Friday, April 21, 2017

The best Greek Island hotels By Telegraph Travel Experts

Other island silhouettes on the horizon, a transparent sea lapping a sand or pebble shore (there’s a special Greek word for the sound – flísvos), a congenial beach bar a few steps away… for many visitors, these are the essentials of a holiday in the Greek islands. Venture further inland, however, and you will find atmospheric villages and monasteries, world-class museums and a laid-back lifestyle pursued mostly in public.

Corfu

Corfu has figured in our consciousness since Edward Lear visited and painted while it was a British possession from 1814 to 1864. It’s one of the greenest of the Greek islands – thanks to intermittent but torrential rains from September to June, and the thousands of olive trees that carpet the land­scape. It is also, perhaps surprisingly, one of the more rural, sleepy islands away from the touristic honeypots.

Crete

Crete boasts one of the longest beach-lounging seasons; north-coast beaches tend to be long and sandy if a bit exposed, while others are apt to be shorter but more secluded. For those of a non-beachy disposition, there’s plenty of interest inland: exquisitely frescoed country chapels of the 14th and 15th centuries, ruined Minoan palaces and towns, plus top-drawer hiking and botanising opportunities.

Rhodes

With miles of beaches, a forested, mountainous interior, Crusader castles, frescoed churches, one of the finest medieval towns in the Mediterranean and eight sunny months a year, Rhodes can’t help but be a winner for holidaymakers. The walled old town of Rhodes has justly been accorded Unesco World Heritage status, and rarely fails to impress with its sandstone architecture, flying buttresses over cobbled streets and a skyline exotically stooked with minarets and palm trees.

Santorini

Santoríni is really best approached by sea; as your arriving craft manoeuvres over the impossibly midnight blue waters of the caldera, the sheer lava cliffs of the caldera lip, layered in varicoloured rock, loom overhead, with white houses on top like a dusting of snow It’s one of the spectacles of the Med, as is the reverse practice of staring out over the caldera waters from up top – something not lost on the strangely assorted clientele.

Mykonos

Once among the poorest, barest Greek islands, Mýkonos - starting in the late 1950s - became a bohemian mecca and is now one of the glitziest, most renowned tourist destinations in the country. This central Cyclade was briefly the premier Mediterranean resort for gay travellers, though since then Mýkonos has tried to reinvent itself for a more varied clientele. There’s also no shortage of clothing and jewellery boutiques in the main town (Hóra) for a spot of retail therapy.

Hydra

Sumptuous mansions and humbler vernacular homes arrayed amphitheatrically around Hydra’s marble-quayed harbour date from the 18th and 19th centuries, when Hydriot seafaring prowess brought great wealth. The island remains endearingly time-warped: as a listed architectural reserve, all new construction is (theoretically) banned, and it’s blissfully free of motor vehicles except for a few miniature rubbish trucks – photogenic donkeys (or mules) do most haulage. The clip-clop of the beasts' hooves on marble pavement and their drovers' cries are very much part of the soundtrack here.

Patmos

Pátmos’s volcanic geology, with basalt formations pointing evocatively skyward and quirky islets floating just offshore, adds to the palpably spiritual atmosphere. But the corporeal certainly gets a look-in, with excellent beaches and arguably the most varied clientele of any Greek island, ranging from backpackers to current and deposed European royalty.

Páros

Páros has a bit of everything you’d expect from an island in the Cyclades archipelago – whitewashed villages, blue-domed churches, blonde-sand beaches, fishing harbours overlooked by taverna tables, plus lively bars and cafés. The landscape is perhaps not the most dramatic, with its modest 771-metre (2,388ft) -high Ágii Pándes summit, but from the ring road the views out to sea over dozens of surrounding islands are unbeatable.

Naxos

The largest and loftiest of the Cyclades archipelago, rugged Náxos is one of the few Greek islands besides Crete that could feed itself – you see flocks of sheep, goats and cattle everywhere, along with all manner of market gardens. The local small potatoes are renowned, commanding a price premium, as do a range of island cheeses. The biggest draw is Náxos’s entire southwest-facing coast which, from the resort of Ágios Prokópios down to Agiassós near the island’s southerly cape, essentially forms one great long beach, separated by little headlands.

Skiathos

Skiáthos was the first northern Sporade to be developed, back in the mid-1960s. It’s not hard to see why, with more than 50 beaches lapped by an almost Caribbean-coloured sea, plus a lushly green backdrop inland. Its original forest, alas, has burnt frequently (last time in 2007), but such is the humid climate and ample groundwater that replacement growth springs up quickly. A busy yacht marina and drydock are a natural outgrowth of the traditional local caique-building industry. The Telegraph