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And modern Greek taverna fare, a lighter and more experimental version of the original, has been gaining a foothold in chicer destinations.
But perhaps just as appealing as what’s changed is what’s remained the same: Age-old traditions like Easter lamb roasts, grape and olive harvests, and saint’s day celebrations are still big to-dos, attracting participants of all ages.
With rugged mountains soaring more than 8,000 feet, a staggering 650 miles of coastline, and remote, sandy beaches giving way to deep-blue water, Greece’s biggest island offers a bit of everything.
While showcasing vivid landscapes, it also claims a fascinating history tracing back more than 5,000 years to the world’s first known “leisure civilization,” that of the ancient Minoans.
The Minoans were followed in succession by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Venetians.
On Crete, all-but-abandoned rural farmhouses have been reborn as eco-friendly agritourism centers.
Mykonos hotels have adopted a white minimalist look and added luxurious wellness centers.
Recent updates to the transport systems have made it easier to navigate the new Athens airport and metro.
In the Dodecanese chain of islands, where Rhodes still reigns with the majesty bestowed by the Crusaders, there’s much to be gained by venturing out to Symi, Leros, and Patmos, where sites like the Cave of the Apocalypse are really old hat and untouched villages beckon with low-key charm. 1 industry—hardly surprising considering the Greeks’ well-known flair for hospitality—and after the 2004 Olympics, the services for tourists are smoother and sleeker than ever.
On Santorini and Mykonos (in the Cyclades), which continue to cast a spell over international celebs and merrymakers, we find the stunning sunsets are worth the hype and Psarou Beach is actually more paradisiacal than Paradise Beach.
On Crete, the seat of the ancient Minoans and a world unto itself, we delve into lovely Venetian-era port towns and a sprinkling of remote beaches where merely wading through the turquoise water is an event.