7 Best Activities to Experience the Greek Islands in All Their Glory
The way we see it, you can visit the Greek islands. Or, you can visit the Greek islands, jump off of boats, take all of the sunset pics, develop a dependency on feta cheese, find yourself (like, really find yourself), cathartically smash some plates, swim in crystal waters every day, and generally peak. Us? We prefer the latter. So we asked our Greece Trip Consultants here at EF Ultimate Break for their reccos. Consider this the ideal Greek island itinerary for must-do activities.
by Reid Flynn
May 26, 2020
Grab your bathing suit, leave the toga at home
With as many as 6,000 Greek islands, figuring out how to visit the right ones, and what to do in each can be a Herculean effort. In fact, there are so many that no one can quite agree on the exact number. But what we can agree on is that everyone should see the Greek islands at least once in their lifetime.
Luckily, EF Ultimate Break has been building the best Greek island itineraries since Zeus was in diapers. Seriously, we’ve perfected the art of the Greek islands trip. Stick with us, and we’ll show you what to see, eat, do, and drink to have the most epic Greek islands adventure.
So grab the feta and that new bathing suit, leave the toga at home, and get ready to make olive the memories.
Our traveler @claire.cornett on Instagram
1. Cliffside winery visit
In movies, people always say “don’t look down” when confronted with heights. But this ain’t a movie (though it might feel like one). This is your dream Greek islands getaway, and you’re high above the caldera of Santorini, seated at a cliffside winery with a glass of your new favorite rosé in hand. So, by all means, look down.
Speaking of that caldera, the big bay of water you’re looking into wasn’t always there. 3,600 years ago, it was a volcano that erupted so violently that half the island collapsed underwater. The explosion was so great, the ancient Egyptians and Chinese both wrote about feeling it. Today, though, it’s far more tranquil. It’s the perfect view to gaze out on while you sip your wine.
One of EF Ultimate Break's Trip Consultants—an expert on all things Greece—Hannah, had this to say: “Santorini, and the Cycladic Islands, are technically a desert environment, so it’s pretty incredible that they can produce wine—and such good wine, at that.” Indeed, the volcanic soil makes for super unique wine. But it’s not just the wine, it’s the whole experience that matters. Hannah says, “I feel like when people picture themselves in Greece, drinking wine, it’s literally on the cliffs in Santorini. Nothing beats taking the tour, learning about the wine, then taking some pics while you actually taste the wine and have some snacks.”
Your Greek island itinerary simply isn't complete without it. Thankfully, all of our trips to Greece give you the option to do some cliffside sipping in Santorini.
Our traveler @_kyleevaughn on Instagram
2. Jump off a boat
The only thing better than cruising through the Aegean Sea on a boat is jumping off of that boat into the Aegean Sea. Is it the blue-est blue water known to humankind? Probably. I’ll fact-check that one later, but it certainly looks that way.
With any luck, a boat ride could take you past the cliffs, into caves for swimming and climbing, to a shipwreck for snorkeling, or even to secret beaches—of which Greece has many. Trip Consultant Hannah says: “I’ve been to maybe 30 or 40 Mediterranean beaches, and some of these secret beaches that you can only get to via boat ride are—without a doubt—the clearest water I’ve ever seen. It’s insane.”
Cruising out of Mykonos or Ios, basking in the sun, your favorite songs bumping on a playlist: is there a better way to experience the Greek islands than that? Nope. Well, maybe if you forget sunscreen. SPF up, people!
Featured Trip: The Greek Islands
11 days. 4 cities. White, turquoise & tzatziki sauce all over.
Pros: Beaches: black. Houses: white. The Aegean Sea, Greek sky, and iconic domes of Santorini: So. Very. Blue.
Cons: Still working on a single pair of shoes for dancing in the clubs of Mykonos, hiking ancient ruins in Athens, and wearing down to the beach in Paros.
Our traveler @nicolepilote on Instagram
3. Fill up at a taverna
If only there were some magical place where you could soak up Greek culture, take part in top-notch people watching, and gorge yourself on Greek delicacies. Oh wait, there is, it’s called a taverna, and it’s amazing.
Tavernas are little Greek restaurants where locals and visitors alike can mingle and take in a meal. The villages of the Greek islands are chock full of phenomenal tavernas, and it’s hard to go wrong. Jesse, our resident Greece expert at EF Ultimate Break and self-proclaimed beach bum, never leaves Santorini without hitting Fougaro Beach Taverna. A bit more boujee, he says: “It could be considered a more posh taverna—I would bathe in the tzatziki there.”
Speaking of Santorini tavernas, expert Trip Consultant and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants enthusiast, Laura, loves PK Cocktail Bar for the epic sunset views, Dmitri’s Ammoudi Taverna for the authentic seafood experience (“You watch the fishermen literally catching your dinner!”), and Naoussa for the family owned charm and proximity to the nightlife in Fira.
Post up, order a cold drink, and get started with some Greek salad and tzatziki. Opt for a hearty moussaka or pastitsio (both sort of like Greek lasagna). Maybe sample grilled souvlaki or dare to get adventurous with some octopus (you are surrounded by water, after all). No matter what, make sure to snap a pic of your bountiful spread before it’s gone.
Photo Credit: EF Ultimate Break
4. Hit a beachside night club
The ancient Greeks had a word for what to do when the sun goes down: toga party. Or maybe that was college Greek life. Either way, everyone needs a way to let loose, and Mykonos in particular offers an excellent way to do so. Say it with us: Beach. Side. Night. Clubs.
And as far as beachside night clubs go, it’s tough to top Paradise Beach Club. The legendary venue has hosted the likes of Armin Van Buren, Tiesto, and Martin Garrix. The best part? Open air layout means you’ll thank us later when that sea breeze cools down the dancefloor.
Not going at night? Not a problem. Our expert Trip Consultant, Laura, had a wild time in the middle of the day. “There’s go-go dancers on the bar at all times,” she says. “Like even at 1pm.” And if dancing isn’t exactly your thing, remember you're literally on a beach. Per Laura, “You can have a lounge chair and umbrella super cheap for the day. It was heaven.”
Between the golden sand beaches right at your finger—and toe!—tips, and the golden sounds from the DJ booth streaming right to your ears—you’ve got a winning combination that puts a night out in Mykonos at the top of the pedestal.
Photo Credit: EF Ultimate Break
5. Introduce your taste buds to ouzo
One of the best ways to experience the Greek islands—or any place, for that matter—is indulging in the local food and drink. Here, beer is so last season, and ouzo is in. This traditional folk drink is a must-have when visiting the Greek islands, even just to try once. It kind of tastes like licorice, yes, but no Twizzlers I’ve ever had pack a punch like this.
Ouzo comes from the same stuff as wine, so you know it’s good. When local winemakers finish fermenting grapes for the gods’ elixir (yes, we call wine “the gods’ elixir,” when in Greece, you know) ouzo distillers swoop in and turn the grape remnants into their uniquely Greek spirit.
Pop into any ouzeri for a spread of snacks and small plates accompanied by the preferred drink of the Greeks. Remember—you can water it down with ice, but adding other ingredients tends to be frowned upon. Give it a try and remember to toast to your companions’ health before drinking. Yamas!
Featured Trip: Italy & The Greek Islands
15 days. 5 cities.
Pros: See Michelangelo’s David up close and personal in Florence, pretend you're a Gladiator in the Roman Colosseum, and travel back in time to where Western Civilization began on the Acropolis of Athens. Then it's time to unwind on a white sand beach, drink in hand, on two of Greece’s most iconic islands.
Cons: You'll have to put your keto diet on hold. Say it with us: Homemade. Italian. Pasta.
Our traveler @emily_roberson on Instagram
6. Soak up the sun at Paros beaches
Sorry folks, Paros is closed. It seems there’s an infestation of natural beauty. Aha! Almost had you there. Paros rules and what it lacks in size, it makes up for in glorious beaches.
Golden-white sand, crazy blue water, sunbeds for rent, and snack bars nearby. What’s not to love? Make a day of it lounging at some of our favs. We love Marcello, Livadia, and Krios, but you really can’t go wrong anywhere.
Our expert Greece Trip Consultant Hannah says the water in Paros is some of the clearest, bluest, and calmest she’s ever seen. “It’s literally a glass surface, and there’s so much to do at the beachfront!”
Our traveler @kaitlynforrester on Instagram
7. Catch a sunset in Oia
Get lost—like, actually—get lost in Oia. The most picturesque little village on the island of Santorini, Oia is a must-hit on any Greek islands itinerary. Wander off through the winding streets taking in the whitewashed neighborhoods and blue-domed buildings, you can’t go wrong no matter where the path takes you.
Time it just right to emerge at the Old Castle of Oia for the view to end all views of a Santorini sunset. Simply put: you didn’t really go to the Greek islands if you don’t take in a sunset like this.
But like we said, sticking with EF Ultimate Break means you'll get the most out of your trip. No matter what, that means catching all the sunsets, taking you to the best baklava spots, and providing you the Greek islands experience of a lifetime. Whether you travel solo, with a friend or with a partner—you'll meet incredible like-minded people all there for the same thing: to have fun and embrace Greek culture. The best part? We handle all the logistics, from flights and accommodations to daily breakfasts and local tours.
Now, back in Oia, as the sky turns from blue to pink, and you think back on all of the gyros you ate and all the locals you had a plate-smashingly good time with, take stock of what a real paradise each of these specks of land in the Aegean Sea are.
Then, right when the sun fully sets, and you’re at peak vacation happiness, you’ll remember that the night is young. Back to the beachside night club, anyone?
by Reid Flynn
Reid is a copywriter at EF Ultimate Break. He loves cheese, playing guitar, and speaking loudly about indie rock to anyone who will listen. His favorite place in the world is Amsterdam.
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