Telegraph: The best Greek islands – List
The newspaper Telegraph presents the best islands in Greece. Nineteen islands made the cut and each one is chosen for its best feature. Beaches, sports, family activities, history, culture, food, hotels are only few of the reasons these 19 islands stand out.
Read about the 19 greek islands:
1. Best for beaches – Zakynthos
The Ionian Islands can’t be beaten for sandy beaches backed by dramatic coastlines. Myrtos Beach on Kefalonia and Porto Katsiki on Lefkada are among the most photogenic, but Shipwreck Bay on Zakythos, only accessible by boat, trumps them both – even if it does get a bit crowded
2. Best for families – Corfu
It is a cosmopolitan city that exudes a sense of nobility, with main attractions the big square Esplanade, which is the largest square in the Balkans, Kanoni, Mon Repos and the Museums of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine History.
3. Best for history and culture – Delos
The birthplace of Apollo, according to mythology, Delos boasts some of the most extensive remains from the golden Hellenistic age (and earlier) of classical Greece. The entire island – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – consists of ruins, which have been systematically unearthed since 1872, including temples, statues, mosaics and a theatre.
4. Best for hotels – Mykonos
Greek hotels have a reputation for being rustic – not so on trendy Mykonos, which has some of the most stylish boutique properties around
5. Best for food – Crete
Crete’s southerly location gives it the longest growing season in Greece. It produces a surfeit of edible goods – you’ll even find avocados and bananas.
6. Best for wine – Kefalonia
There’s wonderful wine to be quaffed in Crete and Santorini, but we’re plumping for Kefalonia, whose Robola winery is responsible for the tipple of choice of drunken Father Arsenios in Louis de Bernières” classic novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
7. Best for peace and quiet – Koufonissia
Koufonissia are hidden away between the larger Cycladic islands of Naxos and Amorgos. Koufonissia (plural) is made up of two tiny islets, Ano Koufonissi (Upper Koufonissi) and Kato Koufonissi (Lower Koufonissi), which are separated by a 200-metre sea channel. While Kato Koufonissi remains uninhabited, Ano Koufonissi, with its whitewashed Cycladic cottages, has a buzzing little community of 366. Locals live mainly from fishing – it is claimed that there are more boats than residents – there are no real roads and hardly any cars, so everyone either walks or cycles. Before 1980, there was no electricity either, and it is only over the last decade that Koufonissi has become a popular escape with Athenians in search of an unpretentious and inexpensive summer holiday.
8. Best for eco-warriors – Hydra
Hydra, which shot to fame in 1957 as location for Boy on a Dolphin, starring Sophia Loren, remains endearingly time-warped. As a listed architectural reserve, all new construction is (theoretically) banned, and it’s blissfully free of motor vehicles except for a few miniature rubbish trucks – photogenic donkeys (or mules) do most of the haulage. The clip-clop of the beasts” hooves on marble pavement and their drovers” cries are very much part of the soundtrack here.
9. Best for hiking – Andros
There are wonderful walks all over mountainous Andros, the most northerly of the Cyclades.
10. Best for couples – Symi
Santorini is a strong contender, but Symi gets our vote. It has one of the most picturesque harbours in the country, crowded with pastel-coloured houses, bars, tavernas and chic boutiques, and dozens of tiny beaches accessible only by boat.
11. Best for alternatives – Skyros
Skyros, the most remote and undeveloped of the Sporades Islands, is a hotspot for holistic holidays. Atsitsa Bay, which offers yoga, sailing, life-coaching, music, sketching, painting, singing, dancing and various drop-in activities
12. Best for traditional island life – Karpathos
Karpathos – midway between Rhodes and Crete – has been in and out of the holiday brochures for years and never quite hit the big-time. As a result, it’s a haven for peace-seekers, with pretty beaches and coves (some accessible only by boat), good walking in dramatic scenery, and quirky villages.
13. Best for villas (and monasteries) – Skopelos
On a Greek island holiday, cool, stone-floored villas are infinitely preferable to hotels. Skopelos, the setting for the film adaptation of Mamma Mia, has some wonderful options.
14. Best for views – Santorini
Kastellorizo, Greece’s easternmost island, is utterly gorgeous, but it’s hard to look beyond Santorini
15. Best for Bond fans – Nisyros
Several Greek islands have found fame thanks to film – including Skopelos (Mamma Mia!) and Amorgos (The Big Blue). James Bond fans should head for Nisyros, however, whose spectacular volcano appeared in Moonraker.
16. Best for gay travellers – Lesbos
The word lesbian is derived from the birthplace of the poet Sappho, noted for the expressed affection for women in her work. Subsequently the island, and the town of Eresos, where she was born, are popular with gay travelers
17. Best for nightlife – Rhodes
Kos, Corfu and Mykonos all stand out in this regard, but we’ll plump for Rhodes. The resort of Faliraki has a bad reputation, but things are infinitely more refined in Rhodes Town.
18. Best for watersports – Lefkada
Large bays and consistently blustery winds attract droves of sailors and windsurfers to Lefkada, with the coastal towns of Vassiliki and Nydri popular spots for hiring boats and boards.
19. Best for religious history – Patmos
Tradition (and Friedrich Hölderlin’s famous 1802 poem “Patmos”) asserts that St John the Evangelist (O Theologos in Greek) penned the New Testament’s Book of Revelations on Pátmos just after 95AD. Though lately scholars reckon he was a completely different individual than the author of one of the four Gospels.