A Weekend in Paros, Greece

Paros was my favourite part of our time in Greece, by far. Paros was everything I dreamed Greece would be – small winding streets, white washed buildings, picturesque beaches, a small town feel. If you’re trying to decide where to go in Greece, trust me that Paros should be one of your stops (Matt and Maggie I’m talking to you!).

Paros, GreeceParos, Greece

What to do

Day One

Our first day we woke up and went straight to the port in Parikia where we met up with Petros from Regaki Boat Trips for our day trip around Paros and Antiparos. To be honest, the first 30 minutes of the trip I was questioning what I’d signed us up for. The boat was slightly crowded, no one was talking, it was rocky getting out of Parikia, and I didn’t see how we’d make it through 8 hours.

Paros, Greece Boat Tour Paros, Greece Boat Tour

Then we arrived at our first stop, which was some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. We had a swim, came back on the boat, and it was just late enough to start partaking in the open bar. From then on, it was such a wonderful day. People loosened up, we all made friends, and were basically transported to the best swimming and cliff jumping locations around whilst eating and drinking to our heart’s content.

Paros, Greece Boat TourLogistics: The boat departs at 10:00 am and it costs 55 euros per person. Brunch and a late lunch are included, as well as all the wine, beer, and soft drinks you want. You get back to Parikia between 5 and 6 pm, and again I highly recommend fitting this into your schedule!

Day Two

Rent an ATV for your second day, which makes the island so much more accessible. Head straight to Paros Park and hike to the lighthouse before the sun is directly overhead. The views are stunning and when we went I think we only saw about 5 other people. It took us about an hour round trip, but we sat by the lighthouse for about 15 minutes to read in the shade – and on the way back we wandered down to a little cove and took a dip!

Paros Park Lighthouse, Greece Paros Park, Greece Paros Park, Greece This area is super cool and if you’re there on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, you should definitely check out their free open air movie theatre.

Paros Park, Greece

Grab lunch at Anemos Taverna before relaxing at for a bit at Kolymbithres Beach. This is one of my favourite beaches in the world, tied with Vernazza in Cinque Terre. I love stone beaches, and while this one did have sand, there was enough stone to lay out on, and the views and clear water were just incredible.

Kolymbithres Beach, Paros, GreeceKolymbithres Beach, Paros, Greece

From there head inland to Lefkes. This town is quintessential Greece. Greeks seem to put so much weight into small gestures to make things lovely. If house had chipped paint or a visible water cooler, they would make sure to put flowers next to it. It wasn’t about making everything modern and new, but making the old as beautiful as possible. I really appreciated it.

Lefkes, Paros, Greece Lefkes, Paros, Greece Lefkes, Paros, Greece Lefkes, Paros, Greece

In the centre of town is the gorgeous Agia Church and Kafenion where you should stop and grab a snack or at the very least a drink. The owner is so nice and the little square is a gorgeous place to sip some wine and soak in Greece.

Lageri Beach, Paros, Greece

On your way back to Naoussa, detour a bit to get to Lageri beach. Despite being one of the most famous beaches on the island, when we got there we had it almost entirely to ourselves – only four other people on the whole beach! Have a great last swim before going to home to shower and get ready for a night out in Naoussa.

Where to eat

Soso is meant to have the best food on the island. We didn’t make a reservation which is definitely needed, so can’t confirm first hand. But everyone we spoke to loved it.

Soso Restaurant, Paros, Greece

Soso Restaurant

Romantica was delicious and run by a local family.
Vitsadakis on the water was huge and had slightly less ambiance, but was surprisingly delicious – if you go here, get the lamb.
Paradosiaka has the best Loukoumades on the island and not a place to miss!

Where to drink

There are quite a few cocktail bars as you walk the winding streets, but our favourite was Sante Cocktail Bar. It has delicious cocktails, and was cuter than the others – it’s in the centre and surrounds a big tree that is lit up with lights and candles.


Moraitis winery is meant to be lovely and a great way to spend a few hours.

Where to stay

Your main options are Parikia and Naoussa. We stayed in Parikia our first night as we didn’t arrive until around 11:00 pm and were leaving from there at 10:00 the next morning for the boat tour. However, as soon as that was over we moved to Naoussa where we spent the next two nights. Definitely stay in Naoussa. It’s smaller, more pristine, and has so much charm. Parikia is a port town so is quite large and bustling, and much less picturesque than Naoussa.

Naoussa, Paros, GreeceNaoussa, Paros, GreeceNaoussa, Paros, Greece

We stayed at Bocamviglies which I would recommend. We had ocean views, a beach almost entirely to ourselves, and were only a ten minute walk from town.

Bocamviglies

Best Beaches

Lageri, Kolymbithres, and Monastiri are advertised by tour companies everywhere on the island. You could go through a tour, but by staying in Naoussa and renting an ATV, they are incredibly easy to get to on your own. I do agree with the tour guides though, they are the best beaches on the island!

Paros

Paros was dreamy. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, the island was the perfect size and had just the right amount of people. Have you been to Paros? What did you think?? I feel like it’s still a relatively undiscovered secret and now I just want everyone I know to go so they can also see how great it is!

Sunset, Greece

A Week in Greece Itinerary

Guys, the countries left on my 30 before 30 list are dwindling right down! When I made that list 3.5 years ago, I didn’t think there was any chance I would come close to visiting all the places on my list – and now I’ve just crossed off my third to last location!

I’ve wanted to go to Greece since about 2001, when Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was first published. 17 years later and I finally made it!

We had 9 days and in that time we visited Athens, Paros, Santorini, and Crete. Due to an unexpected ferry strike, we had far less time in Crete (and much more in Santorini) than we had planned on – but I’d recommend following our original itinerary.

Athens

Athens Acropolis

We had just over 24 hours in Athens, and used that time to explore Plaka, climb to the top of Lycabettus Hill, and (of course) stopped by the Acropolis. I wasn’t expecting to love Athens, but I really did – it felt young and artistic but still quite traditionally Greek. Given our short time in the country we wouldn’t have traded anything out to stay longer, but Athens is definitely a city where you could happily spend a lot longer than 24 hours.

Paros

Paros, Greece

Paros, Greece

Our three days in Paros were the highlight of our trip, without a doubt. Before going, so many people had told me it was their favourite island, and now I understand why. It was the perfect size, was set up for tourism but not overcrowded, felt authentically Greek, and had some incredible beaches. While there we did a day long boat tour around Paros and Antiparos, rented an ATV and drove around the island, and hiked up to a gorgeous lighthouse. If you’re deciding which islands to visit, definitely include Paros on your list.

Santorini

Santorini, Greece Sunset Santorini, Greece

We originally planned to be in Santorini for just over 24 hours. I really wanted to go, but had heard it was extremely crowded, expensive, and commercial due its popularity. 24 hours would have been perfect, but we ended up being there for about four days due to a ferry strike – and that, to me, was much too long. I’ll explain why in my Santorini post, but it just wasn’t the island for us.

Crete

Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece

Our 4 days in Crete had become a day and a half, which was disappointing – especially once we arrived and realised just how beautiful the island is. I definitely want to go back to Crete and spend more time there, but I think we came up with a great itinerary for the time we had. The highlight was spending a few hours at Elafonisi Beach, with its amazing views, clear blue water, and PINK sand!

Greece was incredible. It lived up to my expectations and more – I wasn’t expecting to love the food so much. I’ve had Greek food before and enjoyed it, but it tastes so, SO much better there. I don’t know why – maybe the quality of the produce? But Greek yogurt, Greek salads – things I like but don’t love elsewhere were things I went to bed dreaming about in Greece. Honestly – I might like actual Greek food more than Italian food (never tell my dad I said that).

One of the best parts of Greece are the endless islands to discover. While I can’t really imagine anything topping Paros, I want to go to Folegandros and Milos – and spend more than a day or two in Crete.

Have you been to Greece? What were your favourite places? We only just returned and I’m already desperate to go back!

Bo-Kaap Colors, Cape Town

4 days in cape town

And then WE WERE THERE! It felt like we’d been on our way for weeks, and suddenly Table Mountain appeared before our eyes (on fire from an arsonist no less). We’d made it!Table Mountain on fire

I didn’t know what to expect from Cape Town, other than to love it. And love it I did. I could have spent weeks getting to know that city, and I firmly hope to return one day to do just that. We stayed in Salt River which is up and coming and maybe a bit more dangerous than we had anticipated (per our Uber drivers, actually staying there felt quite safe).

By this point of the trip we were ready to relax, so our days were a lot less packed than those leading up to it. If you’re looking for a chilled out itinerary that still fits in the major things, look no further!

Four Day Cape Town Itinerary

Day One

Cape Town

After hanging with the penguins, returning our rental, and settling into our Airbnb, most of the day was gone. We wanted to get out and do something fun with our afternoon, and a great place to get acclimated is at the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. There are loads of restaurants, many with views, and it’s quite a touristy part of the city. It’s fun for an afternoon, and a great place to watch the sunset, but I wouldn’t recommend more than a few hours there. It’s a bit like a giant outdoor mall. We had dinner on the roof deck of Harbour House which was delicious, and had great outdoor seating. (There’s also a bookstore at the Waterfront with really cheap Travel Catan, if you’re into that!). This is a great first stop, first to get it out of the way but second to ease into the city if you’ve just arrived.

Day two

The next morning grab some breakfast at Food Lover’s Market before meeting up with the free walking tour which starts just around the corner at Motherland Coffee. They have a few tours–we did the Historic one which we loved, though I’m sure they’d all be great. You’ll get some history and great insight into the city, and see most of the major sights! Prior to this trip I wasn’t big on tours, but I’m beginning to change my mind. This ends in Company’s Garden, where G and I sat at the café and had lunch, read a bit, and played some cards. It was lovely.

Company's Garden, Cape Town

Company's Garden, Cape Town

After the tour, make your way back to Greenmarket Square and explore the market. We went on a bit of a buying frenzy getting gifts for friends (and ourselves). We needed another bag, as we had somehow collected way more than we could fit in our two backpacks for the journey home. We ended up getting an incredible elephant painting, a cute little backpack, a few bowls, salad spoons, magnets, and a big canvas print – and we got to barter, which I am a pro at (thanks to Katie and our time in Guatemala) and Gareth is honestly TERRIBLE at. Even so, we got some pretty good deals.

From there head to your accommodation to drop off your loot, before catching an uber to Reverie Social Table, a highly recommended dinner place. It only seats about 16 people each night, and it’s a social experience as much as a culinary one.

Reverie Social Table

Get to know the other guests, have far too much (delicious) wine, and eat some of the best food in Cape Town. I definitely recommend this place and its adorable chef, Julia Hattingh.

Day three

Wake up early, grab breakfast, and head straight to Table Mountain. Be ready to hike, and though harder than (I) expected, it is so worth it! If you’re able, I highly recommend skipping the cable car and hiking up yourself – it’s such an incredible feeling.

Lion's Head

Hiking Hiking Table Mountain, Cape Town

Once finished, jump in a cab to Bo Kaap, which is close by and just as incredible in person as it is in pictures. There’s so much to see, and some cute shops (I got an adorable terrarium from Angels+Earth).

Terrariums, Cape Town

The same walking tour group offers tours of Bo Kaap, and while we didn’t have time to do it, I bet it would be great!

Bo-Kaap Colors, Cape Town Bo-Kaap Colors, Cape Town Bo-Kaap Colors, Cape Town Bo-Kaap Colors, Cape Town

Just a few minutes’ walk from Bo Kaap is Bree Street, which has some of the best food in Cape Town. The hardest part is deciding where to go. We chose to have tapas at La Parada which was SO good, especially the Pork Belly and Cauliflower Puree, but I’ve also heard great things about Bocca and Villa 47. If you’re into nightlife and big on food, I’d stay around Bree street so you can try a different place each night. After a few Spanish wines, mosey down the street to Sky Bar which has a rooftop bar with incredible views of Table Mountain. It’s the perfect way to end the day, sipping on a mojito, watch the sun set around the iconic mountain you’ve just climbed.

Sky Bar, Cape Town

Day Four

Be better than us and plan ahead, so you can spend the morning actually visiting Robben Island instead of trying unsuccessfully to get last minute tickets. We tried craigslist, calling hotels, and going in person in case there were any no shows, with no luck. Because you’ll already have tickets, spend the day taking a tour of the island.

You’ll notice there aren’t any Township Tours on this itinerary. Gareth was pretty against them, as he sees it as paying money to look at poor people. I know there’s a lot more to the tours than that – history, education, development, etc, but I understood his hesitation and agreed it wasn’t the right way to get involved. Instead we decided to go into Langa Township to Mzansi Restaurant, which was 100% the right choice and such an incredible experience. We were nervous to go but it was completely unfounded – don’t miss out on this! Read more about our experience here (coming soon).

Mzansi, Langa Township, Cape Town, South Africa

Tips

  • Book Robben Island tickets at least a week in advance. It was unfortunately sold out by the time we arrived in Cape Town, and we were so disappointed to miss it.
  • It’s not necessary to rent a car, Uber is a great way to chat to some locals (though most of ours weren’t actually from South Africa) and is super cheap!
  • Get a sim card at the airport to make getting around South Africa incredibly easy from the first moment.

Where to Stay in (lower) Kruger

I did a lot of research before our trip on where to stay, and first narrowed it down to lower Kruger based on the current drought and where animals are most likely to be, and then finally decided to stay at Lower Sabie. It was a relief to have picked, but the relief only lasted a few minutes because when I went to book – three months before our trip – it was already sold out. Tip number one: book early!

My second choice was Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp, which still had a permanent tent available on our dates, so I quickly booked in. During our time in Kruger, we visited both Lower Sabie and Skukuza, as well as staying in Crocodile Bridge, and they are three quite different camps that I think would suit different people.

Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp

Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp Kruger

I chose Crocodile Bridge because I knew Gareth would like the more authentic feel. Crocodile Bridge doesn’t have a restaurant or pool, and only a little shop. You get a personal grill (remember to bring charcoal!) and a fridge, and otherwise it’s mostly just you on your own figuring things out. It feels like a real adventure and you never forget where you are or what you’re doing. I quite liked staying there, as most of the people around us were campers who’d been all over Africa on safari, but if I hadn’t had Gareth I think I would have felt isolated and overwhelmed. If you’re looking for a more “in the bush” feel, this is a good camp for you. It’s quiet, you’re roughing it, and coming home and grilling our dinner and hanging out just the two of us was really nice after long days of driving. It was easy not to cook for lunch because we were always on drives and could pop into a larger camp, but you must be back inside your camp by a certain time (during March, when we were there, it was 6:00 pm) which meant you had to eat dinner wherever you were staying.

Skukuza

Skukuza is the place to go for amenities. It is basically its own town. It has multiple restaurants, a spa, a large shop, a post office, even a doctor’s office! It’s huge, the closest thing to a resort, and where to go if the idea of being far from civilization makes you nervous. (If you go, make sure you go to the steakhouse and get their special – it is SO good.)  If what you’re looking for out of your safari is loads of big game drives, followed by an incredible steak dinner and a massage, Skukuza is for you.

Lower Sabie

Lower Sabie was a blend of the other two camps. Like Skukuza, tt had a restaurant, deck overlooking the river, a pool, and quite a big shop. We ended up going there for things we hadn’t packed thinking Crocodile Bridge may have (silverware, plates, etc), and had at least one meal there most days.

Verdict

If we were to go back to this same area of Kruger, my choice would still be Lower Sabie. The manageable size paired with the option not to cook every night, huge shop full of all the things we didn’t have, and the pool give it the edge to me. Crocodile Bridge and Skukuza are two extremes and would definitely appeal to certain people, but if you’re looking for the average, it’s Lower Sabie. That said, this is a personal choice based on what you’re looking to get out of your Safari, and even if the one you want is booked, they are all great in their own way.

Lion's Head, Cape Town

Hiking Table Mountain

When we first decided to go to South Africa, but before we had started planning, only one thing was certain – we’d be hiking Table Mountain. As we both love hiking, there was no way we could get to such an iconic mountain and take a cable car to the top.Table Mountain, Cape Town

Then we actually got there and man was it tall. I’m not going to lie, the first 10 minutes or so, I complained pretty much non-stop. I was hot, I was tired, I was sunburnt — bless Gareth for not leaving me behind and only mocking me a little.

Hiking Table Mountain, Cape Town

Then we actually got to the start of the Platteklip Gorge and I was too out of breath to keep complaining! It is steps the whole way up, under the baking sun. About halfway through I was using my arms as well as my legs to get me over each step. It wasn’t easy! (Unless you’re Gareth and then everything is easy!)

Hiking Hiking Table Mountain, Cape TownHiking Table Mountain, Cape Town

We took a lot of beaks, every time we reached shade. Our sun burns from our hike in Storms River and the fact that we were still on Malarone meant that halfway up my arms started to blister, and by the time we reached the top I was seriously concerned about the state of my skin. (I applied factor 50 about every five minutes, it was no match for the sun. Eventually I gave in and wore Gareth’s sweaty shirt.)

Hiking Hiking Table Mountain, Cape Town

so close to the top 🙂

Getting to the top was INCREDIBLE though, and made each difficult step worth it. It took us about two hours (I stopped a lot), and we hung out at the top for about the same amount of time. There’s a cafe/grocery store up there, as well as a little shop with souvenirs. There’s even a mailbox, where I sent myself and my momma a letter!

Top of Table Mountain, Cape Town Top of Table Mountain, Cape Town Top of Table Mountain, Cape Town Top of Table Mountain, Cape Town Dassie at the Top of Table Mountain, Cape Town

We took in the views before finding shade, some beverages, and whipping out our trusty cards. It was such a lovely afternoon, marred only by the cable car down, which was too high for my liking. If you’re in relatively good shape, definitely consider climbing to the top. It’s hard but worth it and far more rewarding than standing in a line and letting an elevator do the work for you!

view from Table Mountain, South AfricaLion's Head, Cape Town

More Options

For keen hikers, there are many more options than just the Platteklip Gorge.

  • Lion’s Head offers incredible views of Table Mountain, takes about 90 minutes, and is not terribly difficult.
  • Skeleton Gorge is another path up the eastern side of the mountain that starts in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens. It takes about 4 – 4.5 hours