“However, Cretans refuse to dwell on the past: any and every occasion is an excuse for a glendi (party), usually revolving round food: home-grown vegetables, locally produced olive oil, fat snails gleaned in the mountains, or raki brewed in the local still. And (as any Greek will proudly tell you) Crete is the country’s most hospitable island, so you can expect plenty of invitations to join in the fun.”
See Heidi’s guide to the island, including the best places to eat, and our pick of the top hotels in Crete.
6. Best for peace and quiet: Koufonissia
Rachel Howard, another of our Greek experts, is a huge fan of this overlooked spot. She says: “A two-hour ferry ride from Naxos, the twin islands of Ano (Upper) and Kato (Lower) Koufonisi are a castaway dream. Ano Koufonisi is small enough to walk around in a day. The coastal path from the pocket-sized port peters out at Pori, the largest of the island’s milky blue beaches. Kalofego is a laid-back beach bar where the owner, a musician, often stages impromptu jam sessions with his friends. On Kato Koufonisi, the only inhabitants are goats and the Venetsanos family, who run a wonderful taverna. Order fish soup or slow-roast kid goat.”
She suggests staying at Koufonissi Villas (koufonisivillas.com), four gorgeous Cycladic-style apartments overlooking Pori beach.
See Rachel’s 20 travel secrets of the Greek islands.
7. Best for otherworldly landscapes: Tinos
Having visited a clutch of Greek islands over the years, Tinos was my favourite – I long to return. A 15-minute ferry ride from Mykonos, it is very different from its overcrowded and glamorous neighbour. Hiking, rather than partying, is the big draw, and the island’s mountainous interior conceals forgotten hamlets, lofty chapels and hundreds of beautiful dovecotes (pigeon houses), all linked by a network of walking trails. Most spectacular of all is its northeast corner, beyond the villages of Falatados and Volax. Thousands of granite boulders scatter the landscape, lending it an appearance more like Arizona than the Aegean. Xinara House, designed and owned by a British couple, offers modern digs in the heart of traditional Tinos.
Read more about the island’s highlights, and see our pick of the best hotels on Tinos.