A few weeks ago, we traveled to the Greek Islands! Greece has a special place in my heart, as I lived in Greece for study abroad years ago in college. I haven’t been back since, and it was Tim’s first time! With borders finally open and European weddings to shoot, we decided to go with our good friends for a few days before we headed to France for a wedding. Here’s a little recap of where we stayed, ate, and explored on three Greek Islands: Santorini, Mykonos & Naxos!
First of all, we had to do our research on what the current travel restrictions were, and what we needed to bring with us before boarding our flights to Greece. At the time of our trip (July 2021), we needed to fill out a Passenger Locator Form anytime up until 48 hours before our trip. Once they received it, the Greek government emailed us a QR code that we needed to have scanned at the airport when checking in for our flight. Use THIS website for all the current, most up to date information on traveling to Greece – since things change rapidly! The rules currently look the same as when we traveled: you just need to present either your vaccination card OR a fresh negative PCR test. You do not need to be vaccinated to travel to Greece at this time. Our checkin process with Swiss Air / United was pretty straightforward and we had no issues with checking in and presenting our QR code and vaccination cards!
We took an overnight flight via Swiss Air Business Class to Santorini (thanks points!), with a layover in Zurich. Our layover and customs walkthrough were uneventful since we had everything in order and we had no issues there either. Once we finally landed at sunset in Santorini, we were SO excited! The approach to the little airport is so beautiful. Let’s talk about Santorini first!
When you think of the Greek Islands, you probably picture Santorini first! Impossibly beautiful whitewashed cliff villages, blue domed churches, bright blue water, and flowers everywhere. Santorini is the true postcard version of Greece and it really is just as beautiful in real life! We stayed just outside Oia, the most famous town. We liked where we stayed as we were close enough to town for easy access for dinners, walking around, etc. but just far enough that our villa was totally private and we weren’t around other tourists. HERE is a link to our villa complex that we stayed in and split with our friends Erica & Nick! And HERE is my Airbnb saved list for Santorini for more options to browse through! (We were looking only at 2 bedroom spots with private pools for what we needed – two pregnant girls / two couples! Haha) Santorini is definitely the priciest island and to stay very close to town, have a private pool, etc you will definitely pay a bit more – but it’s very much worth it! These two photos below are our villa and the insane view right from our pool.
What to Do / See / Explore in Santorini
Make sure you check out both towns, Oia and Fira, for sunset / exploring! They’re the gorgeous whitewashed, cliffy villages with picturesque views, shops and restaurants everywhere you look. One of our favorite spots to eat ended up being this very vibey beach club outside of the main tourist areas called Yalos – it’s got great music, delicious healthy food & beach beds! Ammoudi Fish Tavern is another popular & photogenic dinner spot. Honestly, you can walk around anywhere at night in Oia and find a delicious dinner spot! There are tons of blog posts out there with food & restaurant recommendations specifically.
Our daily agenda in Santorini looked like this: take the car into town, find delicious breakfast somewhere with a view, and walk the streets for the morning exploring the cute towns and villages. After grabbing lunch, we’d head back to our villa to enjoy some relaxation & pool time in the hottest part of the day. The heat is no joke in mid July in Santorini, so I’d say choosing an Airbnb or hotel with a pool is an absolute must! (Especially if you’ve got two pregnant girls!). We’d explore a new location for sunset, take some photos, and then find dinner in Oia! And then end the night with gelato. Just wander around the towns, explore the area and ENJOY! The Red Beach, Ammoudi Bay , Oia Castle for sunset, and Fira are great spots to explore too. If you have time, rent a boat and cruise around the island! We didn’t have a lot of time on Santorini this time (just 2 days) before heading to Naxos – here’s a little photo roundup from Santorini!
Then, we headed to Naxos! There are a few different ways to get between the islands, but the easiest / least expensive is to take the regular ferry boats between the islands! We booked a ferry time with 4 tickets and wow, I had forgotten how crazy the experience is! We took a cab to the Santorini port, waited in line and then the port managers start yelling for everyone to run onto the boat (they’re mini cruise ships – huge boats!). By the time the last few people were getting on board, the back of the boat ramp was literally lifting back off the boat dock as the boat pulled away! Sirens were blaring and it’s just this comically, unnecessarily dramatic experience with your luggage and everyone hustling you together. Just try to be at the front of the line! The ferry boats themselves are super nice, with lots of nice seating and bars/ eating areas, as well as wifi.
After our dramatic ferry experience, we landed right in Chora Town, Naxos! The old town is absolutely stunning and we booked a car right at Hertz in the port area, so we could walk right to it. We picked up our car and headed to our next accommodation – our favorite one! We stayed at the INCREDIBLE Virtu Suites, set right on Agios Prokopios Beach. It was easily one of my favorite hotels I’ve ever experienced in Europe, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly!
We didn’t know too much about Naxos before arrival, other than that it looked super pretty and it was a perfect halfway island between Santorini & Mykonos. We were all completely blown away by how incredible Naxos was and it was truly such a laid-back, beautiful and understated island with everything to offer! It feels like an undiscovered Mykonos with stylish boutique hotels and restaurants mixed in with traditional villages and tavernas. A few spots we loved: NOMAD for sunset dinner & drinks, but you can’t go wrong with anywhere along the entire stretch of beach that Nomad is located on. Yucca, Tortuga Beach Bar & Restaurant, Yazoo, Nikos & Maria Restaurant, Kahlua Beach Bar & Restaurant, and La Trattoria are all amazing options nearby to Virtu Suites. We also ate breakfast at our hotel every day (it’s included!) and also lunch one day, and everything was DELICIOUS. The macrame, light wood & plant filled decor also just spoke to my soul 🙂
We spent some time lounging by the pool, enjoying our beautiful hotel & rooms, and the gorgeous beach right in front of our hotel! We also explored multiple smaller villages and loved seeing the authentic / historic side of this ancient island. The main town, Chora, is also absolutely stunning & the old town part of it is worth getting lost in! The two other villages we explored were Chalkio & Apiranthos (which we just did a driveby because it was super small / didn’t seem worth it as much.) We ate lunch that day up at the Rotonda Bar & Restaurant which has an incredible view over the entire island. We also explored Chora and the old town part of the capital city is absolutely beautiful, and so charming. Lots of bougainvilla-lined cafes by the water, whitewashed buildings, beautiful boats and traditional shops! Spend some time wandering through the streets and you’ll come across so many gorgeous little photo opps and will get a good sense for the town!
We truly did not want to leave Naxos, but it was time to head to our final island destination – Mykonos! We used FerryHopper to book our ferry tickets once again. Again, the experience boarding the ship was chaotic and interesting to say the least – but we made it on the boat just fine! It was delayed and we had a bit of an issue finding our car rental dropoff contact once we arrived in Mykonos after the 45 minute ride, so it was almost 4 pm and we still hadn’t eaten lunch so that became the priority. We checked into our Airbnb and were actually told we’d been upgraded to a slightly different one in the same complex! The views were absolutely beautiful. Once we dropped our bags, we were all SO hungry that we just put in the closest beac club to our Airbnb on Google Maps and it ended up being delicious and a pretty good introduction to Mykonos’s whole vibe! We ended up at Kalua Beach Bar & Restaurant and it is quite the scene. Mykonos is very much known for its party scene, and there are lots of European travelers lounging, dancing to the music and enjoying themselves. We took a dip in the ocean on the beautiful beach there after finally eating and the water felt so good (the Greek islands are crazy hot in July!). Pretty sure we were the only two pregnant girls at the beach club, haha! The 4 of us determined that one beach club was enough for us after that (even though the food and vibe was amazing!) and we headed back to the villa to pick up some fruit & snacks and lounge by our pool after the travel day.
Our first night in Mykonos we went to the Sunset Bar 180 – we decided to splurge and book a table for sunset / dinner. The views, vibes and drinks were all incredible. The service wasn’t great so I wouldn’t recommend staying for dinner, but the aesthetic is unmatched! It has a beautiful view over Old Town Mykonos and a perfect sunset view.
The next day in Mykonos, we explored the Old Town, got brunch by the water, and found so many incredible little nooks and crannies to explore. Old Town Mykonos is absolutely beautiful, with whitewashed walls and pathways, flowers everywhere, charming seaside cafes and restaurants, and of course, the famous windmills. Explore, wander around and get lost here! We ate dinner later by the water as well – just wander and pick whichever cafe or restaurant suits your fancy here in Old Town! There is definitely a way to do Mykonos that involves expensive restaurant reservations, beach club reservations and more, but we took a more laid back approach and it was the right fit for us!! Brunch recommendation with great vibes and water views: Mosaic, right in Old Town!
We just had the two days in Mykonos, so we’d love to come back and explore more! The next morning we were off with a 6 am flight to Paris, so that wraps up my guide to these three beautiful Greek Islands. I hope you enjoyed it, and we already can’t wait to go back!