Iconic Views Will Draw You To The Greek Islands
If someone talks about Athens, images of majestic ruins immediately come to mind. When someone says “Greek Islands”, there is a distinct image that surfaces. Deep blues in skies, water and roofs with pastel colours sprinkled about.
These are the iconic views of Santorini and Mykonos that draw so many people to visit.
Both Santorini and Mykonos are favourite spots for tourists and common ports for cruise ships. You can simply enjoy your days enjoying the views and the great Greek food. You can opt for something a little more adventurous. Or you can delve into Greek history.
Docking in Santorini
Pulling up to the dock in Santorini, we saw the town of Fira high on the hill. You could see the walking path that would take you to the top. The less hearty in the group could opt for the cable car ride up!
We decided that we would head to Oia for our day in Santorini. We were told on board that there was only one boat a day. But when we landed, we were hustled by at least 3 boat tour operators . For 20€ we could get a very scenic boat ride to Oia, a bus ride up from the pier so we didn’t have to climb the cliffs and a bus ride back to Fira every hour. This was just perfect.
When we returned to Fira, we still needed to descend to the dock. David decided he was going to walk down the path, undeterred by jostling donkeys or their leavings making the stairs a bit slippery. I chose to wait in the long line for a cable car ride down. David beat me to the bottom and was waiting. But there were great iconic views from the cable car.
The Beauty of Oia
It was a relatively short boat ride to get to Oia. As we arrived, we could again see the town high on the hills. At this port, there was a road right down to the port so we boarded a bus to get us to the top.
Reaching the heights, we got the first of our iconic views of Santorini. The water below us was clear and brilliant blue. The town was colourful and we could see the famous blue roofs in the distance.
We enjoyed several hours meandering up and down the tiny alleys of the town. The alleys had originally been designed to thwart invading pirates. They now acted as a way to divert disoriented tourists past yet one more chance for retail therapy.
The iconic views were beautiful from almost any vantage point that we found. We looked at my ideal hotel, complete with a pool running thru it. Luckily it appeared that all the hotels in town along the narrow streets offered luggage collection services.
Taking A Break in Oia
After taking our pictures, we found a little bar for a stop and some homemade baklava. It was so good it made us want to lick the plate.
It was easy to find our way back to the meeting place and deposit ourselves on the bus. The route back to Fira went up along the back side of the island offering us another viewpoint. We went past the local wineries that produce red and white wine and their renowned desert wine Vinsanto. David never did try that but when we saw it in a local market, he did comment that it appeared to be less sweet than Canadian ice wine. That would keep it off my shopping list.
Arriving back in Fira we quickly found our bearings and wandered around. While the restaurants overlooking the bay looked good, they were more pricey and less authentic than what we were looking for. Finding a spot off the main path, we joined the other cruise boat people and got a North American version of a Greek meal. We didn’t bother keeping the name of this restaurant.
Mykonos is known for its beaches. We had been looking forward to visiting Paradise or Super Paradise Beach. After reaching the dock, the only decision was how we would get to the beach.
We searched for a boat tour but found no options despite a glass bottom boat being moored at the docks. The destination staff on our ship had warned us about spotty bus service given we were off season and had provided directions to Hercules’ shop to rent a car or scooter.
Hercules was easy to find as we walked out of the port gate. Cars, scooters and ATVs were available. We decided it would be most fun to take an ATV, as long as we had one each. With some directions scribbled on a map, we got a quick lesson on starting the ATV. With a last set of instructions about stopping for gas on the way out of town, off we went. Finding gas and all the right turns, we headed along twisty turny hilly roads up the coast to Paradise Beach.
The beach was known to be the party spot on the island. But at low season, the mostly English pop music was playing at reasonable levels and there were no girls dancing on the tables. I managed to get in the water to crotch level while David dove in and dolphin kicked his way out to the small reef. Without goggles it was hard to see much.
Getting Lost – Even With A GPS!
We were a bit cocky getting back on the ATVs, sure we would find our way back without issue. We thought we would have lots of time to stop along the way for pictures and home made gelato. After getting turned around several times and getting conflicting directions, we found ourselves lost. We could see the windmills, so we knew were down the coast from where we needed to be.
Turning around we asked for directions twice more before we found the right road. As we went along I could see our ship growing closer and my grip on the handlebars decreased. We rounded a bend and right in front of us was Hercules. Nothing on the way back had looked familiar but we didn’t care once we were safely back.
Tired, we dragged our way to the seaside tavern and had a sugar snack, trying yet one more version of baklava. It was kinda weird, not flat and layered but baked as a round section – of course, they claimed this was the real way.
We wandered around the small port town until we came upon the infamous Pelican Pete of Mykonos. He had no trouble posing for pictures!
We enjoyed our first day exploring Mykonos and the beaches. Even with a GPS, it was challenging to wind our way along the coast and the small towns back to our ship. But it was a lot of fun!
On our second visit to Mykonos, we explored by foot. Famous Pelican Pete was nowhere to be found as we wandered around the port area.
Heading away from the port we wound our way up the narrow cobblestone streets. Our target was the lone windmill above the port. As we reached the top we could see the windmill standing beside a small local church.
From the viewpoint high above the town you could see down to the port. We could see our cruise ship out at sea and the ferry shuttles going back and forth to the dock.
From this high point, we could see our next destination. We wound our way back down through the narrow alleys. It was surprising how many small local churches we found as we walked. Reaching the water again we could see the iconic view of the row of windmills.
The windmills were in relative good repair but all had their sails wrapped up. It was unclear if any of these windmills were still put to functional use. It was great to get a close up with one of the iconic views of Santorini and Mykonos.
Santorini and Mykonos Will Call You Back
The iconic views of Santorini and Mykonos captivated us. They are both on the list of places we want to return to. We did not get to see the great sunset views. The water was crystal blue but a little cold in off season. We would love to explore the underwater world. I am sure we would get yet other iconic views of these popular Greek islands.
And once we have finished in Santorini and Mykonos, there are many other Greek islands to hop to. Whether we are looking for history or wanting to see local culture, there is a Greek island for everyone!
Have you visited Santorini and Mykonos? Which of the iconic views of the Greek islands is your favourite?