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 unspoilt 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 island of Kefalonia in the Ionian where many of its properties are within a short walk of beach, shops and tavernas. Examples include Villa Nichola on the waterfront in Fiscardo. 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. Porto Sani Resort is my choice for families: it has single storey rooms and suites, some with private pool.
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.
In Cyprus, the Almyra is a stylish contemporary beachfront hotel that makes families with young children particularly welcome.
Single Parents can enjoy a break in the sunshine with Single With Kids.
Best holidays in Greece for couples
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.
Tiny Paxos is one of the best unspoilt Greek islands. It 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.
Cyprus also some fabulous five-star hotels that are great for couples. In Paphos, the Asimina Suites Hotel is firmly focussed on adult luxury with a private sandy beach, lush gardens and suites with large balconies, while the renowned Anassa in Akamas is laid out in a traditional village setting overlooking a gorgeous beach.
Island-hopping is great fun in Greece. If you want to avoid the vagaries of the ferries, book a cruise on a traditional Turkish gulet. Try this Cruising to the Cyclades small-group tour, with a focus on visiting historical sites.
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.
If you have questions about climate, see the best time to visit the Mediterranean.
Best companies for Greek holidays
Last updated: 28 April 2016