During May the weather in Greece is not as hot as during Summer months and not as cold as during winter. It is just perfect.
Crete is the largest and most southerly island of Greece. It has rugged mountain ranges stretching from east to west with gorges and coves, where you can take a hiking excursion in Samaria Gorge, Europe’s longest gorge of nearly 16km. Steep yourself in history by visiting Knossos, the capital of the Minoan civilization, and walk through the palaces where legend has it that Theseus killed the Minotaur. Visit the Archeological Museum and the fortress of Koules in Herakleion, saunter through the old Venetian Quarter and port of Chania with its lighthouse, and walk around Fortetzza, the Venetian fort of Rethymnon to get a feel of the history of the island. Some of the best beaches include Elounda, Balos Lagoon perhaps the most photographed spot in Crete, the paradise of Elafonissi with its pink sand, Vai beach with its palm forest, Chrissi Island and the 60’s hippies hub of Matala. Don’t miss the chance to visit the island of Spinalonga, off the coast of Elounda, which used to be a leper colony until 1957 and is now a preserved site. And no trip would be complete without the culinary experience which includes tsikoudia or raki (local spirit), dakos or hard rusk, tomato and white cheese salad, stamnagathi or local greens’ salad with olive oil, snails in different sauces and sfakianes or cheese pies, along with the local wines.
The ‘Island of the Knights,’ Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and abounds in beaches, wooded valleys and is steeped in ancient and medieval history. The Old Town of Rhodes is considered to be the best preserved medieval settlement and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cobbled streets takes you through the Knights’ Quarters with the Streets of the Knights, the Palace of the Grand Master, the 15th century Knights’ Hospital that now houses the Archeological Museum, mosques, hammams, a 3rd century BC Temple of Aphrodite and a Clock Tower. At the junction of the Old and new town lies the port of Mandraki with its 2 columns of bronze at the mouth of the harbor, on which are the statues of a stag and doe, the emblems of the island. It is said, that on this very site, stood the 33 meter high bronze statue of Helios. The Sun God or Colossus of Rhodes, which was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. One of the iconic buildings of the island is the Rhodes casino housed in the famous and impressive Grande Albergo delle Rose. Lindos village on the east coast with its ancient acropolis, white houses and turquoise bay and the Valley of Butterflies whose trees attracts butterflies from June to September are among the most popular destinations as are the beaches of Prasonissi for windsurfing, Tsambika with its monastery and Anthony Quinn beach for snorkeling. A short boat ride away is the picturesque island of Symi with its colorful neo-classical houses.
Corfu or Kerkyra as it is known in Greece, is the second largest island on the Ionian Sea and also the greenest in Greece. The World Heritage Old Town of Corfu City is guarded by 2 Venetian fortresses. The Old Fortress was built by the Venetians in the 15th Century, though nothing remains of the original buildings while the new fortress, built two centuries later, stands on two levels, surrounded by a deep moat . Between the old fortress and the Old Town is the Esplanade, a long, tree-lined green square and the Liston, an elegant arcade from the French period, a popular spot for coffee or drinks. The main square of Corfu Town is the largest in Greece and is surrounded by the Old Fortress, Liston and the Palace of St. Michael and St. George which now houses the Museum of Asian art. Also of note is the Church of St. Spyridon built in 1580 with its Renaissance bell tower. On an elevated setting 10 km from Corfu Town is the Achilleion, the summer palace of the Empress of Austria Elisabeth with its vast gardens, colonnades, fountains and statues. Mount Pantokrator in the north of the island,is Corfu’s highest peak at above 906 meters and has a 17th century monastery and café at the top. On the northwestern coast is Paliokastritsa, a popular resort with high cliffs, coves and the 13th century Monastery. There is a beach east of the Monastery with soft golden sand with rocky side slopes. The beaches of Canal d’amour with its narrow channel between rocks, Issos Beach in the south and Mirtiotissa Beach are among the more popular for swimming.
Tinos used to be mainly a religious destination in the past with visitors flocking to the Church of Panagia Evangelistria with its miraculous icon on Assumption Day. It continues to be an important pilgrimage site but in recent years, it has developed into a major tourist hub. With its 50-odd traditional villages, each with its character and traditions, the folk architecture of the dove cotes or pigeon houses scattered all over the island, the marble-sculpting tradition, beaches and gastronomic wealth, this Cycladic island has developed into a league of its own. Since 2015, each spring, the Tinos Foodpath gathers chefs and cooks together for the preparation of traditional and innovative recipes using local produce which are then offered to visitors. Also in 2012, the Cyclades Microbrewery created the island’s own beer, Nissos. Mount Exomvourgo standing at 640 meters, a major landmark that can be seen from almost everywhere, its Greek Orthodox and Catholic monasteries, churches, many beaches and natural beauty makes Tinos a special island to visit.
The biggest and greenest island of the Cyclades, Naxos, with its sandy beaches, beautiful mountain villages, Venetian fortresses and agricultural products such as cheese, potatoes and the citrus liqueur Kitro, is a popular destination. As you approach the island, you are greeted by its iconic landmark of Portara, the large marble gate which is an ideal site to watch magical sunsets. The picturesque town of Chora with its maze of narrow streets, alleys and passages, excellent taverns, shops and the medieval Castle above the town are sure to captivate you. Naxos is famous for its long, sandy beaches such as the 1,5 km long Agios Prokopios and Mikri Vigla with its windswept beach ideal for wind and kite surfing. Mount Zas, the highest peak is ideal for trekking in the spring with wild flowers and herbs lining the various hiking trails. In the green mountains, be sure to visit the villages of Apiranthos with its stone-built houses and beautiful squares, Filoti, built on a rock and Sagri with its Venetian Towers, windmills and Byzantine churches.
Cover Picture Credits: Jeff