If your idea of the perfect vacation involves spending time relaxing on sun kissed golden beaches and dreaming as you gaze out over sparkling oceans, there are some wonderful destinations for you right here in this country. You could even spend several blissful vacations just discovering all the different beaches of California—each with its own distinct flavor and personality! However, if your feet are itching to travel further afield and you long to discover the historic sites, exotic dishes and distinctive atmosphere of far-flung shores, you may already be considering the possibility of taking in the sights on a cruise vacation. If cruising appeals to you, your choices are many and varied. Who could resist the glamour of dazzling white Hawaiian beaches, the swaying palm trees that await you on a Caribbean vacation or the lush rain forests to be seen on a journey around the Panama Canal? However, for beach lovers who also long to make a connection with the ancient past, the islands around Greece hold a very special allure. Not only are there beautiful and unspoiled destinations to visit and delicious local wines and dishes to tempt your taste buds, but these are also places that are steeped in the fascinating and mysterious history of the ancient world.
When to Visit the Greek Islands
A lot of people choose to take their Mediterranean cruises during the summer months, in particular the months of July and August. If they are parents, they may need to consider school vacation times and plan their trips accordingly. However, if your schedule is more flexible, perhaps the ideal times to visit the eastern Mediterranean region is during the spring or fall months. During those periods, you can still expect warm and sunny weather during your vacation, although perhaps not the blazing heat to be encountered at the height of summer. As you are traveling outside of the most popular season for vacations, you are likely to find that the places you visit are a little less crowded. You may even find that some special offers are available that could save you money on the cost of a cruise vacation. Another reason for taking your vacation just before or just after the busy season of the summer months is that many Europeans also take their own vacations during that time, so you may even be disappointed to find some of the restaurants, bars and other attractions are closed while their owners are away.
No Two Islands Are the Same…
One of the advantages of a cruise is that calling at various locations during your trip allows you to visit many fantastic ports, which means that if you yearn to spend your vacation exploring the Greek islands, you will have the opportunity to experience the diversity of such islands as Corfu, Santorini, Patmos, Samos and Mykonos. While all the islands have wonderful beaches and tourist resorts and may, at first glance appear quite similar to one another, each has its own distinct character—much as the beaches of California do! It is worth reading a guide book before your vacation in order to fully appreciate the unique appeal of each island. The Corfu Trail which allows you to walk from one end of the island to the other while taking in the beauty of its olive groves and other plant life make it an ideal spot for hikers. In Santorini, don’t forget your camera as there is a wealth of opportunities to do some sightseeing and to explore the island’s picturesque villages. As well as its exquisite beaches, Patmos is also home to a famous monastery. Samos is perhaps the richest in historic sites, while Mykonos enjoys a reputation as a party island, offering its visitors a vibrant and exciting nightlife.
Other Locations to Visit in the Eastern Mediterranean
If you take a cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean, it is more than likely that you will also have the chance to stop off at other ports, such as Piraeus in Athens, Greece, Istanbul in Turkey and Venice in Italy. All of these destinations give you an opportunity to explore the wide variety of sights, foods and wines particular to that region and to enjoy the faster pace of Mediterranean city life as well as the tranquility of its beaches.