mykonos

9 Things That Tourists Should Do While on the Island of Mykonos

Greece offers visitors with a number of exciting opportunities to explore its islands. One of the most popular island destinations is Mykonos, which is known for its gorgeous beaches and rich nightlife. The island is one of the best places to shop in Greece with a number of popular international brands represented. However, Mykonos has much more to offer visitors. Following are some of the top things to do in Mykonos.

 

1. Visit the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani

Monastery of Panagia Tourliani

Image by Christina | Flickr

Fans of unique architecture should be sure to visit this monastery, which is located close to Ano Mera. The monastery has a colorful dome that provides a striking contrast to the whitewashed walls, as well as intricately carved wooden altar screens and a breathtaking marble fountain. Since the monastery is only open to the public by appointment, visitors should call ahead to ensure that they are allowed to explore the interior. Ano Mera itself is worth a visit due to its fresh produce market and wonderful restaurants.

 

2. Hang with the Pelicans

In 1958, a fisherman found a wounded pelican that was later nursed back to health and named Petros from the Greek word for stone, the predominant architectural element on Mykonos. For three decades, the pelican served as a symbol of the island until it was killed by a car in 1985. The mummified Petros now resides in Thessaloniki. Three more pelicans have made the island their home, one of which is named after the original bird inhabitant. Tourists frequently seek out the pelicans for photo opportunities.

 

3. Learn at the Aegean Maritime Museum

Located in Tria Pigadia, the Aegean Maritime Museum provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about maritime history and tradition throughout Greece. For 35 years, the museum has adopted various replicas of rowing and sailing ships used in the Aegean Sea from the Classical era until today. In addition, tourists will find an array of maps, sculptures, and ancient coins that speak to maritime life in the country.

 

4. Visit Lena’s House

Lena's house

Image by Guido Jansen | Flickr

Lena’s House, another attraction in Tria Pigadia, provides visitors with an authentic look at a middle-class family home from the 19th century. The house features a large collection of European and local furniture from the same time period and other decorative elements. While there, individuals can learn about what it meant to live on Mykonos a couple of hundred years ago while checking out some beautiful household art objects, such as embroidery.

 

5. Spend Time in Little Venice

One of the most recognizable neighborhoods on Mykonos, Little Venice offers a lot of charm. The area, which was founded in the 18th century by sea captains and wealthy merchants, reminds some tourists of a small Italian town. The homes, which hang out over the sea, feature beautifully colored windows. Many visitors choose to enjoy cocktails in the neighborhood while watching the sun set over the water.

 

6. Wander around Gyzi Castle

Close to Mykonos Town lies the ruins of Gyzi Castle, a structure with a lot of history that provides visitors with a glimpse into the island’s past. The castle was first built in the 13th century as a fortress to protect Ano Mera. However, locals abandoned it once the Ottoman Empire rose to power and then pirates used it as home base for centuries. Several parts of the castle remain for visitors to explore. Visitors can also view the ruins of the ancient Mykonos city, including a cemetery, market, and wall fortifications. In addition, the hilltop on which the castle was built provides a great view of the northern parts of the island.

 

7. Watch a Movie at Cine Manto

In the center of Mykonos Town is Cine Manto, an open-air theater surrounded by palm trees, cacti, and pines. After a long day, visitors can unwind by watching a movie under the stars and enjoying food from the nearby café. The cinema shows foreign films with Greek subtitles. Offering films for both children and adults, the theater is open from early June to the end of September.

 

8. See the Panagia Paraportiani

church-of-panagia-paraportiani

Mykonos features more than 360 different churches, the most iconic of which is Panagia Paraportiani. Located in Chora, the picturesque church features whitewashed walls and a large central door that opens up to a sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea. The space is ideal for undertaking personal reflection on spirituality before taking some inspiring photos of the structure and the blue waters beyond it.

 

9. Photograph the Windmills

The windmills on Mykonos have become one of the most recognizable symbols on the island. Visitors will find the windmills between Little Venice and Niochori. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mykonos had more than 20 windmills that were used to produce wheat. However, only seven of them have been well maintained. Still, they are an impressive sight and provide an interesting glimpse into the agriculture history of the island.

 

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corfu

8 Wonderful Attractions for Visitors on the Island of Corfu

Greece is well known for its range of gorgeous islands. Each of these islands has a unique culture that provides a very different experience. One of the most laid-back islands remains Corfu, a perfect destination for people who want to relax on the beach. In addition to its beautiful seaside, Corfu boasts a charming town with a number of different historical attractions that teach visitors about the island’s rich history. Eight of the top attractions on Corfu include:

 

  1. Cape Drastis

Cape Drastis

located on the northern part of the island, Cape Drastis should not be missed by tourists. Sometimes, the attraction is closed during the winter months, but it is typically easy to access throughout the summer. The road down toward the formation can be steep, so individuals should take care. However, after arrival, visitors are rewarded with a breathtaking view of towering white cliffs. Tourists may want to plan seeing the cliffs toward the end of the day, since the setting sun lights up the sands and rock formations as well as the aquamarine water.

 

  1. Vlacherna Monastery

Over the centuries, Vlacherna Monastery has emerged as one of the most iconic Corfu destinations. The building sits on its own tiny island in the sea, but a small track allows visitors to walk to it from the mainland. The monastery is open year-round and provides a unique glimpse into the culture of Christianity and the history of the island. People can also explore Mouse Island, another small land formation a little further out to sea past the monastery.

 

  1. Olive Oil Tasting Tour

olive oil

Corfu Island boasts more than 4 million olive trees. For millennia, olive oil has played a major role in Greek food, culture, and traditions. On Corfu, many people work in olive groves and help produce the oil. One of the oldest groves on Corfu is called Governor, which produces premium olive oil that has won a number of awards over the course of five generations. Visitors are welcome to taste the different varieties of olive oil produced on the island and learn more about the process of growing olives and extracting oil.

 

  1. Canal d’Amour

On the north part of the island is Sidari, which is home to the Canal d’Amour. The name refers to a canal that passes under a cliff. According to local legend, people who swim through the canal are destined to get married soon. Passing through does not require full submersion; swimmers can breathe the entire time.

The area also features beautiful, colorful rock formations and wonderful beaches. People often climb up the nearby cliffs to jump into the water. The waters can become a little rough on windy days, but the beach itself is usually protected. Sidari has several tavernas and restaurants for refueling before or after the tunnel.

 

  1. Cuisine

While not an attraction per se, the local dishes are not to be missed by travelers to Corfu. Because the island is in the western part of Greece, its cuisine takes a lot of influence from Italian cooking. One of the most common dishes is called sofrito and it consists of beef with lots of garlic and a wine sauce. People who enjoy seafood should try bourdeto, a fish dish cooked in a red sauce with a lot of pepper to give it a kick. Another traditional dish is rooster in a spiced tomato sauce, called pastitsada.

 

  1. Corfu Town

corfu-186036_1280

Known for its Venetian architecture, Corfu Town was named a UNESCO heritage site. The city serves as the capital of the island and boasts two fortresses and a range of acclaimed restaurants. Visitors will find narrow roads and pathways that pass by pastel homes with wrought-iron balconies and wooden shutters. Often, laundry is hung on a line between homes across the street from one another. The narrow pathways lead to large, open plazas perfect for grabbing a meal or enjoying some wine. Because parking in the city is limited, guests should park outside of it and walk in to explore.

 

  1. St. George’s Church

Resembling a Doric temple, St. George’s Church is actually one of the newer structures on the island. The British built the church in the 19th century. The church itself is located within the Old Fortress of Kerkya in Corfu City. Sometimes, concerts are held within the church so it is worthwhile to check the schedule. The fortress itself is beautiful, with both Byzantine and Venetian architectural elements. Visitors should leave themselves time to climb to the top and see the sweeping view of the whole old city of Corfu Town.

 

  1. Porto Timoni

One of the most celebrated beaches on Corfu, Porto Timoni is an incredibly beautiful stretch of beach about a mile long. The beach is perfect for a leisurely stroll, and the water itself is the perfect temperature for swimming. Many visitors also choose to explore the flora and fauna in the water by snorkeling. Since the beach is somewhat remote, there is not much in the way of amenities, so individuals should stock up on water and pack a little picnic lunch to enjoy while there.

food

14 of the Most Unique Greek Foods That Travelers Should Try

Greece has emerged as one of the primary destinations for foodies. Many people are familiar with the more popular dishes that Greece has to offer, from moussaka to stuffed grape leaves. More adventurous eaters will find a wide range of interesting and unique foods while traveling around the country. While some of these foods may be an acquired taste, they all deserve a try.

The following are only a few of Greece’s many distinctive dishes:

 

  1. Taramasalata

A number of Greeks list taramasalata among their favorite foods. This dip has a strikingly pungent flavor from smoked fish roe—usually from carp, cod, or mullet. The roe is blended with lemon and olive oil for a one-of-a-kind flavor. While mass-produced taramasalata is available in grocery stores across Greece, the fresher versions served in restaurants generally have a much better flavor. One of the best places to try taramasalata is on Mykonos or one of the country’s other top island destinations.

 

  1. Patsas

A soup with Turkish origins, patsas has remained popular among Greeks since the 1920s, especially in the winter months. Many people think that patsas is the perfect cure for a hangover. The dish consists of tripe and can also include animal feet. Typically, lambs are the source of the meat.

pastas

 

  1. Ink Sack

One of the rarer dishes in Greece, ink sacks are mostly found on Kalymnos, although travelers may find them elsewhere, too. The dish consists of ink sacks removed from an octopus whole and then boiled. Finally, the sacks are deep-fried until they are crispy.

 

  1. Lamb’s Head

Travelers who find themselves in Greece around Easter will likely get the chance to try lamb’s head. During this period, roasted lamb is the protein of choice in many cities across Greece, and the head is usually saved for a guest of honor, such as a visitor. Greeks serve the head whole, meaning that it contains eyeballs, brains, tongue, and everything else. The tongue and brain are considered the best parts of the lamb’s head.

 

  1. Kokoretsi

Another dish associated with Easter, kokoretsi includes hearts, liver, spleen, and other organ meat from a lamb. All of this meat is blended together as a sausage and bound in intestine. Fresh herbs provide a great compliment to the flavor of the organ meat. Then, the dish is roasted on a spit for a nice smoky flavor.

 

  1. Splinantero

A type of sausage commonly found throughout Thessaly, splinantero contains lamb spleen traditionally. Greeks cook the sausage over a charcoal flame. Often, the sausage is soaked in the blood of a sheep or goat for a very distinctive flavor.

 

  1. Marathopites

Also known as fennel pie, marathopites comes from Syros, one of the Greek islands. People who enjoy the aromatics of fennel should definitely give this delicacy a try. Onions accompany fresh fennel in a buttery crust that is cooked until it is golden brown.

 

  1. Koliva

A dessert dish, koliva is traditionally served during Greek funerals. However, people eat it found at other occasions. The ingredients of this dish come with deep symbolism. Wheat berries represent everlasting life, spices symbolize plenty, and fresh fruit reminds diners of the sweet things in life. The dish, which resembles a granola with fresh fruit, often includes pomegranate.

 

  1. Mastiha

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Image by Jenny | Flickr

Called Greek gold, the term mastiha actually refers to a group of different food products that come from a resin produced by the mastic tree. The tree only grows in the southern tip of Chios. Some of the top mastiha products include a digestif and a chewing gum. In addition, it is used to make a medicine that soothes upset stomachs.

 

  1. Rose Sugar

More of an ingredient than a dish, rose sugar comes from rose petals that grow on specific bushes that have been alive for more than a century. Visitors who come across this Peloponnesian delicacy should try it on top of traditional yogurt for a sweet treat.

 

  1. Ahinosalata

Translated from Greek, ahinosalata literally means sea urchin salad. Typically, visitors will only see ahinosalata on menus of seafood tavernas during the summer months. The dish consists of the tender insides of the sea urchin. A twist of lemon gives the meat an acidic finish.

 

  1. Kaltsounia

Very popular on the island of Crete, kaltsounia is a star-shaped dough stuffed with a white cheese called myzithra. A sweet version of the dish includes honey and cinnamon for a very distinctively Greek indulgence.

 

  1. Karidaki

Another sweet treat, karidaki consists of a whole walnut, including its shell. The walnut undergoes a cooking process that takes many days. The finished product has a soft texture and is enjoyed whole.

 

  1. Kohli Bourbouristi

While most people think of snails as a French dish, the Greeks have their own version. To make kohli bourbouristi, individuals fry snails in their shell. One of the most distinguishing features of the dish is the popping sound that the snails make as they cook. The dish is most popular in Crete.

athens

7 of the Most Astounding Restaurant Choices for Visitors to Athens

One of the most popular reasons to explore Greece is getting a taste of traditional Greek cooking. The country’s capital, Athens, is home to a number of excellent restaurants that use locally sourced food, including seafood that comes fresh from the Aegean Sea.

Athens often gets overshadowed by Paris and Rome as a major culinary destination. However, the city has a number of incredible restaurants that have earned praise from the world’s most discerning food critics, and there are numerous restaurants with more than one Michelin star. Some of the city’s best restaurants include:

  1. Funky Gourmet

Known as one of the best options for adventurous eaters, Funky Gourmet plays with the traditional flavors of Greek cuisine while adding some modern flair to its dishes. The food here can best be described as molecular gastronomy, a new phenomenon in cuisine that combines chemistry with cooking that relies on unique flavors and textures to trigger various emotions and memories. Currently, Funky Gourmet holds two Michelin stars in recognition of its distinctive style. Even the physical space is beautiful with charming works of art, gorgeous furniture, and dark wood tones.

  1. Matsuhisa

Located right on the Aegean Sea, Matsuhisa is set within the Astir Palace Resort. Once people have taken in the sweeping views of the water, they can appreciate the minimalist design of the interior space, which was created to blend organically with the environment around it. Many people choose to sit at the martini bar and enjoy the view. This also gives them the chance to try a cocktail envisioned by Dale De Groff, who made the first Cosmopolitan. The restaurant takes its name from its chef, Nobu Matsuhisa, who uses Greek ingredients on his Japanese-inspired menu featuring dishes like salmon with ponzu sauce and inaniwa pasta with lobster.

  1. Strofi

Having welcomed guests for more than seven decades, Strofi is located adjacent to the rock of the Acropolis. The restaurant itself claims to be one of the most historic in Athens, and its menu reflects this. Diners will find a range of traditional Greek dishes prepared with care. Some of the menu highlights include pork filets stuffed with gruyere and sun-dried tomato, and lamb wrapped in vine leaves and stuffed with feta. Strofi also offers an outdoor seating area with a retractable roof so that diners can enjoy the sun.

  1. Spondi

Another Athens restaurant with two Michelin stars, Spondi has emerged as one of the most popular eateries for both locals and tourists. The restaurant is near the Panathinaiko Stadium, which hosted the first modern Olympic Games. At Spondi, individuals will find a seasonal menu that changes regularly and reflects the imagination of the head chef. One of the main draws of the restaurant is incredible presentation that makes it almost as exciting to see the food as to eat it. Much of the menu has a hint of exoticism that keeps each meal interesting.

  1. Aleria

Located in a neoclassical structure, Aleria provides diners with a romantic courtyard lined with greenery and a charming original tile floor. The restaurant is located in Metaxourgio, one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Athens. One of the menu’s highlights is the crayfish with pink grapefruit and sorrel, but diners may want to try one of two different tasting courses to get a full feel of the restaurant’s flavors. Aleria is a must-visit for fans of wine, as the restaurant has one of the city’s best lists. Guests are also welcome to bring their own wine choices provided that they pay a small corking fee.

  1. Doris

For visitors, Doris may seem a little overwhelming—the menu is written in Greek on chalkboards—but most dishes are displayed in large pans and it is fine to point. The café serves many of the classics, including sagonaki, stuffed tomatoes, and moussaka. Guests can sit in the large dining room or enjoy dining alfresco in a garden along the side of the building. People may notice a long line at Doris, particularly in the early morning hours. The restaurant is known for having some of the best loukoumades in town. These donuts are incredibly light and crisp, making them an essential end to any meal or a reason to come to Doris in the first place.

  1. Orizontes

Boasting one of the best views of any restaurant in Europe, Orizontes sits on top of Lycabettus, the highest peak in Athens. In addition to the panoramas of the city, guests will find a simple, yet elegant restaurant with a menu of traditional Greek and Mediterranean food. Orizontes maintains a strong dedication to finding the freshest ingredients for its chefs. Many of the recipes have been slightly elevated from tradition, such as the slow-cooked lamb with thyme, honey, and beer accompanied by vegetable pearls. Another solid choice is the grouper, which comes fresh from the sea, with caper, lemongrass, and sweet peppers.