Looking to head to a beautiful Greek island but not sure which to choose? Here’s our insight into the more popular destinations so that you can pick the dream holiday most suited to you:
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Home of ancient Minoan culture, Crete is a hotbed for archaeology and legends. From Gortys, the remains of a 6,000-year-old city, to the Palace of Knossos, home to the Minotaur and Labyrinth of Greek legend, Crete has a wealth of history to explore.
Being the largest of the Greek islands, it has plenty to attract both couples and families. Agios Nikolaos has four beaches, restaurants, shops, an outdoor cinema, and great selection of bars and clubs. While the nearby former fishing village Elounda is perfect for a romantic getaway.
From traditional mountain villages in the north-west to the stunning, golden beaches in the south-east, Zante has something for everyone, whether they want to explore or bask in the sun. It’s a snorkeler haven with spots like the Blue Caves near Cape Skinari, where the rocks are white but the light reflecting on the turquoise sea makes them look blue!
A boat trip from Laganas, near the family resort of Kalamaki, will take you to the island of Marathonisi, where you can look for loggerhead sea turtles which nest on its beaches.
There’s more to Rhodes than wild nights out at Faliraki, with Archangelos and Lindos offering quieter alternatives for couples and families. While much archaeology in Greece is ancient - and Rhodes has its fair share with Lindos Acropolis – the Old Town of Rhodes is a medieval gem with influences from the crusading knights’ fortress rubbing alongside Turkish mosques.
The west of Rhodes offers some of the world’s best windsurfing conditions in Greece, while nature lovers should head to the Valley of Butterflies, near Theologos, for the magnificent sight of thousands of butterflies flying among the trees.
Unspoilt with quiet beaches, Lesbos is the third largest Greek island and is perfect for a romantic break. Snuggle up for a meal in a taverna, stroll through the cobbled streets and shops of Petra or walk along virtually empty beaches like Campo Antissa.
There is plenty to see including the eerie Petrified Forest of Lesbos. Formed 20 million years ago, its tree stumps turned to stone after being buried in volcanic ash. For historic sites visit Mytilini, whose castle is one of the largest in the eastern Mediterranean and whose ancient theatre, with a 15,000 capacity, was one of the largest in Greece. You can read lots more about this stunning place in our Lesbos destination guide.
Everyone including families, couples, shoppers and history buffs will find something to love about Corfu. Families and couples looking for great-value holidays can enjoy the Blue Flag beach in Ipsos.
For history and shops, head to Kerkyra or Corfu Town with its narrow cobble streets, 16th century fortress, the Palace of St Michael and St George - the birthplace of the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip - and the Liston arcade built in a Parisian style, which is also a great place to buy gold Greek jewellery.
Whilst in Kos, you can sit under the leaves of the direct descendant of the tree where the father of medicine Hippocrates taught his students in Kos Town, or sunbathe and have a splash on the beautiful Paradise Beach. The town of Kefalos has everything to keep the family entertained while the undeveloped resort of Agios Fokas and the village of Antimachia offer a genuine Greek experience.
Kos is also a perfect location for boat trips out to the dormant volcano island of Nisyros. There you can explore the picturesque harbour at Mandraki before walking down into the volcano’s crater – although thick-soled shoes are recommended as it is still very hot down there!
Kefalonia – Haven for Nature
Couples looking for a quiet, relaxing getaway should head to Kefalonia. It has sights to amaze all nature lovers including rare plants and loggerhead sea turtles in the unspoilt village of Katelios and wild horses - supposed descendants of Alexander the Great’s Greek horses - which live on the tough, rocky terrain of Mount Ainos.
The Cave of Melissani and the Drogarati Cave, both near Sami, are awe-inspiring with their stalactites, stalagmites and underground lakes. In the case of Melissani, the underground lake is surrounded by trees as the sunlight filters through holes in the roof.
While it is one of the smaller islands, Skiathos has around 70 beaches and Skiathos Town bustles with entertainment, restaurants and shops, while its harbour caters for every kind of vessel - from tiny fishing boats to 40-metre super yachts.
The island is perfect for those looking to relax and enjoy the sunshine at their own pace. For a day trip out there are boat rides around the entire island. Diving fans can also head off Tzaneria beach to explore the waters around the islets to the south-east of the island.
The caldera remains after a massive volcanic eruption in 1,630BC collapsed the rest of the island. Santorini offers spectacular views overlooking the water from the top of the caldera rim andfrom the sea looking up at its sheer lava cliffs.
While Santorini is one of the smaller Greek islands, the town of Fira has all the amenities a family could want while Oia has Agios Nikolaos castle to explore. Wine lovers can tour and taste their way around the island’s vineyards, which enjoy Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. Another volcanic adventure is just a boat trip away, with day excursions over the sea to Nea Kameni, where you can walk around the rim of the volcano before bathing in the thermal springs in Palaia Kameni.