For decades, glossy travel agent brochures have tempted us with sun, sea and sand in brilliant primary colours to come and explore the Greek Islands. And well we might, for it’s been a huge tourist destination since Adam was a lad, and an extremely popular choice for anyone looking for perfect weather, amazing food and great hospitality during the one week your boss unchains you from your desk and allows you an annual holiday.
It is estimated there could be as many as 6000 islands that make up the country, with somewhere between 166 and 227 of them actually inhabited. Either way, you’ve got a lot to choose from– so which are you going to plump for? We’ve have taken the edge off that decision for you and have offered you a handy guide to picking your perfect Greek islands for a week in the sun.
Best for Relaxing
If you’re looking for a more chilled out vacation, you might want to steer clear of the rowdier islands. Try these picks instead.
What it lacks in sandy beaches it more than makes up for with tranquillity. Alonissos is a heaven for those who want peace and quiet, and there are some wonderful walking routes to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Evenings will most likely encompass sitting outside nursing a cold beer and watching a stunning sunset. Perfect bliss!
A Greek island if ever there was one, Paros has everything you need for a relaxing holiday experience. With a solid tourist infrastructure without being too overwhelming, there’s plenty to see and do during a lazy stay, whether you want to spend time on pristine beaches, walks through charming villages or kick it up a notch with water sports. Paros is a great all-rounder.
Best for the Sights
These choices are for those who want a little more get up and go – exploring the island’s famous and historical sights.
We could easily have put Santorini in a number of these categories, but we’ve opted for sightseeing because of its world famous, distinctive white housing set into the side of the cliffs at often dizzying heights. There’s plenty to keep you occupied here but be warned it isn’t cheap and is more popular with those who have a larger travel budget. Always on the “places to see before you die” lists.
Looking for your ancient history fix? You’ve come to the right place with Rhodes, known for its crusader history. Here you’ll discover stunning medieval architecture and a tangible, classical past as you walk through cobblestone streets. The 300 ft (92 metres) high Monolithos castle dating back to 1480 is not to be missed for history buffs – but there’s a party to be had here too if you’re up for it.
Best for the Party
Let’s be honest, you’ve come for one thing and one thing only – to dance until dawn. If you’re that way inclined, then you need to have a look at this selection of party favourites in the Greek Islands.
Corfu is one of Greece’s most popular islands, with super easy access and a not entirely pleasant history of partygoers coming in to tear the place up. Thankfully, it has reigned that reputation in somewhat, but it’s still the place to go if you want to get loose. The Pink Palace (named by Freddy Mercury) is one of the best and friendliest party hostels you will ever stay in. But avoid Kavos at all costs – unless you’re a school kid from the UK or Ireland.
Often dubbed the Ibiza of Greece, Mykonos is a party lover’s dream island and it’s attracted late night revellers for years. But even with clubs and bars as far as the eye can see, there’s still a quieter side here if you go looking for it. Some believe it to be the Grecian island poster boy, so much so that if you want your fix and mix of everything Greece has to offer – you need to go here. There’s a blossoming LGBT community too. It’s a tolerant and friendly place to visit – and that’s alright with us!
If you’d rather try something less well known or populated by the tourist crowd, you might want to consider one of these options.
Three small settlements, no real nightlife to speak of and totally free of cars – what more could you possibly ask for if you’re looking to literally get away from it all? You’ll also find a naturist beach here should you fancy even more freedom, and with really little to do other than relax by the water, it’s about the only excitement you’re going to get – and that’s just perfect!
Like Agistri, you’ll find a peaceful retreat staying on Hydra because motor vehicles are banned. It’s overlooked by general holidaymakers which might go some way to explaining why it’s become a popular hang out for celebrities looking for anonymity, as well as the rich movers and shakers of Greece who have built beautiful homes here. Enjoy using the donkeys to get around!
Although Greece has taken a bashing in recent years when it comes to its economy, the ship will always be steadied thanks to the popularity of its islands. It’s arguably the premier holiday destination in the world, and that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. With something for everyone and anything you’d want, spending a week in the Greek islands is a great choice when you have that precious time of the daily grind. Just remember to go easy on the Ouzo!
Tell us your experiences – let us know your top pick for a Greek island getaway!