Instagrammers We Love: Happy Blues by Katerina Katopis-Lykiardopulo

Marathoner and instagrammer Katerina Katopis-Lykiardopulo shares some of her best shots, notes and tips from her favorite seaside destinations around Greece.


Kleftiko literally means "bandits lair," and this is exactly what this impressive collection of rock formations, hollow caves and crystal clear waters was: a pirates' hideout. Reachable only by boat, you are guaranteed to have a great time swimming and exploring the jaw dropping formations. You might even find some of the treasure the pirates are rumored to have hidden there.


Polyaigos literally means "many goats," and goats are the only inhabitants of the largest uninhabited island of the Aegean, mostly known for its turquoise bays and magnificent beaches. Mysterious and exotic, it boasts impressive rock formations and numerous caves which are home to Mediterranean monk seals.


Greece is full of beaches only accessible by boat. One of my favorite hard-to-get-to beaches is in Ithaca, a tiny, protected cove called Afales. It is covered in small round white pebbles and the water is a translucent shade of turquoise. Let’s swim away!


You cannot help but fall in love with Folegandros. Small and mystical despite a recent rise to fame, it still remains untouched. The Chora is built hanging off the steep cliffs and the beaches are hard to get to. Getting lost in the castle is a must and walking up the narrow path to the Church of the Virgin Mary to watch the sunset will simply take your breath away.


According to popular tradition, the nine stripes of the Greek flag represent the nine syllables of the phrase Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος ("Freedom or Death"), the motto of the Greek revolution. It works in such perfect harmony against the Aegean and Cycladic backdrop (here in Santorini).


Kimolos is Greece as it used to be; relaxed, chilled, easy-going life by the water. The locals still store their fishing boats in their "syrmata," the little boathouses next to their water-fringed homes or in the sheltered rock formations all around the island. I go back there several times a year, and every time its like getting to know the place for the first time.


Kea is the closest Cycladic island to Athens with the most distinct architecture, a bohemian feel and great treks. The Lighthouse and the Church of Saint Nicholas watch over the port marking the opening to the Aegean sea. The Lighthouse is built on the ruins of an ancient Temple of Poseidon and is one of the two oldest in Greece, dating back to 1831.


Probably the most famous "double beach" in Greece is a narrow strip of golden sand called Kolona in Kythnos. Easy to get to on a day trip from Athens on a rib, it’s the perfect quick getaway and one that always poses a dilemma: Which side should I choose?


Time and salt water have eroded these volcanic rocks to create the moonscape of Sarakiniko, arguably Milos’s most famous beach. Juxtaposed against the stark blue and turquoise waters, those bright white formations are ideal for cliff-jumping lovers. From the air, the landscape looks even more bizarre…. I see a whale, what do you see?


Astypalaia is on the crossroads between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese islands. Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans and Italians have all left their mark on this butterfly-shaped island. This was shot in early July 2020 as the sun was setting, and we walked through the meandering alleys of the Chora all the way up to the Venetian caste crowning the hill. We were all alone, bathed in a golden light with the Aegean Sea shimmering all around us. What more do you need?


September is the sweetest month to visit the Greek islands. The sea is warmer, the days balmier, the sun more golden and the winds have subsided. We always do one last trip around the Cyclades every September and the sandy Serifos bays with their crystal clear waters are a favorite escape.


If Greece were a color it would be blue and white, just like the Greek flag. The water in Greece is velvety and salty, refreshing and oh, so clear. Diving into the big Greek Aegean blue will forever be returning to my happy place.


In Athens we are blessed; we live amidst some of the worlds most important heritage sites in the world. Wake up early and explore them in peace, walking or running. This past December, during an early morning run past the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the light was surreal, misty sunshine resulting in the most impressive shadows of the temple. The run around the Acropolis, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora and the Panathenaic Stadium is about 5km long.


Every year towards the end of May, the jacarandas are in full bloom around the Zappeion. Athens turns purple and we all walk underneath the glorious trees as their soft petals dance in the air. You can find them also on Athinas and Rigilis streets.


Every time I see the Evzones – our Presidential Guard, I feel proud to be Greek. Their white ceremonial dress is worn only on Sundays or official occasions and weighs about 15kg, without the rifle. Their foustanella (the kilt), has 400 pleats, equal to the number of years we were under Ottoman occupation, and their shoes (tsarouhia) have nails underneath and are stomped loudly on the ground so that our ancestors can hear we are alive and free. Catch a glimpse of them at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider (change every hour on the hour) or outside the Presidential Mansion (change every hour on the half hour).


On February 16, 2021 an unusually heavy snowfall blanketed Athens and transformed it into a winter wonderland. It stopped snowing at around 6pm that day, and within seconds, the sky turned into the most vibrant pinks and reds. Everything was covered in snow, the Acropolis lit up and the all homes underneath were like little twinkle lights shimmering in the snow. That part of Athens looked like a village in the Alps. It was glorious, and I am so proud of the beauty and history of our capital. It was something we will most likely not see again for many years to come.

Katerina Katopis-Lykiardopulo

Instagrammer (@katerinakatopis), marathon runner and member of the marketing committee of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Katerina Katopis-Lykiardopulo, has worked in the tourism industry for many years, helping to develop and promote luxury accommodations and villas in Greece and internationally. She is a lover of sports and of the sea, and divides her time between Switzerland, the UK and Greece.