Ask an expert: Sail the Greek Islands

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Santorini, Greece.
Santorini, Greece.

Do you have any advice for someone considering a sailing holiday in the eastern Mediterranean? While in the region, I fancy spending a week or two in Greece or Turkey. - R. Scott

Romani Wilburn from Flight Centre Tauranga has lived in Greece and loves sharing her knowledge on this beautiful region. She shares her tips for your holiday in the eastern Mediterranean.

In my opinion, the Greek Islands are the most beautiful destinations in the world and I would recommend adding this on to a summer trip in Europe wherever you can.

If you enjoy history, a night in Athens en route to the islands is an absolute must. The walk up to the ancient Acropolis is beautiful and the view from the top over the sprawling city of Athens is unique. The newly built Acropolis museum also provides a chance to learn more about this world-famous landmark.

Moving away from the city, most of the organised tours and sailing trips will take you to the Cyclades islands, including Mykonos and Santorini.

When it comes to choosing a tour, talk to an expert for a full range of options and to make sure you're getting an itinerary to suit you. Santorini is my favourite island and I recommend spending at least three nights here to take in the stunning vistas, beautiful sunsets and wander around the charming alleyways and streets. Mykonos is also a beautiful island to visit and is becoming increasingly well known for its nightlife just as much as its beaches and scenery.

With thousands of islands within Greece, it's also great to experience some of the lesser known areas of this destination. Zakynthos, the neighbouring island to Captain Corelli's Kefalonia, is quite different to the islands of the Cyclades. As the main nesting ground of the loggerhead sea turtles, it attracts tourists from all over Europe but is less well known further afield. With stunning white sand beaches, beautiful sea caves and sparkling turquoise waters, this island is a real hidden gem. If sailing into Zakynthos, I would suggest the harbour of St Nicholas, which is a charming town close to the spectacular Shipwreck Beach.

Spending a week or two in Greece is guaranteed to be a holiday of a lifetime made up of beautiful food, hospitable locals and stunning scenery. Make the most of your time and explore a variety of the different islands and all they have to offer - you will have an amazing time.

We're in our 60s and have been thinking about a big trip for some time. I've always wanted to see southern India, my husband suddenly says he'd rather we went to Sri Lanka. It's one or the other. What should be the deciding factors? And what are the best bits? - Mrs Dickson

Jim Cato-Symonds, manager of Flight Centre Ponsonby shares his recommendations for choosing between two great destinations.

What a great choice, both southern India and Sri Lanka will leave you with incredible memories and a smile on your face.

At first glance, they are quite similar destinations with a warm climate, stunning coastlines, ancient temples, markets, plenty of culture and wonderful food, although they are both very unique as well.

Southern India is breathtaking and if you are looking for an "experience" this could well be the choice, particularly if you're an intrepid traveller looking for something off the beaten track. The colours, crowds and chaos make India deeply rewarding but can also be demanding for a first-timer or someone who isn't used to such a large difference between cultures.

However, a number of companies run great trips through this area, which take away the hassle and present you with the jewels of southern India in a relaxed manner - talk to an expert for tour recommendations that are tailored specifically to suit you.

Sri Lanka is a more relaxed destination and I would recommend this to someone who is looking to ease themselves into the Indian culture. Once you leave the hustle and bustle of the capital, you're soon emerged in the green beauty of this stunning country.

There is so much to see in Sri Lanka, from the endless tea plantations around the historic hill city of Kandy, to the awe-inspiring fifth-century rock fortress of Sigiriya. The east coast is beautiful, with an unspoiled landscape of sapphire waters, complete with white sand beaches and palm trees.

Sri Lanka also has world-class resorts on the south and west coasts, allowing for a few days of pampered luxury on your holiday. Combined with the national parks, wildlife and historic sights, it's a destination that caters for a wide range of interests.

Again, fantastic tours are available for this area that would allow you to experience a range of sights without the hassle of organising it all yourself.

No matter where you choose, I'm sure you will have a wonderful time - enjoy.

Flight Centre has return airfares from Auckland to Colombo, Sri Lanka, flying Singapore Airlines from $1785* a person. Valid for specific dates and on sale until September 25.

Return airfares from Auckland to Athens, Greece, including four nights' four-star accommodation and one-day Delphi tour with lunch to the Saronic Islands from $3229* a person twin share. Valid for specific dates and on sale until September 3.

For more great airfares and packages to these destinations, contact a Flight Centre consultant here.

* Prices subject to availability.

- NZ Herald

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