The 10 Top Spots in Greece for Brits
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After Germany, Great Britain is Greece’s second-biggest market for tourism. And it’s no surprise that some of the most-popular places for Britons are also the most iconically Greek — from the capital, Athens, to the original Instagram-friendly postcard island, Santorini.
Like a good moussaka, this list of the top-ten places for Britons to take their hols under the Grecian sun is sourced from solid ingredients — in this case, statistics compiled in 2018 by SETE, the Greek Tourism Confederation. Check out the places in Greece that are increasingly turning up on British travellers’ radars:
Perhaps not surprisingly, Athens is the most-popular destination in Greece for British travellers. In recent years the Greek capital has emerged as a southern European city break destination par excellence, with a dizzying array of cultural attractions, excellent restaurants and a raucous nightlife scene. New boutique hotels keep popping up and make for cool spots for urban stays before heading out to (or on the way back from) the Greek Islands.
There was a time when Santorini alone counted as a destination, and in some important respects it still does. But the volcanic island has become so popular that specific spots in Santorini have found favor with Britons. The first is also the biggest: Fira, the main town. Detractors may say that Fira is overcrowded and touristy, but then so is Manhattan and one doesn’t love it any less for that. In addition to loads of great bars and restaurants, Fira is home to an enchanting archaeological museum with Minoan finds from elsewhere on the island. Oia, at the southern tip of Santorini, is famous for its sunsets while Imerovigli, between Fira and Oia, is growing popular for its quiet appeal. Other Santorini hot spots include Firostefani and Kamari, with its black sand beach.
It may be one of the least mysterious of Greece’s long list of islands, but for some travellers there is great comfort in the familiar. That said, mighty Rhodes is no slouch when it comes to world heritage, particularly with the intact medieval architecture of Rhodes Town, which packs in British visitors (and plenty of others) year after year. The seaside resort of Faliraki, on the east coast of the island, is also a big draw for visitors from the British Isles. Scenic Rhodes is a famously family-friendly destination.
Kos, along with Rhodes, is the most-popular Greek island in the Dodecanese archipelago. Kos Town has the lion’s share of ancient ruins, and the ancient physician Hippocrates was born there. Asclepius was famous on the island, and the Asklepieion ruins are a popular sight. The beach resort town of Kardamaina, on the south coast of Kos, is particularly popular with Brits.
Greece’s intriguing second city is nothing at all like Athens to the south. Thessaloniki was established in 316 BCE and named after a half-sister of Alexander the Great. There is a mountain of history in this lesser-known metropolis: Roman and Byzantine ruins, Christian heritage and a rich and turbulent Jewish history, too.
Corfu is one of the Ionian islands and is called Kerkyra in Greek. Unlike many of the Greek Islands in the Aegean, Corfu is famously green. Corfu Town, with its Venetian citadel and elegant arcaded Liston, is one of the most picturesque small cities in the Mediterranean and one of the most visited as well. It’s hard to pick a spot on Corfu that isn’t pretty, but among the locales favoured by Britons is Sidari along the northern coast.
While many Greeks take the ferries from Piraeus or the short flight from Athens, travellers from the UK can fly directly to Crete, obviating the need to transit through Athens. The proximity of the Cretan hub airport at Heraklion (HER) to major resort areas on the north coast of Crete makes the destinations of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda very popular amongst Brits. Also on the northern shore but west of the capital of Heraklion you’ll find the popular spots to be Chania and the less touristy Rethymnon.
No surprise here: the ultimate Greek party island also attracts legions of British travellers who come to Mykonos for its world-class array of luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants and great beaches. A celebrity magnet since the days of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Mykonos has always been less about scenery and culture than the famously relaxed, carefree energy of the place. Check out our mini-guide to Mykonos here.
Another of the Ionian Islands, Zakynthos is sometimes called Zante and was the “flower of the Levant” for the Venetians who once ruled the beautiful island. It’s famous on Instagram for its iconic white-sand, cliff-fringed Navagio beach (Shipwreck Beach). Laganas, south of Zakynthos town, is the big resort on the island and has a nightlife scene that’s earned a bit of a reputation for rowdiness. More chill vibes prevail at Planos/Tsilivi Beach, northeast of Zakynthos town, which is also growing in popularity with Britons.
Though it may not be one of the top spots statistically speaking, little Skiathos has been growing in popularity. The fact that Mamma Mia! was filmed there may have something to do with that, but so do fine stretches of sand like Lalaria Beach with its iridescent blue waters and stone arch, and the pine-backed beach at Koukounaries. Skiathos Town gets hopping in summer, and there are direct flights from the UK to Skiathos’ small Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport (JSI).
Featured photo by Matteo Colombo / Getty Images.
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