Here are some of the most popular and best Greek islands for a European summer that are worth a visit.
Greece is a country with an abundant selection of stunning islands, each with its own unique character and charm.
On many of the Greek islands, it is mandatory for all buildings to be painted white, which gives those islands a freshness and openness unique to Greece.
I am often asked which are the best and most luxurious hotels to stay in on the Greek islands as well as the Greek mainland as I have travelled there so many times throughout my life.
Whilst there are some incredible five star hotels to stay in including Amanzoe in Kranidi, The Bretagne in Athens, The Four Seasons Astir Palace in Athens, The nine five star Myconian Hotels in Mykonos, The Grecotels all over Greece and many more, Greece is not a location where staying five star is essential.
Greek people who live in Greece have an approach to life that is based on a philosophical belief that you work to live, and you live as much as humanly possible. And it is no wonder when the natural beauty of the country, especially in summer is so spectacular. Greek Greeks as they are known amongst each other are as laid back as you can get.
I often receive feedback from travellers disappointed that their five star stay in a Greek hotel did not reach the expectation they had hoped. For this reason, private yachts are one of the best options for the Greek islands for the obvious reasons – yu are upwardly mobile so can move from island to island and your accommodation is sortedd
If staying on land is essential, I often recommend apartments, and simpler accommodation where views are plentiful and expectations are lower.
Food in Greece is some of the world’s simplest and best, and includes the freshest fish, Greek salads and souvlaki – it is clean and delicious. Greeks are making their own wine, and it is certainly drinkable, especially the drier white wines.
Crete: The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has many different locations to stay in with different vibes and has attracted wealthy holiday makers since the Roman times.
Crete is known for its beautiful beaches, ancient history, and delicious cuisine. The island is home to the ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos, which is a must-see for history buffs. Elounda in north eastern crete is the most luxurious location and has several five star luxury hotels.
Abaton Island is another location favoured by the celebrity set. Crete is home to several charming towns, such as Chania which has a striking medieval style old town and is full of elegant Venetian mansions. Rethymnon offers a taste of traditional Greek life.
Rhodes: Unlike many Greek islands, Rhodes has a strong resident population all year round of over 120,000.
Known as Greece’s sunniest island, it is located in the eastern Aegean Sea, Rhodes is enchaining and is known for its medieval old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has its own acropolis, there is a pine forest and wine is made on Rhodes, and the town has a fabulous, cosmopolitan atmosphere with plenty of nightclubs and bars with partying well into the night and morning.
The island is also home to some of the best beaches in Greece, such as Lindos and Faliraki.
Santorini: With a reputation is one of the most romantic Greek islands and one of the most romantic places to stay in the world, Santorini is made for lovers – and for the wealthy as it is one of the most expensive Greek islands. It is the best place for first timers to Greece to go.
This island is known for its breathtaking sunsets and iconic blue-domed churches. The island’s main town, Fira, is built into the cliffs and offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea and there are several charming villages, such as Oia and Imerovigli, which are simply charming..
There are many luxurious hotels to stay in, but a view is what you want no matter where you stay. And pack flat shoes as you will be walking up and down hills and stairs a lot.
Mykonos: This is where the billionaires go to party – and it has price tags to match. Mykonos is a popular destination for travelers looking for a vibrant nightlife scene and beautiful beaches. The island is also home to a bustling city centre, bars bursting with tourists, several charming windmills and traditional white-washed houses.
There are smaller islands which can only be reached by boat with beaches specifically designated to gay people, party people and nudists.
Some of the best restaurants in Greece move into the town during the summer and move out again in winter. Everyone rides vespas, and there are some small, romantic restaurants to be found in secluded locations all over the island if you know the right people.
Nammos beach club is hugely popular and nt to be missed. It was the first venue in Greece to serve Moet and Chandon by the glass when it opened 20 years ago, and hosts some of the most beautiful people in the world.
Zakynthos: Located in the western part of the Aegean Sea, Zakynthos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, including the famous Navagio Beach, which can only be accessed by boat.
There are multiple high-end resorts, villas, and private rentals that cater to the needs of wealthy travelers. The island also offers a variety of spa and wellness experiences, including yoga and meditation.
The island is also home to several charming villages, such as Agios Nikolaos and Vasilikos, which offer a taste of traditional Greek life.
Sifnos: Sifnos is a little known and inexpensive island in the Cyclades where travellers can be reminded of the Greek of yesteryear. There are many beautiful hikes to take, as well as white washed houses, Greek chapels, pristine beaches and friendly locals.
Not a lot of tourists go there, as local Greeks are the only ones who now about it and it has a fabulous nightlife in Apollonia, the island’s capital, with many bars and restaurants. Having said that there have been Hollywood celebrity sightings there over the years.
It is located close to Mykonos and does not have an airport – it must be reached by water.
Hydra: Hydra is where Boy On A Dolphin with Sophia Loren was filmed. It was a favourite holidays destination for Aristotle Onassis, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Maria Callas and man other celebrities have stayed on Hydra. Today it is an ideal location for true relaxation and for really forgetting about life for a while.
It is located a short boat ride from Nafplio located in the Aegean sea, and is separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow strip of water. The population are mostly fishermen, and the food in the local restaurants is as fresh and clean as you will find anywhere in Greece.
It is a popular choice for Athenians to have day trips or weekends away.
Hydra has no cars or motor bikes or even bicycles, which creates a very slow and relaxed pace, so it is as laid back and charming as it gets. Nafplio nearby is known as one of the most romantic cities in Greece, and you can pass through it to get to Hydra, which is what I would recommend.
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