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Do you have the energy to hop from island to island in ten days? If so, this list may be for you. Greece stimulates the intellect in you with its amazing cultural heritage, while appeasing the hedonist in you with its tempting, relaxing beaches. So why not do both? Check out the attractions below before or after taking in a couple hours at the beach. A trip around the various islands can be both intense and satisfying. And even if you decide to stay on a couple extra days in any one particular spot, you will always have plenty to see and do.
Corfu has a rep for drawing a particular kind of partying tourist, but this remote village on the west coast of the island has remained relatively untouched by tourism. The village is an intriguing combination of beach resort and monastery. The monastery, which has been around since the 13th century, is on a hill overlooking the beaches.
Moving south through the Ionian Islands, we come to Zakynthos and this fabulous medieval monastery with its rare artifacts. Hit the beach after viewing the monastery!
It's hard not to go to Ithaca and see something that touches upon Homer's Odysseus. This excavation site was discovered by Heinrich Schliemann, the controversial archaeologist who also uncovered Troy.
Avoid the tourist trap of Knossos (which can be pretty underwhelming if you've ever been to Pompeii) and go to Gournia, an excellent example of Minoan life and society 3000 years ago.
Mykonos is widely considered Greece's Party Central, but when you're taking a break from the beautiful beaches and nightlife, stop in at this sixteenth-century monastery, named for the patron saint of the island.
The island of Naxos combines a very rich and unique culture--a Venetian influence is detectable in the Byzantine architecture. But if you want a break from monasteries, visit the Temple of Demeter, built in the sixth century B.C.
The beauty of Greece's second largest island (Crete is its first) is difficult to rival. Using its main town, Halkida, as a jumping off point, its verdant mountainsides present perfect opportunities for secluded and breathtaking vistas. Some quiet time in Euboea may be the perfect follow-up to the nightlife of Mykonos and Naxos!
Beautiful Santorini has beaches galore and some impressive ancient archaeological sites too. The site of Akrotiri has been undergoing reconstruction lately, so a trip to the equally wonderful Thira site is recommended. Like Pompeii, Thira was an ancient town destroyed by a volcano eruption, and as a result preserved for posterity. Check out the black lava beach while there!
The North Aegean island of Chios remains pretty undiscovered in terms of tourism--which is why you should go. Chios has quiet, unspoiled beaches and is known for the beauty of its medieval towns and Byzantine churches. A highlight of the island's architecture is this incredible twelfth-century monastery.
Like Chios, Samos is a pretty low-profile Greek island, overshadowed by more popular islands, but stilll worth a visit. Samos is home to this large ruin of a Greek temple. A temple of Artemis is also situated in a nearby town. And if at this point in your journey you're tired of both beaches and Greek ruins, Samos is well-known for it wineries and vineyards!