With the 2012 Summer Olympics merely three days away (don’t forget to watch the Opening Ceremony!), we can’t help but have our minds wander to the beautiful islands in Greece, the country where the Ancient Olympic Games first took place.
Bernice Chuang, Her Campus collegiette hailing from the University of Texas at Austin and winner of Her Campus’ Campus to Contiki contest, recaps her recent adventure on Contiki’s Greek Island Hopping tour! Check it out!
Guest Blog Post by Bernice Chuang, Her Campus Correspondent
Ever since I watched The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I had been dying to go to Santorini, Greece. Thanks to Her Campus and Contiki, I can check that off my bucket list!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I returned from my 14-day Greek Island Hopping Tour with Contiki, and I already miss the beaches, sun, and beautiful white and blue buildings terribly.
The pace of this tour was very easygoing, which matched the Greek culture very well. We spent around three days on each island (Mykonos, Santorini, and Ios) and around 2 days in Athens.
On Day 1, I landed in Athens and made my way to the Hotel Poseidon by bus (way cheaper than taking a taxi). The hotel was very clean and had a westernized feel to it. I loved how it was right on the beach and there was a rooftop pool and bar and a tanning area! The only downside was that you had to pay for Internet. The tour group, around 20 of us, met up in the evening and ate our first included dinner together right on the beach — a super fun way to start off the tour. I was surprised that there were quite a few people who were traveling alone, which made it easier for me to not feel like the odd one out.
The next day, we were able to spend the full day in Athens. I chose to go on the Acropolis tour (Contiki trips always offer optional excursions which cost extra, but allow a lot of flexibility with your vacation). The rest of the day was a free day, so my new friends and I decided to shop around for souvenirs.
The next day we caught a ferry from Athens to Mykonos—our only early morning. Most of the days on the trip, we never had to meet up earlier than 10 a.m. (super sweet for night owls!). The ferry ride was five hours long, but surprisingly comfortable because the seats were better than airplane seats and there was even a little café on board with coffee and pastries. The hotel we stayed at in Mykonos, Aphrodite Beach Resort, was my favorite! The hotel was very crisp, clean, and modernized while maintaining a classic Greek blue and white color scheme. We were located farther from town, but at least we were right on the beach.
During our time in Mykonos, we had the option of exploring town by night and going to Paradise Beach. Mykonos is known to be quite a party island so the nightlife is worth checking out, but the drinks usually cost 10 euros each, which can add up really quickly!
After two full days in Mykonos, we packed up and took another ferry to Santorini. Our hotel, New Haroula, was more traditional this time, which was a slightly uncomfortable transition from our amazing hotel in Mykonos. Because Santorini is a volcanic island, we were unable to drink the water there and you could smell traces of sulfur in the tap water. Other than that, Santorini was absolutely amazing! There are endless sights to see there. The included dinner on the first night was in the town of Fira and we got an amazing view of the sunset there. One of the optional excursions (highly recommended) was a day tour of the island, which includes going to the red sand and black sand beaches and touring a winery. Definitely well worth the time! The second day’s optional excursion was a trip to Oia, the northern tip of the island and the most photographed part of Santorini, to watch the sunset. For all you Sisterhood fans, this is the place you want to go see!
On our third day at Santorini, we packed up and hopped on a high-speed ferry to Ios–the last island of the tour and home of Homer, author of The Iliad and The Odyssey! Ios was by far the most relaxing and cheapest island. Drinks were significantly cheaper and the nightlife was awesome! Our tour guide took us around town at night to all the bars and clubs and our group had a ton of fun. The hotel we stayed at, Far Out Hotel, was near the beach and had a poolside restaurant. The rooms were spacious and clean and definitely a step up from the hotel in Santorini. Each room also had a little outdoor sitting area! The only optional excursion offered (which I highly recommend) was taking a day cruise on a pirate ship to a secluded beach where we could swim, tan, and have an included picnic lunch with the group.
On the last day, we said our farewells to the island and headed back to Athens, which concluded the tour. I was amazed at how smoothly the tour went since everything was pre-arranged for you. The tour was incredibly stress-free and allowed a ton of flexibility in terms of what you want to do each day. If you’re looking for a great time in Greece but hate planning and don’t know where to start, a Contiki tour might be just what you’re looking for!
**This post was republished with permission from HerCampus.com. The original post can be accessed here.