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An Introduction to Greek Island Hopping

Updated on November 28, 2017
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella has travelled widely throughout the Mediterranean and owns a holiday home there, so she has written extensively about this region.

Vathi, the Harbour of Ithaka, in the Ionian Sea

Ithaka is the island of Odysseus
Ithaka is the island of Odysseus | Source

A Greek Odyssey

Ancient and modern scholars are uncertain as to whether the shores which the Greek hero Odysseus visited in Homer’s Odyssey actually exist but one thing is certain: Odysseus would have seen many of the best beaches in Greece on his seafaring adventures while attempting to sail back to his homeland of Ithaca after fighting the Trojan War.

Nowhere in the world is there so much choice when it comes to beaches. Greece has more islands than any other country with a Mediterranean seaboard and with a tourist season lasting from May to October, visitors from all over the world choose Greece for a summer holiday. Brits especially can’t resist the lure of a Mediterranean beach - their thirst for sunshine, sand and sea is overwhelming. There are many likely candidates for the best beach in the Greece; here is a basic introduction to some of them.


Beaches in the Ionian Islands

The seven main islands of the Ionian chain are found off the western side of mainland Greece. They offer some of the premier beach resorts in the country. Idyllic isles with sheltered pine-scented coves are never far away if you choose a holiday here. Island hopping is a popular pastime for those who charter a yacht to discover some of the more inaccessible beaches.

The island of Corfu is perhaps the best known and busiest island in the Ionian with a fantastic selection of beaches. Discover marvellous wooded scenery to provide a backdrop for your beach photos and sit in the welcoming shade that protects you from the heat of the day. There is a wealth of activities and water sports available throughout the island to cater for all tastes. The east coast boasts popular resorts such as Benitses and Messonghi where you can easily see the mainland and take a pleasant afternoon boat trip there. Dine on a simple lunch of crusty white bread, red wine and feta cheese - just like our hero Odysseus. Find some quiet cove and enjoy a way of life unchanged since ancient times.

Moraitika beach is a picturesque setting with its swaying palms and is easily accessible from Corfu Town via the main coastal road. Here you can take a leisurely drive and stop practically anywhere you please to find some welcoming taverna near the beach to enjoy a light lunch.

The western side of the island is sandier and the wonderful beach at Glyfada boasts magnificent rock formations as an added bonus. The beautiful beaches at Paleokastritsa, Dassia and Agios Georgios are a haven for photographers and sun worshippers alike. Corfu is thus unbeatable if you are in search of some of Greece’s finest beaches.

The island of Paxos is tiny and although only accessible by sea it still has some great beaches and is well worth the visit from neighbouring Corfu.

Lefkas too has some good beaches worthy of exploration and is only ‘A stone’s throw away’ from the mainland.


Mytros beach Cephalonia - One of the Most Photographed Beaches in the World

Mytros beach Cephalonia
Mytros beach Cephalonia | Source

Kefalonia the main Ionian island boasts thirty four brilliant beaches. Myrtos beach (pictured above) is one of the most photographed in Europe and although it appears sandy from a distance, it is actually made of smooth white rocks, difficult to walk upon. For fine golden sands worthy of sandcastles the beach at Lepeda is not to be missed.

Ithaka

Any visitor to Kefalonia will no doubt visit neighbouring Ithaca and here too are enough small coves and inlets of special interest to those who prefer somewhere steeped in Greek mythology but not for those who enjoy huge sprawling resorts. Beaches here are ideal for those who prefer quality time in the sun in an ‘Away from it all’ location.


A Great Guide to the Greek Islands

The Aegean

The Aegean Islands are distinctively different from the Ionian chain and are often hotter in the height of the summer (July and August) but the same tourist needs are met. Each island has its own unique culture and heritage and the beaches are superb.

Many of the Aegean islands such as Lesbos and Kos are nearer to Turkey than mainland Greece and it is possible to take a day trip to discover Greece's neighbouring country.



Fun for the Kids Whichever Island you Choose

And if you get bored of beaches there's always the pool!
And if you get bored of beaches there's always the pool! | Source

Beaches Located on the Greek Mainland:

The mainland has a largely rugged coastline so those in search of endless sands would perhaps be better holidaying in Crete, which as Greece’s largest island, has more sandy bays than you could ever hope to visit during a typical fortnight’s holiday. Marathon Bay (also the site of an ancient battle) on the mainland is perhaps the only exception where sands stretch as far as the eye can see. The area in Kalamata around the town of Stoupa is also a reasonable beach destination. Pelion in Thessaly is another rare delight and will please those who appreciate outstanding scenery.

Who is to decide which beaches are the best? It depends. Some prefer more remote beaches for their unspoilt location and others want beaches that provide a fun-filled environment with every family orientated facility nearby. An isolated beach is all very well but if you are not carrying a picnic with you there will need to be at very least a basic cafe to provide refreshments and adequate toilet facilities. Of course everyone requires the same two qualities from a beach whatever their personal preferences and these are cleanliness and safe bathing. Greece is therefore the ideal place, boasting as many as 412 'Blue flag’ beaches which have all met with stringent requirements. Greece is categorized as second in the world for best beaches after Spain. No wonder our Greek hero Odysseus took twenty years to find his way home to Ithaca!

For a touch of luxury and desirable Greek beach locations worthy of any postcard, a holiday in a Greek beach villa is an ideal to discover your chosen location without the constraints of a hotel environment.

Discerning tourists should thus have no difficulty in making a wise choice as to the best beach for them. Wherever you travel in Greece you will find a beach to suit you but remember to take your rubbish away with you if bins are not available and respect the environment so the balance of nature can be preserved for others to enjoy.

Crete:

Greece’s largest island and home to the ancient Minoan civilisation boasts Chiona Beach - a near perfect location. Red cliffs surround this totally un-commercialised beach area although there are three restaurants and adequate facilities. It is never overcrowded even in the height of the season. You can snorkel in crystal clear waters and laze in the shade provided by nearby trees. There is sufficient parking and a nearby site of antiquity.

Some of the Best Greek Islands

The Sporadic Isles:

The island of Skiathos boasts Koukounaries Beach which provides safe bathing in a sweeping sandy bay. There is a beachfront hotel and views of brightly coloured fishing boats moored in a typical Greek harbour. Tavernas abound enticing you to sample some Metaxa and Ouzo and what better way to end a sun- drenched day on the sands than a few drinks to the strains of some lively bouzouki music?


Greece and the Islands

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Greece
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The Dodecanese:

Rhodes is a well known tourist island nearer to the Turkish mainland than Greece which has a great selection of beaches to choose from. As a long established holiday isle there is something for everyone here from huge all inclusive hotels to quiet beach villas in relatively unspoilt surroundings.


Some of Greece's Best Beaches

Something to Remind you of Greece When you Arrive Back Home!

The Cyclades

:Here is a veritable paradise ideal for ‘Greek Island hopping.’ 220 islands comprise the Cyclades and some like Delos are uninhabited. The most famous of these is Santorini, a volcanic island with an arid climate more like Africa than Europe. It is a popular port of call for Mediterranean cruise ships and has spectacular views and cliffs as well as three magnificent beaches. An island with a unique and fascinating geological past, a beach holiday here can be combined with a step back in time to discover the mysteries of a lost civilisation said to have met with an untimely end in a cataclysmic volcanic eruption some 3600 years ago.

Mykonos

This island also in the Cyclades is the perfect destination for the young and lively crowd and with its 25 sandy beaches is the number one holiday isle for fun in the sun. Here you will find the beaches of ‘Paradise’ and ‘Super Paradise’ which are guaranteed to live up to their names.


The Island of Kos

Kos is in the Aegean sea - nearer to Turkey than mainland Greece
Kos is in the Aegean sea - nearer to Turkey than mainland Greece | Source

After reading this article, would you be happy to book a holiday to Greece?

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© 2016 Stella Kaye

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    • Stella Kaye profile image
      Author

      Stella Kaye 2 years ago from UK

      Thank you , I'm pleased you read my article. The Mediterranean has always been a firm favourite of mine... I do like the Caribbean too but the long flight puts me off, so I have only been there once!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      The Mediterranean region has always fascinated me. Your description of these beaches only add to the vision. Thank you.

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