The best Greek islands

The best Greek islands


1. Rhodes, Dodecanese

If you’re after a bit of R&R, Rhodes’s east quad has a 30-mile stretch of well-maintained golden-sand beaches with warm, shallow water down its eastern coast. One of this coast’s great modern hotels, with their all-inclusive packages, should be just the ticket: everything is on your doorstep – kids’ clubs, water sports facilities, wellness, babysitting, restaurants and cafes, so you can switch off and truly relax. If you do venture out, don’t miss the magnificent Unesco-listed Rhodes Town on the isle northern tip, which will take you back by the centuries, with its middle ages fortifications and car-free cobbled alleys.

2. Crete

Europe’s ancient civilization built palaces love dearly with magnificent frescos and enjoyed the inquisitive sport of bull leaping on Crete from 3000BC to 1400BC. The Minoans’ capital, Knossos, was partially (and controversially) reconstructed by untimely archaeologists, making it unusually approachable to children. Finds from Knossos, such the bizarre Snake Goddess, are displayed at Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Kids will also love visiting the Dikteon cave on the Lasithi Plateau, which the ancients think about the birthplace of Zeus, with its stalactites and stalagmites.

3. Corfu, Ionian islands

Make like the Durrells and head to Corfu for a stain of swimming and sunbathing on one of its varied beaches: sandy Glyfada, on the wild west coast; nearby Paleokastritsa, by its sheltered pebble coves; or Sidari on the north coast, with its peculiar rock formations and warm sea. There’s also an Aqualand water park in the island’s lush green inside. Popular with Brits, thanks to dense direct flights from airports across the UK, your family will sense at home in Corfu – it was under British protectorate from 1815-1864 and in the lovely Unesco-listed old town, you’ll even find locals playing cricket. After dark, kids will relish the open-air warm season cinema (films in the original version, with Greek subtitles) and ginger beer.

4. Paxos, Ionian islands

One of the junior commercial Ionian island, Paxos (pop 2,300) is loved by rich Italians and yachties, hence its outstanding  (but rather pricey) seafood restaurants. Measuring just seven miles long and three miles wide, this is your archetypal Mediterranean island hideaway, with marvellous turquoise sea and lovely white pebble beaches. The pace of life is slow and leisurely in its three small towns, Gaios, Lakka and Loggos, which are connected by noticeable trails.

Paxos is a popular one-day excursion from Parga and Corfu, so if you visit in peak season (Jul-Aug), it does get crowded between 11 am and 5 pm. In this case, your good bet is to hang out in the garden by the pool till the craft have left, the head for the beach in late-afternoon (east coast beaches, such as Monodendri, are the best), or hire a craft and explore the plummeting limestone cliffs and sea caves along the west coast.

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