Greece holiday destinations
Greece may have a few economic problems to sort out right now, but it remains one of our favourite European holiday destinations. It’s not just the promise of long hot summers that keep us coming back, it’s the diversity of the islands – and the mainland – plus the quality of the accommodation and the friendliness of the people.
But for me the real enduring appeal is the timelessness and simplicity of Greece. The food is fresh, simple, healthy and has changed little in hundreds of years. The whitewashed houses, the squat churches and windmills that dot the landscape speak of tradition and a quiet self assurance.
Whether you’re catching a ferry to an island, lazing on a beach or sitting at a pavement taverna with a Greek salad and a glass of wine, you feel that you’ve captured the essence of a summer holiday. A simple, slow, timeless pleasure.
Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.
Best family holidays in Greece
Corfu is much maligned because of one or two cheap-and-nasty package resorts, but a great deal of the island is beautiful, particularly the north-east corner. There you’ll find some gorgeous villas with pools within easy reach of charming beachfront tavernas and restaurants. Nearby Kefalonia also has some gorgeous villas.
GIC The Villa Collection has been running family villa holidays to this part of the world for many years, and really knows its stuff. It recommends the beautiful tiny unspoilt island of Meganissi which covers just 20 square kilometres. Best spots for families include Villa Eleni which has three bedrooms and a private pool and sits in the hillside village of Spartohori a short walk from the tavernas and beach at Spilia. See the company’s latest special offers.
Crete is the largest and most southerly Greek island. It has dramatic landscapes and a long season – making it ideal for Easter and October half term, as well as the summer break. You can easily get away from the busy resorts and find some great-value villas with private pools in the countryside. In the sleepy village of Pendamodi near Heraklion you’ll find these luxury villas are perfect for families. If you want to be on the beach, try the Blue Beach Apartments in Stavros close to a sheltered sandy cove, perfect for young children.
If you prefer a hotel, we have some great recommendations. Sani Resort on mainland Halkidiki is one of Europe’s finest family holiday destinations. It offers three hotels on award-winning beaches in a safe but authentic environment, with a busy harbour, pine forests, extensive sports facilities and free kids clubs. Sani Beach Club is our choice for families: it has single storey rooms and suites, some with private pool.
The Grecotel Cape Sounio near Athens is overlooked by the Temple of Poseidon and has one of the best children’s clubs in the world – it’s part of the Ambassadors of the Environment scheme set up by Jean-Michel Cousteau. The rooms are very classy and the hotel never feels overrun by kids.
In Crete, contemporary Daios Cove is one of the most exciting luxury family-friendly resorts in Greece. The facilities include an outdoor infinity pool, children’s pool, two tennis courts, fitness centre, spa and four restaurants, plus the hotel has its own private sandy cove with a watersports and dive centre.
Active families should consider Sunsail which offers both beach clubs and flotilla sailing holidays. We particularly recommend its Club Vounaki Beach Club where you can try your hand at dinghy sailing, yachting and windsurfing, all included in the price, along with tennis and mountain biking.
Single Parents can enjoy a break in the sunshine with Single With Kids.
Best Greece holidays for couples
The Pelion is a beautiful unspoilt region of mainland Greece that has escaped the ravages of package tourism. You’ll find lovely sandy beaches, traditional hilltop villages and a great selection of villas and apartments.
In Crete we love this collection of boutique hotels and stylish houses handpicked by the experts at i-escape. There is everything from a rustic hideaway in the White Mountains to an opulent suite in a restored Venetian palazzo in Rethymno.
The tiny island of Paxos has character in spades and is the perfect spot to properly unwind. The island has no airport – and not even a single traffic light – but it’s ideal for lazing in the sun, swimming in clear blue waters and taking boat trips. Check out this collection of villas and traditional stone houses.
Skopelos is a great island for couples. It’s a ferry ride from neighbouring Skiathos and is steeped in atmosphere and tradition, and has glorious countryside. See this selection of villas.
If you love to walk, take your pick from this choice of walking holidays in Greece with Inntravel. This is a great tour operator which extols the virtues of “slow travel” and offers hotel-to-hotel walking where your luggage is transported from one hotel to the next. Avoid the heat of high summer.
If you want to combine sun, beach and activities, take a look at Mark Warner’s Lakitira Beach in Kos, just off the coast of Turkey. It is set in four acres of flower-filled gardens, and has separate beach areas, one for families and one for adults only.