Hello fellow travel lovers! With spring in full swing and summer fast approaching, it really is time to start booking those sunshine getaways! (If you haven’t already)… Over the past few months I have put together travel guides to some of my favourite summer destinations, so thought it would be the perfect moment to give you a round up of those wanderlust spots. Let me take you through the Cinqueterre, Greek Cyclades and three of the loveliest towns in Morocco. Who knows, maybe in this article you’ll discover your next travel destination for this year!
1. THE CINQUE TERRE
The Cinque Terre has been on my list to visit since 2013. I distinctly remember when I was preparing to move to Italy for my Fashion Photography course and was spending evenings googling “places to visit in Italy” when I kept seeing images of this surreal part of Italy. The Cinque Terre was even more beautiful than I had imagined. There is beauty round every corner of this national park and I wish I could walk up every morning with the views you have here. The Cinque Terre is basically 5 small seaside villages dotted along the Ligurian coast. The most famous of the five towns are Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Manarola. Corniglia, the fourth village is located higher up and not on the water so ideal for a lunch pitstop and quick meander. The final village Monterosso sul Mare is more of a beach than a town, but the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon lazing by the sea and sunbathing if you have amazing weather while you’re there!
WE ALL KNOW THAT ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING THINGS ABOUT ITALY IS FOOD, SO HERE ARE SOME OF THE BEST PLACES TO EAT IN THE CINQUE TERRE TO GET YOUR TASTE BUDS TINGLING…
The three days we enjoyed in the Cinque Terre were spent dotting in and out of the three prettiest villages (Monterosso Sul Mare was also gorgeous but it wasn’t warm enough to tan!!). If you you love hiking you can actually walk along the stunning waterside path between each of the towns (get ready for a good hike though!), but since they are so well connected by train, it was very easy to cover lots of ground. Each of the three villages we visited have their own special personality and are best seen at different times of the day, so as soon as we arrived I noted down some key viewpoints of each of the towns. Further down the article you’ll find my favourite photo spots, but firstly I thought I would share my top food spots for each town… because let’s be honest, why else would you be in Italy than to stuff your face!!!
- Nessundorma, Manarola: One of our most magical moments was enjoying lunch at Nessundorma, this is a MUST do when in the Cinque Terre. The cafe is located to the right of Manarola (if you’re facing the sea, walk to the port and continue to the right). There will likely be a queue but we only waited like 15-20 mins and the view is so stunning you won’t even notice – it is worth it! Have a Spritz and a panino or some antipasti. Our panino was so delicious – it was by far our favourite lunch spot of the trip.
- Dau Cila, Riomaggiore: Our first night we ate at Dau Cila which was a lovely seafood restaurant with outdoor tables right on the port so you can look out to sea. Luca (my boyfriend) had fritti misti (mixed fried seafood) and I had pesto pasta. A perfect, relaxed spot for a lovely bite of dinner. Make sure you have a glass of white wine, they are famous for white wine in the region (there are so many hilltop vineyards dotted along the coast!)
- Rio Bistrot, Riomaggiore: The second restaurant in the port where we ate on our second night is the high-end fine dining option in Riomaggiore. It’s ideal for a romantic dinner, celebratory dinner, which in our case was our engagement (we got engaged this trip!). The food and wine there was amazing. One thing I always love about Italy when I go back is it’s elegance and service, they take dining experiences very seriously – the restaurant owners always offering excellent advice on the wine and food you’re consuming.
- Panificio Rosi, Riomaggiore: Liguria is famous for pesto. Pesto pasta and pesto focaccia are what it does best, so don’t miss out on trying those when you dine. We got focaccia from this sweet little bakery in Riomaggiore and I got to finally try pesto focaccia!
- Ristorante Marina Piccola, Manarola: We didn’t have time to eat here but from photos it looks like they do a mean clam pasta…. delicious! Don’t miss out on seafood while you’re in the Cinque Terre as it will be fresh and super tasty.
- Ristorante Belforte, Vernazza: This wonderful lunch spot is situated right on Vernazza’s little port, overlooking the sparkling blue sea….what a place!!
- Ristorante L’ancora della Tortuga, Monterisso Sul Mare: If you’ve spent the morning lounging at the beach and fancy a bite, this place has wonderful views across the Monterosso Sul Mare bay. Expect lots of fresh seafood and delicious wine!
2. THE CYCLADES ISLANDS, GREECE
As many of you know, I’m half-Greek (hence the last name!) and although I didn’t grow up there I did spend most of my summers there with my family and speak the language, so being Greek is a big part of who I am. Over the years I had chance to visit a number of the islands in the Aegean, particularly the Cyclades Islands which are very easily accessible from where we live in Athens. I know many of you wish to travel to visit the Greek islands but don’t know which islands to visit and so, I decided to make a guide to the Cyclades Islands, a group of what I consider to be some of the most beautiful islands in Greece (though to be honest, all the Greek islands boast their own type of beauty one way or another!). I hope this guide helps give you an idea of what each of the Cyclades Islands has to offer and which would be best for you to travel to this year!
PS – you can shop my Greek island photo prints on my print shop!
The island of love
Everyone knows Santorini, it might be one of the most insta-famous destinations in the entire world, and let me tell you it does not disappoint. This island, which was once an active volcano (around 3600 years ago!) is truly spectacular. The Cyclades islands in general have a unique and distinct style with their white-domed villas and windmills, but Santorini stands out amongst them all. Read all about where to eat, drink, stay and more here.
The island to splurge
Following on from Santorini, a close runner up in popularity is Mykonos. This island has always held a special place in my heart, I’ve headed there countless summers to have the time of my life and never been disappointed (in fact, my hen do is taking place there later this year!). What I love most about Mykonos as an island is its diversity. It’s classy and cool and has everything you might look for in a holiday. If you want to relax, you can. If you want to eat incredible food both Greek and international, you can. If you want to party, you can – but mind you, one thing Mykonos is not is tacky. Whatever you do on this island you do in style, which comes with a price tag so get ready to spend your ££££ if you’re visiting, especially in the peak summer months. Read more about the lovely Mykonos here.
The island of colour
Milos is one of the lesser known Cyclades islands but is slowly but surely making its mark on the map. One of the most unique aspects of Milos is how diverse the landscape is on the island. From white sand beaches, to bleached moon-like rock formations on Sarakiniko beach or geothermal beaches such as Paliochori. It’s the perfect island to visit if you’re after that authentic Greek island experience with great food and a holiday stay at a reasonable price. It’s also ideal if you love going out and exploring, finding secret beaches and just being a bit more adventurous. Read more about Milos here.
The island to party
I visited Ios island last summer and loved it. While it is super beautiful, another one of the wonderful Cyclades gems, the nightlife there does feel quite young and night-clubby. Most of the Greek islands have a great night life side to them, but in Ios town the night life is very in your face (I sound so old saying that but just wanted to give you guys warning!). HOWEVER, I wouldn’t let it put you off as I went to some of the coolest bars, each clubs and restaurants ever in Ios. And in all honesty, the night life doesn’t come alive until 2am so unless you’re in a party crew you’ll likely be heading for bed by then and won’t even notice the party people! Read all about Ios here.
The island with it all
Paros island is one of my favourite of the Cyclades Islands – (Mykonos is still hard to beat!) – I think mainly due to the fact that I think it has a perfect balance of everything the Greek islands have to offer. It has the beautiful colours, the quaint architecture, a touch of nightlife, the delicious Greek food, the beautiful beaches and everything else you might be expecting on your Greek island holiday. Paros island is perfect for couples, groups of friends and families. Learn all about Paros here.
Last but certainly not least…
What a beautiful country full of colours and layers, sights and sounds. I had never been to Morocco before this trip so when Lastminute.com and the Moroccan tourist board offered me the opportunity to travel with them and photograph this picture perfect destination, I was beyond excited. Thanks to the wonders of Instagram I had a vague idea what to expect (including hundreds of saved photographs I had of all the places I was dying to see) and knew that I would be getting very snappy-happy. Our 5-day trip would cover three of Morocco’s cities: Marrakech, Essouira and Agadir. Each boasts its own beauty and character and offers travellers such different experiences , which is precisely why those destinations were chosen: to show just how diverse and rich the country is for those who chose to visit!
Marrakech is probably one of the most Instagrammed places in the world and it was the beautiful photographs captured and shared on social media that enticed me to visit this unique place – I just had to see the stunning corners for myself! I couldn’t get over the colours, the hidden courtyards, the picture perfect cafés, the busy and bustling streets – and all of it is exactly just how Marrakech is. Upon arriving to the city, the most interesting aspect I found about Marrakech was how the souk or the “Medina” was literally walled in. As I stepped past the outer walls, I felt like I was walking on set of Aladdin to discover this maze of narrow pink streets, a souk filled with racks and racks of treasures. It is quite overwhelming when you first set foot in, but oh so magical. Heading the call to prayer teleported me straight back to my childhood in Dubai, there are certain sounds that are nostalgic for you and I have to say that the call to prayer from the mosque is one of those for me! Read all about this beautiful city here.
After the craziness of Marrakech, I loved the more relaxed vibe of Essaouira. Essaouira (pronounced e-ssa-wee-ra) is a fishing town to the west of Marrakech with a quaint little port packed with small blue boats waiting to be taken out to sea. Being a colour-lover, one thing I especially adored about Morocco was how each city had a colour that pertained to it. Morocco and the Medina was very pink, the walls were this sort of terracotta/salmon colour, while in Essaouira it was more white-washed with blue details. Now although the city is quite blue, it is not to be mixed up with the blue city of Chefchouains where the walls are actually painted blue! Essaouira instead has more white walls with blue shutters, still giving that blue character which I am certain will have something to do with it being by the sea. This city is much smaller than Marrakech, so far easier to digest within a couple of days. Read all about it here.
Agadir was the last destination on our agenda and one we sadly had the least time to explore. As a destination, Agadir is known most for its magnificent beachside resorts where you can relax and absorb the wonderful moroccan sunshine. And if lounging by the pool isn’t your kind of thing, Agadir also boasts some of the best waves for surfers who come from all over the world to test out the Moroccan surf. Unfortunately Mollie and I aren’t surfers, so this wasn’t something we dared to experience whilst there, but what we did enjoy was having the chance to enjoy staying in one of their amazing seaside resorts. Find out more here…
I hope you guys have enjoyed my travel guide summary and most importantly, found inspiration for your next trip! Let me know where you decide to go by tagging me in your pics on Instagram. Happy travels and remember to keep #LivingColourfully!