The Idyllic Greek Islands To Add To Your Travel List

Golden sand, trendy beach bars, ancient ruins… the Aegean islands have something for everyone. Whether you’re keen to plan next year’s family holiday or are looking for a romantic getaway, there’s a destination for you. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites, as well as the dreamiest places to stay once you’re there...
Bjorn Ceder

MYKONOS

Best For… Nightlife

With a flurry of trendy bars and chic beach clubs, this tiny island doesn’t disappoint when it comes to nightlife. Expect to spend your days sunbathing and swimming, while evenings are reserved for dancing to world-renowned DJs. One of the most popular – and iconic – spots on the island is Scorpios, a bohemian beach club which transforms into a buzzy bar come sundown. Built around a traditional Greek agora, it also serves up fresh seafood and exotic cocktails. Another popular spot is Nammos, a restaurant with views overlooking the sea. Home to an impressive events calendar, DJs and live bands take to the stage daily during high season. For daytime, reserve a sunbed at Alemagou to top up your tan. Partying on this island doesn’t come cheap, but it’s well worth ticking off your bucket list. 
 
Where to stay... 
Ensure you get a good night’s sleep whatever time you head to bed by booking into Soho Roc House, a luxurious hotel with bohemian touches. Alongside 45 beautiful rooms, it also comes with a stunning poolside veranda, outdoor gym, authentic restaurant and several relaxing lounge areas. Right in the centre of the action, it's just a short walk from Scorpios, where you can settle down on one of the plush sunbeds before enjoying a cocktail. 
 
Visit SohoHouse.com
 
How to get there…
Direct flights run frequently from London to Mykonos. The flight time comes in at just under four hours. 

SANTORINI

Best For… Romance

With rows of whitewashed buildings, pretty windmills and bright blue doors covered with tumbling bougainvillaea, few places are as romantic as Santorini. Oia is the jewel in the island’s crown. Perched on the north-western tip, it’s known for its rugged coastline and views of a large caldera that draw an impressive crowd. Unlike some of Greece’s other beaches – which are soft and sandy – most of the ones here comprise of sun-soaked pebbles and striking views. Red Beach is one of the most popular spots, famed for its rosy sand and red volcanic rocks, as well as top-notch snorkelling and a plethora of beachside taverns. Santorini also makes for the perfect jumping off point for further island hopping, with one of the best boat rental companies, Sunset Oia, running daily excursions. There are plenty of wineries to visit here too, including Argyros, home to some of the oldest vines on the island. 
 
Where to stay... 
For your own slice of secluded paradise, journey to the south-eastern corner of the island and stay at Istoria. This romantic hotel includes a beautiful pool, a canopy covered restaurant and relaxing spa. Sitting right on Perivolos Beach, you’ll discover a magical 3km stretch of volcanic black sand that meets dark blue water. Rooms are simple but stunning, with the entire hotel embodying a calming, relaxed atmosphere to make you feel right at home. 
 
Visit IstoriaHotel.gr
 
How to get there…
Direct flights run frequently from London to Santorini. The flight time comes in at just under four hours.

Giorgos Sfakianakis
Giorgos Sfakianakis
Giorgos Sfakianakis

MILOS

Best For… Bohemian Vibes

Thanks to its stunning landscape, relaxed eateries and bohemian bars, Milos is the perfect destination for those looking for an easy-going break. One of the most magical spots to visit is Sarakiniko Beach, a moonscape style swimming spot made entirely from solid lava that’s been bleached white by the sun. It also offers plenty of natural diving platforms and a sandy cove carved into the rock that opens up into the sea. If you’re after a comfy sun lounger, head to Firiplanka Beach, which is just a short walk from Tsigrado Beach – another great place for swimming. For something really unique, set yourself up at Paliochori and get lunch cooked in the volcanic sand delivered right to your sunbed. Meanwhile, a boat tour of Kleftiko Caves – a series of caves and lagoons – makes for a great day out. 
 
Where to stay... 
This hotel can be found to the north of the island. Rooms are built in traditional Cycladic style – think curved edges, white wooden floors and plenty of neutral linens. Expect breakfast to be served in bed, with pots of Greek jams, homemade bread and sweet brioches dropped off at your door. There are just ten rooms to choose from, all of which come with a straight on or side-angle sea view. 
 
Visit Salt-Milos.com
 
How to get there…
Fly to Athens before catching a ferry or private charter to Milos. The flight takes just under four hours, while the high-speed ferry takes around three hours. Book tickets via FerryHopper.com.

CRETE

Best For… Families

Families should plan a visit to Crete. The largest Greek island, it’s known for its kid-friendly beaches and its dramatic, mountainous landscape. There are plenty of sandy spots to keep children and parents happy, including Elafonisi. Known to be Crete’s very own slice of paradise, the shallow, clear water is ideal for little ones, while older children can explore the hidden coves while you top up your tan. For budding explorers, a visit to Mount Ida is a must – this is where you’ll find Ideon Cave, the birthplace of Zeus. Finally, the capital Heraklion offers up plenty of historical sites, including the Archaeological Museum, where families can spend a morning discovering Greek treasures. 
 
Where to stay... 
Domes of Elounda is a family resort with its very own private beach. Overlooking the beautiful Mirabello Bay, it’s backed by olive groves and tumbling cliffs. There’s a selection of rooms, suites and private residences to choose from, plus five pools and a well-equipped kid’s club. The Core – the resort’s green space and entertainment centre – also hosts an array of pop-up shops, food trucks, art installations and al fresco concerts throughout the year. 
 
Visit MrAndMrsSmith.com
 
How to get there…
Direct flights run frequently from the UK to Crete. The flight time comes in at just under four hours.

RHODES

Best For… History Buffs

If you’re looking to brush up on your history, make a beeline for Rhodes. The largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands,  its sandy beaches, ancient ruins and medieval city are all worth the trip. Spend your days exploring the old town, before making a pit stop at the Knight’s Quarter – said to date back to the 1400s – before wandering around the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece. In Lindos – to the south of the island – be sure to visit the magnificent Acropolis. Follow the steep footpath up from the village before heading inside the ancient walls, where you can explore the ruins of the Temple of Athena Lindia. Lindos village, a pretty bay that spills out into the sea, is also worth a look.
 
Where to stay... 
Casa Cook is the coolest place to stay on Rhodes. An adults-only hideaway up in the hills, this hotel offers plenty of privacy. Laid-back luxury is Casa Cook’s MO, with comfy day beds, pretty rattan decor and a neutral colourway that makes you feel instantly relaxed. Rooms are light and airy, with most opening out onto balconies or private pools. Along with a hefty calendar of on-site events, the Casa Cook team also runs off-site adventures. Take your pick from walking tours of Rhodes, hilltop hikes or boat trips. 
 
Visit CasaCook.com
 
How to get there…
Direct flights run frequently from the UK to Rhodes. The flight time comes in at just over four hours.

George Roske

NAXOS

Best For… Beautiful Beaches

Naxos is known for its pristine beaches. Agios Prokopios is a great spot for families, while Laguna Beach is the place to try your hand at surfing. For a bit of privacy, Orkos is a hidden gem made up of secret coves, while a visit to Koufonisia is also a must. A pair of tiny islands – Ano Koufonissi and Kato Koufonissi – sit in the middle of the Aegean Sea between Naxos and its neighbour Amorgos. While Ano is busier thanks to its promenade of restaurants, bars and shops, Kato is a true slice of paradise. Only reachable by boat, when you get there you’ll be greeted by quiet bays, sea caves and warm waters. 
 
Where to stay…  
Those visiting Naxos should stay at Naxian On The Beach. As the name suggests, this hotel perches right on the edge of the sand, with direct access to a private beach. Rooms are understated, yet cool, with artistic touches and large windows to help bring the outside in. In order to let guests experience island life in style, expect breakfast in bed, your favourite sunbed reserved for you daily and five-star dinners at the chic on-site beach bar. 
 
Visit NaxianOnTheBeach.com 
 
How to get there…
Fly to Athens before catching a ferry or private charter to Naxos. If you’d rather skip the boat ride, hop on the 40-minute interconnecting flight. 

SYMI

Best For… Peace & Quiet

It’s the pretty harbour which draws tourists to Symi, where colourful stone buildings line the promenade and gaze out over the ocean. One of the most picturesque sites in the Aegean, when it comes to beaches, you’re spoilt for choice. One of the loveliest spots is Gialos, a small bay which is only a short walk from Symi town. Protected from the wind thanks to its rocky landscape, it’s a great location for a secluded swim. Nos beach is also popular with locals, and comes peppered with royal blue sun loungers looking out over a dramatic horizon. Thanks to its proximity to the Turkish coastline – which is only 10km away – Symi is also home to a number of secret coves waiting to be explored by boat. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a culture fix, visit the elaborate Holy Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis. Symi is often overlooked in favour of some of the other big-ticket islands, so head here for some unadulterated peace and quiet.  
 
Where to stay... 
The Old Markets is a cosy hotel in the centre of the island. Once a bustling agora, the building has been lovingly renovated into a stylish hotel, with many of its original features left intact. We love the Ouranos Suite, which takes prime position at the top of the Captain’s Mansion. Sleeping up to four and with two private balconies, it offers magical views over the harbour. Even better, if you book to stay for four nights or more between September 15th and October 15th, the hotel is offering a 25% discount with the code ‘FOURORMORE'. 
 
Visit TheOldMarkets.com 
 
How to get there…
Symi is only accessible via boat. Fly from the UK to Rhodes before catching one of the frequent ferries over to the island. Book your ticket via Dodekanisos Seaways, which runs daily passages. The journey takes approximately 50 minutes.

HYDRA

Best For… Laid-back Glamour

Follow the trendy jetsetters and spend your holiday on Hydra. Unlike some of the other, busier islands, there aren’t any major tourist attractions here, just a flurry of beautiful shingle beaches, quiet cocktail spots and authentic Greek restaurants. Days on Hydra should be spent swimming, tanning, drinking and eating – all at your own pace. Bisti is one of the most beautiful stretches on the island: a rural bay, the white pebbled beach is backed by a canopy of trees and is home to shallow water perfect for snorkelling fans. If you’re looking for a bit more activity, Hydra is also known for its hiking trails. Plenty of books and movies have been set here, with an arty crowd returning every summer to enjoy the chilled out vibe and guaranteed weather. 
 
Where to stay... 
Indulge in a stay at Villa Citrus. A sophisticated house with panoramic sea views, it comes with four elegant bedrooms and a large open plan living area, with room for up to ten guests. Outside, lounge around on the sea-facing terrace before enjoying an al fresco dinner. Villa Citrus also has the added benefit of private sun loungers and umbrellas right on the seafront, as well as the services of a local cook to provide guests with a tasty breakfast each morning. 
 
Visit WhiteKeyVillas.com
 
How to get there…
Fly to Athens before catching a ferry or private charter to Hydra. The boat trip takes approximately an hour and half, with eight return journeys a day. Book via Hellenic Seaways.

*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice, as well as guidance from your travel insurance provider, before you booking. Please ensure you are aware of the social distancing and quarantine guidelines in place before you travel, too.
 

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