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4 movie-famous Greek Islands to see before you die

Mykonos – Shirley’s island

Anyone over the age of 30 will remember frustrated housewife Shirley Valentine brazenly declaring “I’m going to Greece for the sex! Sex for breakfast! Sex for dinner! Sex for tea! And sex for supper!”

Back in 1989, Shirley Valentine made many a middle-aged women want to pack up and head to the Greek islands. Not (only) for the salacious meals, but also for the beautiful beaches and the chance to stop “talking to the wall” and learn how to enjoy life again, just like Shirley did. 

Mykonos has earned its place in Hollywood history, with several other blockbusters being filmed on the island in the Aegean Sea (including the Bourne Identity). But none marked the island as indelibly as Shirley Valentine – there’s even a “Shirley Valentine Beach”. 

Today, the island is as famous as ever, especially among the party crowd. Beaches such as Paradise and Super Paradise have packed bars playing music, while massive dance clubs attract world-renowned DJs.

But there’s a quieter side to the island, too. Head to Little Venice, the most picturesque quarter of the main town, while the little town of Chora is where you’ll find narrow paved pathways, Cycladic architecture and 16th-century windmills. 

Mykonos' iconic traditional windmills

Santorini – dramatic like Angelina

Renowned for its dazzling sunsets, iconic whitewashed buildings and multi-coloured cliffs, Santorini is like the drop-dead-gorgeous model in the family of Greek islands. It’s fitting, then, that one of the blockbusters it’s famed for is Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, starring the ever-pouty Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. 

And much like Jolie, Santorini can be rather dramatic. The island was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC – a seismic change that blessed the island with beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles (be sure to visit the famous Red Beach and White Beach).

The island’s two main towns – Fira and Oia – are perched dramatically on cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). And in the centre of this caldera is the volcano – still active – which you can visit on a boat tour.

But if it’s postcard perfect scenery you’re after, head straight for Oia, arguably the most beautiful village in Santorini and world-famous for its romantic sunsets and “wish you were here” Greek holiday scenery.  

Wish you were here? You could be with Sure Travel & Inspirations Travel and Tours

Naxos – Bollywood bliss

It may not have pulled in the A-listers like Mama Mia (also shot in Greece), but Bollywood spy thriller Tiger Zinda Hai certainly brought in the numbers – both to the island and to the box office. Almost 200 crew, singers, actors and dancers descended on the Aegean island of Naxos for the filming of several scenes of the film, released in late 2017.

It’s fitting that the more playful Bollywood chose Naxos instead of it’s more glamorous neighbour Mykonos. Naxos is far more laid-back, light-hearted and the residents seem happy to forgo the buzz of high-end tourism because they’re blessed with fields, fruit and olive trees, and plenty of history and culture. 

You’re spoiled for choice here: visit the Venetian Towers built in the Middle Ages when the island was conquered by the Venetians; or the Venetian Kastro, the oldest and most picturesque part of town that’s surrounded by large Venetian walls. 

And do take a trip to the northern side of the island to Apiranthos, a lovely village with traditional architecture and several day hikes. Speaking of hikes, try the Potamia Village hike, which takes you to the three settlements that make up the village of Potamia.

Laid-back Naxos: it's a lifestyle

Paros – the Italian Stallion

Paros is the Greek island best known for its beaches and traditional villages, so it has rightly drawn its fair share of Hollywood heavyweights. But the movie which showcases the island best (we think), is the Italian blockbuster Immaturi. It’s about a group of high school friends who, after not seeing each other for many years, go to Paros on holiday. Like the American Pie reunion movie, just a lot classier and with better accents.  

The film shows off the island’s diversity, from the north coast where beaches are naturally sculpted by rocks to form swimming coves to the popular windsurfing spot of Golden Beach. 

Paros also has it’s fair of history and culture, from the Panagia Ekatontapiliani, a landmark Byzantine church from the 4th century A.D, to the mountainous village of Lefkes, the island’s old capital that boasts untouched Cycladic architecture. 

Don’t miss the old port of Naoussa with its fish restaurants and lounge bars. It’s absolutely Instagrammable. 

Tentacled delights in Naoussa, Paros' old port

Go here with Sure!

Can’t decide which islands you need to see? Luckily you don’t have to: Inspirations Travel and Tours has island hopping packages that include three out of the four islands, as well as Athens.  Choose from the 11-day Athens, Mykonos, Paros & Santorini island-hopping package from only R18,330 per person sharing, or the 10-night Athens, Mykonos, Naxos & Santorini island-hopper from only R18,014 per person sharing. Contact your nearest Sure Travel agency today to book/enquire, or call 0861 47 48 49. 

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