kel’s greek islands guide

Babymoon, Lauren wedding and Taylor Swift Kelly iPhone 2015 538

This past autumn, Ian and I went on a ‘babymoon’ to Turkey and Greece. It was our first time in both countries, and while I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, I figure that every tip helps! For those who know me, you are well aware that I love vacation planning, and do a ton of research before every trip. I usually print out a full itinerary and multiple spreadsheets, and I also look to the locals for their recommendations . Hopefully my research and experience in Santorini and Mykonos help you to plan your own Greek Island trip. (Big thanks to all our friends and our amazing travel agent Kim for all of the tips and advice!)

MYKONOS

We flew from the south of Turkey with several stops to Mykonos for a full day of flying. I’m an anxious flyer (despite my love of traveling) and our flight from Athens to Mykonos was one of the scariest flights I’ve ever been on in my life. It was terrible weather and lightening lit up the sky as we circled the island, trying to land despite the high winds. Needless to say, I was pretty shaken up. When we finally touched down, our airport shuttle was waiting for us and Ian and I began our Greek Island Babymoon.

Our hotel, the stunningly beautiful Mykonos Ammos Hotel (on Ornos Beach), was exactly what we needed after a whirlwind adventure trip in Turkey. (I think the hotel was calmer than it usually is because we stayed in Greece at the end of high season… Mykonos is known to be a party island). The hotel offered the most incredible buffet breakfast I have ever experienced…. Fresh feta, pastries, fresh Greek yogurt, traditional Greek dishes, croissants, fresh juices, fresh fruit, meat, omelets… you name it. Our room was like a modernized white cave with purple and white lighting and our balcony overlooked the picturesque Ornos Beach. Our hotel was a great location, with a short carbide or bus ride into town, was located right on the beach, and was within walking distance of great restaurants.

Our balcony view at the Mykonos Ammos Hotel

Our balcony view at the Mykonos Ammos Hotel

In terms of where we ate in Mykonos, we had quite a few meals at our resort, which had an incredible restaurant with fresh seafood and Mediterranean classics like saganaki cheese and octopus; I ate wayyyy too much on this trip and I don’t regret it one bit!

Below is a summary of the hotels, beaches, and restaurants that Ian and I made it to, along with ones that we didn’t make it to, but were recommended to us.

Mykonos Hotels:

We stayed at the boutique Mykonos Ammos Hotel (Ornos Beach). We’d definitely recommend it! Breakfast, wifi and a welcome drink were all included. We also had a complimentary bottle of wine waiting for us in our room upon checking in. Address: Ornos Beach, Mykonos, Mykonos Island, 84600 Greece  Tel: 30 (22890) 22600.

Other recommended spots:

  1. Myconian Ambassador boutique resort (Part of the Relais and Chateaux chain). Our friends Jane and Greg said it also had an incredible breakfast, a great view and stellar service. One thing to note: on the other side of the island from the main town.
  2. Apanema Resort. A ten minute walk into town with breakfast, a welcome drink and wifi included.
  3. The Belvedere Hotel.

Mykonos Food, Beaches, and Day & Nightlife:

Paradise Beach (Beautiful! Lots of chair rental options).

Super Paradise Beach (The gay-friendly, somewhat nude beach. Hired dancers, dance party starts around 4).

Mykonos Main town (Touristy, cute shops).

Nammos Beach (Chic & upscale)

Note: Four-wheeling is very popular on this island!

Super Paradise Beach

Super Paradise Beach

Restaurant: Kuzina (Located in our hotel, incredible food!)

Restaurant: Aleka’s (Amazing Greek salad!)

Restaurant: Katrinas (Located in Little Venice)

Restaurant: Uno Con Carne (If you are craving something other than Greek food).

 

SANTORINI

We took an express, high-speed ferry from Mykonos to Santorini and it was a super relaxed experience. The ferry was luxurious and comfortable, and the trip took about three hour’s total. There are a ton of ferries you can book if you plan to take the ferry rather than fly from island to island. My only complaint? Spotty wifi.

Imerovigli Sunset

Imerovigli sunset

We opted to stay in an Airbnb for our Santorini visit. We took the advice of my friend David and stayed in the neighborhood of Imerovigli. Our friends Lauren and Lauren (I mentioned them in my Atlantis Books post) were on their honeymoon and also stayed in the same neighborhood and were really happy with it. Imerovigli is in between the town and the legendary Oia… and has incredible sunsets without the craziness of Oia. It’s also about a twenty minute walk into the town core, Fira. Santorini is just as picturesque as the postcards make you believe. There isn’t a bad view of the sunset and the famous white buildings with the blue roofs line the tip of the island in Oia. (For those Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants fans, Oia is also where the movie was filmed). It’s super romantic and I really had an out-of-body experience as I stared at the scenery.

Note: The bus rides/cab rides into Oia are terrifying; the drivers  are used to traveling full speed on the cliffs and don’t slow down on a tourists behalf!

Oia

Oia

Here are some recommended hotels. As I mentioned, we didn’t use these reco’s since we stayed in an Airbnb, but hopefully you’ll find them useful. I have also included our Airbnb details below.

Santorini Hotels:

Chroma Suites

Ikies Hotel (in Oia)

The Grace (in Imerovigli)

Pantheon (in Imerovigli)

For our Airbnb click here (in Imerovigli). We enjoyed our stay. It wasn’t as glamorous as our Mykonos hotel, or the Santorini hotel where our friends The Lauren’s stayed, but it had a pool, a little kitchen and a balcony, and was at the top of a hill with an amazing sunset view. The staff was also amazing and gave us great advice regarding which beaches and restaurants to check out, and what day trips were worth it, also taking into account my pregnancy.

Ian checking out the view

Ian checking out the view in Oia

Santorini Food, Beaches and Day & Nightlife:

The Red Beach: I’m so glad we made the trip out to the Red Beach (famous for its red and black volcanic pebbles). There are warnings of no trespassing but we, along with several other hundreds of tourists, ignored the warnings. It was stunning and easy to get to via bus. It’s also just a short walk from the ancient site of Akrotiri.

The Red Beach

The Red Beach

Akrotiri Historical Site: If you go to the Red Beach, you should check out the Akrotiri historical site too. It’s a once-buried Minoan city that has recently undergone a ton of reconstructive work.

Kamari Beach: Famous for its black pebbles and jagged cliffs. If you go to Kamari, here is a recommended spot to dine).

Vlycháda Beach: We loved this beach… it wasn’t busy (keep in mind it was the end of high season) and was stunning to look at. The contrast of the black sand to the white volcanic rock formations was incredible. Our Airbnb host told us Vlychada is his favorite beach on the island and we can see why.

Vlycháda Beach

Vlycháda Beach

Emporio Village: We didn’t check out Emporio Village but it is apparently lovely with an ancient castle.

The White Beach

For a list of the top beaches in Santorini, click here.

 

Restaurant: Ammoudi (below Oia right on the water). My friend Jane recommended this restaurant and we dined at it with the Lauren’s. It was incredible and we felt like we were eating ON the water! A bunch of celebrities have eaten there too, and it’s fun to look at their pictures on the walls. Book a reservation during the sunset. It’s dreamy.

Ammoudi Sunset View

Ammoudi sunset view

Restaurant: Anogi (In Imerovigli). We had a lovely experience at this resto. Make sure you make reservations- the lineup for walk-in’s is quite long if you don’t! The food was incredible and the service was fantastic. It came recommended by our Air BnB, the Lauren’s hotel, and locals we met. Definitely a MUST! (We also sat there for a lot longer than we anticipated since we met a nice older Aussie couple a table over and ended up chatting with them).

Restaurant: Mylos– Mylos was recommended to us by a Soho House UK employee and foodie. We chose to do the set menu of a 6 course meal. The food did not disappoint, the atmosphere was lovely and romantic, and the service was impeccable. A great way to spend our last night!

Restaurant: Selene (5 Star, Mich. Star Resto and came recommended by 2 blogs).

Restaurant: Roka

Restaurant: Karma

Restaurant: Argo

 

Brewery: Donkey Brewery (Check out this craft beer guide for Greece.)

Store: Atlantis Books: (in Oia). Check out my recent blog post about this epic bookstore here.

Fresh Seafood at Ammoudi

Fresh seafood at Ammoudi

***

Like I said, I don’t claim to be an expert on the Greek Islands, but I DID do a lot of research and was given a lot of recommendations, so I hope this post helps you out if you plan a trip to Mykonos and/or Santorini! We loved our trip to Turkey and Greece and would go back to both places given the opportunity.

Gazing at Oia . Photo Cred: My Hubby.

Gazing at Oia . Photo cred: my hubby.

My final tips for the Greek Islands of Mykonos and Santorini are: eat as much Greek yogurt and feta as you can (it tastes even better over there!), don’t bother with the donkey rides (the poor donkeys!), stay somewhere with a robust breakfast, scarf down an abundance of seafood, take in every sunset you can, and embrace the amazing culture.

Send me a note if you have any questions!

 

 

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2 replies »

  1. Hi there! This trip sounds amazing!
    My husband & I are planning a babymoon in Greece this May. My doctor advised me not to eat soft cheeses there. But I’ve read that unless you’re in a remote village, the cheese is most likely pasteurized & fine for pregnant women. Did you find this to be true?

    • Hi Jen! That’s so exciting. I can definitely tell you that all the pregnant woman there eat the cheese! Actually, I went on a bunch of blogs before I left for the trip and found a bunch of comments from UK and European women writing back and forth about how excited they were that they could eat the feta in Greece! I think it totally depends on you and what your comfort level is. There was a cheese in Turkey I only had a small bite of, but in reality, I know I could have eaten it because it was only a few hours old (as fresh as fresh gets! Literally, straight from the buffalo that morning). I think a lot of the cheese is that way. I would encourage you to do research and do what you are most comfortable with. It’s all about you and how you feel and if you are going to feel anxious or uncomfortable stay away from things that will make you feel that way. All I can tell you is I did a lot of research, I ate the feta there, and it was an amazing place to go for a babymoon and I highly recommend it 🙂 enjoy it! What a special trip it will be!!!

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