The mystic’s outpost
Although blessed with beautiful beaches – from the sandy stretch of Grikos to the polychromatic pebble expanse of Lambi – the sunseekers Patmos attracts tend to the metaphysical. They’re inexorably drawn to the Cave of the Apocalypse, where according to tradition, St John wrote his enigmatic Book of Revelation, and to the fortress-like Monastery of St John where the treasury contains the most valuable ecclesiastical riches in Greece outside Mt Athos. There is an incongruous feel to the island – revellers leaving the bars while monks walk to matins – whose sun, sea and strange spirituality you’ll simply have to experience yourself. Patmos Aktis has doubles from £104, patmosaktis.gr.
The road-tripper’s route
There’s no better drive in Greece than along the western side of the Mani peninsula. A narrow road is set high up on a slope with unfettered sea vistas, sandwiched between the Taygetus mountain range and the pelagic indigo of the Messenian Gulf. Break up the drive at pleasingly traditional Kardamyli, the sandy demilune of Stupa beach or by Diros cave, where the trek includes boating on an underground lake. At the final stop of Gerolimenas stay at Kyrimai, one of Greece’s most historic hotels (B&B from £119) before you drive to Cape Tainaron whose scrub-and-thistle inhospitable terrain explains perfectly why the ancients regarded it as the entrance to the Underworld. kyrimai.gr/en.
The climber’s challenge
Kalymnos’ landscape – a mixture of sandy coves, green valleys and rugged ridges – is arguably the most dramatic in the Aegean this side of Santorini. Historically, inhabitants lived off the sponge trade, but nowadays the plethora of wind- and wave-beaten cliffs has been discovered by climbing clubs and the island has become one of the top rock-climbing destinations in Europe. Whether beginner, intermediate or advanced, a fantastic place to have a go is Kalymnos, where dry weather is guaranteed from spring to autumn, a beach is always nearby to cool off and good food soothes those pre-climb butterflies in your stomach. Contact Climb Kalymnos, climbkalymnos.com.
The culturati’s corner
The Argolid, Peloponnese
One-and-a-half hour’s drive from Athens lies Nafplio, the Argolid peninsula’s capital, and one of the most striking Greek towns: a mixture of medieval Venetian and 19th-century neoclassical, defended by no fewer than three fortresses, of which the most winsome stands inside the bay. You’ll want to make Nafplio your base while you visit ancient Mycenae, Tiryns, Nemea and, a bit further out, the Epidaurus theatre still going strong after 2,500 years with summer musical and dramatic performances that even Covid-19 has been unable to cancel. Nearby unpretentious Tolo, a fishing-village-turned-resort, and chic Porto Heli offer the obligatory beach interest. One week’s B&B in Nafplio from £707 with flights and hotel, sunvil.co.uk.
The foodie’s hotspot
The island of Tinos claims a special place in Greek cuisine. It’s the country’s prime pilgrimage destination with the faithful flocking to a miraculous icon of the Virgin year-round. As a result, Tinos town restaurants have specialised in a whacking array of vegetarian dishes for the fasting pilgrims. Needless to say that locals react by being highly carnivorous, dining at gourmet restaurants such as Metaxy Mas or To Thalassaki. One week’s hotel with flights from £694pp, olympicholidays.com.
The wine lover’s nirvana
Naoussa, Central Macedonia
As far back as 1971 the wine region of Naoussa, a two-hour drive west of Thessaloniki, became the first Greek appellation contrôlée, its wines made solely from the homegrown Xinomavro grape. Its tart dry reds grown on the slopes of Mt Vermio are considered the finest in Greece, their taste not a million miles away from a good Barolo. Visit Boutari, the best-known estate established in 1879, nearby Dalamara also dating from the 19th century, the co-op of Vaeni controlling half of the production, as well as newcomers Chrisohoou, Foundi and Argatia that provide the boutique touch. The Palea Poli boutqiue hotel, a former silk factory, has B&B from £78, paleapoli.gr.
The sportsman’s playground
By holidaying in Mt Pelion, Stanley Johnson managed to publicise one of Greece’s best kept secrets: a lush mountain rising sharply to 5,300ft on a peninsula girdled by sandy shores. If you’re a Tuff Mudder type you’ll love it for you could train for the triathlon on your holiday: there’s alpine trekking at the forested top, abode of the legendary Centaurs; mule tracks criss-crossing the charming villages that dot its slopes serve as mountain biking trails; and safe swimming is to be had in the lake-like Pagasetic Gulf – from beeches to beaches in just over an hour. Destress at Pelion Homes which can arrange your adventures and has self-catering properties from £120 per night for four guests, pelionhomes.com.
The photographer’s snapfest
A complex volcanic past has endowed the island of Milos with a variety of coloured minerals that has rendered the landscape visually unique. If you’re a photographer go to Milos for a kaleidoscope of knee-buckling views: the alabaster-white honeycombed rocks of Sarakiniko belong to a moonscape; the red-and-yellow cliffs of Palaiochori and Provatas are what an eight-year-old might paint with a new crayon pack. With 70-odd beaches to choose from, your holiday photos will reach a higher level. One week’s B&B from £825pp at Milos Breeze, including flights, logitravel.co.uk.
The nature-lover’s niche
Alonissos, Northern Sporades
This laid-back island is the epicentre of Greece’s first Maritime National Park, created in 1992 after pressure from biologists who discovered the only colony of Mediterranean monk seals – long thought extinct – on the nearby island of Piperi. Explore by boat the various parts of the park with dolphins tagging along, and watch rare Eleonora falcons perch in colonies along the cliffs. Add a slew of uncrowded sandy beaches around Alonissos, an island as green as Kent, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Stay in one of the palatial GIC villas from £2,398 per week for two with flights and car hire, gicthevillacollection.com, alonissos.gr.
The hiker’s heaven
As you reach this mountainous region via narrow, winding roads brimming with precipitous hairpins, you’ll understand why its 44 stone villages, the Zagorohoria, have been isolated since time immemorial. Such centuries-old self-sufficiency has come to an end as an endless stream of hikers, giddy from the choices on offer have revived the Zagorohoria, use them as base for some tremendous hikes. Top of your list should be Vikos gorge, the best three-day trek in Greece. One-week group walking holiday from £1,549pp with flights, exodus.co.uk.