Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe; offering visitors a fabulous mix of sun, sea and sand.
Many of course go for the nightlife at the island resorts such as Malia and Faliraki, with their banging nightclubs and bars offering visitors a chance to party from dusk ’til dawn. Others like to indulge in water sports such as jet skiing, water skiing, parasailing and banana boat riding and stay at hotel complexes with pools, bars and restaurants.
However, if you’re after a more tranquil brand of Greek holiday this summer that will give you a taste of real local culture and wild countrysides, this guide will help you plan the perfect escape.
Ithaca is a medium-sized but sparsely populated island in the Ionian Sea, close to the more popular resort of Kefalonia and within sight of the Greek mainland.
Reachable only by boat, Ithaca offers a much more relaxed pace of life than you’ll find on many of the other touristy Greek islands. Most of the population lives in Vathy, an attractive harbour town situated around a pretty, narrow bay in the south of the island, while much of the rest of the region is undeveloped, with no roads.
A single main road runs from Vathy across a narrow strip of land to the northern portion of Ithaca where there are several small towns dotted around the coastline, including Frikes and Kioni.
Thanks to this lack of crowds and development, the majority of your time in Ithaca will be spent relaxing on deserted white-sand beaches, walking in the countryside and strolling around the island’s attractive towns looking for local tavernas in which you can sample traditional Greek cooking.Skiathos
On the opposite side of the Greek mainland in the Aegean Sea lies the island of Skiathos.
At just seven miles long and four miles wide, Skiathos is very compact and it’s therefore easy to explore the whole island during your visit.
Despite its diminutive size, Skiathos is a beach lover’s paradise, with no fewer than 65 bays and inlets spread along the coastline where you can relax and soak up the sunshine in peaceful and beautiful surroundings.Pelion Peninsula
Greece’s islands are not its only beach destinations of course, with the mainland also enjoying many miles of coastline.
The Pelion Peninsula is a hook-like strip of land that wraps around the Pagasetic Gulf in eastern Greece. A hilly region named after the towering Mount Pelion, which rises more than 5,400ft into the sky, the area is perfect for those who enjoying stretching their legs on day hikes in the wilderness.
As an added bonus, the temperature is often cooler here than elsewhere in Greece, making for more comfortable walking conditions.
As well as for hiking, visitors come to the Pelion region to explore the pretty villages and secluded beaches dotted across the peninsula.What all of these destinations have in common is the chance to enjoy the real Greece away from the built-up resorts. Try some local cuisine, visit a few historic sites and revel in the natural beauty of this wonderful country on your most relaxing holiday in years.