From ancient palaces to rugged coastlines, unspoiled villages and countryside blanketed by vineyards, the Greek Islands are rich in beauty and culture. A two-day visit to Corfu with Paxí gives a taste of the Ionians, while highlights of the other island groups can be enjoyed with a longer stay.
The Achílleion Palace on Corfu, where statues of Greek gods take centre stage, is a splendid place to visit.
Two Days in Corfu and Paxí
Start on Corfu (see p76) among the cobbled streets of Corfu Old Town (see pp12–13). See Plateía Spianáda before visiting the Dimarchío. Enjoy lunch and people-watching at a trendy café in the Listón.
Marvel at the red-topped campanile of the Church of Ágios Spyrídon On the seafront, visit the Palace of St Michael and St George to see its fabulous Asiatic art. Outside, check out the view of the Palaió Froúrio.
Take the fast hydrofoil to Gäios on the island of Paxí (see p75). A taxi tour here will give you a real taste of Ionian rural life. Stop at Lákka for an early fish lunch before returning to Corfu for the afternoon.
Join a tour to the Achílleion Palace (see p82) and revel in its gardens canopied by palm trees. Then go to Taverna Sebastian (see p83) for dinner.
Seven Days Around Rhodes, Sámos, Égina, Évvia, Crete and Mýkonos
In Rhodes Old Town (see pp14–15), head straight for the must-see sights: the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Street of the Knights. Have lunch at Alexis 4 Seasons (see p117) and drive to the ancient Líndos acropolis (see p116). End the day with dinner at Kalypso Roof Garden (see p117).
At the Sanctuary of Heraion, statues mark the Sacred Way to the temple.
Board the short flight from Rhodes to Sámos (see p125) and head to Pythagóreio and the Sanctuary of Heraion (see pp24–5). See the sites’ treasures at the museum in Vathý.
Fly from Sámos to Athens and make your way to Piraeus port to take a ferry to Égina (see p145). Spend the day exploring the charming island, stopping at the Temple of Aphaia (see pp32–3), the Temple of Apollo (see p154) and the fishing village of Pérdika (see p154). Finally, dine on fresh fish next to the harbour at Nontas (see p155).
Head back to Athens, hire a car and board a ferry to Évvia (see pp34–5) at Rafina port. Get a taste of the island
with a coastal drive from Néa Stýra to its capital Halkída, taking time out to explore ancient Erétria en route.
Cross the bridge linking Halkída to the mainland, and on to Athens for the short flight to Irákleio on the island of Crete (see pp26–7). Head straight to the Palace of Knossos (see pp30–31) and look out for the Priest-King fresco as you explore the labyrinthine site. Next stop off at Phaestos Palace before heading back to Irákleio and feasting in Erganos Tavern (see p108).
Mýkonos is identified by its many pretty windmills.
Catch the fast ferry from Irákleio to Mýkonos (see p91), which calls in at Santoríni (see p91), Íos (see p88) and Páros (see p90) along the way. On arrival enjoy a late lunch at Raya Restaurant (see p95) before heading inland to see the famous wind mills of Mýkonos dotting the landscape.
Board a boat from Mýkonos Town to Delos (see pp18–19). Spend a leisurely day enthralled by the remains left by the ancient inhabitants in the Maritime Quarter, the Sanctuary of Apollo and the Theatre Quarter.