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If Greece isn’t on your luxury travel bucket list, it definitely should be. From the beautiful beaches of Mykonos to the stunning cliffs of Santorini, Greece is an absurdly charming country that will take your breath away.
As you probably know, Greece was a pretty influential country back in the day – so much so that it’s known as the Cradle of Western Civilisation. There are ancient ruins and archaeological sites everywhere, making it a total must-visit for anyone with even the vaguest interest in history.
Planning a trip to Greece can be confusing because it’s home to over 6,000 islands. Only 227 of those are inhabited, but it’s still difficult to know where to start. To help simplify things, I’ve listed the best islands to visit and why in this Greece luxury travel guide. You’ll also find recommendations on what to do, where to stay and how to stay safe.
Honestly, I’d say that the best time of year to visit Greece is during the shoulder seasons. April-June and September-October see the best weather. The weather is in the high 70s, so it’s warm enough to swim and sunbathe, but not so hot that you don’t want to move.
There are fewer visitors to Greece in spring and autumn, so it’s a good time to escape queues and crowds. That said, if you’re looking to party, mid-summer is the prime time to go!
A big benefit of visiting during the shoulder seasons is the lower accommodation prices. You can get the best deals on all of Greece’s beautiful luxury digs and treat yourself a little more.
Winters in Greece tend to be mild, but it’s not exactly beach weather. However, if you’re mostly interested in the country’s amazing archaeology, it might be a good idea to come then. You’ll be able to enjoy the ancient sites without melting into a puddle or having your views obscured by the crowds. You’ll also save a decent chunk of money on hotels.
You could spend years traveling Greece but unfortunately, most of us don’t have that long. Here’s a breakdown of the best destinations in Greece, with a few highlights from each one.
Okay, you can’t miss Athens. Literally – you’ve got to fly into it. If you’re short on time and desperate for some sea air, skip it and head straight to the islands. However, if you love history then Athens will probably be the highlight of your trip.
It was the heart of Ancient Greece, which is where western society pretty much began. It’s an influential city, to say the least. If you’re a photography lover then Athens should be right at your top of your list. I included it in my
best photography desti
nations article for a good reason! Here are three sites you really can’t miss:
The Acropolis is a collection of temples that towers above the city of Athens. The ancient Greeks built their temples on hills above cities so that residents could retreat there in case of attack. They clearly knew what they were doing – the Acropolis has seen its fair share of catastrophes but it’s still standing.
The most famous temple in the Acropolis is the Parthenon. In fact, it’s one of the most culturally and historically significant buildings in the world. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Athena and designed to represent the huge political and cultural power of Athens. This goal was clearly achieved, because the Parthenon remains an iconic symbol of Ancient Greece.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus took 638 years to build and was only used for a century. During that time it was the largest temple in Greece and it housed the Statue of Zeus at Olympia – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Sadly, the statue was lost and probably destroyed somewhere around the 5th century.
The good news is that you can – and should – visit the remains of the iconic temple. It’s right in the middle of the city and, let’s be honest, it’s a totally unmissable photo opportunity.
The Greeks love outdoor cinema and Cine Paris is the one to visit. It’s a rooftop garden cinema found in the heart of the charming Plaka neighborhood. They show a variety of films, from the latest blockbusters to classic European cinema. Whatever you watch, you’ll feel uber cultured doing so with a view of the Acropolis in the background.
The Cyclades Islands are some of the most beautiful in Greece. We’ll be focusing on two firm favorites: the iconic islands of Santorini and Mykonos.
Anyone interested in Greece luxury travel should head to Mykonos. It’s as pretty as a picture, not to mention one of the most cosmopolitan Greek islands. Its upscale nightlife scene has attracted many celebrity visitors over the years. From Leonardo DiCaprio to Lady Gaga, anyone who’s anyone has been to Mykonos. Here are the best things to do on this fabulous island:
As the name suggests, this is the perfect place to kick back and relax, cocktail in hand. It’s a stunning beach with white sand, clear water and a lively atmosphere. Things really amp up at night, so head here to enjoy the island’s crazy nightlife.
However, if you’re looking for a slightly more secluded beach, head to Agios Ioannis or Fokos instead.
Hora is the capital of Mykonos. It’s a small but scenic labyrinth full of unique boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. Every corner makes you want to whip out your camera and start snapping away.
Just like the real deal, Little Venice is a waterfront area full of colorful 18th century fisherman’s houses. The fisherman have long since moved out, however. Now, the buildings house cafes, bars and restaurants instead. It’s a lovely area full of character and well worth exploring. I highly recommend heading there in the evening to watch the sunset over the Kato Mili windmills.
If you came to Greece to party then you’re in the right place. Mykonos is home to amazing bars and a string of extravagant superclubs, such as Void, Astra and Scorpios.
Arguably the most glamorous of all the Greek islands, Santorini is famous for its picturesque caldera cliffs. Santorini and Mykonos are both strong contenders for the capital of Greece luxury travel, although their characters are different. Mykonos’ beaches are superior but Santonini is definitely more peaceful than its party-loving neighbor, which is precisely why I loved it so much. I’d definitely say that this is the best island overall for Greece luxury travel, so if you have limited time, spend it here. Here are some of the island’s top attractions:
Santorini’s caldera towns are absolutely iconic and you should definitely spend some time exploring them. Better yet, stay in the caldera area. Your luxury villa will afford you jaw-dropping panoramic views of the cliffs and ocean. It’s a Greece luxury travel experience you’ll never forget.
Akrotiri is sometimes referred to as “Greek Pompeii” because yep, you guessed it, it was buried by a volcanic eruption. However, Akrotiri is much older, having been destroyed in 1500BC. It was a democratic city where people had running water and underfloor heating in their homes. That’s not that special nowadays, but remember we’re talking about 3500+ years ago here. It’s an easy day trip and well worth the time.
With its vivid Martian cliffs and deep blue water, Santorini’s Red Beach is nothing short of spectacular. It’s also a snorkelling hotspot, with plenty of interesting underwater rock formations to check out. The path to the beach is marked as dangerous due to risk of falling rocks but plenty of tourists make the trip each day. If you do decide to risk it, be very careful and go slowly.
The gorgeous Ionian islands are famous for their verdant hills and jagged mountains. Each island has its own unique personality, with a rich history to boot.
The Venetians ruled Corfu for many years and they certainly left their mark. The island is every bit as beautiful, romantic and sophisticated as you might expect. It’s home to gorgeous architecture and first-class fine dining as well as some incredible luxury resorts. Here are the island’s main highlights – other than the gorgeous beaches, of course:
Cofu’s old town is full of Byzantine and Venetian architecture. It’s a charming, winding, elegant area that will definitely capture your heart.
This is a definite must if you’re visiting Greece with a special someone. Legend has it that if two lovers swim through the sandstone canal together, they’ll soon wed. You can also use the clay deposits to give yourself a DIY spa mud bath. If the marriage thing doesn’t work out, at least you’ll look good.
Perched atop a hill in north-western Corfu, this sunny yellow monastery affords panoramic views of the island and sea. It’s still a working monastery and you can buy the olive oil and kumquat liquor the monks produce. A local legend claims that everyone who throws coins into the monastery well will return to Corfu one day, so make sure to bring some change with you.
Also known as Zante, this island is a popular party destination for European teens and twentysomethings. However, it’s still a fantastic Greece luxury travel destination – just steer clear of Laganas. There’s plenty for luxury travelers to enjoy and many gorgeous resorts to choose from. Here’s what you should see and do whilst you’re here:
Underneath Cape Skinari at the north of the island you’ll find the mesmerising blue caves. Light from the bright blue sea reflects onto the white walls, creating a mystical glow. It’s a fun boat trip and not one to miss out on.
Zakynthos is home to the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle. The best way to catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures is to hop on a boat to Marathonisi Island. The turtles lay their eggs on the beach here and, funnily enough, the island is also shaped like a turtle. If that’s not a perfect coincidence, I don’t know what is…
Zakynthos is a must-visit Greece destination for anyone who loves watersports. Whether you want to surf, snorkel or paraglide, you’ll easily be able to get your adrenaline fix on this island.
Although still well known, the Dodecanese islands are less crowded than the Cyclades, so they’re perfect for a peaceful escape. You should definitely consider the following islands.
With a rich history and various cultural influences, Kos is a vibrant and interesting island with a laidback pace. That being said, there are some popular party streets where you can dance until dawn, if that’s your vibe. This place is perfect for travelers who want a relaxed holiday with a few nights of partying thrown in there.
The island has received a lot of media attention in recent years due to the arrival of over 4,000 refugees. This often makes travelers a little wary of Kos, but there have been no reported incidences of violence or unrest. So with that out of the way, here’s what you should get up to in Kos:
Arguably Kos’ main attraction – other than its gorgeous beaches and greenery – is Asklepion, an ancient healing temple. It’s dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing, and there were once several shrines to him here. It’s a cool place to visit and learn about the types of treatments once offered here. Interestingly, there was a huge focus on body and mind balance.
Kos’ main castle was built in the 14th century during the crusades. Sadly, it was mostly destroyed when a gunpowder room exploded in 1816. There’s not much information here but it’s fun to wander around the ruins. Remember to bring a guidebook if you’d like to know more.
Next to the fortress is the Tree of Hippocrates. Legend has it that the great physician used to teach his students underneath its branches.
You should definitely take a day trip to Nisyros during your time on Kos. What’s cool about this tiny island is that it’s an active volcano, although it’s been snoozing for the past 130 years. Head here to explore secluded rocky beaches, check out quaint art galleries and participate in traditional cultural festivals.
Medieval architecture probably isn’t what you’d expect to find in Greece, but Rhodes is full of unexpected delights. This island has its own unique character and plenty of history to discover.
The Grand Master Palace is a quintessential castle that dates back to the 7th century. It’s now an informative museum displaying artefacts from all over the Dodecanese islands.
If picturesque ruins and sweeping ocean views are your thing, then make the short (but steep) hike to Monolithos Castle. My advice would be to go in the evening because this is a truly spectacular sunset spot.
I know what you’re thinking: Greece is hot enough. However, at a balmy 66°F (19°C), the Kallithea thermal springs aren’t too hot to enjoy. Since ancient times, these baths have been celebrated for their therapeutic properties and beautiful surroundings. The springs are fairly popular but far from overrun by tourists, so they’re perfect for a spot of rest and relaxation.
Greece is a safe destination for travelers but that doesn’t mean it’s danger free. Follow these common-sense travel tips and you should be fine:
Greece’s precarious economic situation has led to demonstrations throughout the country in the past few years. It’s unlikely that you’ll see any unrest during your trip but if you do, steer well clear. The Greek police sometimes use tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at protests, so avoid them at all costs.
Sigh. Like anywhere in the world, taxis and scams go hand-in-hand in Greece. Negotiate a fare before getting into a cab, or ask your hotel concierge to do this for you. Arranging a private driver is another good way to avoid this issue.
It’s safe to drink the tap water on mainland Greece but go for bottled water on the islands because the water is too salty.
Greece has some of the most dangerous roads in Europe. Be vigilant when crossing the street or cruising around on an ATV.
The Greeks indulge in a daily siesta from 3-6pm. It’s a sacred tradition and if you make a lot of noise during this time you’ll offend the locals. Worse still, you could receive a warning from the police. Remember that many shops and offices close during this time, too.
Whether you’re sunbathing or sightseeing, a broad spectrum sunscreen is a must when visiting Greece.
Greece uses Type C and Type F plugs, so bring a universal adapter to make sure you’re covered.
Of course, a fabulous pair of sunglasses are a total must for Greece luxury travel. The brilliant blue waters can actually be difficult to look at when the sun’s at its strongest, so make sure you pack a pair of sunnies – or three.
When you’re not swimming, it’s a good idea to cover up during the hottest part of the day to protect your skin. A stylish beach dress will keep you looking beautiful without the risk of sunburn. It’s also often necessary to cover up when visiting ancient sites and places of worship, so these light, flowing dresses are perfect for day trips.
The Greek sun is strong and you don’t want to end up with a bright red face. A large sun hat can protect you against the Rudolph look.
Sadly, mosquitos are pretty common in Greece. Your luxury digs should be well equipped to deal with them, but there’s always a chance you could get bitten whilst you’re out and about. Choose one of the following repellents to stop you from getting eaten alive.
Now that you’re well-versed in Greece luxury travel destinations, why not check out my list of the best international business class airlines to fly with?
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Your Luxe Lifestyle was founded by luxury world traveler Isabella Garofanelli bringing you the very best the globe has to offer in travel, lifestyle, and wellness.
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