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The 5 best Greek Islands

02 February 2016 ( 20 January 2020 )

From the sparkling beaches of Kefalonia to the wildflower-strewn plateaus and rugged mountains of Crete, we've compiled a list of the five best Greek islands.

Mareblue beach resort in Corfu, Greece
Mareblue beach resort in Corfu, Greece

If you’re dreaming of idyllic Greek holidays, then you’re in the right place. With its beautiful blend of ancient history and warm weather, Greece has always been one of our most popular destinations.

Putting together a list of the best Greek islands is no easy task – in fact it’s almost impossible. 

There are hundreds of inhabited islands in Greece, and everybody has their own favourite. We could write another blog tomorrow with five different choices and then keep doing that for a month without reaching a definitive verdict! 

Whichever destination you love most, you will surely agree there is something magical about a Greek island holiday.

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1. Rhodes

The largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, Rhodes is a superb place to relax and enjoy the things that Greek life is famous for; relaxing in the sunshine, eating out, and socialising with friends and family. 

 For centuries, this popular destination has also drawn those in search of history and culture.

The island was once home to the Colossus of Rhodes – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – and the medieval city of Rhodes is now a designated UNESCO world heritage site.

As relaxing holiday islands go, it doesn’t get much better than Rhodes: it is a lovely place to walk around by day, and the old quarter of Rhodes town is very atmospheric in the evenings. 

The traditional local hospitality simply has to be experienced – enjoy a marvellous Greek welcome at The Blue Sea Beach Resort when you travel with Saga.

Discover the top things to do in Rhodes

2. Crete

One of the largest islands in Greece, Crete is a many-layered destination. 

The Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaistos and Malia are among the finest attractions on the island, but you will find many different influences including the Roman and Byzantine Empires. 

For a whistle-stop tour of Crete’s history and heritage, visit the Heraklion museum where there are thousands of artefacts on show.

Along with the hundreds of archaeological sites that will fascinate keen historians, there are some impressive natural wonders too. 

It’s hard to ignore the turquoise waters of the Aegean glittering in the sunshine when you visit the island, and the beaches are a heavenly place to read a book or sip a cocktail.

Q We enjoy holidays to Greece and Turkey but 2017’s summer’s earthquakes make us wonder what we should do in the event of being caught in one?

Even the faintest detectable tremor can set your nerves on edge and they occur in the most unlikely of countries – on average there are two a day in Switzerland, and last June the UK experienced an astonishing 13. But these are all at the very low end of the Richter Scale: anything measuring under 4.9 should be fine; level 5 and above, however, can be life-threatening.

The Department of Conservation in California, where they know a thing or two about quakes, advises anyone who is indoors to stay there.

Get under a heavy desk or table and away from glass – windows, framed pictures, mirrors, fish tanks and the like. Contrary to popular belief, standing under a doorframe is not advisable. It might not be strong and if you’re in a public place you could be trampled by people panicking.

If you’re in the open air, get away from buildings or anything else that could shower debris. If you’re driving, stop the car but do not shelter under a bridge or flyover.

Park off the road if possible to allow emergency vehicles access should they need it. And steer clear of electricity pylons. The quake itself is not the only danger. Aftershocks can be as dangerous – tremors of equal or sometimes greater strength – so proceed with caution.

Listen to radio broadcasts and, if possible, let relatives or friends know that you are safe. But most importantly, don’t let the faint possibility of a quake spoil your holiday. Relatively few of level 5 and above occur worldwide.

Extract taken from Saga Magazine, October 2017. For more travel tips, subscribe to the magazine today!

3. Corfu

One of the lushest of the Greek islands, Corfu is a favourite holiday destination of the rich and famous. It’s easy to see why – it is a truly beautiful location to get away from it all. 

From its twisting coastline to rolling hillsides blushing with olive trees, there is plenty to appreciate. 

Keen walkers will love the Corfu Trail, which winds its way from north to south offering walkers a chance to see many different sides of this enduring island.

Discover the top things to do in Corfu

4. Kefalonia

This stunning island was the setting for the best-selling novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Of course, the landscapes here are even more impressive in real life than they appear onscreen. 

Be sure to pay a visit to Myrtos Beach, in the north-west of the island, where a crescent of picturesque, pristine white sand lies at the bottom of two mountains, Agia Dynati and Kalon Oros. 

5. Skiathos

Many people visit Greece to go on walking tours, and Skiathos is one of the best parts of the country to do this. 

The rugged interior of the island is full of pretty villages, pine forests and trails of different sizes for the beginner or expert walker.

Other people come to the island for its pretty coastal towns and fishing villages which are jostling with white painted houses, narrow little streets and charming old church buildings.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.