May is the Perfect Time to Visit the Greek Isles
Of course when we travel we want to know the best time of year to visit a place when the weather will be nice and we can enjoy the scenery, walking around, taking pictures, and so on. In Greece, May is the month when the cold rains and winds have finally blown away and the Mediterranean Sea turns its face to the warming sun. May is also that delightful in-between month before the temperatures start to get too hot!
Adding to the natural beauty of the seascapes, volcanic slopes, and rolling hillsides are the leafing-out of the trees and grape vines and blossoming of myriad flowers such as roses, red poppies, and scarlet bougainvillea.
Since many of the important scenic and cultural sites of Greece are on islands, or easily accessible from a coastal port, it makes sense to consider taking a cruise to experience as many as possible. A typical itinerary might include Athens and Katakolon (for the ruins of Olympia) on the mainland part of the country, and a combination of several stunning islands such as Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, and Crete; along with a stop on the western coast of Turkey for a visit to ancient Ephesus.
If you take your cruise in May (and October is another recommended time of year to go) you’ll be ahead of the “tourist season,” and the crowds at historic sites such as the Acropolis, Olympia, and Knossos will be much smaller.
Your ports-of-call won’t be all about ancient ruins, though. On Santorini and Mykonos in particular you can simply enjoy exploring on foot the picturesque villages where all of the houses and buildings are painted bright-white, and the churches are accented with brilliant blue or red domes. The shops are a delight to browse through for jewelry with the Greek Key design, clothes, paintings and photographs, locally-produced wines and alcohols, and hand-made souvenirs.
In Ephesus or Athens do try to make time for a museum or take an organized tour that includes one, because the treasure-troves of art they have collected over the centuries is not only breathtaking but will give you great insight into the history and philosophies that have shaped modern cultures all over the world and still have influence today.
And last, be sure to linger somewhere along the way to take in one of those famous Mediterranean sunsets – yes, the water is just that particular, alluring shade of blue, and the vivid sky as the sun kisses the sea goodnight is like a beautiful dream.