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The largest city in Greece and fourth largest in the European Union, is credited with being the birthplace of democracy and of western civilization. Looming over the city skyline, you can't miss the majestic columns of the Parthenon up on the Acropolis hill. Built in 438BC this 320ft long Doric temple is one the most important architectural monuments in the world. The Acropolis area also has numerous museums and open-air theaters that still have live performances. Below the Acropolis is the Agora or ancient marketplace, the Olympic Stadium, the Acropolis and National Archaeological Museums among many other attractions.
Surrounding the Acropolis hill is the Plaka area, a charming pedestrian tourist district in the heart of the city where you will find traditional Greek restaurants, unique souvenir and clothing shops and friendly Athenians. Athens is also the access point for touring the interior sites of Greece such as Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, Sparta, Meteora and others. Athens and the surrounding area features some of the most important historical sites in the world, which makes the region rank among the top global tourism destinations worldwide.
The tiny port of Hydra becomes congested in the summer months with yachts regularly rafting three deep bow to stern - it's fun to watch! To cool off dive in at Hydra's swimming area a five minute walk from the yachts or relax at one of the many cafes watching the donkeys pass by – Hydra's only mode of transportation! Visit art galleries and shop for local handicrafts, exquisite clothing and jewelry or take the 30-minute coastal walk/ten-minute water taxi ride to rustic Miramare hotel and charming Mandraki beach. For the more adventurous a one-hour hike through ancient stairways and Venetian architecture allows a view from the top of the steep harbor. For the very fit, two more hours through an enchanting forest reveals the sacred monastery Profitis Ilias overlooking the harbor, Hydra Channel and the Peloponnese - a view you'll never forget.
As a result of its unique geology, Santorini is the most breathtaking of all the Greek islands. The island one sees today is what remains of a huge volcanic cataclysm in 1500BC that left a collapsed six-mile round crater. Must see historic sites are the entombed Minoan town of Akrotiri, thought to be the lost civilization of Atlantis and the hilltop settlement of ancient Thira that dates from 900BC. A great place for lunch and a swim is the black sand beach of Perissa and another interesting location is the original town of Pyrgos. In the north of the island, the UNESCO heritage town of Oia is the most beautiful place to stay and is famous for the sunsets. Santorini gastronomy is typically Greek but features delicious Santorini cherry tomatoes and deep fried tomato balls or tomato keftedes. Santorini is also well known for its fine wine and wine tasting is enjoyed at over a dozen of vineyards.
Platy Yialos marina and beach are the best kept secret of this charming, rural Cycladic island. The harbour is only 6 years old, so not listed in most versions of the sailing guide and the proximity to the bigger centre Livadhi, have most sailors pass right by. For those who know about it, the small modern harbour offers good protection from most all weather and there re fine restaurants along the beautiful beach and promenade. You will find good Greek tavernas and the best Italian food west of Mykonos can be enjoyed at MamaMia!
The island of Milos is the furthest southwest in the Cycladic chain and is truly off the beaten course. The reward for traveling this far south is that the island offers some of the most exceptional geology in Greece. On the north coast you can visit the spectacular volcanic creek of Sarakiniko and the deep grotto of Papafraga. A short drive along the north coast is the charming fishing villages of Madrakia and Pollonia. Up at the island's chora or hilltop town, is the Hellenistic amphitheatre where the statue of the Venus de Milos was unearthed. On the south coast lies the fabulous deserted beach of Firiplaka and the maze of caves, creeks and cliffs which is Kelftiko - one of the marvels of the Aegean. If you join the Aegean Adventure either by flotilla or cabin charter you may enjoy a night under the stars anchored at uninhabited Kleftiko bay. Swimming, snorkeling or kayaking through the caves and translucent waters is a surreal experience.
Miloan gastronomy features exquisite cheese pies known as pitarakia and barley bread rolls served with goat's cheese which probably comes from the island's rural roots. An exquisite restaurant choice in Milos is Ergina's Ouzeri in Tripiti, or Glaros taverna at beautiful Pollonia Bay.