by Telegraph Travel, January 3, 2019

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 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.

Where to stay

Delfino Blu Boutique Hotel Corfu, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

On the northern edge of Ágios Stéfanos Avliotón, Delfino Blue Boutique, with its gourmet restaurant, faultless service and intimate interiors, is popular with independent travellers including numerous repeaters, honeymooners and wedding parties. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

The Merchant's House Corfu, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

Discerning folk willing to forego a seaside resort location, and who relish the idea of being in this historic village after the trippers have departed, will enjoy The Merchant's House. Paleá Períthia is probably the quietest spot on Corfu. Read expert review. From £115per night. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Corfu


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.

Where to stay

White River Cottages Crete, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

Once upon a time this hamlet of stone-built, flat-roofed cottages was seasonally inhabited by the residents of Péfki village, 4km uphill, during the olive-picking season. The olive groves are still nearby but since 1991 (following a five-year restoration) the cottages have been self-catering accommodation. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Crete


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.

Where to stay

Lindos Blu Rhodes, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

This boutique five-star adults-only resort clambers in tiers down to its own pristine beach. Book well in advance: the hotel is nearly always full thanks to exceptional service standards and a loyal repeat clientele. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

Kókkini Porta Rossa Rhodes, Greece

8Telegraph expert rating

Found on a quiet residential lane in Rhodes' old town, Kokkini Porta Rossa is a stylish boutique hotel of five spacious immaculately presented suites. This privately owned and run property offers an exclusive ambiance, impeccable decoration, and fine dining, together with personalised service from the Greek owners. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Rhodes 


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.

Where to stay

Aigialos Hotel Fira, Santorini, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

Aigialos began life as an 18th-century convent, the nuns’ cells flanking the church of Hristós. It eventually passed into the hands of a wealthy local, who in 1997 opened it as five-star accommodation offering sunset views, excellent food and antique furnishings. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

Ikies Traditional Houses Oia, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

Five-star complex of dug-out cave houses, among the best of several in this village. Think assiduous but low-key service, and minimalist troglodytic interiors. The rooms are very well equipped, and some of the suites have private spa tubs. There's also a nice pool. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Santorini


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.

Where to stay

Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort Mykonos, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

Small Luxury Hotels of the World member Mykonos Grand fully lives up to the adjective, especially since a full 2013-15 renovation. Staff here make the place; nothing seems too much trouble, including snaring rare island taxis for guests. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

Grace Mykonos Mykonos, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

The Grace Mykonos, looking southwest over the Aegean to Rínia islet from Ágios Stéfanos cove, has made a name for itself with its meticulously equipped rooms, attentive service and excellent food. It's a flagship member of the growing international Grace luxury hotel chain, and one of the first (2007) established. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Mykonos


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.

Where to stay

Orloff Boutique Hotel Hydra, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

This exquisitely converted mansion takes its name from one of the Russian Orloff brothers, a favourite of Catherine the Great's who fomented an unsuccessful Greek revolt against the Ottomans from 1770 onwards. Among the first boutique hotels on the island, it has emerged from an extensive refurbishment programme. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

Hotel Phaedra Hydra, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

Hydra's most intimate (and secluded) boutique hotel, the Phaedra musters just six units over two storeys. The name recalls the 1962 film shot locally, with Melina Mercouri and Anthony Perkins playing the leads. Read expert review. From £93per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Hydra


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.

Where to stay

Eirini Luxury Hotel Villas Patmos, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

This bungalow-hotel-with-a-difference occupies a north-east-facing slope beyond Sápsila district, amidst carefully tended gardens of hibiscus, sunflowers, acacia, African succulents and even a vegetable patch. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by 

Mathios Studios and Apartments Patmos, Greece

8Telegraph expert rating

What 'rented rooms' or apartments in Greece should always have: a peaceful garden setting, welcoming proprietors in Theologos and Giakoumina, and superior interior appointment. Read expert review. From £35per night. 

The best hotels in Patmos


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.

Where to stay

Hotel Petres Paros, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

The Hotel Petres is an enduringly popular, small-scale rural retreat with exceptionally gracious hosts, which guarantees that it tops Trip Advisor lists year after year, attracting a multinational clientele, a large percentage of them loyal repeaters and long-stayers (up to four weeks in some cases). Read expert review. From £62per night.

Pension Sofia Paros, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

This pension punches above its weight with superior rooms, an idyllic garden setting and scrumptious breakfasts that eclipse those served at many hotels. It's also just three blocks from Livádia beach. Read expert review. From £53per night. Check availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Páros


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.

Where to stay

Hotel Grotta Naxos, Greece

8Telegraph expert rating

This affordable, family-run hotel on Náxos enjoys sweeping views of the Kástro, the straits to Páros, the Portára gate and the sunset. Rooms are comfortable; most have a balcony or terrace and sea views. The buffet breakfasts are excellent. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by 

Kavos Hotel Naxos Naxos, Greece

9Telegraph expert rating

The Kavos Hotel Naxos, just above Ágios Prokópios resort, is an ocean-view establishment offering stone-clad cottages, neutral interiors and excellent food. Built in 1990 but updated regularly since, the Kavos was among the first developments here, snaffling a prime position, 10 minutes’ walk from the nearest beach. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Naxos


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.

Where to stay

Aegean Suites Hotel Megali Ammos, Skiathos, Greece

8Telegraph expert rating

A peaceful pool, adults-only policy and a laid-back but luxurious feel make this small-scale hotel overlooking the Aegean a relaxing place to stay. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

Skiathos Princess Skiathos, Greece

8Telegraph expert rating

Skiathos isn't short of beach hotels but few are blessed with a swathe of sand as impressive as this. Although you might already be sold on the beach-front location, there's plenty more where that came from, including spot-on service, family-friendly activities and stylish interiors. Read expert reviewCheck availability. Rates provided by

The best hotels in Skiathos 


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