It’s the holidays and many of us will soon be off on our travels. For those who can’t quite decide where to jet off to check out this month’s top ten list of the best Greek islands!
I spent a few fun-filled days in Mykonos back in 2013, a popular Greek island destination which makes up part of the Cyclades, lying between Tinos, Syros, Paros and Naxos (don’t get confused-os). In Greek mythology Mykonos was the location of the battle between Zeus and the Titans, and the island was named in honour of Mykons, son of Anios who was a son of Apollo and nymph named Rio.
Widely recognised as one of the great party meccas, and known for its exquisite fine-sand beaches and clear blue-green waters, Mykonos is not to be missed!
I visited Santorini in 2014 when I was pregnant with monkey number one. Due to severe morning, afternoon and evening sickness (!) I didn’t enjoy the island as much as I would have liked but I can tell you that it is simply beautiful. The major settlements in Santorini include Fira (Phira), Oia, Emporio, Kamari, Perissa, Imerovigli, Pyrgos, and Therasia. Santorini is very similar to Mykonos with its lively atmosphere, pretty boutique shops and long stretches of beach but the Oia sunset is a unique sight to behold!
Cephalonia (or Kefalonia) is the largest of the Ionian Islands and those who haven’t visited this beautiful place may still know it from the popular novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. My family and I travelled to Kefalonia in 2004 and my father continues to reminisce about what a lovely holiday it was. The island is well known for its endangered loggerhead turtle population which nest on many beaches along the south coast of the island.
Skiathos is another of my favourite childhood holidays, together with the island of Skopelos, which lies across from it. The island is small but boasts beautiful untouched beaches and wooden landscape which makes it a popular tourist destination. Both Skiathos and Skopelos were the filming locations of the 2008 film Mamma Mia!.
My main memory of our holiday in Samos is of climbing all the way up the side of a mountain to get to the cave of Greek Philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras. In fact there were two caves. Apparently Pythagoras preferred the bigger one.
With beautiful beaches, historical monuments and a lively town centre, Samos had to be on my list.
I’ve been to Corfu many times but my real love for the island started after reading Gerald Durrell’s family stories. It is the second largest of the Ioanian islands and is steeped in political as well as mythological history. With pretty towns, sandy beaches, museums, churches and stunning architecture, Corfu remains one of the most popular Greek islands.
Greece’s largest island, Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece. It was once the centre of the Minoan civilisation and said to be home to the famous Minotaur. The capital and the largest city is Heraklion. The island is home to many famous landmarks including Spinalonga, which was originally part of Crete and was carved out of the coast for defence purposes during Venetian occupation. It was later used as a leper colony.
Rhodes is the only island on this list that I haven’t been to. Rhodes’ nickname is The island of the Knights, named after the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who once conquered the land. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, outside the city the island is dotted with small villages and spa resorts. There are mineral-rich spring water used to give medicinal baths and the spa resorts offer various health treatments. Offering beauty, history and pure relaxation, Rhodes is definitely on my travel list!
Also known as Zante, Zakynthos is the third largest of the Ionian islands. I have memories of hiding under a table on our hotel balcony having a sulk because the swimming pool was closed!
Aside from the beautiful sandy beaches (which are usually heavily populated by tourists) there are regions of forested mountains and traditional rural villages as well as the loggerhead turtle population.
My mum loves Lefkada and describes it as a very ‘easy-going’ island with something for everyone. Considered the ‘Caribbean of Greece’, Lefkada’s beaches are beyond comparison and around the island are lovely villages surrounded by lush greenery. Lefkada is also the perfect choice for wedding destinations.
What’s your favourite Greek island?
In some of my previous top ten posts, I’ve had comments from one or two readers who have disagreed with my ten choices. The top ten lists are my personal opinions and I’m not claiming that what I’ve included on my lists are the be all and end all of top tens ever. So please don’t be offended. Why not just comment and tell us what you would have included? That would be far nicer.