As financial trouble hits Greece, with EU bailouts in the headlines, UK travellers are finding that the country is offering some excellent bargains for holidays right now.
Skyscanner has already seen an increase in interest for flights to Greece. As hotels, restaurants and tourist businesses reduce their prices to attract more visitors, there’s great value to be found all over the country this summer which is helping to compensate for the lower value of the pound against the euro.
Many of the fifty-odd islands in Greece depend on domestic tourism, and it’s here that you will find the best bargains. These islands have kept their prices low, yet it’s the same sun that shines on them, and the same sea that hugs their coastlines. Greece travel expert John Malathronas reveals exactly where to head to get the very best value holidays right now.
So, if you want to stretch your euros and get a real bargain break in Greece this summer, try one of these excellent value islands.
The small island of Serifos, only two hours by catamaran from Piraeus, should be at the top of everyone’s list. Boutique hotels on Mykonos would quote €100 for a double room, ask for only €60 on Serifos. At the same time, the quality of the beaches such as Livádi is dizzying. Nearby Psilí Ammos was crowned European Beach of the Year by the Sunday Times in 2003. Throw in some of the most beautiful and romantic Cycladic architecture and some excellent nightlife, and you have an unbeatable combination.
Only two hours from Rafina, a port with direct links to the Athens International airport, Andros offers the same low prices as found on Serifos. Andros is an island that has been discovered by many Europeans who have bought summer houses there – but not by mass tourism. The short stretch between the port of Gávrio and the main resort of Batsí is home to four beautiful sandy bays each one more enticing than the other. Ághios Petros is brash and youthful; Chryssí Ámmos is the star attraction; Kyprí is long and shaded; while Ághios Kyprianos is small, sheltered and family friendly.
Package tour operators are only now turning their eyes to the volcanic island of Milos, which is connected by air twice daily to Athens. No wonder; Milos boasts no less than seventy-two beaches – some only reachable by small excursion boats – and its western half has been designated a nature reserve. Its occasional lunar landscapes, such as the stunningly white rock shapes of Sarakíniko, have made Milos one of the best kept secrets in the Aegean with many good hotels offering €70 for a double.
This Macedonian jewel was too obvious to miss. Although some package tour operators have already discovered Thassos, the majority of their clients haven’t. With a hotel and flights starting from €300 a week, this verdant island with its combination of fine-sand beaches such as Makríammos and shady pine woods is still an inexpensive destination for families, as much as it is a haven for a variety of bird life.
This legendary home of the goddess Aphrodite has been the inspiration of artists for centuries. Although reached by daily flights from Athens, the island’s location at the tip of the Peloponnese peninsula has ensured that it has remained relatively unspoiled. This is the ultimate family destination: pine and myrtle woods for hiking, golden sand beaches for swimming and atmospheric castles of Venetian origina to explore. Whether you choose to laze about in the organised resort of Kapsáli or the splendid isolation of Chalkós, you’re sure to spend much less than what you budgeted for, especially when dining al fresco costs less than €15 per person..
Travel fifty minutes by ferry from Rhodes and you have left the hustle and bustle behind you, along with the high prices; everything seems to come at 30 percent discount from its neighbour. There are eight major beaches, some within walking distance of the port and others accessible by sea taxi. The sheer diversity of the coastline is breath taking; fine sand, soft shingle or large pebble beaches – Symi has them all. Whether you choose the popular and shady Aghios Nikolaos, sheltered and safe Aghia Marina, or the snorkeler’s heaven of Nanoú Bay, you will be sure to relax in a quiet cove full of beauty.
This is the island where, according to legend, Icarus crashed after flying too close to the sun. Maybe it is the long ferry rides of old that have put Icaria low on the tourist radar, but that’s all for the better. You are guaranteed affordable luxury in the island’s rented studios and apartments all within pebble-throwing distance of its crystalline waters for only about €40 per person. If you can’t afford to travel to the Indian Ocean, take a dip at Icaria’s Seychelles beach – the waters are as warm, as blue-green and as clear as on that faraway archipelago.
Article by John Malathronas