Shares
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

Greece, the Cradle of Western Civilization, has been enlightening, inspiring and seducing visitors for centuries. The expansion of affordable cruises into the country, especially to its sun-drenched islands of the Aegean and Ionian Seas, has added to the appeal. Instead of trying to coordinate flights, ferries and hotels between islands like Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes on your own, eliminate that Pythagorean Theorem of travel planning: Board a cruise ship, unpack once and savor a sampler platter of Greece’s greatest hits. Here are five Herculean hints that a Greece cruise is for you.

RELATED: California cruises are the latest cruise trend you’ll love

Oia with a cruise ship

Oia

1. Those blue domes on Instagram haunt your dreams

Step into the postcard of white-washed homes and blue-domed churches that speckle island cliffs framed by azure skies that seem to go on infinitely. You’ll be so far removed from whatever you left behind at home as you meander the cobblestone streets of villages like Oia (considered by many to be the most beautiful of the island villages), Rhodes Town (a Medieval-style masterpiece), Mykonos Town (a vivacious place with plenty of bars to keep you hydrated) and Corfu Town (featuring Venetian-style architecture). Simply strolling these settings is like one luxurious exhale, sinking you deeper and deeper into the freedom that comes with vacation.

Parthenon temple on a bright day. Acropolis in Athens, Greece, on a bright day

Parthenon temple on a bright day.

2. You want to experience ancient history, not just read about it

Greece offers plenty of antiquity with its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and island civilizations dating back to 3000 B.C. Starting with the must-see Acropolis in Athens, the islands unfold across the ocean to offer a bounty of ancient sites. On Santorini, there are ongoing excavations of Akrotiri, a settlement preserved in ash after a volcanic eruption in 1627 B.C., some of which are open to the public. On Rhodes, its ancient village of Lindos lures visitors, by foot or by donkey, to the top of a 400-foot acropolis overlooking the sea. In the port of Katakolon, flex your muscles in Olympia, the birthplace of the original Olympic games and a shrine to the ancient Greek gods. On Crete, visit The Palace of Knossos, which, according to legend, was once home to the mythical Minotaur. On Delos, the mythological birthplace of the sun god Apollo and one of the most important archeological sites in Greece, explore the ruins and temples of what was once the heart of the ancient world including antiquities spanning the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods.

Drying the octopus in the sun in the seaside.

Drying the octopus in the sun.

3. Fresh seafood makes your mouth water

While they do like to smash plates in Greece (Opa!), make sure you’ve eaten everything on it first. Fresh fish and seafood dazzle the palettes of visitors to the islands, where what’s on your plate was likely caught earlier that very same day. Octopus is in heavy rotation here; be sure to try octapodi kokkinisto (octopus in tomato sauce), a signature dish. You’ll find dishes complemented with some of the freshest olive oil, feta cheese and figs you will find on this planet. To wash it all down, drink ouzo, an anise-flavored aperitif. It’s Greece’s favorite liquor, with 50 percent of its production coming from the 17 distilleries on the island of Lesbos.

Coast of Crete island in Greece. Pink sand beach of famous Elafonisi (or Elafonissi).

Coast of Crete island in Greece. Pink sand beach of famous Elafonisi (or Elafonissi).

4. You can’t get your fill of amazing beaches

Greeks are spoiled with beach after heavenly beach across the country’s more than 200 inhabited islands. From black to red to dazzling white sand, pick a color and rest your bones while opening all your senses to luscious moments of doing absolutely nothing. Some of the most photographed beaches include Elafonissi Beach on Crete, Greece’s largest island, where the turquoise water is beautifully contrasted by its pink-hued sand; Paradise Beach (for those who want to party) or Platys Gialos Beach (for tranquility-seeking travelers) on Mykonos; and Lindos Beach on Rhodes, where a towering acropolis overlooks the sandy-soft setting. And while it might seem counter-intuitive to disembark your cruise ship only to board yet another boat, sailing the warm waters of the Aegean Sea aboard a small yacht or sailboat is a memorable way to soak up the sun and sights (and can blissfully separate you from crowds that inevitably cluster on dry land).

Watching The Sunset In Milos

5. Gorgeous sunsets get you teary eyed

The islands of Greece arguably have the best sunsets in the world. In fact, visitors flock to the cliffs of Oia on Santorini to applaud – yes, applaud – the sun as it sinks into the Aegean Sea. Imagine pulling out of each island port after a day and drinking in this natural marvel coloring the skies in soft pinks and deep purples. So often, it’s these relaxed, simple moments of a vacation that stay with us forever. The sunsets of Greece can certainly foster this.

ALSO: Savings tip! Be sure to check out Orbitz cruise deals before you book!

Planning your trip

Does that sound like you? Then start planning your trip! Here are some tips to plan your Greek cruise going:

When to go: The best times to visit Greece are April to June and September to October. Temperatures in July and August can soar to more than 100 degrees and locals tend to leave on holiday, which means some shops and restaurants may be closed or have limited service. But hey, if you love intense heat, jaw-dropping cruise deals typically can be found during the height of summer.

How to research: Search Greek cruise options using Orbitz for some of the best prices. The site’s search functionality can help you filter departure months, length of cruise and itinerary. For Greece, begin by selecting “Europe” and your preferred month to travel. This will then take you to a page where you can select a departure port and itinerary – in the case of Greece, “Mediterranean – Europe” – to further narrow down the options. Most major cruises that include the Greek Islands will start in Piraus (the port closest to Greece’s capital city of Athens) and Venice. By clicking “Show Itinerary” for each cruise, you’ll see which stops are made in Greece.

What to anticipate: To optimize your vacation, plan ahead on what you’d like to do and see in each port. Although you’ll cover a lot of territory on a Greek cruise, you’ll have limited time at each stop and will inevitably be competing with other cruise passengers (often with travelers from other cruise lines dropping anchor near the same island at the same time). To avoid feeling like slow cattle in a confused herd clogging up Greece’s narrow pedestrian sidewalks once on dry land—because hey, it happens—have a plan. Most cruise lines offer plenty of pre-designed shore excursions to make it easy. Just sign up early as the best activities fill up fast, plus you’ll be among the first to disembark, maximizing your time in each port.

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Tagged: Europe, Greece

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Erica Bray

Erica Bray

Erica is a practical free spirit who loves travel, yoga and ice cream. A Northwestern University-trained journalist with more than 15 years of experience straddling digital and broadcast media, Erica can be found doing handstands everywhere she travels -- even risking arrest in some cases. Learn about her at www.erica.media.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *