By Ed Salvato
Greece has been a magnet for visitors, adventurers and sun seekers for thousands of years. Gay and lesbian visitors come for many of the same reasons everyone else does. The very roots of our western traditions can be found in the bone-white monuments and ruins sprinkled throughout the entire country. Your appetite will rejoice at the variety and flavors of the delicious cuisine from the simplest of Greek salads to the most complex prepared dish.
Millennia of history stare out at you from seemingly every corner. After soaking up all this culture, many gay visitors make a beeline to one of the many islands dotting the sparkling blue Aegean.
For a postcard perfect romantic weekend, many gay and lesbian couples head to Santorini, an island formed from a long-ago exploded volcano. From the lip of the dormant crater, peer down hundreds of feet down to the bay below, with sailboats and ferries bobbin in the lagoon.
Gay women have been visiting the island of Lesbos, which is known as the birthplace of Sappho, the famous woman poet who lived in the sixth century BC and is revered as one of the earliest and most iconic lesbians in history.
Gay men, especially those looking for exciting nightlife, and the opportunity to meet others, flock to Mykonos, the gayest of all Greek destinations. Here?s where you?ll find the highest concentration of gay and gay-friendly bars, restaurants and accommodations. Like a Greek version of Fire Island or Provincetown, this is the summer getaway for gay Athenians. And this is where we focus our attention.
Mykonos is home to the only two exclusively gay hotels in all of Greece, the Elysium and the Geranium, as well as many gay-friendly B&Bs, villas, and vacation rentals.
The gay-owned, three-star Elysium has a Palm Springs resort vibe. In fact, many local gays spend their afternoons lounging around the pool where a DJ sets the mood playing groovy Euro music, and the stunning hillside views of sunset draw gay visitors from around the island to begin their evening sipping drinks from the pool bar here.
The gay-managed Geranium offers a minimalist tropical elegance that looks like it was transported from South Beach. This property is located a five-minute walk up the hill from the Elysium. Guests enjoy an attractive and large swimming pool, and the vibe here is quieter and made for couples.
At the higher end of the luxury spectrum and perched on a bluff over the Aegean, the gay-friendly Santa Marina Resort is one of the finest in Greece, with 97 rooms, suites, and villas; pools with ocean views; a full spa; private yacht rentals; and helicopter service from Athens.
Many visitors, especially traveling in groups, prefer to rent villas. One highly recommended one is Villa Liv Lem, which can accommodate up to three couples. It?s elegant, with views of the bay and the pool.