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It’s been a long, tumultuous and, uh, possibly one-sided love affair between Brits and the Greek islands.

In fact, even as early as 1878, comic poet Edward Lear complained that Paleokastritsa in Corfu had been overrun by badly behaved English tourists.

And over two centuries later they’re still returning in droves, and still every bit as unable to judge when they’ve had too much sun or too many glasses of retsina. The Greek islands or islets, on the other hand, are just as alluring as they ever were. And there’s no better time to visit one of the 6000 of them than now, when you can provide a boost to the local economy and reap the benefits of reduced prices (cheap wine, anyone?).

While some spots are admittedly completely swamped with holidaymaking families, there are just as many secluded beaches, party island getaways and knock-your-socks-off views to keep anyone happy.


One of the most popular islands is Crete, which is Greece’s largest. It has its own distinctive culture, history and cuisine (snails in tomato sauce sound good to you?), so much so that at times it seems like a separate country.Visitors can spend their vacations admiring the remnants of ancient civilisations, such as the Minoan ruin complex Knossos, exploring gorges that spill out to the sea and hiking up whitewashed mountains. 

Of course no Greek island holiday would be complete without a little lazing on a pristine, sun-soaked beach, and the southern coast is the best place for this, with its clean sands and isolated coves, along with smaller and slower-paced villages.

Meanwhile, over on the north side, is where the nightlife gets more raucous. Malia is still the place to go for the biggest selection of tavernas, bars, nightclubs, lounges and discos – here’s where the serious drinking and partying is done. It may not be classy, but you will certainly meet a lot of people having a good time. But it’s safe to say Edward Lear probably wouldn’t have been one of them.


Blissed-out wanderers on the Sixties hippy trail put Mykonos on the map as a hedonistic hotspot for free love.Today a few dogged old free spirits try and keep the vibe alive by going about their business in the nude on Paradise Beach. For the most part, everyone else opts for coatings of Factor Zero sun oil and teeny swimsuits instead. By night there’s a decent party scene with plenty of fashionable bars and clubs open late.


Mountain villages, ancient sites, tropical beaches and sweet local wines. What more could you want from an idyllic island getaway? It’s no surprise that one of Greece’s most scenic stops was supposed to be fit for the gods – Samos was apparently the birthplace of Zeus’s wife Hera. If you’re craving heavenly peace and quiet, and sensational views, take a long walk along the curving coastline and over the island’s hills.


This Ioanian paradise inspired both Shakespeare (most agree it’s the setting for The Tempest) and Homer (it  appears in The Odyssey as ‘Scheria’). Check out the pretty, Venetian-style old quarters of the east coast capital, Corfu Town, which has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. Or if what you really want is a few beers, a lot of vodka jelly shots and a night spent in a sweaty blur of drinking and dancing, head to the southern town of Kávos.


The locals who believe their island is the site of the lost Atlantis might not be too far off.Stunning Santorini is perched on the edge of an extinct volcano, whose massive eruption 4000 years ago created a deep, sea-flooded caldera. Whitewashed villages resting on multicoloured cliffs now line the coast and tourists flock in each night to watch some of the world’s most famous sunsets over a glass of wine. In our book, this is definitely Greece’s most romantic island.


Top 5 Greek Islands for secluded beaches, party getaways and knock-your-socks-off views
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