On more than 3,000 Greek islands, a good hundred are inhabited. And Klaus Botig has been to most of them.
“I know 87 islands and each is wonderful in its own way.
An expert on Greece, he has written around 70 travel guides on the Mediterranean country, and he says he has traveled there around 270 times. So who would know better which islands are the perfect introduction for newcomers to Greece?
Because if we are to believe the tour operators, many holidaymakers are going there this summer, and the demand continues to increase. Here’s Botig’s advice on the island for Hellas newcomers – and an insider’s tip for everyone else.
Botig has an anecdote about Kos. Once he flew from Crete, then took a taxi to the town of Kos, 25 km from the airport.
“I started talking to the taxi driver and told him about Crete – that there were more museums and more ancient sites than Kos, and the mountains were higher.”
The taxi driver simply asked, “Why are you traveling? Do you want to see museums and mountains or meet good people? You will find them here.
Finding is a bit of a keyword here, as Kos is a very touristy island. A ratio of 80% tourists and 20% locals can be seen here in the summer, Botig estimates.
But for newcomers who have already vacationed in Italy or Spain and are now visiting Greece for the first time, it is a good travel destination.
It is also ideal for families. “There are very nice beaches and the distances are short”, which saves children from sitting in the car for hours. There is no shortage of places, from the ancient site of Asklepieion to the Zia Natural animal park, passing by the Aquatica water park or the sandy beaches in the south of the island with illustrious names such as Magic Beach or Exotic Beach.
Those who like to be more active while on vacation can explore Kos by bike. “This is where the best cycling routes in Greece are,” says Botig.
The island located in the far northwest of Greece offers an Italian touch. It’s because of the Venetians, who ruled here for a long time and shaped the architecture – including building the first theater in Greece.
Botig enthuses, “Corfu Town is one of the most beautiful island towns”, … with the old town winding through several bays along the coast.
The Venetians also left their mark on the landscape. Because they needed oil for their lamps, they planted olive trees all over the island – which are still standing and are now hundreds of years old.
According to Botig, these are ancient olive forests. Especially in the northern half of the island, winding, hilly roads go up and down through narrow olive groves.
“It’s almost like riding a roller coaster,” he shares.
Corfu does not have the harshness of the Aegean Sea, says the author. “That’s why I would recommend it to any beginner.”
When it comes to beaches, however, Corfu is not so ideal. Especially where most hotels are, the beaches are very pebbly, he says.
His advice: “Make sure you take water shoes with you.”
Stunning beaches, many green and ancient sights, a wide range of sports, including the “best horse riding centers in Greece” – these are the main things Botig lists about Rhodes. You could say that the island has something for everyone.
This is also true for the island’s capital, which has one of the largest and best-preserved old towns in Europe, says Botig. “There are only two new houses there.”
Rhodes town has a number of bars and taverns that he can recommend, he adds. Those who like good food are in good hands here, he says, and there is also a decent nightlife.
Limnos: insider tip
If you know almost 90 Greek islands, you will of course be asked for an insider tip. Botig then names Limnos, in the northern part of the Aegean Sea.
“It’s mostly Greeks who go there for holidays,” he says, and the island is therefore not too overcrowded.
And this despite the fact that you can visit the Bronze Age ruins of Poliochni here, which are more than 4,500 years old. Poliochni is considered the first urban settlement in Europe.
Limnos is relatively cheap and offers good conditions for windsurfers and cyclists, says Botig. However, you can only get there with a stopover in Athens or Thessaloniki, and continue either with a domestic flight or with a ferry. – dpa