Everyone knows the Venus de Milo (which has stood in the Louvre since the 19th century). Until recently, very few had heard of Milos, the volcanic island where Aphrodite’s graceful likeness was discovered. Those in the know jealously guard their treasured island, and especially its 70 (or more) beaches — surely the most diverse and dramatic coastline of all the Greek Islands.
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.
Where to stay in Santorini: Trendier pretenders come and go, but Perivolas is still the most stylish and peaceful place to stay. If you have cash to splash, and can’t stand the crowds, take over Perivolas Hideaway, a waterfront villa on Santorini’s undiscovered offshoot, Thirassia, or Erosantorini, a stunning clifftop estate with a tiered pool plunging 1000 feet to the sea.
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.
The mountainous interior, all sleepy stone villages poking out of pine forests, is great for hikes and bikes. (Eco Zante can arrange outdoor activities guided by insiders.) Askos Stone Park is a wildlife sanctuary inhabited by deer, chinchilla, and dozens of other species. After exploring the Venetian castle high above the harbour, treat the kids to thin-crust pizzas (with grown-up toppings like bresaola, aubergine, and gorgonzola) at Alesta on cute St Mark's Square.
The almighty church has kept nightlife in check. If you must see and be seen, head to quietly glamorous Astivi or Stoa bar, on miniature Agia Lesvias square, in Hora. Beach life is generally languid and low-key; Psili Ammos and Livadi Geranou are our favourite hideouts. Dinner reservations are essential at Benetos, for Med-Asian fusion on an organic farm, and Lambi for grilled fish on a purple pebble beach.