Best Holiday Homes Destinations

Istria - Croatia

Size: 56,542km²
Population: 4,493,312
Capital: Zagreb
Airports: Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Rijeka, Pula

 

Croatia is situated in Central Europe to the east side of the Adriatic Sea and east of Italy. It is also bordered by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia in the east and Montenegro to the south. Croatia boasts a coastline of over 1700 km on the Adriatic Sea and encompasses more than a thousand islands with crystal clear waters and long stretches of sand and shingle beaches. The Dinaric Alps that run alongside the coastline create dramatic scenery of natural beauty with craggy peaks, caverns, river canyons, waterfalls and picturesque lakes. Further inland the landscape flattens out into rolling farmland of vineyards and olive trees and then to the north central high lands of central Croatia and it’s capital Zagreb distinguished by its medieval Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and diverse museums.

Croatia is steeped in history and has been passed between competing kingdoms and empires for thousands of years mainly due its insecure position between the Balkans and central Europe and each conquest has left its stamp on the landscape. From Venetian palatial structures, Napoleonic forts and Roman columns protruding from early churches and the gamut of European history is showcased in the excellent museums.

Croatia is split into 5 travel regions:

  • Istria - A large, triangular peninsula pointing down into the northern Adriatic and one of the most developed areas of Croatia. At the southern tip lies the port of Pula, Istria’s largest city with its Roman relics and amphitheatre. To the west are pretty towns with shuttered houses, alleys and cobbled town squares and in between the two lies Porec. A popular tourist destination with Marinas and beaches but with a historic old town, the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica complex is famous for its gem-studded Byzantine mosaics. The historic hilltop towns of inland Istria sit high above the rolling hills, green pastures and forests, ancient stone structures left over from another century.
  • Kvarner - Squeezed between the Istrian peninsula to the north and Dalmatia to the south and sheltered by soaring mountains the Kvarner Gulf offers more than a mild climate, cobalt waters and beaches. There are many options for hiking in the two protected forests of Ucka Nature Park and Risnjak National Park, a rich legacy of stately Habsburg-era architecture in Opatija and Lovran and the gateway to an archipelago of islands in Rijeka. The islands of Cres, Lošinj, Krk and Rab all have a laid-back atmosphere, historic towns/ports, stretches of unspoiled coastline that are dotted with sandy beaches and remote coves. The sandy beaches of Rab boast to have almost a Caribbean quality.
  • Dalmatia – The hub of Southern Dalmatia is Split, the Adriatic’s main ferry port and a city grown from a previous Roman palace. Just outside the city are Roman ruins, a Rennaisance town and a medieval fortress built on a mountain pass. The south coast of the Markaska Riveria is probably the most enchanting with long pebble beaches sheltered by the beauty of the mountains. The major coastal city Dubrovnik has huge 16th-century walls encircling an Old Town with white limestone streets, Gothic and Renaissance buildings. The Islands of southern Dalmatia, Brac, Hvar and more, with ancient ports, great beaches, stunning scenery have a more laid back and secluded feel. An opportunity to get to know the locals and enjoy their local food and wine.
  • Slavonia - The north-eastern region of Croatia and an area of forests and fields. Kopački Rit is the biggest natural wetlands in Europe and the birdlife here is spectacular.
  • Central Croatia – Home of Croatia’s capital city Zagreb, grown from to medieval communities with architecture from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. An arty, quirky and creative place with a big following of the alternative music scene, edgy fashions, eccentric bars and small cafes selling very strong coffee. Over the last decade Croatia has become one of the fastest growing tourist destinations, with amazing weather conditions and incredible scenery for various activities throughout the year. Water sports, mountain/rock climbing, biking, hiking, canyoning, sea kayaking and many more but you will see that it has not been overworked and remains a place to discover many different landscapes and experiences.
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
    The oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia and an area of outstanding beauty, within the boundaries of this heavily forested park, 16 crystalline lakes tumble into each other via a series of waterfalls and cascades. 
  • Krka National Park
    Named after the river Krka, the park covers an area of just over 142 square km and includes two thirds of the river itself. The top attraction are its magnificent waterfalls, including the famous Skradinski Buk falls which are one of Croatia’s most famous sights.    
  • Dubrovnik Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Walking the Walls.
    The old town is one of the finest and most perfectly preserved medieval cities in the world. The walls that surround this historic centre were built between the 11th and 17th centuries are 2 km long and views can be enjoyed of the lively squares, impressive fortresses, hidden narrow streets, the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic sea and the island of Lokrum.
  • Pula Amphitheatre
    Built under the reign of Emperor Vespasian between 27 BC and AD 67 (around the same time as Rome’s Colosseum), it is one of the largest Roman amphitheatres in the world and the best-preserved ancient monument in Croatia. Today it is still used as a performance venue that accommodates up to 20,000 spectators.  
  • Diocletian's Palace, Split (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
    Built between 295 and 305 CE by the Emperor Diocletian as his place of retirement, it is the largest and best-preserved example of Roman palatial architecture representing a transitional style half Greek and half Byzantine. 
  • Saint Mark's Cathedral, Korcula Town
    A 15th century cathedral built in Korcula Limestone in a Gothic-Renaissance style by local masters and craftsman of stone masonry with exceptional sculptural detail. 
  • Varazdin - A Barouqe Town
    One of Europe's most intact baroque centres and once the capital city of Croatia. The streets are rich with numerous palaces, villas, and one of the oldest city halls in Europe.  
  • Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb
    Dedicated to failed love relationships exhibiting personal items left over from former lovers with brief descriptions. It received the Kenneth Hudson award for Europe’s most innovative museum in 2011.  
  • Kornati Islands
    The Composed of 140 uninhabited islands, islets and reefs covering 300 sq. km, the Kornatis are the largest and densest archipelago in the Adriatic. Most are part of the Kornati national park with its’ natural beauty, numerous coves and crystal clear blue waters.   

Croatia boasts a coastline of over 1700 km on the Adriatic Sea and encompasses more than a thousand islands with crystal clear waters and long stretches of sand and shingle beaches. 

  • Gornja Vala, Gradac
    The largest beach on the Adriatic coast which sits at the southernmost end of the Makarska Riviera. 
  • Pakleni Islands Beaches, Hvar 
    The Pakleni islands are other-worldly they are all glorious and unspoiled. 
  • Rajska Plaza, Lopar - Rajska Plaza (Paradise Beach) 
    It's long, sandy and shaded and the water is unusually shallow, as you can paddle for 1 km.
  • Telašćica Bay, Dugi Otok 
    This nature park is one of the most healthy-looking places you can visit, there are a number of little coves at the cusp of a warm, saltwater lake.
  • Zlatni Rat, Brac
    Probably Croatia's most famous beach, referred to as the Golden Cape or Golden Horn because of its distinctive shape, a golden stretch of pebbles that reaches out into the Adriatic.
  • Spiaza Beach, Susak 
    Susak island is the sandiest of all and Spiaza beach is its majestic shore-hugging centrepiece.
  • Bačvice, Split 
    A shallow shingle bay and a favourite of Split's residents.
  • Nin, Dalmatia 
    With 8,000 staggering metres of sandy beach and largely untouched.
  • Proid, Vela Lukra 
    A deceptively basic-looking islet of Proizd, but home to a quartet of bathing areas with hot slabs of stone lying in wait for sunbathers.
  • Sunj Bay 
    Work your way over the elevated central part of the island to get to the beach, but it’s worth the breathlessness. Fine shingle and sand mingle in this sheltered spot, nestled between rocky, moss-covered hills.

From the seafood dominated dishes of the Mediterranean to the filling schnitzel and strudel style dishes of Central Europe one thing is guaranteed and that is they both share the same passion to use locally sourced produce. Top-rated olive oils, prime white truffles, wild asparagus, award-winning wines and some fiery spirits included.

Dishes to sample:

  • Ispod peke or ‘under the bell’ - Usually lamb, veal or octopus is placed with vegetables inside a dish with a metal lid. The dish is then cooked in an open fireplace by the hot coals and embers which are placed over the lid.
  • Janje na ražnju - Lamb on the spit.
  • Punjena Paprika - Stuffed Peppers
  • Octopus Salad
  • Ćevapi - Grilled skinless sausages, served with chopped raw onions, ajvar (relish made from peppers) on flatbread.
  • Pašticada -A stewed beef dish cooked in a special sauce and served usually with gnocchi or homemade pasta.
  • Fish on the Grill - Served with some garden-grown blitva (chard) and potatoes.
  • Crni rizot - Squid ink risotto, a staple fish dish found across the country (particularly good in Pula). 
  • Shrimps na buzaru - Baked Whole shrimps cooked in oil, tomato and red wine.
  • Fuzi s tartufima - A pasta dish with truffles.
  • Fritaja sparoga - An omelette dish made with asparagus. It can also be made with other vegetables, herbs and sometimes meat.
  • Pršut & Pag Cheese - Home-cured ham pršut, which is perhaps Croatia’s most famous hors d’oeuvre with Paški sir, cheese from the island of Pag.
  • Burek - Baked filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough and usually filled with spiced beef. 
  • Kremsnita - A custard and vanilla cake and a must try in Croatia. 
  • Local Beers - Beers are very popular and local ones include Karlovako, Ozujsko and Pan, Osjecko is the oldest and brewed since 1697.
  • Local Wines - Some of the most famous wines include the red Plavac Mali from the Peljesac Peninsula and the whites Posip (Korcula/Peljesac Peninsula); Grk (Korcula); Malvazija (Istria); and Grasevina (Croatian interior). Prosek is a sweet dessert wine, most common in Dalmatia.
  • Rakija (Stong Fruit Brandies) - You’ll most likely encounter sljivovica (plum brandy), travarica (herbal brandy), kruskovac (pear brandy), orahovac (walnut brandy) or lozovaca (grape brandy). Maraskino/maraschino is also made in the Zadar region. 
  • Bambus - A Red wine mixed with Cola.

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Crete - Greece

Size: 260 km long x 56 km (at widest point)
Population: 600,000
Capital: Heraklion
Airports: Heraklion/Chania

 

Located on the southern side of the Aegean Sea, Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and one of the most popular tourist destinations. With its diverse area of over 8,260 km² and a soaring mountain range running from east to west the island is plentiful in natural beauty with deep ravines/gorges, caves, valleys and high plateau, dense woods, meandering rivers, waterfalls, a freshwater lake and of course a stunning 1,000 km coastline with fantastic beaches.

The island is divided into four administrational regions (prefectures): Chania and Rethymno on the western side with their Venetian style, elegant mansions, arches, old towns and ports. Heraklion, the largest and the capital of the Island and Lassithi with its picturesque mountainous villages (the perfect place to experience the traditional Cretan way of life and sample the local dishes) on the eastern side. You will find that the northern coasts are more developed whilst the southern coasts have more of a secluded feel so whether you prefer to be busy or quiet Crete has something to offer to everyone.

Crete is steeped in history, an island of lost civilisations, the birth place of Gods and heroic figures, poets, musicians, writers, artists and political leaders. Its long history has left evident marks all over the Island with Minoan palaces, Venetian towns, Medieval Castles, Ottoman mosques and Byzantine monasteries.

  • Ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos
    The largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe's oldest city.
  • Minoan Palace at Phaistos
    One of the largest palaces in Crete which is located in the regional unit of Heraklion. 
  • Archaeological Site of Gortys
    Also known as Gortyn or Gortyna is one of the most important cities in Crete with an unbroken history of 6,000 years and one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Greece. It lies in south central Crete in the fertile Mesara plain, the site of the first human habitation of Crete at the end of the Neolithic period (5th millennium BC). 
  • Heraklion Archaeological Museum
    The most important archaeological museum in Crete with artefacts from all eras of history/prehistory with frescoes, figurines and tombs.
  • Fortezza of Rethymno
    The venetian fortress of Rethymno.
  • Chania - Venetion Old Town and Port
    One of the most beautiful and most picturesque cities of Greece; unique maze-like alleys, beautiful Venetian mansions, fountains, churches and well preserved historical monuments can be found all over the city. The Venetian Harbour was carefully built in the 14th century for commercial purposes and today it is a much-photographed place with a touch of magic.
  • Spinalonga
    An ancient island with an intriguing past.
  • The Samaria Gorge
    Situated in the National park of Samaria in the white mountains of west Crete. 
  • Lake Kournas
    The only freshwater lake in Crete and a must for lovers of nature and beautiful scenery.

The beaches of Crete are famous for their crystal-clear waters and the relaxing atmosphere. Wherever you are on the island there will be a beach to suit you and some of the most impressive are: 

  • Balos, Chania
    Exotic waters, soft white sand and a huge island with a Venetian Castle on top. 
  • Elafonissi, Chania
    Majestic colours, pink sand, green-blue waters and cedar trees that line the coastline. 
  • Falassarna, Chania
    Large organised sandy beach which is ideal for families. 
  • Preveli, Rethymno
    A natural beauty where a river flows down towards the sea, meandering through the palm trees and forming a lake. 
  • Vai, Lassithi
    Soft sands and exotic waters that are surrounded by the largest palm tree forest in Europe. 
  • Seitan Limania (Stefanou Beach) Akrotiri
    A small cove that has been shaped by a seawater canal, the beach has shingle and sand, emerald blue crystal waters and is surrounded by huge rocks that create giant waves.  The view is impressive but access is via a steep cliff descent and not suitable for young children.
  • Matala, Heraklion
    One of the most famous in Crete, the beach extends over 300 metres with light golden sand, bamboo umbrellas and sun beds available for rent.
  • Plakias, Rethymno
    A beautiful sandy beach with wonderful clean waters and fully organised.
  • Sougia, Chania
    Stretching for 1200 meters the beach rarely gets crowded, it consists of colourful smooth pebbles and pristine waters and has been nominated as one of the cleanest beaches in Crete.
  • Glyka Nera, Chania
    The name Glyka Nera means Sweet Waters, this secluded beach is very beautiful and the water is pristine.
  • Loutraki, Chania
    A small beach close to Marathi, this small cove on the southern side of Akrotiri peninsula is protected from strong winds and popular with locals and families as the water is safe for children.

The Cretan diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world and “locovore” is their way of life! Benefiting from a perfect climate for agriculture fresh produce is in abundance, their animals roam free and feed from the land producing the finest meat and milks and the warm seas attract the most delicious fish. The locals are friendly and hospitable people who love to welcome you to their tables to share and enjoy healthy food with incredible flavours, sample their local wines and maybe even a glass or two of Raki!

Visit the markets held all over the island to see what is on offer, a variety of cheeses including mizithra, citrus fruits, cherries, watermelons, tomatoes, zucchini, egg plant, herbs, pulses, meats, fish, bread, yogurts, honey and not forgetting the main ingredient of a Cretan diet the best ever “olive oil”.

Dishes to sample:

  • Olive Oils - Crete has about 60 olive trees per inhabitant and is the most important part of the Cretan diet.
  • Dakos - Chopped tomato, fresh cheese, herbs and olive oil placed on top of a Paximadi.
  • Paximadi - Also known as rusks, are the traditional Cretan way of preserving bread, these small hard pieces of bread are cooked over and over and softened with water or olive oil and often served before a meal.  They can be made from wheat or barley, with or without yeast, sourdough or whole grain and are the base for Dakos.
  • Local Cheeses - The most popular are Anthotiros (sheep and goat milk), mild and soft when fresh and turns harder as it dries out. Kefalotiri (primarily of sheep milk, but it can be a mix of both sheep and goat), the cheese is hard and the flavour is salty and strong. Mizithra (milk and whey from sheep and/or goat), the typical fresh cheese of Crete. Graviera (sheep milk) a classic hard cheese which is rich and full of butter.
  • Cretan Salads - Similar to the classic Greek salad but served with a soft cheese as opposed to Feta and with a Paximadi. There can be a few added extras such as zucchini, egg, potato and usually at least 2 whole tomatoes.
  • Gyros - Lamb cooked on a spit and served in pitta bread.
  • Chochlioi Boubouristi - Snails that are fried with flour and hot olive oil in a pan then doused with wine.
  • Gamopilafo - Means “rice of the wedding” and was traditionally served at weddings or events. It consists of meat (goat or lamb) which is boiled for hours and then accompanied by rice cooked with butter and lemon.
  • Lamb Stamnankathi - Stamnankathi is an herb that has a little bitter but pleasant flavour and grows only in Crete, it is usually served boiled with olive oil and lemon and accompanies lamb very well.
  • Moussaka - Minced Lamb, layers of vegetables such as potatoes, courgettes, egg plant (aubergine) and bechamel sauce.
  • Calmari - Fried squid.
  • Askordoulakous (Mountain Bulbs) - The bulbs of wild greens which are gathered from the hillsides around the villages and eaten as a fresh salad, dressed with oil and vinegar or lemon. They also pickle them or stew them with local olive oil, vinegar and flour.
  • Sarikopitakia - Sheep's cheese filled pastries fried in olive oil and served warm with a sprinkle of honey on top.
  • Kalitsounia - Pastry that is shaped into tiny cups and filled with a sweet cheese they can be either baked or fried and often sprinkled with cinnamon or sesame seeds.
  • Loukoumades - Fried dough served with ice cream, honey and nuts.
  • Raki - A brandy that is served after a meal and usually on the house, distilled from by-products created from the wine-making process and very strong in alcohol. 
  • Greek Coffee - Served in a small cup like an espresso.

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Kefalonia - Greece

Size: 786.6 km²
Population: 35,801
Capital: Argostoli
Airports: Kefalonia

Kefalonia also known as the “island of seafarers” is situated in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece with Lefkada to the north and Zakynthos to the south. It is the largest of the Ionian Islands and includes the islands of Ithaca, Kastos and Kalamos within its’ prefecture. Kefalonia has a spectacular landscape with an abundance of nature, majestic caves, exotic beaches with crystalline waters, picturesque seaside village, small towns and a cosmopolitan port with neoclassical architecture.

Due to its huge natural wealth Kefalonia, like all of the Ionian Islands it has been dominated by various civilisations such as the Byzantine, the Frankish, the Ottoman, the Venetian, the Napoleonic and the British Empires. These cultures have left a visible sign on the architecture with medieval castles, beautiful monasteries and great works, such as the bridge of Argostoli. They have also left memories of darker times that took place during World War II and was the inspiration of Louis de Bernieres to write his famous book entitled “Captain Corelli's Mandolin”.

Kefalonia’s main source of income comes from, tourism, fishing, animal breeding, agriculture and a long wine-making tradition, home to the dry white lemony wines made from the “Robola” grape. Olive oil plays a major role in the island's local, rural economy, “koroneiki” and theiako” are the two main varieties cultivated on the island followed by a smaller number of “ntopia” and “matolia”, grown amongst over one million olive trees covering almost 55% of the islands area.

Kefalonia has an amazing mountainous vista with the highest being Mount Ainos rising at an altitude of 1520 metres. It is the only mountain in the whole of the Mediterranean to possess a unique fir forest species called Abies Kefallia, a protected species and an area now declared a National Park. The island has a rich biodiversity with a substantial number of rare and protected species including the well-known loggerhead turtle population which nest on many beaches along the south coast. Kefalonia and natural beauty walk proudly hand in hand with important natural features including the Melissani Lake, the Drogarati caves and Koutavos Lagoon to name a few. The islands indented 237 km coastline is made up of limestone cliffs, secluded bays and strips of white sands with crystal-clear waters and is considered to be amongst one of the most impressive coasts in the Mediterranean Sea.

Apart from the fantastic swimming on offer there are also opportunities to explore the interesting reefs and underwater caves at one of the diving centres, there are organised beaches with water sports and windsurfing in the peninsula of Lixouri. The countryside is great for hiking with many old footpaths leading to monasteries, Medieval castles, mountainous villages and secluded coves.

With so much on offer it is no surprise that Kefalonia has become a popular holiday destination but due to its size the beaches are never overcrowded and the Island keeps a quiet and laid-back style with its own enchanting and romantic charm.

  • Argostoli & De Bosset Bridge
    The capital town and the main port of Kefalonia with elegant architecture, the stone bridge to Drapano and watch the Loggerhead turtles that frequent Argostoli bay each morning.
  • The Municipal Theatre
    One of the largest and oldest in Greece with Neoclassical architecture and the archaeological museum opposite in Argostoli.
  • Melissani & Drogarati Caves
    A boat to tour of the cave, archaeological excavations with exhibits from the 4th and the 3rd century BC and a cavern of rare beauty with stalagmites.
  • Katavothresis
    One of the world's most astonishing geological phenomena and the subject of much discussion.
  • Fiscardo
    One of the prettiest villages in Kefalonia with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and surrounded by beautiful greenery, the centre of activities in is the port, where fishing boats and yachts moor in summer.
  • Assos
    A picturesque village on the northern side of the island situated on the peninsula with a castle overlooking the bay.
  • Sami
    One of the prettiest and most picturesque villages, close to beautiful beaches and serves as a starting point for excursions around the island.
  • Lixouri
    A short  ferry ride away from Argostoli with quite a few similarities to it but smaller with a lovely waterfront and elegant architecture.
  • Saint Theodoroi Lighthouse
    A structural building of Doric architecture standing on a peninsula about 3 km north of Argostoli.
  • The Monastery of Kipoureon
    With many rare post-Byzantine icons and built on the edge of a steep slope with amazing views of the sea and sunsets.
  • The Castle of Saint George
    The ruins  stand on a hill above Peratata village, originally built by the Byzantines but the Venetians gave it its final form in 1504.
  • The Monastery of Agrilion
    On the top of the hill of Sami and dedicated to Virgin Mary Theotokos, built during the 18th century on the site where the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary was found.
  • Cyclopean Walls of Ancient Krani
    Near the main road that goes from Argostoli to Sami.
  • Myrtos
    The most famous and a beautiful beach with turquoise waters, white sand and surrounded by steep cliffs.
  • Antisamos
    A vast golden beach surrounded by lush greenery and where scenes of the Hollywood movie "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" were filmed.
  • Platia Ammos
    Was only accessible by boat until a few years ago but can now be reached on foot by climbing down approximately 280 steps. This is a secluded beach of impressive natural beauty.
  • Makris Gialos
    A beautiful and popular beach with golden sands and many water sports on offer.
  • Skala
    A large organised sandy beach within a walking distance from the old fishing village and port.
  • Lourdata
    A calm but organised resort beach with white sands and clear waters.
  • Foki Fiskardo
    A small picturesque relaxing beach with large stones, crystal waters and surrounded by green vegetation.
  • Petani
    A beautiful beach similar to the bay of Myrtos located in the peninsula of Lixouri.
  • Xi
    A large organised and popular sandy beach.
  • Trapezaki
    A small beach with calm ambience.

Kefalonia cuisine is dominated by local products such as meat, fish, olive oil, vegetables, cheese and the very important traditional products too like honey, extra virgin olive oil and yogurt made from sheep milk. Kefalonians’ take pride in their produce (you will be pleasantly surprised by how high the standard and quality is) and enjoy nothing better than to gather around a table and share good food, wine and conversation.

There are many great restaurants on the island found in the towns and the beach locations and the majority are family run tavernas with a traditional menu but there are also more high-end eateries and fish restaurants to be found in the north around the port of Fiscardo.

In addition to the excellent food on offer Kefalonia is also a famous wine-producing island, taste the delicious house wines, the local Robola (white and dry), the "Mavrodafi", (red, strong and sweet) and the "Muscat” (dessert white).

Dishes to sample:

  • Kreatopita - The trademark of the island “Kefalonia meat pies” with a homemade crust pastry. Other pie recipes include artichoke, cheese (with the unique dairy products of the island), greens (nettle) and cod (salted cod).
  • Bourbourelia - A soup made of beans, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Stifado - Veal cooked with onions and tomato sauce.
  • Giouvetsi - Lamb cooked into a large pot with rice.
  • Bifteki - Meat balls filled with cheese, onions and peppers and then grilled.
  • Aliada - A dish consisting of boiled octopus, garlic and mashed potatoes.
  • Strapatsada - Eggs with tomatoes, fried in olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Riganada - Bruschetta with olive oil and oregano.
  • Pissara - A salad made from fresh greens sun-dried tomato, feta and pine-nuts.
  • Tsigaridia - Wild greens or cabbage sauteed with spinach, leeks and onions.
  • Galaktompoureko - One of the tastiest sweets with a homemade crust and custard filling.
  • Mantoles - A sweet snack of almonds and sugar.
  • Pasteli - A sweet snack with sesame and excellent local honey.

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Thassos - Greece

Size: 380.097 km2
Population: 13,770
Largest Town: Limenas Thasou (Port of Thassos)
Airports: Nearest is on the mainland at Kavala
Ferry Ports: Kavala to Limenas or Keramoti to Skala Prinou

Thassos is the most northern of the Greek Islands in the Aegean region, an Island of breath-taking scenery, lush green vegetation, crystal clear waters and some amazing beaches. It is situated just off the coastline of the Greek mainland approximately 10 km to the southeast of the Macedonian seaport of Kavala and is part of the Kavala prefecture.

During Balkan War’s the Island became under Greek control, prior to that it had a turbulent history of wars and battles between different regimes including the Athenians, the Persians, the Lacedaemonians, the Romans, the Latins and the Turks. They all tried to control Thassos and ruins from ancient Thassos in Limenas including the Agora, the Acropolis and the Hellenistic theatre speak volumes about its past.

Thassos has always had a vibrant economy, during the ancient times due to the abundant supply of precious natural resources including timber, gold, marble and ore mines. Today it is famed for its wine (with a distinctive apple aroma), the highest quality olive oil and the sweetest natural honey and its numerous byproducts including a honey and walnut liqueur. The locals are mainly occupied by herding their animals, fishing and cultivating the land producing some of the finest almonds, walnuts, grapes and the famous Throuba olives.

The Island has a magnificent mountainous landscape dotted with pine forests, vineyards and traditional villages with grey roofed stone houses and paved paths. There are many opportunities for hiking, biking or just gently strolling whilst taking in the natural beauty of the countryside and surroundings. The coastline offers some of the most amazing beaches, from long stretches of golden sands and crystalline waters with opportunities for sporting activities to wonderfully quiet and secluded coves and bays. Whichever is your preference you will certainly be choosing from some of the best on offer in Greece.

Although a popular destination the Island remains unspoiled and retains its authenticity and traditions, “The famous Carnival of Thassos” included. With a “chilled out” and “laid-back” atmosphere Thassos truly is the perfect Island to visit.

  • Ancient Agora
    Remains of the ancient town of Thassos, with ruins of temples and sanctuaries, an odeum, a theatre and the Acropolis.
  • The Old Port
    The Old Harbour of Thassos.
  • Monastrey of Archangel Michael
    An old monastery with interesting architecture, located on a hill above Livadi.
  • Church of Agia Paraskevi
    Situated in Theologos, is among the oldest on Thassos.
  • Theologos Folklore Museum
    Situated in a two-storey traditional building in the heart of Theologos.
  • Thassos Dragon Cave
    Also called Drakotrypa, the cave is full of stalactites and stalagmites located in Panagia a beautiful and lively village.
  • Thassos Cave of Pan
    The sanctuary of Pan, the goat-god, is situated in the area of the ancient town of Thassos.
  • Potamia
    A beautiful mountainous village with traditional architecture and view to the sea.
  • Kazaviti
    A traditional and beautiful mountain villages and a must.
  • Golden Beach
    A long and impressive beach, with golden sand and crystalline waters. It is surrounded by dense vegetation reaching down to the sea.
  • Makriammos
    The closest beach to Limenas and surrounded by a thick forest with crystal water and fine sand.
  • Alyki
    Beautiful and picturesque with two small white sand beaches, calm seas and soft sand.
  • Metalia Beach
    A fine sandy beach ideal for children with clear shallow waters.
  • Livadi
    A great spot for swimming and secluded by green vegetation.
  • Pefkari
    Fresh pine trees surround the beach of fine sand and clear waters. Sports activities on offer.
  • Skala Potamias
    A quiet tourist resort with a beach surrounded by tall pine trees, a glimmering sea and offers magical scenery.
  • Skala Rachoniou
    An endless beach with fine sand, clear waters and lots of vegetation.
  • Papalimani
    A small beach of soft sand and blue waters and distant views to the verdurous mountains.

Greek food and drink is famous for its high quality and amazing taste, using the freshest local produce grown from the land and freshly fished from the seas. In Thassos there are restaurants to be found almost anywhere, many are Greek tavernas with traditional menus spread in the squares of the mountainous villages or pretty seaside establishments lining the beach fronts as well as the more sophisticated eateries offering the best in cutting edge cuisine.

Dishes to sample:

  • Peppered Cabbage - Mainly a winter dish, consisting of the local variety of pickled cabbage, combined with white beans and flavoured with peppery spices.
  • Tatarka - Served in the spring and the early summer and mostly found in the more elegant restaurants it comprises local fresh vegetables and spring herbs all combined to give an absolutely delicious and fresh taste.
  • Stuffed Zuccini Flowers and Sarmadakia - Flowers of small courgette plants that are stuffed with cheese and eggs, dipped in flour and fried in fresh olive oil. They can also be filled with fresh herbs and rice along with Sarmadakia (stuffed vine leaves).
  • Pitarakia - A type of very light fritters made from slices of courgettes, dipped in flour seasoned with mint and spices, quickly fried, served with zucchini relish and maybe a glass of retsina or ouzo.
  • Kolious “Gouna” - The local way of cooking a chub mackerel, flattened, lightly salted, smoked, and then baked, it is also the perfect complement to a glass of Tsipouro.
  • Bouyourdi - Slices of the Thassians’ prized feta cheese is placed into a small clay pot with other soft cheeses, fresh tomatoes, sliced peppers, olive oil, and black pepper and baked in a hot oven.

View our properties in Thassos - Greece


Zakynthos (Zante)

Size: 405.55 km²
Population: 41,500
Capital: Zakynthos Town (Zante)
Airports: Zakynthos International 

Zakynthos also known as Zante is a Greek Island in the Ionian Sea, it is the third largest and the southernmost of the Ionian islands situated off the west coast of Greece. The Island has a spectacular landscape, three quarters is mountainous with the highest peak in the centre “Mount Vrachionas”, to the west the territory is rugged with many bays and rocky coastlines whilst to the east it is smooth and calm.  There is an abundance of nature with rich vegetation, forests with coniferous and pine trees, green olive groves, wild plants, picturesque hilltop villages and traditional monasteries plus 123 km of coastline with dramatic cliffs, exotic sandy beaches, majestic caves, and turquoise crystalline waters. Zakynthos is home to the famous and much photographed “Navagio” Shipwreck beach and to the protected and endangered sea turtle species “Caretta Caretta”. It is also the birthplace to many internationally recognised musicians and to the national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, who wrote the poem that was later to become Greece’s national anthem and no doubt was inspired by the beauty of his island home that bathes carelessly in the blue Ionian Sea.

Like most of the Ionian Islands it has been the subject of foreign occupation throughout its rich history which is evident in its arts and cultures that show a mix of styles from different eras and countries. The island was originally named in honour of its first settler Zakynthos, son of the King of Phrygia and following the spirit of the time, it was subordinated to the Macedonians of Alexander the Great, followed by the Romans, it was looted by pirates and vandals, occupied by the Normans of Sicily and then conquered by the Venetians until 1798 who named the island “Fiore di Levante” (flower of the east) due to the 7000 different species that flourish. The Venetian architectural influence can still be seen today despite the damage sustained due to seismic activity in 1953. The Ionian Islands were founded as an independent republic in 1800 and the French Emperors returned, in 1815 it was under the protection of the English until 1864 when Zakynthos then became part of Greece. 

Zakynthos provides its visitors with stunning scenery, colourful sunsets, crystal clear waters and great beaches and this enchanting island still has more to offer with plenty of activities to enjoy. There are water sports, diving centres (the island is also an underwater paradise), hiking, cycling, horse riding, fishing and boat trips to the majestic blue caves and the iconic shipwreck beach or to spot the protected loggerhead turtles “Caretta Caretta”, Mediterranean monk seals “Monachus Monachus” or just a playful dolphin passing by. Explore the traditional mountain villages, castles and monasteries, Zakynthos town with venetian architecture, impressive squares, museums, shops, cafes or just relax and enjoy the delicious Greek cuisine and hospitality at one of the many restaurants or tavernas.

Today the island has become a popular holiday choice for families, couples and groups with a resort to suit everyone whilst it is still a destination that retains a natural charm and beauty, offering its visitors a warm sunny climate and a very friendly welcome! 

Nightlife: In general “nightlife” is more about enjoying delicious Greek cuisine, sampling local wine or sipping cocktails at sunset by a seaside taverna but there are lively places on the island for clubbing/partying and somewhere to suit all tastes: Tsilivi comes to life at night with an array of bars and restaurants or try Zakynthos Town for a night out around Solomos Square. Laganas is the busiest resort and famous among the young for late night clubs, bars, and party nights all along its 3 km main street.

  • Shipwreck Beach and Blue Caves 
    The most famous sightseeing on the Island. Accessible by boat from Skinari-Saint Nicolas, Porto Vromi or longer excursions from the larger resorts.  and the main port of Kefalonia with elegant architecture, the stone bridge to Drapano and watch the Loggerhead turtles that frequent Argostoli bay each morning.
  • In and Around Zakynthos Town:
    Solomos Square surrounded by buildings with traditional architectural features and arcades. Bust of Dionysios Solomos the national poet of Greece dominates in the centre. Church of Agios Nikolaos Molos with venetian architecture. Public Library (with 55,000 volumes). Post-Byzantine Museum exhibiting treasures such as statues trimmed with gold and art woodcuts. Aghios Markos Square this paved square is the main meeting point for locals and visitors, here you will find the “Tree of Freedom” planted by the revolutionaries 1797. Museum of Solomos dedicated to Dionysios Solomos and other important Greek poets. The Venetian Castle constructed in 15th century, situated on a hill overlooking the town in the place of the old acropolis - Psofis.
  • Exhibition Centre of the Sea Turtle "Caretta Caretta" 
    Located in the region of Dafni, an area that belongs to the National Marine Park of Zakynthos.
  • Askos Stone Park
    Wildlife sanctuary, forest reserve and natural zoo, a must for nature lovers and children.
  • Helmis Museum of Natural History
    Located in the mountainous village of Agia Marina, established in 2000 by a private initiative and aims to present the rare flora, fauna, and sea life of the island.
  • Sarakina Italian Mansion
    Close to the beach of Laganas, the most nostalgic part of old Zakynthos and the last remaining house of Italian architecture.
  • Venetian Bridge
    Located in the small harbour of Argassi.
  • Vrysakia Aqueduct
    Located near the town of Argassi.
  • Saint Theodoroi Lighthouse
  • Keri Lighthouse
    Visit when the sun is setting for amazing views. 
  • The Keri Sea-Area (Keri-Caves)
    Discover the enchanting underwater paradise, this one of the best spots for scuba diving anywhere in the Mediterranean.
  • Monastery of Panagia Eleftherotia
    Located in Lagopodo, its architecture looks more like a castle than a monastery with amazing views to the countryside of the island.
  • The Monastery of Agios Georgios Krimnon
    Located in Volimes on top of a cliff with a gorgeous view to the sea.
  • Church of Agia Mavra
    Located in Maherado and built in the 14th century with an imposing Venetian bell tower.  
  • Other Monasteries and Churches of Interest:
    Aghios Dionysios at the new pier of the port. Monastery of Anafonitria in Maries. Monastery of Panagia Skopiotissa in Argassi village.  Church of Agios Nikolaos in Kiliomeno. Church of Panagia Keriotissa in Keri. Monastery of Ioannis Prodromos in Alykes. Monastery of Panagia Spiliotissa in Orthonies.
  • The Mountains
    Following the mountain line from the north to the south you can visit the Monastery of Anafonitria, Cross of Gambi (viewpoint for sunsets), Maries, Kiliomeno and some smaller traditional villages. The area is good for hiking and rambling with a unique atmosphere and lots of nature.

The Zakynthos Marine Park protects the nesting beaches of Gerakas, Daphne, Sekania, Kalamaki, Laganas and Marathonisi for the Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Curetta Curetta).  These beaches can be enjoyed from 7.00 am until sunset.

  • Gerakas
    Long and sandy with crystalline waters and considered to be one of the most beautiful on the island.
  • Marathonisi Islet (Curetta Curetta Island)
    Take a boat trip to the pristine island in the bay of Laganas, opposite Limni. Well known for its soft sandy beaches, green landscape, and sea turtles. 
  • Platia Ammos
    was only accessible by boat until a few years ago but can now be reached on foot by climbing down approximately 280 steps. This is a secluded beach of impressive natural beauty.
  • Kalamaki
    A lovely sandy beach dominated by impressive rock formations and a natural continuation of Laganas beach.
  • Laganas
    The busiest resort on the island with a vast sandy beach, water sports, diving centre and beach bars.
  • Agios Nikolaos
    A sandy beach on a popular resort with water sport activities and a good place for scuba diving.
  • Porto Zoro
    Long and sandy beach between Argassi and Vassilikos, popular in the summer months due to its location and natural beauty.
  • Spiantza
    Beautiful beach that is part sand and part pebble, in the area of Vassilikos.
  • Banana
    Largest on the island with soft golden sand, exotic clear water, and a rocky landscape, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful. Fully organised with sunbeds/umbrella for rent, water sports, a few beach bars and easily accessed.
  • Tsilivi
    A popular resort with a lovely sandy beach and great for children as the water is shallow. Fully organised with water sports, beach bars and taverna. 
  • Argassi
    A long golden sandy beach that extends one kilometre and offers a wide range of water sports facilities and easy access to taverns, bars, and shops. 
  • Keri and Limni Keriou
    A small and quiet resort situated on a wonderful bay with golden sand and turquoise waters. There is a diving centre and a couple of tavernas, and cafe-bars are scattered along the bay with amazing views to the islet of Marathonisi. 
  • Plaka
    A small sandy beach with shallow clear water, close to the village of Vassilikos. 
  • Xigia
    A sandy beach in a small bay where the smell of sulphur is strong. The ice-cold water which flows from the rocks to the surface contains collagen, a product used for Spa treatments. There is a small cave to stand in or take a swim as the water is good for the skin. 
  • Porto Roma 
    Quaint picturesque beach of natural beauty with lush greenery and tall pine trees providing good shade for visitors. Named in honour of the famous Zakynthian personality, Alexandros Romas. 
  • Porto Stenitis
    A beautiful fiord with crystal water and some small caves along the coast so a great place for scuba diving. A calm pebbled bay surrounded by hillsides covered with lush greenery and vast plantation.

Due to the long period of Venetian domination the cuisine of Zakynthos has significant influences from Italy and the unique menus use wine, garlic, and eastern spices, like cloves, allspice, cinnamon and more. Based on meat, fish, pasta, vegetables, olive oil and herbs the island’s gastronomy will excite those who love good food. Zakynthos has a perfect climate for agriculture with rich fertile land and their produce is made using natural and traditional methods that certifies its high quality and authenticity of taste. The most famous products are Ladotyri, (cheese with oil), yogurt made from goat milk, Zakynthian olive oil and honey which is well-known for its purity, Madolato (nougat with honey and almonds) and perfumes. The locals are also rather proud of their wine Verntea which is produced only on the island.

There is an abundance of seafood fished daily from the shores around the island, particularly swordfish, mullet, sea bass and calamari - a veritable paradise for fish lovers! Vegetarians will also be in their element with so many fresh salads and vegetables on offer and even local delicacies where meat has been replaced with Greek Eggplant (aubergine).

In addition to the unique dishes of the island you will find lots of options for dining, there are plenty of cafes, bars and excellent restaurants serving Greek and international cuisine. Food is the heart of the community and traditional tavernas are the best places to taste the local delicacies and experience the Zakynthian hospitality -  the serving of the “speciality dishes” usually comes with fire, plate smashing, music or a theatrical performance!  

Dishes to sample:

  • Melitzanosalata, Taramosalata, Ttzatziki - Dips served with bread, made from Greek eggplant, salted, and cured fish roe and yogurt with cucumber and garlic. 
  • Dolmadakia - Vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, they can be either vegetarian or with meat added.
  • Keftedes - Greek meatballs seasoned with herbs and garlic, served as a starter with Ttzatziki.
  • Tyropitakia - Filo pastry pie stuffed with feta, ricotta, cream cheese, and melted butter.
  • Moussaka - Minced lamb, Greek eggplant (aubergine) and bechamel sauce.
  • Stifado - Greek stew made with meat (beef or lamb), tomatoes, pearl onions, white wine, garlic, cinnamon, and oregano.
  • Stuffed Rabbit - Cooked in wine or stewed is maybe the most characteristic dish of the island but other Greek favourites are duck, chicken, turkey, and fish.
  • Paidakia - Lamb chops well-seasoned and marinated in olive oil.
  • Souvlaki - Greek speciality made with tender cuts of meat, marinated in a lemon and olive oil mixture, grilled and served on skewers.
  • Fasolakia - Greek green beans braised with tomato onion, extra virgin olive oil, garlic. A side dish served with meats.
  • Skordostoumbi - In other areas of Greece it is usually made with meat but in Zakynthos it is substituted with eggplant making it unique to the island. Layered with tomatoes and garlic and baked in the oven, served with pita bread and feta cheese.  Skordostoumbi literally means “stuffed with garlic” and at least 100 cloves are added to the dish.
  • Kreatopita - “Greek Style Meat Pie” made with filo pastry, a mixture of veal and lamb, tomato wine sauce, vegetables, spices.
  • Youvetsi - Traditional Greek stew made with beef or lamb, cooked in a rich tomato sauce with orzo pasta and finished cheese on top.
  • Spetsofai - A rustic spicy dish made with thick country sausages, peppers, or eggplant in a rich tomato sauce.
  • Gyros - Sandwich/wrap of rolled bread stuffed with meat, tomatoes, onion, fried potatoes and usually eaten as a snack. 
  • Baklava - An extremely rich and sweet filo pastry filled with syrup, honey, nuts, and cinnamon.
  • Kataifi - Layers of thin angel hair pastry dough filled with walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar drizzled with honey.
  • Bougatsa - Traditional Greek dessert made with creamy custard wrapped in golden brown crispy filo pastry and garnished with icing sugar and cinnamon.
  • Madolato, Fytoura and Pasteli - Traditional Zakynthian sweets: Mandolato is nougat made with egg whites, honey, sugar, and almonds that is usually consumed during carnival time. Fytoura is made from semolina which is fried and covered in lots of sugar and cinnamon. Pasteli is made of sesame seeds, honey, and almonds. 
  • Ladotyri - Unique to the island and translated means oil and cheese, it’s a hard cheese made with milk from goats and sheep which is kept for long periods of time in olive oil giving it thus a wonderful spicy flavour.
  • Verntéa Wine - Only produced on the island, it is dry, strong-tasting with high alcohol content. Its varieties are mainly Rompóla , Skiadópoulo, Pavlós, Goustolídi and Avgoustiátis.
  • Lianoroidi - A sweet white wine.
  • Levante Zakynthos Beer - Produced on the island in a small brewery near Xigia.
  • Metaxa - The most famous Greek spirit worldwide.
  • Ouzo - Mixed with ice and water with a liquorice taste.
  • Greek Coffee - Served in a small cup like an espresso.
  • Greek Frappe - An ice-cold frothy coffee.

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Mallorca - Spain

Size: 3,640 km²
Population: 869,067
Capital: Palma
Airport: Palma de Mallorca

 

Mallorca (sometimes referred to as Majorca) is located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the south-east coast of mainland Spain. It is the largest of the Balearic Islands and a popular tourist destination with a sunny personality, fantastic cuisine and a vibrant cosmopolitan capital. The impressive landscape offers two soaring majestic mountain ranges, Serra de Tramuntana in the north west and Serres de Llevant in the east. There are fertile green plains with orchards of oranges and almonds, vineyards and soulful honey coloured stone villages. The coastline stretches for 500 km with secret coves/caves and over 200 beautiful beaches with turquoise-blue waters to choose from. The island is steeped in history with a rich artisan and cultural scene and breath-taking azure views. The regions of the island are all very different but each one has its own unique appeal making Mallorca an island that really does have it all!

The Regions:

    • North: Mountainous scenery, long stretches of white sandy beaches with clear shallow waters, coastal villages and traditional fishing ports. Historical and ancient towns with medieval walls, churches, convents, market squares and the imposing area of Formentor, all filled with Mallorcan culture and heritage.

North East:

    Quieter, rural and home to the Llevant Natural Park with wild hills and birdlife. The tranquil countryside is beautiful and dotted with pretty beaches and coves. There are charming towns with winding alleyways of boutiques and quaint art galleries. Impressive hilltop villages with a castle and a fortress.
  • East: A resort area with a varied coastline of golden white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters to the north. Smaller and even prettier beaches in the south, found in the coves with sparkling waters reflecting the green of the surrounding pine trees. This coastline also includes the famous cave formations of Cuevas del Drach and Cuevas dels Hams. The traditional fishing villages of Porto Cristo and Porto Colom and the resort of Cala d’or with its lively, welcoming atmosphere and chic boutique shopping. The beautiful Marina is home to the prestigious yacht club and boasts a multitude of fantastic restaurants plus the sandy beach of Calo d’es Pou.
  • South East: Home of the salt flats and the famous “Flor de Sal” with a landscape dotted with windmills and the prettiest natural park in Mallorca, Mondrago. The famous beach of Es Trenc, an undeveloped Carribean-like beach which stretches for miles and a coastline of pine forests.
  • South: The most developed area of the island with its lively capital of Palma. The iconic gothic cathedral dominates the skyline, situated just in front is the huge marina and a promenade lined with palm trees. Palma has everything to offer, stunning architecture, a pedestrianised historical centre, art galleries, markets, trendy restaurants/bars, nightlife and excellent shopping. Southwest of the capital is a busy resort area with fantastic beaches and a whole host of attractions. To the south is now a popular destination for the rich and famous with prestigious yacht filled Marinas, golf clubs, exclusive beach clubs, high end restaurants and a designer lifestyle.
  • West: Dominated by the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range it is an area of dramatic scenery and picturesque villages with cobbled streets where bougainvillaea and other colourful plants grow in abundance. A 13th century monastery, a cliff top town with mesmerising views, art galleries and a large selection of the finest gourmet restaurants. Central: A place to experience authentic Mallorcan culture and join in with one of the many village festivals celebrating agriculture produce. Rustic, green and a must for wine lovers with pretty vineyards set amongst orange and almond orchards. Soak up the atmosphere of the market towns with their vintage shops, traditional bakeries, cafes and local architecture and you truly will have embraced the Mallorcan way of life.
  • Palma de Mallorca
    La Seu Cathedral, Parc de la Mar and Marina. Take the Ferrocarril de Sóller - a train powered by electric locomotive, created on a time machine in 1895 by H.G. Wells and is the only one of its type ever. It follows a pretty route cutting through the Tramunta mountains.
  • Serra de Tramuntana Mountain Range and World Heritage Site
    The magnificent mountain range that runs from southwest to the northeast region. Dramatic scenery, nature, walking, hiking, cycling and outdoor activities.
  • Lluc Sanctuary
    In a beautiful setting in the Serra de Tramuntana, Lluc sanctuary is considered to be the spiritual centre of Majorca.
  • Cuevas dels Hams & Coves del Drac or Dragon Caves
    Located on the east coast near Porto Cristo, remarkable cave formations and large impressive underground lake.
  • Cap de Formentor
    An amazing place located on the northernmost point of the Island with its highest point at 384 meters above sea level and a spectacular winding road leading to the cape.
  • Castell de Capdepera
    An early-14th-century fortress, a walled complex built on the ruins of a Moorish fortress. The castle is one of the best preserved on the island.
  • The Picture Postacard Village of Deià
    Robert Graves House - The great poet, novelist and historian, author of I Claudius.
  • The Vineyards – Around Binissalem
    Many of Majorca’s wines are made in and around this village north-east of Palma.
  • S’Albufera Nature Reserve
    Near Port d’Alcúdia on the northeast coast, wetlands that cover around 4,200 acres and are great for birdwatching, cycling and walking.
  • Museum - Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró
    The Catalan artist Joan Miró lived and worked at this beautiful hilltop compound, now a major museum to his life and work.
  • Gallery - CCA Andratxs
    Probably the best private gallery on the island offer world-class international exhibitions.

Whether it is rocky bays, secluded coves, sandy beaches, children friendly or those offering water sports and activities Mallorca’s amazing coastline can deliver it all with over 260 beaches to choose from.

  • Portals Vells (southwest)
    The three small coves of Portals Vells offer a paradise of calm, clear sea and a backdrop of shady pinewoods. The interesting cave of ‘la Mare de Déu’ is on the right of the beach.
  • Cala Blava (south)
    Facing the Bay of Palma stand the cliffs of Cala Blava. There are several steep access routes down to the many coves and rocks, the waters are part of the protected natural marine reserve and ideal for snorkelling.
  • Cala Varques (east)
    South of Porto Cristo, a captivating virgin cove with white sandy beach. It is not signposted and therefore secluded.
  • Es Trenc (south)
    Probably the most famous beach and often referred to as Mallorca’s Carridean, due to te 3km of white sands, dunes and tranquil crystal-clear waters.
  • Cala Mondragó (southeast)
    In the heart of Cala Mondragó Natural Park you can enjoy nature at its purest state with glorious sands and a wooded backdrop.
  • Formentor Beach (northeast)
    The long narrow sandy beach is sheltered, fringed with trees and offers sumptuous bay views.
  • Cala Mesquida (northeast)
    Declared a Place of Special Interest in 1991 by the governing body of the Balearic Islands and a is perfect beach for nature lovers.
  • Cala d'Or (east)
    There are five associated beaches situated in small coves (also known as calas) - Cala d'Or, Cala Esmeralda, Cala Ferrera, Cala Serena & Cala Gran. The beaches are all beautiful with calm turquoise-blue waters.
  • Cala Figuera Beach (north)
    A quiet small pebbly beach and not the easiest to access but you will be truly rewarded by the sight of the clearest and most beautiful sapphire sea on the island.

Mallorca has experienced a food revolution in recent years and has an increasingly sophisticated choice. After working away in high-end restaurants many of the young Mallorcan chefs have been returning home to open their own eateries serving traditional dishes with a modern twist. In addition to all the many already established restaurants, cafes and bars there are also several Michelin-starred available. Whether you choose a rustic roast in the mountains, authentic paella on the beach, tapas in the local bar or the freshest fish overlooking the sea you are sure to be guaranteed a gastronomical delight!

For centuries wine making has been part of the Mallorca culture with a perfect climate and fertile lands. The native grapes are Callet, Manto Negro and Moll and a sample of the locally produced wines is a must.

Mallorquin' dishes make full use of delicious local almonds, olives and the finest olive oil, walnuts, vegetables and fruits including the local tomato called Ramallet which is native to the island.

Dishes to sample:

  • Ensaimada - Usually eaten for breakfast, a delicious spiral yeast bun dusted with icing sugar.
  • Local Grimalt Cheeses, Cocarrois - Delicious pasties with various fillings.
  • Trampos - Vegetable pizza slices.
  • Pa'amb Oli - Mallorcan bread with garlic, tomato, olive oil and sometimes cured ham or cheese. 
  • Sobrassada - A cured sausage of pork mince, bacon, salt and spices with a similar colour to Spanish chorizo due to the paprika. 
  • Botifarron - Sausage made with pork blood, pepper and a mix of herbs and spices. 
  • Tumbet - A vegetable dish of fried aubergines, potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, olive oil and garlic (similar to ratatouille). 
  • Lomo Con Col - Pork wrapped in cabbage leaves. 
  • Suckling Pig - Typically roasted. 
  • Parrillada Depescado - Mixed grilled fish and seafood platter. 
  • Pica Pica - Squid stewed in a sauce of tomato, onion, garlic and spicy paprika. 
  • Arros Brut - Translates as “dirty rice” (this refers to the mix of ingredients that dirty up the rice), traditional version is made with rabbit or chicken liver and a selection of different meats and vegetables, depending on what is available. 
  • Sopas Mallorquinas - Dense and hearty soups made from seasonal ingredients but you can expect the soup to include slices of local bread, onion, garlic, tomatoes, cabbage, beans and paprika. 
  • Fideua - A local paella made with noodles rather than rice.
  • Trempo - A simple salad whereby the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves, made with tomato, onion, Mallorcan green bell pepper, olive oil and salt. 
  • Tapas - Small dishes of different combinations, meats and vegetables in sauces, including meat balls in a spicy sauce, garlic mushrooms and Calamares (battered squid rings).
  • Gato de Almendras - A traditional sponge cake made with almonds. 
  • Albaricoque - A sponge cake with apricots in the centre. 
  • Carquinyols - A hard almond biscuit. 
  • Hierbas - Mallorca's 40% proof herbal spirit with a strong aniseed flavour but also made with a variety of other herbs including, chamomile, fennel, mint, orange, rosemary lemon, lemon verbena and marjoram.

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Ibiza - Spain

Size: 571.6 km²
Population: 147,914
Capital: Ibiza Town / Vila d'Eivissa 
Airport: Ibiza 

 

Ibiza “The White Isle” is situated in the Mediterranean Sea off the south-east coast of mainland Spain, the third largest of the Balearic Islands and together with Formentera it forms the Pityusic Islands, or Pine Islands. Primarily known for its party scene this idyllic island also offers, fantastic vistas, (Sa Talaia is the highest point on the island and offers the absolute best in panoramic views), dramatic sunsets, peaceful rural landscapes, UNESCO World Heritage sites and 210 km of beaches with turquoise crystal-clear waters. You can choose between tiny secluded coves, broad organised beaches of fine sand or areas of dune that can be enjoyed all year round thanks to the warm temperatures and close to 3,000 hours of sun.

Many different civilisations have passed through Ibiza over the ages and it has the UNESCO World Heritage designation for its cultural wealth, including the outstanding Phoenician site at Sa Caleta, the necropolis at Puig des Molins, and the historic old town of Eivissa, Dalt Vila. There is a rich artisan and cultural scene, the island became one of the international refuges for the hippy movement and is famous for flea markets selling fashion, handicrafts, pottery, exotic musical instruments, original costume jewellery etc, and in the last decades also a refuge for artists who exhibit their work in the art galleries, markets, shops and handicraft workshops.

There is an abundance of fabulous scenery, history, architecture, shopping, bars, restaurants, nightlife, beaches, sports and activities to choose from and the five main towns of Ibiza, Santa Eulària des Riu, Sant Josep de Sa Talaia, Sant Antoni de Portmany, and Sant Joan de Labritja each have their own identity offering its visitors various possibilities and different experiences making this beautiful Island a perfect holiday destination for people of all ages. 

 

Clubs/Nightlife - Ibiza off the south-east coast of mainland Spain. huge selection, “SuperClubs” with a capacity ranging from 3,000-10,000 that attract A-list DJ’s, many smaller ones but my no means inferior and those that double up as restaurants in the day.  Whatever your preference Ibiza has is a club to suit every taste.          

Whilst the clubs are dotted across the island, it will not take long to reach your preferred destination (from Ibiza Town to San Antonio takes approximately 20 minutes) and during the summer season the “disco bus” runs from midnight to six in the morning. It is the main transportation for the party clubbers and hoppers picking up and dropping off between major bars, resorts, and clubs.  

Playa d’en Bossa - on the east of the island, is home to Hï Ibiza, Ushuaïa, Octan and a just 10 minutes taxi ride away is Pacha just north of Ibiza’s Old Town. 

San Antonio - on the west coast of the island, here you will find Eden, Ibiza Rocks, O Beach, Café Mambo, Cafe de la Mar whilst Pike’s and The Zoo Project’s Benimussa Park are under 10 minutes away. 

San Rafael - located in the middle of the island is Amnesia and Privilege.    

 

  • Dalt Vila (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
    The oldest part of Ibiza Town is guarded by strong renaissance fortifications built by Charles V in the 16th century.  Inside the walls is a steep warren of alleys that are packed with galleries, boutiques, and local amenities and occasionally they will open out to charming old squares like Plaza de Sa Carrosa and Plaza de la Vila.   
  • Ibiza Cathedral                                                                
    At the very top of the old city is the cathedral, which sits next to a scenic outlook over the water. Go inside to see the gothic gold and silver monstrance, dating to 1399, and the 14th and 15th-century gothic panel paintings.
  • Puig des Molins 
    Largest necropolis in the world, housing up to 4,000 tombs from all over the Mediterranean. The ancient cemetery was set up by the Phoenicians at the end of the 7th century.                    .
  • Sa Caleta 
    Small fishing port on the southeast coast of the island, between Es Codolar and Puig des Jondal. This place is a must if you want to learn how the city of Ibiza was born, since the first Phoenicians settled here throughout the 7th century BC before moving to the big city.
  • Puerto de Ibiza
    Ibiza Town main marina.
  • Sa Talaia                              
    The highest mountain in Ibiza, the summit rises 474 meters above the sea offering panoramic views.  
  • Punta d'es Moscarter 
    Walk the cliff-top path from Portinatx to the lighthouse. Built in the 70's and at 52 meters is the tallest man made structure on the island.      
  • Puig de Missa Hill                                      
    The hill rises 52 meters above sea level and on its summit is a 1568 church built on the site of an earlier 1302 chapel. 
  • Island of Es Vedra
    Uninhabited island off the southwest coast of Ibiza that is protected as a natural park, a rugged island with a monolithic slab of sheer limestone that crests at 413 meters. You can get there by boat from San Antonio or Ibiza Town. 
  • Las Dalias Hippie Market                
    Takes place in San Carlos on Saturday. 
  • Cafe del Mar/Cafe Mambo 
    On the sunset strip in San Antonio, famous for dramatic sunsets, lounge, and chill-out music.                   
  • Playa d'en Bossa
    The longest beach on the island with cool beach bars, excellent food, laid-back music from DJs and excellent water-sport facilities. By night, it becomes the focus of the island's clubbing crowd with “SuperClubs”, Ushuaïa and Hï Ibiza being some of the island's most popular attracting A-list DJs every night.               
  • Cala Comte          
    800 metre strip of sand that hugs the twisting contours of the rocky coast. Offshore is a small wedge-like island and this helps to create large, lagoon-like pools of shimmering turquoise water.     
  • The Las Salinas    
    Possibly Ibiza’s most iconic beach is denoted by its white sand, clear water and the mesmerising sights. A favourite for celebrities.                  It 
  • Talamanca 
    A wide sweep of snow-white sand backed by low-density development. The scenery around Talamanca is made up of small, pine-cloaked hills and the small holiday community of Cap Martinet.                     
  • Formentera            
    Take a ferry to Formentera, the beaches Playa de Ses Illetes and Calo des Mort look almost tropical, like you might find in the Caribbean with turquoise waters and sugar-white sand.   
  • Cala Bassa    
    The place of soft sands and clear water tinged blue.                 
  • Cala Saladeta and Cala Salada  
    7 km north of Sant Antoni de Portmany, soft sands, blue waters and bright green trees. A popular snorkelling spot.   
  • Cala Longa
    Picture postcard beach and popular with families for its clear and shallow waters.             

Ibiza's history and location are reflected in its culinary offerings, sourced from the very rich and fertile region surrounding it and using the freshest local produce grown from the land and freshly fished from the seas. Fish and shellfish are the mainstay and usually fresh off the boats that day, the best is sometimes sold simply cooked from shacks on the beaches.  Meat and game also feature on local menus and are popular in hearty stews. Traditional Spanish dishes are in abundance and the classics like gazpacho (cold tomato and pepper soup), tapas and paella are widely available all over the island. There are plenty of international restaurants in the main resorts that range from fast food to creative fine dining of the highest order and the presence of world-class chefs has made food in Ibiza exciting and vibrant without veering away from ingredients located in the area. From traditional tapas bars to a Moroccan restaurant complete with sushi bar you can find every type of cuisine on the island.      

In addition to the local beverages listed below Ibiza produces great wines, made in the traditional way with grapes from indigenous vines and the island has even been granted its own quality standards through the Vins de la terra Eivissa denomination.  

Dishes to sample:

    • Arròs de Matança or Arroz de Matanzas - One of the most traditional dishes in Ibiza, this dish is made of rice, any type of local meat, saffron, and mushroom.  It is cooked in a broth that has been reduced. 
    • Sobrasada and Botifarra - Cured sausages, akin to chorizo with soft ground pork seasoned with paprika. 
    • Bullit de Peix – A delicious and authentic main course, a fish stew made with grouper and potatoes accompanied by lobster and shrimp and served with an aioli on the side. 
    • Sofrit Pagés - This traditional Balearic stew is a hearty mixture of various meats like chicken, lamb, and the Ibizan sausages sobrassada and botifarra. There are also vegetables like potatoes, peppers, and artichokes.  
    • Paellas de Marisco - Seafood paella, the ingredients of this paella come fresh from the sea surrounding the island of Ibiza.  
    • Parrillada de Pescado - Mixed seafood grill which is typically served in beach-side restaurants and comprises of the days catch which is always grilled and served on the same day. 
    • Greixonera - A traditional Ibizan dessert which is like a bread pudding and made from leftover pastries or bread, such as ensaimada. 
    • Sangría - Made with fruits in season such as apples, pears, and oranges. It is served all over Ibiza and each restaurant has a special way of making it.
    • Hierbas Ibicencas - Translated as “Ibizan Herbs” and one of the most quintessential drinks in Ibiza. A traditional drink with 200 years history which has a strong aniseed flavour made from various herbs such as lemon, orange, and thyme. 
    • Frigola – Thyme based sweet drink enjoyed as a digestive after a meal. The Frigola plant grows all around Ibiza. 
    • Palo - An aperitif made from a plant native to the area called the Quino Calsaya.
    • Horchatas - Frozen drinks typically mixed with ground nuts like almonds or tiger nuts. 

 

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Corfu

Size: 610.9 km²
Population: 102,071
Capital: Corfu Town “Kerkyra”
Airport: Corfu International "Ioannis Kapodistrias”

 

Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, it is the second largest of the Ionian Islands and forms the margin of the north western frontier of Greece. This magnificent island of Corfu, or Kerkyra in Greek language is also known as the “Green Island” because of its beautiful scenery and surroundings with dense vegetation, natural beauty, fantastic beaches and turquoise clear waters. It is an island with a long history and has been notable in Greek culture and tradition for over 3000 years, inhabited since the Paleolithic era and later by the Phaeacians as mentioned in the Odyssey. Corfu was a strategic position in Europe for many years and was heavily fortified which is reflected in the number of castles on the island, it was ruled by the Venetian republic for 5 centuries up until 1797 so many of the buildings have a Venetian feel to them particularly the main historic Corfu old town “Kerkyra”. 

The length of the island (in a straight line from north to south) is no more than 61 km and the greatest width is 27 km with a rich coastline of 217 km. It is divided into the following regions:    

  • North East: Home An area of great interest as the many beaches and inland are dominated by Mount Pantokrato (the ancient Istone mountain with the highest peak at 914 meters) with many small beautiful traditional mountain villages untouched by time. Sparilas and Strynilas, Perithea are ideal destinations for those that prefer quieter holidays and calm clear waters. In the northern part, the most developed tourist resort is Kassiopi, a historic village and to the south the beaches of small pebbly bays are not very developed. Small seaside locations with tavernas, natural scenery and crystal-clear waters include Agios Stefanos, Kerasia, Kouloura, Kalami, Agni, Krouzeri, Kaminaki, Nissaki, Barbati - these form the area of the old Sinies.  Below on the east coast are the famous tourist resorts Ipsos, Dassia (one of the oldest tourist areas) and Gouvia with a large yacht marina.
  • North and West: Quite a large area that includes many popular resorts with mostly sandy beaches and stunning beauty spots. Beautiful Palaiokastritsa in the west looks spectacular from the village of Lakones sitting just above it and from the rare hidden beaches to the south. Sidari and Peroulades have rare sandstone geological formations with the Canal d`amour between them plus the cape of Drastis and the majestic Loggas beach.     
  • Central: It has the largest population (approximately 40,000 permanent residents) as it includes the historic city of Corfu and the municipal district of Achileion. Achilleion palace and the most important monuments of the island can be found in and around Corfu Town, a UNESCO world heritage site, you can lose yourself in the narrow cobblestone alleys “kandounia”, visit museums, walk down the famous Liston promenade or stroll around the huge Spianada square. The town has so much to explore. There are several small and big traditional villages, seaside resorts and beaches, to the east are Benitses, Perama, Kanoni and to the west unique beaches, the nudist beach of Myrtiotissa, Pelekas with its beach of Kontogyalos, the long sandy beach of Aghios Gordios, Ermones and the most cosmopolitan beach of the island Glyfada. 
  • South-East: It incorporates the larger tourist resorts of Moraitika and Messongi with the only sandy beach on the east coast and the well-known traditional fishing villages of Boukari and Petriti with a large harbour and several fish tavernas. Lefkimi, the second largest town is a great place to explore and a few kilometers south is Kavos which is a popular choice for the younger generation seeking sun, sea, fun and nightlife. 
  • South and West: Dominated by endless sandy beaches and traditional villages. The large traditional villages inland seem to be stuck in time and life flows at a slower pace, the huge beaches (excluding Agios Georgios which has seen some development in recent years) remain almost untouched and preserve their natural beauty, extending for several miles the beaches of Chalikounas, Issos, Agios Georgios of Argyradon, Marathias and Agia Varvara all merge into one. Gardenos on the southwest end is the beachside of the traditional village of Vitalades and part of the long beaches of Vitalades, Lakka or Cannula that ends at the capes of Arkoudillas and Asprokavos.  These are virgin areas without development and unchanged with a natural landscape consisting of a series of high cliffs parallel to the sandy beaches. 

The Island of Corfu is a fantastic holiday choice with so much to offer,  picturesque mountain villages, traditional fishing harbours, lively nightlife, water sports, quieter places with emphasis on beauty of the environment, emerald sandy coves, crystal clear water and secluded idyllic beaches. The passing of time may have brought some changes, but the spirit of its glorious past remains with a rich multi-cultural heritage, gastronomic delights, historic monuments and stunning landscapes. With all these contributing factors it is easy to see why Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations that manages to cast a powerful spell on the many returning visitors. 

 

  • Kanoni and Mouse Island
    The region of Kanoni and the Mouse Island (Pontikonisi) is the most picturesque spot of Corfu Town.
  • Achillion Palace
    The Palace was built in 1890 for Elizabeth (Sissy), the Empress of Austria, she named it Achillion after her favourite Greek hero, Achilles.
  • Old Fortress
    The Old Fortress stands next to Spianada square and Liston. An impressive castle built on a peninsula and connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge. 
  • Spianada Square
    The most impressive square of Corfu Town and the second largest square in Europe.
  • Town Hall 
    Housed in an elegant mansion of Venetian style and constructed in the late 17th century.
  • New Fortress
    Also known as the New Fortress of Corfu, it played an important role in the protection of the town against pirates and enemies in Medieval times.
  • Saint Spyridon
    Located in the Old Town of Corfu behind Liston. It has the largest bell tower of all churches in the city and it is the red dome that visitors first see when they arrive by boat to Corfu.
  • Monastery of Pantokrator 
    Located on top of the highest mountain of the island, on the northern side of Corfu. Incredible panoramic view. 
  • Old Perithia (Palea Perithia)
    A ghost village located on the slopes of Mount Pantokrator, the highest mountain in Corfu.
  • Angelokastro Castle
    Meaning the "Castle of the Angels" in Greek, located on top of a steep cliff overlooking the sea, near Paleokastritsa. 
  • The Mansion of Ioannis Kapodistrias
    The first governor of the modern Greek State, among the most impressive buildings of Corfu Old Town. 
  • The Small Islet of Vidos
    Located right at the entrance of Corfu port, it has small beaches to swim, paths for trekking and a nice taverna.
  • Antinioti and Korission Lagoons 
    On the island there are two lagoons, the northernmost lake of Antinioti, and in the southwest is the lagoon of Korission, each with its special biodiversity. 
  • Cruise to Paxi, Antipaxos and the Blue Caves
  • Museums and Galleries 
    Archaeological Museum, Museum of Music "Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros" Museum, Museum of Asian Art, Byzantine Museum, Acharavi Folklore Museum, Banknote Museum, Dionysios Solomos Museum, Municpal Art Gallery.  

 

  • Paleokastritsa
    The most famous picturesque beach resort of the island. Huge, green cliffs surround the coast and sea caves can be visited by boat around Paleokastritsa.
  • Agios Gordious
    A sandy beach that is surrounded by impressive rock formations, much greenery and tourist facilities. 
  • Glyfada 
    Popular beach in the middle of the island and offers a good mix of gorgeous scenery with a bit of music and water sports.
  • Nissaki 
    A lovely shore with soft sand and rock formations around has amazing blue green water. 
  • Sidara Canal d'Amour
    The famous coves of Canal d'Amour are situated at the west of Sidari, one of the most impressive and photographed spots of Corfu.
  • Halikounas
    Long isolated sandy beach located near the village of Agios Matheos.
  • Agios Spiridon
    Sandy beach with breath-taking scenery, crystal clear waters and lush greenery.
  • Marathias
    Highly recommended by the locals for its crystalline waters and the golden sand, the long sandy beach is surrounded by the imposing hill forests.
  • Gardeno
    A little gem that remains undiscovered by tourists, long and sandy beach known for the natural landscape with green hills and crystal-clear waters.
  • Kalamaki
    Also known as Apraos, is a calm beach located in the northwest coast of Corfu, between the fishing village of Kassiopi and the beach of Agios Spiridon. It stays shallow for a long way out making it perfect for children. 
  • Barbati
    A secluded beach north of Ipsos, large pebbles, crystal water and green nature.
  • Rovinia
    A beautiful beach located in Paleokastritsa, reachable only by boat or through a hiking path from Liapades. 

The cuisine of Corfu differs slightly from the typical Greek cuisine with an influence from the Venetians who once dominated the island. The unique menus use wine, garlic and eastern spices, like cloves, allspice, cinnamon and more, in the restaurants delicious regional plates such as the Bourdetto (peppery fish stew), Sofrito (fried veal) and the famous Pastitsada, a favourite dish of pasta with beef are all being served.

Based on meat, fish, pasta, olive oil and herbs the island’s gastronomy will excite those who love good food, high quality and amazing taste using best local produce grown from the land and freshly fished seafood. As well as traditional Corfu food you will find plenty of Greek dishes on the island and the excellent Corfu restaurants and traditional taverns are the best places to taste the local delicacies!

Wineries on Corfu are found mainly in Ropa Valley, a large and fertile valley in between Corfu Town and Ermones where the large vineyards are cultivated. Although the island is not particularly famous for its wine production, over the last years many now export local wine and have opened their premises to visitors. The main varieties are Moschato, Katigiorgis and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dishes/Drinks to sample:

  • Pastitsada - Chicken or veal is cooked together with oil, spices, onions and a little garlic, some wine, cinnamon, laurel, nutmeg, fresh tomato and served with thick pasta.
  • Fish Bianco - Fish simmered with white wine on a bed of potatoes. The potatoes are pan fried first with lots of garlic and olive oil, white wine is added along with salt and cloves. 
  • Bourdeto - Fish or other seafood cooked with onions and a lot of red pepper, half sweet and half hot with lemon.
  • Sofrito - Veal casserole served with a white sauce of garlic, onion, pepper, wine vinegar and anything else the chef puts in it to produce his version. Some serve a beef sofrito, though strictly speaking it is a veal dish.
  • Veal Fricando - Loin of veal, larded and braised, or roasted.
  • Pork Dolcegarbo - Pork slowly cooked with onions, rosemary white wine and spices, served with aromatic rice, polenta or potatoes.
  • Beef Liver alla Veneziana - Fried liver dish in the Venetian style that has been given the Corfu treatment (rarely seen on tourist menus) cooked with red wine and spiced with hot red pepper.
  • Zorka - Pies made with seasonal vegetables, depending on the season you may find Zucchini pies, savoury pumpkin pies, onion pies, cheese pies, or whatever is fresh on the farm that day. 
  • Sikomaida - Sweet fig pie made with Figs pounded in Ouzo, walnuts, spices and pepper then wrapped in fig leaves. Usually found in some of the more traditional villages.
  • Fogatsa - The Easter brioche of Corfu. 
  • Mandolato - The favourite confection of the Venetians, honey, sugar, and egg whites are made meringue filled with almonds.
  • Sitsibíra - A local ginger beer and an island specialty, refreshing in the summer with delicious flavours of fresh lemon mixing with the spicy, pepper notes of ginger.  pasties with various fillings. 
  • Kumquat Liqueur - The first liqueur was an orange colour and made from the skin of the kumquat oranges with a sweeter taste and often used in cocktails. Today there is also a yellow-tinted variety made from the juice of the fruit, less sweet and drank as an after-meal digestive chilled or with ice.
  • Metaxa - The most famous Greek spirit.
  • Ouzo - Mixed with ice and water with a liquorice taste. 
  • Greek Coffee - Served in a small cup like an espresso.
  • Greek Frappe - A strong ice-cold frothy coffee.

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Cyprus

Size: 9,251 km²
Population: 1,207,359
Capital: Nicosia (Lefkosia)
Airport: Larnaca/Paphos

Cyprus is situated at the north-eastern end of the Mediterranean basin, it is the third largest island in the region and dominated by two mountain ranges, the Troodos covering most of the southern and western area and the smaller Pentadaktilos along the northern coastline encompassing the central plain of Mesaoria. The island is de-facto-divided after the Turkish Illegal invasion in 1974 and it has remained so since. The internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus in the south, and the occupied part in the north administered by the Turkish regime in the north. The United Nations-control the dividing line (Green Line) and there are also two bases under British Sovereignty in Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

By crossing the “Green Line” between the South and the North the complex and painful modern-day history becomes very apparent but it also allows you to experience the two different communities. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot societies are inherently different but also very similar, they are divided by their beliefs but both have a strong sense of traditional family life, a rich history of food culture, folk customs and a naturally warm and welcoming nature.

Cyprus is an island with a long history and a rich culture that spans 10,000 years, making it one of the oldest civilisations in the Mediterranean, steeped in myth, with every potential conqueror yearning to possess it which is evidenced by the many fascinating cultural sights, museums, monuments and galleries. There are prehistoric settlements, classical Greek temples, Roman theatres and villas, early Christian basilicas, Byzantine churches and monasteries, Crusader castles, Gothic cathedrals, Venetian fortifications, Moslem mosques, and British colonial-style buildings.

The island enjoys abundant sunshine with long hot summers and is blessed with natural beauty, the scenery of Cyprus unfolds across glittering coasts, rolling mountains, fragrant forests and rugged headlands. There is a beach for everyone here, from secluded rugged bays to family friendly sun-soaked stretches of sand with every conceivable water sport on offer. For hiking and biking and lovers of nature head in land to enjoy the wild-flower meadows, densely planted vineyards, hillsides strewn with Jerusalem sage and wild fennel and to the pine clad mountains.  

Cyprus has a lot to offer with many returning visitors and exudes a magnetic charm much compared to Aphrodites’ ability to draw in the lovers!

The south of the Island has six major districts:

  • Nicosia (Lefkosia) is the capital of Cyprus and is situated at the centre of the island and is the only divided city in Europe. A cosmopolitan area for business, manufacturing, culture and shopping as here you will find both locally produced goods such as leather, pottery and embroidery, larger shopping malls selling fashion and perfumes as well as many restaurants and bars. The historic Old Town lies within massive 16th century Venetian Walls and is home to Famagusta Gate (one of the original entrances to the city), the stunning building of the Municipal Theatre, famous museums, Byzantine churches, medieval and neoclassical buildings, all of which stand along narrow scenic roads linking the city to its' past.
  • Famagusta (Ammochostos) is situated to the east of the island and has been a number one tourist destination since the 1970’s and is home to the deserted ghost City of Varosi (inaccessible to people) after the illegal Turkish invasion in 1974.  Today the area around the City are popular holiday choices with a resort to satisfy all tastes, here you will find Aiya Napa, lively, fun-filled, and famous for Nissi Beach and lots of nightlife. The more laid-back family friendly resorts of Protaras, Pernera, Kapparis and to the south of Fagamusta Bay (Ammochostos BAY) is Cape Greko, a protected coastal nature park and an area of outstanding natural beauty. Sparkling, crystal waters, golden sands, scenic landscape, quaint windmills, and mineral rich soil for growing some of the island’s tastiest, produce are just some of the defining features of the region.
  • Larnaca (Larnaka) is a major resort on the southern coast with miles and miles of beautiful beaches to choose from, one of most famous is Finikoudes with a Blue Flag status and a great location along the picturesque sea front promenade. It is a hot spot for those interested in history, architecture, and culture with plenty of museums and archaeological sites to enjoy including the rural village of Choirokoitia, the site of a Neolithic settlement. The mountainous areas of the region are dotted with charming villages of narrow streets, where traditions and skilled handicrafts are still practised.  It is also famous its’ breath-taking salt-lake, a temporary home to thousands of migratory birds including the pink flamingo.
  • Limassol (Lemesos) known as the region of wine, celebrations and ancient realm is located on the island’s southern coast. It is the second largest city and home to impressive archaeological monuments, the island’s main port and a bustling holiday resort with a 15 km coastal strip lined restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. The main wine growing area and the largest wineries in Cyprus are located in Limassol and on the southern slopes of the Troodos mountains the hillside villages known collectively as the 'Krassochoria' (wine villages), are producing the island’s best wines.
  • Paphos (Pafos) is located to the west and is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Comprised of old and new towns, rural villages including Miliou and Argaka which are surrounded by citrus groves, vineyards and olive trees and picturesque resorts akin to Pomos, and Latchi) make a region that is home to some of the most stunning areas of natural beauty on the island. It has a quaint fishing harbour, a sandy coastline with coves and gorges, many archaeological sites (Katos Pafos - UNESCO World Heritage Site), the beautiful Akamas National Park and nestled within Pafos Forest is the breath-taking mountain locality of Cedar Valley. Paphos has become a significant tourist destination, not only for beach lovers but also for those interested in history, culture, and nature.
  • The Troodos Mountains is an area of extreme natural beauty, its’ lower slopes alternate between terraced vineyards and the Phoenician juniper maquis, found in abundance near the coast, with pink rock rose and wild lavender whilst bright green pine trees and majestic cedars dominate in the higher elevations. Following the mountain road you will encounter many different traditional villages, the chain of wine-making communities who have practised viticulture for centuries, others famous for intricate handmade folk-art, from lace and silver-work to pottery and basket weaving, and agricultural villages known for growing fruit. Troodos is also religiously significant for its string of 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Byzantine Churches and other monasteries and chapels. Birdwatchers, botanists, geologists, ramblers, bikers, photographers, and nature lovers seeking a relaxing break away from the coastal resorts will all be astonished by the majestic Troodos.
  • Kyrenia (Keryneia) the northern section of the island (under illegal Turkish occupation) is the smallest of the districts in Cyprus and the only one that is 100% under Turkish control. Kyrenia harbour boasts a stunning backdrop made up of the Pentadaktylos Mountains, architecture that is more than 1,300 years old and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. The best museums include the Museum of Decorative Arts, the seventh century Byzantine Kyrenia Castle and the Shipwreck Museum, where some artifacts date back 2,300 years. Kyrenia is also the place to spot turtles in their natural habitats, tee off on a local golf course in view of the Mediterranean Sea or hike along the coast.
  • Nicosia
    The old town lies within 16th century Venetian Walls. Famagusta Gate, Municipal Theatre, Cyprus Museum, Byzantine Churches, Medieval and Neoclassical Buildings.
  • Ancient Kourion
    A vast archaeological site perched on a hill overlooking Episkopi bay.
  • St. Hilarion Castle (under illegal Turkish occupation)
    One of the Mediterranean's most beautiful castle ruins with fantastic views across the Island.
  • Kolossi Castle
    A three-storey keep built as a military fortress for the Crusaders of the High Middle Ages.
  • Kato Paphos Archaeological Park
    An amazing place located in the southwestern city of Paphos, an archaeological treasure trove of ancient monuments, villas, and underground tombs including the Mosaics of Paphos.
  • Mosaics of Paphos
    At Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, the ancient floor mosaics are considered amongst the finest in the world, serving as a valuable and beautiful record of everyday life of the Greco-Romans as well as the legends of gods, goddesses, and heroes. These can be seen in the House of Dionysos, Orpheus and Aion, and the House of Theseus.
  • Ancient Salamis (under illegal Turkish occupation)
    Archaeological home to a wealth of marble ruins from the Hellenistic period, dating back to the war of Troy. When the Son of the King of Salamis ended up in Cyprus and built a city and named it after his home place.
  • Kykkos Monastery
    A gorgeous Byzantine complex founded in the late 11th century. Located in the mountainous region of Marathasa Valley, the monastery is the wealthiest and most lavish on the island which stands on a mountain peak at an altitude of 1.318 metres. Dedicated to Panagia (the Virgin Mary), the monastery possesses one of three icons attributed to Agios Loukas (Apostle Luke) the Evangelist. The icon - covered in silver gilt - is in a shrine made of tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl that stands in front of the iconostasis.
  • Larnaca
    The Turkish Quarter (Skala) and ornate Agios Lazaros (Church of St. Lazarus) give the town an interesting historical edge. 
  • Choirokoitia
    The site of a Neolithic settlement which bears witness to a fascinating worldview that prevailed some 9000 years ago.
  • Cape Greco
    A protected coastal nature park and an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • The Bridge of Love (Love Bridge)
    A beautiful attraction in Ayia Napa where nature created a natural bridge after millions of years of sculpturing against the rocky shore. Here thousands of couples have given vows of their eternal love, place a lock on the bridge and seal your love forever.
  • Akamas Peninsula
    One of the least inhabited parts of the island and a great place for spotting wildlife including sea turtles, reptiles, and native birds. You can also explore the history with a visit to the Baths of Aphrodite or Agios Andronikos, a former mosque and current church that was constructed in the early 16th century.
  • Omodos Village
    A charming village of stone houses, cobbled streets and a must visit for lovers of wine with stalls offering samples of the local varieties. The town’s 17th-century monastery is also home to several museums.
  • Kyrenia and Kyrenia Castle (under illegal Turkish occupation)
    Northern part of Cyprus' prettiest town with its unmistakably Venetian architecture built around the harbour.

 

  • Nissi 
    One of the most famous in Ayia Napa and well-known for its’ party atmosphere but remains a place of natural beauty. Covered in fine, golden sand and formed inside a natural bay with shallow calm water and sheltered against wind. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports, Diving School.
  • Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodites Rock)
    A beach of exceptional natural beauty near Aphrodite Hills. A large rock in the ocean and the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. Pebble and sand beach, the water is clear but can be rough and not recommended for swimming.
  • Protaras (Fig Tree Bay)
    Popular beach better known as Fig Tree Bay. It takes its name from a single, solitary fig tree that has been there since the 17th century. Fine golden sands and crystal-clear water. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports.
  • Makronissos 
    The 350 meter long beach of Makronissos is a picturesque cluster of three bays with fine golden sand and calm clear water. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports.
  • Coral Bay 
    Considered to be one of the loveliest coasts of the area in the Paphos region. Deep golden sand, shallow crystal-clear water, enclosed by limestone headlands and plenty of greenery. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports.
  • Konnos Bay 
    Small and idyllic, covered in fine golden sand with calm crystal- clear water sheltered from heavy winds. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports. 
  • Agia Thekla 
    Sandy, natural beach, it has a rocky bottom covered in fine, golden sands and its crystal-clear waters are relatively calm. Blue Flag, Organised.
  • Agia Triada 
    Sandy with crystal-clear water and quaint surroundings. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports.
  • Kapparis 
    Small and relatively secluded with fine golden sand, calm crystal-clear water. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports. 
  • Ammos tou Kombouri
    A small natural bay between the sea caves of Ayia Napa and Cavo Greko with a sandy beach and a mesmerising landscape. Blue Flag, Organised.
  • Limnara (Kermia) 
    Fine golden sand, calm crystal-clear water with rock pools at the edge of the bay. 350 meters long with access to Cape Greco Natural Park. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports. 
  • Cape Greco (Cavo Greko) 
    Not really a beach as such but a rocky cape in the natural park with amazing views and underwater caves.
  • Aphrodite 
    Quiet and relaxing with a long sandy shore of pebbles and dark grey sand, clear waters and a coastal footpath lined with acacias, eucalyptus trees and oleanders. Located in the famous coastal resort of Agios Tychonas in Limassol.
  • Finikoudes 
    One of the most famous beaches in the south due to its’ location in the heart of Larnaca. Fine grey sand, calm water and separated from the town by a promenade lined with palm trees. Blue Flag, Organised, Water Sports.
  • Blue Lagoon 
    One of the most isolated but also one of the most beautiful with a magical view. Located in the Akamas peninsula, a sheltered bay with amazing clear waters and great place for snorkelling.
  • Lara Bay 
    A protected beach for the loggerhead and green turtles and a little paradise with soft white sand, crystal clear water and a wild environment. Located on the Akamas peninsula it is only accessible to four-wheel drive vehicles and there are no facilities. 

Cypriot cuisine is remarkably like Greek cuisine but there have been some influences from its’ past conquerors with an exotic blend of Middle East and Eastern European cultures.  Cypriot dishes are rich in nutrients and based on the healthy Mediterranean diet of lean meat, fish, pasta, olive oil, herbs, wild greens, vegetables, fruit, cheese, yogurt and the island’s gastronomy will excite those who love good food, high quality and amazing tastes using the best local produce grown from the land and freshly fished from the sea. Cyprus has always been well-known for its’ lemons, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, strawberries, apples, pears, melons, grapes, and figs which are cultivated in the villages on the Island.  Synonymous with Cypriot cuisine is the ‘meze’ - a variety of small dishes that create a feast plus local dishes of moreish dips, braised, stewed and clay-cooked meats, freshly caught fish, pulses and legumes in various sauces, speciality cheeses and delicatessen cuts which are all authentically prepared.

In addition to the unique dishes of the island you will find lots of options for dining, there are plenty of cafes, bars and excellent restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisine to suit all tastes.

Wine is big business in Cyprus and it is believed that the Cypriots were the earliest producers with a wine-making tradition dating back over 4,000 years and today they are the best producers in the world. Traditionally using two types of grape, “black” or red which is unique to the island and the white “xinisteri” both make a wine with a strong taste so during the last decades they have experimented on new varieties which are now mixed to produce lighter tasting wines.  The most famous Cypriot wine is the sweet “Comandaria” which has been produced for centuries using traditional methods that are still used  today on the south slopes of the Troodos Mountain by the 14 villages who have the right to make the wine with a unique red colour and silk taste. The glut of grapes is also put to good use to make the potent ‘firewater’ spirit of Zivania.

The ritual of sharing good food, wine and conversation is an important part of the island’s culture and is intrinsically linked with every social event, from family gatherings and special occasions to religious festivals!

Dishes and Drinks to sample:

  • Dips Ttzatziki (yogurt, garlic, cucumber, olive oil), Tahini (crushed sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon, garlic), Taramosalata (fish roe, pureed potatoes, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, onion), Hummus (chickpeas and tahini), Tirokafteri (spicy cheese dip). 
  • Lountza - Smoked pork loin.
  • Tsamarella - Dried goat meat in coriander seeds and wine.
  • Chiromeri - Pork marinated in wine and smoked in thyme.
  • Zalatina - Boiled pork with spices.
  • Pastourmas - Smoked and spiced beef.
  • Loukanika - Pork sausages soaked in red wine, seasoned with coriander and pepper.
  • Souvlaki - Greek speciality made with tender cuts of meat, marinated in a lemon and olive oil mixture, grilled and served on skewers.
  • Stifado - Greek stew made with meat (beef or lamb), tomatoes, pearl onions, white wine, garlic, cinnamon, and oregano.
  • Moussaka - Minced Lamb, layers of vegetables such as potatoes, courgettes, Greek Melitzanes (aubergine) and bechamel sauce.
  • Cyprus Ravioli - Stuffed with halloumi and mint.
  • Kleftiko - Lamb slowly cooked in a clay oven with lemon juice and cinnamon. 
  • Fasolada - Dry white beans, olive oil and vegeatables.
  • Koupepia - Vine leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice.
  • Sheftalia - Minced pork, chopped onions, breadcrumbs, chopped parsley. 
  • Keftedes - Greek meatballs seasoned with herbs and garlic, served as a starter with Ttzatziki. 
  • Afelia - Pork, red wine mushrooms, potatoes and coriander seeds. 
  • Yemista - Stuffed Vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, onions, courgettes, aubergines or courgette petals. 
  • Avgolemoni Soup - A type of soup with egg lemon and chicken. 
  • Soutzoukos - A sweet made of grape juice and nuts on a string. 
  • Finiotika Loukoumia - Turkish delights made in Fini village. 
  • Pastelli - A traditional Cypriot sweet made of carob syrup. 
  • Kourabiedes - Small almond cakes coated in icing sugar. 
  • Loukoumades - Cyprus style doughnuts with honey.
  • Baklava - An extremely rich and sweet filo pastry filled with syrup, honey, nuts, and cinnamon.
  • Commandaria Wine - Sweet dessert wine which is only produced on the island.
  • Zivania - A fiery spirit produced by distillation of grapes and unique to the island.
  • Brandy Sour - The national cocktail of the island made with Cypriot Brandy.
  • Cyprus Wine - Produced from Black, Xynisteri, Ofthalmos, Muscat grape varieties.
  • Cyprus Beers - Light beers (due to the mild climate the island produces rich wheat which is used to brew high quality light beers).
  • Cyprus Coffee - The coffee is hot and served (glykos-sweet, metrios-medium, sketos-black no sugar) in a small cup with a glass of water.
  • Soft Drinks - Soumada (made from almonds), Airani (cold yogurt drink with salt and mint), Pannada (cool drink made from melon seeds), Kiantzali (cool drink made from carob honey).

View our properties in Cyprus


Sicily - Italy

Size: 25,711 km²
Population: 4,969,147
Capital: Palermo
Airport: Palermo/Catania

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and situated south of the Italian peninsula from which it is separated by the narrow strait of Messina. It is one of 20 regions of Italy and its’ most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe at 10,992 feet and the most active in the world. This beautiful island enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, short mild winters and 2,500 hours of sunshine, with a 1000 km rugged volcanic coastline of secluded pebble coves, long stretches of tropical white sand and warm crystal-clear waters that surround a varied and dramatic landscape of mountains, rolling hills, citrus groves and flat lands incorporating 5 regional parks and 77 nature reserves.  

The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity dates from as early as 12,000 BC and the islands strategic position at the centre of the Mediterranean and a gateway to the western world has left it with an unparalleled historical legacy, a pawn of conquest and empire for those who wanted to control it and a melting pot for ethnic groups whose soldiers and merchants sought it’s shores. Nowhere else have Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Germans, Spanish, Italians and even the British left such an indelible impression and considerably contributed to its’ fascinating history and heritage. Whether you are more attracted by Greek temples, Roman villas and aqueducts, Norman cathedrals or Baroque churches, Sicily offers a range of historical sites that are not easily matched and over the years, several locations have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Organised crime, epitomised by the Corleone family in the Godfather films, Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, has also played a significant part in Sicilian life since the mid-19th century. 

The capital of Sicily is Palermo and the provinces are Palermo, Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Ragusa, Syracuse, and Trapani.

  • Palermo to the north-west is bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea and includes many nature reserves and several man-made lakes. Behind the coastal plains the landscape is hilly and mountainous with peaks over 1000 metres above sea level, the highest is Pizzo Carbonara at just under 2000 metres. The capital Palermo sits in a naturally protected setting on the slopes of Monte Pellegrino with an attractive harbour below and holds a unique place amid the cities of the world, its’ considered to be the most conquered which is evident in the architecture of Arab, Byzantine, Roman, Norman and modern styles, it also has a darker past as the stronghold of the Sicilian mafia, the Cosa Nostra. Here you will find a fascinating mix of grand palaces, churches and other fine buildings interspersed with narrow streets of crumbling yet beautiful ancient houses as well as an intriguing labyrinth of outdoor markets, subtle niches, and long-forgotten secrets. Palermo is one of the world capitals of street food taste the delights offered in the markets, cafés, streets and squares, this vibrant city has much to explore and a truly cosmopolitan culture which is reflected in the art, architecture, music and cuisine. The province also includes one of Italy's most attractive seaside destinations and certainly one of Sicily’s top resorts at Cefalu. Well-known for its beautiful sunsets, unpretentious charm, sandy beaches, and a picturesque historic town with some high culture in the shape of a fine UNESCO listed Norman cathedral, an almost 300 meters-high limestone cliff, which surpasses the town.  Other main towns of the province are: Bagheria, Monreale, Carini, Partinico, Misilmeri, Terme Imerese, Villabate, Terrasini, Trabia, Santa Flavia, Cinisi, Ficarazzi, Corleone. 
  • Agregentio to the south-west east is well known for its’ sandy beaches and clear waters, behind the coast gentle hills gradually rise to the Sicani mountains with Mount Cammarata being the highest peak. It is home to the famous UNESCO heritage archaeological park Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) which is one of the finest examples of Greek architecture in the world and Museo Archeologico is one of the island's finest museums. The site is a national monument of Italy and stretches over an area of 1,300 hectares.  Other main towns of the province are: Aragona, Canicatti, Favara, Licata, Porto Empedocole, Caltabellotta.   
  • Caltanissetta to the south-west was was owned by the Moncada family until 1812, the countryside is hilly and rugged and not highly populated as the people of the region choose to live in the main towns. It includes environmental areas, Lake Biviere di Gela, an important spot for migratory birds, the southern Valley of the Imera, Lake Soprano of Serrafidalco and the beautiful Sugherata forest at Niscemi as well as plenty of history and culture, including castles, churches and museums. Other main towns of the province are: Gela, Niscemi, San Cataldo, Mazzarino, Riesi, Mussomeli, Sommatino, Serradifalco, Santa Caterina Villarmosa, Sutera. 
  • Catania to the south-east is a province of diverse landscape from Mount Etna to the Ionian Sea, mountains, plains, river basins, forests, and a long lava coastline. There are many picturesque beach resorts, cliffs of remarkable altitude and sea grottos, amid a countryside of green bushes and trees of exceptional variety. In 1693 an earthquake shook the region and destroyed many of the towns and following this natural disaster they were rebuilt in a High Baroque architectural and extravagant style. Catania was occupied by many different civilisations and the city has a rich and varied cultural heritage, Greco-Roman architecture in the 'Parco Archeologico, Greco-Romano di Catania' sits side by side with the medieval 'Castello Ursino' and Baroque masterpieces such as 'Catania Cathedral' and 'San Francesco d'Assisi all'Immacolata'. A stroll through the centre of Catania, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a stroll through history. Other main towns of the province are: Acireale, Paternò, Misterbianco, Caltagirone, Adrano, Gravina di Catania, Aci Catena, Giarre, Masculucia, Biancavilla.  
  • Enna in the centre is the only province without a sea border, it is mainly hilly with some low mountainous areas, small plains and lakes and well known for its’ production of citrus fruits. It includes remarkable environments, such as the Rossomanno forest and the salty Lake of Pergusa and many natural reserves. The city of Enna sits on a flat plateau 900 metres above sea level, the highest provincial capital in Sicily and popular for the breath-taking views over the surrounding countryside. It has a rich history and offers plenty of ancient Greek and cultural attractions, a dominant cathedral in the centre, Lombardy medieval castle, the Torre di Federico, Church of San Tommaso, Janniscuru Gate and Palazzo Varisano (archaeological museum of Enna). The second city of Piazza Armerina has both medieval and baroque areas to explore but the remains of the Roman villa, Villa Romana del Casale, on the edge of town attracts the most visitors, the mosaic floors are extensive and extremely impressive.  Other main towns of the province are: Nicosia, Leonforte, Barrafranca, Troina, Valguarnera Caropepe, Agira, Regalbuto, Pietraperzi.
  • Messina to the north-east is separated from mainland Italy by the narrow strait of Messina with the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north and the Ionian Sea to the east. It is mostly mountainous apart from the Milazzo plain and includes the Monti Peloritani (1300 meters) and the Monti Nebrodi or Caronie (1900 meters) where a Regional Natural Park was established. The province also includes the beautiful volcanic Aeolian islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these islands each have individual characteristics, Lipari; the largest with a lively harbour town, Panarea; a chic holiday destination of the jet-set crowd, Stromboli; with an active volcano (a night-time boat allows you to watch the pyrotechnics) and Vulcano; with a brooding atmosphere and strong sulphur smell. The combination of historic monuments, idyllic beaches and lovely scenery make this a popular region, the capital Messina is home to a Noman cathedral and the nearby town of Taormina is an absolute highlight, it has a beautiful historic centre and a fabulous Greek theatre built in the 3rd century BC with fantastic views over the sea and Mount Etna. Near the theatre, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches and a narrow stretch of sand connects to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve. The second city is Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto and other main towns are: Milazzo, Patti, Capo d'Orlando, Sant'Agata Militello, Lipari, Taormina, Santa Teresa di Riva, Giadini Naxos.
  • Ragusa to the south-east has a long coastline stretching for 85 kilometres and the northern part is dominated by the Hyblaean mountain range with the highest peak being Monte Lauro (1010 meters).  A province with fascinating history and beautiful landscapes, the rocky coasts, covered of green vegetation from the gulf of Gela offer exceptional views on the Ippari valley and the Iblei Mountains. The capital Ragusa has been carved on a wide limestone hill and is an architectural wonder with an old-world feel and beautiful Baroque architecture, it has two distinct areas, the lower and older region Ragusa Ibla, and the higher Ragusa Superiore which are separated by the Valle dei Ponti, a deep ravine crossed by four bridges. Along with Scicli it is a town of the Val di Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The second city is Vittoria Modica and other main towns are: Comiso, Scicli, Pozzallo, Ispica, Santa Croce Camerina, Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Monterosso Almo, Giarratana.
  • Syracuse the norto the south-east is bordered by the Ionian Sea to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the south and is backed by the Iblei mountains which slope down to its coastlines that are famous for long, white, sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The region includes the largest lake in Sicily, Lago di Lentini, the rivers Ciane, Anapo and Cassibile and the marshes of Vendicari, Pozzallo and Priolo Gargallo, all areas of great environmental importance for vegetation and wildlife and many of which are natural reserves and protected areas. The natural beauty is accompanied by an outstanding architecture and historical heritage, the localities of Syracuse, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide and Pantalica, and the archaeological sites of Leontinoi, Akrai, Megara Iblea, Eloro, Avola Antica and Noto Antica are included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The capital city Syracuse is one of the most important towns in Sicily, a former centre of the ancient Greek world with its’ Città Vecchia' (old historic city) 'Ortygia' (Ortigia) which is situated on an island and joined by three bridges to the modern city on the mainland behind. Ortigia was first settled in 734 BC and the Syracuse mainland just four years after which means that its monuments span a vast historic period. It is also home to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis with fascinating monuments, including the largest Greek theatre in the world, built in 470 BC, and still used today plus a Roman amphitheatre from the 2nd century.  The second city is Augusta and other main towns are: Avola, Lentini, Noto, Floridia, Pachino, Rosolini, Carletini, Francofonte, Melilli, Priolo Gargallo, Sortino. 
  • Trapani makes up the north-western corner and is bordered by the Tyrrhenian sea to the north, the Mediterranean sea to the south and the strait of Sicily to the west, the landscape is mainly mountainous with only a few flat areas and rugged compared to the south. The Egadi Islands belong to this province, Isola Longa, Isola Santa Maria, Isola San Pantaleo and Isola Schola as well as Stagnone Lagoon, a coastal lagoon that is shallow and salty. Production of salt is one of the main industries of Trapani and this province also produces more wine than the entire regions of Tuscany or Piedmont. Trapani, the capital is known as "the city between two seas due to its’ position where two seas merge, it is a thriving port with an interesting old town and pleasant sea front promenade, the city has a great wealth of palaces, churches and medieval fortifications which make it a real jewel of Sicilian architecture. A few kilometers north is Erice, a beautiful hilltop village with stunning views, to the sea and Egadi Islands, over Trapani and to the countryside below, a medieval town of paved narrow streets and two impressive castles. This region has some fantastic sandy beaches like the Mazara del Vallo, San Vito le Capo, Santa Margherita bay and the islands, Favignana and Levanzo also with good beaches are great for snorkelling. Marsala is the second city and other towns are:  Mazara del Vallo, Alcamo, Castelvetrano, Erice, Castellammare del Golfo, Valderice, Paceco, Partanna, Campobello di Mazara, Pantelleria. 

There are many opportunities for sporting and outdoor activities: Sailing, Diving, Snorkelling, Kite Surfing, Sky Diving, Paragliding, Hiking, Climbing, Cycling, Horse Riding, Bird Watching, Golf and Ski touring to name just a few.   

Sicily is an amazing destination rich in history and traditions where art and culture connect with natural beauty. This fantastic island continues to seduce its visitors with its’ impressive and diverse landscapes, from the sea and beaches to the mountains, volcanoes, countryside, and architectural delights. Sicily is sure to be a holiday you will never forget! 

  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Archaeological Area of Agrigento (Valley of the Temples)
    One of the finest examples of Greek architecture in the world.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Villa Romana del Casale 
    An example of a luxury Roman Villa, the exceptional beauty and quality of the mosaics which decorate it illustrate the greatness and its’ importance.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Aeolian Islands
    The 7 islands: Panarea, Stomboli, Vulcano, Alicudi, Lipari and Salina are all of volcanic origins and are separated by 200-meter-deep waters off the north coast.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto
    Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzo, Ragusa and Scicli. Following an earthquake in 1693 these cities in the south-east were re-built and are wonderful examples of Baroque architecture in a lavish and extravagant Baroque style. 
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
    The Necropolis contains more than 5,000 tombs and the Ancient Syracuse includes Ortigia, the first centre of the city. Temple of Athena, a Greek theatre, and a Roman amphitheatre.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mount Etna
    The most active and highest volcano in Europe.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Arab-Norman Palermo & Cathedral Churches of Cefalu and Monreale
    This includes 9 monuments, both civil and religious, in Palermo there are 7: Royal Palace with the Palatine Chapel, Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio (della Martoriana), Church of San Cataldo, “Palazzo della Zisa”, Admiral's Bridge, Palermo Cathedral. The other 2 are:  Cefalù Cathedral and Monreale Cathedral.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Opera dei Pupi
    Inscribed in 2008 in the Cultural Heritage Lists, the Opera di Pupi (Sicilian Puppet theatre) emerged in Sicily at the turn of the 19th century with its stories of medieval chivalric literature and poems of the Renaissance. The two main puppet schools are in Palermo and Catania.
  • Palermo: Street Food and Markets
    In addition to the city’s historical treasures its’ also one of the world capitals of street food, taste the delights offered in the markets, cafés, streets, and squares and visit the open air markets: Vucciria, Ballarò, and Borgo Vecchio.
  • Taormina
    A beautiful historical centre and a fabulous Greek theatre built in the 3rd century BC with fantastic views over the sea and Mount Etna. The main street is ideal for shopping with many artisan shops selling ceramics, jewellery, clothing, and souvenirs. Go down to Isola Bella, the small island and its beach that contribute greatly to the fame of the city.
  • Erice
    Situated on the summit of Mount Erice, the town overlooks the city of Trapani nearly a half mile below, making a visit worthwhile for the views alone. Reached by cable car from Trapani with two medieval castles, one built by Arabs, the other by Britons. The Norman castle was built atop an ancient Temple of Venus.
  • Cefalu
    A picturesque small fishing town with colourful boats moored at the pier, admire the panorama from the old port and pier, stroll through narrow streets full of shops and restaurants or climb to the top of La rocca di Cefalù, the cliff that overlooks the town and offers spectacular views.
  • Enna
    At Kato Perched on a headland over 900 meters above sea level, it has retained its typical charm and offers several points of interest: Lombardy castle, which offers an unobstructed view of Etna from the top of its main tower. Enna’s Duomo, Via Roma, historic centre, Archaeological Museum and Lake Pergusa, the only natural lake on the island.
  • Egadi Islands
    Three islands and two islets in the province of Trapani:  Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo. You will be amazed by the beauty of the Archipelago with crystalline waters.
  • Zingaro Natural Reserve
    Sicilys' first protected area, created in 1981 which has been shaped by nature over the centuries. A real paradise of nature for the great variety of environments that characterises its 1,600 hectares. 
  • Monte Cofano Nature Reserve 
    Just as beautiful as the Zingaro reserve but with vegetation and landscape that is quite different, a path runs along the seaside. 
  • Marsala Salt Pans
    The salt pans and their mills are on the salt road from Marsala to Trapani, they are featured on many postcards and are even more photogenic when visited at sunset.

Sicily boasts an array of superb sandy and pebble beaches and being the largest island the coastline varies enormously from north to south and east to west but wherever you are there will be a stunning coastline within easy reach of beautiful bays, beaches and nature reserves to discover. 

  • Scala dei Turchi 
    With its white cliff rising above the blue sea it is among the most beautiful beaches and a romantic place to enjoy the sunsets.
  • Isola Bella 
    Transated as ‘beautiful island’, this much photographed picturesque pebble bay in Taormina is a protected marine-life sanctuary and named after the small island connected by a thin strip of white sand beach. It is extremely popular for swimming and snorkelling.
  • Mazzaro Bay 
    The next bay north of Taormina and another beautiful pebble cove which is ideal for swimming in remarkably clear water and snorkelling around the rocks and grottoes with an abundance of marine life. 
  • San Vito Lo Capo 
    Known as the Sicilian Caribbean, a large beach in the north-west with pearly white sand and turquoise crystal-clear waters, the crescent shaped beach is wrapped around a sheltered bay between spectacular mountains with an amazing view of the surrounding Zingaro Natural Reserve.
  • Santa Margherita Bay 
    A sandy beach with crystalline waters which is close to the nature reserve of Monte Cofano.
  • Mondello 
    Palermo's city beach, it the lies between the scenic Monte Gallo and Monte Pellegrino. Stretching along the coast, exceptionally light soft sand and crystal-clear waters cast beautiful shades from turquoise to emerald green. 
  • Cefalu 
    Sandy, Along the north coast Cefalu is another destination brimming with beautiful beaches. The town overlooks a great stretch of beach, and along the waterfront you can sit out and enjoy local dishes and wines as you gaze out to sea.
  • Caldura 
    From Cefalu centre (20 minutes walking) the beach is a mix of sand pebble and rocks and perfect for snorkelling. Diving classes for children are available. 
  • Calamosche (Vendicari Nature Reserve) 
    A small beach of white sand, well known for its shallow, calm, and translucent waters. Within the nature reserve there is plenty of natural scenery, lagoons, dunes, and unspoiled beaches ideal for beach combing with an abundance of coastal bird life including flamingos. 
  • Bue Marino Cove
    Not far from the iconic beach of San Vito Lo Capo is rugged Sicilian coastline at its best, here the clear waters literally sparkle and shimmer in the sunlight.
  • Torre Salsa (Torre Salsa Nature Reserve) 
    Within the protected confines of the nature reserve there are several kilometers of sandy beaches stretching along the coast.
  • Fontane Bianchi 
    One of the most popular sandy beaches on the southeast coast, as the water is calm, shallow, and very clear so ideal for families with small children.
  • Sampieri 
    Stretching for 2 km along the seaside town of Sampieri, a majestic and panoramic beach surrounded by pine forest with golden sand and clear waters, where it ends at a cliff you can dive and snorkel.
  • Riviera Dei Ciclopi 
    The riviera is 12 km long beginning at the city of Catania, the dramatic scenery is said to have been created by the Cyclops Polyphemus who hurled boulders and rocks in a rage. You can find stunning cliffs, beautiful beaches, turquoise water, and volcanic scenery. 
  • Lampedusa 
    One of the most isolated but also Forms part of a group called the Pelagie Islands, the beaches like “Rabbit Island” are ranked among the most beautiful in the world with stunningly clear waters and pristine beaches - diving and snorkelling are especially popular.
  • Cala Rossa 
    On the scenic island of Favignana, surrounded by huge rocks this cove offers crystal clear turquoise water and the view from above is breath-taking. 
  • Isola Vulcano 
    A small and highly volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, home to some of the best scenery in the region, including black sand beaches. These startling stretches of coastline are formed from previous volcanic eruptions, and they stand in stark contrast to the white sand beaches found on mainland. 

Sicily is rightly famed for for its’ food and wine and just one more good reason to entice you to the island as the cuisine is considered the best in Italy!  A Mediterranean diet captures the essence for its beneficial effects on longevity and health and symbolises the quality of life, Italian based it has also been greatly influenced by all who have inhabited the island over the centuries including Greek, Spanish, French and Arab cuisine and few places have embraced so many different flavours and fragrances as Sicily. 

Due to the richness the volcanic richness of the soil the island produces vast amounts of grain, olives, grapes, lemons, oranges, prickly-pear, almonds, pistachios, figs, artichokes and vegetables, and for this reason many of the best known dishes are vegetarian. Meat dishes are widely available and for lovers of fish, tuna, sea bream, sea bass and swordfish are served with the popular accompaniment of couscous. Since ancient times the Sicilians have been making cheese, Pecorino Siciliano (from goat milk), Ricotta (from sheep, cow or goat milk) and Ragusano (from the whole milk of only grass/hay fed Modicana cows) which can only be produced in the provinces of Syracuse and Ragusano due to a Protected Designation of Origin. Sicily is “the creator” of ice cream and granita, the ancient tradition is rooted from the Arabs as it is said that they mixed the snow from Mount Etna with sugar and local fruit to make these refreshing sorbets and ice creams. The cakes and pastries are also in a class of their own and Cassata (a rich sweet cake from Palermo) can now be bought in many places around the world.

Sicily is home to the largest number of vineyards in any region of Italy and has a long and fascinating history, some ancient archaeological findings testify that it was one of Europe's oldest viticultural regions. Many of the vintage wines are a magical and lots of the island's traditional wines/spirits are famous far beyond the islands shores with several that boast denomination of origin (appellation). There are different typical wines, the most famous is Nero d’Avola along with fortified wines, such as Zibibbo and Marsala.  Liquors unique to Sicily are Ala (made by Florio), Averna (made in Caltanissetta) and Fichera (made near Mount Etna) and other liqueurs like those produced on the mainland are Limoncello, Amaretto and Grappa.  Other interesting liqueurs are made from prickly pears (cactus fruits) and Cynar made from artichokes. 

From enjoying a meal in a Ristorante, Trattoris, Ostereria or Pizzeria to sampling the street food from a Polleria or Rosticceria you are guaranteed a warm welcome and a dish to satisfy all tastes - Sicilian food and wine really is one of life's true pleasures!

Dishes to sample:

  • Antipasti - Traditional first course, a combination of cured meat, olives, anchovies, cheese, and marinated bell peppers. Generally coated with olive oil and served with bread. 
  • Caponata - Aubergines, pine nuts, raisins, vinegar, fried together and made into a stew with celery, onion, capers, and olives. 
  • Involtini di Melanzana - Eggplant rolls.
  • Parmigiana di Melanzane - Fried eggplant cooked au gratin in the oven with tomato, basil, garlic and cheese. 
  • I Carduna ca Pastetta - Fried battered cardoons (similar to artichokes). 
  • Maccu - A creamy soup made from chickpeas.
  • Sicilian Frittata - Frittata made with either wild asparagus, artichokes, or wild fennel.
  • Pizzaiola Sausage - A typical Sicilian sausage made with ground pork and spices but also chopped onions, tomatoes, parsley and sometimes chunks of cheese or even pine nuts.
  • Pasta alla Norma - Maccheroni pasta with tomato sauce, fried eggplant, and salted ricotta cheese (originating from Catania).
  • Pasta con le Sarde - Bucatini pasta, fresh sardines, and wild fennel.
  • Pasta C'anciova - Bucatini/margherita pasta, onion, garlic, anchovies, extract of tomato, breadcrumbs, sultanas, pine nuts and olive oil. A dish that combines sweet and salty. 
  • Pasta with “Vruoccoli Arriminati” - Bucatini/maccheroni pasta mixed with cauliflower, onion, raisin, pine nuts, anchovies, and a hint of saffron. A typical dish of the Palermo area.
  • Busiate - Type of pasta typical of the area of Trapani combined with the local Pesto alla Trapanese which is prepared with tomato, basil, garlic, almonds, and Pecorino cheese.
  • Sarde a Beccafico - Sardines stuffed with Pecorino cheese, raisins, and pine nuts before being baked in the oven. 
  • Polpette di Alici - Anchovy meatballs.
  • Swordfish alla Siciliana - With grape tomatoes and capers. 
  • Pesce Stocco ‘a Ghiotta o alla Messinese - A dish made with dried cod, onion and garlic, wine, potatoes, tomatoes, capers, olives that are cooked on a low heat.
  • Gambero Rosso - Raw red prawns simply dressed with olive oil and local lemon juice. Those from Mazara del Vallo on the western coast of the island are regarded as the best in the world.
  • Couscous alla Trapanese - Fish and seafood couscous for which Trapani is famous, it contains a deep-sea "white" fish such as snapper, sea bass or cod with the addition of mussels or shrimps.
  • Involtini di Pesce Spada - Swordfish rolls, thin slices of swordfish topped with capers, pine nuts, raisins, olives, and lemon before being rolled up into a spiral and secured with a skewer and either baked, fried, or grilled.
  • Bruciuluni - A large roll stuffed with cheese and vegetables. 
  • Cannoli - Fried pastry dough filled with Ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, topped with orange rind or pistachio nuts. 
  • Sfinci di Ricotta - Small pieces of fried dough enriched with raisins or ricotta cheese and fried in hot oil. 
  • Cassata - Sponge cake prepared with Ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, candied fruit, and marzipan. 
  • Zeppole di Riso - Rice pancakes (invented by the nuns of the Benedictines Monastery of Catania), a mixture of rice, milk and orange zest that makes them delicate, tasty, and sweet. 
  • Frutta Martorana - Exquisite marzipan sweets. 
  • Sicilian Pignolata - Fried dough balls coated with honey and lemon zest (an ancient Sicilian dessert). 
  • Granita with Brioche - Many delicious variations (try almond or mulberry granita). 
  • Gelatos - Sicilian ice creams. 

Street Foods to sample:

  • Arancini - Fried breaded balls of rice stuffed with tomato, meat sauce or fish.
  • Pane e Panella - Chickpea flour pancakes.
  • Crocche - Croquettes made with potatoes and eggs, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried.
  • Pane Cunzato - Bread seasoned with oil, fresh tomatoes, oregano, anchovies, salt, and pepper as well as cheese and onions. 
  • Sfincione - A local form of pizza made with tomatoes, onions and (sometimes) anchovies, prepared on a thick bread. 
  • Pane con la Milza (u pani c’a meusa) - Bread with spleen is one of the most popular Sicilian street foods. A sandwich made of fried beef spleen served with a slice of fresh lemon. 
  • Stigghiola - Sicilian delicacy consisting of lamb or veal intestines, cooked on skewers over a fire until crispy. 

Drinks to sample:

  • Nero D'Avola - Red wine made from the most typical red grape variety, originating of the south-east of Sicily. 
  • Etna Rosso, Faro and Etna Bianco - Wines from the Etna area.
  • Alcamo - Wine from Trapani area.
  • Moscato di Noto, Malvasia delle Lipari - Wine from Palermo.
  • Marsala and Zibibbo di Pantelleria - Fortified wines.
  • Ala, Averna, Fichera - Local liquors.
  • Limoncello - Lemon liqueur. 
  • Amaretto - Almond liqueur.
  • Grappa - Brandy with a high alcohol content and clear in colour.
  • Centrifugati - Tasty fruit juices prepared as aperitifs. 
  • Sicilian Coffees: Espresso (tiny cup of very strong coffee), Doppio Espresso (double espresso), Caffè Americano (watery filter coffee), Caffè Latte (milky coffee), Caffè Macchiato (espresso with a drop of milk), Latte Macchiato (hot milk with a drop of coffee), Cappuccino (stronger than caffè latte topped with froth), Caffè Freddo (long glass of iced coffee), Corretto (espresso with a drop of grappa or other strong alcoholic drink). 

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