I was recently chatting with a friend who has the 411 on Greek Islands. As I am a lover of all things Mediterranean I thought I would share her intel. Here are six of the islands she told me about:
Paxos: a peaceful and chill island, offering excellent secluded beaches and access to pedal boats, amenities and everything else that a holiday-maker could desire.
The island is tiny, only seven miles long and home to only three harbour towns. Levrechio beach deserves a special mention, perfect for families to swim and sunbathe from and offering wonderful glimpses of the Greek mainland. Keep your eyes peeled for the Ortholitos, a massive triangular rock standing just off shore. Fresh produce is widely available, and the entire island is dotted about with olive groves. The buildings and villages have a decidedly Venetian influence, which merely adds to the charm of this fabulous island.
Malia is the party place. The island paradise resort has been compared alongside Ibiza and Magaluf for its fabulous nightlife and party atmosphere. Internationally known DJs hold well-attended events on the island which has helped to spread the word about this small slice of the island of Crete. There were some worries in around 2008 about ‘laddish’
behaviour and hooliganism on the part of young drunken foreigners, but using the area as the setting for the 2011 ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ has seen Malia stay firmly at the top of the popularity polls. Malia is not only for those in search of the party, it also offers gorgeous views and beaches, you can take a stroll down lovely Glozanie Beach under the Mediterrannean night sky or you could visit the nearby ancient Minoan archaeological sites.
Skopelos offers a choice between ‘big waves’ and dramatic seas on the north coast, especially when a northerly wind is blowing, or more secluded and sheltered beaches elsewhere. There are several beaches, including an unofficial nudist beach at Velanio. Skopelos is a favorite retirement destination for Northern Europeans, as well as tourists looking for the less touristy side of Greek holidays. The island used to be revered for its grape growing and wine production, as far back as Sophocles’ time, but a pervasive blight saw the end of the grape industry in the 1940s. The island also has a strong history of ship making and this has resulted in the island being sown with trees known for speedy growth and long straight trunks, such as pine trees. There is fabulous bird life to be seen here, and seals often frolic off the coast. The native animals tend to be smaller mammals, such as hedgehogs, or reptiles like terrapins, snakes and lizards. The movie Mamma Mia was filmed here.
Santorini is formed from the remains of an ancient volcano, giving the island dramatic craggy rocks and stunning black sandy beaches, especially when seen against the white-washed buildings that huddle on the hills. The dry climate, year round sunshine and clear air make Santorini the perfect location for photographs and videos to be captured. Santorini is known as being the home to chefs that are determined to fully master all aspects of cuisine and this makes meal time of Santorini a diet-busting luxury! The beaches of Oia have long been favourites with the locals, and the tourists are just beginning to discover them. Perissa and Perivolos are the best known Santorini beaches, with their dramatic black volcanic sand. Historians will love the island too; it is home to not one, but two ancient cities that are under archaeological excavation; namely Akrotiri and Thera.
Mykonos is visually gorgeous, with dazzling white buildings and its beauty has brought it fame! Mykonos is known internationally as a favourite holiday destination that is also very accepting of alternative lifestyles and there are many gay pubs,
clubs and beaches. Expect loud nightclubs, full English breakfasts and highly priced merchandise along with warm seas and blue skies. The basic structure of the island is untouched with winding lanes and boutique shops and stores, so it is possible to feel the authentic pulse of Greece underneath the not-so-lovely tourist trappings.
Syros is not primarily geared for tourism, making it a perfect destination for those who hate the crowds, the hype and the frenetic pace of tourist-oriented resorts. This beautiful little island shows off the true Greek culture beautifully. The entire area can be explored on foot, and it is highly recommended that you visit the ancient medieval city, before popping into a taverna for real Greek delicacies.