Every year, thousands of tourists flock to Greece for their summer holidays, but what about the locals? Where do the Greeks go on vacation? While many tend to return to their home villages and islands, many include a few days or weeks in another part of the country to truly have a break. Here is a roundup of the top destinations where Greeks summer.
Blessed with natural beauty, stunning beaches, and picturesque traditional villages with sun-bleached houses and churches, Paros, in the heart of the Cyclades, is one of the favorite holiday destinations in Greece for Greeks. Because it has managed to maintain some authenticity compared to many of its neighboring islands, Paros ranks high in top vacation locales. Plus, you get two islands for the price of one – Antiparos is only a ten-minute ferry ride away.
Another favorite island destination for Greeks is Naxos. Boasting fantastic beaches and typical white buildings, it is also popular for its local cuisine. Perfect for a relaxing, family-friendly vacation, Naxos also has incredible places to visit, including the ruins of a temple dedicated to Apollo.
Lefkada is not very well known abroad, and this might actually be the reason why it’s a favorite destination among Greeks – that and the fact that it is simply breathtaking. Located off the coast of Preveza, on the western side of the Greek mainland, it boasts majestic beaches and a unique landscape with waterfalls, mountains, and pine forests. Because of its location, it is perfect for island hopping, with its ten satellite islands, or exploring the cities of Parga and Preveza, both on the mainland.
With a lush and verdant countryside, spectacular shores, hidden sea caves, and secluded coves surrounded by rugged cliffs, Zakynthos is an island of natural beauty. Covered with olive groves, lemon trees, and bright bougainvillea, the island is one of the greenest Ionian Islands and welcomes a fair share of Greek tourists, as it caters to a variety of vacationers: sunbathing addicts, party animals, adrenaline seekers, and the mindful travelers.
The peninsula of Halkidiki, north of the Greek mainland, offers a relaxed vibe and probably some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. It comprises three ‘fingers,’ namely Kassandra, probably the most popular of the three; Sithonia, more rugged and where fishing villages are more common than beach resorts; and Mount Athos, a monastic republic where males must seek out permission to visit months beforehand.
With its unique culture and beautiful land dotted with villages, Crete, the largest Greek island, is one of the top destinations for locals. With its exotic beaches (Elafonisi, Balos, and Falassarna), spectacular topography (visit the Samaria Gorges), and many cultural treasures (the Minoan ruins in Knossos and a plethora of museums), as well as its distinctive cuisine, it is a no-brainer why Crete is a favorite not only for Greeks but also foreigners.
Santorini hardly needs an introduction. The volcanic island seduces both tourists and Greeks while offering a sense of a traditional Cycladic vibe. With unique black or red sandy beaches – a legacy from the island’s volcanic past – a large wine-making industry, and Instagram-worthy villages, it is undeniable that Santorini’s popularity is here to stay.
Low-key Skiathos, in the Sporades, may be small, but it surely knows how to make a lasting impression. This Greek island presents pleasant beaches, verdant countryside, and a convenient location where day trips (neighboring Skopelos is perfect for Mamma Mia fans) and other escapes are possible.
Milos – where the world-famous Venus de Milo statue was discovered – is an underrated island that has many things to offer. With out-of-this-world beaches, scenic little villages, and picturesque landscapes, this island, located in the southern part of the Cyclades, is a paradise for diving enthusiasts.
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