Greece is the most beautiful country in the world, says every Greek person ever. That famous pride aside, if you’ve ever been to the Greek islands, you know there’s no arguing. An overabundance of gorgeous beaches, leathery pensioners who’ve still got the taverna bumping, and the best-tasting tomatoes ever are just a few of the things you won’t find anywhere else.
Simply put: The Greek isles set the bar for epic summer holidays incredibly high. Here is an extraordinary handful, picked among thousands
Welcome to the St. Tropez of Greece, where the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Leonard Cohen paved the way for cashed-up bohos, yacht folk, and Greek Glamazons. Hydra’s good looks are undeniable, so splurge on the overnight experience once the day trippers have gone back to party in Athens. The plucky traditional bouzouki music, time-warp tavernas, and decadent seafood platters are worth staying up for.
Pale friends, look no further than Rhodes, where the sun shines about 300 days a year. If you’re UV-starved and looking to camp out on a beach lounger, this is it. Rhodes is packed with postcard-perfect resorts on silky strands, and when you do emerge back into civilization there’s plenty to discover along the medieval cobblestone streets of Old Town.
Crete is the original hipster health destination, true to homegrown organic everything in magnificent surroundings. You’ll love dakos, the Cretan take on bruschetta, and olive oil-drenched octopus, especially when you down it with native vino or better yet, tsikoudia, the local gut-warming moonshine. Village tavernas with show-stopping views and “don’t give a damn” ambience only amplify the charm.
Covering less area than Manhattan, Skiathos is but a morsel of the Aegean Islands. But frankly it’s the one you don’t want to miss. Its 60-odd beaches mean your options are bountiful, and those keen to get off bus routes can explore remote shores via Sea-Doo, kayak, or boat.
Kalymnos is a rock-climbing mecca known for its dramatic limestone cliffs overlooking ambrosial fields of citrus groves and wildflowers. There are crags for beginners and monkey-armed pros alike, while local delicacies such as grapefruit, bergamot, and daily seafood catches are sure to keep you vitalized while rappelling.