Choosing the right Greek Island for your next escape isn’t an easy feat – and it’s no wonder, with up to 227 inhabited islands (and an estimated total of 6,000) peppered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Each one is impeccably suited to your every mood, too, whether you want to marvel at majestic views, sirtaki the night away or soak up some serious Grecian history. It isn’t too late to renew that fading summer tan: these are the five Greek islands you’ll want to visit next.
Some will say Santorini shows off unbeatable views, but Zante offers up impressive and refreshing vistas of its own. On this emerald island you can gaze at pine-covered hills, watch the sun set from a little lighthouse by Keri Lake, and marvel at the quirky Marathonisi island, home to the Caretta Caretta turtle. Sightseeing on this southernmost Ionian island is a magical and mesmerising task, whether from atop its highest point Mount Vrachionas, or all the way down under – plan a snorkelling or scuba diving escapade to find stunning underwater caves and rocky coral reefs. It’s easy to reach, too, with ferry services from the ports of Patras and Kyllini as well as direct flights from London to Dionysios Solomos airport.
With venues open from early in the day till, well, early in the day, it’s no wonder Mykonos has garnered its reputation as one of Greece‘s best for non-stop glitz and glamour. Bars and clubs are stacked onto one another in this formidably cosmopolitan, Cycladic island, bordered by bustling beaches that light up come sunset. You’ll want to keep on the pulse from the moment you arrive, and you’ll find no difficulty doing so: start with the buzzing bars of Little Venice, catch a late-night film under the stars and taste a shot of local Ouzo at a snazzy club overlooking the sea. Adding to its party outlets, an array of sophisticated activities are also on hand: take a stroll to the iconic Kato Myli windmills, and try a boat cruise or leisurely horseback ride to freshen up after a night out. Mykonos is easily reachable from major UK airports, with direct flights from London taking up to four hours.
When all you need is peace, quiet and a cocktail, nowhere is quite as pleasurable as Paxos. The largest of the Ionian Paxi islands, its appeal rests in its tranquil towns, laid-back beaches and charming fishing villages. With its cosy tavernas and pretty harbour, Loggos on the island’s eastern coast is a must-visit if you’re looking to reach the height of relaxation. Blissful coves made for light swimming meet tree-covered hills dotted with houses and terracotta-coloured rooftops – an image of perfection that guarantees a green and idyllic stay. You won’t find an airport here (that’s how quiet this place is), so grab a sea taxi or ferry boat over from Corfu.
Old meets new in picturesque and historical Syros, an island in the Cyclades known for welcoming modernity whilst retaining its authentic and unspoilt features. Medieval architecture, neoclassical buildings and traditional whitewashed houses form the postcard-perfect backdrop to an enriching break, just over an hour from Athens. The quaint, Venetian-built village of Ano Syros offers winding alleyways and a Catholic heritage that dates back to the 13th century – make a stop for the basilica of San Giorgio, from which point you can witness vast views over the island. Once you’ve had your fill of cultural and religious histories, head to the hilly town of Ermoupoli which sports a sweeping bay, seaside cafés and sweet shops aplenty. Syros is also an island of gastromonic delights: don’t leave without trying halva pie, or soft Kopanisti and hard San Michali cheeses.
To the tireless traveller, Lefkada is a true paradise. On this northwestern island, all manner of activities are available to keep you on your toes. Along its scenic beaches, from Porto Katsiki to the quiet Myloi, you’ll find opportunities for kitesurfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and waterskiing. Canyoning down the enchanting Melissa Gorge is thrill-inducing, and by hiking Dimosari Canyon you’ll encounter dreamy waterfalls and lagoons worthy of a leisurely swim. Paragliding along the West Coast gives you access to stunning views of white cliffs (softer winds than in the northeastern part of the country mean you’ll get to enjoy this sport here year-round), and diving all the way down to Lefkada’s seabeds affords a sparkling experience.