Alternatives of Santorini: You are already familiar with the landscape of Santorini: the blue roofs of white houses and the endless coastline with the sea of the same shade. Even if you haven’t been there, you’ve probably seen photos from your friends’ honeymoon. We do not argue, that the island is truly a paradise, but it quickly becomes a victim of its own success.
The Express edition claims that Santorini and other Greek islands (Mykonos and Crete, for example) are simply overwhelmed with tourists. As many as 32 million travelers have visited these islands this year. We hasten to please you, that in Greece, there are approximately 6,000 islands, 227 of which are generally uninhabited. We advise you to follow the example of the Greeks themselves, who have long been choosing fewer tourist destinations. We have made it easy for you and found several suitable places.
5 Alternatives of Santorini
We were in Paros at the beginning of the holiday season, in May. Of course, it was not empty, but there were practically no tourists there. Of course, most of the holidaymakers will catch up when it gets warmer but don’t worry, Paros will never be as crowded as Santorini.
Everything that this quiet island lacks (typical Greek villages on the sea cliffs, for example), is easily compensated by the genuine charm of the local landscapes. The cute whitewashed houses of Santorini still give way to the arid landscape of Paros, in which grazing goats harmoniously fit in. What can we say about secluded beaches and stone bays, which can only be reached by boat? You will not find five-star hotels in Paros, but there is no need for them because you can perfectly settle down in a cozy Airbnb by the sea or in one of the villas for rent, as the Greeks themselves do.
In the mornings, we strolled around Villa Jasmine and enjoyed Greek (no worse than Italian) espresso, fresh fruit, and spanakopita (Greek pie) prepared by Stella, the personal chef at the villa. Any meal was more like a family meal, and the food consisted mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables from the island and traditional Greek dishes. When we found out that the wine is produced right on the island, the concierge organized a private tour of the local winery and tasting. And then we rounded the blue lagoon by boat.
Helping you plan something like this is common for the villa concierge. He frequently booked helicopter and boat trips, signed guests up for yoga and Pilates classes, and organized archeological excursions. Every whim for your money.
Paros is also known for great restaurants where you can eat for little money. Start your gastronomic stroll in the main square with an aperitif at Sommaripa Consolato, an ideal Greek cafe with a pleasant, unfussy design and views of the port. Then go down to Mario’s. There, try the Greek salad, shrimp skewers, and black garlic tzatziki. Literally a couple of streets from Mario’s, you will find another pleasant place – the simple Mediterraneo tavern. They serve excellent rustic food. Don’t forget to visit Statheros Meze Place, run by 25-year-old chef Konstantina Manolaki, whose mother hosts a popular cooking show on Greek TV and runs a restaurant in Athens.
This island is a seven-minute ferry ride from Paros and is even smaller and more old-fashioned. We checked into Villa Melissa and immediately canceled all our scheduled activities for the day in order to spend as much time as possible in the luxurious pool overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Outside the main town, the villas are located at a decent distance from each other, which, in turn, guarantees peace and quiet. No wonder Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson bought a summer home here. After passing their villa, we boarded a boat and set off for the uninhabited island of Despotiko, along with the guide and his dog, who immediately ran off to explore the ruins of the temple of Apollo on arrival. There seemed to be excavations, but there was not a soul on the construction site. Our guide simply opened the gate and took us to the ruins.
For those who liked Paros and Antiparos, we recommend visiting Tinos. The foot of tourists practically did not set foot here. This is a very authentic place with fantastic food, tiny villages, unparalleled virgin beaches, wildlife, and hiking trails. There are as many as 700 churches on the island, which is why it is known as a place of pilgrimage for the Orthodox. It turns out that, most likely, it was the religious aspect that saved Tinos from the tourist scourge: they simply don’t understand the noisy drunken vacationers with selfie sticks that ruin our vacation so much.
You can also go to Hydra, a small island where there are practically no cars. He gained fame thanks to Sophia Loren and Leonard Cohen, who bought real estate there. The latter bought the house for $1,500 in 1960. Now luxury yachts are moored in the local port, but in the narrow streets, you can still get lost among the donkeys that carry goods to the market. The contrast with the neoclassical residences, which are located in the city center at every turn, is a pleasant surprise. For a little culture, visit the exhibition space of the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art.
- Lesser Cyclades
If you are going on a relatively short trip, go to the Cyclades with a focus on the Lesser Cyclades. In general, the Cyclades is a chain of 12 islands located between the islands of Naxos, Amorgos, and Ios. “This is a kind of secret place that combines the most beautiful wildlife, exotic beaches with clear turquoise sea water and extremely friendly locals,” says Konstantina Manolaki, the owner of a restaurant in Paros. – Don’t worry, all the islands are interconnected, so land on one of them and have fun. This is heaven on earth.”