Holidays to Greece are back in vogue, so where to go? Mail On Sunday’s Fred Mawer has picked some of the most enticing islands, and flagged up what they are best for.
Party time in Mykonos
Glitzy Mykonos is Greece’s answer to Ibiza. Come to party in see-and-be-seen clubs, bars and sophisticated restaurants in whitewashed Mykonos Town and at Paradise Beach. Thomas Cook has new flights from Manchester to the Cyclades island. Mykonos is pricey: if you want to keep your costs down, stay in one of the small-scale Greek hotels and studios on offer with the Manos brand (thomascook.com/brands/manos, 0844 412 5970): from £279pp self-catering at Elena Studios in Ornos.
Santorini’s cliff-clinging villages of Fira and Oia are speckled with blue-domed churches and look over a giant volcanic crater filled with the azure Aegean sea
Nowhere in Greece can surpass Santorini for dramatic, lovey-dovey views. The island’s cliff-clinging villages of Fira and Oia are speckled with blue-domed churches and look over a giant volcanic crater filled with the azure Aegean sea. Splash out at adults-only Avaton Resort and Spa, set on the cliffs with breathtaking sunsets and a grotto-like spa: booked through Olympic Holidays (olympicholidays.com, 020 8492 6868), from £1,447pp B&B.
Corfu’s family villas
Corfu is in the spotlight with ITV’s adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s My Family And Other Animals about his childhood on the Ionian island. While parts have succumbed to tourist development, that is not the case in the north-eastern corner with its olive groves above coves and villagey resorts, the pick of which is Agios Stefanos. This is villa territory: CV Villas (cvvillas.com, 020 7261 5401) has a choice of rentals, with prices from £1,093 a week for a property sleeping six, excluding flights.
Island cruise: Take a boat excursion from Skiathos, where there are 60 beaches to choose from
Beached in Skiathos
The busy little green Sporades island of Skiathos has 60 beaches to choose from, the most famous being Koukounaries, a half-mile arc of golden sand. Others include Banana Beach with its music bars and white-pebbled Lalaria, accessible only by boat. Thomson (thomson.co.uk, 0871 231 4691) has inexpensive properties in walking distance of Koukounaries beach in its Small & Friendly portfolio, including Sergios Studios and Apartments: from £447pp self-catering.
Greece’s largest island is too fascinating to spend all your time on the beach. Visit the harbour town of Chania, trek through Samaria Gorge, and see the Minoan palace of Knossos. Crete is the most southerly isle so it stays warmer longer, and flights run to late October. Stay at the Hotel Porto Veneziano overlooking Chania’s harbour, from £863pp B&B booked through Cachet Travel (cachet-travel.co.uk, 020 8847 8700).
Nooks and crannies: Crete, Greece’s largest island, is too fascinating to spend all your time on the beach
Off the tourist track
Under an hourfrom Piraeus by hydrofoil, Agistri is the Saronic isle popular as a summer escape for Athenians. Cloaked in pine forests and with three villages, it offers gentle walks, clear waters ideal for snorkelling, and is laid-back. Sunvil (sunvil.co.uk, 020 8758 4758) has holidays to Agistri with stays at the Oasis Hotel, on a sandy beach and near the tavernas of Skala from £580pp B&B, including flights.
Ithaka for sailing
Hop around islands on a flotilla holiday. Sailing Holidays (sailingholidays.com, 020 8459 8787) is offering a new route around the Ionian islands, ideal for beginners. You start and finish on Lefkas, mooring in the evenings at villages and ports along the coast of mountainous Ithaka. The One Week Ithaka Flotilla costs from £615pp based on four sharing, including flights but not food.