Sink your toes into the golden sand and listen to the sea lap the shore. Soak up the majestic beauty around you, wander amidst lush wildflowers, and laze on isolated sandy coves like you have nowhere else in the world to be. Linger over a seaside dinner, enjoy the tang of homemade tzatziki and domatokeftedes and let one day melt into the next. This is island life at its best at a quiet hotel on the Greek Islands.
Greek Island Getaways: The ultimate rest and relaxation destinations
The quiet side of Corfu: The Ionian Islands
Scattered along the western coastline of central Greece, the Ionian Islands are an island cluster comprising of twelve islands. Inhabited since Paleolithic times, the rich cultural diversity is reflected in regional dishes, from Italian pasta with rich sauces and mussels steamed in ouzo to the spiced sweets and pastries of the Ottoman Empire. Though Corfu, the second largest of the Ionian Islands, was one of the first Greek Islands to embrace mass tourism, it is blissfully easy to elude busy resorts and find the quieter side of this beautiful island. Wander wherever your fancy takes you around the dunes that surround Korission Lagoon or take a trip up to Mount Pantokrator, the highest point on the island. It’s the panoramas, not the walk, that will take your breath away. A stay at a quiet hotel here is the perfect setting for a gentle walk off the beaten track, and in the spring, the mountainside is carpeted with wild flowers. Getting back to civilization, the pastel-colored, multi-story, wooden-shuttered buildings lining narrow streets make for pleasant strolls around Kérkyra’s old quarter, a UNESCO Heritage Site. The character-filled cobbled streets give way to open plazas spilling over with restaurants and tavernas. This is the perfect place to have a bite to eat before getting your cultural fill by means of the Gorgon pediment and Archaic Lion of Menekrates at the archeological museum. Whether you make your way down to Logars Beach or stay on top of the cliff top, you are guaranteed to find a great spot to watch the perfect sunset after a long day of exploring. Undoubtedly the best way to end the day while staying at a quiet hotel in Corfu.
Mykonos & Santorini: Art & Culture of the Cyclades
The Cyclades are synonymous with hilltop, white-washed villages that glitter under the Mediterranean sun and tumble into the azure waters below. A stay at a quiet hotel is the best place to relax, unwind and explore the mazes of tiny alleys offering hidden gems at every turn. The Greek Island of Mykonos might be best known for its 24-hour beach club culture, but the art galleries and new Mykonos Arts Festival point to exciting cultural blossomings in a burgeoning art scene. All of the city’s galleries, which showcase international as well as Greek artists, are within a 10-minute walk of each other. And like the artworks it showcases, Mykonos will blow you away with its beauty. The idyllic Cycladic village doesn’t lack for places to take a plunge and almost every beach boasts a restaurant or taverna. Leave Paradise and Super Paradise to the bronzed partygoers and head to Hora for designer shopping amongst Bourgainvillea-draped streets. The charming city center is awash with Greek tavernas, trendy bars, luxury shops, jewelers, and starred restaurants owned by international chefs. The best beaches are those that are south-facing, like Ornos, Kalo Livadi, Lia, Elia and Agia Ana, as they are shielded from the strong northern winds that blow during the summer months. While the night owls party up a storm shuttling between Hora and the main beaches, enjoy a more sedate evening sipping on champagne cocktails or watching live music and cabaret. Out of season, a quiet hotel in Mykonos offers a more subdued and authentic experience. Better yet, you will largely have the beaches all to yourself. Santorini boasts no less than four stunning villages perched on the top of its crescent-shaped cliff overlooking the caldera, from which you can enjoy dramatic views and legendary sunsets. You won’t know whether to face the landscape or the seascape in order to get the best view. Walk along the caldera from Fira to Oia, go wine tasting on a vineyard tour, take a Oia sunset cruise or go horseback riding in Exo Gonia. Visit the fascinating Monan site of Akrotiri, stopover of the much-photographed blue-domed churches that the island is famous for, and marvel at the multicolored sand along the string of beaches on the south coast, like the Red Beach. Traditional cave houses, orange and lemon groves shielding tiny pink and white pastry-cake churches, sweet cherry tomatoes and crisp white wine from local vineyards are all waiting to be discovered at a quiet hotel in Santorini.
Chania & Rethymnon: Traveling back in time on Crete
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete, is the setting of the famous Theseus and the Minotaur myth as well as where Zeus was allegedly born. Crete not only provides unbeatable access to Greek mythology, but its Old Towns and villages reflect its colorful multicultural past. To boot, it boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. A quiet hotel in Chania or Rethymno will have you thinking you have entered a time capsule taking you back to ancient times, starting from the Byzantine era and Venetian occupation all the way to Turkish rule. Stroll around the picturesque alleys of Chania’s Old Town, a maze of colorful paved pedestrian streets that are lined with welcoming little shops, traditional tavernas, cafés and bars set against a charming background. The two most photographed streets, Aggelou and Theotokopoulou in Top Chana, is where Christian aristocrats settled during the Ottoman era. Its narrow alleys and imposing Venetian buildings make it an idea place for a relaxing or romantic walk where you can browse the high-end jewelry shops and pick up a souvenir or two. Chania’s Venetian Harbor is also a great place for a stroll, to enjoy a frappe or sip on a cool cocktail. Foodies will enjoy a meander through the Agora market, where fresh local produce is sold and you can try authentic, traditional Cretan food at the tavernas located inside. The piazza of the old Turkish neighborhood, under the shade of an ancient sycamore, is a great place to enjoy a Greek coffee and take a break, before enjoying a sunset dinner with views of the sea. Similar to Chania, Rethymnon’s Old Town also has countless colorful alleys, a beautiful Venetian port, and ample boutiques, cafés and restaurants to make your stay at a quiet hotel here truly memorable. The entrance to the town during Venetian rule was the photogenic Goura Gate, which is the only part left of the old fortification wall now. Located at the Four Martyrs Square, it leads to the main market street and invites you to take a wander around the protected Old Town and marvel at the Venetian and Ottoman influence of the buildings. A visit to the Historic and Folk Museum of Rethymnon, housed in a beautiful 17th century Venitian house, to see the traditional handicraft work and folkore art is a must. The Rethymno fortress (La fortezza), close to the new harbor on the west side of the city is also a must see. It was built in 1573 on Paleokastro hill by the Venetians. A trip here is best made just before sunset, when you can bear witness to spectacular views while enjoying a romantic dinner. From sugar-cube villages and sun-bleached ruins to a rich history laced with myths of gods and giants, a quiet hotel on the Greek Islands is anything but dull.