There are thousands of Greek islands, but only roughly 100 of them are permanently inhabited. The Ionian islands are a group of islands to the west of mainland Greece, each with its own unique character and showing the influences of to the various colonisations and historical imprints of its numerous rulers.
Corfu is the northernmost island of this group, and with approximately 100 000 residents, also the most populous. The local government of Corfu includes the smaller islands of Ereikoussa, Mathraki and Othonoi.
A holiday destination since ancient times
The Ionian islands have been a holiday destination since Roman times, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and Empress Elisabeth of Austria vacationed in Corfu, and today Corfu continues to attract scores of visitors, especially to the string of resorts along its northeast coast, which includes the seaside towns of Kalámi, Kassiópi and Sidári. Corfu is lush and green, combining a rugged, mountainous interior and hill villages with unspoilt beaches and coastal villages. The island has had vineyards and olive groves since antiquity and continues to produce wine and olive oil, in addition to modern crops such as kumquat and bergamot oranges.
St Spyridon guards over Corfu
The capital of Corfu is Corfu Town, which exhibits Italian, French and British influences in its architecture, and was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2007. It is also home to the Ionian University.
Corfu Town’s narrow streets and alleyways lead to churches, chapels and souvenir shops, all of them dominated by the Agios Spyridon with its distinctive red-domed tower. This church is the holiest place on the island, and houses the silver casket with the mummy of Saint Spyridon, the Keeper of the City, who lived in the fourth century AD and is said to have performed many miracles, including driving away the Turks from the island after a six-week siege in 1716.
Four times a year the saint’s remains are carried aloft through the streets of Corfu and the church houses a vast amount of silver brought by the constant stream of pilgrims.
Other places of interest
The Palace of St Michael and St George was built by the British between 1819 and 1824 as residence for Sir Thomas Maitland, the High Commissioner.
When the British left in 1864, the palace was occupied by the Greek royal family for a while but later abandoned.
In the 1950s it was renovated and now houses different government offices, a library and the Museum of Asiatic Art.
The Liston is an elegant parade of cafés that was designed by the Frenchman Mathieu de Lesseps in 1807 as a copy of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. It is a place to relax and drink coffee while overlooking the cricket pitch and esplanade – a mixture of park and town square.
The seaside resorts of Corfu
The coastal village of Kalámi was made famous by the writer Lawrence Durrell, who went to live there in 1939. Despite its huge popularity with visitors, the village essentially retains its charming and peaceful character.
Kassiópi is a busy holiday resort with plenty of nightlife and many watersport schools. It is centred around a harbour overlooking fishing boats. Sidári boasts unusual rock formations as well as beautiful sandy beaches. It is a very old settlement, and Neolithic remains have been found there dating back to about 7000 BC. The resort Benítses, to the south of Corfu Town, is extremely popular with young people, has a lively nightlife and offers every conceivable type of watersport.
The Pink Palace is for budget travellers and the young, while the 5-star Corfu Palace is the grande dame of Corfu hotels, and the 5-star Divani Palace is the most luxurious accommodation on the island. Other good hotels include the Grecotel Corfu Imperial, the Bella Venezia and Cavalieri in the centre of Corfu Town, and the family-run Belle Helene in the bay of Agios Giorgios.
Crete has to be one of the most interesting Greek islands. Plan a holiday to Crete to understand this statement.
Crete is the largest Greek island with the highest population. It is also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Crete has adapted to the many demands of tourists, yet it still maintains its proud heritage. The island also features its own unique dialect, arts and culture and music styles.
Crete is one of the oldest islands and dates back as far as the 18th century before the year of Christ. It indicates that the first European civilisation arose here and the first palace was erected in Crete. It has a strong biblical history, but also a history of Greek gods and the many battles between the religious tribes.
Landscape and climate
Crete is located in the south of the Aegean Sea. It separates the Aegean Sea from the Libyan sea.
This location is significant to the climate as the northern part of Crete has a Mediterranean climate and the southern part of the island shares the climate of North Africa.
Mediterranean weather is hot and humid in the summer months a mild in the winter, but to the south the African climate makes for dry and hot temperatures. Rainfall is rare and only in the winter months, and snow can be expected in the mountain regions.
Crete is a very mountainous island and snowfall can be found on the mountains during winter. Along with the mountains you will be astonished with the valleys formed by the mountains. You can also explore the caves and gorges on your Crete holiday to appreciate the intriguing geographical formation of the island.
Activities and attractions
As mentioned, there are many caves and gorges to be explored. Link in with an organised hiking group with trained guides for the safest and best experience. Or do a little mountain biking.
A holiday in Crete will of course not be complete without visiting one of the many breath taking beaches. Crete is famous for its white coastline and luxurious blue seas. While at the beach you can scuba dive or go snorkelling with groups. See if you can locate Olous, the sunken city.
Sailing and yachting is another popular choice on a Cretan holiday. If you do not own a yacht, you can rent one from a yachting club where they will provide you with the necessary equipment.
For all day family fun, you can visit the water park with rides and slides to entertain the children the whole day. Also consider a trip to the Aquarium, fondly known as the Cretequirim. A holiday in Crete with the family and young children has now become very easy to enjoy.
Or visit the many historical sites such as churches, museums, and other sites of interest. Arhanes village is a good example to explore a village with historic value. The village still remains and has a few bars and restaurants, but the once impressive castle built there now stands in ruins.
Accommodation for your holiday in Crete is just as diverse as the population. Hotels are abundant and within reach of the amenities. Hotels are of international standard and your holiday will be very relaxing.
You can also book in at an apartment or rent a private villa. All of the options provide their own unique view of the island.
Kos is one of the Dodecanese islands, the southernmost group of Greek islands, scattered along the western coast of Turkey. Owing to their great distance from Athens, the Dodecanese islands have been subject to various invasions and occupations over many centuries, until they were finally incorporated into the Greek state in 1948. Kos (or Cos) is the second largest of this group, has its own airport and a population of approximately 31 000.
The father of medicine
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine and author of the Hippocratic Oath, still sworn to by medical practitioners today, was born on Kos in 460 BC. The history of settlement on Kos dates to 3000 BC and the island has a wealth of archaeological sites and ruins from antiquity, such as the restored columns of the Temple of Apollo at the Asklepieíon, dating to the 4th century BC.
The Asklepieíon, built after the death of Hippocrates, was both temple, school and medical centre and the doctors and priests who dedicated themselves to the god Asklepios became followers of the methods and teachings of Hippocrates.
Many of the ancient ruins in the capital, Kos Town, were revealed by an earthquake in 1933. These include the ancient Agora, a site which is really a series of ruins and reveals different historical periods – Hellenistic temples, a Christian basilica and the Roman Agora.
The Agora, or marketplace, of Kos was considered one of the largest in the ancient world and was the commercial centre of the city. The ruins of the Casa Romana reveals 26 rooms, three pools, thermal baths, part of the main Roman road, and an ancient odeion or theatre. Other ruins include those of the Ancient Gymnasium and the Odeon.
The Island of Kos is mainly flat and fertile, with a pleasant climate, and is famous for producing the Cos lettuce. Farming is the principal occupation of many of the residents and the main crops are olives, grapes, figs, almonds, wheat, corn and tomatoes – Kos is aptly known as the “Floating Garden”. In previous times was also known for producing wines and silk.
Beaches of Kos
Most of the visitors to Kos come for its beaches, the beautiful sandy beaches on the southwest shore and the bays on the northwest which are ideal for watersport.
The island’s largest resort is Kardámaina in the south – it has a thriving nightlife with clubs and music bars, and miles of golden beaches, and is understandably very popular with young people. Other resorts include Marmári and neighbouring Tigkáki, from where a boat trip can be taken to the island of Psérimos opposite.
There are a number of luxury hotels on Kos, including the 5-star Grecotel Kos Imperial Thalasso 4 km from Kos Town, the Grecotel Kos Royal Park on Marmari beach and the Louis Helios Beach Hotel with its own semiprivate beach outside Kardámaina. The 4-star Porto Bello Beach Hotel is located along a 5 km beach, 2 km outside Kardámaina and the 3 star Caravia Beach Hotel offers a wide range of activities, including boat trips and picnics on the nearby island of Pserimos.
The island of Mykonos is part of the Cyclades group of islands to the southeast of mainland Greece, lying more or less in a circle around the holy island of Delos, already a major religious centre by 700 BC. There are 56 islands in total, but only 24 are inhabited.
Mykonos is dry and barren, but its beautiful sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife make it one of the most popular of the Cyclades. It is known as the wealthiest and glitziest of all the Greek islands. The residents number more than 9 000, and the capital is Mykonos Town, also known as Chora.
Places of interest
Kastro, the oldest part of the capital, overlooks the waterfront from a hillside. The most famous church on the island is the Panagia Paraportiani in the Kastro, which includes 4 chapels at ground level and another above, and partially dates from 1425. From the Kastro, one can follow the alleys to Venetia, or Little Venice, the artists’ quarter, where the balconies of buildings are constructed right over the water’s edge.
The large cathedral of Panagia Pigadiotissa stands on the main square, the Plateia Alefkandras. Another place worth visiting is the Maritime Museum of the Aegean, which boasts a collection of models of ships from pre-Minoan times to the 19th century, as well as maritime instruments and paintings with a nautical theme. Lena’s House, next door to the museum, is the preserved 19th century house of a noblewoman of Mykonos.
Since the 16th century, the windmills of Mykonos have been iconic. The windmills were used to grind corn by families all over the island.
The Vonis Windmill has been restored to full working order, and can be viewed as part of the Folk Museum at the harbour front, one of the best such museums in Greece.
The museum also has a great collection of ceramics, embroidery and ancient and modern textiles.
Mykonos consists mostly of dry and barren granite, and since the 1950s has relied almost exclusively on tourism for its income. Its wonderful sandy beaches and dynamic nightlife, as well as its international airport, indeed contribute to make it a very popular holiday destination.
The holy island of Delos
Mykonos is the closest island to the tiny, now uninhabited island of Delos and the natural place from where to undertake a day trip. In ancient times, around 1000 BC, Delos was the centre of the cult of Apollo, with an annual festival during which games and music were played in his honour. It later became a place of pilgrimage, and today is an open-air archaeological museum.
Hotels and guesthouses abound on Mykonos. One of the best is the 5-star Mykonos Grand, which overlooks Agios Ioannis Bay. Other 5-star establishments are the Belvedere, the Cavo Tagoo, the Mykonos Theoxenia, and the Princess of Mykonos, situated on an exclusive beach 4 km from Mykonos Town. The 4-star Zorzis is situated in the centre of Mykonos Town, while the 4-star Pension Matina, Rochari and Villa Konstantin are just outside of the town centre.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands, the southernmost group of Greek islands, scattered along the western coast of Turkey. Owing to their great distance from Athens, the Dodecanese islands have been subject to various invasions and occupations over many centuries, until they were finally incorporated into the Greek state in 1948. Rhodes is the most populated of the Dodecanese islands, with 117 000 inhabitants, and it attracts thousands of visitors every year.
History of a walled city
The Old Town of Rhodes is one of the finest examples of a walled city in existence, and as such has been declared a World Heritage Site. The town, at the northern tip of the island, dates back to 408 BC. In 332 BC it became part of the empire of Alexander the Great, from 1090 it was occupied by the Muslim Turks, and during the First Crusade it was recaptured by the Greeks.
The first Grand Master of the crusaders, Magnus Magister, bought Rhodes from the Genoese pirate Admiral Vignoli in 1306, conquered the islands’ inhabitants, and the Knights of Rhodes, as they became known, remained on the island until their expulsion in 1522. The Knights’ medieval citadel, surrounded by moats, 4 km of walls and 11 imposing arched gates, is dominated by the Palace of the Grand Masters, built in the 14th century.
It forms the centre of the Old Town of Rhodes, a fortress within a walled city, while the new town lies beyond the original walls of the citadel. The palace contains priceless mosaics and sculptures. Although it previously survived earthquakes and sieges, in 1856 it was blown up in an unintentional explosion; it was restored by the Italians in the 1930s.
The medieval Street of the Knights is situated between the Palace of the Grand Masters and the harbour and is lined by the “Inns of the Tongues”, or nationalities, of the Order of St John. Each “Tongue” protected an area of city wall known as a “Curtain”. The inns were also restored by the Italians in the 1930s.
Other places of interest
In ancient times, Rhodes was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World: the Colossus of Rhodes, a giant bronze statue which guarded the harbour. Completed in 280 BC, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 224 BC.
The pink Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent was built in 1522 to commemorate the Sultan’s victory over the Knights. It remains one of the major landmarks of the town, but the structure is crumbling and has been closed to the public.
The Library of Ahmet Havuz houses a collection of rare Arabian and Persian manuscripts, as well as a chronicle of the siege of Rhodes in 1522.
The new town of Rhodes has been built over the past century and is made up of a number of areas, including the Néa Agora with its Moorish domes and lively cafes, and Mandráki harbour, from where boat trips can be booked.
The 5-star Rodos Palace is the most luxurious hotel on the island, but there are many other fine establishments, such as the 5-star Rodos Park Suites, the Melenos Lindos and the Fashion Hotel Nikos Takis in the Old Town. The 4-star Marco Polo Mansion is evocative of medieval Rhodes and the 3-star San Niolis Hotel and the Paris Hotel offer charming accommodation in the Old Town.
Santorini is the southernmost island of the Cyclades group of 56 islands, lying in a circle off the south-eastern coast of mainland Greece. The island of Santorini is the most active volcanic centre in the so-called South Aegean Volcanic Arc. The island consists of a crescent shape around a caldera, or volcanic crater, formed when the island volcano erupted in 1450 BC.
Some believe Santorini, classically known as Thera and officially as Thira, to be a candidate for the lost kingdom of Atlantis.
The small central islands of Néa and Kaméni emerged after more recent volcanic activity, in 197 BC and 1707 respectively, and are still volcanically active today. Santorini has a population of approximately 14 000 and its capital is Firá. The mostly arid island of Santorini is carpeted with wild flowers in spring, and packed with tourists in the summer months, when people flock to its beautiful sandy beaches.
Restored after an earthquake
The island of Santorini itself is the result of repeated volcanic activity and eventual caldera collapse, but in 1956 an earthquake destroyed much of the capital of Firá and other villages. The town has since been rebuilt, and the Mégaro Ghisi Museum has photographs from before and after the earthquake.
The typical architecture of Santorini is that of whitewashed cubical houses, terraced into the volcanic cliffs, interspersed with domed churches and barrel-roofed cave houses. The buildings of Firá, Oía at the northern tip and other villages have been carefully restored to resemble the traditional settlements.
Santorini’s climate is very hot and desert like, it has no rivers and water is scarce. Previously island dwellers collected water in cisterns, but in recent years most of the running water on Santorini comes from a desalination project.
Despite this climate, and owing to its special volcanic ash soil, Santorini produces excellent crops, especially of tomatoes, legumes, eggplants and cucumbers. The island also has a small but flourishing wine industry, producing the sweet and strong Vinsanto from Assyrtiko grape variety.
Places of interest
Ancient Thíra, on the east coast of the island, was excavated by the German archaeologist Hiller von Gortringen in the 1860s. Most of the ruins he unearthed date to the time of the Ptolemies in the 3rd and 4thcenturies BC.
The Archaeological Museum of Firá houses finds from the ruins of Ancient Thíra, as well as from Akrotíri and the ancient city of Mesa Vouno. The complete 3 500-year-old city of Akrotíri was excavated in 1967 by the archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos. This former Minoan outpost on the southwest tip of Santorini was wonderfully preserved under tons of volcanic ash.
The resort of Kamári is situated below ancient Thíra and to the north and is the island’s most popular beach area with many bars and tavernas. The northern town of Oía is renowned for its sunsets and the nearby Ammoudi has a fishing harbour.
There is an abundance of holiday accommodation on Santorini: the many 5-star hotels include the Zannos Melathron in the quiet village of Pyrgos, the Notos Therme and Spa, and the romantic Sun Rocks, and the colourful rooms of the Chromata. Accommodation in the traditional Santorinian skaftes includes the 5-starArtemis Villas in Imerovigli and the Esperas in Oía. The 3-star Hotel Keti, just off the steps that lead from Thira to the harbour below, shares the same spectacular views as the more costly hotels elsewhere.
Skiathos is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea and is part of the Northern Sporades islands. It is a very small island that is on average 12 kilometres (7.45 miles) long and 6 kilometres (3.72 miles) wide.
Skiathos is hot and humid in the summer with temperatures reaching into 30° Celsius. The sea water is warm and pleasant. Winters are mild to cold in the winter with hardly any rain, making it the perfect holiday destination.
Holiday activities in Skiathos
To experience the island at its best, you need to make a hiking holiday in Skiathos. If walking is not for you, then go biking. Whichever option you choose, Skiathos has many trails to follow leading to the gorgeous beaches, the town centre and the different attractions. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the sea and picturesque island beauty.
Attractions in Skiathos
While on holiday in Skiathos, take the time to explore the island and all the beauty it has to offer. Recently Skiathos regained popularity when parts of the film “Mama Mia” was shot here.
Many of the local people were cast as extras in the film. If you are wondering, the island is as beautiful as portrayed in the movie.
The beaches have to be the most popular attraction in Skiathos. The beaches are secluded with rugged terrain leading towards it. Cars and busses can travel by road to the coves. Even though the roads are narrow, it is not impassable. The beaches are clean and unspoilt and line the clear and calm sea. On the beaches there are cafés with great food on the menus.
Take a morning and walk up to Il Kastro. A holiday in Skiathos will not be complete if you do not explore the ancient history of this island. Il Kastro represents just that.
It is the ruins of houses and churches from Kastro, the largest medieval town from the twelfth century to the middle of the 19th century. Located on a steep cliff, it made the town hard to reach and easy to defend against enemy attacks. Only one of the churches still remains intact between the ruins.
Papadiamandis House is a small museum. Once the house of the poet and writer Alexander Papadiamandis, one of the greatest in Greek history, it is now a well preserved view into the lifestyle of the writer.
Follow the cobbled pathways to the town centre where you will find exclusive shops in the old shopping quarters. Here you can also find street cafés and restaurants to enjoy the island cuisine.
Like most of the islands in the Greek Island group, Skiathos thrives on tourism as part of the economic growth. There is therefore no shortage of accommodation in Skiathos. For your holiday in Skiathos you can book into a variety of places to stay. You can rent a private villa from the owners or book a studio with a lovely view of the island. Skiathos has many hotels, most of them restored from previous villas. Or you can relax in cosy bed and breakfast guest house.
Andros is a Greek island that is the furthest North out of the Cyclades archipelago. Archipelago is a group of islands that have their own government and acts independently from the mainland. Andros is also the island that is the closest to Athens.
During the history of Andros, many civilisations claimed control over Andros, including Venetians and Cretans. In ancient Greek, the capital of the island was Palaeopolis and had a famous temple that was dedicated to Dionysus, the son of Zeus. It now lies in ruinsafter the many wars fought over Andros.
Andros reclaimed independence on the 10th of May 1821 during the Greek Revolution. Theophilus Kairis raised the flag of independence at the St George Church.
Landscape and architecture
Andros is a small island of 40 kilometres long on average and the widest part of the island is 16 kilometres. The island is the typical Greek beauty of traditional buildings and architecture.
Alleys are narrow and paved with pebbles and you can enjoy a feast of flower displays as you explore the villages.
The villages located on the coast are adjacent to the pebbled beaches and striking blue seas. A holiday in Andros will involve hiking to reach your destinations. The beaches are mostly secluded and surrounded by cliffs. You can only reach the beaches from the village by walking along rugged footpaths to discover the treasured beaches.
The inland villages are built on mountainous terrain and boast many fruitful valleys that receive plenty rain, and water from other sources.
Holiday attractions in Andros
Ancient Greece left a mark on this Greek island. A mark that the inhabitants are nonetheless proud of. Andros consists of many historical and archaeological sites that display the heritage of the island.
If your holiday in Andros involves tours of the island, Basti will be one of your destinations.
In Basti, you can visit the Monastery of Zoodochou Pigis. The archaeological site of Ipsili is also in Basti. Here excavations are taking place to discover artefacts of Ancient Greek.
A holiday in Andros will not be complete if you do not visit at least one of the museums. Andros has a museum for Archaeology, Maritime, Modern art and one for Folklore. There is a museum to suit the fancy of any person.
There are a few churches worthy of visiting such as the Church of Taxarhis and the three Churches in Chora devoted to the Virgin Agia Tsour, the Church of Agios Georgios and the Church of Panagia Theoskepasti.
While on holiday in Andros, be sure to visit the famous Sariza Spring with water flowing out of a lions’ head.
Cuisine that is local to the island will usually include olives or made with olive oils. Other local dishes are sausages and cheese dip, kopanisti, and froutalia omelettes. Andros is also famous for the locally produced wines from the Andros vineyards.
Restaurants in Andros have a family atmosphere and many of the restaurants and cafés are family owned. This is because the Greeks are very family orientated and family comes first.
Nightlife in Andros
Weekends in Andros tend to get very busy as people from Athens come to the island to enjoy a weekend away from home. The nightlife here caters for most holiday goers looking for some after dark fun, but should not be compared to the more commercial Greek islands.
There are many bars offering drinks and music until dawn and the lively atmosphere will compliment your holiday in Andros.
The Ionian islands lie to the west of mainland Greece, each with its own distinct character, and each bearing testimony to the various colonisations and historical influences of its numerous rulers. The capital of Kefalonia is Argostoli, a busy town with lush surrounding countryside.
Like Zante, Kefalonia was hit by a series of earthquakes in the summer of 1953, and almost all buildings on the island were destroyed, safe for the village of Fiscardo in the north. The largest earthquake’s epicentre was just below the southern tip of Kefalonia, and caused the entire island to be raised by 60 cm, where it remains today. An estimated 100 000 of the population of 125 000 left the island, causing huge damage to its economy.
The current population stands at about 37 000. In 2003 a smaller earthquake again caused damage to buildings in and around Argostoli. The convent of Moní Agíou Andréa, dating back to 1264, was also destroyed in the earthquake of 1953, but has been rebuilt as a museum to house icons and frescoes rescues from the quake. Argostoli itself was largely rebuilt with donations from emigrants, and the destruction of the town and its rebuilding can be seen in a photographic exhibition in the Historical and Folk Museum.
There are dozens of archaeological sites on the island, and important discoveries from the Mycenaean era have been made, including the tholostombs on the outskirts of Tzanata, where kings from the Mycenaean period, roughly 1300 BC, were buried.
A Roman burial site dating from between the 2nd century BC and the 4thcentury AD was also discovered in Fiscardo. Archaeological finds can be viewed in the Archaeological Museum in Argostoli.
There are more than one million olive trees on Kefalonia, covering 55% of the island’s land mass, and understandably olive oil production is a major component of the island’s economy. In addition, vegetable production and winemaking are important agricultural activities. The Mount Aínos National Park surrounds Mount Aínos, the highest peak in the Ionian islands.
Owing to its proximity to Italy, Kefalonia is a popular holiday destination for Italians. Most visitors stay in Lassi, near the Argostoli, or in the south coast resorts such as Néa Skála.
The most famous beach of Kefalonia is Myrtos and as with its neighbour Zante, there are some spectacular caves on the coast of Kefalonia.
The small harbour town of Sami on the east coast was used to carefully recreate the town of Argostoli of the 1940s for the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, although the original novel by Louis de Bernières is believed to be inspired by the picturesque village of Farsa, just outside Argostoli. Both the novel and the film have raised Kephalonia’s profile as a tourist destination.
The 5-star Apostolata Elios is a luxury resort hotel set on a hillside 3 km from Skala, whereas the 5-star Emelisse Art Hotel comprises traditional-style stone houses and offers luxury facilities. The Olga is a small, modern hotel in the centre of Argostoli and the Linardos, in the pretty village of Asos, offers views across the bay.
Lefkas, also known as Lefkada, is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is situated at the west coast of Greece and links to the Greek mainland by means of a long man-made causeway and a pontoon, or floating bridge. The bridge floats on the water, supported by pontoons, or floating devices.
Towns in Lefkas
Lefkas consists of 14 villages. Lefkas Town is the first village you enter when crossing the causeway and it is the administrative capital of Lefkas. It is therefore the town with the most activity throughout the year. A holiday in Lefkas should include exploring the villages.
Most of the villages are located on the coastal parts of the islands, with a few inland villages. The coastal villages are more modernised due to tourist activity and displays as true fishing villages.
The inland villages offer different features such as nearby waterfalls and architecture that is more traditional. Vafkiri is a village located in mountain area and features the traditional stone mansions.
Lefkas has a Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers. The heat is broken during the day by the seasonal winds. The location of Lefkas makes it more susceptible to windy conditions.
The winters are cool, especially in the mountain area. Winter is also the rainfall season with a higher rainfall rate than the other islands. This leads to lush green trees and vegetation across the island.
Holiday attractions in Lefkas
Start your holiday in Lefkas with the Seven Island Cruise. The starting point is the harbour at Nidri. From here, you are taken by boat to six surrounding islands.
You can spend some time on each beach and harbour and explore the villages if possible. Information is given about each island that you visit. The islands are Porto Katsiki, Kefalonia, Ithaka, Meganisi, the three islands of Onassis and lastly Madouri.
Porto Katsiki is an attraction in own right. It is a remote beach and repeatedly being voted as the most beautiful beach in Greece. There are no roads leading to the beach and the only access is via several steps through a steep and rugged cliff. The water is crystal clear and blue and the beach is made up of pebbles.
The Papanikolis Cave is another attraction you can visit while on holiday in Lefkas. During World War II, the Papanikolis submarine of Greece used to hide in this cave. It is worth the visit for its historic value, but dolphins swimming and playing around the boats also usually entertain you.
Nightlife in Lefkas
Nightlife on this beautiful island is very laid back. Most of the bars and taverns operating during daytime are used for nighttime entertainment to. Music plays in the bars and many people dance to the sounds of the music.
The island and culture is not overly Westernised and one should not expect to find dance clubs and discos in Lefkas.
When on holiday in Lefkas, expect to stay in accommodation that is true to the traditional Greek culture. Accommodation is available in all the villages, yet it is mostly the coastal villages that focus on tourist resorts and hotels.
The Greek island of Lesvos lies in the Aegean Sea. The Greek pronunciation is Lesbos. The island is of volcanic origin and is evident in the formation of the island, the hot springs and the two gulfs in the island.
Lesvos is the third largest of the Aegean island group, but is very unspoilt and undiscovered by tourists. The island is very mountainous and has two large peaks, Mount Olympus and Mount Lepetymnos.
These mountains, as the rest of the island are still covered with trees and shrubs and other vegetation. Olive trees and chestnut trees make out the largest percentage of coverage. Other prominent trees are pine trees and oak trees.
Lesvos is located in Mediterranean area, setting the climate for the island. Summers are hot and dry and winters are mild. It is evident in the tree plantations that Lesvos receives an adequate amount of water, which is normally in the winter season.
The trees and rain provides a break in the heat and the mild water of the sparkling sea brings much needed relieve in the summer months.
Holiday attractions in Lesvos
In Molyvos Harbour there is a unique bar owned by a certain Paul and Martin. When going on holiday in Lesvos, this bar should be one of your first stops and it should be a regular stop.
The bar is named Molly’s Bar and it is a place where strangers become guests and guests then become friends. The food is scrumptious and the hospitality even better. Molly’s Bar has become a landmark in Lesvos and the homely atmosphere will make you want to stay forever.
While in Molyvos, visit the Molyvos Castle. This castle is a well preserved fortress built in the 13th century and used to protect the island from enemy invasions. It is a popular site for festivals and concerts and even though the climb towards the castle is a bit steep, you are rewarded with a magnificent view of the island and the scenery.
Your holiday in Lesvos has to include the Petrified Forest. Perhaps for some it is not the most spectacular scene in Lesvos, but it is nonetheless a Protected Natural Monument.
Here you will see the remains of a forest that was buried by volcanic activity more than 4 million years ago.
The Healing Springs of Lesvos is thermal springs formed by volcanic activity. The springs are very therapeutic and considered to relieve various ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, skin ailments, sciatica and many other disorders. This is the ultimate relaxation for your Lesvos holiday, especially after you have climbed the many hills to your various destinations.
Activities in Lesvos
Due to the geographical nature of Lesvos, it is no surprise that hiking and mountain biking is on the list of activities. An alternative is to go canoeing from beach to beach to explore the coast of the island.
When you decided on a holiday in Lesvos, one of the main things you had in mind was probably to enjoy the beauty of the untouched beaches. To bathe in the sun all day long and to cool off in the tempting crystal waters. No one will blame you as these idyllic settings provide a paradise for sunbathers.
The Ionian islands are a group of islands to the west of mainland Greece, each with its own distinct character, and each bearing testimony to the various colonisations and historical influences of its numerous rulers. According to legend, Paxos rose from the Ionian sea at the command of Poseidon, to provide a meeting place for him and his mistress Amfitrite.
Paxos lies 14 km south of Corfu, has no airport, and can only be reached by boat. The islands of Paxos and Antipaxos and some smaller islands are together known as Paxi or Paxoi, and literally means “a group of islands”. The history of Paxos is closely linked with that of Corfu, and it is traditionally believed that the Phoenicians were the first people to settle on Paxos. Approximately 2 700 people live on Paxos today; the population of Antipaxos is a mere 100.
Still an agricultural and fishing community
Paxos is one of the least commercial of the Greek islands – its capital is Gaios, a small but lively resort town, and several other farming and fishing villages are dotted around the green landscape.
The olive groves that cover Paxos were planted centuries ago by the Venetians and the local olive oil is of an extremely high quality.
Olive farming still forms a large part of the island’s economy. One main road runs around the island and the best way to get about is by bicycle or moped. Bicycles, scooters and motorbikes can be hired in Gaios. There is also plenty of opportunity for exploring the island on foot, or hiking along the cliffs or through the woods.
Places of interest
There are more than 60 Greek Orthodox churches on Paxos, although only about 10 of these are open on a regular basis. A statue of Pyropolitic, hero of the Greek revolution, faces the waterfront in Gaios. There is a harbour for the ferries, hydrofoils and sea taxis bringing visitors from Corfu, and a smaller one for fishing boats, protected by the small islands of Agios Nikolas and Panagia.
The Paxos Museum, on the harbour side of Gaios, was opened in 1996, and houses artefacts such as old olive presses and containers for measuring oil, stone-age flint tools, pottery from the Classical period, as well as guns and tools from later eras. Gaios has the only nightclub on the island.
An abundance of coastal beauty
There are in excess of 30 beautiful beaches along the east coast of Paxos. The smallest and most attractive of these is the resort of Porto Longos. It has a pebble beach, a few shops, and tavernas whose tables stand on the water’s edge.
The village of Lakka, on the northern tip of Paxos, also has two pristine beaches and watersport is on offer. The west coast of Paxos, with its soaring white limestone cliffs and huge caves is spectacularly beautiful. Because of its inaccessibility, the stunning beaches are best reached by boat. A motorboat can be hired to explore the beaches and coastal villages of Paxos.
Antipaxos also has olive groves, but even more vines, and produces good-quality wine. There is no tourist accommodation, but it is a 15-minute journey by sea taxi and day trippers from Paxos enjoy its beaches in summer.
The Greek island of Samos is a North-Eastern Aegean Island in the Aegean Sea. From all the North-eastern islands, Samos is frequented the most by visitors, partly because of its rich ancient history, and partly because of its natural beauty. The island can be reached with daily trips from Ege Port in Kusadasi.
The history of Samos is one of many wars over a very powerful country. Many empires have ruled over Samos, but in the end Greece was victorious in 1824 with the Greek revolution and reclaimed the throne.
Samos is the birthplace of many famous antiquities, from philosophers to Greek gods. The most famous of these are Pythagoras, Hera, Aesop and the astronomer Aristarchus.
It is also an island of great ancient engineering marvels and architecture, leaving no wonder that a holiday in Samos is a sought after experience.
>h6>Holiday attractions in Samos
As many of the other Greek islands, the beauty of Samos lies in its natural surroundings, the cliffs, fauna and flora and the fairytale beaches. It is part of the Greek culture and heritage and many villages were built utilising nature to defend and protect the villages.
Samos has a rich cultural history with preserved sites, artefacts and ruins that represents that history. As mentioned, many engineering marvels exist here, such as the Tunnel of Eupalinos. This is an aqueduct in Pythagorion that was built from 529 to 525 BC. It runs through the hills for longer than a kilometre; 1, 04 kilometres to be precise (1.4 miles) and provided water to Pythagorion. Visitors can walk through a part of the tunnel which is now equipped with lighting.
The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani, meaning “virgin of the Caves”, is a Monastery that is built inside a cave and is devoted to the Virgin Mary. There are only two of these Panagia Spiliani’s: one on Samos and the other one in Nissiros. Initially the cave was used to extract limestone to construct some of the buildings; it later on became residence to a religious diviner and then a shelter for women and children during war stricken times. It was eventually returned to a religious sight during the Ottoman rule.
The Temple of Hera is another popular Samos holiday attraction. According to Greek mythology, Hera was the wife and the sister of Zeus, king of the gods. She is therefore the queen of the gods and the god of marriage. Mythology states that Samos was the birthplace of Hera and the temple was constructed in her honour. The temple is now in ruins and only one of the 135 columns still stands.
Be sure to also visit the Archaeological Museum in Samos Town as many of the ancient Greek artefacts was discovered at the Temple of Hera. This includes the five metre tall Kouros, a female statue.
Many more of the remains of the Greek history can be found in Samos. Make it a priority on your Samos holiday to visit these heritage sites for a very interesting insight into the past where fact and myth are combined.
The most popular outdoor activities are windsurfing, diving and canoeing. Any activities that include the blue sea and white beach coves are due to be popular.
The archaeological structure of the island makes it ideal for hiking and cycling to explore the island and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Samos is a world famous tourist destination and the island makes full provision for the busy summer seasons. Accommodation for your Samos holiday includes a wide range of venues. There are hotels, villas, apartments and studios.
The island has two five star hotels, one with a private beach. While the service is excellent, it comes with a price tag to match. More affordable accommodation is available making a holiday in Samos accessible to everybody.
Skopelos is a Greek island and part of Northern Sporades Islands in the Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the islands. Even though it is the largest of the group of islands, it is less commercial than the other islands as there is no airport and you travel to it from the neighbouring island of Skiathos.
When on holiday in Skopelos, you will notice it is a very green island with ample lush pine trees. Combine it with the contrast of the deep blue sea and you will understand why the island is named “The Green and Blue Island”.
For economic growth, the locals keep occupied with fishing, agriculture and fruit production. This provides for the local cuisine of fish, wine, plums, prunes, honey, feta cheese, olives and olive oil.
Climate in Skopelos
There is a reason why Skopelos is the green island. It rains a lot there with several rain showers in the summer as well. Temperatures in summer are hot and humid, but the trees and rain showers help to break the heat.
Sometimes it snows in the winter, making the island of Skopelos a winter wonderland. Summer is ideally the time for a holiday in Skopelos, but treat yourself to the beauty of a snow covered Skopelos.
The true beauty of Skopelos lies within the natural surroundings on the island and the original Greek history and atmosphere. When you plan a holiday in Skopelos, do not expect a concrete paradise filled with man-made pleasures.
Skopelos should be enjoyed for its simplicity and natural beauty. Skopelos has many beautiful beaches with pebble and sand shores. The temperature of the sea is always pleasant in summer and makes it an ideal place for swimming and sun bathing.
Beaches are still unspoilt and hidden between coves and the ample trees and vegetation. One needs to travel by foot along paths to reach it. There are bars and cafeterias on the beaches to quench your thirst after the brisk walk.
Agios Loannis Sto Kastri is a beautiful church on top of a hill. Be prepared yet again for a long walk and quite a few steps to climb, but the church and the view from the top rewards in tenfold.
Glossa Port is where you can get a boat to and from the neighbouring island of Skiathos. There are a couple of worthy restaurants to enjoy a meal while waiting for the next trip, or just to enjoy the scenery. When you are at Glossa Port, follow the path up the hill to the charming village of Glossa.
A holiday in Skopelos will most certainly mean that you will explore the island at some stage. To explore the interior of the island, join a cycling club that will provide you with all the equipment and gear needed for the trip. Alternatively, go on a sea kayaking trip around the island from beach to beach.
The nightlife will not disappoint you on your Skopelos holiday. There are many fine tavernas and clubs to choose from where you can enjoy music and local cuisine. Visit a Rembetika club to experience this original music played by refugees when the fled from Asia to the safe haven of Greece.
If Rembetika is not your style, choose one of the jazz clubs or a club where traditional Greek music still plays until the early hours of the new day.
Symi is part of the Dodecanese island group, 425 from the port of Athens. It is a town that relies on tourism, fishing and trade for economical growth. A holiday in Symi means you will experience the interior of mountains and valleys with many windmills and enjoy the coastline with its rocky cliffs and beaches with isolated coves.
The old town of Symi has been well preserved and very little concrete constructions exist there. To make the most of your holiday in Symi, it is handy to know of the different areas that Symi is divided into. It consists of the harbour, the village above the harbour and the valley south of the harbour, Pedi Valley.
There is also a bay with a small settlement north of the harbour and a settlement at Marathounda. Lastly there is the Monastery complex area at Panormitis.
Holiday attractions in Symi
Through the history of Symi, it was invaded and controlled by several empires. During World War II the town was bombed several times and nearly destroyed. At the end of the war, the Germans signed the surrender of the Dodecanese Islands over to Greece.
Many of the tourist attractions to see when you are on holiday in Symi are therefore reminders of the war stricken history of Greece. Katarinettes in the harbour, Yialos, is where Germany signed surrender of the islands. On the bridge there is a good copy of the Lindos ship that presently serves as a World War II memorial.
Also in the harbour, behind the town square, there is the Nautical museum. This museum is identified by the canons on the outside.
The Town Square is where you can enjoy the hospitality of Greece. It is where you will find street cafés and tables on the pebbled pathways. Enjoy your holiday in Symi by relaxing here and tasting the cuisine of the town and socialising with the locals. Experience the old town atmosphere of this unspoilt town. Many festivals are held here in the town square and you may want to plan your holiday to Symi to coincide with one of these festivals.
From the St John’s Church, follow the foot path behind the square that leads to the village, Chorio, and castle with the 19th century mansions along the way.
The castle was rebuilt in the 15th century by knights of St John. It was destroyed during World War II. The remains are left and a plaque to honour Filibert de Niallac, the Grand Master of the French Knights.
Along the path you will find a historical French pharmacy with medicine jars and other paraphernalia used during the French era of Symi.
In the older part of Chorio there is a museum portraying relics and artefacts that remind of the cultural diverse history of the town and then visit the Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Panormitis. It is built on the site of the ancient temple of Apollo.
To travel while on holiday in Symi, you can make use of the bus service. Symi has a reliable bus service with hourly trips from the harbour to the village and Pedi Bay. Car hire services and taxis also operate in the area.
There are water taxis to transport tourists to the beaches that cannot be reached by foot. Other boat services are available for trips to the more secluded bays and beaches.
Accommodation is available in all the areas where the tourist can stay while on holiday in Symi. To preserve the old style of the town, many of the old houses and mansions were restored to provide tourist accommodation.
Accommodation ranges from cottages, apartments and studios to villas and guest houses, all with their own unique view of the town or harbour. There is a newly built holiday complex in Yialos, the harbour. The only hotel is also situated in the harbour.
The Ionian islands are a group of islands to the west of mainland Greece, each with its own distinct character, and each bearing testimony to the various colonisations and historical influences of its numerous rulers.
The island of Zante is the southernmost island in the Ionian group and is also known by the Greek name of Zákynthos. Homer mentions Zante in the Iliad and the Odyssey and writes that the island was first settled by Zakynthos, son of the king of Troy, around 1500-1600 BC. The capital of Zante is Zákynthos Town and the island has a population of approximately 46 000.
The geography of Zante includes both steep cliffs and a mountainous plateau as well as a densely populated fertile plain, enclosing shallow bays and sandy beaches. The mild climate and good rainfall make it ideal for growing citrus fruit, grapes, and the Zante currant, in addition to olives.
Rebuilt after a devastating earthquake
Zante suffered massive destruction by a series of four earthquakes in the summer of 1953 and its elegant Zákynthos Town, built by the Venetians, was almost completely destroyed. It has since been rebuilt with attempts to recapture its former grace. The church of Agios Dionýsios, the island’s patron saint, survived the earthquake and houses the body of the saint in a silver coffin.
The city’s Byzantine Museum also houses a vast collection of icon and frescoes rescued from the town’s destroyed churches and monasteries, and a scale model of the pre-earthquake town. The Solomós Museum contains the tomb of the poet Dionýsios Solomós, the principal modern Greek poet and author of the Greek national anthem.
The turtles of Zante
The island is famous for its green loggerhead turtles, which have been migrating to Laganás Bay to nest for thousands of years.
However, the development of Laganás Bay with its many bars and discos has decimated the numbers of these animals, which can weigh up to 180 kg, to a mere 800 and their preservation has become an important issue for environmentalists. Stretches of the beach are now off-limits, and efforts are made to ensure the future survival of the loggerhead turtles. Excursions in glass-bottomed boats allow visitors to observe the turtles.
The Blue Caves
At the northernmost tip of Zante are the unusual Blue Caves, named for the stunningly clear blue water below the hollowed-out white rock formations, cut into the cliffs of Cape Skinari, the largest of which is known as the Blue Grotto.
The caves can only be accessed by boat but boat trips are available from the nearby resort of Agios Nikólaos as well as boat trips that go right around the island.
Accommodation on Zante is fairly basic, but a number of options are available: Leedas Village offers self-catering apartments, as does Paliokaliva Village with its stone cottages. There is the small Villa Tzogia on the west side of the island, and the even more rustic Tsivouli Park where the owners keep livestock and grow fruit and vegetables. The lively Zakanthi restaurant and bar in Kalamáki offers excellent Greek cuisine.