The beautiful Greek islands are just perfect for a spot of hopping, as many students will tell you. But you don’t need to live out of a backpack and navigate your way round the island’s hostels – hop aboard a luxury liner for a tour of the very best places in Greece.
One of the world’s most dramatic backdrops of cliffs, sea and sky in the world was sculpted by a volcanic eruption during the Bronze Age. The explosion caused the middle of this once-circular island to sink, leaving an enormous sea-filled crater flanked by mammoth cliffs. This cataclysmic event is the reason for many of the island’s remarkable features, from its black-sand beaches to exquisite wines grown from the fertile volcanic soil.
The town of Fira, located on the island’s west end, is perched on the edge of sheer 260m cliffs. Wonderful views combine with quaint streets filled with souvenir shops, jewellers and fine restaurants. To truly appreciate this cliff-clinging spot, descend by cable car to the port of Athinio below. If you’re truly daring, zigzag down the face of the cliff on a donkey.
Rhodes is said to be the sunniest place in Europe, with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the island has a rich history spanning millennia. The Old Town’s character is greatly influenced by Italian architecture and this well-preserved society still maintains its charm of a medieval town with Venetian and Turkish influences. This ancient harbour is where the famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, once stood. There are also ruins of the ancient acropolis and the Temple of Apollo.
Buy fine pottery, leather goods and painted vases in the winding streets of the old town. Savour some local olive oil, homegrown fruits and vegetables and well-reputed Rhodian wine. Tour Sokratu Street for the best shopping and cuisine choices on the island.
Mykonos is a dazzling destination filled with whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches and beautiful beaches set against an equally striking blue sky. The hora , or main village, of Mykonos is filled with a maze of tight-winding streets. With over 20 accessible sandy beaches, you’ll discover secluded locations and family-oriented beaches.
Mythology cites Delos as the birthplace of Apollo, son of Zeus. Visit remnants of temples dedicated to Apollo or take a stroll to the Sanctuary of Artemis, dedicated to Apollo’s sister. The House of the Dolphins and the House of the Masks showcase superbly colourful mosaic pavements. The Terrace of the Lions, a row of marble lions erected in the 7th century BC, stand as eternal guardians of the sanctuary.
Although most of the Greek Islands are located in the Aegean, Corfu is in the Ionian Sea. Lush and fertile with a cooler climate, Corfu is dotted with olive groves, orange and lemon orchards, and graceful cypress trees. Explore living history in the streets of Corfu’s old town and take in the old and new fortresses, or citadels, surrounded by delightful gardens. Narrow, winding streets, wander past quaint village squares, and richly decorated churches and homes.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria built the Palace of Achilleion. Adorned with statues and motifs associated with Achilles, the palace features a dramatic statue, the Dying Achilles, by German sculptor Herter. The palace grounds feature lush and tropical terraced gardens with sweeping views of Corfu Town and the countryside.