The Greek Islands have a reputation for wonderful beaches, a hedonistic lifestyle, and thousands of years of culture. Every year, visitor numbers increase, but with more than 200 islands to choose from, there is plenty of space to explore. Here is a guide to some of the loveliest Greek Islands, what they have to offer for families, and why you should visit them. By the time you reach the last paragraph, you will be itching to book some flights!
Santorini is famous for its whitewashed Cycladic houses and picturesque streets. The island has been portrayed by artists many times over the years and it has become a magnet for tourists. During the peak travel season, Santorini can get very crowded, so if you want space to admire the scenic views from the narrow streets of Fira and Oia, visit out of season. Make time to visit Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan site.
Mykonos is one of the more glamorous Greek Islands. This is an island where you go to party and enjoy the café scene. Despite its reputation for parties and celebrities, Mykonos has plenty of charm. It’s a great base to explore the neighbouring islands and there are plenty of luxury villas Mykonos can offer for families. Find information on villas by visiting Blue Villas, an award-winning agency with more than 150 quality serviced villas on the island.
Corfu is truly magical and a favourite summertime destination for many families. Like many of the best Greek Islands, it is resplendent with fragrant flowers and olive groves, towering island fortresses, and secluded monasteries. The sea is always azure blue and the people friendly. Explore the ancient streets of Corfu Town, admire the wonderful Venetian architecture, and browse the many boutiques.
The island is bathed in history, and everywhere you go there is evidence of other civilisations. Use a trip to Corfu as an opportunity to inspire a love of the past in your kids. Angelokastro, the highest fortress on the island, is majestic, as is Kassiopi. Corfu was once fought over by Ottomans, Venetians, and pirates. Today, it’s fought over by eager cruise ship visitors, all seeking the best spot for a selfie. Visit Corfu and you won’t be disappointed.
Kos is famous for its amazing beaches and friendly tavernas. You can come to Kos and do nothing more than lie on the beach while the kids play in the sand, but Kos has so much more to offer. Take a walk and you’ll see evidence of ancient civilisations everywhere you go. There are ancient Corinthian columns scattered all over the island, strewn with wildflowers and verdant greenery. In Kos Town, the medieval castle stands proud, keeping watch for marauding pirates and cruise ships. The southern part of the island is where the main resorts are located, so if you want a quieter holiday, stay on the north coast.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands. It is popular with sun worshippers, thanks to an array of perfect beaches. But like many of the Greek Islands, you are never too far away from the past when you visit Rhodes. The Old Town harks back to Byzantium times, with its narrow, cobbled streets and ancient buildings. There is plenty to see and do. Add a trip to the Acropolis of Lindos and the Archeological Museum to your itinerary. It is a steep climb to the top, but the Acropolis is beautifully preserved, and the views are amazing. There are donkeys available to take you up there, but they are not always well treated, so if you can walk, do. Kids will enjoy the history of the place, but be very careful with young children, as there are some perilous drops at the cliff edge.
Skiathos in the Aegean Sea is blessed with beautiful beaches and in the peak summer months, the island is a haven for sunseekers. Come to Skiathos to enjoy a relaxing beach holiday, but make sure you soak up some of the island’s culture while you are there. Moni Evangelistrias is an ancient hilltop refuge still occupied by peaceful, hardworking monks. They make wine there, which is definitely worth trying. The food on Skiathos is also a taste sensation. As well as traditional grilled fish and meats, try some local thin-crust pizza freshly made to order.
Crete is a jewel in the Mediterranean. From sleepy little villages to thriving towns, Crete has been welcoming visitors for centuries. The beaches are to die for and the island is packed full of ancient, historic treasures. The fabulous Palace of Knossos is one of the best-known Crete landmarks, but if you explore further, you will come across ancient Byzantine chapels, Renaissance mansions, and majestic fortresses.
All of the Greek Islands have their own distinct personalities. Which one is your favourite?