Our guide to the Greek Islands
The dreamiest of the Greek Islands that need to be on your travel bucket list
The cobalt hues and captivating white sugar-cube villages of the Greek islands attract scores of holidaymakers every year. Whether you plump for the lesser known but magical Saronic islands, the electric blue of the Ionian isles or head east to the Dodecanese, which unfurl like an emerald necklace awash with culture and beguiling bays, Greece is brimming with jaw-dropping sights, spectacular scenery and boasts some of the best beaches in Europe.
A summer enclave of well-heeled Athenians, Hydra is a short hop from the mainland and a world away from modern day life. With almost no cars on the island (donkeys take guest suitcases to the various hotels), this is pure go-slow Greek bliss. Artsy, boho and beautiful, Hydra’s horseshoe port is backed by elegant 18th century mansions. Enjoy it at its restful best during shoulder season and expect exceptional local produce and a relaxed atmosphere.
Poster girl for Greece, this archipelago is one of the world’s most alluring island chains in the world. Arranged in two ‘semi circles’; the outer ring of islands, closer to Athens, comprises Kea, Kythnos, Sifnos, Serifos and Milos, while the inner ring is home to Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Ios and Santrorini.
One of the undisputed hotspots of the Aegean and famed for its caldera views, boutique hotels and dazzling white sugar cube villages, Santorini is buzzing from July to September. Popular with couples and honeymooners, the islands five star hotels are known for their spellbinding caldera views, private plunge pools and panoramic caldera views. Room prices have hiked up over the last decade but the blue domed churches, whitewashed houses and the island’s deep inky bays will not disappoint.
Waterfront cocktail bars, cabana clubs and buzzing nightlife, this party isle is the place to be come July and August – be sure to keep your eyes peeled for celebs, royals and Hollywood stars. If you want to enjoy a little authentic island spirit, head to Kiki’s tavern, located above Agios Sostis beach. A Mykonos institution, the restaurant has no electricity, no reservations, no website, no sign – just a beach shack and an open grill serving up sizzling and fresh Mykonian dishes. Devour chargrilled prawns, fresh fish, and crispy pork cutlets, served alongside fresh tomatoes doused in the best peppery olive oil on the island.
Often overlooked for the better-known Cyclade islands, Milos’s volcanic landscape is breathtaking and its laid back style utterly enchanting. Visit the ancient city of Fylakopi, one of the most significant Aegean cities in prehistoric Greek times, the harbour of Adámantas, stunning Hivadolímni, Emporiós and the little lagoon of Revary and the old iron mines.
Thanks to its southerly location, the island of Crete has the longest summer season in Greece and the influx of excellent five-star hotels on its north-east coast means the sun-kissed island is fast-becoming the new It Girl for short luxury getaways. For blue skies, blue pools and blissful panoramas without the price tag of Mykonos or Santorini, Crete is where the smart money is heading. For sea-view rooms and private pool suites check in to Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas, where the friendly atmosphere, excellent waterfront restaurants, 2,500 square metre and the secluded private beach should hit the spot. Or, for the ultimate luxury escape, book into the exclusive Elounda Gulf Villas where capacious private infinity pools are set alongside uber private, decadent villas. The 15 suites and 18 pool villas boast some of the most extraordinary views of north eastern shore.
More recently made famous by TV drama The Durrells, head away from the well-known tourist resorts and travellers will find restful coves, kaleidoscopic waters and taverna-dotted beaches where charming family friendly hotels and luxury hotels. One of the best way to beach hop is on a private or semi private boat or catamaran trip, where the skipper can guide you to idyllic beaches and restful coves.