Lying seductively just off the Turkish coast, semitropical Samos (Σάμος) is one of the northeastern Aegean Islands’ best-known destinations. Yet beyond the low-key resorts and the lively capital, Vathy, there are numerous off-the-beaten-track beaches and quiet spots in the cool, forested inland mountains, where traditional life continues.
The Argolis Peninsula, which separates the Saronic and Argolic Gulfs, is a veritable treasure trove for archaeology buffs, history lovers and those after a fascinating frolic. The town of Argos, from which the region takes its name, is thought to be the longest continually inhabited town in Greece.
Santorini’s main town of Fira is a vibrant, bustling place, its caldera edge layered with hotels, cave apartments, infinity pools and swish restaurants, all backed by a warren of narrow streets full of shops and even more bars and restaurants. A multitude of fellow admirers cannot diminish the impact of Fira’s stupendous landscape.
Hora has the colour and bustle you'd expect of the island's port and capital. Settled on the west coast, the old town is a tangle of steep footpaths and is divided into two historic Venetian neighbourhoods: Bourgos, where the Greeks lived; and the hilltop Kastro, where the Roman Catholics lived. Despite being fairly large, Hora can still be easily managed on foot.
The beaches in the southwestern corner of the Peloponnese in Messinia are extremely pleasant, and while villages such as Koroni have felt the weight of package tourism, the old Venetian towns of Pylos and Methoni still remain delightful hideaways. Messinia’s boundaries were established in 371 BC following the defeat of Sparta by the Thebans at the Battle of Leuctra.
South Coast of Rethymno
Rethymno’s south coast is bookended by the resort towns of Plakias and Agia Galini, which are linked by a string of marvellously isolated beaches, including the famous palm beach at Preveli. Massive summertime winds have spared the area from the tourism excesses that typify the north coast.
On Ios, you can have your cake and eat it too – quite literally. Spend your days exploring the winding footpaths of the traditional hilltop old town or ensconced on a sandy beach. Discover the isolated interior and then return to town in time for the party. Or visit in the shoulder season for a quieter pace, when Ios draws families and more mature travellers.