Where apricot sunsets, gingham-tableclothed tavernas and flag-matching blues and whites take centre stage, whimsical wonders never cease in Greece. Past the mainland, the country’s many islands deliver natural beauty by the bucketload, whether you choose somewhere with abundant olive groves, silken sands or oh-so traditional towns.
As we have so many holidays available across these pretty-as-they-come postcodes, it can be hard to whittle down a favourite. We get it. So that’s where our lowdown below will come in handy…
For history in two halves: Crete
Why so great for peering into the past? For starters, there’s an idyllic Venetian harbour that bridges the gap between Greece and Italy in the prettiest way. Shop for take-home trinkets between visiting archaeological museums, one of the world’s oldest olive trees and Aptera Theatre. For a mystifying Minoan site, head to the Palace of Knossos and stroll around its still-preserved columns and walls.
For a traditional sunshine getaway: Kos
The coastline tallies up to almost 300km in Kos, so you can bank on it being brilliant for beaches. It’s one of the more well-travelled-to Greek islands, but it’s also among the most low-key. Flaking out on soft sand is how it’s done here – especially in Lambi and Kardamena. But the latter’s also where you can get your party fix, so make sure you pack something glam for a night on the tiles.
Horse riding, cycling, wine tasting – why not do the lot? The possibilities really are endless.
For the great outdoors: Kalymnos Island
If your legs never need a stretch because you always stay so active, look no further than Kalymnos Island. You can springboard there from Kos or enjoy a holiday right here in the thick of things. And while it’s all nice and casual, it’s a hive of nautical activity. How about a boat trip in the rays? Or maybe even experiencing why it’s so renowned for sponge fishing?
Go for walks around caves and book a yoga class on the sand, then reflect on the day’s fun over a platter of net-fresh seafood, among other Greek menu mainstays.
For laid-back life: Alonissos
Gently does it in astonishing Alonissos, where the hills boast a herbal fragrance and the diddy villages gleam like just-washed whites. Let minutes tumble into hours as you leisurely roam around the island, taking in the pine forests and little ports. Into your beachfront lazing? We don’t blame you. Agios Petros and Agios Dimitrios are winners. Meanwhile, Alonissos National Marine Park will seal the deal for animal fans – quite literally.
When it comes to mealtimes, pull up a pew for three courses and let homegrown produce, refreshing drops of wine and just-netted fish do the talking.
For the A-list vibe: Mykonos
The thing about Mykonos is, it’s a glamorous paradise for the well-heeled, where uber-swanky bars and clubs sell high-ticket champagne, celebs go to party and yacht owners dock. But it’s also popular for boutique shopping.
When you’ve had your fill of holidaying like an A-lister, then Little Venice is the kaleidoscopic place to be. Dinky windmills beckon in the background while colourful-splashed balconies will catch your eye as you stroll the paved streets. Cute or what?
For quaint culture: Lesvos
Lesvos flies the flag for peace and quiet. Its landscape combines endless vistas of mountain peaks, beaches and olive plantations, so it’s quintessentially Greek and then some. Eager to dig into the culture? The centuries-old town of Molivos is where you should point your compass. Potter around its cobbled alleyways before arriving at its centrepiece castle.
Save time to laze by the waves here, but Lesvos is also known for its ouzo production. This top-notch tipple can be enjoyed in all its herbal glory – especially when paired with juicy olive tapenade.
For iconic views: Santorini
The part of Greece with all the blue domes and ice-white buildings that make the guidebook covers? Yeah, that’s Santorini. Start in the west, where the villages of Oia, Fira and Imerovigli dominate the skyline and overlook the commanding caldera. While dot-to-dotting, you’ll come across an array of Instagram-worthy eateries and bohemian boutiques. Akrotiri and Anastasi Church are two bucket-list musts.
Shake up your days with some R&R – the black-sand beaches of Perissa and Kamari are calling! Stuffed aubergines or lobster-laden pasta as the sun melts behind the sea, anyone?
For good times 24/7: Zante
Not fussed for sleep? Nor is Zante. While its chalky cliffs and an old shipwreck reel you over to Navagio Beach, we’re also big fans of boat trips to the Blue Caves.
But when the lights go low, Zante really comes into its own. Follow the hum of the bass and the beams of neon lights as you wander towards Laganas Strip, where the island’s liveliest bars lay on DJ sets and happy hours. Don’t want to go big but also not ready to go home? The beachfront bars in Aghios Sostis are right this way…
For silver-screen scenes: Skiathos
Sun-blushed Skiathos offers a roll call of ivory-sand beaches that rival ones you’d find in the Caribbean. These paradise-esque patches will tempt you whether you sprawl out on them or glide past them on a boat trip.
The icing on the cake? The fact that Skiathos was used as the filming location for Mamma Mia! – how cool is that? Embrace your inner Meryl Streep as you explore the Old Port and St. Nikolaos Bell Tower with great whimsy.
For sleepy seafronts: Skopelos
Where unspoilt views culminate in orchards, fields strewn with olive trees and azure waterfronts, Skopelos nails the holiday photo opportunities on the head. And once you’re finished snapping away, top up your tan on the sand, dine rustic-style in a go-with-the-flow taverna or make your way over to the Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri for those Mamma Mia! vibes.
While this isle relishes life in the slow lane, Skopelos Town delivers a buzz. The colourful buildings each have a quirkiness, so meander around them and unearth souvenir-selling shops, bakeries and more.
Posted: 22nd Jun 2022.