This article was published in Europe Euphoria on 26th September, 2011.
Greece is a country full of mythology and classical beauty. Geographically it lies in within the European Union. The Greek mainland terrain is mountainous and peninsular. Based on definition, Greece consists of 1200 to 6000 islands, out of which only 227 are inhabited. The Greek islands are traditionally divided into three clusters - the Argo-Saronic Islands, the North Aegean islands and the Sporades islands. As there are 227 inhabited islands in Greece, it is difficult to choose which islands to visit and which to not. Each island have a story of its own. Still, to help you to make a choice, here are the 10 Greek islands which are exalting in their own rights. Apart from the amazing beaches and scenic beauty, almost all the islands offer a variety of water sports, including fishing and snorkeling.
1. Symi - the neoclassical
Mythology says, Symi got its name from the princess of Rhodes. The princess eloped to Symi with god Glaucus as her father did not approve of their marriage. The monastery of archangel Michael is one of the famous sites on the island. there is also the Castle of Knights and many churches of the Turkish origins. The beaches on Symi are somewhat stony but with amazing waters. do not forget to try the local wine and the dish called ‘mezedakia’.
2. Mykonos - the party island
The sandy beaches of Mykonos with the crystal clear waters is quite a pleasure. But Mykonos is more well known for its sophisticated night life, not only in Greece but also across the Mediterranean. The island offers a wide range of bars and night clubs where you can dance away the night. during the summer, Mykonos invides famous DJ’s from all over the world and amazing parties are organized.
3. Santorini - the promising view
Santorini, in Aegean, is a place of spectacular sunsets over the Cyclades. You should definitely not miss the stunning sunset view in Oia. Santorini is absolutely a Greek cliche. The island used to be circular in ancient times. But there was a powerful volcanic eruption which caused the center of the island to sink. Most of the beaches in Santorini, like Perissa, Kamari and Paradise, has black sand. The island is also known for its gorgeous villages, some of which are perched on 300 meters high cliffs and offer stunning views. Oia, Fira and Finikia are of the villages which you can visit.
4. Farmakonisi - the uninhabited
The story goes that pirates had kidnapped a young Julius Caesar and held him captive on this island. Caesar considered the ransom demanded for his freedom was too meager and was infuriated. During his imprisonment, he promised that if was freed, he would kill all the island inhabitants. He made his family pay twice the ransom asked and later when he became a general, he kept his promise and crucified all the island dwellers. The island still remains practically uninhabited. The 2001 census recorded a population of 74 people only.
5. Tilos - the sanctuary of wildlife
Tilos is a good getaway for campers. The island has rocky mountains, clear beaches and caves. It has also cool groves of fig, olive and walnut trees. The island once is known to have a population of the unique pygmy elephants. You find a lot of species of birds on the island all the year round.
6. Icaria - the rugged
The island of Icaria is remotely isolated. Until few years ago, it had a reputation of being a hippy island. Icaria is probably best known for its underground spas which are fed by thermal underground springs, which are in turn heated by radiation. The island has a rugged terrain with unkempt villages. Icaria is more of a Greek holiday retreat rather than action.
7. Crete - a holiday delight
The island of Crete is a complete Greek holiday package. It has lofty mountains, beautiful sun kissed beaches, charming villages, hidden coves, gorgeous towns, exciting nightlife and tantalizing food. Crete was the star of one of the world’s greatest civilization, the Minoan civilization.
8. Corfu - for a holiday read
The island of Corfu is treat for someone with a literary bend of mind. Apart from the regular Greek features life rocky mountains and sandy beaches, Corfu offers you Byzantine churches, Venetian fortresses, museums, pretty towns, traditional villages and lively resorts. Plus you can actually stay in the house where Lawrence Durrell wrote Prospero’s Cell.
9. Skyros - the new age holiday
Skyros is a small picturesque island in the Sporades cluster. The island is lush green with trekking paths in pine forests and isolated beaches. The beaches of Skyros are organized and peaceful. The Skyros villages are absolutely lovely.
10. Gavdos - the undiscovered
Gavdos is Greece’s southernmost island and still very much like it was 40 years ago. the island is a tiny one, with only around 50 people on board all the year round. There are not many hotels available on the island. the only way to get to the island is by ferry.