On the Gourmet Trail. Greece: Moussaka

Want a taste of Greece without leaving the country? Try our easy to follow Moussaka recipe.

Ingredients

750g/1lb 10½oz lamb mince

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp dried oregano

1½ tsp dried mint

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp plain flour

200ml/7fl oz red wine

400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 aubergines, cut into 0.5cm slices

1 tbsp fine sea salt, plus extra for seasoning

100ml/3½fl oz olive oil

500g/1lb 2oz Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

For the white sauce

50g/2oz butter

50g/2oz plain flour

400ml/14fl oz milk

25g/1oz Parmesan, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated nutmeg

1 free-range egg, beaten

Method

1. Put the lamb, onion, garlic, oregano, mint, bay and cinnamon in a large heavy-based frying pan and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the meat.

2. Stir in the flour and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the wine, tomatoes and tomato purée and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is tender and the sauce has thickened. Season again if needed and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, place the aubergine slices in a colander and sprinkle with the tablespoon of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.

4. Rinse the aubergine slices under cold running water and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan and fry the aubergines for 2–3 minutes on each side, adding more oil when necessary. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.

5. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain in a colander under running water until cold.

6. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

7. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for a few seconds, then gradually stir in the milk. Add half the Parmesan and the grated nutmeg. Simmer the sauce gently for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

8. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool. When cooled, stir in the egg.

9. Spoon one-third of the meat sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish large enough to hold 2.5 litres. Cover loosely with a third of the potatoes and then a third of the aubergines – you don’t need complete layers, just to arrange them roughly on top. Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with the aubergines. Pour over the white sauce, making sure it covers everything in a thick, even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 35–45 minutes, or until deep golden-brown and bubbling.

Floral Themed Villas

To celebrate the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 we decided to dig out some of our floral inspired villas and share a bunch of our favourites with you.

 

Villa Poppy, Polis, Cyprus

Situated in a fantastic central location, just 900 yds from the beach, is Villa Poppy. Ideal for couples and small groups, this 2 bedroom villa is spacious inside and out and is the ideal place for a relaxing week or two in the sun.

poppy_914_villa1e_w4

Villa Daisy, Lagos, Algarve

Part of our Very Villa Plus programme is the daintily named Villa Daisy. With 4 bedrooms, sleeping up to 9 people, you’ll have plenty of room for all the family. Enjoy your private, heated swimming pool and impressive garden space during your Villa Plus holiday in Portugal.

Daisy

Villa Lavanda, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Just a 20-minute walk from the centre of Playa Blanca is Villa Lavanda. With 3 bedrooms, bright and airy rooms and a private, heated pool you have everything you need for your dream holiday this summer.

Lavanda

Villa Rosemary Sostis, Agios Sostis, Zante

This centrally located, 2-bedroom property is Villa Rosemary Sostis. Situated just 500 yds from the beach, the villa is also close to the waterside restaurants and mini markets. Enjoy the privacy of your villa, with heated pool, or use it as a base to explore the island. The choice is yours!

Rosemary Sostis

Villa Lotus, Porec, Croatia

Nestled in the countryside is Villa Lotus, an ideal choice for those looking for a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle of a busy resort. The property had a landscaped garden, perfect for sunbathing in after a refreshing dip in the pool.

Lotus

Villa Jazminez, Marbella, Costa del Sol

This delightful 3-bedroom property is Villa Jazminez. Set amongst a mature, private garden, you’ll have a private pool, al fresco dining area and plenty of privacy.

Jazminez

Which of these villas would you pick? Let us know in the comments below

 

By Maddy Morgan

 

5 of the best Greek islands to holiday

Greece’s charms span across the mainland and its many archipelagos. So much so, it’s often hard to pick which are the best Greek islands to holiday on. Regardless of whether you’re drawn by Zante’s coves or Crete’s picturesque harbours, here’s a summary of Greece’s finest five isles to visit.

Crete

Crete is Greece’s largest island, comprising everything from arid mountains to sun-kissed beaches. There’s plenty of cultural attractions – think the Archaeological Museum of Chania, or the Nautical Museum of Crete – alongside plush sunspots which are the hallmark of many Greek island holidays. Elafonisi beach is one such spot, made up of crystal-clear waters with shallows perfect for a gentle (and safe) swim.

Zante

Primarily known for its vibrant nightlife, Zante is in fact a multifaceted destination which caters for a lot of different tastes. The island’s capital, Zakynthos (or Zante Town) is overlooked by a Venetian castle that dates back to around the 1480s. Brave the climb and explore stone vaulted prisons, church ruins and lookout points for cannons.

Navagio Beach, otherwise known as Shipwreck Beach, is synonymous with holidays in Zante. Its pristine sands lie sheltered within a bay looking out onto the Ionian Sea – just make sure you get a sunbathing spot either next to or in front of the shipwreck in the middle of the beach, that way you’ll get a better view.

Rhodes

Rhodes and historic sites go hand in hand. The Acropolis of Lindos dates way back to Ancient Greece, and although large parts have been gradually eroded, the remaining pillars still cast an impressive sight over the surrounding coastline.

Alternatively, visit the Medieval City of Rhodes, one of Greece’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Wander over narrow sandstone bridges or park up by the harbour and enjoy a cold drink while soaking up classic Mediterranean views.

Corfu

Corfu and its fishing villages have all the right ingredients for an idyllic getaway. The Canal d’Amour beach near Agios Stefanos comprises calm, turquoise waters resting within a narrow bay. There’s sunbed facilities overlooking the sea, and on the higher grounds above the bay, so you’re left with no shortage of places to top up your tan.

Kefalonia

Last but by no means least, the Ionian Island of Kefalonia is characterised by its mystical caves, quaint villages and (of course) stretching beaches. The Melissani Cave, or Melissani Lake, is located on the east of the island. Its interiors are lit by sunlight during the day, thanks to a hole in one of the caves’ roofs, making for a calming, slightly surreal experience when you take a boat tour here.

For something a bit more challenging, hike up Mount Ainos, the highest point in Kefalonia. It’s 1,628 metres high, gifting walkers with panoramic views over the region and the nearby village of Lourdas. Back on sea level, the beaches near the village present endless amounts of serene sunbathing opportunities – lose yourself to a good book or simply unwind in the refreshing sea breeze.

Decided on a destination? Take a look at Greek island villa offerings from Villa Plus, and find a property which works for you.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

How to Eat Like A Local in Zante

People travel for many reasons – exotic beaches, new cultures and luscious scenery being but a few of them. There’s one reason that pops up increasingly often, though, and that’s indulging in foreign cuisines. Here at Villa Plus, we’re inspired by our customers love of immersing themselves in local food and culture while on holiday. That’s why we’ve launched Eat Like a Local – a partnership with the UK’s top cookery schools geared towards giving you the finest foreign recipes out there.

On self-catering holidays to Zante, the entire gastronomy of Greece falls into your lap. Whether you’re wanting a lighter salad or some fried fish, here’s a selection of dishes from some of the UK’s top cookery schools made to give you a certified taste of this Greek gem.

Cambridge Cookery School

Founded in 2008 by chef and food writer Tine Roche, Cambridge Cookery School staff comprise everyone from Japanese sushi chefs to cordon bleu-trained artisan bakers

Here, Tine sheds some light on how to make a delicious (and easy) melitzanosalata.

Cambridge Cookery School’s melitzanosalata

Ingredients:

4 large purple aubergines
1 lemon – juiced
2 garlic cloves – grated or crushed
Sea salt and ground pepper
125ml olive oil
Dried thyme
Black olives

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, halve the aubergines lengthways, then place them face up on a large baking tray.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic and a little thyme, then season liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until soft.
  4. In a large bowl, mash the aubergines with a fork, then a wooden spoon to incorporate air and make a fluffy cream. Taste and add as much lemon juice and salt as you feel it needs.
  5. Arrange onto four separate platters, drizzling with olive oil and placing black olives in the

Keep up to date with Cambridge Cookery School on their website and on Twitter.

Cookery School at Little Portland Street

Rosalind Rathouse founded Cookery School at Little Portland Street in 2008. The school trains chefs to cook Mexican, Indian and Spanish cuisine, amongst many other delicacies – including those from Greece.

Whet your appetite a little further with their calamari fritti recipe.

Cookery School at Little Portland Street’s calamari fritti

Ingredients:

500g calamari (preferably tentacles) cleaned and cut into rings
2 cups of flour or semolina
½ a teaspoon of salt

Method

  1. Season the flour with salt and mix well, then use it to coat the calamari.
  2. Heat the oil in a dry, deep sided saucepan to prevent it from splashing.
  3. When the oil is sufficiently hot, add the calamari. You can test if it’s hot enough by adding a small piece of bread into the oil. If it browns quickly, then you’re ready to fry the calamari.
  4. Fry a handful of calamarai at a time so that the oil temperature isn’t reduced, and the fish crisps up well. Once it turns a light golden colour, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon. By cooking them quickly they’ll remain tender, but still be crisp.
  5. Serve with pieces of chopped, fresh lemon.

Find out more about Cookery School at Little Portland Street on their website and follow them on Twitter.

Manna from Devon Cookery School

Ran by David Jones and his wife Holly, Manna from Devon Cookery School specialises in wood-fired cooking, fish cookery and breadmaking, alongside taking guests on foodie adventures across Europe.

Manna from Devon Cookery School’s Zakynthos-inspired slow-cooked octopus

Here’s David’s recipe for slow-cooked octopus…

Ingredients:

1kg cleaned octopus, squid or cuttlefish
1 green pepper
15ml olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
180ml red wine
600ml chicken or shellfish stock
30g cornflour
30g pitted and chopped black or green olives
1bsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and pepper

Method

Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius, gas mark three.
  2. Slice the octopus (or squid or cuttlefish) into 1cm strips.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together in a large ovenproof pan and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the lid on the pan so it’s well sealed, put it in the oven and shut the door.
  5. Come back in two hours, take the lid off the pan and test that the octopus has become tender. If it needs a bit longer, put the lid back on the pan and cook until it’s ready.
  6. When it is, sprinkle a little more chopped parsley over the slow-cooked octopus and serve with good bread and a green or tomato salad.

Stay up to date with Manna from Devon Cookery School on their blog or follow them on Instagram.

Philleigh Way – baked feta

Philleigh Way is a Cornwall-based cookery school and restaurant ran by brothers-in-law James Martin and chef George Pasco.

The school is inspired by generations of old Cornish recipes, but this time, they’ve tried their hand at Greek baked feta…

Philleigh Way’s baked feta

Ingredients:

200g feta cheese
1 pinch of dried red chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
A handful of finely chopped oregano leaves
Two cloves finely sliced garlic
A handful of sliced cherry or plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
½ a tablespoon of capers
½ a red onion, finely sliced
A handful of torn basil leaves
A handful of Kalamata black olives

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, gas mark six.
  2. Tear off a large section of tin foil, place the block of feta in the centre and assemble the rest of the ingredients on top
  3. Pull up the sides of the foil and crimp along the top, forming an airtight pouch.
  4. Place on an oven tray and bake for 12 minutes. Serve with warm crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Check out Philleigh Way’s website and follow them on Twitter.

Avenue Cookery School – chickpea salad

Established in 2004, The Avenue Cookery School is a family-run school, teaching students to scrap the cookery books and use them only as a means of inspiration.

With a recipe for chickpea salad this good, they must have been inspired by the best…

Avenue Cookery School’s Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

20ml olive oil
150ml cider vinegar
1 red chilli
2x 400g tins of chickpeas
6 cloves of garlic, pureed
1 bunch of fresh chopped coriander
2 finely sliced onions
1 bunch of fresh chopped parsley
1 bunch of fresh chopped mint
4 finely sliced spring onions
Extra virgin olive oil
100g crumbled feta

Method

  1. Sautee the onions until soft then add the chilli and garlic, cooking for a further two minutes until the garlic is cooked.
  2. Add the vinegar and cook until it has reduced
  3. While still warm, pour over the chickpeas.
  4. Just before serving, mix in the coriander, parsley, mint and spring onions. Season and sprinkle with the feta.

Keep updated with The Avenue Cookery School on their blog and follow them on Instagram.

Ready to take your foodie fantasies to the next level? Look at Villa Plus offerings in Zante and get ready to taste the wonders of Greece.

 

Eating out in Zante: 5 reasons self-catering beats restaurants

People visit Zante for many reasons – world-famous beaches and quaint old towns being but two of them. Thanks to its location, the island has an array of ingredients and culinary specialities that bring in plenty of tourists year after year.

Eating out in Zante is without a doubt a sure-fire way to soak up the island’s vibe. It’s also possible to experience Zante’s charms by eating in and whipping up a few meals of your own, though. Here’s why you should opt to self-cater when you’re there…

You can discover Greek culture

Uncovering Greek culture through locally produced food is both rewarding and wholly delicious. Staying in a holiday rental gifts you the freedom to wander the local markets, purchase tasty home-grown ingredients ripe for Greek cooking and enjoy Zante like a local. There’s an abundance of organic fruits, vegetables, olive oils, honeys and cheeses here – take full advantage and fill your holiday rental’s cupboards with them.


Image by sunny mama, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Although eating at a restaurant gives you the chance to try the local cuisine, it’s always fun sourcing your own groceries. On top of that, bulk buying locally grown produce could save you more money which you can spend on Zante’s range of attractions.

Learn Greek recipes

After picking up some fresh ingredients, whip up a classic Greek recipe from the insides of your villa. Start with an easy dish, one which brims with flavour like a Greek salad or tzatziki dip.

Next, step it up and make heavenly Mediterranean meals like lamb kleftiko, moussaka or even skordostoubi (a succulent main course comprising aubergines and spices). By pushing yourself that little bit further, you can keep the holiday tastes alive when you get home with your newfound Greek cooking skills.

Eat mouth-wateringly good homemade packed lunches

Not having to rely on restaurants for meals is a great way to save time and money. With lunch already made, you can travel off the beaten track and uncover new coves and viewpoints on the island.

Try making your own gyros (cooked meat served in flatbread) or souvlakia (grilled skewered meat served on pitta bread). Whatever you decide to make, it’ll taste all the better paired with serene coastline or inland scenery…

Enjoy Zante’s sunspots


Image by Nana B Agyel, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Eating your dinner by the foot of Braxionas Mountain or the shores of the Porto Limnionas bay, for example, is simple, fun and guaranteed to create treasured holiday memories. Alternatively, you could rent a property near the beach and enjoy your evening meals at home with tremendous coastal views.

…and always have your way

One of the best things about self-catering villa holidays is the fact that you are always in full control. You don’t have to adhere to set eating times, you can prepare the foods you love and, if one evening you don’t fancy cooking, you can always eat at a restaurant.

Take the first steps towards your Zante adventure and look at holiday rentals on the island.

By Imogen Bishop, a part time travel writer, part time restaurant critic, and full-time mum. She has an affinity for Mediterranean cuisine and can usually be found in the kitchen with a bottle of olive oil in hand.

Top 10 things to do in Zante for Families

A villa holiday to the Greek of Zante – also known as Zakynthos – is the perfect family choice. Combining culture and history with stunning landscapes, quaint villages and miles of sandy beaches, there’s something for everyone. Regardless of whether you’re centrally located or in a countryside setting, it’s definitely worth hiring a car for a couple of days at least, to explore some of the hidden gems this island has to offer. Here’s our top pick of things to do for families…

1. Smuggler’s Cove

The shipwreck at Smuggler’s Cove (or Navagio Beach), is without doubt, the most iconic place of interest on the island and the view most certainly won’t disappoint. The smuggler’s ship allegedly ran aground here in 1982 and it’s been a tourist hotspot ever since. If you want to make your own footprints in the sand, you’ll need to take a boat, but honestly, that mesmerising view is best enjoyed from the viewpoint in the north.

2. Turtle Spotting Cruise

Home to the Caretta caretta loggerhead turtles, a trip to Zante is not complete until you’ve caught a sight of these beautiful sea creatures. Your best chance of seeing them is in and around Laganas Bay, throughout July and August. Who will catch that first glimpse of one in their natural habitat?

3.  The Blue Caves

Be your own captain for the day, by hiring a speed boat and exploring the mesmerising Blue Caves. They get their name due to the different shades of blue created by the reflections of the sun. If you’d prefer to kick back and relax, jump on board one of the many organised excursions. And don’t miss the opportunity to take a dive off the boat – there’s no better way to explore these natural forms. Stunning!

4. Turtle Island

Take a boat trip to this island, which is shaped like a turtle and is also a nesting spot for the Caretta caretta loggerhead turtles. It’s official name is Marathonisi Island but easy to see why it’s also known as Turtle Island too! You’ll be relaxing in your own little paradise with floating tuck shops to feed your ice cream needs, whilst you enjoy the wonderful views looking back to Laganas Bay.

5. Cameo Island

Cameo Island is one of Zante’s coolest hidden gems – just off the coast of Agios Sostis – and is only accessible via a footbridge. By day, the small beach makes a great place to relax but if you venture there at night, be sure to take your party shoes with you! The elevated bar has wonderful views of Laganas Bay and beyond, along the South Coast.

6. Zante Town

You’ll be wowed by the architecture in here. This vibrant town has strong Venetian influence and comes to life at night. Culture vultures will enjoy visiting Saint Dionysos Church as well as the hillside fortress. And for the shoppers, Alexandra Roma is the place to be. Once you’re done exploring, head to Solomos Square or the waterfront, which is lined with cafes and tavernas.

7. Drinks with a view

Fancy a drink with a view that all your friends will be jealous of? If so, take a trip up to Bocalli Hill, with views over Zante Town, to the sparkling Ionian Sea beyond. For a real treat, head there as the sun goes down – the sunset is out of this world!

8. Greek Food

Greece is a foodie’s paradise, and Zante is no exception, with endless tavernas cooking up a variety of Greek delights. Whether you fancy a classic Greek salad (with the juiciest tomatoes around!), a Lamb Klefkido (with meat so tender that it will melt in your mouth) or you just want to quench your thirst with a local ice cold beer (Mythos), you will be spoilt for choice.

9. Enjoy some of the best views in the Med!

Be sure to hire a car when you’re in Zante, to explore some of the wonderful scenery. The coastal road leading up to the north of the island will lead you to some of the most stunning viewpoints around.

10.  Activities For Kids

Zante is an incredible choice for families with plenty to keep the kids entertained. Fancy getting your adrenaline pumpin’ at one of the water parks? Or visiting the fun park in Tsilivi where there’s trampolining, mini go-karting and much more. And let’s not forget the Fantasy mini golf course – with dinosaurs, volcanoes and much more, this is the crème de la crème of mini golf!

Zante for couples – the insider’s guide to the island

Zante’s stunning array of beaches and mountains is made for romance. Imagine strolling along pearlescent beaches with your beloved, your walk soundtracked by waves lapsing gently around you. Envision long afternoons spent strolling through verdant mountainsides and stopping off at clifftop viewpoints.

Once it’s sundown, the island’s restaurants, with their local wines and meze platters, offer the perfect end to a truly idyllic day. All in all, Zante, for couples, has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable romantic break. Here’s what to do when you get there…

Keri Caves


Image by Andy Buckingham, used under CC License (CC by 2.0

This collection of caves is only accessible by sea, so you’ll need to book onto an organised boat trip to see them. Situated on the southwestern coast of Zante, the Keri Caves comprise a selection of caverns ranging from narrow spots, scarcely big enough to swim in, to larger inlets which you can row around.

Experiencing such natural wonder is soothing, idyllic and a lovely way to see the surrounding coastline. Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture when you’re there – a couples’ selfie with this backdrop is guaranteed to rack up the Likes on Instagram or Facebook.

Zakynthos Town

You can’t visit Zante without soaking up at least some of the local historic sights. The Venetian Castle above Zakynthos Town, the island’s capital, offers rich views of the surrounding bay and an insight into the region’s past. The fortification is said to date back to the late 15th century, a time when the islanders were defending against Turkish invaders.

Set amidst a stunning park, which was the site of an ancient acropolis, the castle and its surrounds simply ooze beauty and history. Why not make a romantic picnic in the convenience of your holiday rental kitchen, then spend a day on the hillside? Together, you can walk in the footsteps of Venetians and take in the magnificent views of the city below.

Porto Limnionas

Secluded sunspots are often what makes holidays in Zante for couples so special. The Porto Limnionas bay is a combination of gleaming sands, turquoise waters and endearing caves.

Get down early as seating here is limited – partly what makes this spot so special – then spend a few hours bathing in the Mediterranean sun with that special someone. It’s not far from the village of Agios Leon and is also within driving distance from most places on the island.

Vrachionas mountain


Image by adamansel52, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Pack your hiking boots and head up the Vrachionas mountain. Also spelled Vrakhionas or Braxionas (translated from the Greek alphabet), it’s a short drive from Zakynthos Town and rewards climbers with stunning views far out over the Ionian Sea. Savour the scenery with your partner, take an amorous selfie or simply kick back and let the mountain breeze take you both to a tranquil place.

The road that climbs the mountain passes through a number of small villages, which are picturesque in every sense of the word. It’s verging on impossible to travel through these settlements and not find yourselves fantasising about a sleepier, sun-kissed life in rural Greece.

Byzantine Museum

Every couple is different, and you might be culture vultures in search of the fascinating historical insights. If you’re two budding history geeks, and the heat of the day ever gets too much, take a trip to the Byzantine Museum in Zakynthos. Spread over two floors, it’s full of wood carvings and oil paintings of iconic figures from the Byzantine era.

The square where the museum is based, Dionysios Solomos Square, was largely destroyed during an earthquake in 1953. Visiting the area serves to remind you of the hardships brought by the earthquake, and the rebuilt square is a poignant reminder of the resilience of the Zakynthian people.

Watch this space for more information on Villa Plus properties in Zante. In the meantime, check out romantic destinations elsewhere in the Greek Islands, which will suit everyone from couples on their first shared holiday to newlyweds or long-term soulmates looking for something extra special.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

5 things to see in Zante on a self-catering holiday

Zante, or Zakynthos as it’s traditionally known, is the third largest of the Ionian Islands and a wondrous destination that deserves to be explored to its full extent. A self-catering getaway in Zante is ideal as you’ll be able to discover more of the island, with the added flexibility of staying at some places for longer. These are five things to see in Zante which’ll make your time here truly unforgettable.

Navagio Beach

Navagio Beach
Image by Ghost of Kuji, used under CC License (CC by 2.0

Navagio Beach is instantly recognisable, and for good reason too. This so-called Shipwreck Beach is known for towering nearby cliffs, vibrant turquoise waters and gleaming white sands. There’s also an archaic shipwreck in the middle which adds to the magic of the place.

When people think of Zante this beach is often the image that springs to mind. You can only get to it via boat, which makes the whole trip far more of an adventure. Self-catering comes into its own here – take a packed lunch and stay past 3pm and you’ll get the beach practically to yourself. It’s perfect for a romantic afternoon, snorkelling in the sea and playing pirates with the kids.

Zakynthos

The capital of Zante makes for a great day out for couples, families and groups of friends. The city has stunning Venetian architecture, a wealth of shops and a laidback, yet still entertaining nightlife. Take a stroll to the fresh fruit and veg market that runs every Monday and Thursday, and load up on scrumptious flavours to spice up your self-catering holiday.

Aside from the markets, the Church of St. Dionysios, the Solomos Museum and the Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos are all well worth a visit.

Loggerhead sea turtles

Loggerhead sea turtles
Image by Alaina McDavid, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Loggerhead sea turtles, or caretta caretta to use their scientific name, are some of the island’s most enthralling beings. These magnificent creatures can grow over 30 inches long and live for more than 60 years. The best time to see them in action is from June to late August, when they go to lay their eggs around Laganas Bay. Be careful not to disturb them, however, as they’re also an endangered species.

The Blue Caves of Volimes

The Blue Caves are a popular attraction in Zante and can make for some Instagram-worthy holiday snaps. It’s another attraction that’s only accessible by boat, but is still well worth the trip. These beautiful caves reflect the varying blue hues of the sea – why not see them submerged on a snorkelling or diving trip?

If you like the sound of the Blue Caves, then try the Keri Caves too. They’re both similar in nature, but after all, who can really get enough of these tranquil natural wonders?

Marathonisi islet

Marathonisi is also only accessible via the sea, and is a popular breeding ground for loggerhead sea turtles. This luxurious island has two beaches with totally distinct features, some sea caves and a colossal amount of charm. With its golden shore and lush vegetation, it’s easy to want to stay on Marathonisi long after the last boat has left for the mainland. Whip up a delicious lunch at your self-catering villa and make the most of the dreamy views.

If you enjoyed this, check out some other blog posts for more holiday inspiration.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.