The Islands of Greece are a popular destination for those looking to experience the European holiday season at its idyllic best. Everywhere you look seems to be straight out of a postcard with stunning hues of the sea, glorious sunsets, charming architecture and expansive beaches. The food is great, the nightlife is fantastic and the adventure activities are certainly memorable. We highlight ten of the Greek Islands which offer wonderful but different experiences and must be visited.
The largest of the Ionian islands, Zakynthos has many stunning beaches – whether you’re looking for a loud party or a romantic, private time. A must-visit is the Shipwreck Beach in Navagio Bay that offers silky smooth sand and serene, cerulean waters and an air of romance all around. This gorgeous beach is so secluded that is only accessible by boat!
One of the smallest inhabited islands, with a population of less than 2,000, Hydra is a relaxed reminder of what life used to be like. What makes the island even more special is the fact that it is completely free of motor vehicles (the only Greek island to be so) – letting you explore the island entirely on foot by traversing its narrow, cobbled lanes and the ravishing Hydra harbour. Hydra is also one of the quickest and easiest islands to get to from Athens (it is only a short ferry ride away).
Greece’s favourite party destination – Mykonos. This high-profile island has a booming party scene with an upscale crowd to match – think celebrities and international VIPs who come here not just to party, but just to be seen. If partying is not your thing, get yourself to Plati Yialos or Psarou Beach where you can jet-ski, windsurf, parasail or relax!
Santorini embodies that classic Greek island ambiance – hillside clusters of candy-coloured houses and blue dome-roofed buildings reaching up from golden beaches that spill into the sapphire sea. Something you might not know is that crescent-shaped Santorini is actually a group of islands and the whole complex is an active volcano – the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea. The beaches have white, red and black sand or volcanic pebbles creating a lunar-like landscape. Beautiful Oia is world famous for its sunsets.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete holds a unique place in Greek mythology. It forms a unique stop on the travel plan of most visitors – offering all sorts of contrasts and something for everyone. From the pink sands of Elafonisi Beach to the White Mountains, relax in the lap of nature. You can trek through Europe’s longest gorge, cycle among orchards on the Lasithi Plateau or hike to the cave where Zeus was born (according to Greek mythology). A special mention for the local cuisine – a delicious offering of herbs, greens from the rolling hillsides of Crete, cheese from the neighbouring villages and homemade olive oil.
A hidden gem – Paros offers beautiful beaches and an authentic experience of life in the traditional Greek villages. The Parian traditional villages, particularly Naoussa, Parikia and Lefkes, are perfect examples of Cycladic architecture, with whitewashed sugar houses, paved streets and blue-domed churches. Paros is also famous with windsurfing thrill seekers. The neighbouring island of Naxos scores highly as a destination as well.
So go on, what are you waiting for? Greece awaits!
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