Greece has an incredibly rich history. Whether you want to take a whistle stop tour of where famous Hollywood movies were filmed, soak in the rays on one of the 581 Blue Flag beaches the country has to offer, or indulge in the millenia-old history of the island, there’s always something to do.
Another great thing about the Greek Islands is that they’re quickly and easily accessible from almost anywhere in Europe, making them the perfect destination for a long weekend getaway. In this article, we’re going to focus on four of the best places to enjoy incredible cuisine, stunning seas, golden sands and stylish hotels.
Kos is the third-largest island of the Dodecanese and is the second-most populous despite being inhabited by less than 37,000 people. Nevertheless, it is incredibly popular with tourists who want to experience everything Greek culture has to offer – particularly those with a love of history and philosophy.
Known as the home of Hippocrates and widely regarded as the birthplace of modern medicine, Kos is something of an oddity. While many feel that the island was somewhat ruined by a slew of cheap hotels in the 1970s, things have moved on in recent decades, and visitors can now expect to enjoy a strange amalgamation of Moorish architecture, brutalism and clever reworkings of traditional Greek builds.
The island is also home to Greece’s first “art hotel”, the Aktis. Here you’ll find glass columns, bubbles everywhere, large coffee-table books and dark leather armchairs. While it may borrow from Bauhaus, the Aktis is fairly high-tech and worth a visit even if you’re not staying there overnight. Ultimately, Kos is now in a position to be discovered by a new generation of holidaymakers as a high-quality weekend destination, and with regular transfers from Manchester and Gatwick, it makes for quite the impulsive getaway.
Halkidiki is a fantastic summer destination for people of all ages. With a combination of unique landscapes and stunning beaches, the onus is on sightseeing and relaxing while the waves of the sea lap at your feet.
However, visitors will have much more than the beach lifestyle to pack into a weekend away at Halkidiki, as there are ample opportunities to try something new here. Diving lessons, cave trips, sailing, horse riding and golfing are all suitable family options, and once you’ve worked up a hunger you’ll be able to sample some incredible gastronomic delights that the Mediterranean is famous for.
Another good reason to choose Halkidiki for a Greek Island weekend excursion is that it’s close to a lot of other places of interest. Once you arrive in the area, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to quickly and easily visit other destinations in Northern Greece. For example, Thessaloniki is worth taking a day to explore as it is filled with Byzantine monuments, museums and entertainment venues galore.
Crete is the largest (and arguably the most vibrant) of the Greek Islands. It has something to offer everybody, with buzzing cities, beautiful beaches and ancient ruins all vying for your attention.
In addition to this, Crete is home to several award-winning museums and offers some of the best hiking in Europe. As you might expect, the locals are fiercely proud of their home island, and as such, you can expect impeccable hospitality. The slow pace of life here is all part of the Greek experience, and we can definitely recommend a weekend away in Crete for those who want to unwind and relax in their free time while experiencing some of the most glorious sights the world has to offer.
Rhodes is Europe’s largest mediaeval city and is something of a one-of-a-kind phenomenon. It combines ancient wonders of the world with endless beaches and traditional coffee houses, and the Old Town which overlooks the clocktower has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site for over 30 years.
Those who make Rhodes their weekend destination of choice are well-advised to book one of the many local tours which operate on the island. This way, you can learn first-hand about the tales and legends that only the locals seem to know.
The Greek Islands are the stuff dreams are made of – and there’s plenty of variety on offer. From charming villages to azure seas and cityscapes to mountaintop hiking ranges, a weekend excursion to one or more of these destinations is a recipe for relaxation and recuperation.