Hot to trot destinations that dazzle travellers long before their plane touches the tarmac, the Greek Islands are a match made in holiday heaven. From celebrity-endorsed Mykonos to the glistening sands of Kefalonia, it's not hard to see why these little pockets of paradise are top priority for paradise-seekers the world over.
Centrepiece of myth and legend, these ancient landscapes are home to some of the world's most highly-trending travel shots. Time-honoured towns teeter on craggy cliffsides, natural wonders form the backbone of outdoor adventures and historic relics make time travel a reality. Diversity is the name of the game, and the Greek Islands have mastered the art of personalising paradise to you.
Of course, the archipelago's biggest draw comes in the form of golden shores, peacock blue waters and Blue Flags. If the beach is your be all and end all – you're in the right place. Sink your toes into caramel-hued sands and embrace the go-slow atmosphere of the amazing archipelago. Effortlessly wooing visitors with a colossal combined coastline of 7,500km, the Greek Islands prove they bring a lot more to the table than mouthwatering meze. Whether you're craving the Hollywood-approved coves of Kefalonia or the sleepy fishing villages of Skopelos, beach bliss is never far away.
Mediterranean climates and toasty summer temperatures are a beach bum's kryptonite. Often rising well into the 30°Cs between June to September, it's the perfect time to lay down your towel and catch some rays.
Spanning such a huge distance, it's worth checking up on a specific destination before you travel. The Ionian idyll of Corfu cools off considerably by November, while the southernmost Aegean island of Crete is still cooking at 24°C in late October. Nature lovers can take advantage of refreshing breezes in Spring and Autumn, when hiking and other outdoor activities are best experienced. Plus prices are at their most pocket-friendly if you're able to travel out of peak season.
Starring a to-do list that could rival Homer's Odyssey in length, here's a few headline acts to inspire your island itinerary…
Well-known for its spectacular shores and critically acclaimed coastline, Kefalonia has a whole host of attractions beyond its beautiful beaches. Head to the island's heart and you'll uncover a pile of crowd-pleasing natural wonders from national parks to towering mountains. Not satisfied with stopping at the surface, some of Kefalonia's most spectacular sights are hidden underground. Don't miss the chance to marvel at the iconic Melissani Cave, where dazzling blue waters are illuminated courtesy of a collapsed ceiling.
There's no wonder island hopping is such a popular past time on a Greek Island holiday, there's a lot of coastline to cover! With more than a lifetime's worth of award-winning beaches to choose from, you might want to beeline for the tried and tested tourist treasures. No stranger to bucket lists, the legendary shores of 'Smugglers Cove' in Zakynthos are often hailed as the most beautiful on the planet! Surrounded by soaring limestone cliffs and only accessible by boat, a rusty shipwreck lies in the middle of the beach itself.
Lesser-known Lefkas might be the land that tourism forgot, but that only plays to its favour. Feast your eyes on miles upon miles of untouched, natural beauty. Dazzling white cliffs, flour-soft sands and sapphire seas are just the beginning… In fact, the views are so breathtaking you'll have to convince your friends that you really haven't used a filter on the pictures!
There's few places that can rival Greece's local delights. Quintessential villages and time-honoured towns are part and parcel of a stay on Paxos, where warm hospitality and low-key living go hand in hand. Be sure to swing by the heavenly harbour front of gorgeous Gaios – the island's charming capital. Here you can wander the web of lanes, grab a bite in a traditional tavern and watch the bobbing boats. Sprawling pine forests are the backdrop to earthy-toned houses, while a horseshoe bay takes centre stage of the entire scene.
Wish lists are rife with dreams of one day watching a Santorini sunset – and for good reason. Not only is the blazing sky show one of the most sought-after and spectacular in the world, the setting itself is second-to-none. Find a perch in the sugar cube towns of Oia or Imerovigli and watch in awe as the whitewashed residences glow in golden hues. When the sun eventually dips into the deep blues of the caldera, you're left to enjoy a romantic walk through the narrow alleyways – hopefully armed with a few snaps to cherish the once-in-a-lifetime moment for years to come.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to the Greek Islands' best beaches. As vast and varied as the archipelago itself, finding your favourite is no mean feat! Silky sands, sun-bleached shores and crystalline waters come as standard, but you're on holiday and sometimes you want that extra 'wow' factor…
As luck would have it, Greece knows a thing or two about upping the ante. Whether you're after the glitz and glamour of Mykonos' buzzing bays, or on the hunt for beaches of Biblical proportions (like St. Paul's Bay in Rhodes) you'll find showstopping coastal creations around every corner. Even the colour of the sand is interchangeable, from vibrant volcanic reds to the perfect pink tones of Crete's Elafonissi. One thing's for sure – life's a beach in the Greek Islands!
The Mediterranean is one of the healthiest diets in the world – great news for foodies who like to indulge on holidays. Plates are piled high with natural produce and traditional recipes, often featuring a freshly caught fish or skewered meats. Souvlaki is one of Greece's most adored dishes, found at most street stalls and restaurants, often accompanied with pita bread and lashings of tzatziki sauce.
Greek Island gastronomy owes much of its mouthwatering charm to cheese! Fans of feta will find it on almost every taverna table, where locals use it as liberally as salt and pepper. Condiments aside, see how many different types you can wrap your tastebuds around during your stay. Metsovone, Graviera and Manouri are all must-eats too!
A holiday wouldn't be a holiday without a sweet treat or two, so be sure to sink your teeth into a piece of beloved Baklava. Made of honey, filo pastry and ground nuts – what's not to love? Fussy feasters will appreciate the Greek Islands' take on delicious doughnuts. Loukomades are bite-sized and deep-fried, which means one is never enough! Cooked to crispy perfection, sprinkled with cinnamon and soaked in syrup, you'll find them all over the idyllic isles. It looks like sun, sea and sand aren't the only irresistible ingredients on the table…
Shopaholics are spoilt for choice on the gorgeous Greek Islands. From the cosmopolitan and luxury high-end stores on Santorini and Myknonos, to flea markets, boutiques and souvenir shops in the sleepy fishing villages of Skopelos and Meganissi. Kefalonia is a paradise for buzzing bees, with the Ionian island producing around 70 tonnes of honey a year. Be sure to buy a jar or two to ease the holiday blues on your return…
As a rule of thumb, bagging local products is a must! Be it regional delicacies, traditional shoes, leather goods, hand-painted ceramics, or even cutting edge, plant-based cosmetics – take advantage of all the things you can't get your hands on in the UK.
If Greek Island villa holidays are all about freedom, it makes sense that getting from A to B should be just as easy-going. Bigger towns are blessed with a well-established infrastructure and easy-to-navigate highways, while off-the-beaten-track treasures are usually tucked away at the end of small dirt tracks. There's no comparison to taking the wheel and exploring the dazzling landscapes for yourself! Coastal roads sprawl out for miles, mountain lanes lead you to new heights and sunsets are just asking to be chased…
Villa & Flights
2nd Oct - 10th Oct 2019
2 Adults, 2 Children
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