Greece holiday highlights

There’s an offshore hotspot for every whim and fancy. Surrounded by the shimmering waters of the Aegean and Ionian Sea it’s impossible not to want to dive right in. Cast away your cares on north Kos’ white-sand Tigaki Beach, become a curious explorer amongst Rhodes’ Roman ruins in its medieval interior and sip cocktails at the edge of one of Santorini’s luxury white-washed clifftop hotels.

The jet set speedboat-loving crowds on Corfu and chic twilight parties on Mykonos show off the hip side of Greece. The Corfu Trail is just-the-right ramble for walking off a big fat Greek mezze and chartering a yacht for a sunset sail with post-archaeological aperitifs is pure bliss on Mykonos. A sleepier pace of life is found amongst ancient streets harking back to Minoan civilisation perched on Crete’s rugged mountains. Cream-white beaches and the legendary Palace of Knossos ruins are a huge draw. Looking for more? Kos’ Therme Beach is a small trek but its hot water springs are as healing as any Greek island sunset; for the ultimate indulgence hop on a speedboat from Santorini for a night of dining on Armeni Bay; or surround yourselves with the tiger moths that reside in Rhodes Butterfly Valley from July through to September.   

On Greece's mainland you'll find sweeping coastlines and delightful villages full of character. With its three peninsulas and miles of beautiful beaches, Halkidiki has an island feel with stylish hotels such as the Sani Club. Messinia in the scenic south-west Peloponnese hosts crumbling castles, unspoilt coves and valleys dotted with lakes and waterfalls.

Where is Greece?
Greece is on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula with its islands in the eastern Mediterranean. The Ionian Sea is to the left and the Aegean to the right. Officially known as the Hellenic Republic it has some 6000 islands of which over 200 are inhabited. Greece has about 9000 miles of coastline and Mount Olympus is the highest point.

Getting around
Most islands have a main town where you’ll find the port for passenger ferries. You can take a boat or plane from island to island. It’s also easy to get around by bus, taxi or rented car. Water taxis are common, taking you to secret coves, isolated beaches and other islands in the region. 

Diving and snorkelling
Clear warm waters and unique coral reefs make diving from the Greek Islands a popular activity. Chania on Crete is a fantastic place to see volcanic reefs and unusual marine life. Mykonos’ Paradise Point has exciting swim-throughs and extreme drop-offs and diving on both sides of Santorini uncovers several wrecks. We recommend snorkelling from the peninsula of Afionas Beach on Corfu or on the surface of Halkidiki’s crystal clear waters.

Shopping
Woven fabrics, pottery and locally crafted jewellery line the quaint shopping streets of traditional villages. The design-led island of Mykonos brims with stylish boutiques and glamour. Portside Chora’s labyrinth of stores is home to international brands Louis Vuitton and Balmain but also independent designers injecting laid-back Mediterranean style and rich textures into the mix. Pick up hand-made leather sandals, gold jewellery and resort wear. 

Food & drink
Ripe cherry tomatoes, that famous Santorini salad, line-caught calamari and orange fava… on all the Greek Islands you’ll find fresh and vibrant ingredients. Put simply, you’ll never be far from delicious, fresh seafood. Dine at local waterfront tavernas, at 3am straight from a fishing boat or tucked away in one of Mykonos’ stylish restaurants. Expect romantic moonlit dining in secret caves, lobster and octopus caught in front of you, cliffside restaurants with Aegean Sea views and expansive wine lists in a country known for its vinotourism.

Greece key facts

Time difference

GMT +2 hours

Capital

Athens

Currency

Euro

Flying time to destination

3½-4½ hours depending on destination

Language

Greek

Passport & visas

Visa not required for UK passport holders

Greece good to know

Etiquette

• A tourist tax applies to all hotels in Greece and is only payable locally.