Craig Duncan, a representative of www.holidayhypermarket.co.uk, says: ‘All Greek islands boast gorgeous beaches and fantastic views. However, the key thing when choosing a Greek island is the type of break you’re looking for. If you want lots of buzzy nightlife, then Kos could be ideal. Or, if you’re after somewhere more chilled, beautiful Kefalonia is a very safe bet.’
Many of Greece’s most popular islands are located in the Cyclades, including Ios, Mykonos, Naxos and Santorini. From mainland Pireas, located near Athens, ferries operate 2-3 times a day in summertime to Mykonos. Mykonos itself is one of the most glamorous Greek islands, with pristine beaches, glitzy nightlife and a plethora of luxury hotels. Wandering through Mykonos Town is tranquil, with iconic whitewashed houses, windmills and local eateries offering gyros and moussaka. From Mykonos you can take a ferry to the islands of Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Milos, Tinos and Syros. We recommend Santorini for its laid-back pace, iconic black-sand beaches, luxurious infinity-pool style hotels and romantic sunsets, while Ios is great for younger people wanting to relax all day and party all night.
If you want more to your holiday than lazy days and beaches, there’s lots of history to be discovered on many of the 15 main Dodecanese islands. The most historically important island is Rhodes, while other popular islands include Kos and Agathonisi. In Rhodes, discover the Old Town, a Unesco World Heritage site, before taking a boat trip to Symi (an island just off Rhodes), for an afternoon. Ferries depart multiple times a day from the port in high season. Also worth exploring is the Ancient City of Kameiros, an excavated archaeological site from the Hellenistic period. Kos is the second largest island of the Dodecanese, and is perfect for water sports and sightseeing in quiet spots thanks to its size. Don’t forget to explore the medieval castles of Neratzia and Antimachia, too, offering panoramic views across the island.
The Ionian islands
These islands are more green, lush and quiet, so ideal for couples looking for a romantic escape. They also have a climate that is slightly cooler. Take a flight from Athens to Corfu, where you’ll find an abundance of olive groves up in the hills, and cute cobbled streets in the towns. It’s easy to find a quiet place to escape crowds on Corfu thanks to its size and the many sandy coves on offer. From here, fly to Kefalonia where you can enjoy strolling round the capital, Argostoli, and an even calmer pace when you explore the rest of the island. Take a wine tour and sample the aromatic Robola wine before investigating the lake cave of Melissani – one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions.
One of the least-known Greek islands, Evia is only an hour’s drive from Athens airport via shuttle. Situated off the mainland’s coast, with a mixture of Greek, Turkish and Albanian culture, the island has lots to offer in terms of historical sites, delicious food, wine and old monasteries – not forgetting its epic mountainous landscape. Visit the baths at Edipsos in northern Evia, which have been used in the past by emperors like Hadrian. After this, visit the ‘crazy waters’ under the old Chalkida Bridge, which change direction every six hours! Of course, there’s plenty of beaches for you to relax on should you want some down time after all that exploring.
Greece’s largest island has lots of history and mythology to offer, and is accessible via ferry or plane from many other Greek islands. Crete has a varied terrain, from white sandy beaches near the coast to epic mountain ranges at its heart. A must-do is the Ideon Cave, known as Zeus’ birthplace where visitors can marvel at the limestone formations. The archaeological site of Knossos Palace is also worth a visit, but try to arrive either early or later in the day to avoid queues in peak season. If you have time, take an organised tour to see the Samaria Gorge for a day (but bring good walking shoes!)
Island-hopping across Greece is a truly wonderful way to explore this beautiful country while making your own itinerary. Whether you are after a laid-back beach escape, a romantic break with plenty of sightseeing or a party-focused getaway, the many islands of Greece have it all.