Little Symi has the prettiest port in Greece. As you round the headland, neoclassical mansions in every shade of apricot and peach rise like a mirage from the sea. Built by 19th-century sponge and spice merchants, the whole town is now a national monument. You need strong legs to explore - it's about 500 steps up to the crumbling acropolis - but you won't need a car. The only proper road peters out at Panormitis monastery, a major pilgrimage site. Ravishing beaches such as Ayios Yorgos Disalonas (backed by monumental cliffs) and Marathounda (where goats will try to filch your picnic) are only accessible by boat or on foot. In the rugged hinterland, more than 100 monasteries are hidden among the pine and cypress forests.


I’m hoping you can help myself and a friend decide where to go. We are hoping to go away around mid August for 10 days-2 weeks. We’re looking for a sunny place and beaches to tan and relax during the day, with some big nightlife and a good strip (the odd daytime activity maybe too). However we are in mid 20s so want to go somewhere with the same age group or older. I’ve been to Zante and although it was super fun at the time (I was about 18) and loved having the strip etc, just don’t want to be the older people there anymore! Money is also fairly tight, so nothing too expensive (was thinking santorini maybe before hearing the price along with it).
Major airlines dominated their routes through aggressive pricing and additional capacity offerings, often swamping new start-ups. In the place of high barriers to entry imposed by regulation, the major airlines implemented an equally high barrier called loss leader pricing.[38] In this strategy an already established and dominant airline stomps out its competition by lowering airfares on specific routes, below the cost of operating on it, choking out any chance a start-up airline may have. The industry side effect is an overall drop in revenue and service quality.[39] Since deregulation in 1978 the average domestic ticket price has dropped by 40%.[40] So has airline employee pay. By incurring massive losses, the airlines of the USA now rely upon a scourge of cyclical Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings to continue doing business.[41] America West Airlines (which has since merged with US Airways) remained a significant survivor from this new entrant era, as dozens, even hundreds, have gone under.
The other groups are best tackled individually. For example, the Ionians have no ferry connections to the rest of the Greek islands; the same story with the Sporades and the Argo-Saronics. The NE Aegean islands do have a link to the Dodecanese and the Cyclades but are probably best left for another trip once you have got the feel of the rhythm of the Greek islands.
You seem to have your heart set on Zakynthos but I have to say it’s not a good use of time for a sort-of overrated payoff. Your time is much better spent (in my opinion) seeing another Greek island in the cyclades (maybe taking a ferry to Naxos or Paros sitting outside on the deck drinking a bottle of wine) rather than taking a bus and connecting flights. Zakynthos and Santorini/Mykonos are on opposite sides of the country and the only way from one to the other is by flying (or some combination of bus and ferry). So, my recommendation is to consider spending those Zakynthos days in Naxos, Paros, Milos, or some other Cycladic island.
Other factors, such as surface transport facilities and onward connections, will also affect the relative appeal of different airports and some long distance flights may need to operate from the one with the longest runway. For example, LaGuardia Airport is the preferred airport for most of Manhattan due to its proximity, while long-distance routes must use John F. Kennedy International Airport's longer runways.
Crete, Santorini, and Naxos look quite doable within the 12-day block, but Crete’s beaches are scattered throughout a very LARGE island, Santorini really only has Kamari and Perissá (and some southern coast bays) and Naxos does have nice places to swim. If you choose only to visit those three islands in your relatively short time, you will do well.
Thank you for putting together such a great site. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Islands in May – neither of us have been and, honestly, have no idea where to even start putting together an itinerary. We have at least 14 nights to spend there (and may be able to push that to 17). I’m in my early 30s, my husband’s in his early 40s. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This is probably our one big holiday this year so while the budget is more mid-range than sky-high, we can push it a bit for the right places or experiences. We’re happy to take in quite a few islands, or with a mix of longer and shorter stays.
Although Philippine Airlines (PAL) was officially founded on February 26, 1941, its license to operate as an airliner was derived from merged Philippine Aerial Taxi Company (PATCO) established by mining magnate Emmanuel N. Bachrach on December 3, 1930, making it Asia's oldest scheduled carrier still in operation.[52] Commercial air service commenced three weeks later from Manila to Baguio, making it Asia's first airline route. Bachrach's death in 1937 paved the way for its eventual merger with Philippine Airlines in March 1941 and made it Asia's oldest airline. It is also the oldest airline in Asia still operating under its current name.[53] Bachrach's majority share in PATCO was bought by beer magnate Andres R. Soriano in 1939 upon the advice of General Douglas MacArthur and later merged with newly formed Philippine Airlines with PAL as the surviving entity. Soriano has controlling interest in both airlines before the merger. PAL restarted service on March 15, 1941, with a single Beech Model 18 NPC-54 aircraft, which started its daily services between Manila (from Nielson Field) and Baguio, later to expand with larger aircraft such as the DC-3 and Vickers Viscount.
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Where to stay in Zante: Porto Zante, eight villas with five-star facilities, set above a pristine bay of finely raked sand, is kitted out for kids of all ages: there's a playground, mini-golf, and every water-sport under the sun. The sociable Peligoni Club is especially good for toddlers and teens: the crèche is run by qualified nannies and over-13s have their own bar, serving milkshakes and mocktails. Zante Maris Suites, as well as the new Olea All Suite Hotel just next door, are both squarely aimed at adults, with a haute hippie vibe. Kids over 12 are welcome.
Chania is a great choice. A wonderful charming town. Elounda is great for a quiet laid back stop, Agios Nikolaos has a more interesting vibe and is more of a real town. Also very charming. I prefer Ag Nik but Elounda has more luxurious hotels. (Crete hotels.) Naxos has lots to see in the interior so if you didn’t explore then certainly consider that. Folegandros and Milos are both incredible. Folegandros is more suited to walking and relaxing (and has some top notch restaurants and hotels). On Milos you need to do a tour and get out and actively explore to do it justice. Geologically Milos is stunning. A little like Santorini but with better beaches.
Ultimately, the federal government provided $4.6 billion in one-time, subject-to-income-tax cash payments to 427 U.S. air carriers, with no provision for repayment, essentially a gift from the taxpayers. (Passenger carriers operating scheduled service received approximately $4 billion, subject to tax.)[49] In addition, the ATSB approved loan guarantees to six airlines totaling approximately $1.6 billion. Data from the U.S. Treasury Department show that the government recouped the $1.6 billion and a profit of $339 million from the fees, interest and purchase of discounted airline stock associated with loan guarantees.[50]

Zakynthos, or Zante, has shrugged off its reputation as a destination for lads on tour (as long as you avoid Lagana and the built-up south coast) by rebranding itself as Greece's greenest island. It's not just the emerald hills sliding into the electric blue Ionian: much of the south coast is a nature reserve where endangered loggerhead turtles hatch in the sand. The turtle beaches are off limits, but there are countless coves in every hue of green and blue. Favourites are tiny Xigia, with its bubbling underwater springs, and craggy Porto Limnionas, with sunbeds wedged between the rocks and palm-frond umbrellas positioned between the pine trees. Skinari is the starting point for boat trips to the most famous landmarks, the Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach, where a rusting liner leans into the chalky cliffs. From Keri, you can cast away for Marathonisi island, another turtle sanctuary.

These little coral islands are surrounded by excellent diving, snorkeling, and white sand beaches, and are filled with friendly locals. Private resorts litter the islands, and a vacation here is also very pricey. Luckily, Bangkok Airways offers cheap flights to and from Thailand. The best time to go to the Maldives is from November to May, when the weather is cool and dry. June through October sees wetter and hotter weather due to the monsoon season.
Crete, Santorini, and Naxos look quite doable within the 12-day block, but Crete’s beaches are scattered throughout a very LARGE island, Santorini really only has Kamari and Perissá (and some southern coast bays) and Naxos does have nice places to swim. If you choose only to visit those three islands in your relatively short time, you will do well.
With the exception of Elounda - a pocket of bling popular with oligarchs - the north-east coast is scarred by over-development. Instead head south, where there are miles of empty sand dunes, sprinkled with simple yoga retreats such as Yoga Rocks at Triopetra and Yoga Plus at Agios Pavlos. Or take a back-to-nature break with Wild Fitness at Milia, a 17th-centruy hamlet powered entirely by solar energy. Time slows almost to a standstill in the mountain villages, where locals with formidable whiskers welcome you with shots of raki (Cretan grappa) for breakfast and celebrate saints' days with a volley of gunshots. Even the road signs are peppered with bullet holes. 

The next big island north is Corfu, the grandmother of all holiday packaged islands, but with plenty of other individualized retreats. Arguably the prettiest of all the islands, it is lush, green and clean though it can get a bit cluttered in high Summer. Pretty well all the options you want are on offer, but the best hikes and ramblings are to be had away from the central east coast. Author Gerald Durrell chose well in Corfu: his famous White House in the north-west of the island is at the little seaside village of Kalami.
Blaca Hermitage in the south of the island is a must-visit, as well as Vidova Gora Mountain, which is the highest peak on the island, offering you stunning views across the Adriatic and to neighboring islands on a clear day. Brač is also where you’ll find the famous Zlatni Rat Beach, one of the absolute best Croatia beaches (and even in all of Europe) and a wonderful place to spend a day. This all makes Brač one of the best islands near Split, a perfect day trip from Croatia’s second-largest city.
The sleeper hit of the Cyclades, Serifos is the summer retreat of interior designers and architects who prefer to keep the sandy beaches to themselves. (One French home-owner is so protective of her hideaway that she tells all her friends she summers on nearby Sifnos.) Even in August, you’ll find coves where you can skinny dip in blissful solitude. That’s because the best beaches (Kalo Ambeli, Vagia, Skala) are only accessible via bone-rattling dirt roads or donkey tracks. Better still, rent a motor boat from the laidback harbour, Livada. Make sure to moor outside Anna’s taverna on Sikamia beach for freshly caught fish and garden-grown salads.
Little by little, though, Milos is being discovered. Instagram is saturated with no-filter shots of the undulating cliffs at Sarakiniko, the bottle-green swimming hole at Papafragas, and colourful, rickety syrmata, tiny boat houses wedged between rock and sea. (You’ll find the best photo opportunities at Klima and Mandrakia). This painterly landscape was shaped by the minerals that have long been a source of wealth – obsidian, alum, barite and sulphur, which still bubbles up in the island’s many hot springs. As the 11,000-year-old mining industry is gradually giving way to tourism, several chic hotels have made an appearance. Go now, before the trickle of visitors turns into a tide.
On Syros, capital of the Cyclades, you won’t find sugar-cube villages and whitewashed lanes. The colourful 19th-century city of Ermoupoli is built on twin peaks – one Orthodox, the other Catholic, the heritage of a long Venetian occupation. There’s still a strong Italian flavour in Ermoupoli’s marble piazzas, princely mansions, and miniature replica of La Scala, the showpiece of a year-round cultural scene. Syros hosts festivals of animation, dance, digital art, film, classical music, jazz and rembetiko, the Greek blues popularised by local musician Markos Vamvakaris. A few rembetiko joints have survived in the upper town, Ano Syra.

Lefkada is an island, but is connected to the mainland by a causeway at the northern tip and its access airport is on the mainland at Aktio (Preveza). It is an island popular with Greeks and mainly European visitors. Italians and Brits predominate. It is green, verdant, has good beaches and facilities and is compact enough to get around easily. Tourism is centred on the east coast around the port village of Nydri. It is low-key accommodation with villas and small family-run hotels predominating. Off-shore from Nydri are a couple of islands worth visiting on excursions: the sizeable Meganisi (car ferries run to and fro’) and the private Skorpios Island which belong to the Onassis family. On your own hired motor boat, you can heave-to on just one private beach on the north side of the island and swim and claim boasting rights to having swum on Aristotle Onassis’ private piece of Greece.


Budgeting for Greece is always going to be subject to what your expectations and needs are. Assuming that you, like many travellers, like to eat a filling breakfast, savour maybe a light lunch and feast on a heavier dinner (or vice versa), enjoy a drink with your meals and are not totally vegetarian/vegan and prefer to sleep in comfort and cleanliness, then there is a set of figures that can be guesstimated. 
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