The Greek Islands represent a unique tourist attraction and allow just one country to offer a range of different experiences. There are over 6,000 islands in all, of which 227 are inhabited. The variety of landscape, history, and mood which they offer makes choosing just one to visit all but impossible. All of the islands are located in either the Aegean or the Ionian Sea. The crystal clear waters are fantastic whether you wish to snorkel, scuba dive or just cool off from the heat of the sun.
The largest of the islands is Crete, the fifth largest in the Mediterranean. Much of its appeal lies in the fact that it boasts 1,000 kilometres of coastline, offering an array of coves, bays, and stretches of pristine white sand. The inland landscape is marked by a chain of mountains which run the length of the island and tower to over two thousand metres. As if the glittering waters of the sea and the drama of the mountains weren’t enough, Crete also boasts its own lake, Kournas. It is surrounded by taverns inviting visitors to soak in the stunning views whilst enjoy a relaxing drink.
The history of Crete is a match for its ambience. Settlements dating back as far as 6,000BC have been found on the island. The Minoan Civilization, often seen as the worlds first civilization, was founded here as early as 2,600 BC. Sites such as the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Malia Minoan Palace are amongst attractions which allow visitors to steep themselves in this history.
Crete is the largest and most developed of the islands, but the smaller islands still have much to offer visitors. One of the very best beaches found on any island is Shipwreck Bay on Zakynthos. It’s so stunning that even the fact that it has to be accessed by boat doesn’t stop it becoming crowded in the high season. If history is what draws you to the Greek Islands then your island of choice should definitely be Delos, which has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site due to the classical Greek ruins unearthed there over the last 100 years. Although Delos is uninhabited, it can be accessed by boat from the nearby island of Mykonos.
If you’re looking for an island which has remained untouched by tourism and development, then opt for Karpathos. Lying between Rhodes and Crete, it offers peace, quiet and the chance to sample the traditional Greek way of life.