The idea of a Greek getaway paints pictures in the mind. There’s the tranquil and inviting seas, the gorgeous villages, the depth and inspiration of history, the world-famous landmarks and, let’s never forget, all that fresh and healthy food. These images become reality in a country whose ancient values laid the foundations of the world we live in today but, there is more - so much more - to discover. There are lush mountain valleys, Byzantine churches, extensive vineyards, sandy shores and cosmopolitan cities to enjoy. And there are the Greeks themselves. You could not meet a more warm-hearted people, a nation whose generosity of spirit and friendliness towards visitors is legendary. From the landlady to the taverna host and the shopkeeper, no visit ends without new friends. Of course it’s always best to be guided by an expert. Sunvil are specialist holiday providers with a deep knowledge of (and love for) Greece. Here are four destinations to whet your appetite.
LEMNOS It does exist: an unspoiled island with a very Greek flavour, relatively few tourists, excellent sandy beaches, a characterful port and a direct flight. Lemnos is the eighth largest Greek island and home to some 260kms of coastline. Development here is minimal and tourism is in its infancy. What this means is that even in the height of summer you can find a sandy cove for yourself. If you can pull yourself away from the beach, the island’s capital calls out to be explored. Myrina is a most attractive little town. The harbour is archetypal with a range of cafés and restaurants, and plenty of small shops in the narrow lanes behind. Elegantly crumbling neoclassical buildings and good sandy beaches lie to either side.
SAMOS Samos offers such variety that everyone should be able to shape a pleasurable holiday here. With some 160kms of coastline and a rugged mountainous interior to explore, you will encounter magnificent scenery, traditional inland villages, small fishing hamlets, established seaside resorts and many fine beaches. The south-west coast, in villages such as Ormos, Limnionas and Votsalakia is an area steeped in history and tradition and is full of life. It is still possible to watch the local fishermen sell their catch from the harbourside in the morning directly to the local tavernas and waterside restaurants - you can’t find fresher than that!
THASSOS Thassos is the greenest and most northerly of the Greek islands, just 40 minutes by frequent ferry from Kavala on the mainland, and in this way combines the attractions of island life with the fertile soil and rich eco-system more usually associated with the Macedonian heartlands. The island has much to offer including a variety of beaches, from small rocky coves to long golden stretches of sand; its mountains are densely forested with cypress and pine, so a paradise for walkers; and the island is littered with ancient ruins, churches and monasteries. But it is proximity to the mainland which sets this island apart. Day excursions to the archaeological site of Ancient Philippi, the historic city of Kavala and its museum, the cooling Nestos river valley and the atmospheric market town of Xanthi are all on offer. The delight of a holiday in Thassos is that the island has adapted to the needs of the modern visitor without affecting its allegiance to the values and beauties of the past.
THE PELOPONNESE Lonely Planet named the Peloponnese as the best place to visit in 2016. This is a destination which Sunvil first covered over 40 years ago. Their programme to the region includes the traditional seaside resort of Tolon, the historic town of Nafplion - the first capital of Greece, ancient sites like Olympia, Mycenae and Mystra, the villages of Chrani, Kardamili and Finikounda and the Mani peninsula where rural villages, lush valleys and coastal communities dominate. There truly is something for everyone.
TAILOR-MAKE YOUR DREAM HOLIDAY No one knows Greece like the team at Sunvil and Abbotts Travel. Let them use their experience to design your perfect holiday whether that it is a villa escape, an island hopping holiday in the Cyclades or a fly-drive holiday taking in the historic sites of the Greek mainland. Abbotts Travel, 134 George Lane, South Woodford, E18 1BA Tel: 0208 989 9445