The Greek Islands are famous throughout the world. Each one is individual in it's own right, offering it's visitors a selection of history, culture, and of course, entertainment.
With so many Greek Islands to choose from, you really will be spoilt for choice. Your Greek Holidays can easily be the most fun and relaxation you have ever had during your vacations. The images of the dazzling white houses, set against a backdrop of the blue sky and crystal waters will stay with you forever.
The beaches range from pebbles to fine sand so beach shoes can be useful.
The Mediterranean is not truly comparable with the Caribbean or Pacific - the water is cooler and the sand generally coarser. Shady tree fringes are also rare, though hot sunshine, good food, clear water and friendly English-speaking locals are almost guarenteed.
Low prices, apart from ferries, are no longer with us thanks to the Euro and current sophistication of Greek society.
Tour operators offering tours to Greece can be found in our listings here: Greece Tours
EU beaches that failed water quality tests in 2007: none in Greece.
Nudist beaches: Going topless is acceptable just about everywhere on Greece islands, while areas of total nudism exist discreetly on many islands. e.g. Little Banana [Skiathos], Super Paradise and Panormas [Mykonos], Plaka
Island hopping is a joy these days with fast, cheap ferries connecting all the dots, tho' the fastest ones - bumpy, noisy hydrofoils and smooth, quiet catamarans - can be cancelled due to moderate winds. Bugbog's choice of ferry line is Blue Star, running superb new, apparently safe, efficient car ferries and catamarans.
Fast hopping is easiest if you stay within an island group. e.g. Ionian islands [Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante +] The Cyclades [Santorini, Mykonos, Ios, Paros, Naxos +], The Sporades [Skiathos, Skopelos +]. Typically, Santorini to Naxos would take about an hour and cost about €10. Paros to Mykonos 45 minutes.
Sea sickness guide: the Bugcrew get sea sick easily but had no problems on 8 boat journeys in September. Short bouncy trips on hydrofoils hardly merited the acupressure wrist bands we wore. 4 hours on a Blue Star ferry in a force 6 wind with 4ft waves was amazingly stable, with no more than 2cm of visible roll.
Still, we suggest acupressure wrist bands as a starting point and some fast-acting chemical as a back-up if things go wobbly.
Two wheels good, bike guide:
Unless you really like a lot of walking or waiting for buses you'll need your own transport in Greece's islands. The roads are often picturesque, mostly in good condition and other drivers generally sensible, though we would avoid much night driving and beware occasional grit on the roads.
Cars are a little expensive to rent [€25+ pd] and can be a hassle to park. Transport of choice is the scooter [€8+ pd, , though many renters will NOT accept a European car driving licence to pilot a 50cc jobby. You MUST have a bike licence. Helmets are supposed to be worn but most riders don't.
Bugbog mission position: we are not attempting to assess every beach on every island, merely to give you an idea of what to expect in different areas. Part of the joy of Greece is the space to escape the crowds and find your own little paradise. So there are plenty of beaches left for adventurers...
The Cyclades islands [SE of Athens, easy to reach by ferry from Pireus or Rafina]
Paradise, Super Paradise and Panormas beaches, Mykonos
Mykonos is one of the most attractive islands in Greece with its dry stone walls and cute organic architecture. Gorgeous Mykonos town - the epitome of whitewashed, blue wooded, narrow street Greek towns - is the start of the action, and it doesn't have to be so expensive... Just avoid waterfront dining!
Although Mykonos is fairly hilly, it's only ten miles long by seven miles wide, so most visitors rent cars or scooters to explore.
Places such as Agios Stefanos, Platyialos, and Psarou all have well protected beaches with medium grade sand and a good selection of tavernas - though heavily umbrella infested, but the pick for under-40s visitors is either the trees, coarse sand and funky bars of Paradise beach, or the even coarser but prettier Super Paradise , where naked gays have colonised one end. Both are a little exposed so water can get choppy.
For soft sand, dunes, stunning scenery, less people, less services and mad ducks try Panormas on the other side of the island.
Red Beach, Santorini
Santorini [also known as Thira] is spectacularly situated on the edge of a dormant volcano . Many believe that this is where the Atlantis legend began, when the volcano blew hugely in 1650BC, not only knocking off the local, highly civilised Minoans [remnants still visible at the Akrotiri site] in their 'island within an island', but also sending out a tidal wave that would have destroyed many other Minoan sites and ships and closed the book on Minoan power in the Mediterranean.
Along with Mykonos, Santorini is one of the most expensive islands in Greece, but the teetering towns of Fira and Oia are spectacularly worth it.
Due to its volcanic soil most beaches - Perissa and Karmari are the best known- have hot black sand/pebbles, though the water is clean and clear.
The best beach is narrow, characterful Red Beach , with small red grainy sand partially covered in wood shavings to keep it cool, crystal water and rocks to offer snorkellers some action.
*Milopotas and *Manganari beaches, Ios
Although reknowned as a young person party island, Ios is surprisingly tranquil during the daytime and sports two superb beaches. Excellent Milopotas is only 5 minutes by scooter from the town, a huge stretch of soft yellow sand and calm, clear water. Watersports and plenty of discreet, varied tavernas lurk adjacent.
Superb Manganari is even better but a long dirt road hike or boat ride, little accommodation and not good for nipping back to rave in the evenings.
*Psili Ammos beach, Serifos
Psili Ammos means soft fine sand, and that exactly how this superb white beach is, along with clear water and a tree-lined shore. Accommodation and excellent tavernas nearby.
*Maragas and *Plaka beaches, Naxos
Rugged and mountainous Naxos is favoured by German hikers and has a pretty little, lively main town. Don't even consider grotty Grotto, north of the town, though Agios Georges at the south end is good for a town beach - fine sand, nice views, clear water and loads of accomodation and other services nearby.
A little further away and also popular is large, coarse sanded Agios Prokopios, and small, unnattractive Agios Anna.
The pick of Naxos beaches is the long stretch of dunes running from Maragas to Plaka. Soft sand, a scattering of trees, discreet services on a dirt road, almost turquoise water and lots of space make this an excellent location for layabouts. Nudists hang out in Plaka.
Kolymbithres beach, Paros
Although this is the transport hub for the Cyclades, Paros is surprisingly pleasant. The town has the usual little, white-washed labyrinthine streets, some smart sunset bars and restaurants and a terrific church, the Ekatondapiliani - the oldest in use in Greece.
The countryside is a little on the dull side but beaches are quite acceptable. The two biggish ones sharing the town's bay, Livadia and Krios, are both calm, clear, tree lined and well-taverned.
Paros' east coast has some bigger beaches that are heavily promoted - such as Golden Beach - but Bugbog found them the be overly windy, with choppy water and hard sand.
The prettiest beach on the island is undoubtedly Kolymbithres, near the tourist town of Naoussa, with shallow aquamarine water enclosed by fine sand and strangely eroded rocks. Great for children, the only problem is size...it's very small and will get crowded easily.