There’s one image of Zante that sums it up perfectly as a top pick for spectacular beaches – that’s Navagio Beach, or Smugglers’ Cove. It’s easily one of the most beautiful in Greece. As such, you might recognise it from countless postcards promoting the Ionian Isle. The beach is only accessible by boat, but it’s worth the trip for shots of the ivory-coloured sands, white cliffs and huge iconic shipwreck. It’s not the only stretch that’s been turning heads, though. TripAdvisor recently included the island’s Porto Limnionas Beach on its list of the Top 10 Beaches in Europe. The clear waters at this hideaway spot are enough reason to visit alone – not to mention the underwater caves. If that wasn’t enough, make tracks for the southern coast for a totally different beach experience. Here, the sands are a breeding ground for endangered loggerhead turtles, and you can head out to beautiful islets to spot them.
Kefalonia is the home of the almighty cheese puff – it’s cheese baked in pastry, need we say anymore? If you’re still not convinced, you can always opt for the island’s other specialty – meat pies. They’re usually filled with tender veal and lamb, but pork is also a popular choice. Whichever one you pick, the meat’s cooked in a tomato-and-wine sauce and spiced up with garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg. You can wash it all down with a glass of the local tipple, Robola wine. Restaurant-wise, we’d suggest plumping for a harbourside seat at one of Fiskardo’s family-run tavernas. You’ll find the menus brimming with all sorts of traditional fare, including stifado – the Greek equivalent of a stew, or strapatsada – a simple but delicious dish, where eggs are fried with tomatoes and olive oil. Each island has its own round-up of dishes to sample, and we went Around the Greek Islands with a fork to give you a taste of our favourites.
The Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have all left their mark on this ancient isle. So, you can expect to tick off Venetian forts, centuries-old temples and Gothic towers on a short outing. Rhodes Town is where you’ll find the majority of historical sites – most of which were built by the Knights of St John. Step out onto the cobbles of the famous Street of the Knights and you’ll be transported back to the Middle Ages. The rest of the narrow streets are packed with stashed-away museums, cafés and a palace. With this in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that the whole place was given the UNESCO nod back in 1988. Pretty sugar-cube buildings aside, this place has a historical ace up its sleeve, or hill. A huge acropolis looks down over the village, crowning the hill with the crumbling ruins of Greek and Roman temples, and a castle – a welcome reward after a hot, half-an-hour hike up.
Striking black beaches, first-rate wineries and some out-of-this-world sunsets. It’s almost as if Santorini was tailor-made for honeymoons. A huge volcanic eruption is behind the island’s breathtaking scenery – in fact, it caused the centre to fall into the sea, leaving a mostly-submerged crater, or caldera. It’s not just Mother Nature who did herself proud, though. The locals have excelled themselves, too, with their whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches and picturesque vineyards. The island’s clifftops are perfect for hand-in-hand sunset-watching. In truth, it regularly trumps more far-flung destinations in world’s best sunset lists. Oia – on the caldera – is one of the best spots to catch the sun sink beneath the horizon. And while most people don’t come to Santorini for the beaches – there are some real natural beauties to uncover. We’re talking dramatic volcanic swathes or quirky crimson-coloured stretches.
Crete’s mountainous scenery is a magnet for outdoor types. A ramble can take in valley-cradled villages, craggy canyons and snow-topped mountains. For an even bigger challenge, there’s the Samaria Gorge. This 16-kilometre-long crevice is Europe’s longest and takes around four to seven hours to hike in full. On the way, you’ll pass photogenic ravine walls, tiny chapels and, if you’re lucky, a wild kri-kri goat. One of the highlights is passing through the Iron Gates, where the steep walls narrow into a three-metre passageway. If you’re after something a little less strenuous, the Imbros Gorge is another option to consider. At eight kilometres’ long, it’ll take less time and effort, but the views are just as good.
With bohemian cafés, smart piano bars and raucous beach parties, Greece’s glamour isle is giving Ibiza a run for its money. And the mixed crowd of A-list party animals and backpackers all hone in on Mykonos Town to stay up ‘til sunrise. For such a good-looking town, this place goes all-out when it comes to nightlife. Paradise and Super Paradise are the big-hitters here – the latter’s a bikini-optional beach bar with go-go dancers and great people-watching, while the former is a club hosting huge DJs from around the globe. There are other more laid-back options, too. You can hit up Little Venice, which is awash with underground haunts, cocktail bars and quirky eateries. Just so you know, the restaurants around here stay open really late, as well, so long leisurely dinners are always on the cards. If you’re feeling particularly extravagant, you could try the Nobu Matsuhisa Restaurant – owned by the famous celeb chef of the same name.
We’d hazard a guess you’ve probably not heard of this one. This relatively unknown Aegean isle is traditionally Greek down to its bones. Inland, you’ve got vineyards, olive groves and snug villages, while the coast is dashed with a pick ‘n’ mix of beaches. You can stretch out on the white sands, joined by locals and a handful of Greek tourists. Of course, it’s got its fair share of hidden, people-free patches, too. Renting a car is the best way to get about, but don’t expect much signposting – that’s all part of the charm. Another great way to explore is by mountain bike. The island’s got a load of nature trails, and you can always swing by a bar on the way back, where you’re likely to hear musicians playing the bouzouki, a traditional Greek string instrument. If this sounds like your kind of thing, take a peek at our cycling holidays.
We’ve also got plenty of info on where you should holiday in Rhodes and some top tips on Kefalonia’s most Instagrammable sights. Or take a look at our holidays to Greece to book your very own Greek adventure.
Author: Annabel Langley
The TUI SENSATORI Atlantica Caldera Palace is well-versed in the art of indulgence. Everything from meals to spa treatments are served with a touch of classic, Greek style.
The secluded TUI BLUE Atlantica Nissaki Beach resort boasts a pretty seafront setting edged by vast olive groves and a pebble beach.
With highly polished interiors and a Blue Flag beachfront location, the TUI SENSATORI Atlantica Dreams Resort and Spa adds a splash of luxury to an under-the-radar corner of Rhodes.
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