Greece is one of the world's most loved holiday destinations. Known for its incredible olive harvests, slow pace of life, passionate people and rich history and culture, the country's 227 inhabited islands are all ripe for exploration.
Greece is blessed with 2,000 registered islands, of which more than 200 are inhabited. The truly fascinating thing about these islands is each and every one of them has their own unique culture, which is a result of their importance to the various Greek empires in classical eras.
The island of Corfu, for example, is heavily influenced by nearby Italy due to its past Venetian occupation and humid climate. Whereas Crete, which is far west of the mainland, is very much its own culture, with different social etiquette and community values to many of the other islands.
The differences extend to little islands like Lesvos too, whose proximity to the Middle East makes it a much more cosmopolitan area, with particularly strong influence drawn from Turkey. Visiting Greece always brings new things – wherever you go, the culture, climate and people are different.
One thing all the islands share is a laid-back attitude. A Greek does things at his or her own pace, and by and large will not rush, panic or compromise if they do not judge it necessary. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get into the flow of things on the islands you'll wonder how you ever lived any other way. Plus, it makes them some of the most friendly people you will ever meet.
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A western Greek island, Corfu shares Italy's landscape and climate but is definitely all Greek. Upmarket hotels and villas are mostly found in Gouvia and Agios Gordios, while families tend to move more towards cosier resorts like Kassiopi, or the wide beaches of Roda.
As the largest of the Greek islands, Crete impresses thanks to its glorious sweeping beaches and rich history. That historic weight is most felt in towns like Chania and Heraklion, and there are more secluded areas like Aghios Nikolaos as well as party towns like Malia.
Famous for its sunsets, its history and the charms of its small whitewashed villages, Santorini is one of the most beautiful of the all Greek islands. There are vineyards to be explored, a huge caldera region with volcanic landscape in the west and miles of beaches to the east.
A small island with a green landscape, Skiathos' beaches are lined with pine trees. For a quiet retreat rich in culture, Skiathos has plenty to offer the savvy holidaymaker. The capital, Skiathos Town, mixes old with new and has a large harbour. Alternatively, stay in one of the island's many small and idyllic resorts.
Picture-perfect Zante boasts white sand beaches which gently shelve into the sapphire Ionian Sea. The dramatic limestone cliffs and rich vegetation add to the island's natural beauty, which is also home to the endangered loggerhead turtles. There are family-friendly resorts as well as quieter, traditional villages.