An Expert Travel Guide to Greece
From Santorini to Crete, we explore the best of the Greek islands so you can plan your perfect holiday
Planning a holiday fit for a God or Goddess? Whether you want to laze on a beach drinking rosé or play Indiana Jones and explore some ancient ruins, thanks to this expertly curated travel guide, Greece is officially at your fingertips. Even the pickiest of Mount Olympus dwellers will not have a single complaint about any of our Plum Guide homes on the islands, for (as always) each one has been carefully vetted by our fastidious home critics. From the white rooftops of Santorini to the azure waters of Kefalonia, the sunsets in Crete and the clubbing in Mykonos (beware of the hangover though), we’ve got your vacation covered. All you have to do is down an ouzo, smash a plate and enjoy yourself.
Take a trip to Santorini
A travel guide to Greece wouldn’t be complete without including Santorini. One of the famous Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, there’s fascinating geological history here as the island was devastated by a volcano in the 16th century BC, which dramatically shaped its landscape. Most impressively perhaps is the caldera or underwater crater. Beautiful yet eerie, the caldera measures 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), and is flanked by 300 m (980 ft) high cliffs on three sides.
Iconic on Santorini are its whitewashed, cubiform houses mainly located on the island’s two main towns, Fira and Oia. Famous for its killer sunsets, Oia can be touristy but is definitely worth it for the views. Days on the island are best spent on the beaches, which boast black, red and white lava pebbles. For the best and most upscale experience, head over to Seaside Santorini perched on the Perivolos black sand beach. There you can rent loungers, sip fruity cocktails (we won’t tell your work colleagues you strayed from your usual whisky, don’t worry) and enjoy a delicious and elegant lunch at the beach club’s own restaurant.
You’ll need a car to get around here, although if you’re travelling without the little ones in tow, have some fun and go for a quad or scooter instead. It will be romantic and easier to find parking - a win win. Don’t miss drinks at local outdoor bar Franco’s, where sweeping views of the sea and cliffs are only outshone by the tantalizing cocktails. Getting hungry? Try Dimitri’s in Amoudi Bay for some of the best seafood of your life. Catch and Melitini both in Oia are also great spots to dig into some wonderful local cuisine. For souvlaki, don’t miss Pitagyros.
For a meditative and zen-like retreat to call your own, check out our home Iremia. Boasting a hot tub and dipping pool, you’ll probably want to spend at least one day of your holiday simply lounging around here.
Make the most of Mykonos
Another glorious Cyclades island, Mykonos is famous worldwide for its summer season, when beaching and clubbing combine to create the ultimate party atmosphere in beautiful and contrastingly serene surroundings. Local beach clubs such as Paradise and Super Paradise boast bars blaring electronic beats and droves of gorgeous humans in tiny swimming costumes. Scorpios beach meanwhile attracts a chicer crowd and stays pretty chill during the day before transforming into more of a party around 5 or 6pm. We recommend booking loungers here and seeing where the day takes you.
As with Santorini, you will need a vehicle to adequately explore the island - there is so much to see and do. For the best lunch of your holiday, make the rugged drive to Kiki’s. Perched above a tiny beach, you’ll put your name down on the owner’s list and splash around in the water below until your table is ready. Once called back up, dine on a multitude of fresh salads and simply barbecued fish, seafood, chicken and lamb. Don’t miss checking out the 16th-century windmills in Mykonos town, which are sure to fascinate the kids if you brought them along.
Dinner on the island is all about Sea Satin Market, a true Mykonos institution. Bring your friends and take over a long table for dinner followed by dancing on said table. Live music and entertainment will keep you happy all night long, or at least until you decide if you’re
foolish brave enough to try one of Mykonos’s nightclubs. These massive spaces host world-renowned DJs and stay open long after sunrise. Ok, so we know you’re not as young as you used to be, but one night out surely won’t hurt (famous last words if we ever heard them).
After a long night, and in preparation for a hangover fit for someone as old as you, crash at Cycladic Serpent. This contemporary villa features minimalist decor and natural toned interiors to compliment its incredible outdoor space. Unwind in the pool while still being in walking distance to the main town for when you inevitably need to hit the pharmacy for some aspirin.
Enjoy exploring Kefalonia
cried through read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, you’ll know all about Kefalonia, where the novel is set. We can assure you it’s even more beautiful in real life so definitely a must on a travel guide to Greece. This island on the Ionian Sea is located west of mainland Greece and will wow you with its peaceful sandy coves and romantically rugged landscape.
Spend your days exploring Kefalonia’s secluded beaches, underground lakes, gorges and quaint villages. Stop for lunch in the picturesque garden at Captain Nikolas where everything is handmade and originates from the farm in the back of the property. For a meal with a view, try Phaedra Restaurant in Lassi, where you’ll feast on fresh and delicious Kefalonian specialities.
The island’s capital of Argostoli overlooks a narrow harbor. Most of its beaches are only accessible by foot or by driving around some exceptionally winding roads. Flanked by limestone cliffs, you’ll feel almost in an alien landscape as you dip into the water and thank God you kept working in that job you hate so you can stay in homes like Sprinkle of Sage. Try saying infinity pool overlooking the sea three times fast.
Combine comfort with culture in Crete
Greece’s largest island, Crete is known for its varied terrain, which ranges from powdery sand beaches to the mountainous Ideon Cave, where Zeus was born (according to Greek mythology). Crete’s capital, Heraklion, will get our resident
nerds scholars excited as it's home to both the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and Bronze Age settlement, Knossos. You can split your time between relaxing on the beaches and soaking in culture at whichever ratio makes you happy.
You won’t want to miss a meal at local eatery Elia, located in the southern village of Sellia. The owners here cook only using regional products and local virgin olive oil. Family-owned tavern Ferryman Taverna is another good shout to get your mouth watering. This intimate spot on the waters of Elounda bay boasts incredible views and chef Yiannis Baxevanis' gourmet Greek fare. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Greece and visit all these beautiful islands. If you're thinking of travelling by sea, you can visit Ferries in Greece to book your tickets.