When it comes to dreaming about a Greek summer, we will more often than not associate it with the islands, and rightly so. Island lust is an actual thing, and it kicks in, right about now! Greece has well over 150 islands and in light of this, wanting to steer away from the overly popular Cycladic islands of Santorini and Mykonos, here we look at three amazing north Aegean island destinations, that totally encapsulate the true meaning of summer.
Indulge in pure, summer bliss in Thassos
Introducing Thassos, the emerald island on the north Aegean coast of Greece, actually belonging to the regional unit of Kavala, it’s so close to the mainland. Athens to Kavala is a quick 1 hour flight, and from there you make your way to the Keramoti port, and within 40 minutes you have arrived at the Limenas port of Thassos. Venturing around Thassos, you’ll soon realise why it is considered an emerald island; it is full of green hills and landscapes that reach up to the sea. And within 2 minutes of arriving at Limenas, Aelia Villa is set amidst a bright garden, equipped with everything you need for an honest and alternative island escape.
Suitable for adults, couples and families, Aelia Villa provides the means to experiencing a homey holiday, away from home. Located only 30 meters from the beach of Agios Vasilios it also boasts quite a central location which will prove very convenient during your stay. Within a few minutes you can walk to all the amenities of Thassos town, Limenas, while enjoying the wonderful seaside views; if its nature activities that you crave, Thassos can definitely oblige! Sailing around the north Aegean, scuba diving and pilates on the beach are only a few of the possibilities that you can seize, and make your days in Thassos full of new surprises! Thassos also has great historic significance as it has many interesting archaeological finds, of the Phoenician, Ancient Greek and Byzantine eras, plus some really impressive traditional stone villages that you can explore at your leisure.
Traditional meets laid back luxury in Lemnos
Further south, but still within the northern Aegean cluster, is the wonderful Lemnos island. An island that is completely off the beaten track, and for this reason, manages to maintain its true, authentic colours. Mass tourism has somehow overlooked Lemnos, and for this, travellers seeking the more genuine side of a Greek summer will be thankful! And if you think that this means Lemnos is not a destination worth your time, then think again. Lemnos has a mythical air about it due to the fact that it has been linked to the ancient Greek gods Hephaestus and Aeolus, all the intriguing places the island harbours: salt lakes, sand dunes, volcanic craters, thermal springs and the imposing Medieval fort castle of Myrina.
It is also the home to the incredible chapel of the Virgin Mary Kakkaviotissa nestled in the bowels of Mount Kakkavos. Need more incentive? Lemnos is predominantly flat, so it boasts more than 30 sand beaches that will guarantee your privacy. Ideal for couples wanting to spend their days wrapped up in each other is staying at a traditional windmill of Varos Village with a view to the sea, or if you wish to travel with your family opt for the village suite and include your family in some first time experiences, whether it’s an outdoor activity or something with a more educational character such as traditional pottery or cooking classes!
Carefree, easy going vacationing in Ikaria
There is still one place in the Northern Aegean that is even more detached from mass touristic infrastructure (and will probably always resist it); is the magical yet very nonconformist, Ikaria island. With some of the most exotic beaches in Greece, like Seicheles (The Greek version of the world famous Seychelles), with gray/white rock formations meeting the strikingly azure sea and the windy, surfing beach of Messakti, Ikaria is the perennially hippy island that is increasingly popular among Greeks.
As Santorini and Mykonos become overbearingly inundated with international tourists each year, the Greek nationals are looking for new, unprecedented experiences, trading tourist queues and over-the-top luxury, for a more genuine side of summer, one that is closer to the everyday people who have shaped the Greece of today. Apart from its sensational beaches, Ikaria is known for having its own rhythm, and you should be prepared to wait for your order whether it’s coffee of food, as everyone takes their time. Famous also for the summer ‘panigiria’ or feasts that take place during the night and end at dawn, you could say that Ikaria is an entirely different world and entering it will take you back in time, making you feel as carefree as a child.