With summer right around the corner (well for you lucky people in the Northern Hemisphere), it seems like this year is passing by at lightning speed, and you know what that means right? Everybody is busy planning where is best to travel to, to soak up the sun and relax, hopefully with a cocktail in hand. Spain, Italy and of course France are always favourites for their gorgeous beaches and handsome men, but my absolute favourite place to spend my time in the summer is Greece, more specifically the Greek Islands. With thousands of islands sprinkled through the Aegean and Ionian Seas, there are endless possibilities for your summer vacation depending on what type of holiday you are looking for. Serenity, adventure, Instagram worthy landscapes, you’ll find it all in Greece; but as there is a daunting amount of islands to choose from read on to find a simple guide to the Greek Islands.
Probably one of the most picturesque and typically Greek of the islands, Mykonos is located in the Cyclades region and is postcard perfect covered in white buildings and blue shutters, and is my favourite island. Mykonos Town is full of great boutiques and hidden alleys with locals hanging out on the steps and restaurants overflowing with fresh produce. You’ll never have a dull moment in Mykonos, with gorgeous beaches and a crazy nightlife scene to occupy your time you’re bound to have an eventful holiday here.
Where to stay: Paradise Beach Resort
Where to eat: Diles
Where to party: Scandinavian Bar
Ios is all about the partying. Come ready to have the drinks flowing and not go to bed until 8am the next morning. Being one of the smaller islands the town itself is relatively compact with not a lot to actually do until the night when the clubs start to open. However, it is still incredibly beautiful and is one of the most popular islands for water sports, or to just lie on the beach recovering from one wicked hangover after doing one too many shot challenges.
Where to stay: Far Out Ios
Where to party: Bank, Rehab, Fusion, Fun Pub
A favourite amongst the Greeks, Milos is an extraordinary island with stunning beaches and landscapes. It’s famous for its incredible rock formations that emerge from the sea and for the caves that are ripe for exploring. Milos is definitely the island for beaches, with over 75 pristine silver sand stretches of beach that are each more beautiful than the last.
Where to stay: EOS Milos House
Where to eat: Barriello
Where to explore: Sarakinlko Beach
A much quieter island than a lot of the others, Paros is a gorgeous island with more than one main town, unlike a lot of the other islands in this region. Parikia and Naoussa are the most popular with plenty of restaurants and shops among the tiny streets. This island is all about taking things slow and spending the day on the beach or out on the water, with a lot of people also visiting the smaller island Antiparos.
Where to stay: Apollon Hotel
Where to eat: Krios Lounge (Greek dancing and plate smashing)
Where to relax: Golden Beach
By far the most popular Greek Island, Santorini definitely lives up to all of its expectations. You will have difficulty choosing which Oia sunset pictures to post to Instagram because they will all be magical. But there is so much more than just the romance and sunsets in Santorini, full of amazing archaeology sites, like Akrotiri, wineries, and of course the famous Red and Black Beaches, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time in Santorini.
Where to stay: Andronis Luxury Suites
Where to eat: Volcano Blue
What to see: Oia sunset
An island so big it could very well be its own country, Crete has an abundance of everything you could want from Greece; architecture, history, and beautiful landscapes galore. Crete is probably most famous for its Minoan history and the Knossos Palace, that has been the site of on-going excavations since its discover. On Crete you will not be short on activities to do, from hiking to exploring the cultural sites, but the one thing you can’t leave without doing is hitting up as many beaches as possible! The stretches of beach on this island are phenomenal.
Where to stay: Veneto Boutique Hotel
Where to eat: Elia
Where to explore: Knossos Palace
Although geographically closer to Turkey than mainland Greece, Rhodes is one of the most popular Greek Islands. With its almost constant sunshine and a gorgeous rocky coastline, you are spoilt for postcard worthy photos. But what really makes this island special, other than its extraordinary medieval capital, is the villages hidden amongst the mountains that have been unspoiled by tourism and have retained their traditional authenticity.
Where to stay: Elysium Resort & Spa
Where to eat: Tamam Restaurant
Where to explore: Seven Springs
The first island to open its doors to tourism, Corfu has become increasingly popular due to its mild Mediterranean climate and its breathtaking greenery that covers the landscape. Although you could just sit back and relax, Corfu is all about the adventures both in the water and in its inner beauty away from the coast. Kayaking, cycling, scuba diving, hiking, quad biking, are all activities that are on offer on this incredible island. The town of Corfu is not to be missed as well, a quaint little place with a blend of French, Italian and Greek influences.
Where to stay: Bella Mare Hotel
Where to eat: Old Fortress Restaurant
What to do: The Corfu Trail
I think we all know what makes Zakynthos so unique right? Shipwreck Beach! This extremely photographed cove has fronted many Greece travel guides and magazines and rightly so, it is absolutely beautiful. Besides Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos is also the home of many animal birthing sites, including the sea turtle Caretta Caretta and the monk seal Monachus Monachus. It is also celebrated for its graceful music traditions.
Where to stay: Villa Armos
Where to eat: Marathia Star
What to see: Shipwreck Beach
Thassos is a food, wine and hiker’s heaven, producing some of the finest and freshest seafood, oil, and honey that exported to all of the neighbouring regions and countries. The speciality apple wine and honey walnut liqueur are apparently incredibly delicious and everyone is required to taste a glass when visiting. Other than its food atmosphere, Thassos is also ripe for exploring as there are countless coves and bays, reached after just a short hike.
Where to stay: Hotel Akti
Where to eat: Papalimani Beach Bar & Restaurant
What to see: Hire a car & drive around the entire coastline