a little more adventurous, like the variety of watersports available for rent at the beach.
White-washed houses set against crystal blue Aegean water are just a few elements that lend to the pervasive charm of Mykonos’ Little Venice Quarter. Full of art galleries and outdoor restaurants lining the water, you’ll fall in love with this place. Though one of the more expensive areas of the island (which isn’t a surprise given the location), it’s worth it to grab a cup of coffee or cocktail at any of the outdoor dining establishments and just soak in the atmosphere. Treat yo’self.
Take a day trip to nearby Delos Island, mythical birthplace of Apollo. The historical and archeological hotspot dates back to the 3rd century BC, and the entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend a few hours romping around, then head back to the main island on a quick, 30-minute boat ride.
For the party people…
Super Paradise Beach
The name practically says it all, but Paradise Beach and Super Paradise Beach are the place to be if you’re looking to get tan, drink in hand, while dancing the day into night. Don’t let the word “paradise” confuse you; this place is anything but tranquil, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Become one with the water and swim with the fishes in the best way possible. At many of the popular beaches on the island, travelers can rent snorkel equipment to catch a glimpse of the happenings under the sea.
Hit the Club
It’s hard to narrow down to just one suggestion, but Mykonos is brimming with some of the most lively nightclubs in Europe. Featuring the world’s best international DJ’s, clubbers should prepare for a late night stretching into the early morning.
Interested in watersports? Look no further than the golden sanded beaches of Paros. This is the place for windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding and a bevvy of other aquatic adventures. Explore Paros’ northern coast, where the waves have sculpted the rocky edges into natural swimming coves. Once the mermaid (or merman) dreams have subsided, get lost in Paros’ traditional villages among the white plaster houses, blue-domed churches and winding pathways.
Valley of the Butterflies
Between the months of June and September, hundreds of butterflies flock to the park known as the Valley of the Butterflies. Visitors can enter by donkey for a small fee and bask in dense, shady vegetation that houses colorful butterflies. The combination of the vibrant green foliage and the little fluttering friends of the Valley make for a breathtaking experience.
Santa Maria Beach
A smaller, more low-key beach on the east side of the island is popular, yet relaxed. With umbrellas, beach volleyball and casual beach bar that plays lounge music, visitors and locals alike can unwind in the Grecian sun.
The largest village on Paros is coincidentally the most happening spot on the island as well. Home to plenty of upscale bars, restaurants, shopping and beaches, it’s hard to be bored in the Naousa area. Grab a glass of the locally-made wine and watch the sun set over the Aegean.
For the party people…
New Golden Beach
Thrill-seekers and spectators alike can enjoy this sand-laden stretch adjacent to the pristine blue water. Some of Paros’ most famous sandy coastlines are Golden Beach and New Golden Beach. Both located on the southeast side of the island, this is the homeland of watersports like wind and kitesurfing. Each year, the World Cup of Professional Windsurfing (yes, that’s a thing) takes place on these windy waters.
Paros’ capital is the place to be for nightlife on the island. Home to a variety of bars, clubs and beach parties; whether the vibe is casual after dinner drinks or an all-night dance marathon, there is a place in Parikia for that.
Just when Greece can’t get more beautiful, Santorini happens. White-washed houses, iconic windmills and sunsets that rival an out-of-body experience are all commonplace on this Aegean island. The colors of the beaches pop against the cerulean blue water as they are comprised of red, black and white lava pebbles formed from a 16th-century volcanic eruption. Make your way to Oia at sunset and feast your eyes on what may be the most beautiful damn sunset you will literally ever see. Grab a glass of locally-grown wine and cheers to a perfect island trip.
The muse for many artists and favorite vantage point for visitors and locals alike can be found in this tiny, hilltop community. While it is a romantic lookout spot for spectators, it also can be recognized for its Hollywood fame. Views of Oia can be seen in the films Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Whether a getaway or a badass mission are in store, Oia’s remarkable sunset is something to see.
If Cycladic history is of interest, take a stroll to the Emporio Village located at the foot of Mount Prophet Elias, the largest settlement on the island. Walk the village and behold the impeccably preserved medieval structures, including a 15th-century castle and two blue-domed churches that are SO Santorini.
An island just off the Santorini mainland and part of aforementioned Oia, Therasia is worth the trip for more reasons than just the sunset. Though the beaches on this island are comprised of pumice stones and pebbles (not ideal for sunbathing), visitors can enjoy a volcano tour and visit to the natural hot springs made from the volcano itself.
For the Party People…
The capital of Santorini and party hotspot is bursting with beach bars, nightclubs and cool lounges. If you’re looking to join a pick-up beach volleyball game, dance the night away or perhaps catch a glimpse of a famous DJ, this is the place to do it. Stay out late enough and you’ll even see the sunrise over the incredible panoramic landscape of Fira.
The wine-tasting options are endless in Santorini. Test your pallet and befriend a sommelier while tasting some of the most delicious local wines. Fun fact: Greek wineries use the vines to weave baskets used for collecting the grapes prior to squashing. The Greeks sure know how to recycle.
Kamari Open Air Cinema
A true hidden gem on Kamari Beach is the Kamari Open Air Cinema. Watch your favorite movies under the stars with popcorn, accompanied by a glass of local wine. The schedule can be found on their website, and it’s advised to book tickets in advance to get the best choice of seats.