In partnership with Visit Greece
The Greek islands are a festival for all five senses, and full of experiences you’ll savour forever. To whet your appetite, we’ve put together a tasty menu of what to eat, what to see, and which Greek islands experiences to add to your plate.
1. Discover the lunar landscape of Sarakiniko in Milos
The creamy white, smooth volcanic surfaces of Sarakinko might almost make you forget that there’s actually a gorgeous beach nearby. Don’t, as its turqoise waters are not to be missed. This place is so out of this world, even the locals sometimes refer to it as ‘Lunar’.
2. Breathe in salty air and pine scents on a yacht tour in the Northern Sporades
This 24 island archipelago is home to amazing beaches – like golden Koukounaries, or Instagram-darling Lalaria – and also covered in green. To immerse yourself completely in this idyllic part of the Aegean, join a charterted sailing tour (or charter your own boat) to visit the uninhabited islands as well as the better known Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos.
3. Taste the wine-tinged flavours of foodie island Sifnos
Wine and cheese are a perfect pair – so why not combine the two? That’s what the folks of Sifnos did with Manoura, a wine-cured dairy delight and one of Greece’s must-try cheeses. For something heartier, try mastelo – juicy lamb marinated in rich red wine, then slow roasted with enticing herbs. In general, the question on this Greek island is not “what to eat” but “can I have more, please”.
4. Experience an epic sunset in Santorini…
…with a side of white aubergine and PDO-level fava puree. The golden glow over the Caldera and the dreamy white walls of Oia may be legendary – but don’t forget to savour the signature foods of Santorini too. Trust us, they’re among some of the best things to eat on the Greek islands.
5. Sip on Robola wine and listen for singing and mandolins in Kefalonia
Even in the wine wonderland of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia stands out. The stand-out here is the rare Robola. Expect sweet citrusy flavours, and a smile on your face. Later, as you stroll about, you might hear a group of locals burst into a melodic kantada, putting you in an even better mood. Fitting for the island where Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed, no?
6. Dance yourself clean to the music of EDM masters in Mykonos
Ibiza? What Ibiza? Mykonos is the life of the party not just in the Greek islands, but also across the globe. Here you might run into Hollywood actors, NBA players, and Instagram celebrities, but the real stars are behind the decks. EDM’s biggest names, from Steve Aoki to Diplo to Ricardo Villalobos will keep you on your feet all night. Cavo Paradiso and Paradise Beach Club, in particular, are hot spots.
7. Savour the sweet scents of citrus and mastic gum on Chios
Chios, one of the best Greek islands that hasn’t yet been discovered, is a vacation for eyes, nose, tastebuds and soul. It starts, of course, with the famous mastic gum, made from the resin of Chios’ native mastic trees. Its refreshing, ‘green’ aroma blends with the scents wafting from citrus orchards, and the gum itself is added to everything from sweets to coffee. And to please the eyes, there’s the hypnotic patterns of Pyrgi and Mavra Volia’s black sand beach.
8. Join an intoxicating raki feast in Crete
Looking for a reason to visit later in the season? Autumn marks raki distilling season – and considering the folks here love this strong spirit enough to call it ‘the nectar of Crete’, that’s cause for celebration. Try to make it to a boisterous ‘cauldron feast’, and mark November’s Raki Festival in Chania in your calendar. But make sure you have something to eat before or after – like Crete’s famous fried snails. Or a tomato and cheese toped dakos, if you’re less adventurous.
9. Bathe in Giola pool (or world-class olive oil) in Thassos
Tucked in the south of Thassos, this little lagoon is probably the only acceptable excuse to choose a pool over the sea. Once you’re back in town, you can indulge in delicious dishes made with Thassos’ award-winning, PDO-grade virgin olive oil. In summary, this is a magical place where oil and water do, in fact, mix.
10. Pair fiery ouzo with grilled octopus and freshly salted sardines in Lesvos
Most in Greece will agree that the best ouzo comes from Lesvos, the beloved drink’s spiritual home. As such, they know what they’re doing with mezes – the tasty companions to this anise-heavy, potent spirit. Grilled octopus or sardeles pastes – scrumptious salted sardines caught fresh that day – are its best friends. However, as the Greeks will tell you, the best meze is good company.
11. Climb to get this view at Grande Grotta Cave in Kalymnos
Speechless. That’s what you’ll be after making it to the top of this amazing eye in the sky. However, we should let you know it’s not an easy journey, so make sure you’ve got the experience or the support. Luckily, the island’s got paths perfect for beginners too.
12. Feel like you’re in the desert at Ammthones on Lemnos
When you think of the Greek Islands, you probably think of all shades of blue, green – and maybe red if you’re a vinophile. But on Lemnos, you can have all of that, plus an oasis of a desert right in the middle of an Aegean paradise.
13. Sunbathe next to a shipwreck at Navagio in Zakynthos (Zante)
It’s exactly like being a hero in one of those movies where you find yourself on the shores of some exotic land… except you’re just a short boat ride from civilisation. Not that you’ll want to return.
14. Dig into rice-stuffed goat and sweet sesame goodies in Rhodes
Also known as kapama, this dish is reason enough to visit Rhodes. Less of a turf and more of a surf person? We can recommend oven-baked fish with sesame paste. Speaking of sesame; the cinnamon-y, honey-y melekouni makes for a sweet snack during long treks.
15. Take a fresh bite out of a watermelon pie in Ios
Karpouzopita, made with watermelon juice, flour, sugar, sesame, honey and cinnamon, is an absolute treat on a hot summer day in Ios. Or, for that matter, its Cyclades cousin Milos. It’s also what to eat on this lively member of the Greek islands if you want a fresh boost for a hike, or a night out.
16. Mellow out with heavenly honey and hidden beaches in Kythira
The goddess Aphrodite, as myth would have it, was born off the coast of this sweet island. Which might explain why it’s so easy to fall in love with. The main attraction to get your heart beating is the stunning – if a bit out of the way – Kaladi Beach. That, plus Kythira’s fragrant thyme honey, which is a lot easier to access. Feeling lazy? Blue-flag winning Kapsali Beach is minutes from the Chora.
17. Take a postcard-worthy picture of the colourful houses of Symi
The Greek islands are spoilt for bright, beautiful buildings. But Symi, the cutest of the Dodecanese Islands, has to take the (pastel coloured) cake. Its signature tiny shrimp are just as tasty as the little houses dotting the harbour. Oh, and if you find the sights so pretty you can’t even anymore – just take a water taxi to a secluded beach.
18. Tune into peace and quiet at Porto Katsiki in Lefkada
With a steep wall of rock blocking out the rest of the world – and with access only possible via sea – you can focus on basking in the glory of the sun, or dipping into the serene waters. Soon, you might even forget you’re on holiday and that you’ve just gone to heaven.