Mainland Destinations and Ancient Attractions
We don't need to tell you that Greece is the home to ancient Greek mythology, and with it the likes of Zeus, Apollo and Aphrodite, but with so many historic sites you're likely to forget about the mainland's stunning shorelines. Visit the historic sites in Athens, which are just a lightning bolt's throw apart, or Olympia where the first ever Olympic Games was held, then spend the afternoon with sand between your toes, captivating the kids' imaginations with tales of Hercules and Poseidon.
Some of the most-visited destinations are in central Macedonia in the north of Greece, where the remains of Neolithic settlements and ancient ruins, lush villages surrounded by thick forests and waterfalls running from craggy mountains make for scenic views. Halkidiki is a destination of choice for many visitors to this region. Holidays to Greece will appeal to those seeking a quieter experience, the Peloponnese region is a peninsula in the south that also has a variety of excellent beaches intercepted by rural villages. A particular highlight of this region is the archaeological sites, which include the ancient cities of Corinth, Sparta and Messene, the site of the Ancient Olympic Games (Olympia) and the fortress town of Mycenae.
Crete is the largest of the Greek Isles. With 650 miles of coastline, you can stroll along the sands and explore secluded cloves to your heart's content. It's a great family destination, where kids can make a splash at one of the waterparks, explore the Mediterranean Sea at the Aquarium or let their imaginations run wild on a pirate ship adventure in search of booty. During the summer months hedonistic revellers descend upon Malia, the party capital of the island, to enjoy the lively nightlife this resort has to offer.
Known as the 'Emerald Isle', the island of Corfu is famous for its rich, green foliage. Leafy Corfu Town is abundant with churches, fortresses and a palace that represent an interesting mix of Greek, Italian and French heritage. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways of the old town is a surprisingly pleasant experience – you'll see the heavy Venetian influence in the pastel buildings with their red tiled roofs and notice the popular row of cafes and restaurants of Liston Promenade are copied from the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. The resort of Kavos is popular with young holidaymakers, whereas avid golfers can be found taking a swing on Corfu's 18-hole championship golf course.
When it comes to beaches, Kefalonia takes the crown. Kaminia beach is a home to the Leggerhead turtles, whereas Myrtos Beach has been voted Greece's best beach for a whopping twelve years. It's not surprising with its silvery sands and soaring natural surroundings. Don't forget your jelly shoes though, as many beaches in Kefalonia are pebbled. Not to be missed is the beautiful underground lake of Melissani, and the eerie stalagmites and stalactites of the Drogatari Caves that legend says was once home to a dragon…
Rhodes, meanwhile, is the sunniest of the Greek isles. Kindly left behind by the knights that built it, the medieval walled city of Rhodes Old Town is a playground for tourists. High above, the acropolis overlooks the remains of the Colossus of Rhodes and is definitely worth the climb – it was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is a great photo spot for the snap happy. When the sun goes down, there is much more to be experienced than the bright lights of Faliraki strip. Trade in a dose of Ouzo for a dose of culture – for something different check out a Bouzouki club or take part in some Greek folk dance nights.
Kos is a fun island that caters for pretty much everyone. Serial sunbathers will love Kos's generous share of beaches, whereas adventurers can rent quadbikes to explore the island's sugarcube-house sprinkled countryside. The romantic resort of Psalidi is perfect for a lantern-lit dinner by the harbour, whereas the streets of Kardamena are a loud mix of English pubs, karaoke bars and strobe-lit clubs. Its sister island of Rhodes is just a short ferry trip ride away, as is the Turkish region of Bodrum. Pop over on a Tuesday to haggle for a bargain or two, and replace those "Roy Bans" you lost last night with some funky new "Ray Barrys".
Popular with fashionistas, Mykonos is a cosmopolitan cocktail of designer shops, colourful tavernas and sophisticated clubs. There is a thriving gay community and if you're not a fan of people in the nude, it's probably best to avoid the beaches. However, Paradise Beach is one of the world's finest, and Paradise Club is the perfect place to watch the sunset whilst DJs play into the early hours. The volcanic island of Santorini is unique with its black, volcanic sands which add to the island's dramatic beauty. According to legend, Santorini's live volcano destroyed the lost continent of Atlantis. If you prefer traditional charm where the only footprints on the sands will be your own, Samos or Thassos may be the perfect destinations for you.
Location of Greece & Islands
Average monthly temperature (°C) for Greece & Islands