Greece will forever be in my heart. It is one of the places that I know I need to return to, and definitely a country that should be on your list. I only visited three places in Greece over the course of a week, and honestly could have stayed forever. First, the people are the warmest, most friendly people I have ever encountered. They pretty much treat you like you’re family right off the bat. Second, the food is some of the most delicious I have ever had. Perfect greek salads–which, by the way, in Greece don’t involve lettuce of any kind, just fresh chopped peppers, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, onions, olive oil, red wine vinegar and a block of feta. Fresh simply grilled fish and chicken with lemon sauce, chilled crisp white wine, and vibrant flavors. It’s all so good you completely forget it’s mostly naturally really good for you. Make sure to try dolmades: apparently the ingredients can vary a lot depending where you get them (like how theres many ways to do a taco) but my favorite were a mint leaves stuffed with chicken, rice and spices. Another dish I loved is called moussaka: resembles a casserole with unique spices, eggplant, meat, potatoes, and tomato puree topped with cheese and cream sauce. Then of course there are gyros and pitas and hummus and all of that. Third, the gleaming white buildings with blue trim over grey cobblestone streets never get old.
While places like Santorini and Mykonos are amazing, I think it’s important to see the other islands and the quieter side of Greece as well. Getting from island to island is really easy and we stayed on Naxos for a few days. It has a more laid back local feel and some amazing beaches. You must eat at Restaurant Meltemi if you end up on Naxos. And just so you know if this is something that crossed your mind, the financial crisis in Greece shouldn’t effect you whatsoever as a visitor. As a precaution, we brought extra cash in case the ATM’s ran out of money, but my credit card ended up working everywhere I tried. They’ve done a good job of keeping the visitor flow unscathed and it is nothing to worry about.
In Santorini, I highly recommend renting an ATV to explore on. It is SO much fun, pretty affordable(30 US for the day), and a great way to have the freedom to go where you want when you want. We drove ours to the beach, through vineyards, down dirt roads and had the greatest time.
I never thought of Greece as a major wine place, but I visited the only two wineries I’ve ever been to in Europe in Greece. We toured Art Space Winery and were shown around personally by Antonis. His family created the winery in 1861 and now it is both a winery and an art museum. It is a really amazing place and also home of my absolute favorite white wine ever called Nychteri. Later that evening we went to Santos Winery for the sunset. I urge you to do this! The view is honestly breathtaking and the wine samples are about a full glass size. It gets packed early so get there early to make sure you get a spot for sunset! Make sure you also catch a sunset from Oia. Hint: climb over the castle wall;)
We stayed at an AirBnb in Santorini which was essentially a homestay. We woke up to breakfast made by a Greek Grandmother every day and were picked up and dropped off at the airport by the sweetest Greek grandfather. It is so amazing to experience something like that and stay with a local family, and I highly recommend it.