Looking for stunning scenery, fascinating history and lip-licking cuisine? Look no more!

Corfu

Greece’s “Emerald Isle”, ever-popular Corfu is blessed with lush green countryside, rugged mountains and idyllic views over the sparkling Ionian Sea. The North boasts endless golden beaches, and you’ll find unspoilt secluded coves all along the North East coastline. But there’s plenty for culture vultures too. The traditional resorts are set around harbours filled with fishing and leisure boats, and it’s well worth exploring charming Corfu Town with its elegant Venetian architecture and fortress.

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Crete

The biggest Greek island, Crete’s exquisite landscapes, wonderful beaches and ancient history keep visitors coming back year after year. Catch some rays on the countless sandy stretches along the coast, and soak up the past at the impressive Minoan Palaces of Knossos and Phaistos. Or just enjoy sampling delicious local delicacies, like dakos – barley rusks topped with local cheese and fresh tomato. Bringing the kids? They’ll love making a splash at one of the many waterparks, or going on an epic 9D mythological adventure at Minoan’s World.

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Kefalonia

The largest Ionian island, Kefalonia’s slower pace makes it popular with both families and couples looking to relax and unwind. Its distinctive rugged coastline and stunning turquoise seas make for incredible Instagram-worthy views around every corner. Take a boat trip to otherworldly Melissani Cave to marvel at its shifting blue waters and breath-taking stalactites, and step back in time at the Venetian castles of St George and Assos. And don’t forget to watch the magnificent native sea turtles bobbing around in the bay of Argostoli, the island’s bustling capital.

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Rhodes

Rhodes is the biggest island in the Dodecanese archipelago of the Eastern Aegean Sea. Known as the “Island of Knights”, its effortless blend of traditional and contemporary makes it one of the most desirable European holiday destinations. The Lindos Acropolis, with its striking pillars contrasting against the sky, is one of the island’s most impressive historical sites. But if you prefer the attractions of the natural world, Seven Springs is a tranquil paradise offering captivating scenery, beautiful walking trails and refuge from the summer heat.

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Zante

You won’t find a warmer welcome than on Zante (Zakynthos).The jewel of the Ionian Sea, this beautiful verdant island boasts fabulous beaches, olive groves and dramatic cliffs and jaw-dropping sunsets. Hop on a boat to glorious Shipwreck Cove, perhaps Greece’s most famous beach, with its rusting ship hull and incredible photo opportunities. Set sail to the renowned Blue Caves and gaze in wonder at the extraordinary azure waters. Or climb up to Bochali, the hilltop Venetian village in Zante Town, for spectacular panoramic views of the island’s capital.

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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.

Crete – beautiful beaches for a self-catering holiday

Crete is a Greek island made for lazing summer days away on. It doesn’t get much better than the stunning coastline surrounding Chania, or the inviting waters near Heraklion. When visiting Crete, beautiful beaches can be found almost everywhere. With a little planning (and some exquisitely prepared packed lunches) it’s all too easy to enjoy the perfect sand-laced daytrip here.

Without further ado, here’s a selection of the finest beaches this Greek gem has to offer…

Elafonisi, Chania

Elafonisi is a small islet off the southwestern coast of Crete, connected to the main island by a sandbank. The surrounding waters form a shallow, turquoise lagoon, which is ideal for paddling children who might not be ready for deeper depths.

When the sea is calm it’s possible to cross over here by foot. Traverse the pinkish sand dunes and explore the secluded island coves, or simply kick back with a good book and some refreshments whipped up from the plush interiors of your holiday home.

Nearby beach parking makes this spot easy to reach by car from self-catered accommodation, particularly if you’re staying in Chania.

Gouves, Heraklion

Gouves is famed for its sandy, safe and well-kept beaches. The water here is shallow, while many of the beaches where people swim are situated within small coves or bays, so they’re kept hidden from the stronger northern winds. Umbrellas and sunbeds are usually available to rent for the day. On top of that, there’s numerous shops and restaurants close by for whenever you’re needing replenished.

If you’re travelling with children, make the most of your time and pack up toys, inflatables and a tasty picnic before setting off. Mades, a Blue Flag-listed beach, is also not far from Gouves. Take the time to visit for a wholly tranquil few hours.

Elounda, Lassithi

The easternmost region of Crete tends to be quieter than other parts of the island, making it idyllic for couples in search of a secluded getaway. Just north of Agios Nikolaos you’ll find the fishing town of Elounda, which sits near a lagoon sheltered by the Spinalonga Peninsula.

For the ultimate day out in Elounda, pack food, water, a camera and plenty of sun lotion, then hop on a boat over to tiny Spinalonga Island. The island is a former leper colony, although don’t let that put you off! Today, it’s made up of an abandoned fortress flanked by a number of pristine shorelines which epitomise the beautiful beaches Crete is known for.

Falassarna, Chania

One of the best things about staying in self-catered accommodation is the outdoor space available – you can buy pool inflatables and store soggy wetsuits and bodyboards without worrying about ruining the hotel carpet! With that in mind, active tourists seeking a bit of adventure in Crete should plan a trip to Falassarna Beach. Not only is the sand soft and the waters clean and clear, but the westerly winds often result in some exciting wave action.

Make a day of it and head down with some bodyboards then hit the water. If you’re feeling even more daring, take advantage of the water sports on offer at the beach. Paragliding, anyone?

Experience these beautiful beaches for yourself and look at Villa Plus offerings on the island.

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.

Good snorkelling holidays for villa-loving travellers

Holiday rentals provide the perfect basecamp for snorkelling getaways. Hiring a villa gives you the freedom to prepare your own packed lunches and dinners, and you’ll have plenty of room to store your snorkels, flippers and wetsuits.


Image by Lance, used under CC License (CC by 2.0

Good snorkelling holidays unlock a country’s most enthralling secrets. Pack your underwater camera and get ready to delve deep in some of these top destinations…

Costa del Sol, Spain

Costa del Sol is blessed with tepid waters bustling with marine life. On top of that, there’s plenty of sun-kissed beaches where you can set up camp before a few hours of snorkelling. Visit Maro beach, near the town of Nerja, and try to find its fascinating underwater cave if you’re feeling daring.

The shores surrounding Las Yucas and La Viborilla beaches, near Benalmadena, house a wide range of fish such as tuna, bonitos, and dolphinfish.

Costa Blanca, Spain

Like Costa del Sol, the Costa Blanca is a snorkelers’ paradise. Explore the region’s shorelines and you’ll quickly find that it’s simply brimming with underwater life. Granadella Cove, near Javea, has notoriously clear waters. Not only that, it’s quite sheltered so younger snorkellers can see the bay’s treasures, too.

The Algarve, Portugal

Portugal’s Algarve coast comprises playful Atlantic waters and warming sands. It’s also home to the famed Ria Formosa lagoon, one of the country’s many natural wonders. Here you’ll find one of the largest populations of seahorses in the world – wipe down your face mask and prepare to dive amongst them.

Cyprus

If you visit Cyprus during summertime, you might encounter beautiful green and loggerhead turtles on the island’s western coast. The island’s Cape Greco National Park is well worth a visit, too, complete with some of the clearest waters in the region and picturesque in every sense of the word.

Corfu, Greece

The Greek island of Corfu has plenty of spots for a good snorkelling holiday. Its pebbly beaches tend to have clearer waters, but you might want to wear a wetsuit or flippers to protect your feet from the jaggier rocks! Keep your eyes peeled for a diverse range of silverside fish, alongside flathead mullet and painted combers.

Pula, Croatia


Image by Christoph Sammer, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Croatia’s idyllic Adriatic coastlines are the envy of the world. Pula houses some of its finest and along with these renowned views, it has a number of great snorkelling spots.

Take Brijuni National Park, a short boat journey from Pula. The waters of these 14 small, protected islands are alive with flora, fauna and old Roman artefacts. In Verige Bay, on the western coast of the park, you can get a guided tour to explore submerged archaeological sites. Take full advantage and get excited for a day of underwater education.

Whether you’re travelling as a family, with friends or with your partner or spouse, a snorkelling holiday provides an unrivalled way to get to know a country’s ins and outs. Uncover exotic species of fish or simply paddle around and let the waves wash over you – underwater getaways are always ones to remember.

Have a look at some of the Villa Plus offerings in these hotspots and let your snorkelling dreams come to life.

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.

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.

Hidden gems of Kefalonia

As the largest Ionian Island, it’s a safe bet that Kefalonia has lots of hidden hotspots dotted throughout its serene shores. It’s easy to sunbathe and swim your days away here, you’re on the Ionian Sea after all. But get out of that luxury villa, and prepare to enhance your holiday in Kefalonia by taking a trip to these amazing locations.

Choose a Villa Holiday on Kefalonia
Image by schmilblick, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Evening meals in Lourdas

Self-catering villas in Lourdas provide all the ingredients for a luxury meal at home, but sometimes it’s nice to explore outside. Lourdas is a charming coastal town, with beaches and cafes galore. It’s when you dine out here that the magic of Lourdas comes to light.

Choose Kefalonia for a Self-Catering Break
Image by Ben124, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Much of the island is populated by olive trees, so wine and olives naturally make the perfect starter. Savour some of the wine for washing down a portion of lamb kleftiko, a traditional Greek dish of meat and vegetables. Lourdas has plenty of terraced restaurants letting you gaze into the sea whilst you eat.

Turtle spotting near Skala

Getting closer to nature brings everyone together. What better way to do so than with a spot of late night turtle watching? Head to Potamaki Beach, a few kilometres along the coast from Skala. It’s a conservation area for loggerhead turtles, night time ‘turtles watches’ are arranged for anyone who wants to watch these creatures in their natural habitat. This isn’t on everyone’s itinerary for holidays in Kefalonia, yet should be essential if you’re looking to experience a hidden side to the island.

Visit traditional villages

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Kefalonia’s most treasured spots were all by the coast – but they’re not. Troianata, an inland village unbeknown to many, gifts visitors an insight into traditional Greek living. Take a taxi, or drive eastwards into the hills, and explore this quaint settlement of taverns, a church, and stunning viewpoints over the island.

Drive to Melissani Lake

Despite Kefalonia’s size, everywhere is within driving distance. Comprising a lake within a cave, this makes for a great way to see a different perspective of the island. Guided tours are available, whilst the opening in the cave’s roof allows the hallowed walls to be lit by the Greek sun. You might not fancy a swim here, but remember the villa’s private pool will be waiting for you at the end of the day!

Walk to Emblisi Beach

A short walk from Fiskardo, Emblisi Beach sits within a bay of turquoise waters. Walking down the path which leads you to the sea, you can’t help but want to submerge under the calm waves. Surrounded by vegetation and chalky cliffs, even the views are suitably tranquil. It’s also a great sunspot in north Kefalonia – ideal for those seeking long afternoons admiring the Ionian Sea.

If you’ve landed a cheap holiday to Kefalonia, count yourself lucky. The island has cultural and scenic wonders in abundance, so you can discover a side to Greece you’ll never forget.

Ready for your own Greek adventure? Take a look at some of our villas.

By Ciaran Brooks. A former history graduate, Ciaran Brooks’ love for old stories has led him around the world. A self-confessed adventurer, he fell into travel writing after his blog chronicling his year in Thailand was picked up by a national paper.

Best drinks for your self-catering holiday to Rhodes

When it comes to drinks, visitors to Rhodes are spoilt for choice. The island has centuries of alcohol production under its belt, so you know you’re in for a quality tasting experience. The best part of a self-catering trip is that you don’t have to stick to the menu in a hotel bar, leaving your options wide open.

In the comfort of your private holiday rental, you can try a different drink every night of your trip – wine, beer, liquor, or whatever else takes your fancy. Here are some authentic Rhodian flavours that you simple have to try:

Enjoy an ice-cold ouzo from the balcony of your Rhodes villa
Image by jerrroen, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Ouzo

This strong liquor is often hailed as Greece’s national drink, and it has a long history, originating from a 14th century drink called tsipouro. Ouzo is anise-flavoured, so if you like liquorice, you’re bound to like this.

Ouzo is found local supermarkets, but for the best flavours, choose a reputable brand like Plomari. For an authentic experience, follow the Greek custom of drinking ouzo with food. Typically, is it sipped alongside mezedes, the Greek version of tapas, so treat yourself to some small plates whilst cooling down with chilled ouzo in the garden of your villa.

If ouzo on its own is a little too strong for your tastes, try adding water – and don’t be alarmed when it turns milky. This happens to all anise-flavoured spirits. Alternatively, you could experiment by making some ouzo-based cocktails in your kitchen.

Souma

Another traditional Greek drink, made from either figs or grapes, is souma. Similar to ouzo, and is also pretty strong, souma in Rhodes is usually the grape-based variety, and has a distinctive sweet taste.

As a result of the tradition and ritual surrounding the production of souma, it is not produced on a wide-scale by large companies. Instead, it is crafted by individual distillers, and often sold in unlabelled bottles. In the village of Siana, you can visit a distillery to learn about how this spirit is made before purchasing a bottle to bring home your holiday rental.

Rhodes is well-known for its excellent wine
Image by GanMed64, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Wine in Rhodes

Rhodes is one of the most prominent winemaking areas in Greece, with wine production dating back to the ancient Phoenicians. The island is home to thousands of acres of vineyards, where grapes thrive thanks to the hot, dry climate.

The CAIR (Company Agricultural Industry of Rodos) cooperative is the most esteemed wine producer on the island, and perhaps the best in the whole of Greece. For a luxury experience, be sure to sample the company’s top quality Mandylariá and Athiri wines.

The Emery winery is another top producer in Rhodes, offering a choice of wines including dry whites, rose, and reds. No matter what your tastes, you’ll definitely find a bottle you can bring back to enjoy alongside a home-cooked meal.

Beer in Rhodes

Beer might not have the same reputation and history as wine in Rhodes, but you can still enjoy some fine Greek offerings. The lager beer Mythos is made by one of Greece’s largest and most popular breweries. It won’t be hard to find in your nearest shop, and it’s perfect if you want to relax with a refreshing pint on the terrace of your holiday villa.

By Shaun Fraser, a former drinks rep, who now focuses on writing about his favourite tipples from Europe and beyond. He credits his good nose to a previous life as a sommelier.