We’ve just returned home to Bondi, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Greece blew my mind, stole my heart, and cracked me wide open… For about a billion different reasons. One of which was our incredible experience working with the Afghan refugees in Athens. We travelled with an organisation called We Journey which do ‘Impact Travel’, and don’t worry I will be sharing my thoughts on that experience soon. (I am still processing the experience but my heart is filled with oceans of hope… so keep your eyes peeled for it in the next few weeks.)
But in this particular post, I want to share a heap of other insights into our trip — including where we stayed, what we ate, and my mega highlights.
Before we dive in I want to first share two potent reminders I had on this trip…
- The importance and power of presence. The real present is in presence. My eyes couldn’t quite cope with the beauty they were witnessing, and at times I felt overwhelmed trying to take it all in. But reminding myself to just be *fully here* helped! I didn’t want to miss a second of the pure magic that was unfolding before my eyes.
- To slow down with everything. In particular, the way I walk, talk and ate were biggies for me. On our first day in Athens, I found myself still in my faced-paced ways, but soon I settled into ‘holiday mode’ and I was able to be more intentional with my dialogue, how I was eating, and even how I walked down the street. It was magic, because it allowed me to be fully present and to soak up all the juiciness that surrounded me.
I loved everything Greece had to offer — the history, food, art, culture, people, landscape, sunrises and sunsets… It was magical! I’ve had a picture of Santorini pinned to my vision board for ages now, and let me tell you: the ‘IRL’ version did not disappoint! Everywhere I looked, I had to stop myself from whipping out my phone to take yet another scenic photo because it was just so breathtaking.
I love travel, and hadn’t been on a holiday for three years, since our honeymoon to Italy in 2014. The thing I love about travel is not only are you exposed to a totally different culture (the food, language, art, people, history etc.), but you are forced out of your comfort zone. This is great for a recovering control freak like me. I had to let go and surrender my controlling tendencies. If I am totally honest, it took me a few days to completely let go… But once I did? Oh boy, was it liberating.
It was so freeing to loosen my grip a little. I did things I wouldn’t usually do at home… I went to bed way later, didn’t set an alarm, and I slept in until my body naturally wanted to wake up. I also didn’t work out, I didn’t do my usual full-length morning routine, and I ate things I wouldn’t normally eat. I know, rebel right?! But for me this is huge!
However, although it was nice to feel my grip loosen, I also realised that those things are what support me to thrive. Those are the things / routines / rituals that I actually LOVE and that make me feel like the best version of myself. So I am excited to get straight back into them, because I know that they support me to show up in the world as the best version of myself. But I will say, the contrast was exquisite — revelling in looseness for a little while has made me all the more keen to nourish my body-mind-and-soul in the ways I love… yum! The beauty is in the balance, right?!
Now, when I say that I “let loose”, I should contextualise that for you… You may have noticed by now that I am not one of those people that goes on holidays and eats bread, mungs down on french fries, or drinks like a fish (I actually don’t drink alcohol at all!). So when people tell me it’s hard to stay healthy when they travel (or go on holidays), I think it’s a big fat Mean Girl excuse, and to be honest, a bit of a cop out… Basically, if you let your inner Mean Girl tell you ‘it’s hard’, it will be hard.
So the mindset I’ve consciously created? I believe it’s easy to stay healthy whilst you travel.
We meditated twice a day, did a massive hike in Milos, walked everywhere, did yoga every single morning, ate well and didn’t drink. We also took our own coconut oil for oil pulling each morning, occasionally journaled (if I felt called to), soaked up vitamin D, swam in the ocean daily (we don’t swim in chlorinated pools as they disrupt your gut microbiome) and practiced gratitude every single day. But to be honest, those things are so innate within us now that we don’t have to think about them. To us, it’s like brushing our teeth. They’re non-negotiable.
However, in saying that, when you travel there is an element of surrender you have to possess in regards to eating. You can ‘art direct’ the menu and make the best choices possible, but at the end of the day, it’s not your kitchen… so you have to let go and surrender.
Greece made it pretty cruisey for us though — it’s very easy to get gluten, dairy and sugar free food there. It’s also great to know that they cook with olive oil and butter (although it’s not ideal to cook in olive oil, it’s still a million times better than trans fat vegetable and seed oils). Most places, you can ask if they have butter to cook your meal in, and if they’re happy to… great! But if they can’t? Surrender, sista!
At home, we eat all organic and would never drink out of a plastic bottle. These two things I surrendered on this trip, and although most of the places we ate at used local, fresh ingredients — and some even from their own farm — I had to let it go. The stress and worry would have done me more harm than just looking around in awe at where I was, with my lover by my side, and soaking up the beauty of the moment right in front of me.
Most restaurants we went to had plenty of gluten free options. However, everywhere you go they will plonk a bread basket on the table as soon as you sit down, so all you have to say is ‘No bread for me, thank you — I’m gluten free’. Tell them upfront so they can tell you the options best for you. It’s also helpful to know that most dishes come with french fries, bread, potatoes, rice or couscous — even if it doesn’t say so on the menu — so always ask what your meal is served with, and ask if you can swap out the fries for some greens. They did this for me everywhere I went.
Helpful tip: In regards to getting around, apart from Athens which you can walk most places or jump in a taxi, you will need a quad bike or car for Naxos, Santorini, Milos and Mykonos.
Now without further ado, let’s dive into all the juicy details…
We had 1 night and 2 full days in Athens just hanging around seeing the sights before a week doing our impact work with the crew at We Journey, and I feel that was the right amount.
A For Athens
We booked A For Athens a few days before we arrived, and after two days of travelling from Australia, we got to our hotel to find they had upgraded our room… #epic! As you can see from the photo, our room had the most beautiful view of the Acropolis and a cute little balcony you could sit on and feel part of the bustling vibe below. The hotel also has a beautiful rooftop terrace that overlooks Athens, and the vibe up there was awesome, so make sure you check it out.
Taverna Saita was Nick’s favourite place for authentic simple Greek food, so we ate here a few times. It’s really cute and off the beaten track — away from the main tourist area, which we liked. We got the sardines, oven roasted eggplant baked in tomato and feta (my favorite), wild greens and lamb. Delicious!
.Cherchez la Femme
Really cute for lunch and people watching. Cherchez la Femme is right next to a beautiful church and offers super fresh produce. I was craving livers, so I got my Vitamin B hit here. We got the wild greens, octopus, fresh salads, vegetables and grilled livers… All super tasty, plus the style and quality is the best we had in Athens.
Walking around Plaka and getting lost in the streets. It’s super cute and there are so many great little shops to explore. If you’re massive foodies like us, head to the food and spice markets. There are so many great little stalls to explore.
The Acropolis is a must! Walk up there from the Plaka and make sure you see the theatre. This blew my mind and made me want to get back into acting just to perform there. Check out the Acropolis Museum, it’s pretty incredible! You can do a guided tour, which I wish we did because I wanted to learn more about Greek history, but maybe next time.
We spent 3 nights here as part of the integration component to our impact travel, which I feel was the perfect amount of time. We were actually meant to have 4 nights but after 3, we felt we had seen everything we wanted to see, so decided to jump on the ferry to Santorini early.
Naxos Beach Hotel
This hotel was super cute, super cheap and had beautiful gardens. We did yoga by the pool every morning, which was awesome. But the best thing about this place was how close it was to the beach — literally 50 metres, max. It was also a short 20 minute walk into the main port where all the shops and restaurants are, and the walk itself either along the water or via the back streets is totally beautiful too. This was organised by We Journey and was the only accomodation we did not persoanlly choose.
We ate at a few places, but Meze was the only one we really enjoyed. This place is on the main strip in the port, but don’t let that deter you. The food was super fresh with great seafood straight from out the front. The eggplant dip, grilled fish, salads, mussels saganaki, zucchini and octopus were all delicious. This spot is also great to watch the sunset.
Hire quad bikes and explore the island. There are so many great beaches and things to see. We often got lost down streets and would stumble across random stunning turquoise beaches. Walking through the old town and up to the castle. The view from the top is magical! Hiking to the highest point of 3000 feet was beyond beautiful. Getting lost in the streets of the main port… we loved every minute!
We spent 3 nights in Santorini, which I feel was the perfect amount of time needed on this island… Actually, truth be told, I could have done one more night here!
Blue Dolphin Apartments
Because we decided to leave Naxos a day early and head to Santorini, we had to book last minute accommodation while we were en route. Nick found the Blue Dolphin Apartments on the ferry ride on the way over, which were epic. Once we arrived at the breathtaking cliff-side apartments (and after I picked my jaw up off the floor!) we were told we got an upgrade to our own private cliff-side cave house (yes cave house) with our own jacuzzi. It was epic, and right in front of the signature Santorini church with the blue top that everyone takes photos of. The hubby nailed that one for sure, and it was super cheap believe it or not!
The next two nights we stayed at the stunning Perivolas Hotel — and oh boy, was I blown away!!! This was by far one of the most stunning places I have ever stayed. The rooms, staff, view, food… everything was just perfect! I couldn’t recommend it more highly. 10 out of 10! Every corner I turned, my breath was taken away and I had to stop myself from snap-snap-snapping away. That’s the incredible thing about this hotel and Santorini, it’s just so beautiful.
This was hands down the best meal I had on my whole trip. The lamb, salads, wild greens… and — wait for it — the chocolate pie was out of this world! Some restaurants in Greece give free dessert as a token of love and appreciation. And when the chocolate pie unexpectedly landed in front of me, I said ‘Oh, there must be a mistake — we didn’t order this.’ The waiter told us that it was a gift from the restaurant. It looked SOOO good and my whole body was a YESSSSS!!!!! And let me tell you, in that first bite? Full blown food orgasm. It was BEYOND! Nick and I were looking at each other in complete shock at how good it was. Made with so much love, you could actually taste it.
The food at Metaxy Mas was so good here we went back the next day before we left for Milos. In fact, I am sure if we had more time in Santorini we would have eaten there every day! It’s about a 20-minute bike ride from Oia, the main area in Santorini, but worth the trip. It’s the kind of place you have to know about or you may never discover it. I am still dreaming about that lamb and chocolate pie… mmmmm. I wish I had more days there just to eat here. Nick said his two favorite things about Santorini were staying at Perivolas and eating at Metaxy Mas. This is a must!!
This place was so beautiful. The whole trip we tried to stay away from tourist restaurants and head to more traditional Greek tavernas like Karma, as we wanted to experience the authentic Greek cuisine… and this place didn’t disappoint. The wild rabbit, squid and wild greens were yummo. Most places have wild greens and zucchini, so you can always get something green on your plate. Also, we found a lot of places use produce from their local farm or from their garden out the back and are free from chemicals, which is really great to know.
The Good Heart
Another very traditional Greek taverna, with a cute little shop attached. The Good Heart off the beaten track and about a 30 minute bike ride from Oia. Again, totally worth the trip even just for the friendly lady who greets everyone so warmly at the front and gifts you a free meze plate on arrival. You can even see them drying their own tomatoes in the sun from their farm. The moussaka here is authentic through and through.
Walking around Oia. There are so many cute little shops and streets to get lost in.
Watching the sunset from Oia. There will be loads of people, so if crowds are not your thing, then maybe avoid this.
Watching the sunset in my robe with Nick at the Perivolas Hotel. It was truly magical, watching the sky change colours with my lover by my side. A moment etched in my mind and heart forever.
Exploring Atlantis bookstore in Oia. If you’re a book nerd like me, you will love this quaint store. Grab a book and perch yourself on the rooftop in the hammock.
Walking down alongside the donkeys to Amoudi Bay. You can swim and do cliff jumping and also have lunch down there. We ate at Sunset, but the food wasn’t that good and it’s wayyyyy too overpriced. We ordered a whole fish, not realising it was going to cost 200 euro just for the fish. When the bill came out, my jaw hit the floor. So make sure, if you order whole fish, you ask how much it will cost beforehand… Defs not worth the 200 euro, that’s for sure! You can get stung like this in some places, so be mindful.
We stayed 5 nights in total, which I think was the perfect amount of time on the island.
Milos blew my mind. It’s known for its stunning beaches and nature. It’s a lot quieter than islands like Santorini and Mykonos, with a lot less tourism, which is exactly what we like. If you’re looking for something a little more chilled, with stunningly epic beaches, then Milos is for you!
Situated in the super cute town of Tripiti, we spent two nights at Nausika b&b and LOVED it! The rooftop was perfect for morning yoga and the sunsets are mind blowing. Plus Nausika (the beautiful owner) is amazing, super lovely and helpful. She will tell you all the best places to go and eat. We loved it here.
We then had 3 nights at Skinopi Lodge, also owned by the lovely Nausika. This place is magical! I wanted to move in and never leave. I can’t recommend Skinopi Lodge enough. It’s so peaceful and the sunsets you will witness are pure magic. Nausika has epic style, and both places were a beautiful representation of her taste.
This place was delicious — so good, we went back the next day for lunch. The pork, wild greens and eggplant stuffed with lamb mince were my favorites. O! Hamos serves up very traditional Greek food, and situated in a sweet garden right opposite the beach. You can chill on the day beds right out the front before or after your meal.
We ate dinner most nights at dusk in Tripiti at Barriello. Not only is the view amazing, but the owner is super lovely. He grows a lot of the produce himself, and most of it is organic. The green beans were out of this world, sometimes I order two plates of them just for me. The lamb, pork, octopus and wild greens were also all delicious. After our first meal there, he invited us to his farm the next day which was so awesome to see. There is soooo much love in this food and pretty much worth visiting Milos just to eat here.
Located on Mandrakia Beach, Medousa is the only Taverna there. It’s really authentic and the best little location. This place is situated in the cutest fishing village, with beautiful spots where you can take a dip or lie in the sun. The food was delicious too — we had grilled eggplant, zucchini, octopus cooked in olive oil, and grilled sardines. Have a swim before or after lunch. If you walk around to the right, there are a few little secret spots you can go and nudie bake. From there, we explored the surrounding farmlands and found our own patch of volcanic rock, right on the water.
Located in the cute little village of Pallonia, Enalion is definitely worth exploring. My fave dish was the eggplant dish (of course!).
Fyriplaka Beach is a must! One of the most breathtaking beaches I have ever been to. You can get a daybed and hang there all day. Make sure you walk all the way to the end, it’s magical!
Deep Blue is pretty, but not as good as Fyriplaka. Again, you can hire day beds here and hang all day. It’s a bit more commercial and not as authentic for me.
Sarakiniko beach is a must!! One of the highlights of the whole trip for me. This is the beach with volcanic rock, and if you’re up for it, there’s really fun cliff jumping there too.
Papafragas is breathtaking and amazing for swimming through the caves.
Being healthy is a conscious choice and a priority only you can make. And only you can hold yourself accountable if you choose.
Just before Papafragas, there’s another little beach with a cave which I don’t remember the name of. It’s super cute and not many people go there, which is great. This is where Nick did loads of cliff jumping… but not for this scaredy cat!
Exploring the cute little village on the water called Pollonia.
The owner of Barriello inviting us to his farm, which was awesome and so cool to see.
We stayed for 5 nights, but I think 3-4 is enough.
Mykonos is known as the ‘party island’, and although you don’t have to party (we sure didn’t) there is definitely a different energy compared to (say) Milos, a more chilled island. It is also a lot more expensive, with loads more traffic and a lot busier.
Kirini My Mykonos Retreat
This amazing cliff-side retreat was out of the hustle and bustle, and very peaceful and quiet, which is exactly what we wanted. The best part about Kirini was the amazing private swimming spot down below where no one went. Every day we went down there and had the secret spot to ourselves. It was so secluded so we could even do some nude sun baking.
Joanna’s Niko’s Place
This was our favourite place in Mykonos. We went here about five times because it was so delicious, cheap and traditional Greek cuisine. My favorite dish at Joanna’s was the signature eggplant dish. (Are you sensing a theme here?!). We also got the sardines, baked cod, horta (wild boiled greens) and eggplant dip. Ok so I don’t eat nightshades at home but let lose on this trip and really gave it a good nudge. My body was craving eggplant and tomatoes so I went with it.
Nice n Easy
Nice n Easy is epic to watch the sunset from, but make sure you book ahead, as getting a table can be tricky. Considering its central location, it was surprisingly good! I was obsessed with the gluten free meatballs and got them to swap out the rice for greens, which they were happy to do. The eggplant dip with cucumber sticks was delicious. However, it usually comes with pita bread, so just ask for cucumber sticks instead.
Fokos Taverna on the beach
Fokos is a bit of a drive away, but worth it. It’s situated on its own beautiful beach, which you can chill on after or before lunch. It’s out of the hustle and bustle and really quiet. We had the sea bream ceviche, broccoli salad, baked zucchini, wild greens, avocado and beetroot. When we walked in, the owner said ‘We have no wifi, no music, and no deep fryer’… fine by us!
Awesome traditional grilled and baked dishes, located on the beach. Literally, you can sit at a table on the sand, which is beautiful as the sun is setting. Nikolas Taverna is pretty cheap for Mykonos and super chilled, with people literally eating in their bikinis after they just got out of the water. Nikola’s daughter Anna and her husband Kosta run the Taverna. Nikolas can still be seen riding his donkey into town to sell flowers and vegetables each day. You can walk around the rugged rocks trail from Platis Gialos past Bonatsa, and the path is lit up at night. It’s located on the Paraga Beach road just before Paraga beach. We had the green beans, sardines, anchovies and baked eggplant. All super delicious.
A Mykonos icon that people line up to get into — sometimes for FOUR hours! Kiki’s opens at 1 p.m., so we got there at 12 p.m, thinking we would get in easily… and we STILL didn’t make the cut for the first sitting! So we had to wait until the second sitting, which didn’t see us eating until after 2 p.m. They have no electricity or phone, and only a small courtyard for diners. But it’s overlooking the cutest beach, which you can swim at before or after your lunch. Whilst we were waiting, we met some awesome people, so that made it worth the wait. To be honest, the food was good but not amazing. We had the stuffed chicken (which was ok), but the green beans and artichoke salad were delicious.
Nudie swimming at Fokos beach.
Finding new spots each evening to watch the most epic, magical sunsets I’ve ever seen.
Nudie swims below our hotel at the private beach.
Getting lost in Little Venice and taking photos in the beautiful streets with my love.
And there you have it — all my Greece travel tips in an activated nutshell!
Have I whet your appetite for a Mediterranean sojourn? Have I ignited your inner travel bug?! I hope so!
And if you know someone who’s been wanting to visit Greece, forward this post onto them… they’ll thank you for it!
Now I would love to hear from you. Have you been to Greece? If so, what were your favourite spots and things to do? Share with me in the comments below so we can create an epic long list that we can return to.