Three lesser-known holiday spots in Greece
Foreign holiday bookings are surging– seek the spots the crowds will have missed. Chris Carter reports
“With the end of lockdown in sight, holiday bookings to Greece are surging,” says Mary Valiakas in The Guardian. But for a “really restorative taste of Greek life… it’s worth swapping the limelight locations for places where mass tourism hasn’t obscured the essence of Greek culture: hospitality and a soulful way of life”.
Evia, Greece’s second-largest island, is one such “gem”, within striking distance of Athens. It feels part “Switzerland-on-sea”, part Caribbean. The thermal springs of Edipsos, in the north of the island, were mentioned by Plutarch and Aristotle as the place Hercules visited to restore his powers; Drakospita, in the south, features 23 megalithic structures, known as “dragon houses”, with roofs made of huge slabs of limestone and may have served as sanctuaries to the gods. Another kind of sanctuary is be found in the mountain villages offering respite from the summer heat. Villa Averoff in the hill village of Kirinthos is a “tranquil 19th-century estate in extensive grounds with two grand mansions each accommodating eight” (from €1,850, http://villa-averoff.com).
“Remote Skyros”, in the Sporades archipelago, is another Greek island that “thrives on tradition rather than tourism: there are more woodcarvers, potters and shepherds than hoteliers”, says The Daily Telegraph. Ammos, situated in the tiny car-free village of Magazia, a stone’s throw from “a great sweep of sandy beach”, is one of the best hotels. “Look over the jumble of whitewashed houses and all you see is the sea.” The hotel has a saltwater pool and a “cute” wine bar with “sofas under the stars” for sundowners in the evening. Every room has a patio overlooking the sea or garden, while two superior sea-view rooms have “elevated verandas with deck chairs for sunbathing and shaded day beds for snoozing” (around £55 a night, skyrosammoshotel.com).
For families seeking solitude, but not too far off the beaten path, there’s Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa, on the island of Crete. It stands on “a private swathe of seafront in the quiet village of Plaka”. The family duplexes are “sleek, shiny and new, with the chances of finding a half-chewed rusk embedded in the TV remote mercifully slim”, says Susan d’Arcy in The Times. “They also have private pools and sweeping views over the Bay of Mirabello, where you can enjoy snorkelling, windsurfing and kayaking. These pursuits should help you to work up a healthy appetite for dinner in one of the resort’s four restaurants, which are overseen by the celebrated chef Lefteris Lazarou” (from around £200 a night, cayoresort.com).