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Greece

Greece is such a familiar destination for the British (so many of us have memories of childhood summer holidays spent there) that it sometimes gets overlooked in the rush for more far-flung destinations. Yet here is the exotic right on our doorstep. Just a few hours flight south and you’re in a different climate altogether with crystal-clear waters and temperatures in the twenties from May to October.

There’s great variety, too. The many groups of islands all have their own personality, some with enticing sandy coves, some dramatic coastal drives and charming white-washed houses - all knitted together by a fascinating antiquity. Crete may be adorned with beautiful beaches, coasts lined with cliffs, snow-capped mountains and lush valleys, but it also holds onto stories of civilisation dating back through the millennia.

And for sun-worshippers, the Dodecanese islands, including history-filled Kos, are said to be the sunniest in Greece. Over on the Sporades, alluring Skiathos is strewn with fig trees and olive groves, its emerald interior melting into cerulean waters. The exceedingly-photogenic Mykonos is renowned for its glitz and glam, attracting those who like to party ‘til sunrise and explore the beaches, bars and boutiques. And the white-washed buildings and blue-domed roofs of Santorini are as iconic as the ancient architecture of Athens.

Don’t forget mainland Greece; Halkidiki, in the north, reveals a rugged, mountainous landscape, its three legs jutting out into the turquoise Aegean Sea. Its fragrant pine forests are perfect for hiking and mountain biking, and Blue Flag beaches rimmed with crystalline waters lure snorkellers, kayakers and windsurfers.

 

Language

Greek, though English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

Time Difference

2 hours ahead of GMT.

Currency

Euro

See the island

Fall In Love With Little Venice

Perfectly scenic and disarmingly romantic, Little Venice is where you’ll find the Mykonos of postcards and paintings. The 18th-century fishermen’s houses built here seem to perch precariously atop the caressing waves of the ocean, earning the quarter its Italian city-inspired nickname. Sip a chilled cocktail and witness the iconic thatched windmills and blazing sunset as the water ripples below you.

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Under The Water

There are plenty of fantastic diving spots in Greece, but plunge into the turquoise waters surrounding the island of Corfu and you’ll be astonished by a variety of marine life, from colourful shoals of fish to slumbering octopi. Water temperatures stay mild year-round and dive sites range from ghostly shipwrecks to sun-dappled caves.

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Explore Thessaloniki

Take a break from Halkidiki’s swoon-worthy beaches and venture to Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, a bright, bold and colourful hub where the ancient rubs shoulders with the modern. There’s over 2,000 years of history lingering here, with Roman relics, Byzantine churches and atmospheric, café-lined cobbled lanes juxtap.

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Storied Spinalonga

The island of Spinalonga’s not hard to spot. Dominated by a 16thcentury Venetian fortress, it cuts an imposing figure, yet this island, just off the coast of Elounda in Crete, is known for more than just its former status as a military stronghold. In 1903, a leper colony was established on Spinalonga and it wasn’t until 1957 that the last of the patients were moved to Athens and the island was abandoned.

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Always professional and yet wonderfully warm and welcoming, it’s a credit to The Sandpiper’s exceptional staff that so many guests return year after year

Harold Shepherd is something of a legend at The Sandpiper - as well as running Harold’s Beach Bar, he’s also the hotel’s unofficial social secretary, arranging sailing regattas, football tournaments and quiz nights

Complimentary transportation is provided to The Spa at Coral Reef Club - we can thoroughly recommend the Signature Fresh Lemongrass and Ginger Rub, it’s definitely worth making the short journey

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