A Quick Guide to Greece

Choosing Your Greek Destination

This quick guide to Greece gives advice on choosing the best Greek destination for your holiday, whether in the Greek islands or the mainland, with potted summaries of the main vacation destinations.

Yacht in the sea off Kefalonia in GreeceKefalonia

Most holidaymakers choose the Greek islands, or popular mainland spots like Halkidiki, but wherever you go you need to do a bit of homework to make sure it’s the right place for you. Islands vary enormously, and even within an island there will be places where the discos thump till dawn, and places where you’ll experience wonderful peace and quiet.

Kefalonia
A large island which was a little off-the-beaten track till the book of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which was set there, became everyone’s popular holiday read some years ago. There’s plenty of variety here if you hire a car, with a mountainous south rising to over 5300ft, and beautiful beaches to discover. The beach at Myrtos (above) often features in photos promoting Greece, with its long curve of white sand. Beaches generally are good, including the ones at Lassi and Skala, but the island will also appeal to the more adventurous, who like walking, sightseeing or visiting other islands nearby.

Zakynthos
Zakynthos, also known as Zante, has some terrific beaches, such as the ones at Laganas and Alikes. Laganas has become quite a party town, so not for those who are early to bed and early to rise. Alikes is a bit less frantic, but still quite lively at night. There are plenty of unspoilt places on the island, but you will need a car to get to them. It’s not a huge island, and you could easily drive round it in a day, seeing most of the main sights on the way. It’s more for people who want a lazy beach holiday, with perhaps a day out here and there.

The Greek islanf of ThassosThassos

Thassos
Thassos is one of the lesser-known islands, though it’s grown in popularity over the last few years. It’s roughly circular, with resorts all around the coast, and the interior largely unexplored so ideal for walkers and the curious traveller. Thassos Town has something for everyone, with beaches, bars and ancient remains. There are good beaches and, rare for Greece, sand dunes at Skala Potamias, but otherwise beaches are not the island’s strong point. 

Monastery on Mount Athos in GreeceMount Athos

Halkidiki
The three-pronged peninsula of Halkidiki on the Greek mainland attracts lots of Greek holidaymakers as well as British and other Europeans. It has a wealth of good beaches, many of them with Blue Flags, and is great for families. Two of the peninsulas are well-developed, and the third is Mount Athos, home only to a few thousand Greek monks. A day trip around the coast to see the monasteries is a must. Hire a car or make day trips and many fascinating historical sites are accessible, making it suitable for those who like to mix a little culture with sunbathing.

Skiathos
The busiest island in the Sporades group in the northern Aegean, so a little cooler in summer. It has some great beaches, which are almost always busy. Skiathos Town has good eating places too, but not cheap. The resorts are mainly lively, fun places, so great if you enjoy a bit of nightlife.

Kos in the Dodecanese islands of GreeceKos

Kos
More great beaches here, and busy resorts like Kardamena. Kos Town has lots of historical interest, and the interior of the island has beautiful mountain villages where few tourists venture, but it’s basically a fun, package-holiday island.

Rhodes
Rhodes is a huge island and ranges from quiet mountain villages to resorts like Faliraki, which is one huge party town. Rhodes Town is worth at least one day out for its historic old town, and good restaurants. Lindos is one of the most beautiful towns on any Greek island, with narrow streets of whitewashed houses – but a good little beach too. Plenty of beach activities, including scuba-diving and windsurfing.

Samos
Samos is an island for walkers, being large and lush with mountains that rise to over 4700ft.It is less developed than many islands, so you will get more of the ‘real Greece’ here. Kokkari is noted for its windsurfing, and Samos Town has narrow, cobbled streets to explore.

Corfu
Corfu is big enough to offer a variety of attractions, from busy resorts like Dassia, Kavos for the party animals, the beautiful Paleokastritsa for families, and slightly quieter places like Kalami. It’s good for wildlife too, as anyone who has ever read or watched My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell will know.

Crete
Greece’s largest island has got everything. If you want to party head for Malia or Hersonissos, and if you don’t then head for the hills. The rugged interior is fabulous, including the Samaria Gorge, one of the longest in Europe – a good day-trip from Rethymnon. Rethymnon and Agios Nikolaos are both large towns, with museums, culture, good eating and ideal if you want more than just to bake on a beach. Chania is the most beautiful town on the island, and the capital, Iraklion, is also enjoyable.

More general Greek pages

  • Which Greek Island?

    How to choose which Greek island from six of the most popular, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Kefalonia and Zakynthos.

  • Greek Music

    Greek music is the sound of the bouzouki and tunes like Zorba the Greek and Never on Sunday are heard everywhere, while rembetika is called the blues of Greece.

  • Greek Ferry Guide

    Greece Travel Secrets Greek Ferry Guide page uses an extract from the Aferry Greece website with advice on island-hopping, buying tickets online and timetables.

  • Greek Architecture

    This beginner's guide to Greek architecture explains how to tell your Ionic from your Doric columns, and what to look for in temples and Byzantine churches.

  • Greece for Beginners

    Greece for beginners is an introduction to Greece and the Greek islands by way of a memoir by travel writer Mike Gerrard about discovering Greek kindness.

  • Greece At A Glance: Currency, Weather and Other Useful Information

    Greece at a glance is a potted guide to the Greek currency, language, weather, health requirements and other information to help you plan a trip to Greece.

  • Luxury Weddings in Greece

    Luxury Weddings in Greece, including venues such as a boutique hotel with deluxe spa on Santorini, can be booked through Ionian Weddings.

  • Weddings in Greece

    Weddings in Greece and the Greek islands can be luxury or cheap, are easy to arrange from the UK or USA in Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes.

  • Travelling Around Greece

    Practical information on travelling around Greece by plane, by ferry, by bus, by train and by driving, including car rental, parking and other driving advice.

  • Top Ten Things to Do in Greece

    Top Ten Things to Do in Greece include seeing the Acropolis and Parthenon, visiting the National Archaeological Museum and ancient sites like Knossos on Crete.

  • Top Ten Biggest Greek Islands

    The Top Ten Biggest Greek Islands, the largest in size, are listed by Greece Travel Secrets and include Crete, Evia, Lesbos and Rhodes.

  • Tipping in Greece

    The Greece Travel Secrets guide to tipping in Greece from two Greece travel experts, including when to tip, what to tip and when not to tip.

  • The Nomads of Greece

    The nomads of Greece are the Vlachs, nomadic shepherds whose capital is Metsovo in the Pindus Mountains, and the Sarakatsani, shepherds in Macedonia and Thrace.

  • The Greek Gods

    The home of the Greek Gods was the top of Mount Olympus, and among the better-known Gods and Goddesses in the Greek pantheon were Zeus, Poseidon and Aphrodite.

  • Ten Biggest Cities in Greece

    The ten biggest cities in Greece start with Athens and Thessaloniki, followed by Patras and several suburbs of Athens which are Greek cities in their own right.

  • Six of the Best Beaches in Greece

    Greece Travel Secrets chooses six of the best beaches in Greece including beaches on Corfu, Santorini, Crete, Lefkas, Kefalonia and on the Peloponnese.

  • Sailing in the Greek Islands

    Greece Travel Secrets lists four of the best destinations if you want to go sailing in the Greek islands.

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