12 Mar ‘Kaliméra’ from Greece’s beautiful islands
The deep blue water of the sea glistens in the sun while I enjoy my frappé. I’m sitting on a light sandy beach, backed by shining sugar-white houses. Good morning, or rather ‘Kaliméra’ from Greece. Dreamy beaches, ancient sights, delicious Greek specialties and the warm hospitality of the Greeks guarantee an unforgettable summer holiday. In recent years, the Greek Islands have become an increasingly popular travel destination for sun-hungry holidaymakers. And it’s no surprise, really, considering the island line-up of everything from classics like Crete and Corfu and romantic destinations like Santorini, to islands fit for the whole family like Rhodes or Kos. The selection of Greek islands is large, and it’s got a collection of TUI BLUE hotels to match – over 20 hotels on eight islands. With such a range to choose from, it’s difficult to decide where to pick for your next Greek trip. Take a look at my round-up of the most beautiful Greek Islands, and you’ll find out which one suits you best.
Crete – Greece’s most versatile island
Crete is a classic member of the Greek Island group, and it’s ideal for holidaymakers that are new to Greece. Thanks to its diverse offering for families, couples, singles and groups, the island is deservedly described as an all-rounder. You can soak up the sun on lots of picture-perfect beaches around the island. As well as the north’s lively beaches, which are a perfect match for families or active travelers, you can find secluded stretches of sand in the south that are set up for couples.
Thanks to the island’s well-developed infrastructure, it’s worth renting a car to explore. Set off on a journey back in time to Ancient Greece – the palace of Knossos in the north of the island is an absolute must-see. You’ll be amazed by how well-preserved the Cretan architecture is. The ideal starting point for adventures around the island are the TUI BLUE hotels near Heraklion, Crete’s capital. You can reach Knossos, for example, from family-focused TUI BLUE Elounda Breeze or adults-only hotel TUI BLUE Insula Alba in under half an hour by car.
But the island’s appeal doesn’t stop there – active holidaymakers and nature lovers will also love Crete! The hike in the spectacular Samaria Gorge, in the southwest of the island, is definitely one of my personal highlights here. Trekking past small chapels, exotic plants and trees, through narrow paths surrounded by steep rock faces – that’s what you call pure adventure!
Plus, Crete boasts two airports, so it couldn’t be easier to get to the island.
Rhodes – the sunny family island
Just like Crete, this Greek Island is an all-rounder when it comes to holidays. If you want to be sure that you can catch a tan while you’re away, Rhodes, the sunniest Greek island, is the island for you. Rain is a rarity in the summer months, which means you can expect stellar sunbathing weather – sunny with a breeze. The wind conditions also make this place perfect for a wide range of water sports, from classic windsurfing and catamaran sailing to newer trends like stand-up paddle boarding, as well as adrenaline-junkies’ favourites, jet skiing and parasailing. With a packed activities line-up, and plenty of family-friendly hotels, you can be sure that kids will be kept busy on holiday here.
I can recommend the TUI BLUE Atlantica Aegean Park in Kolymbia for its childcare, entertainment for all ages, and its waterpark, which is on the hotel’s grounds.
In addition to its beaches and water sports, the island also attracts history buffs, thanks to its rich selection of cultural sites and treasures. You can visit UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rhodes Town, the ruins of the fortress of St. John in Monolithos, or go to the remains of the Acropolis of Lindos.
Kos – Hippocrates’ island
Kos has become more and more popular in recent years with traditional holiday makers. A good infrastructure, numerous hotels and restaurants, wonderful sandy beaches and a diverse selection of activities mean that you’re in for a carefree holiday with sun guaranteed. Fans of ancient history can visit the important archaeological site of Asklepieion and, in Kos town, discover the origins of Greek mythology.
The TUI BLUE Palazzo del Mare isn’t far from the city. Highlights in the city include the legendary tree of Hippocrates and Therma Beach. A must-do excursion for nature lovers is a trip to the volcanic island of Nisyros, while beach fans should check out Paradise Beach in the south of the island.
Corfu – the green-tinted island
Corfu is ideal for anyone looking for more out of their holiday than relaxing on the beach. You’re open to new discoveries and love to get moving? Then book yourself a rental car or a scooter and let’s go.
Anyone who drives around the island understands why Corfu is known as the greenest island in Greece. Idyllic villages wrapped in olive groves, merging with colorful flower-speckled scenery – sound up your street? Check in to the adults-only TUI BLUE Atlantica Grand Med Resort. This hotel blends into the slopes of the mountains, and is surrounded by pine and cypress trees. There are great beaches for every holidaymaker, including the family-friendly Glyfada Beach, the romantic Paradise Beach for couples, and the Issos Beach with ideal wind conditions for watersports enthusiasts. Other top sights include the Empress’s Achilleion Palace Sissi or the mystical ghost village Paléo Períthia in the northeast of the island.
Chalkidiki – the peninsula with dreamlike beaches
Chalkidiki is also known as the three fingers of the Greek mainland. Just take a look at a map of the country and you’ll see why. The three headlands of Kassandra, Athos and Sithonia protrude into the Aegean Sea. If your holiday must-haves are great beaches and bays, you’ll be charmed by Chalkidiki.
There are two TUI BLUE hotels in Chalkidiki – the adults-only TUI BLUE Lagoon Palace and the family-focused TUI BLUE Lagoon Princess. They’re set right on the beach between two of Chalkidiki’s so-called fingers. From here, I recommend a boat tour on the turquoise-tinged Aegean Sea.
Santorini – the romantic couple island
A picturesque landscape, complete with white houses topped with blue roofs that – set on the steep rim of the the sea crater – are illuminated by the sun. Santorini is the Greek Island we all recognise at a glance.
The island hasn’t been under the radar for a long time now – it’s become a magnet for the rich and beautiful. Plus, it’s built a reputation as a number one travel destination for honeymooners or couples’ escapes. More and more luxury hotels and boutique villas have opened to offer unforgettable holidays here.
So, you should be prepared for a certain level of hustle and bustle during high season. Nevertheless, this island is my absolute favourite. Breathtaking sunsets and extraordinary volcanic beaches await.
You’ll find the TUI BLUE Meltemi in the southeast of the island. This adults-only hotel makes it possible to visit Santorini without having to meet its big budget. The hotel’s color palette beautifully sets off the famous architecture of the island.
Zakynthos – the most idyllic island
For me, Zakynthos is the most beautiful Greek Island. It’s totally different to Santorini, which is known for its architecture, while Zakynthos’s individual beauty comes from its landscapes. Steep cliffs surround its idyllic bays, its white sandy beaches blend into its turquoise waters. Anyone looking for an Instagram photo spot or a backdrop for the best snapshots in your family photo album, you’ll find it in Zakynthos. Both the adults-only TUI BLUE Caravel and TUI BLUE Zante Maris are set on beaches in the east of the island.
The island’s hotspot is Navagio Beach, which translates to something like ‘shipwreck’. Here, you’ll find the wreck of an old smuggler’s ship. According to local legend, back in 1980, the ship was smuggling cigarettes when a storm hit, and the boat sunk. Surrounded by a 200-metre-high cliff, the ship makes for a perfect photo opportunity. Check it out at #navagiobeach.
Kefalonia – our insider tip
Kefalonia is still a relatively unknown holiday destination, compared to the rest of the Greek Islands. Here, you’ll find picturesque, authentic fishing villages. So, if you want to escape everyday stress and let your mind wander, this is the place for you.
The secluded adults-only TUI BLUE Tesoro Blu is set in the southeast of the island, in what is probably the most varied area of Kefalonia.
On the island, green-brushed valleys and magnificent mountain landscapes meet picturesque hidden sandy bays – perfect for those who want to spend romantic days with their partner. The capital Argostoli, in the southwest of the island, is a little more lively. In the pretty harbour, you’ll find lots of traditional taverns run by cheerful locals. One of the highlights of the island, for me, is a trip to the underground Lake Melissani. The scenery here’s magical, especially when the sun shines on the water.
Have you picked your favourite island? If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. All that’s left to say is ‘καλό ταξίδι! [kalo taksidi]’ – in English, ‘have a good trip!” :-).