Greece is one of the most visited countries in the world, welcoming close to 20 million visitors each year. The country is home to a number of exclusive resorts on its mainland and its dozens of secluded islands on the Aegean Sea.
Greece is in our list of this year's top 10 summer holiday destinations. Find out why, and explore the rest of the list here.
The picturesque island of Mykonos is particularly popular with couples and features a diverse club scene and many luxurious modern resorts. The island has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years and is home to numerous pristine sandy coves and beautifully preserved coastal towns. Another popular holiday destination is Santorini, which is renowned for its stunning panoramic views and features an active volcano, although don't worry too much, because the most recent major eruption took place around 3,600 years ago.
On the photogenic Adriatic coast is the charming Ionian island of Kefalonia, which is best known for its dramatic Myrtos Beach and Melissani Cave, and is home to numerous upmarket hotel resorts. Another popular location for Greece holidays is the beautiful mountainous island of Crete, which is famous for its Venetian port Chania and turquoise lagoon of Balos. Many holidaymakers also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of medieval Rhodes and the breathtaking island of Skiathos, featuring one of the most enchanting ports in the Aegean Sea.
No holiday to Greece would be complete without visiting the iconic Acropolis in Athens, which offers remarkable views over the Greek capital. Visit the historic Plaka district, the Panathenaic Stadium, and explore some of the most important ancient artefacts from Ancient Greece at the Acropolis Museum. Don't forget to see the magnificent Meteora, one of the most striking landmarks in Greece and one of several to be categorised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastery complex overlooks towering sandstone pillars and has long been an inspiration for artists and photographers due to its dramatic natural scenery.
Another reason to book Greece holidays is so you can sample the fabulous national cuisine. One of the most celebrated dishes is Moussaka, which typically comprises minced beef or lamb with aubergines, potatoes, tomatoes and onions, and is seasoned with oregano and mint. Other famous national dishes include Pastitsio, lamb Souvlaki and Stifado, which are best enjoyed at an authentic Taverna by the sea.
For reliably sunny weather and bath-like sea temperatures, the best time to visit Greece is April to October. The temperatures in Athens often hit the 30s in June, July and August, but with its wealth of ancient sites – and since it’s not a beach destination – the best time to make the most of your visit is April/May and October/early November. The same applies for Greek island walking holidays; hiking in July and August will be hot and challenging, while April/May/October are cooler and lusher. August is not only the hottest month for a Greek island holiday, it’s the busiest, so you might want to avoid the super-popular spots like Santorini and Crete. Instead, head for lesser-known islands like Kefalonia, Skopelos and Skiathos. Peak season for watersports is also May to early October, promising sunshine, a warm sea, and decent breezes on the windy isles.
There are myriad reasons to go on a Greek island holiday, not least because there’s an island for everyone. Watersports fans should try the windy isles of Lefkada, Paros and Naxos, or take a boating or diving trip from dreamy Corfu. Don your hiking boots on Hydra, traverse lush Kefalonia or Corfu, or explore Crete’s gorges. Party-lovers should head for Zakynthos (Zante), Rhodes (particularly Faliraki), or Mykonos for a more refined but nonetheless fun night out. Crete, Rhodes and Kos are all bursting with antiquities, while Mykonos has a true gem on the tiny island of Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Santorini’s pristine Cycladic architecture also makes it a superb sightseeing spot. If you’re seeking gorgeous beaches and fabulous swimming, any Greek island should tick your boxes. Standout gems include Corfu’s crystalline coastline, with day trips to nearby Paxos and Antipaxos, or the lesser-known but unspoilt isles of Lekada and Ithaca. The best island for couples would be by far Kythira, where the goddess of love was born according to greek mythology.