Whether you’re one a gap year, a solo traveller, a foodie, a family or a honeymoon couple, the joy of Greece is that there are over 200 islands to visit. Greece is quite obviously one of the most revered holiday destinations in Europe as it’s affordable, sun drenched, has stunning beaches, azure seas and sumptuous food.
The charming white washed cottages with colourful shutters and pergolas adorned with Bougainvillea and Grapevines are made for Instagram – no filters required here. Of course the obvious islands to tick off your list are Santorini and Mykonos. Summertime of 2021 would actually be the perfect time to visit these once perennially busy spots as tourism is still slow and hasn’t even reached half of its 2019 volume of tourists. Greece is accepting vaccinated tourists and has vaccinated the majority of their population.
One of Greece’s signature styles is mezze style eating and summer is the ultimate time to visit a charming, local taverna and savour the local ingredients. Each island has different specialities but there are signature favourites from fresh calamari caught straight from the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, grilled whole and drizzled fish with ladholemono (a lemon and oil dressing). Flavoursome smaller fish such as barbouni (red mullet) and marida (whitebait) are also delicious, ideally lightly fried. Yum! If you’re not a fan of fish, try the plethora of vegetarian food available from Dolmades, tangy olives, haloumi cheese to moussaka.
Enough about eating, there is so much else to do.
We’ve lined up 7 islands to visit that will hopefully pique your interest:
- Hire a moped in Kefalonia and let your hair down. This beautifully scenic island was made for scooting about. There is an exquisitely coloured lake, called Melissani Lake that has to be seen to be vouched as real, as it’s colour is like something out of a fairy tale. If you’re heading to the sea, Myrtos Beach should be your port of call.
- If you’re a newly in love couple or wanting to resurrect your romance, there’s nothing like a Santorini sunset to fill your heart to the brim. The best spots are from the towns, of Fira and La that are perched along the top of the island and provide some spectacular and wildly popular sunset-watching opportunities across the bay.
- Folegandros has been identified as the ‘new’ Santorini. It’s the epitome of the Cycladic village: Hilly, rocky and petite in size and largely untouched by tourism. It’s slate paved streets and blue church domes are charming and beckon one to enjoy the understated elegance it exudes.
- The island of Rhodes in steeped in history, it’s like being on a Medieval film set. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has earned this recognition for a reason. Cobbled, traffic free streets & fortified walls and a moat make this a real life castle town. A visit to the Palace of the Grandmaster, the Knights of St John Hospital, and the Street of Knights should definitely be on the cards.
- Corfu is another popular tourist destination, but for good reason. Who doesn’t want to go swimming and diving among amongst lunar rock formations and aqua green underwater caves? Try Canal d’Amour beach. There are also some pretty attractions to be seen here, including the Old Town, the Achilleion Summer Palace, and the islet of Pontikonisi.
- If you want to holiday where the local Athenians holiday, bring the family to Hydra, just a half-hour ferry hop from the capital. It’s car-free, so you can meander through winding streets or take a donkey ride. Breakfast on mild coffee with walnut cake or Greek Turkish Delights (funny we know) while overlooking the waterfront crammed with yachts. Hop on a ferry to whisk you to close-by islands or ride on a dingy up the coast.
- As well as the azure bays, Amorgos is also renowned for its hiking trails, which not only connect the island’s villages but also provide access to ecclesiastical and natural landmarks. Start at Hora, the capital of the island, and walk towards the landmark of Amorgos, the Greek-Orthodox monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa. This whitewashed monastery is wedged into a cliff face 300 metres above the sea. Climb the nearly 300 steps, walk through the low marble doorway and take the staircase that leads to the chapel where treasures and icons are kept. You will be rewarded with a dizzying yet panoramic view of the Mediterranean.