Gran Canaria is one of the 7 islands that make up the Autonomous Community of the Canaries. It is a thousand kilometers from Cádiz, the closest European port, and 210 kilometers from the coast of North Africa.
381,000 of its 855,000 inhabitants live in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the nerve center and capital of the island which, in the years before the pandemic, hosted almost half of the tourists who traveled to the island.
If we think that in normal conditions Gran Canaria could welcome something like 4 and a half million tourists a year, it is easy to understand what kind of importance the island has on a planetary level and how much it is loved by European travelers.
Generally it is German, English, Northern European and Spanish tourists who are most attracted to the beauties of Gran Canaria.
Beaches, sun, nature, gastronomy and the possibility of practicing outdoor sports all year round make this island a unique destination in the world. In recent times, the possibility of working in smart working has added new frontiers to tourism in Gran Canaria.
8000 remote workers now live on the island taking advantage of the high-speed internet connection and the possibility of integrating well into local communities.
For Gran Canaria it means hosting international talent while attracting a new form of tourism. The professionals who decide to come to work on the island are Germans, English, Americans, Italians and French who decide to stay in Gran Canaria for at least 2 months
The climate of the Canary Islands generally favors outdoor sports activities. In particular in Gran Canaria, there are 7 golf courses among which it is necessary to mention the Real Club de Golf of Las Palma, the oldest in all of Spain, whose birth dates back to 1891. The spectacular landscapes of the island also give the opportunity to practice excursions and trekking among incredible scenarios: just imagine what a simple but healthy walk in the dunes of Maspalomas or a trekking on Roque Nublo can be.
Then imagine the coast and the sea, where you can choose between different water sports: from sport fishing, passing through surfing, wind surfing or kite surfing, sailing, scuba diving and much more. Cycling finds in Gran Canaria an excellent response also from professional teams not only for the excellent climate which, even in winter, allows athletes to train in spring climates, but thanks to sinuous and well-kept roads in the interior and spectacular views along the coast..
When it comes to Spain, the sea, mild climates and good food, I never know where to start.
The fish dishes and the restaurants on the coast just so as not to stray too far from the photo above.
But also and above all local products of the land and wines with a controlled designation of origin.
The flavors of Gran Canaria are original and natural, whether they come from the sea or from the land. Patatas arrugadas, sanchocho and many varieties of stews are just some of the typical flavors of the island that you must absolutely try. The only coffee produced in Europe is grown in the Agaete Valley; Bodega Arehucas Rum is the largest and oldest of its kind in the entire European continent.
Gran Canaria is also part of the Saborea España project, created to highlight the products and ingredients of local dishes, as well as the skills of the chefs who cook in the island’s restaurants
A historical and natural heritage
Gran Canaria has unique climatic characteristics thanks to its peaks that reach maximum altitudes above 1900 m above sea level.
This means that it has been defined as a miniature continent and declared by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, thanks to the sustainable development of its environment and the conservation of the species living on the island.
If the tourists who visit Gran Canaria choose it for the climate, the sea and the beaches, it is indisputable that the historical and natural heritage of the island is unmatched in the world.
The natural pools in Guía, the Special Reserve of Los Tilos de Moya, the only remaining laurel forest in Gran Canaria, the Painted Cave Museum and the Archaeological Park, the beaches and steep cliffs around Agaete, the historic center of Arucas, the woods around Osorio in Teror and the Azuaje gorge in Firgas.
How not to mention the Nublo Rural Park and the Special Nature Reserve of the Dunes of Maspalomas which are probably the most representative of the island.
Gran Canaria also offers various archaeological sites not to be missed for any reason in the world, such as the Caves of Valerón (Santa María de Guía), the Roque Bentayga Visitor Center (Tejeda), the Archaeological Park of Maipés (Agaete), the Necropolis of Arteara (San Bartolomé de Tirajana), Cañada de Los Gatos (Mogán), the Visitor Center of the Guayadeque Ravine (Agüimes) and La Fortaleza Visitor Center (Santa Lucia de Tirajana).
Gran Canaria has also been declared a “Tourist Destination Starlight” by the United Nations for education, science and culture (UNESCO).
Astro tourism is one of the flagship projects of Gran Canaria, and has launched at conquer its spectacular night skies by fighting against light contamination in an attempt to restore the right to observe the stars.
The island wishes to recover the quality of the skies that the Aborigines used to see, with unique astronomical indicators, diversifying the range of tourist offerings and opening new windows of knowledge.
To this end, this defense of the skies over Gran Canaria has become the backbone of the intervention of the island’s authorities, while many are working to ensure that the original settlement archaeological site of Risco Caído, in Artenara, is declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, together with the Areas Sacred of the Montaña de Gran Canaria.
5 curiosities about Gran Canaria
British writer Agatha Christie traveled to Gran Canaria and stayed at the Metropole Hotel. She sat outside for hours and looked out at the sand and seascape. Some of her adventures by Hercules Poirot were written from the terrace of her hotel
Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck, was shot on Las Canteras Beach in 1954
Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria are trying to confirm their hypothesis that the 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused a tidal wave that reached Gran Canaria and generated the Maspalomas dunes. (other theories say that the sand came from the Sahara).
Gran Canaria has the “nickname” of miniature continent due to the great variety of landscapes and climates found on the island. On some winter days visitors can be on the beach with a mild 22ºC, then within an hour climb to the top and find snow, 0ºC.
Gran Canaria boasts 33 different protected areas that extend over 66,707 hectares, which is less than half of the total area of the island (42.75%)
Ibiza is well suited to all types of travelers. Whether you are a family, a couple, a group of friends or maybe sportsmen looking for a particular environment, in Ibiza you will find an island full of unique emotions and suggestions. With its 572 km² of total area, Ibiza is easy to explore, as you won’t have to travel too many kilometers from one point to the other on the island. The points of greatest interest are generally about 15 ‘away from each other and thus, you will have all the time to discover the beauties, the beaches and the gastronomy that this Balearic island has to offer.
The pleasures of the island
Ibiza enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate that allows you to visit it, taking advantage of a good climate all year round. With 3000 hours of sunshine per year, very little rainfall, turquoise waters and the possibility of practicing many “sea sports”, Ibiza offers many possibilities and freedom for recreation. There is certainly no lack of nature, sunsets, the typical scents of the Mediterranean and the opportunity to fully enjoy the beaches of the island.
40% of the island is covered with pine and juniper forests divided into 1800 different species. The flora, of the Mediterranean type, has a variety of 940 different species. 43% of Ibiza’s land area is protected, of which around 18% is divided into eight natural areas. If that wasn’t enough, keep in mind that 75.4% of the island’s coastline is protected. Just to name a few, make a note of the Marine Reserve of the north-east coast of Ibiza-Tagomago, the Natural Reserves of Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and the islets to the west. Although the wetlands of the island attract many species of birds, the characteristic animal of Ibiza remains the pythous lizard, easy to spot on the walls or in the paths.
Another characteristic animal of the island is the Ibizan podenco, a particular breed of native dog of Egyptian origin that seems to have brought the Carthaginians in 654 AD, when they founded the city of Ibiza. It is an elegant, agile, strong breed with a very supple walk.
According to UNESCO, Ibiza is a privileged environment for the conservation of Posidonia Oceanica, a World Heritage Site as well as an aquatic and endemic plant of the Mediterranean. These aquatic plants are not only responsible for the purity of sea water but significantly contribute to reducing the erosion of marine coasts. Posidonia Oceanica is also a form of nourishment for various marine species and, for all these reasons, it is essential that it be preserved, avoiding damage or loss over the years.
Sea Salines has become a natural park since 2001. With an area of 3000 land hectares and 13,000 sea hectares, the natural park of Ibiza is an environmental wealth and protected reserve for 210 species of birds, among which flamingos, Himantopus and the Balearic Shearwater stand out. The park, thanks to its salt pans, is able to produce 50,000 tons of saltevery year.
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites
In addition to the aforementioned Posidonia Oceanica, Ibiza can avail itself of UNESCO heritage sites of all respect and historical importance. In 1999, UNESCO declared the walls of Dalt Vila a World Heritage Site, as the best-preserved coastal fortress in the whole of the Mediterranean. The same goes for the remains of the Phoenician city of sa Caleta and the necropolis of Puig de Molins, perfectly preserved over time.
The Renaissance walls that “envelop” the ancient city with the Cathedral and the Almudaina Castle on top, are the most important monuments of Ibiza. Dalt Vila is made up of narrow labyrinthine streets, calli and squares that give a sense of serenity completely opposite to that of the port, the bay and the commercial area of the barrios of la Marina and Sa Penya.
According to UNESCO, the remains of the Phoenician city of Sa Caleta and the Phoenician-Punic necropolis are a very important testimony of the life, culture and urbanization of the Phoenician and Carthaginian cultures.
The underwater grasslands of Posidonia oceanica represent a natural wealth both for Ibiza and for the global marine biodiversity. The so-called “lungs of the sea” present in the waters of the island are among the best preserved in the Mediterranean and, as such, they must remain.
Shopping and markets
Shopping in Ibiza could be just as rewarding as doing it in a big city: from major international brands to small and young designers, passing through local crafts, it will be possible to find and discover everything on the island. Dalt Vila, the barrio de La Marina, Avenida Bartolomé Roselló and Marina Botafoch are just some of the areas where you can go shopping for “depth”. Letting yourself be carried away by the colorful shop in the middle of a street is certainly the best thing to do. You can come in and find many surprises all of a sudden.
Sant’Eulària, Sant Josep, Sant Antoni and Sant Joan contain a multitude of excellent commercial boutiquesinspired by local products where you can find authentic treasures. The markets of Las Dalias and Punta Arabí are absolutely worth a visit. Las Dalias opens all year round on Saturdays, while in summer it also has a night “version”; unique. Punta Arabí for 25 years every Wednesday with about 400 stalls.
But if you love stalls and markets, you cannot miss the local handicraft stalls at the Port of Ibiza, Figueretes, Sant’Eulària, Sant Antoni, Sant Joan, San Miquel or the works of the potters of San Rafael.
The gastronomy of Ibiza is mainly based on the Mediterranean trilogy, consisting of wheat, wine and olive oil. The sea and the land so generous have always given possibilities and multitudes of traditional recipes, elaborated according to the season and the climatic conditions of the island.
Ibiza is a journey of sensations through natural and local products where quality blends with traditional recipes and restaurants located in the most fascinating places on the island. The brand Sabors d’Eivissa represents that offer of local products made with raw materials by the islanders since the past, when Ibiza was still self-sufficient.
Gastronomy has become one of the great attractions of Ibiza, where the traveler can enjoy both the typical dishes of the island and the new contemporary Ibizan cuisine as well as gastronomic proposals from the most varied corners of the world. You can enjoy a seafood paella by the sea, savor the Ibizan seafood products with a grilled fish or a bullit de peix (boiled fish), share a tasty sofrit pagès (peasant stew based on various types of meat), taste the island’s sheep and goat cheeses or its tasty sobrasada (typical salami), finish the meal with a portion of flaó and a glass of Hierbas Ibicencas, exploring the suggestive proposals of haute cuisine and maybe toast with a glass of island wine…
Ibiza boasts a rich heritage of traditions that allow anyone who visits it to immerse themselves even more in the heart of the island. The island’s countryside has been self-sufficient for generations thanks to the spirit of self-adaptation and the ability of the people of Ibiza to make the most of nature’s resources. On the island you will find many examples of traditional architecture that, over the years, have allowed the Balearic island to get the nickname of Isla Blanca. Just get lost in the back streets to admire how many white houses have been converted into restaurants or to discover some very white building submerged in nature.
Ball pagès, the traditional Ibiza dance, stands out for being a unique folkloric representation in the Mediterranean. With centuries of antiquity and an uncertain origin, this ancient courtship dance takes place in all the popular festivals of the island and in the weekly performances scheduled during the summer tourist season.
Playing sports in Ibiza
Finding a sport that suits you in Ibiza shouldn’t be difficult. After eating, shopping, sunbathing on the beach and maybe staying late at night, a little healthy sport would be good for anyone. A lot of greenery lends itself well to sports such as golf, horse riding, walking, running or cycling, while the sea and the beaches offer the canonical multitude of water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing and much more.
It is almost superfluous to remember that Ibiza is also full of many sporting events throughout the year: marathon, half marathon, regattas, cycle tour, trial and much more. For professional and non-professional sportsmen, but also for all fans, in Ibiza there are always interesting events to follow.
What to do and see in Ibiza
All months are perfect for visiting the fortress district of Ibiza, although it is during the afternoons and summer evenings that you will find more “life” thanks to the restaurants open around the squares of Vila, Sa Carrossa and del Sol. A walk to the cathedral and the castle will make you discover medieval palaces, secluded squares, art galleries and beautiful corners in the purest Mediterranean style.
The walls and ramparts: declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, the Renaissance citadel of Ibiza is the best preserved in the Mediterranean. It was built during the second half of the 16th century following the plan promoted by the monarchs Carlos I and Felipe II to modernize the military infrastructure of the strategic coastal territories of the Spanish Crown with the aim of improving the defense against attacks by the Ottoman Empire and others enemies of the time. The complex, which was originally only accessed from the Portal de Ses Taules and the Portal Nou, is made up of seven bastions, of which the two on the western side are museumized: Sant Jaume and Sant Pere. From the rest of the ramparts you can admire magnificent views of the city, the beaches of Ses Figueretes, Platja d’en Bossa, Es Cavallet and the nearby island of Formentera.
Necropolis of Puig des Molins
Ibiza Museum of Contemporary Art(MACE)
Cathedral and Diocesan Museum
The historic districts outside the walls: La Marina and Sa Penya maintain the port character of Mediterranean cities, with simple houses with white facades and a marked seafaring air. Located near the port, the streets of these neighborhoods are full of entertainment during the summer tourist season thanks to their boutiques, shops, bars, restaurants. Ice cream parlors and cafes, many with views of the marina and the luxurious boats that dock there. The Parque and Vara de Rey squares, with their remarkable colonial-style buildings, are worth a stop during a stroll through the center of Ibiza.
7 things to do in Ibiza
Go shopping in La Marina, Dalt Vila or Eixample, where Adlib fashion boutiques, stalls, traditional shops, national and international brands, art galleries, multi-brand shops await you.
Take the water taxi that connects the district of La Marina with the promenade and the beach of Talamanca.
See how the artisans work their pieces in the Sa Pedrera craft market, open to the public on Fridays.
Enjoy the lively nightlife of the city, especially that of Dalt Vila, La Marina, the port, the promenade and Ses Figueretes.
Walk along the walls from bastion to bastion, paying attention to its informative panels and museum spaces.
Join the theatrical guided tours organized by the Municipality of Ibiza.
Buy sweets in the cloistered convent of Sant Cristòfol, popularly known as Ses Monges Tancades (the closed nuns), and other Ibizan gastronomic products in the Mercat Nou and Mercat Vell markets.
The capital has accessible beaches where you can enjoy swimming and water sports. North of the town hall, in the bay of Talamanca, there is the 900-meter-long beach of the same name, with various services and catering. Closer to the historic center is the beach of Ses Figueretes, along which the district of the same name extends and a multitude of accommodation, restaurants, shops, cafes, bars and pubs. Following on from Ses Figueretes, there is Platja d’en Bossa, a long sandy beach shared by the municipalities of Ibiza and San Sant Josep which has one of the most developed tourist offers on the island.
8 things to do in Sant’Eulària
Reach the islet of Tagomago by kayak or explore the stretches between Pou des Lleó and Canal d’en Martí and between Cala Llonga and Santa Eulària.
Enjoy the rural landscape of Santa Gertrudis on horseback.
Follow the circular trekking paths of the town hall, such as the one that goes up to the Torre d’en Vall.
Surfing in Cala Martina and Cala Pada, getting started in the world of sailing on the beach of Santa Eulària and diving in Cala Llenya, Cala Mestella or Pou des Lle.
Buy Ibizan-style souvenirs at the hippy markets of Las Dalias and Punta Arabí and visit the artisan market of Santa Gertrudis.
Approach Sant Carles, Cala Nova and the hippy market of Las Dalias aboard a tourist train.
Enjoy a trip along the east coast on board the ferry that connects the port of Ibiza with the tourist centers of Es Canar, Santa Eulària and Cala Llonga.
Set foot on eleven shores in a single day following the Route of the Beaches, a circular route for mountain biking that passes through Cala Nova, Cala Llenya, Cala Mestella, Cala Boix, Es Figueral and S’Aigua Blanca, among other beaches.
The beaches of Sant’Eulària
Sandy beaches, steep cliffs rising from the coast, wild coves and a generous number of islets form the beautiful littoral landscape of Santa Eulària. Along its 46 kilometers, there are frequent shores of calm waters suitable for bathing children and with a wide range of services, such as Cala Llonga, Cala Pada, Cala Martina, Es Niu Blau, S’Argamassa, Es Canar, Platja des Riu de Santa Eulària and the urban beach of Santa Eulària, the first of the Balearic Islands to declare itself a “smoke-free beach” where smoking is not allowed. The shores best known for their photogenic beauty are S’Aigua Blanca and Es Figueral – both overlooking the islet of Tagomago-, Cala Nova, Cala Llenya and Cala Boix – Ibiza’s only dark sand beach-, while the most intimate coves are Cala Mestella, Pou des Lleó, S’Estanyol and Cala Olivera.
What to do in San Josep
The village of Sant Josep is quiet and surrounded by cultivated fields. Its small urban core has grown around its church and street. The temple was built in 1730 following the characteristics of popular Ibizan architecture and is the only church on the island with a sundial on the facade. You can have a coffee in the charming little square located in front of the temple, browse its shops and galleries and enjoy many local dishes in its many restaurants. In addition, fans of cinema and theater will find a rich program at the Can Jeron Culture Center.
The Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta is located a few meters from the Es Bol Nou beach. This deposit is one of the four sites in Ibiza declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its origin as a settlement dates back to the 8th century BC. and you can see the remains of the urban layout and two ovens.
7 things to do in San Josep
Visit the Ses Salines Interpretation Center near the church of Sant Francesc. Inside, information is provided on the ecological importance of the salt ponds, the dune strings, the Posidonia oceanica meadows and the cliffs of the natural park and on the numerous marine and terrestrial species that host these habitats, such as the pitiusa lizard (Podarcis pityusensis ), the seahorse (Hippocampus ramulosus), the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), the flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) or the stilt (Himantopus himantopus).
Stroll along the coast in search of the surveillance towers in the south and west of Ibiza: Es Carregador or Sa Sal Rossa, Ses Portes, Es Savinar and En Rovira.
See the Ibiza sunset from the various bars and cafes located in Portmany bay or from the shores of Cala Tarida, Port des Torrent or Platges de Comte.
Practice numerous water activities in the bay of Portmany, and in the nearby tourist centers of Cala de Bou and Platja Pinet.
Plan an excursion to discover the ecological and landscape values of the Natural Reserves of Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and the western islets.
Go to the Sant Josep market on Saturdays to look for local agricultural products (open during the summer tourist season) or take part in the colorful atmosphere of the Sant Jordi second-hand market (all year round).
Climb to the top of Sa Talaia, the highest mountain in Ibiza with a height of 475 meters. It is one of the most attractive trips for hikers and cyclists in the municipality, as from the top you can enjoy a wonderful view over a large part of the island.
The beaches of San Josep
Sant Josep has more than 20 beaches and coves for all tastes and needs, including Platja d’en Bossa, the longest sandy beach in Ibiza and one of the busiest thanks to the wide range of hotels, restaurants, clubs , pubs and water and nautical businesses. The wild beaches of Ses Salines, Cala Jondal, Cala Bassa, the set of coves that make up Platges de Comte and Cala d’Hort stand out for their beauty and popularity, the best viewpoint on the famous islet of Es Vedrà. Other unique shores are Es Cavallet – of nudist tradition -, Cala Codolar, Es Bol Nou, Cala Carbó, Cala Molí or the beaches of Cala Vedella, Cala Tarida and Port des Torrent, with a family atmosphere.
What to do and see in Sant Antoni
The beauty of its bay, the spectacular sunsets with the Ponente islets in the background and a practically unchanged rural landscape are three of the great attractions of Sant Antoni, a destination open to all travelers that always surprises, whether near the sea or inland.
Sunset in Ses Variades: the stretch of the promenade between Caló des Moro and the breakwater is known as Ses Variades and during the summer it becomes one of the most visited places on the island thanks to the bars and cafes that play music at sunset, often offered by famous DJs. Outside the summer tourist season, the promenade allows you to enjoy beautiful sunsets in a peaceful environment.
Route of the churches: the temple of Sant Antoni, whose origin dates back to the 14th century, is an excellent example of a Pythian church-fortress that still has its defensive tower and the starting point of this itinerary. Inland, the silhouettes of the small church of Santa Agnès, whose portico is located near the ancient main entrance, and the temple of Sant Mateu, crowned by a simple bell gable, give a singular beauty to the rural landscape of both. valleys. For its part, a visit to the church of Sant Rafel, built in the late eighteenth century, offers an excellent view of the city of Ibiza and a curvilinear bell tower that gives lightness to the austere facade.
Santa Agnès and the almond trees: this small hamlet is located in the Pla de Corona valley, one of the most peaceful places in Ibiza. The best time to visit is between January and February, when its hundreds of almond trees bloom.
The vineyards of Sant Mateu: the north of the municipality is traditionally linked to wine production and currently hosts the plants of two wineries on the island that produce wines with I.G.P. Ibiza, Vino de la Tierra | Vi de la Terra.
5 things to do in Sant Antoni
Practicing water and nautical sports offered in the bay: diving, sailing, kitesurfing, paddle surfing, water skiing, parasailing, jet skis, kayaking, fishing …
Enjoy a boat trip to admire the beauty of the cliffs of Ses Balandres and Cala d’Albarca, as well as the Natural Reserves of Es Vedrà, Es Vedranell and the islets to the west.
Walk the coastal path that connects Sant Antoni to Cala Salada, go cycling in the area known as Es Broll, stroll through the Pla de Corona until you reach the cliff overlooking the islets of Ses Margalides…
Buy local products in the Forada Market (Saturday), at the Sant Antoni Agricultural Market (Friday) or at the Sant Rafel Handicraft Market (Thursday, from July to September).
Visit a winery to taste the wines of the island.
The beaches of Sant Antoni
Sant Antoni is home to coves and beaches ideal for children who also stand out for the beauty of the environment or its views. Within the urban core of Sant Antoni there are the beaches of Es Puetó, S’Arenal and Caló des Moro, which are added to the beaches of the bay that administratively belong to Sant Josep. A few minutes by car or bus from the town are Cala Gració and Cala Gracioneta, two coves surrounded by pine trees, separated by a small promontory; the turquoise waters of the photogenic coastline formed by Cala Salada and Cala Saladeta – one of the most photographed in Ibiza – and the stone terraces of Punta Galera, an ancient stone quarry that has become a favorite place for nudist practitioners.
What to do and see in Sant Joan
Sant Joan and its church: the town that gives its name to the town hall is a quiet and charming place, whose few houses are located along the road and around the church dedicated to an John the Baptist. The temple, completed in 1770, is structured around a single rectangular nave with a ribbed vault and seven side chapels. Other hallmarks of the temple are its bell tower, built in the 19th century, and its portico with two arches. On Sundays, the square in front of the church becomes a meeting point for visitors who go to the artisan and gastronomic market.
6 things to do in Sant Joan
Admire the beauty of the cliffs of northern Ibiza aboard the excursion boats that depart from Portinatx.
Explore the surroundings of the beaches of Portinatx, Port de Sant Miquel and Cala de Sant Vicent on a paddle surf board or on a pedal boat.
Follow the itinerary that leads to Punta des Moscarter and the homonymous lighthouse, the highest in the Balearic Islands; or walk down to the remote virgin cove of Es Portitxol, on the coast of Sant Miquel.
Admire the fabulous views from the top of the Torre des Molar, located a few kilometers from the Port de Sant Miquel and where you arrive after a trek.
Buy handicrafts and agricultural products from the north of Ibiza at the Sant Joan Sunday market.
Get on the tourist train that leaves from Portinatx and discover some of the most beautiful corners of the north of the island.
The beaches of San Joan
The north coast is home to coves for all tastes, from those with all services to those hidden under the cliffs, suitable for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle or practice nudism. The beaches of Port de Sant Miquel, Cala de Sant Vicent, S’Arenal Gran, S’Arenal Petit and Port de Portinatx have equipment, restaurants, shops and water activity rentals, making them a very suitable choice for families. Benirràs is also very popular, thanks to its hippy environment, its sunsets and the uniqueness of the landscape of its fishermen’s cottages with the islet of Cap Bernat. The remaining coves of Sant Joan are perfect for those who do not need services or for those who simply want a kiosk close at hand to be able to rent sunbeds and umbrellas: Cala de Xarraca, Cala des Xuclar, Cala d’en Serra, S’Illot des Renclí, Es Pas de s’Illa and Caló des Moltons.
I know it. The Greek islands do not need many introductions around the world, because their good reputation is so recognized that it should be enough to attract tourists for the next 1000 years. However, I find it fascinating to tell the beauty of this part of the world, trying to “summarize” in a few points what really attracts so many people to these parts. At least from what a simple traveler like me can see …
1. The friendliness, the welcome and the Greek people
The Greeks make hospitality and kindness a way of life. You ask for information in English and they answer in your language. Ask 500 questions and they (almost) never lose patience, keeping calm and smiling. Tourists and travelers in Greece are considered a treasure and are treated as such. Contrary to what one might think, on the Greek islands there are essential services that work excellently: from car rentals to emergency services, everything works perfectly to ensure that those who visit the island have an optimal stay. I saw firefighters putting out fires and gardeners working early in the morning in the green spaces of hotels and tourist resorts. The Greeks you know around are always available and a smile corresponds to a smile.
2. The excellent Greek cuisine
Greece boasts a culinary tradition that is nothing short of excellent. As in the whole Mediterranean area you will find fresh dishes, tasty products, excellent olive oil and even good wine. A simple Greek salad is a delicious rich and tasty dish ideal to satisfy anyone on a hot summer day on some Greek islet. Trying any freshly caught fish from the sea is still the best way (in my opinion) to approach the delights of the island you are visiting. There are restaurateurs who let guests in near the kitchen to choose the fish that is still fresh. Here you will have the possibility to choose the type of cooking and the side dishes. … and while you wait outside with a few slices of pita (soft and tasty Greek bread), the chefs prepare sublime dishes for you. There is nothing better than relaxing in a Greek restaurant overlooking the sea while sipping good wine or a cold beer… Don’t forget Ouzo, the typical liqueur also served with ice cubes. Personally, I also love Greek coffee, but beware of the slightly “dusty” bottom. It’s not like espresso that you can throw down in an instant and run away… Greek coffee is to be drunk calmly…sitting down…
3. The transparent sea
Whether you prefer the pebble beach or the fine sand one, on the Greek islands you will always find a blue and transparent sea to welcome you. I remember The intense blue of Platis Gialos in Lipsi welcome me after a long walk under the June sun. But also the transparency of the waters on more “touristy” islands and crowded beaches such as Tsampika beach in Rhodes, in the scorching July 2021. However, I think it is also a question of “tourist presence”. The most beautiful and cleanest beaches are always those a little off the beaten path. It depends on what you are looking for… Greece has many beaches without any service or tourist that are real terrestrial paradises. Seek and you will find.
4. Greek history and monuments
The history of Greece has very ancient origins, so much so that Greek art and culture are defined as the “cradle of Western civilization”. Visiting the Greek islands does not only mean spending whole days by the sea sunbathing or swimming in the sea (no one forbids you to do it of course!) But also having the opportunity to explore many buildings that belonged to the past and archaeological sites that nowhere else of the world you will find so preserved. Touching and admiring amphitheaters, immense columns of temples with sensational views of the sea will give you an idea of what Greece and its islands were in history and how civilization has evolved over the centuries.
5. Nature and animals
Despite the many tourists, the Greek islands still preserve areas where uncontaminated nature holds up very well and some animals live in absolute freedom. You will immediately notice the imposing presence of cats all over the islands that go in search of food among the tables of the restaurants. They are not annoying. Just a little hungry. Donkeys are among the most common animals in Greece and are used both for carrying things and for attracting tourists. If you love to walk and look for unusual places off the beaten track, you will find small outdoor stalls by the sea where they stay and return after a few short morning outings. Goats are everywhere! you will find them day and night climbing on the most inaccessible mountains and on the paths to reach the beaches. Be careful if you rent a car! They are often on small roads that lead to the sea. But they just observe the strange individuals moving around in as many strange tin boxes: the tourists in their rental cars.
A good time to see Greek goats running and jumping in total freedom is dawn. Early in the morning the Greek shepherds take the goats to pasture and leave them free to roam around the small villages. Tourists are still sleeping and it is a sight to see these animals running freely. If you want to wake up so early (in the summer the sun rises between 5.30 and 6.15 in the morning), you can admire beautiful breathtaking views.
The lucky ones also have the pleasure of admiring and photographing some sea turtles swimming in the seas of the Greek islands. They are very strong and very resistant animals that approach the harbors of the islands in search of some fish and in search of food. They give a sense of life and constant presence of nature as well as joy. In kastelorizo there are five or six who have been returning and living around the island for years. An inhabitant of the island told me how their presence was constant over time despite the tourists and boats present in the small port.
Not least is the vegetation present on the Greek islands. Don’t be surprised if in the gardens of the houses or around the island you are visiting you come across some strange flower or tree from time to time. The spontaneous variety of the Mediterranean in this area is truly incredible f you want to learn more and know more, consult this article on our partner site dedicated to the flowers of the Greek islands.
Imagine the blue of the sea and that of the domes of the Greek churches. Then think of the doors and windows that are also blue. The blue sky. The burning sun. The colors of the flowers: from the purple of the bungavillea to the red of the hibiscus. Nothing is missing on the Greek islands. Not even the whiteness of the houses or the perfectly kept paths of hotels and tourist resorts. And if you like shades you can throw yourself on the sunsets: Santorini has the reputation of having the most beautiful ones but I challenge anyone who has been on a Greek island to go home without a photo of a crazy sunset by the sea or on top of some Mountain.
7. The scent of the greek islands
Explaining a perfume is really difficult but I’ll try. The scents of the Greek islands are the most unique and devastating (in a positive sense) there is. From the flowers to the sea, from the sky to the earth, everything smells of something. Imagine waking up in the morning and already smelling some perfume that comes from the sea, then passing from the coffee, to the scent of the sand, arriving at lunch with the table filled with colors and scents. The Greek islands are a bit like this: wherever you set foot you will feel something good, different sensations and something pleasant to welcome you. …and if that’s not enough…
8. The sun
Since I started traveling between the Greek islands, I don’t remember cloudy days, much less rain or cold days. The hot sun constantly floods this part of the world for much of the summer, giving warm weather and beautiful tans to those who come here. Personally I also find the morning shade and the air conditioning out of place. But I think I am a bit strange to love the heat and the scorching Greek sun so much. After all, no one is perfect.
9. The beaches and the empty streets
Over time I realized one thing: the earlier you wake up in the morning, the more tranquility and peace you will find on the beach. Since I started to love photography, I have discovered that better photos are taken at sunrise (and at sunset). Except that at sunset it is full of people while at dawn there is hardly anyone. In Greece there are beaches that are overcrowded during the day that remain almost empty until 10 in the morning, others out of the way, which are almost always deserted, because there are no umbrellas, bars or restaurants on the beach. The same goes for the streets. If you travel between May and mid-July or after August until the end of the season, the problem hardly arises, but there are roads not far from super tourist areas where you will come across more goats than cars. People have a habit of following the “beaten” and safe roads, ignoring the smaller road signs. Personally I am attracted by the small signs that read “beach”, “anywhere” or by the small white villages with the streets so narrow that a woman in the ninth month of pregnancy would have difficulty crossing.
But it’s the best way to get lost…and I love getting lost in the Greek islands…