A COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE INCREDIBLE GREEK ISLANDS
Dotted with powder-soft golden sandy beaches, cerulean waters, majestic landscapes, awe-inspiring cliffs and sun-splashed historic ruins, Greece is a traveller's paradise. Straight-out-of-picture-postcard resorts like Corfu and Zante, breath-taking ancient ruins of Athens, romantic sunset views from Santorini, lively streets of Crete and Mykonos buzzing with lovely cafes and al fresco tavernas – the fabulously sunny Greek islands will keep calling you back. Add to this flavourful Greek cuisine and fine wines, coupled with sizzling nightlife of Kos and Rhodes – you’ve got a heady cocktail of uninterrupted fun!
History is its forte, of course, but Athens knows how to meld ancient and modern, creating a seamless blend of historic sights and cosmopolitan hotspots. Buzzing with tourists year-round, the Greek capital is now home to a clutch of lovely restaurants, shops and artsy neighbourhoods. Start off with the Archaeological Promenade, a 4km-long walkway that features the city's main sites of archeological interest, including the iconic Acropolis towering over the city. For a change of scene, head to the sunny beaches of Sounion, or check into lively cafés and upbeat clubs in Gazi – Athens never fails to surprise you.
Craving for sun and sand in the glittering Med? Come to Crete! The largest of the Greek islands is home to pretty pink-sand beaches, cliff-hugging coastline, gorgeous white mountains and sleepy hamlets. From the sun-kissed beaches of north to craggy canyons and cosy coves on the southern coast, the Cretan landscape is sheer visual delight. Check into Aghios Nikolaos – a pretty resort in a tree-lined valley, trek through fruit orchards and pretty villages, explore 4000-year-old Minoan ruins, or simply do nothing and lounge in the sun on the Blue Flag beaches all day – ah, bliss!
Santorini is probably the most photographed, and most visited island in the Greek Isles. With white blue-domed buildings and churches perched on multi-coloured cliffs rising out of an ancient caldera, magnificent black-sand beaches and panoramic views of the sea and other islands, Santorini will take your breath away. A must-visit on every tourist’s bucket list is the volcanic Red Beach, but the most unforgettable sight of this island is when the diminishing rays of sun colour the whitewashed houses in a romantic tangerine hue. Potter around cobbled lanes in sea-side towns and then dine alfresco on delicious Greek cuisine and local wines at picturesque tavernas, before soaking in its magical nightlife.
Nicknamed 'the emerald isle', Corfu is laced with bewitching natural beauty and a rich history and culture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site tag for its Old Town – flanked by two historic fortresses – is primarily because of its treasure trove of architectural ruins from the Venetian, French and British rule. Explore hamlets smattered with pretty whitewashed houses, sunbathe on idyllic shores washed by the turquiose Ionian Sea, visit the magnificent Byzantine churches and Venetian palaces or revel in its busy nightlife – Corfu exudes irresistible charm for every sun-and-fun seeker.
Grouped under the Dodecanese islands, Kos allures with golden sands backed by dramatic cliffs, lush green valleys, whitewashed villages, trademark windmills and sizzling nightlife. In Kos Town, the medieval castle sits by the harbour from where you can set off on boat expeditions to other islands and even Bodrum in Turkey. The postcard-perfect village of Zia on the island is home to fine sandy beaches like Agios Stefanos, Mastichari, Paradise and Thermes. For an adventure-filled holiday, try windsurfing or diving in the day, and later in the evening, sip on cocktails at convivial tavernas, bars and clubs by the harbour.
THE BEST OF GREECE BEACHES
All the Greek islands are blessed with fabulous sandy or sand-and-pebble beaches for fun in the sun. Choose from a variety of hues of sands, from powdery white (Zante) to gorgeous black (Perrisa) and red-coloured (Santorini) ones owing to their volcanic origins. Whether it's a quick dip in the water (Canal d’Amour), lounging on the sands (Balos), or scuba dive to explore marine life, Greece has a beach for every mood. If you're up for partying on the beach, Mykonos has Super Paradise and Ornos for you, with blue green waters and soft sands, but if tranquillity is what you seek, take a boat to the secluded Smugglers' Cove in Zante.
ECLECTIC NIGHTLIFE IN GREECE
Evenings are full of fun, wherever you're in Greece. Famous internationally for its scintillating party scene, tourists and locals flock to heady nightclubs like Six D.o.g.s or Pixi in Athens. From the classy Akrotiri in the capital to fabulous beach bars of Kavos in Corfu or Malia in Crete, there is no dearth of places to dance the night away. You could also sip your favourite cocktail at a beach party in the evening or join a ferry on a moonlit night to party on the waters. Ethnic, jazz, techno or rock, whatever is your choice of music, you'll find a venue playing it!
DELECTABLE GREEK FOOD AND WINE
Savour authentic Greek food made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients that meld together beautifully to create delicious flavours and aromas. Cheese, olives, fresh vegetables, meats and seafood create a tasty platter of dishes that are best enjoyed with a bottle of local wine. Try homemade souvlaki of chunky meat with tzatziki (tangy yoghurt with cucumber, olive and garlic) or take generous helpings of mousakas (potato/eggplant mixed with ground meat) – you can never have enough of Greek meze.