29 November 2022
Lord Byron was on to something when he waxed lyrical about the Greek islands. But with more than 200 to choose from, which ones are the very best Greek islands? Here regular isle-hopper Rachel Howard reveals the ones to get in a speedboat for in 2023, with where to stay recommendations chosen by the editors of Condé Nast Traveller.
For more recommendations, see our round up of the best Greek Islands hotels.
Best for: Honeymooners and first-timers
Cooing American and Chinese honeymooners line up to take selfies as the sun sinks behind Santorini‘s caldera, the flooded volcanic crater. That view may be a romantic cliché, but it still takes your breath away. A volcanic explosion blew out Santorini’s heart 3,500 years ago, leaving black-sand beaches, vertiginous cliffs in psychedelic hues, and swirling rumours about Atlantis in its wake. The eruption also preserved the ancient city of Akrotiri under layers of ash, and created fertile ground for exceptional Assyrtiko grapes and Vinsanto wines. (Sample them at Sigalas and Vassaltis wineries, paired with delicate dishes that let the grapes sing.)
Apart from a boat trip to the smouldering crater of Nea Kameni and hot springs at Palia Kameni, there’s not much to do but gaze at the mesmerising views from your suite, dangling on the edge of the caldera. Most places to stay are concentrated in Oia and Imerovigli, but the inland village of Pyrgos is up-and-coming. Go for a twilight Bellini at Franco’s or supper at Botargo, with views that will leave you light-headed. Emborio is a smaller and even prettier village, with a smattering of old-school coffee shops and Airbnbs. For a glimpse of Santorini before the onslaught of cruise ships and Instagrammers, explore the quieter south (but keep your discoveries to yourself).
Where to stay in Santorini: The latest arrival is Nobu Santorini, where Japanese minimalism is combined with calm Greek aesthetics. In terms of classics, Perivolas still remains one of the most stylish and peaceful places to stay. If you have the cash to splash, and can’t stand the crowds, take over Perivolas Hideaway, a waterfront villa on Santorini’s undiscovered offshoot, Thirassia. We also rate Erosantorini, a stunning clifftop estate with a tiered pool plunging 1,000 feet to the sea. The collection of suites at The Vasilicos, the former summer house of a larger-than-life art collector, still feels very much like home, due to charming staff and effortlessly classy interiors. For a villa stay, we like Eolia Superior Villa for its communal living space, quirky archways and glistening blue sea views. You can also find unique Cycladic homes to rent on Airbnb, including this incredible cave house in Oia. For more, see our edit of the best hotels in Santorini and the best Airbnbs in Santorini.