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    Which Greek island is the right island for you?

    Which Greek island is the right island for you?

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    The Greek Islands are among the world’s most extraordinary destinations for a holiday. With around 6000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean Sea and Ionian Seas, each one offering a fresh take on incredible scenery, culture and heritage, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you.

    Whether you opt for a Greek sailing holiday, a beach break, a foodie escape or a little bit of everything, our beginner’s guide to the Greek Islands is designed to help you decide which piece of island paradise is best for you:

    1. Santorini: best for couples/honeymooners

    Santorini-which Greek island is right for you

    Santorini, Greece

    If your ideal romantic getaway is a succession of languorous, sunny days in a spectacular setting, where you can indulge in incredible food and locally grown wines and where each sunset is more fabulous than the last, then this most-famous Aegean island is the one for you. Walk hand-in-hand along the steep, cobbled streets while admiring the visual feast of white-washed buildings topped with blue, domed roofs that are perfectly matched to the distant ocean.

    Laze on beaches of volcanic sand in shades of red, black and white, soak up the island’s thriving arts scene, and explore charming traditional villages like Fira, and Imerovigli. No romantic Santorini holiday would be complete without spending an evening in the village of Oia, which is frequently named as having the world’s best sunsets. Pour yourself a glass of local retsina and get ready to soak up those golden sea views. Pro tip: plan your Santorini holiday to avoid the peak season crowds that flock to the island between June and September.

    2. Mykonos: best for partying

    Mykonos-Which Greek island is right for you

    Mykonos, Greece

    Another of the fabled Cyclades Islands, Mykonos has embraced its reputation as the ultimate party destination, offering a lively and energetic nightlife fuelled by numerous beach clubs, bars and nightclubs. The island has long been popular with the queer community as an inclusive and welcoming place to party, and you will find a nightlife scene that is diverse, vibrant and plenty of fun.

    Beaches like Paradise and Paraga are popular beach club locations, but when you find yourself in need of quieter spot in which to relax, there are plenty of tranquil spots to be found, especially on the northern side of the island. The iconic windmills of Mykonos are one of its most recognisable landmarks and provide an Insta-worthy backdrop to your holiday fun.

    3. Paros: best for water sports and water-based activities

    Paros-Which Greek island is right for you

    Paros, Greece

    Another of the beautiful Cyclades Islands, visitors are drawn to Paros for its combination of idyllic beaches, laid-back nightlife and charming towns. From the rambling streets of its capital, Parikia, to the picturesque fishing harbour of Naoussa, the traditional Greek architecture and the historic sites ensure that there’s something new to see and do every day of your holiday.

    Catch a ride on a local bus to explore the best beaches on the east coast – the wind and water conditions at Golden Beach are just right for windsurfing, kitesurfing and other adrenaline-pumping water sports. Alternatively, hop a short ferry ride to the nearby island of Antiparos, which is renowned as a day trip destination thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and quiet beaches.

    4. Naxos: best for families

    Naxos-Which Greek island is right for you

    Naxos, Greece

    The neighbouring island of Naxos lies just five kilometres east of Paros, which means it’s easy to combine the two islands into one epic, island-hopping holiday. One of the largest islands in the Cyclades group, Naxos boasts a variety of beautiful, family-friendly beaches, from the expansive stretch of golden sand at Agios Prokopios to the string of secluded coves at Orkos. Popular historic sites include the sixth-century ruins of the Temple of Demeter and the Temple Dionysus (who was, among other things, the Olympian god of pleasure).

    The ancient marble doorway of Portara is one of the best spots on the island to watch the sunset, while the thirteenth-century Venetian castle that still watches over the main town of Chora now features a rooftop café with incredible views over the town’s vibrant harbour. The island is renowned for its safe, welcoming atmosphere and its wide range of accommodation options, making it a popular choice for a low-key family holiday.

    5. Corfu: best for island hopping

    Corfu-Which Greek island is right for you

    Corfu, Greece

    Located on the opposite side of the Greek mainland from Athens, Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) is the second largest of the Ionian Islands. Over many centuries, a number of different civilisations have left their mark on the island, from the Greeks and Romans to the Venetians and British. Many historical sites remain, including the Old Fortress, the Achilleion Palace and the charming UNESCO World Heritage listed Corfu Town.

    Hire a car or charter a yacht to explore the island’s many beautiful beaches, which are among the most spectacular in Greece. From bustling resort beaches like Glyfada and Paleokastritsa to secluded coves like Agios Gordios and Porto Timoni, you’re sure to find somewhere that’s just right for you. The island is also dotted with an endless assorted of picturesque villages like Pelekas, Lakones and Kassiopi, where you can still enjoy a peek into authentic village life. Head away from the coastline and you’ll find yourself in a tranquil landscape of olive groves and mountains that offer an tranquil setting for hiking, horse-riding and cycling.

    6. Kefalonia: best for adventuring

    Kefalonia-adventure island

    Kefalonia, Greece

    The largest island in the Ionian group is best known as the real-life setting for the fictional events portrayed in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, but it’s still one of the less well-known Greek Islands. As a result, it’s a wonderful option if you’re looking for somewhere uncrowded where you can hire a scooter and explore to your heart’s content. Even in a country that’s brimming with beautiful beaches, Kefalonia stands apart: the white pebbles and turquoise waters of Myrtos and Antisamos, and the golden sands of Makris Gialos and Xi.

    Take a boat tour to explore the wonders of Melissani Cave, with its underground, sunlit lake, or hike the slopes of Mount Ainos for stunning views of the surrounding islands and the mainland. Kefalonia is home to diverse flora and fauna, including the Loggerhead turtles which nest on the island’s south coast.

    7. Rhodes: best for Turkish delight

    Rhodes-Which Greek island is right for you

    Rhodes, Greece

    Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands, which are among the most far-flung of the Greek island groups. The island has a rich history which dates back thousands of years, and it was once home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Colossus of Rhodes. The medieval Old Town of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage listed collection of impressive fortifications, narrow cobblestone streets and historic landmarks like the Palace of the Grand Master and the Street of the Knights.

    Stroll along the waterfront promenades, shop for souvenirs at local markets and dine at traditional tavernas serving delicious Greek cuisine, all the while enjoying the beautiful scenery and friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Rhodes is just an hour’s journey by ferry from the Turkish beach resort of Marmaris, which is within easy reach of many of Turkey’s most spectacular locations, including Bodrum, Pamukkale and Ephesus.

    8. Crete: best “something for everyone” option

    Crete-something for everyone

    Crete, Greece

    Greece’s largest island offers something to tempt every type of traveller, from ancient historic sites like the Minoan Palace of Knossos and the ruins of Gortyna to spectacular coastal spots like the white-sand beach of Balos. It’s even home to one of the world’s few picture-perfect pink sand beaches: Elafonissi. Explore the narrow streets and local markets of Heraklion, Chania and Rethymnon, or go hiking in the stunning Samaria Gorge, then feast on local specialities like kalitsounia (cheese pies), fresh seafood, excellent olive oil and fiery raki.

    A visit to the Cretaquarium, also known as the Thalassocosmos, is a must. One of the largest aquariums in Europe, it’s operated by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), and it’s a great place to learn about the marine life of the Mediterranean Sea. Kids will love Dinosauria Park, which is also located in the town of Gournes: it’s an interactive theme park that’s dedicated to dinosaurs and prehistoric life, and features life-size replicas of iconic species and a variety of interactive dino-activities.:

    9. Hydra: best for a relaxed trip

    Hydra-best for a relaxed holiday

    Hydra, Greece

    Hydra is one of the islands of the Saronic Gulf, and its location, just a two-hour ferry ride from Athens, means it’s a wonderful choice if you want to escape from the heat and hustle of the Greek capital city for an idyllic island day trip. Cars and motorbikes are banned on the island, so your main transportation options are on foot, donkey or water taxi. As a result, exploring Hydra’s narrow cobblestone streets and old stone houses genuinely feels like stepping back in time.

    The island is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, with rugged coastlines, clear waters and some of the best beaches in Greece, such as Vlychos, Mandraki, and Bisti. There are plenty of scenic hiking trails to explore, with hidden coves and panoramic viewpoints just waiting to be found. There’s also a rich history and cultural heritage, with highlights including the Hydra Museum Historical Archives, the Monastery of Profitis Ilias and the picturesque fishing village of Kamini.

    10. Syros: best wheelchair-friendly island

    The capital of the Cyclades is known for its rich cultural heritage, with a blend of Greek, Venetian, and Ottoman influences. The island hosts numerous arts and cultural events throughout the year, including the Syros International Film Festival (SIFF) and the Syros Jazz Festival.

    There are plenty of beautiful beaches to choose from: popular spots include Galissas, Vari, and Azolimnos. It’s one of a growing number of Greek islands to offer SEATRAC facilities to make the crystal-clear water more accessible to wheelchair users. Many of the picturesque seaside villages have a distinctive Italian feel, with marble piazzas and grand villas that pay homage to the island’s Venetian heritage.

    Good to know before you go

    Best time to visit the Greek Islands

    The high season runs from June to September, with hot, sunny weather that is ideal for enjoying the incredible beaches and clear, blue water for which the Greek Islands are so famous. However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, the shoulder months of April, May, October and November are a great alternative, with mild temperatures and lower prices.

    Greek currency

    Greece has been part of the European Union since 1981 but didn’t adapt the Euro as its official currency until 2002.

    Our favourite Greek Island holiday add-on

    Of course, no visit to Greece would be complete without at least a few days soaking the incredible history and ancient beauty of its capital city, Athens. Visit iconic landmarks like the Acropolis, Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus, then explore the winding alleys of the historic Plaka neighbourhood. Shopping and dining are essential Athens pastimes: browse the boutiques for clothing, jewellery and souvenirs, then sample local delights like souvlaki and dolmades in tiny traditional tavernas.

    Getting to the Greek Islands

    As the main international gateway to Greece, Athens is the ideal starting point to your Greek Island holiday. Direct flights from Australia to Athens via major hubs such as Singapore, Dubai and Qatar mean you can be on the ground in Greece less than 24 hours after leaving Sydney or Melbourne. From Athens, it’s easy to hop on a ferry – they are such a scenic way to travel between the Greek Islands, operating regularly between the mainland and the islands. The main ferry ports to access the Cyclades and Dodecanese Islands from the Greek mainland are located at Piraeus near Athens and Rafina, while the main gateway to the Ionian islands is Patras. Many of the Greek Islands also have airports that allow you to travel directly from Athens as well as many other European cities.

    Of course, we’ve only just brushed the surface on all that the Greek Islands have to offer. To find out more, and to start planning your ideal Greek island escape, contact your personal travel manager.


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