Unravel the Mysteries of the Greek Islands with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago 60614

Many people often describe “the Greek Islands” as if they were one giant entity, easily popped into and out of and in between, like shops in a strip mall. But look a little bit closer and the magnitude and diversity of the archipelagos becomes as clear as the azure waters.

The Lure of Greece

In reality, there are over 200 inhabited islands in Greece – and over 6,000 isles of varying sizes in total. Each island has its own residents and its own character, from the whitewashed cave homes of the Cyclades to the lush, green Italianate Ionians, to the Crusader castles of Dodecanese.

If you’re one of the lucky ones planning a trip to this beautiful land, there are few things that you should know before you go.

Learn More About Traveling the Greek Islands from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

An Overview of the Greek Islands

Greek sovereign land includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, with only 227 islands being inhabited. The Greek Archipelago itself takes up more than 4,600 miles of the country’s total 9,942 mile coastline, offering everything from beaches stretching over many kilometers and sheltered bays and coves to sand-dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves and wetlands.

Because some of the oldest European civilizations developed on the Greek islands, the islands have unique archeological sites, a distinctive architectural heritage, and local traditions of a centuries-old and multifaceted civilization.

Best Time to Vacation In Greece

If you’re looking for smaller crowds and beautiful weather, June or September are the ideal times to travel to Greece. When it comes to the busy season — roughly late June through early September — you’ll have more ferry routes and open restaurants and beach bars to choose from. However, because there are more visitors to compete with, there are also higher prices to pay.

The weather will actually depend on which island group you travel to. Crete is warmest year-round, so it’s a great choice for late fall or winter — and while some islands are full of locals and see tourists year-round, others, like Santorini, get very quiet come winter.

If you’re looking to take in some of the religious culture, visit Greece during Orthodox Easter, when each island, town, and village celebrates in its own way with religious parades, firecrackers, and revelry. The later Easter falls, the better the weather.

Which Greek Islands Should You Visit?

With so many options available, choosing where to spend your vacation time can seem more difficult than the crossword puzzle in the New York Times. Many of the Greek Islands offer similar attractions — great beaches, beautiful villages, delicious food, and a list of historical sites. If you’re looking for a quiet escape, head to some of the uninhabited islands. If you’re looking for more adventure, stick to the beaten path.

Traveling to the Greek Islands with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago IL 60614

Here’s a small overview of some of the most popular islands:

Crete

As the largest and the southernmost Greek island, located roughly halfway between Europe and Africa, Crete could be its own country with its own customs, climate, accent, and cuisine. There are tourist traps, but there are also incredible beaches, including the unparalleled pink-sand Elafonissi. Add in top-notch ruins such as the palace at Knossos, and a growing locavore scene, and you could spend weeks here without ever getting bored — or hungry.

Corfu

With rich multi-cultural heritage, historic monuments, a stunning natural landscape, crystal clear seas, and excellent weather all year round, it’s no wonder that Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations. Home to numerous museums and cultural attractions, this destination offers colorful music events, culinary feasts, religious festivals, and carnival celebrations all year long.

Santorini

South east of mainland Greece, in the Aegean Sea, the southernmost of the Cyclades Islands is known as one of the most romantic and beautiful places in the world, making it a popular spot for couples and honeymoons. Thanks to it being a volcanic island, the scenery is beyond compare and one of the main attractions.

Sporades

With dense vegetation, rocky landscapes, and pure blue seas, this island in the northwest Aegean is a uniquely alternative destination. If you’re a movie fan, you can trace the path used in “Mamma Mia!” where the wedding ceremony took place. There’s also a vibrant nightlife, a National Marine Park, the local cheese pie, and gold sand beaches.

Lesbos

Located in the north eastern Aegean, closer to Turkey’s coast than Greece’s, Lesbos is known for its Petrified Forest and for the country’s most famous drink, Ouzo. Unlike some of the other popular Greek islands where mass tourism killed the vibe, Lesbos Island is still a place where you can find the authentic Greek laid-back lifestyle with an ocean overlooking idyllic bays and pretty calm beaches.

Planning a Trip to Greece?

There are just a few of the most popular choices, but it’s really a choose your own adventure — and Sunset Travel & Cruise is here to help you do just that. If you’ve decided to make Greece your next vacation destination, contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today to help plan an adventure that you’ll never forget.

Learn More About the Top Wedding Destinations with Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

Want to have a destination wedding but aren’t sure exactly where you want to go? There are so many gorgeous locations in the world to hold your nuptials, which is why it can feel so overwhelming.

Let Sunset Travel & Cruise guide you through some of our favorite options!

The Many Options for Destination Weddings

Are you leaning more towards the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip or the serene and laid-back island style of Hawaii? Destination weddings are a great way to celebrate the beginning of a new life together — all while exploring new lands in for a time you and your guests won’t soon forget.

Explore All the Options for Destination Weddings with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

Where To Have Your Destination Wedding

Sunset Travel & Cruise, your Chicago travel concierge, can secure your destination wedding plans to any of the top locations below — or anywhere else in the world.

Australia

Why not tie the knot in the Land Down Under? Sydney, the Gold Coast and Hayman Island are all popular Australian destination wedding choices. The country itself features gorgeous landscapes, from urban cities to the rugged outback and the unforgettable Great Barrier Reef. Then there are upscale eateries influenced by Europe and Asia, with world-class local wines. Add in scuba diving, snorkeling, white-water rafting, and zoos, and there’s something for everyone here.

Tuscany

This is one of the most popular destination wedding locations, and for good reason. If you’re going for a rustic, romantic affair, the wine estates and castles of central Tuscany are second-to-none. Add in gastronomical delights you won’t find anywhere else in the world, rolling hills and meadows, and il dolce far niente, or “the sweet art of idleness,” and it’s easy to say “I do.”

Hawaii

The first big draw to this destination is that it’s obviously drop-dead gorgeous, but Hawaii also makes for a great wedding location because of traditionally good weather, endless amazing photo opportunities, and tons of options for adventure. There’s plenty for guests to do too — everything from exploring the rain forest region and going horseback riding to shopping, snorkeling, or just relaxing on the beach.

Iceland

Located conveniently between North America and Europe, Iceland is quickly becoming one of the most popular wedding destinations. That landscapes include black sandy beaches, historic wooden churches, fields of green next to towering volcanoes and glaciers, and Northern Lights. It’s perfect for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers, with endlessly interesting and surreal backdrops.

New York City

The city that never sleeps will never cease to offer up amazing opportunities when it comes to a destination wedding. You’ll have countless caterers, florists, photographers, and bands from which to make your selection. And your guests? They can enjoy Broadway shows, museums and galleries, four-star restaurants, active nightlife, and block after block of shopping, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Times Square — and that’s just the beginning. Plus, the plethora of taxis make it easy to get from place to place.

Jamaica

The site of many all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica can be one of the most affordable of the Caribbean islands on which to get married. But on the other side of the coin, there’s no shortage of luxurious options that Sunset Travel & Cruise can book for you, including private villas complete with private chefs, housekeeping staffs, and security.

The gardens, flowering landscapes, sandy white beaches, and waterfalls all provide a gorgeous backdrop for the big day.

Say I DO with an Island Destination Wedding with Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Right In Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

New Zealand

Even people who aren’t “Lord of the Rings” fans will still find this destination pretty much ideal if you’re looking to break away from the crowds but still enjoy amazing scenery and adventures. There are miles of golden beaches and pristine forests — both of which can serve as a memorable backdrop for your wedding. New Zealand also offers up luxury spas, sensational wines, and beautiful hillsides in quaint little towns.

Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas, because you’re going to want to tell everyone about your amazing destination nuptials. If you’re looking to explore your wild side, Sin City is the place to go for nightlife, gaming, shows, dining, and even a drive-thru chapel or two. Whether you make it a luxurious event full of VIP service or an Elvis impersonator at 2AM, you can bet that Sunset Travel & Cruise will make it your ideal trip from beginning to end.

Costa Rica

If you’re dreaming of a beach bridal affair, how do sun-baked stretches of white sand appeal to you? Those looking for a preserved tropical background for their nuptials but don’t want to sacrifice their modern urban tastes head to Costa Rica. From mountaintop views to the edge of a volcano, there are myriad places to tie the knot. Since ecotourism is big here, meaning you can “green” up your wedding by staying in eco-lodges and rain forest bungalows.

Greece

Thanks to its extensive history, beautiful coastline, and enviable Mediterranean climate, Greece remains one of the most popular travel spots in Europe — especially for destination weddings. It offers breathtaking sunsets, beachside locations, and stunning scenery. Add in culinary delights, cliffside views, and wines to delight, and you’ll want to have your own “Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

Ready to Plan Your Destination Wedding?

Whether you want to tie the knot on the sandy white beaches of Jamaica or the black sandy beaches of Iceland, Sunset Travel & Cruise in Chicago can work with you to plan every detail to make it unforgettable.

With us, you get real people who will tailor your vision into the perfect destination wedding for you. Contact us today!

Tour Sicily n in Style with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

What’s the deal with Sicily? It’s more than just the homeland of Sophia on “Golden Girls.” It’s a rugged and attractive island — the largest one in the Mediterranean Sea, to be exact — on the southern tip of Italy. It’s one of the country’s 20 regions, and is separated from the mainland region of Calabria by the five km Straits of Messina.

What Sicily Is Known For

Sicily is known for iconic beaches, historic palaces, and cathedrals that are best visited from May to June or September to October, when temperatures hover around 70ºF. While the weather might be ideal during these months, they also bring larger crowds and higher prices.

As tourist crowds thin out at other times of the year, prices for accommodation drop, which makes off-season travel a good option — traveling in November and December is highly recommended. Winter travel will involve more indoor experiences, such as wine tasting and tours of historic buildings, whereas summer travel will involve more outdoor activities, such a basking in the sun and exploring outdoor markets.

Explore Sicily with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

But no matter what time you go, each season has its highlight.

Winter In Sicily

Winters in Sicily average around 53ºF, but temperatures drop dramatically after sunset, so plenty of warm clothing is needed when visiting the island this time of year. Flights to Italy and hotel prices drop in winter, which means you save when it comes to travel costs.

An added bonus of going in the off-season is that due to lack of tourists, it makes it easier to get to know the locals on a personal basis. A more relaxed atmosphere may also mean better customer service.

Plus, winter offers all sorts of gems to discover. If there’s snow, there’s skiing on Mt. Etna. From culinary delights such as the sea urchin harvest season in February to cool weather golf, wintertime in Sicily offers much more than many travelers realize.

Spring In Sicily

If you’re looking to tour historic sites and take advantage of the scenic beauty, this might be the best time of the year to visit. Spring in Sicily has a mild climate that allows locals and tourists to finally spend the day outside, enjoying the scents of Sicily and some fresh air. It’s not too warm, not too cool, and the cities aren’t as crowded as they are during the summer months.

Starting in April, Sicily is overtaken by the vibrant hues of almond and cherry blossoms and ripening citrus fruit. Many festivals also take place in April and May, including those for Easter. The late-spring, early-summer rush begins in May, so be aware that there might be larger crowds — but it’s worth it.

Learn When to Travel to Sicily from the Travel Experts at Sunset Travel and Cruise Right In Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

Summer In Sicily

The most popular times to visit Sicily are early and late summer, which means the crowds thin out for July and August due to the heat. But if you can take the heat, you can find some good deals.

Summer is the perfect time to get out of the cities and instead explore traditional fishing villages, relax on breathtaking beaches, and swim in the turquoise water. Just keep in mind that some businesses shut down and take a break during the hot season, but gear up for the crowds in late August.

Fall In Sicily

After Sicily’s hot summer, early fall brings in 70ºF temperatures once again. And along with those temperatures brings the height of this Italian island’s tourist season — along with May and June.

Fall is known as the time of olive harvest, and given that the food in Sicily is seasonal, travelers are in for a treat. Enjoy the flavors of the local seafood pasta, arancini, pizza, gelato, and other delicious treats, eating your way through the region while getting to know the culture and the people.

The moderate temperatures mean you can explore the historic landmarks and colorful scenery without overheating. This is why so many people choose fall for their Sicilian vacation.

Are You Planning a Trip To Sicily?

If you’re ready to explore one of Italy’s most popular regions, Sunset Travel & Cruise is ready to make it an experience you’ll never forget. Contact us today!

How to Effortlessly Enjoy a Trip to the Eiffel Tower Tips from the Expert Travel Agents at Sunset Travel and Cruise of Chicago, IL 60614

What To Know About Traveling To the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is by far Paris’ most-recognized icon, and it has a rich history that draws in millions of people each year. Some people might think it cliche, but few can deny that when the tower bursts into a shower of scintillating light every hour each evening, it’s truly a sight to behold.

If you’re considering a trip yourself to see the nearly 1,000-foot-high structure, there are a few things that you should know.

Why the Eiffel Tower Is So Iconic

Back in 1889, Gustave Eiffel’s company built Paris’ most recognizable monument, The Eiffel Tower, for the World’s Fair. While many initially regarded the massive iron structure with skepticism, today it’s considered an architectural wonder and attracts more visitors than any other paid tourist attraction in the world — an estimated 7 million people per year.

Expertly Crafted Tips to Enjoy the Eiffel Tower from Sunset Travel and Cruise right in Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

The Best Way To Sightsee the Eiffel Tower

The tower has three levels with observation platforms — located at about 200, 400, and 900 feet — all joined by elevators and stairs. However, there’s no one elevator that will take you straight to the top (aka le sommet). To get there, take an elevator or climb 775 steps to the second level. Once you reach the second level, immediately line up for the next elevator, which will take you to the top.

And while seeing things from the top is spectacular, make sure that you take the time to explore the second level. Here you’ll be high enough for great aerial views, but low enough that you can recognize the city’s monuments and take in certain architectural details and feats of urban planning. As for the first level, it offers up a great chance to explore its shops and exhibits, not to mention a vertigo-inducing glass floor that lets you experience what it’s like to stand atop an 18-story building.

The Best Time to Visit the Eiffel Tower

The busiest time for tourists that will have you waiting more than two hours is from mid-July through late August, despite the sweltering summer heat. During weekdays in January, February, the early part of March, and again November through mid-December, you will only have to wait about 30 minutes or less.

When it comes to what time to visit, regular hours of operation from early July through late August are 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 a.m., with the last elevator ride to the top departing at 11:00 p.m. For the rest of the year, the tower is open from 9:30 a.m. until 11:45 p.m., with the last elevator running at 10:30 p.m.

A great time to ascend the Tower is shortly before twilight, so you can experience it at sunset and also after dark. If possible, you’ll definitely want to see it at night when the 20,000 light bulbs sparkle at the top of the tower in a five-minute luminous spectacle every hour on the hour.

Tips for the Best Time to Visit the Eiffel Tower from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

How To Get Your Tickets for the Eiffel Tower

During the busy peak season, ticket lines can be several hours long. Those who just show up with no pre-booked ticket are likely to waste lots of time in the initial entry line — it can be upwards of two hours or more in the summer, on weekends, or on holidays.

One way to avoid this is to skip the ticket line and reserve an entry day/time by prepaying for your ticket. The downside is that you’re locked into a day and specific time, but it can save you hours of waiting in line.

Ticket options vary depending on what you’re planning on doing — riding the elevators to the very top, riding only as far as the second level, or climbing the stairs to the first or second level (the top can only be reached by elevator). Because of these options, prices will also vary greatly depending on age and how many levels you’re going to see.

Why You Should Take the Stairs

The Eiffel Tower is known for the lines you’ll stand in as you wait for an elevator. To avoid wasting hours in line, consider taking the stairs — at least going down, which is a much less physical feat. You’ll need to take the elevator from the top down to the second level, but can use the stairs down from there, stopping as you please to take in the views.

It only takes a few minutes to walk between each level, leaving you more time to explore even more of the great Tower and the city itself.

Are You Planning a Trip to the Eiffel Tower?

If visiting this spectacular destination is on your European bucket list, let Sunset Travel & Cruise take care of all the details for you. Simply contact us today and we’ll plan your trip from beginning to end ensuring an unforgettable experience.