As if just being in Greece wasn’t romantic enough, watching a sunset from ancient ruins or a sandy beach can make even the most stoic of people feel a little emotional. Whether you prefer to end the day at the top of a cliff or right on the beach, you’ll find that sunsets in Greece somehow seem more beautiful than those you’ll see anywhere else.
Kritinia Castle, Kritinia
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and the historic capital of the island group. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations of Europe and was once the home of the Colossus of Rhodes – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Although the island is very pretty, it’s the history that most visitors flood to Rhodes for.
Kritinia is a small village on the western side of Rhodes in the southern Aegean Sea. With a population of around 500, it’s a quiet place to visit at any time of year. The castle that sits above the village was built in 1472 to protect the inhabitants below from attacks by the Ottomans. More than 500 years later, substantial ruins remain and hiking up the hill to wander through them is a pleasant afternoon activity.
The view from the ruins is great from many spots and the crumbling walls are interesting to explore. To take full advantage of the magical setting, climb the hill with a picnic and a bottle of wine in your backpack and sit near the warm stone walls that overlook the water and some small islands. As the sun sinks behind the islands you get the full view of the water, the sky and the flaming sun dipping into the sea, highlighted by shades of gold and blue.
Ammoudi Bay, Oia
Santorini is one of the most popular Greek islands and it is the southernmost island of the Cyclades group. Once a single island, it was destroyed by a huge volcanic eruption and is now a ring of smaller islands that are comprised of the tips of the caldera. Officially, these are the islands of the Santorini Caldera, and the largest island is named Thira, although most refer to the large island as simply Santorini. Not only is the geology fascinating, Santorini is quintessentially Greek, with whitewashed houses lining the hillsides and a dessert climate that is perfect beach days.
Oia is a small town that covers all of the smaller island of Therasia and the tip of Thira. It’s whitewashed buildings are tucked into niches and crevices in the steep slope of the caldera, creating by necessity narrow, winding streets. This town is delightful to wander through, picking out the cave houses that are integral to the architecture of the region.
At the highest point of the town on Thira, a ruined castle is a favourite spot to gather and watch the sunset. It is striking from there, but it can be crowded, especially during tourist season. For a different vantage point, head down to the port of Ammoudi and the brightly-coloured fishing boats that fill the harbour. With the blood-red cliffs behind you and the air filled with the quiet sounds of boats at anchor, you’ll watch the sun light up the waters of the caldera as night falls, turning the turquoise waters to black.
Zakynthos, also called Zante, has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age. The island has been ruled by the Neapolitans, Venetians, French, Ionians and the British before becoming a member of the Greek state in 1864. The island’s complicated history left behind a variety of architecture and an international feel that isn’t found in most of the other Greek islands. There are several sandy beaches to enjoy, but the most fascinating aspect of the island – the Blue Caves – are only accessible by boat.
Keri is a small community on the southern part of the island. The population for the entire region is less than 700 and it’s a great place to get away from the crowds and take a boat out to the nearby Blue Caves.
The lighthouse stands at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. The area is quite scenic on its own with the cliffs dropping almost straight down into the deep blue waters. Many go there to have a bite in the tavern before continuing a tour around the island. Instead of leaving after dinner, stick around for an evening drink and watch the sun as she dips quietly into the sea.
Creativecommons.org/Kevin Gibbons/Australia Photos
Only two miles from Bodrum, Turkey, Kos is one of the smaller Dodecanese islands measuring only 40 kilometres by eight kilometres. Its nearness to the coast gave the people of Kos access to some of the wealth of the east and the island has a number of ancient structures left from that time of prosperity.
Zia is a small village up in the mountains. It’s tucked into the trees and is popular for its green beauty – and its sunsets. You could sit on a comfortable stone on the edge of the village, but it’s a lot more fun to head up to the rooftop of any of the restaurants and watch the last rays of the sun light up the islands in the Aegean Sea before plunging the waters into near darkness - lit only with the twinkling lights of the nearest islands.