If you’ve been following along on my Instagram, you will know that we just got home from a magical three week holiday in Greece. This was our second time in Greece. We went back again this year because last year we had SUCH a great time that as soon as we got home, we booked again for this year! You can read all about my trip last year here and check out all the epic-ness on this hashtag >>> #nickandmelissagreece
I feel deeply connected to Greece. The people, the history, the culture, the food… it has a very familiar feeling to it, and each time I go I feel like I am coming home. I love it so much and know I will be back again soon.
I also love traveling in general. Travel — for me — is the perfect way to get out of my comfort zone. Being a recovering control freak, it’s a great way for me to exercise my ‘letting go and surrender’ muscle. It’s also a powerful practice in presence and flow.
There’s a funny thing about travel — have you noticed? When you [finally!] stop and slow down, that’s usually when the insights and downloads occur. For me, a couple of big things I unearthed during this trip were how much I loved switching off and not working. I am a recovering workaholic, type A, overachieving, driven, Aries, Pitta type who has the tendency to go-go-go, do-do-do and achieve-achieve-achieve. But I LOVED having time off, and to be honest, it was the first ‘unplugged’ holiday I have had since starting my business in 2011. And when I say ‘unplugged’, I should clarify: I wasn’t completely switched off. I was still checking emails daily (although there weren’t many coming in, as everyone knew I was away) and I was still posting my podcasts on social media (though they’d all been pre-recorded before we left). Oh, and I was still sharing on Instagram, which was fun. But other than that, there was no other ‘work’.
How We Travel
Before we dive into the juicy Greece details (the Greetails?!), make sure you read all my travel tips here. This is how we stay well while we’re jet-setting, and how we ensure that we’re not derailing our health goals while we’re enjoying ourselves.
I also wanted to share how we traveled with one suitcase weighing 19 kgs for three weeks with three people…. (Say, what?!)
Yep, you read that right: 19 kgs for three weeks with three people. I shared about this on an Instagram story, and I got SO many questions as to how we did it, so I will spill the (green) beans…
Firstly, can I just say that taking a single suitcase was genius. Nick is ruthless with his packing, and everything had to get screened by him before it went into the bag.
At the time of packing — when he was culling half my clothes! — I was a bit annoyed, thinking I wasn’t going to have many options. But can I tell you that when you go to the Greek Islands — or any sunny beach location, for that matter — you really don’t need a lot. Most days were spent in my swimmers, and at night it was always something relaxed and light as it was so super hot.
Nick and Leo packed even lighter than me, with only one pair of boardshorts that they wore every day and washed each night.
We were also super minimalist when it came to toiletries. We each had a toothbrush (of course). Then between us, we had a jar of coconut oil, some tox-free deodorant, organic toothpaste, a razor, a hairbrush… and that was about it! I use coconut oil for just about everything, which makes things nice and easy.
The one thing I did ‘splurge’ some suitcase space on was my essential oils, I don’t go anywhere without them. I took about 15 bottles. My most used oils were lavender (awesome for helping us get to sleep while jet-lagged), Ice Blue (for niggling sore muscles and ouchies), and Whisper — a beautiful blend that makes me feel all sexy and goddessy, and that’s a must-have for romantic evenings.
So to sum up this ‘one suitcase’ experiment: yes, it’s nice to bring loads of options with you on holiday… but to be honest, you really don’t need a lot. Just be ruthless with your packing and remember you most likely won’t wear everything anyway. And you don’t want to be lugging loads of suitcases and bags around the Greek Islands, and on and off ferries, trust me. So will we be traveling like this again? Hell yes! In a heartbeat.
Now without further ado, let’s dive into all the juicy details. And to make things super easy for you, Nick and I have curated each destination into a saved trip in Tripadvisor…
Crete is the largest Greek Island so we had 13 days here and we moved around so we got to see different parts. Crete blew our minds and was Nick’s favorite in the whole trip. You will need a car, but nothing fancy — just something little to get you from A to B.
When your hotel has crystals, angel cards, spiritual and personal development books in your room, bliss balls waiting for you on arrival, incense in the foyer and affirmations cards on your bed each night, you know you’re in the right place! We spent 5 nights here and it was heaven. It’s right on the water, which was perfect for my morning aura cleanse (a.k.a. dip in the water swim). Oh, and did I mention they fully cater for gluten, dairy, and sugar-free eaters?! Master Leo loved his gluten-free pancakes with the epic view each morning. The staff were so lovely and each morning the chef would come and tell us what produce he had available, which he’d collected from his mother’s organic garden that morning… talk about fresh, local produce. This place is a must stay.
Right on the water in the super cute fishing village called Loutro, we stayed here for one night. It was very basic, but did the job. The best part was that it was a short boat ride away from Marmara Beach which is magical and a must do. You can spend the day at Marmara and do rock jumping into the water and laze on a daybed reading all day long. There is one amazing restaurant to eat at there, with very traditional Greek food, but you have to get there early and order, because once lunch time comes they sell out of almost everything straight away… That’s how good it is.
This one’s not on the water, but inland. We had two nights here because we wanted to have an inland experience. Staying here, I felt like a princess and was blown away by the beauty of this hotel and the nature that surrounds it. There are fruit trees and herb bushes everywhere, not to mention all the bougainvillea cascading around… it’s mega eye candy! Make sure you spend some time walking around the village and check out the museum inside the hotel.
We did five nights here and LOVED it! The rooms were stunning and it was right on the water and perfect for the kids (and us). This hotel was stunning and blew us away. Also, the buffet breakfast and dinner (which is included) was delicious. In fact, stopping yourself at just one plate is a challenge that I failed at daily! The staff were so lovely and accommodating and I couldn’t recommend Minos enough. We even saw a massive turtle swimming right out the front (which was magical) and it was a quick walk into the town.
Before we dive into all the food reccy’s, I must mention that Nick is the best at scouting out delicious food. We wanted traditional Greek food with the mama and papa out the back cooking, using produce from their yiayia’s garden. To us, that’s heaven. We don’t eat at super fancy places, but much prefer real, wholesome, traditional food and that’s what we got.
This place was so delicious: traditional Greek food made with huge amounts of love. We came here on our first night when we were all a little tired, and we wanted to go back but didn’t get around to it. We loved the pork, sardines, oven roast eggplant, lamb kebab, giant beans, stuffed veggies and the greens. Everything was delicious. This place is a must.
Vitamin L — a.k.a. vitamin Love — was definitely on the menu here! Authentic, family run, real, fresh wholefood.. The kind of place that feels like it’s been around forever. My cuppa tea. Antikristo does their cooking over an open fire and was without doubt the best goat and pork I have ever had.
One word… rabbit!
Stunning views and delicious food. Make sure you get the okra and livers. They are delicious.
I LOVED this place so much because they cooked all their food in giant clay pots outside. It was set in the most stunning location and the drive up there was divine. They grow all their own produce and herbs, and raise their own animals (we even got to go look at them afterwards). And because we’re such massive foodies (and the staff could clearly tell!), most places welcomed us in for a tour of their kitchen. The guys at Dounias showed us their clay pots and the wood fire oven… You simply must go here.
All their herbs are right from their garden and you can taste the freshness. The goat and lamb were a hit, as was the eggplant dish and the horta (a.k.a. traditional Greek greens that are freaking delicious and nutritious). We ordered horta every single day so that we were loading up on our greens.
Marmara Beach Tavern
The most stunning view over the water, and the food was delicious. The baked veggies, lamb and horta were particularly yummo.
Again, very traditional Greek food. Their giant beans and green beans were spot on.
The best lamb in lemon sauce, it was so juicy. The sardines, beans, green beans again were yum yum.
This place was so good! Very traditional, authentic Cretan food, with traditional Cretan recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. These guys were ‘qualitarians’, and it showed — the food was like art. You can really tell they take a lot of pride in their food and the way they present it. Our favorites were the goat in a bag, beans and okra, beef, pork salad and the veggies. Another epic thing was that all the produce was organic and from their own farm. This place was a little more fancy than all the other tavernas, but SO worth it.
This beach used to have a lot of pink sand, but doesn’t have as much anymore. It’s still stunning, though. It was a bit too touristy for me, but the kids loved it. I gave myself a full body exfoliation with some of the pink sand and have never felt my skin so soft.
Seitan Limania Beach
One of the most stunning beaches I have ever seen. It’s a small beach and you have to hike down a very steep cliff to get to it (then make your way back up afterward!), but it’s so worth it. You can do rock jumping into the crystal water and lay your towel down next to some goats.
We saw a lot of ruins on this trip, which was awesome and the kids loved it.
This was stunning and a lot more private and less busy than Elafonissi. We did snorkeling and deep diving, which was so much fun.
Agia Sofia Caves
Another great thing to see, especially for the kids.
After doing the Samaria Gorge 6 hour hike, I feel like I can do anything! We had to get up at 5am, and before we started my inner Mean Girl told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. She kept saying that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the others. But I did it and felt so proud of myself. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone, because not only was it 6 hours long, it was in 100-degree heat. I think getting out of your comfort zone often is really important. I believe that feeling the fear and doing it anyway is important for our soul growth.
Cretan Olive Oil Farm Tour
This was by far one of the biggest highlights for me. We spent the day here doing cooking classes and learning how to make traditional Cretan dishes. We also milked goats and made different cheeses. We got a tour of the olive oil farm and learned about all the different types of olives and how they make their delicious olive oil. Oh, and I sampled my bodyweight in olives. I really loved learning about all the different types of olives and olive oil quality. The kids also got to ride a donkey and do a pottery class. A must do, and only a short walk from Minos Beach Art Hotel.
Boat or canoe to Marmara Beach from Loutro
I loved this so much. We got to pull up a daybed, do some cliff jumping into the crystal clear water, and enjoy a delicious early dinner on the water.
We only spent one night in Santorini, because we’d been there last year and really only went back to go to Metaxi Mas, which is our favorite restaurant on earth. We had been dreaming of it and talking about it for a year and we badly wanted to take Leo and my brother there. I wouldn’t overly recommend the place we stayed, as it was very mouldy. But the view and location were epic! Instead, if you want a reccy for where to stay, check out where I stayed last year, as I highly recommended those two places.
We literally only went back to Santorini to go to Metaxi Mas and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was even better than I remembered. I just wish we had more days so I could eat there every day! It’s our favourite restaurant in the world, and once you have eaten there — with that view — you will know why.
Watching the sunset from Oia is one of the most magical things you will ever see, and a total must do in Santorini. Everyone comes and does it, so make sure you get there early so you get a good spot. I love that everyone stops what they are doing to honour Mother Nature. At the end — when the sun finally disappears behind the horizon — everyone burst into applause, which made me a little emotional.
Walk down to Ammoudi Bay for a swim among the rocks. This is such a stunning spot! Nick, Leo and my brother James rated this one of their favorite free-dives in Greece Stunning. And so much fun to watch them all playing together in such an iconic location.
Walk through the town, as it’s such a great vibe and there are so many awesome little shops and places to stop and take photos. The beautiful thing about Santorini is that visually, it is SO stunning. Like, out of a movie. Every corner you turn, you want to take a snap, as it’s full on eye candy.
Finally, check out 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.
Paros was one of our favourite places. This cute town was bustling with so many great restaurants, cute shops and adorable streets. A must do.
We had 3 nights here, which was perfect. This place is stunning and only a short walk across the road to the beach. The rooms were big, beautiful, modern and we even had our own outdoor area and pool, which was pretty special and perfect for my morning yoga.
Kafenio Palia Agora
One of the best meals of my life, second only to Metaxi Mas. It’s all share plates, which we love, ‘cos you get to try a whole bunch of different things. We loved the baked eggplant in the oven, anchovies in vinegar, chickpeas, boiled greens, onions stuffed with rice, chicken fricassee and octopus cooked in wine sauce. We ate here a few times and would have come back more if we didn’t have to leave!
Anna and Giorgio’s
A cute little family-run joint which was great for lunch. They slow cook all their meat out the back, which you can see, and the food is super fresh.
Another must do. This place is all organic and their produce is from their farm. You must try the slices of eggplants wrapped with goat and sheep white cheese (from Ios) baked in the oven with tomato and garlic sauce. It’s a local recipe, served with chickpeas and slow cooked all night long in the traditional terracotta pot in the wood oven. Also check out their horta, boneless lamb (kid) wrapped in vines leaves and stuffed with carrots and Naxos cheese, and the potatoes slow cooked in the wood oven. Yum yum yum.
Stunning blue water surrounded by all the white buildings with blue roofs… it’s pretty magical.
Walk around the town — Naousa — in the evening. It’s such a stunning little village, with loads of cute boutiques for the best shopping and great places to eat. We went there every night for dinner and a walk around, such a good bustling vibe.
You must do a day trip to Antiparos and eat at Captain Pipinos, which is a very cute place on the beach. The horta, grilled sardines, giant beans and beetroot salad were our favorites. (Are you sensing a theme here?!)
We did four nights in Sifnos at two different places. Sifnos is a lot less busy and bustling than the other islands so if you want to chill and relax you will love.
This place was basic but situated in the best location right on the water. It was stunning waking up here, and so calming to listen to the waves crash on the rocks whilst you drifted off to sleep at night. You can also walk into the port for lunch and dinner and jump off the rocks into the crystal clear water right at your hotel. The boys loved staying here because they could jump in and out of the water right out the front of our room.
We spent three nights here and LOVED it! It was stunning, so stunning my eyes couldn’t cope. It’s perfect to unwind and really recharge. You can walk down to the water where there is a secret swimming spot (!) and it’s a short walk into two different towns for lunch or dinner. Lazing by the pool is a must, and the breakfast — with the most stunning view — will light up your soul every morning. The rooms are so stunning, modern, and huge, and it was nice to have a bit of space. We even had our own outdoor area which again was perfect for my morning yoga sesh.
Omega3 Fish and Wine Bar
Apparently, this is Tom Hanks’ favorite place in Sifnos. It’s stunning and right on the beach, but make sure you book as it’s very popular and you may not just be able to walk in and get a spot. We loved the sea bream ceviche, split pea purée, vineyard beans, seeded gluten free bread, steamed seasonal greens, zucchini carpaccio (this was particularly delicious), shrimp tacos and fish sticks. The food was so fresh and delicious. This is a must.