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Which Greek island for a couple's holiday?

Hi all,
I'm looking for some advice on which Greek island to pick for my next holiday. Having never been before and with so many beautiful islands to choose from, I'm not sure where to even begin. My boyfriend and I would be looking to go for a week in mid-July. We'd be flying from the UK.

Having spent our last couple of holidays traveling around different locations (tour of various places in France, Amalfi Coast, Dalmatian coast in Croatia), we are really keen to have a more relaxed holiday, basing ourselves in one place and just enjoying that location rather than worrying about renting cars and travelling around. With this in mind and with us only going for seven days, we also want somewhere easy to get to from the UK.

The criteria:
We’re looking for somewhere with stunning landscapes and views, in close proximity to beautiful sandy beaches, where we can also explore pretty towns, indulge in food and meet friendly people. Harbours are a bonus (we love harbours so bustling bars dotted around one would be great).

While I love the beach, my partner is not one for spending the day sunbathing, so we'll need somewhere with a bit more going on than just a simple serene retreat. Ideally, we’d like somewhere where there are nice towns for us to explore – shops and stalls to wander around, nice restaurants and bars etc. While we don’t want a crazy partying nightlife, we would like somewhere with atmosphere in the evenings. We’re also interested in activities like renting a boat, boat trips, renting buggies etc.

Locations we’ve considered so far:
• Mykonos - My partner is interested in Mykonos (I think its reputation as being a popular luxury destination has something to do with this), however, while I love the traditional Greek look of the white and blue streets, I’m concerned that Mykonos is more of a party island compared to what we’re looking for. I’m also worried that it’s expensive. Similarly, does Mykonos have nice beaches and views or does the landscape not compare with the luscious greenery of the Ionian islands?
• Kefalonia – I’ve also been looking at Kefalonia, which I know won’t have the typical white towns but with all the greenery, sandy beaches and bright blue water, look beautiful. However, does this island have things going on or is it very quiet?

I’ve seen Paros recommended quite a lot, but don’t know much about it, and see that there are no direct flights from the UK.

Santorini is a must for us in the future – it’s on our bucket list but not for this year.

These are just the main two we’ve looked at so far but any recommendations would be great!
Thanks
A

Posted by EmergencyDoc
113 posts

For our upcoming trip in September 2018, we are doing:
Santorini (4)
Naxos (4)
Nafpilo (3)
Athens (2)

I have never been to Greece (can't wait for our trip!), but from my research so far it seems like Naxos (does have a lot of beaches, but also reading this it has more of a legitimate "Greek" feel than the other islands with towns and villages to explore), and Nafpilo (village about 2 hours by car from Athens which from what I can tell definitely has a Greek feel with a nice town to walk around and some sites nearby) might fit your criteria.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
3688 posts

Based on what you have listed, I think a bit larger island might be best.

Naxos would fit the bill pretty well, Crete would as well, especially western Crete, basing in chania.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
1753 posts

Since it seems to be important to you to have a direct flight from the UK, perhaps it would be best for you to determine first what direct flights there ARE, from whatever your nearest airport is, and confine yourself to those.

However, I'll enter a contrary opinion --- sometimes, simply because there are direct flights to certain islands, they then sometimes become "Brit Hives", full of Full English Brekkies, & rowdy crowds intent on beer and beach parties ... especially since you'll be going in high season. It might be worth it to, instead, find your cheapest roundtrip (return) flight to/from Athens, and then choose an island that does NOT have a huge airport where 400 people an hour land, and cram the place.

If you're looking for the "blue & white houses & red flowers" look, there are more than a dozen Cycladic islands that offer that... without the mob scene or the Mykonos price$$$. Also, with more greenery than Mykonos (which is a VERY dry & rocky isle). Look at Sifnos -- Naxos -- Milos .... all three have wonderful beaches ... and Sifnos & Naxos have good bus networks, easy to get around. In milos, you'd need to rent wheels, but an ATM or scooter would do. Sifnos has no airport... so you'd have to land, take the train (new!) to port & get a ferry. The upside is, SIfnos cannot get over-crowded, since does not have miles & miles of purpose-built concrete "holiday villas", so beaches cannot overcrowd. The other 2 have limited flights, small planes so also don't get jampacked.