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Greek islands guide: The best destinations to visit in 2024

19 Apr 2024 | Updated on: 26 Apr 2024 |By Annie Lewis

Ionian or Cyclades? Beaches or cliffs? Greece’s 227 islands offer too much choice. Here’s where we recommend holidaying in the ethereal isles

Greece was once deemed a cheap break. Well, not anymore – and we have the pandemic and Instagram to blame for that. Thanks to the picture-postcard shots of Santorini’s sunsets, Mykonos’ beach parties and undiscovered sleepy Greek towns plastered all over our social media feeds, and Greece being one of very few countries to consistently welcome Brits during the coronavirus pandemic, a flight to the country will now set you back more than £300 – and that’s without the hours-long ferries to reach any of the 227 Greek islands which make up the Ionian and Cyclades. But, we’re of the opinion that it’s very much worth it. 

Famous for their domed architecture, laidback attitude and seemingly endless ocean views, any good Greek islands guide will tell you the holiday hotspots are divided into the Ionian side (west of mainland Greece) and the Cyclades, situated southeast of the mainland in the Aegean Sea and centred around the uninhabited island Delos, the mythological birthplace of Apollo. You’ll find the latter are steeped in history and spiritualism, barren due to their volcanic environment and brimming with the signature white-washed houses with turquoise accent. The Ionian islands, meanwhile, are leafy, colourful and influenced by a colonial past (Corfu, for example, only came under Greek rule at the end of the 19th century). Whatever your preference, here’s where we recommend booking your Greek island holiday in 2024. 



Easily the most famous of all of the Greek islands, Santorini is famed for its sunsets, domed white houses, cobbled streets and black beaches. It’s a popular honeymoon destination with American and Asian clientele, so if you want a glimpse of that Instagrammable sunset, you better line up early to secure the best spot alongside a stream of other tourists. It’s busy – perhaps more so than any other Greek island – but that doesn’t mean it’s lost its charm (yet). 

Roughly 3,500 years ago, a volcanic explosion blew out one half of the island, creating a submerged caldera which shapes Santorini’s crescent-shaped bay. Hugging the cliffs are an array of restaurants and luxury hotels dotted with infinity pools that provide panoramic vistas of the endless Aegean Sea beyond. Small, must-visit villages – primed with turquoise doors, hanging plants and signature white exteriors – on this side of the island include Oia, Imerovigli, Fira, Firostefani, Akrotiri and Megaloachor, with more affordable hotels found at the latter two locations. Oenophiles who want a true taste of Santorini’s fertile volcanic soil via organic wines should head to Aroma Avlis, while those looking for a fine dining experience won’t be disappointed at Selene: the island’s first high-end restaurant which opened in 1985 with menus by Michelin-starred chef Ettore Botrini. 

Where to stay: Santo Mine Oia Suites

Elegant and understated, Santo Mine Oia Suites is all about effortless charm. The all-suite property sits above Ammoudi Bay in Oia, on the site of a former stone mine. Suites are designed with minimalist decor to reflect the warm, earthy tones of the island and boast their own pool or jacuzzi overlooking the sparkling blue waters and clear skies of Santorini. Relax in the salty ocean breeze as you dine on fresh seafood at the Ālme restaurant and sample vintage wines from the hotel’s wine cellar. Don’t miss traditional Greek treatments at the Pnoē Spa and the unique outdoor gym. Self-care never looked this good.

From £360 per night. 


Just a three-hour ferry from the Greek capital of Athens, Paros is not only the perfect island-hopping base (its proximity to Mykonos, Santorini and Naxos means a lot of travellers stop off here) but a destination in its own right. Boasting 120km of coastline characterised by golden sand beaches, leafy mountains and cliff-top villages, there are two main areas to visit at the beating heart of the island: Parikia and Naoussa. Popular with a younger crowd, both locations are filled with traditional taverns, luxurious restaurants and sophisticated bars, while those who prefer a quieter experience should head to the laidback, traditional villages of Lefkes and Marpissa. Unlike many other Greek islands famous for their towering cliffs, Paros is uniquely renowned for its sandy beaches fringed by azure waters, including Santa Maria, Golden Beach and Kolymbithres. 

Where to stay: Andronis Minois

Following an extensive renovation in 2023, the Paros outpost of Andronis Hotels – a family-owned collection of luxury five-star hotels and villas in Athens and Santorini – will reopen its doors next month. The 44-key property, situated in the village of Parasporos, offers a contemporary take on traditional Cycladic architecture, combining the angular geometry of Paros with the unspoilt beauty of the Aegean Sea. Each suite at Andronis Minois features private patios and unique views, while multi-bedroom options also include exclusive swimming pools. Elsewhere, guests will find a main swimming pool with a vibrant day-to-night Lounge Deck, well-equipped outdoor gym, a subterranean spa, and fine dining restaurant, Olvo. Located just over 500 feet from the water’s edge, ocean swims are a short saunter away while adventurers can take advantage of the extensive activity menu, including horse riding, diving, and windsurfing. 

From £200 per night. 


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Emerging as one of Greece’s coolest destinations, Folegandros translates to ‘iron hard’ in ancient Greek – which sums up the landscape here nicely. This volcanic island – just 45 minutes from Santorini – enjoys its fair share of gales, meaning plants have to be protected by rings of stones in order to survive. However, its real offering to travellers is its Mamma Mia-esque bohemian vibe. Explore the island's 14 beaches and cliff-hugging villages, such as the capital Hora which features three distinct areas, each brimming with traditional tavernas and cocktail bars. Local ferries do service some pebbly coves come summer, but we’d recommend staying above sea level to enjoy those unrivalled views of the island-dotted ocean beyond. 

Where to stay: Gundari

Set over 100 acres of open land on Folegandros, Gundari is a privately owned and run hotel co-founded by Ricardo Larriera, whose family goes back several centuries on the island. Promising an authentically Greek experience, and with sustainability at its heart, each of Gundari’s 25 neutrally-toned suites and two villas work with the local climate to improve energy efficiency and harness solar power to heat their private infinity pools. Elsewhere, discover a cliff-edge pool with swim-up bar, gym, organic farm with wine bar and a farm-to-table restaurant designed by Michelin-starred chef Lefteris Lazarou. A subterranean spa also draws on Ancient Greek healing traditions, using native herbs and remedies for a truly unique relaxation experience.

From £520 per night. 


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Crete has long been a place of solace, self-discovery and inspiration for artists and writers, rich with ancient ruins, rugged landscapes, rustic tavernas and unspoiled beaches. But a glamorous destination for the beau monde? Not so much. In recent years, though, things have changed. Look past the package holidays offered in abundance on the largest of the Greek islands to discover a growing collection of design-led hotels with smart spas, private beaches and gourmet restaurants. Must-visit beaches include Balos Lagoon in Chania, Episkopi and Petres, while history buffs can marvel at the world-renowned archeological sites of the Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Kato Zakros. 

Where to stay: Blue Palace

blue palace

Positioned between Mirabello Bay and the port of Elounda, the beachfront Blue Palace hotel is one of Crete’s most notable high-end resorts. The hotel honours traditional Greek architecture, with travertine tiled floors, mosaic walls and minimalist furnishings in shades of white and blue. Reminiscent of an amphitheatre, grass-topped buildings sink into the hillside, housing some 520 rooms and suites, as well as 16 two-storey family apartments. For a real slice of the high life, we recommend booking the newly-opened Phāea Blue Villa, sleeping up to eight guests and including a dedicated private chef and butler service for the duration of your stay. Master bedrooms are complete with a four-poster bed, a fireplace, and ensuite bathroom with jacuzzi bathtub, while elsewhere discover the private heated pool with sea views, outdoor patio with a private dining area and in-room gym. 

From £240 per night. 


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Corfu is the island for the rich and famous. Once home to the Ionassis family and a regular bolthole for the Rothschilds, the island has also catered to the likes of Elton John, Warren Beatty, George Clooney and Demi Moore – and if you want to holiday like them, make a beeline for the north-east coast, suitably nicknamed Kensington-on-Sea. The Corfiot coastline boasts scenery akin to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, but once on dry land, head into the Old Town to discover the island’s cosmopolitan centre, where its Venetian, British and French colonial influences can be spotted everywhere from British palaces to Byzantine churches, and French esplanades to Asian art galleries. Royalists will enjoy a jaunt to the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George where the late Prince Philip was baptised in 1922. 

Where to stay: Ultima Corfu

Founded in Switzerland in 2016, Ultima Collection’s vision was to bring unique luxury experiences to the next generation of travellers thanks to its curated collection of high-end villas. Over in Corfu, its multi-tiered home that hugs the cliffs of the Emerald Isle offers complete seclusion with panoramic views of the Albanian coastline beyond. Arrive by boat to discover this six-suite villa, each featuring a private dressing room, bathroom and, of course, those views. From the gym to the cinema room, and the hilltop jacuzzi to the two infinity pools, there’s plenty to occupy 12 guests here. And with a house manager, private chef, team of service staff, chauffeur, personal trainer and massage therapists on hand at all hours, you won’t ever have to lift a finger… 



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Kefalonia, situated in the Ionian sea, came relatively late to the Greek islands tourism game. Prior to the airport’s renovation in 2017, it wasn’t exactly easy for outsiders to get here, thus, the island doesn’t rely on international visitors, and instead is fairly self-sufficient and still up-and-coming. It was flattened by an earthquake in 1953 so those white-washed houses with blue doors, intrinsic to Greece’s DNA, won’t be spotted here, paving the way for the colourful properties that now line its shores. Kefalonia’s central hubs span two villages, snorkelling-hotspot Fiskardo and Assos, while island highlights include Mount Ainos, a leafy national park home to wild horses, the famous, milky-white Myrtos beach and the forest-fringed Horgota beach. 

Where to stay: Eliamos Villas Hotel & Spa

When this five-star retreat opened last year, it really kick-started Kefalonia’s luxury offering. Located on the Ionian Island’s southern shore, Eliamos consists of 12 villas – which can be couple- or family-friendly – nestled among wild flowers and herbs. Interiors are soothing, with bohemian furniture, brushed concrete walls, and plenty of jute and rattan. Each accommodation has its own salt water pool or jacuzzi surrounded by bean bag loungers, and gorgeous ocean views. The Relais & Chateaux hotel is health-focused, without actually being a wellness retreat: there is deliberately no buffet, and nothing processed comes out of the kitchen. Yoga and reformer Pilates classes take place on a shaded cabana; there is also an outdoor gym and the hotel provides e-bikes to get around the island. 

From £560 per night. 


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Hidden in plain sight between two of Greece’s over-tourism culprits, Santorini and Mykonos, lies Ios. Reachable only by boat, the 42 square metre island is home to 32 sandy beaches, many of which remain empty even during the peak summer months. Explore one of the 300 churches, head up to the old castle at the island’s highest point and visit the tomb of one of Greece’s ancient poets, Homer. There are awe-inspiring views along coastal walkways and a combination of authentic and fine dining restaurants scattered throughout the island, such as the quaint tavern of Katogi in Ios Old Town serving traditional Greek fare. 

Where to stay: Calilo

Opened in 2019 by husband and wife team, Angelos Michalopoulos and Vassiliki Petridou, work on this five-star hotel actually started in 2003 when the duo bought land with the purpose of preserving Ios for future generations. Today, they own 30 per cent of the island and have committed to developing just 1 per cent. Enter Calilo. Featuring 30 sustainable suites, with all the materials used during the construction process produced locally or extracted from the ground (such as marble and granite), this five-star hotel also features exclusive beach access, dreamy plunge pools, swim-up bars and romantic day beds. Elsewhere, learn more about Calilo’s Elektra Olive Tree project, which saved over 550 olive trees, and the new Calilo School of Hospitality and Tourism, contributing to the community by training local talent and creating jobs. 

From £620 per night. 


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Welcome to the It Girl of the Greek islands. A couple of decades ago, a summer getaway here almost guaranteed the picturesque appeal of the slow island life and bohemian buzz the island was famous for in the 1960s, but its rise in popularity as a tourist destination has transformed the once tranquil location into a party island. Supermodels and superyachts are almost part of the furniture, and must-visit beach clubs – if you’re lucky enough to nab a bed – include Scorpios, Astra and Jackie O. Happy clubbing!

Where to stay: Cali Mykonos

A romantic bolthole among the decadent chaos is Cali Mykonos. Built in a sheltered cove, the luxury hotel is perched above its own private beach and owes its brilliant under-the-radar location to founder Kyriakos Mourkakos, a New Yorker of Greek descent. Quintessentially Greek to the studs, the resort was crafted to seamlessly blend into the coastline, with villas built using stones obtained while landscaping and a self-sustaining water system fitted to avoid straining the island’s local water supply. This summer, the resort will open a sparkling new spa featuring a steam room, infrared sauna, hammam and cold plunge pool. Foodies won’t be short on elevated dining options either, offered across three restaurants and two bars with traditional Greek and Mediterranean-inspired menus made using locally-sourced seafood and seasonal ingredients. For peaceful sundowner vibes, cocktails and canapes by the pool are the perfect option before hopping over to the new sushi bar for Japanese delicacies made using the freshest local catch.

From £593 per night. 


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Zakynthos, otherwise known as Zante, made a name for itself as Europe’s go-to destination for cheap, post-GCSE holidays. In recent years, however, the Ionian island has tried its best to shed its bad rep to emerge as one of Greece’s greenest islands. Much of the south coast is now home to a nature reserve where endangered loggerhead turtles hatch in the sand. These coves are off limits but there are plenty of others to choose from, such as Porto Vromi, Drosia and Xigia Sulphur beach. Head into Zakynthos Port to discover the old town, where authentic eateries serve native dishes of kuneli (rabbit), gouvetsi (lamb with pasta) and spetsofai (sausage and peppers).

Where to stay: Domes Aulūs Zante

Redefining the meaning of all-inclusive, Domes Aulūs Zante is a family-friendly resort set among 230 acres of white sand pine forest on Laganas Beach: a popular location for sea turtles. The exclusive Kiepos kids’ club allows parents to soak up the Ionian sun while their children experience eco-nurturing activities, including a beachside turtle conservation classroom, botanical eco garden and forest adventure tent where youngsters learn how to support the turtle habitat. Elsewhere, rooms have been tastefully decorated in terracotta hues, wood textures and rattan weaves, and other facilities include a Soma Spa, private pool area, and an all-day private club that offers cocktails, on-the-go snacks and more.

From £218 per night. 


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Kos benefits from balmy, year-round temperatures, with island residents relaxing in at least 20°C come April. And, while there are plenty of beaches for working on your tan, there’s more than just sunbathing here. Ancient Greek and Roman archaeological sites dot the island, with highlights including two largely-intact medieval castles built by the Knights Templar. The island’s main industry comes from food, with many working farms providing hotels and restaurants with an abundance of local produce, from olive oil and honey to organic wine from local vineyards. Plus, it’s easy to island hop from here with the smaller, lesser-known islands of Pserimos, Kalymnos, Plati and Nisyros within easy reach. 

Where to stay: Luxme Kos Imperial

Tropical gardens frame Luxme Kos Imperial, which centres around an expansive lagoon pool, offering panoramic vistas of the Aegean Sea across the water. For 2024, the property’s accommodation, ranging from traditional suites to family villas, and lobbies have been reimagined in a palette of bright whites and dusty blues. The hotel is also launching a new fine dining seafood concept, Lobsteria Restaurant, adding to its collection of nine unique dining experiences. Unwind at the refreshed Elixir Spa, where the wellness concept has been inspired by Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine who was born on Kos – and don’t miss the freshwater and mosaic-laid seawater hydrotonic pool featuring a wild water corridor and private treatment rooms with walk-in gardens and open-air soaking tubs. Anddd, relax. 

From £106 per night. 


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Just a 20-minute boat ride from Mykonos or a two-hour ferry from Athens, Tinos is the Greek island for those in the know. A charming, spiritual, and soulful place – best-known as a destination for religious pilgrims visiting the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, built in 1823 to honour the Virgin Mary, and one of the holiest sites in Greece – it features a rustic landscape, remote and unspoilt beaches, undulating olive groves and sleepy, white-washed villages. Food, however, is taken seriously. There are annual artichoke, caper and honey festivals, and several surrounding eateries follow a nose-to-tail ethos. Be sure to book tables at Marathia and Thalassaki. 

Where to stay: Odera

Launching next month, Odera will be the first luxury boutique hotel of its kind on the unspoilt island of Tinos. Sitting in a secluded bay with a private beach among the island’s dramatic landscape, the hotel will comprise 77 rooms and pool suites, an expansive spa and private beach club. Those looking to elevate their stay to new heights can opt to stay at the Odera Residence, which features a spacious living area and a private pool overlooking the Aegean Sea, promising complete opulence and privacy. The hotel’s private sandy beach, Vourni, is a short stroll and guests can rent the hotel’s private boat to explore the hidden gems along the stunning coastline. Discover the heart and soul of Tinos through a host of island activities and excursions including hiking, fishing, village tours and marble carving workshops with lively Tinos town just 5km away. 

From £274 per night. 


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Beaches galore, Naxos – the largest island in the Cyclades – is the place to go to escape the daily grind. Good weather is almost guaranteed, making the family-friendly beaches of Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna on the west coast even more enticing. Head to the mountains to discover a slower pace of life and remarkable ancient ruins, or head to the namesake capital, also known as Hora or Chora, to explore the lively port town filled with white-washed houses and medieval Venetian-style mansions. Here, history buffs should visit Kastro, a hilltop castle dating back to the 13th century, which also houses an archaeological museum you could easily get lost in. 

Where to stay: Tropical Dream Villa

tropical dream villa naxos

This two-storey villa – featuring a private swimming pool, large outdoor patio, wooden pergola and thriving garden – is the perfect base from which to explore the quintessentially Greek island of Naxos. Built in 2021, it’s located within easy reach of one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Agios Prokopios, and is only 500m from the famous Laguna beach – a hotspot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Tropical Dream’s design emulates classic Cycladic architecture and is furnished in a modern minimal style, hosting up to six people with a modern kitchen, spacious bathroom, cosy living room and air conditioning in every room. Outside, relax on the shaded patio area overlooking the picturesque villages beyond and spot Mount Zas as you cool off in your own private pool. 

From £440 per night.

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