With 17 visits to Greece under my belt it’s no secret I love Greek holidays. But what I haven’t shared until now is the secret of where exactly we like to go in Greece. So, I thought the time had finally come to share some of the beautiful and easy to reach holiday destinations in Greece that we’ve fallen in love with the last couple of years.
While I do dream of island-hopping around the Cyclades one day, we’ve found it more practical since becoming parents to focus on Greek Islands that have direct flights and short transfers to the resort.
And, while we had an incredible time visiting Mykonos when Miles was a baby, prices have soared since our visit in 2019 – so this post will focus on holiday destinations in Greece that are not only easy to reach but far more affordable than the likes of Mykonos and Santorini. (Which everyone absolutely must visit at least once in their lifetime but maybe not during a cost of living crisis!)
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5 beautiful destinations in Greece with direct flights from the UK
In 2022 we visited Corfu for the second time, because, in my opinion, it’s one of the best value Greek Islands. Multiple airlines offer direct flights from the UK and we’ve found both package deals and villa rentals on this island far more affordable than other parts of Greece.
While Corfu doesn’t offer the sugar-cubed shaped buildings you find in the Cyclades, it does offer lush rolling mountains dotted with cypress and olive trees, and beautiful little bays with crystal clear water.
On both of our visits to Corfu we based ourselves in Kalami, a small bay in the north of the island that has a handful of traditional tavernas and more trendy eateries like Callao Corfu. It’s also where you’ll find The White House Restaurant, an upmarket eatery houses in the former residence of Lawrence Durrell. (And where ITV series The Durrells was filmed.)
Our favourite thing to do in Corfu is to choose a different beachfront taverna to dine at every evening. From Kalami you can take a taxi boat to the traditional seafront tavernas in Agni, where you’ll find not only gorgeous food and sunset views, but getting whooshed back home in the dark after dinner adds a little thrill to the evening!
This area also has some beautiful swimming spots like Bataria Beach in Kassiopi, Liapades & Rovinia Beach and Porto Timoni, which has spectacular twin beaches backed by lush hills that people often hike to take in the views of.
For something a bit different head to the once-abandoned historic mountain village of Old Perithia, where you’ll find a small number of tavernas and a trendy B&B amongst the crumbling stone buildings.
Other great things to do in Corfu include taking a boat trip to Paxos and Anti-Paxos, Parga or even Albania. Corfu Town is worth visiting too, even if just for a few hours before your flight like we did. We enjoyed wandering around the pastel-coloured Venetian buildings and grabbing one last gyros before flying home.
Where to stay in Corfu
On our first visit to Corfu we stayed at the adults-only San Antonio Resort right on Kalami Beach. You can find a full review here.
For our more recent visit we stayed in the family-friendly Artist’s House at Villa Rastoni.
Perched on a mountainside in-between Kassiopi and Kalami, this 2-bedroom villa has incredible views from the huge outdoor terrace and stunning infinity pool. But I must admit the drive to get there is rather hairy, so you want to be a confident driver to book this property. (You can book local taxis to get around but this adds up quickly.)
In 2023 we’ll be heading back to Corfu once again and doing something we’ve never done before in Greece – staying at a family-friendly all-inclusive resort. When I read about the brand-new Ikos Odisia opening in Corfu in May 2023 I changed my tune about all-inclusive hotels in Greece not being for me.
Ikos are known for their award-winning, ultra, all-inclusive lifestyle packages that includes everything from a la carte meals created by Michelin-starred chefs, to 24/7 room service, kids club, dine out programmes and complimentary car hire. The hotel is surrounded by cypress trees on a jewel-like bay in Dassia. I can’t wait to check it out and will let you know my verdict once we visit in August.
Lefkada is one of the lesser-known Ionian Islands (south of Corfu), which happens to boast some of the most striking beaches in Greece.
Rather handily, this ‘island’ is attached to the mainland via a causeway so although there are no direct flights to Lefkada, it’s an easy 30-minute drive from Preveza Airport.
The steep white cliffs & cobalt water of Porto Katsiki are a must-see. We also loved sipping a frappe at the beachfront tavernas in the small resort town of Agios Nikitas, then hopping on a boat to remote Milos Beach.
Agios Ioannis (seen above) is where you’ll find the historic Lefkada windmills, including one that’s been turned into a cafe. (Orlof Mill Cafe.)
Where to stay in Lefkada
We visited Lefkada in 2021 and stayed at Mousses – a collection of 12 family-friendly villas with excellent kid’s club & fully trained nannies, exclusive to Simpson Travel.
There’s a large gated swimming pool and poolside taverna on site and, while the interiors of the villas felt a little dated to me, there is no doubt that they have thought of everything when it comes to babies and toddlers. From stair gates, to child locks, toilet seats, baby baths and a toy box – this is the most family-friendly place we’ve ever stayed and was perfect for Miles when he was in that runaway 2-year-old phase!
There aren’t many places to eat within walking distance but the resort’s restaurant is wonderful and your booking comes with car hire, so you can always drive the short distance to Lefkada Town for some variety.
We visited the village of Lindos in Rhodes in 2014 and were utterly charmed by its unique combination of whitewashed buildings, sandy bays and the ancient Acropolis towering above it.
Getting lost in the steep, winding lanes of Lindos, ending up at a rooftop restaurant or blue and white coloured café is one of my favourite memories of Greece – you just need some good walking shoes to get up and down those hills.
From what I can tell, Lindos has become a lot trendier in recent years. The most popular beach in Lindos, St Paul’s Bay, has been repeatedly voted among the best beaches in the world and while I remember it having a small café and a few sun loungers to rent, both beaches in the bay are now ‘organized’ with loungers, parasols, and chic-looking cabanas that you can hire.
While in Rhodes, the UNESCO World Heritage Rhodes Town is a must-see. I’d also recommend a day trip to see the pastel-coloured mansions of Symi.
Where to stay in Lindos
I’ve noticed some great deals on holidays to Lindos at the moment with the likes of Tui, Thomas Cook and First Choice. I’ve added the recently renovated Lindos Mare Hotel to our wishlist.
In 2021 we took a chance on Samos, a little-known Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea that lies less than 2km from Turkey. Samos is probably one of the least touristy islands we’ve visited in Greece. We met hardly any other English tourists there (this could have been partly due to Covid) but it was rather refreshing to feel like we were in unchartered territory.
We stayed in Pythagorion, which is the most popular resort in Samos, and it was such a pleasant surprise. I’d read about its history as the birthplace of Pythagoras 2500 odd years ago, but wasn’t expecting quite so many modern restaurants, gelaterias & cafes dotted around the waterfront & cobbled streets.
The charm here is that the balance feels just right – there’s a traditional seafood restaurant, like Taverna Maritsa, for every modern European restaurant like Knife & Fork.
Modest fishing boats are moored next to the handful of super yachts that make their way here. Even the statue of Pythagoras (a right angle no less!) sits next to a children’s play park where local children play next to visitors.
I think this sums up why we liked Samos so much. It’s beautiful but unshowy. Just the right level of touristy. It has everything you need but still feels authentically Greek. It’s not the type of Greek island you’d usually see on Instagram- there’s not a blue & white dome anywhere – but perhaps that’s a good thing.
Our favourite things to do in Samos were bathe in the warm and gentle waters of Psili Ammos and explore Kokkari, the traditional fishing village backed by mountains that has perhaps the most picturesque little cove in Samos.
Where to stay in Samos
Found quite literally at the end of the runway, Fito Aqua Bleu Resort, is the perfect place for a fly-and-flop family holiday in Samos. (If you don’t mind the odd aircraft flying over your sunbed!)
We loved that the transfer time is just 8 minutes and had such a warm welcome at this small, family-run beachfront resort that I can see why guests return year after year. We also liked that the simple rooms each had their own outdoor space and the restaurant were great at letting us order takeaway to enjoy when our little one was napping.
It’s an easy walk into Pythagorion for dinner each evening. (And an even easier taxi ride back at the end of the night!) The beach in front of the hotel is rather pebbly though, which is why we hired a car to drive to sandy Psili Ammos a couple of times.
In October 2022 I had a little taste of Halkidiki while on a press trip. Located approximately 1 hour away from the foodie city of Thessaloniki in the north of Greece, Halkidiki consists of the mainland and a large peninsula that resemble 3 ‘fingers’.
These unique peninsulas boast over 1000 gorgeous beaches, the birthplace of Aristotle, and the thousand-year-old monastic state of Mount Athos. (A unique UNESCO Heritage Site that most visitors only get a glimpse of by boat as it is off limits to women and men need a permit to enter.)
With over 550km of coastline, Halkidiki really is a beach lover’s paradise. Between the east and west coast of the mainland and the peninsulas of Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos, there is a beach to suit every type of traveller.
Where to stay in Halkidiki
Perhaps the most well-known resort in Halkidiki is that of Sani, found on Kassandra, where you’ll find one of the most popular 5* family-friendly resorts in Greece.
Sani Resort is a private 1000-acre beachfront estate made up of 5 hotels, 40 restaurant and bars and its own private marina. From seafront villas at Sani Asterias and the ‘entry-level’ hotel rooms at Sani Club, Sani Resort caters to both families and couples with different styles of accommodation and exclusive adults-only areas.
Children under 12 stay for free at 3 of the 5 properties (Sani Club, Sani Beach and Porto Sani) and with the resort’s dine around programme, half board guests can choose from 26 restaurants to dine at during their stay.
On my visit to Halkidiki I was charmed by the more untouched feel of Sithonia, which has quiet villages and tranquil sandy beaches backed by rugged landscape. My recommendation for where to stay in Sithonia would be the affordable luxury Acrotel Athena Pallas. This charming rustic style hotel has traditional Greek décor and a secluded private beach with jaw-dropping sunset views.
The hotel is nestled between Nikiti and Neos Marmaras, a low-key tourist town with a smattering of tavernas, bars, shops and boat trips.
So that’s everywhere in Greece we’ve been to and loved the last couple of years. Is there anywhere you think we should try next?
Guide to north Corfu: Beautiful places in Greece
Greek Island Hopping in the Sporades