Home Greek islands Six stunning Greek islands you won’t want to leave

Six stunning Greek islands you won’t want to leave

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Do you dream of a Mediterranean island paradise surrounded by a warm and seductive sea, an azure sky without clouds and the soft caress of the sun on your bare shoulders? Me too! Here are six Greek romances that will have you looking for your passport.

Santorini at night

Crete

The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is full of breathtaking historical monuments, towering mountains and beautiful sunny beaches. Explore the winding cobblestone streets of Chania’s beautiful Venetian harbor and travel through the Samaria Gorge into the island’s rugged interior. Visit the astonishing ruins of Knossos Palace near Heraklion, a 4,000-year-old Minoan settlement considered the first city in Europe. To the north of the island you will find miles of fabulous sandy beaches and bustling seaside resorts like Agios Nikolaos. Or if you’re looking for a more low-key destination, head to Agia Galini or the blue flag sands of Plakias on the quieter south coast of Crete.

Crete

Symi

The charming Dodecanese island of Symi sits serenely in the Aegean Sea, a tranquil contrast to its large and bustling neighbor, Rhodes. Accessible only by boat, you will arrive at Gialos, the pretty port of the island lined with colorful houses clinging to the hillside. Climb the 500 steps (or take the bus) to the picturesque Old Town for spectacular views. Visit the 15e Century-old Greek Orthodox monastery at Panormitis, at the southern tip of Symi. Relax on unspoiled pebble beaches bathed in clear turquoise waters, like the charming bay of Saint Nicholas near Pedi, or Marathounda, where you might meet a wild goat or two! If you’re visiting between July and September, enjoy the Symi Performing Arts Festival, a flamboyant celebration of dance, music, art and cinema.

Symi

Santorini

Cherished for its epic golden sunsets, dazzling whitewashed villages, and spectacular views from its elevated west coast, Santorini is an Instagram darling. This idyllic crescent-shaped island in the southern Cyclades is formed from the crust of a submerged volcanic crater, its towering cliffs rising out of the Aegean Sea. Visit the fascinating archaeological ruins of ancient Akrotiri and relax on the glowing sands of the famous Red Beach. Santorini’s fertile volcanic soils have nourished vineyards for thousands of years; taste the famous spicy wines of the island and the sweet wines of Vinsanto.

Santorini sunset

Skopelos

An hour’s ferry ride from the nearby town of Skiathos brings you to the picturesque and verdant island of Skopelos. The town of Skopelos is a charming cluster of whitewashed buildings topped with terracotta tiled roofs. Above the harbor is the sleepy and atmospheric Old Town, or Kastro, where you’ll find Byzantine churches and the remains of a Venetian castle. Explore the island’s network of hiking trails through a pristine interior of rugged cliffs, pine forests and olive groves. Skopelos’ lush beaches stretch over tranquil pebble coves and golden sandy tree-lined bays. Discover the famous Stafilos on the southern shores of the island, or the tranquil and secluded Limnonaria. Watch the sunset while swimming in the magnificent Panormos. As night falls, return to the Old Town. Dine in a bougainvillea-clad taverna, then enjoy a live jazz or traditional Greek folk music (Rembetika) performance at one of the many bars.

The port of Skopelos

Corfu

The vast Ionian island of northern Corfu has attracted visitors for centuries, mesmerized by its unfettered and diverse natural beauty. The island has miles of glorious sandy coastline framed by cypress-covered hills and a spectacular mountainous interior. Explore the attractive alleys of the island’s capital, Corfu Town, a historic maze of bars, restaurants, shops, squares and museums. You will discover fine examples of British, Venetian, Sicilian and French architecture, a nod to the island’s past. Don’t miss the elegant Liston Arcade, built during the French occupation of Corfu. When it comes to beaches, you’ll be spoiled for choice: destinations range from the more understated and traditional (Agios Georgios, Palaiokastritsa, San Stefano) to octane-rated resorts full of bars and clubs, like Sidari and Kavos.

Corfu beaches

Naxos

The largest of the Cyclades islands, the southwest coast of Naxos is a beach lover’s delight, boasting an almost continuous expanse of golden sand lapped by the Aegean Sea. The seaside resorts of Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna and Plaka offer bars, shops, accommodation and restaurants bordered by fine sand and shallow waters ideal for swimming. Inland, the hilltop reconstruction of the Temple of Demeter in Gyroula is a must for history buffs. Explore the picturesque old quarter of Naxos Town (chora), whose alleys and steep squares are full of churches, museums and shops. As the sun sets, cross the causeway and climb up to the impressive portal of the Temple of Apollo, which dates back to 525 BC. It’s the perfect place to watch the sun sink below the horizon before heading back to the Old Town for dinner.

Gate of Naxos of the Temple of Apollo

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