o matter if you are setting sail on a luxury cruise or living it up in your own posh vacation villa, the islands of Greece deliver vacations thrills of epic proportions.
Rich in history, mythology, and all those colossal ancient architectural ruins, Greece is home to over 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the eastern Mediterranean. Though only about 225 of the islands are inhabited, each has its own unique character, personality, and charm, and for many, their own legends complete with magnificent cultural achievements to back them up.
As you sail along the coasts of the Greek islands and into their ports, you will discover white-washed houses with contrasting cobalt-blue doors and shutters dotting the high cliffs of many of the islands. It is an impressive sight, especially around the island of Santorini, with its cliff-lined caldera that formed centuries ago in 1500 B.C., when the mouth of its proud volcano collapsed during a major eruption. It is one of the most popular of the Greek isles and can be found in the itineraries of most cruise lines.
Mykonos and Rhodes are also two of the more of the popular ports in the Greek archipelago. Rhodes, with its impressive Grand Master's Palace and the remarkable old walled fortification that surrounds the town, offers numerous walking tours and wonderful views of its many grand temples, as well as the ancient Acropolis of Rhodes. Mykonos has an adorable, windmill–topped fishing village that gained popularity as a tourist destination in the early 1960's when shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis brought Jackie Kennedy here. It soon became an exclusive playground for the rich and famous and has been a popular haven ever since for the international crowd who enjoy its many beaches and the ruins on nearby Delos Island. According to Greek mythology, Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, the twin offspring of Zeus. It is one of the most extensive and important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in all of Greece.
May through October is the most popular time to cruise the Mediterranean, with July and August being the busiest and hottest. Temperatures often reach beyond 90°F, so prepare accordingly. More comfortable weather prevails in the earlier and later months with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Most ships sail round-trip between Athens, Istanbul, Rome and/or Venice and cruises range from several nights to several weeks. Itineraries often include ports in Greece as well as adjacent coastal countries including Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, and Italy. A few itineraries offer more intense visits to the Greek islands, including lesser known but wonderfully obscure gems like Kos. The birthplace of Hippocrates, Kos is a lush island with endless beaches and makes a relaxing stop amidst the vast sea of sometimes hectic ports of call.
No matter if it’s your first time cruising the Greek isles or your 20th, Oceania Cruises offers a fantastic lineup of itineraries that will introduce or reintroduce you to many of the country’s most beloved islands and neighboring countries. In fact, Oceania’s 10-day Aegean Medley voyage on board the beautiful Nautica will provide you plenty of time to explore the many islands and treasures of both Greece and Turkey. Six ports of call in Greece include Athens, Volos, Kavala/Philippi, Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos. In Turkey you’ll spend two days in vibrant Istanbul and a day in Ephesus, home to the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean, including the Temple of Artemis and the 24,000-seat Grand Theatre where St. Paul once preached.
Another fantastic option for those travelers wanting to experience the very best of Greece in unparalleled comfort, along with stops in neighboring Turkey, is with Regent Seven Seas Cruises and their Royal Aegean journey. On board the Seven Seas Voyager ship you’ll explore breathtaking ports of call in the lap of luxury. The gorgeous ship has been designed so guests can enjoy the outdoors as much as the indoors while they cruise. Nothing is spared on the posh Seven Seas Voyager and the level of service is outstanding. Regent’s Royal Aegean itinerary starts in Athens and ends in Istanbul. Along the way you’ll stop in Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Ephesus, and Lesbos.
Should you prefer the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity when it comes to cruising, Crystal Cruises has you covered with their Crystal Esprit yacht adventures that will make you feel like Hollywood royalty, in case you aren’t already. Sublime and spectacular, Crystal Esprit sails with just 62 guests in all-suite, butler-serviced luxury. On board you will savor extraordinary cuisine, friendly hospitality and an unstructured, carefree ambience while exploring boutique harbors and marquee ports. Crystal’s 7-night round-trip sailing from Athens will indulge guests with stops at the “Holy Island” of Patmos and the birthplace of Apollo on Delos. Guests will also discover the breathtaking vistas of Santorini’s Oia, indulge in Mykonos’ eternal soiree, and revel in the charming holiday retreat of Hydra.
The Greek islands offer all the ingredients of a great classical getaway: ancient ruins, idyllic coastal villages, fresh seafood, secluded beaches and coves, and the turquoise-blue waters. World-class shopping, watersports, sightseeing, and incredible beaches are just some of the activities that seduce sophisticated travelers from all over the globe.
Greece is also a country of contrasts and fusions, steeped in rich history and culture, yet brimming with modern luxuries, world-class restaurants, and decadent nightlife. For those who prefer the finer things in life, one of the best ways to experience all of this is with a luxury villa rental. On a villa vacation you'll feel the warmth of the Grecian sun, and most importantly, the warmth of the Greek people.
For more than 25 years, Villas of Distinction has been the premier villa rental company. Offering luxury properties ranging from lavish one-bedroom penthouses to sprawling 42-bedroom estates in over 50 destinations around the world, they pride themselves on offering a world-class portfolio of incredible properties. Backed by their trademark Villa Concierge team, they are one hundred percent committed to exceeding guests’ expectations.
With more than 25 years in the industry, Villas of Distinction’s Villa Specialists also have an average of 14 years of hands-on experience pairing travelers with luxury properties. Their team receives specialized training, and regular site visits to their villas ensures their staff understands the properties and can appropriately match them to their guests.
What sets Villas of Distinction apart is their strict guest-first approach in which villa guests are at the heart of everything they do. From their award-winning Concierge Service to their dedicated Villa Specialists, they can help open a world of possibilities and experiences while you create a lifetime of memories.
Villa experiences in Greece can be tailored and personalized down to the last detail – from the start of your villa selection to the end of your stay. Knowledgeable Villa Specialists will match each guest with the ideal property for their getaway – from romantic retreats to family reunions, golf getaways, destination weddings, and beyond. And, with extensive knowledge of each villa portfolio, as well as firsthand knowledge of each Greek island and city, they can customize every stay down to the last detail. No requests are too big or too small.
So what’s it going to be? Santorini or Naxos? Mykonos or Paros? Luxe cruise or luxury villa? With so many questions to be answered take a tip from us and contact your Affluent Traveler Collection travel specialist. They can help find the perfect Greek islands getaway the meets all your needs and wants, leaving you more time to soak up the good life.
Written by Joe Boone
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