Crystalline cerulean waters, alabaster sands and the gentle aroma of seafood blackening on the grill typify Greece’s picture postcard perfect islands. Whitewashed houses line the shore reflecting the midday sun, as olive groves meander inland towards sometimes barren landscapes. We have selected some of our favorite Greek islands for you to visit this summer.


Central to the ancient Greek myths, and home to the legendary Odysseus, Ithaca has managed to keep the tourist hordes at bay. Perhaps down to its small, pebbly beaches, or the difficulty of reaching it, this little Ionian gem feels like an untold secret. Deep within its forested hills you’ll discover the School of Homer, Odysseus’ ruined 8th century palace, while high in the hills evocative Byzantine frescoes in Anogi belie a civilization that has gone before.


Nestled in the Cyclades, at the heart of the Aegean Sea, Naxos’s pristine beaches are like sifted flour. The clear azure waters of Agia Anna are perfect for families, while further south untamed Plaka is best explored on horseback, and Mikri Vigla attracts adrenaline-fueled kite surfers, windsurfers and wing-foilers. The rugged interior is filled with bleached archaeological remains, gleaming marble quarries and artisanal produce from the citron liqueur of Vallindras Kitron Distillery in Halki and arseniko cheese in Ano Potamia.


The capital of Naxos’s better-known neighbor, Parikia on Paros, may have cobbled lanes, old churches and dazzling whitewashed homes but it’s also a buzzy port. Lively restaurants and bars line the harbor, while the energetic head to fashionable Naoussa and Santa Maria. Santa Maria’s reputation for surfing is well founded, while experienced windsurfers are drawn to the golden dunes and offshore swell near Logaras. 


Within swimming distance of the mainland, car-free Hydra has become a perennial favorite of Greece’s more cultured visitors, ever since the singer Leonard Cohen visited in the 60s. Lacking the eye-catching beaches of other islands, Hydra has embraced the arts scene with the beautiful School of Fine Arts overlooking Hydra’s harbor and the neighboring Old Carpet Factory, an 18th century mansion turned recording studio. Then there is art collector Dakis Joannou’s Guilty yacht decorated by Jeff Koons, and installations by international artists scattered throughout Hydra.


Mount Ainos National Park on Cephalonia

An Ionian gem, Cephalonia was the real star in Penélope Cruz’s 2001 romance, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Pastel-colored houses reach down to glistening turquoise waters, set against a backdrop of scented pine forests and dramatic washed-out cliffs. This is Greece at its most perfect, and consequentially it draws in the crowds who stretch out on the talcum powder sands of Myrtos and Horgota, snorkel off Emblissi and discover the deer and wild horses roaming Mount Ainos National Park.


A beautiful old town in Corfu

Nestled between Albania and Greece, Corfu has a past as colorful as its villages exposed over the centuries by Italian, British and French influences. Corfu’s Old Town is a bustling hub filled with charming boutiques and lively bars, while further afield sprawling terracotta-tiled villas are hidden in ancient olive groves. The south of the island can be very busy, while the remoter north attracts a more adventurous traveler who explores sites like the pretty fishing village of Agni, only accessible from the sea.


The beautiful white buildings of Santorini

Nestled on the outer edge of the Cyclades, Santorini is a firm favorite with couples and honeymooners drawn by the sun-bleached houses and sparkling blue domes of Oia, seemingly carved into the mountainside. The island’s steep cliffs leave little room for beaches, those that are accessible are black from a volcanic eruption almost four millennia ago, whose legacy is imprinted on the island from Akrotiri, a city preserved under ash, to the fertile soil that produces some of Greece’s finest wines.

If you can’t decide on one island then maybe charter a yacht and drift gently between three or four of them. Alternatively, you can find inspiration for a holiday in Greece from one of our travel specialists.

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