Greece and her Islands
The Greek Islands are a collection of over 6,000 islands and islets that belong to Greece. Only 227 of the islands are inhabited, and only 78 of those have more than 100 inhabitants.
The largest Greek island by area is Crete, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. The second largest island is Euboea, the third and fourth largest Greek Islands, Lesbos and Rhodes, the rest of the islands are two-thirds of the area of Rhodes, or smaller.
The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: The Argo-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens, the Cyclades, a large but dense collection occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea, the North Aegean islands, the Dodecanese, another loose collection in the southeast between Crete and Turkey, the Sporades, a small tight group off the coast of Euboea, and the Ionian Islands, located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea.
Cyplon Holidays has carefully chosen this selection of resorts and hotels with you in mind. We offer the finest beach hotels in Greece, so you may relax and enjoy your holiday in comfort and style. Our city hotels too offer a fine welcome after an exhilarating day's sightseeing. This is Greece at its best, with the refined service only a specialist can offer.
Crete is the largest of all the Greek Islands and enjoys a history dating right back to the Minoan Period of 2600 BC.
Stunning landscapes, traditional villages and intriguing ancient sites combine with excellent beaches and some fine accommodation with plenty of activities, to make Crete a memorable holiday destination for all the family.
Western Crete is dominated by the stunning White Mountains, home of the famous Samaria Gorge, and the Omolos Plateau. On the north-west coast lies the very pretty, unspoilt town of Chania, with its pastel-coloured Venetian buildings and narrow cobbled streets.
Heraklion, the island's capital lies almost at the centre of the north coast. This has all the lively entertainment, shops and nightlife one would expect of a large city.
To the east of Heraklion is the town of Hersonissos, offering some of the best beaches in Crete. Not far from Hersonissos is Sissi, a small, quiet resort with an attractive harbour, and further east respectively, lie the picturesque fishing villages of Elounda, and Ayios Nikolaos.
Elounda, the smaller of the two, retains plenty of character and charm and boasts some excellent fish tavernas. A worthwhile trip from here is to Spinalonga Island, once a leper colony. Its neighbour, Ayios Nikolaos is rather livelier in the high season.
Largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes, a much-loved, historically rich island of olive groves and pine trees, is skirted by beautiful beaches; some sand, some shingle, and the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea.
Rhodes offers a casino, and a myriad of clubs, bars and restaurants for those seeking a good nightlife, yet retains a traditional environment for those wishing to simply unwind. The resorts of Ixia and Kalithea are within a short drive of all that Rhodes Town has to offer.
A 14th century wall, 5km long surrounds the 'old town' of Rhodes and its historic buildings. Here one can stroll along cobbled streets, where the Knights of the Order used the inns as meeting places, enjoy traditional shops, and visit the restored Medieval Palace of the Grand Masters. The new town' offers plenty of good restaurants and excellent shopping. Rhodes is particularly famous for its gold jewellery having been trading gold for 4,000 years. Here too is Mandraki yacht harbour, where the two bronze deer statues stand, probably on the same site as the ancient Colossus of Rhodes.
Well worth a visit is the little East Coast town of Lindos, an unspoilt village of whitewashed houses with pebble courtyards, which sits beneath the Acropolis and its old castle. Lindos has a lovely sandy beach, and interesting shops selling traditional handicrafts.
Knossos, just outside of Heraklion, is the most famous of the many archaeological sites in Crete. Excavations and restorations of the Minoan Palace, mythical home of the Minotaur, and the Knossos Museum make for a fascinating visit.
Kos lies very close to Rhodes and is the second largest of the Dodecanese. Kos was inhabited in prehistoric times. Around the 14th century BC, the Minoans from Crete, a few centuries later, the Dorians started to arrive and around 700 BC they built the ancient city of Kos, which together with Lindus, Cameirus, Ialysos on Rhodes, Cnidus and Halicarnassus in Asia Minor formed the so-called Dorian Hexapolis.
Hippocrates, whose name is known throughout the world, the founder of the first school of medicine, was born in Kos. The great fortress which today stands at the entrance to the harbour was built by the Knights of St John of Rhodes.
Today, Kos is one of the most touristic places in Greece. The fact that the climate is mild most of the year, taken together with the long hours of sunshine, the excellent beaches, the enormous historical interest and the attractiveness of the city of Kos have gradually raised the island to the level of an international tourist centre.
Here, you can find everything concerning tourist facilities, enjoyment and nightlife. In spite of the development of Kos, you can also discover friendly sleepy villages around the island and a more traditional way of life.
The year 1500 BC brought the biggest explosion known on earth. A volcano erupted on an island, then called Strongili or 'the round one', and had a tremendous effect on all the surrounding area within 150km. Sea flooded the huge volcanic crater – the caldera - formed by the blast, leaving one side intact and reaching heights of up to 300m. That island is known today as Santorini, now famous for its breathtakingly spectacular views, particularly at sunset, and the stunning much-photographed architecture of small traditional Cycladic white washed buildings and cobbled streets, together with its many chapels.
The island's capital, Thira, sits at the midst of this scenic beauty where small hotels and restaurants spill over the edge of the caldera. Here one can enjoy a cable car ride all the way to the bottom of the now extinct volcano and back again! To the south east of the island are the seaside resorts of Kamari and Perissa. Both have very long stretches of fine volcanic-sand beaches, water-sports and lively bars and tavernas right along the strip.
The delightful and historic village of Pyrgos sits high up in the centre of the island. One can opt to stay here or right on the caldera itself to enjoy the views to the fullest, or alternatively in a picturesque beach resort. Whichever you choose, Santorini is such a tiny island that everywhere can be reached within half-hour's drive giving ample opportunity for exploration!
Perhaps the most cosmopolitan in character of all Greek islands, and a favourite with the 'jet-set', Mykonos never fails to enchant its visitors. All-white villages, little churches, traditional windmills, inspirational colours and a lively atmosphere combine with a unique natural environment of dramatic rock formations, crystal clear Aegean waters and gold-sand beaches with stunning effect.
Chora, Mykono's capital, lies beside a picturesque harbour of yachts and fishing boats and offers an array of excellent shops, restaurants and nightclubs within a maze of tiny pebble-lined streets with white-washed steps and buildings. A visit to the historic neighbouring island of Delos, reached by local boat service, is well worthwhile. Here there are many fascinating archaeological sites to see.
Like Mykonos, Delos is protected to preserve its unique natural and aesthetic beauty. A holiday in Mykonos can be as fun-packed and stylish or as relaxed and easy-going as you wish the friendly locals welcome everyone here.
Skiathos lies off the east coast of Greece and is the most widely known of the Sporades group of islands. It is also the smallest – the distance from one end of the island to the other being approximately 12km. This lovely island is famous for its wonderful sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and its dense, pine forests that stretch right down to the waters edge. It is well worth venturing north of Skiathos by car or moped to explore and enjoy delightful, uncrowded beaches.
Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, steeped in history and perennially connected to the history of Greece from the beginning of Greek mythology. Its Greek name, Kerkyra or Korkyra, is connected to two powerful water symbols: Poseidon and Asopos. Corfu is just off the West coast of Greece and is one of the most Northern Ionian Islands and enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate.
Corfu boasts breathtaking natural beauty, covered with over 3 million evergreen olive trees, is one of the greenest of the Mediterranean islands. The colourful past of the island, where Greek, Roman, Venetian and French occupations have left their marks with the beautiful old stone buildings in picturesque villages, ancient monuments, Corfu impresses and charms the visitors with its two forts, narrow streets, tall houses, arcades, Venetian-built Town Hall, flower-filled gardens and balconies with their superb wrought-iron fences.
From Paleokastritsa to Kanoni, from the Achillion to Pontikonissi and Corfu's northern coast, one will find crystal waters, scenic coves greenery and vegetation that sink into the deep blue sea.
Corfu is one of the most interesting islands of the Ionian Sea and is an unparalleled experience. An amalgam of natural beauties, traditional features and archaeological sites.
On this cosmopolitan island, visitors are able to combine relaxation with good times and a full nightlife, stylish restaurants as well as traditional taverns, cafes and bars that offer traditional greek cuisine.
Zakynthos is the third largest of the Ionian Islands, covers an area of 410 square km and its coastline is roughly 123 km in length. The island is named after Zacynthus, son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus.
Zakynthos has a varied terrain, with fertile plains in the south-eastern part and mountainous terrain with steep cliffs along the coasts on the west.
The mild, Mediterranean climate and the plentiful winter rainfall endow the island with dense vegetation. The principal products are olive oil, currants, grapes and citrus fruit.
The most famous Zakynthian is the 19th century poet Dionysios Solomos, the principal modern Greek poet and author of the national anthem of Greece. His statue adorns the main town square. Also Juan de Fuca (Ioannis Focas) was born here.
At the southwest is the National Marine Park of Zakynthos where loggerhead turtles (Caretta Caretta) are found in the bay of Laganas.
Sites of interest include Shipwreck Bay, Cape Skinari and the Blue Cave. The island offers exceptional attractions for divers. Many of the dive sites are cave dives around the island; a wide range of marine life can be found.
Zakynthos nightlife is focused in the several beach resorts around the island including Argasi, Laganas, Alykes and Tsilivi, where one can choose from a huge selection of clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. Cultural events are constantly organized throughout the summer, helping the visitors get a taste of the islands culture and traditions.