The holiday hangouts to save summer | The Sun

FEW European holiday destinations bounced back from the pandemic as quickly as Greece, and we all know why.

With more than 8,000 miles of coastline, endless summer sun and beachside tavernas galore, it’s been a holiday favourite for generations – and it’s the break we all need right now.

Last year, celebs such as Nicole Kidman and Elon Musk jetted in for a Greek beach break, and bookings this January nearly doubled compared with 2019, according to online holiday experts Travel Republic. 

So we all know Greece is the word. The only question left to ask is: where are the best places to go once we get there?

With over 200 inhabited islands, you’ve a lot of choice – and of course the kind of trip you’re after depends on who you’re going with. 

Luckily, Travel Republic loves Greece just as much as you do – and whether you’re going with friends, with the kids or there’s just the two of you, its travel specialists know exactly what would suit. 

“Our customers tell us that Greece is always a very popular choice for them and their families because of the warmth of the Greek people, its amazing culture, range of cuisine, value for money and sunny climate,” says Antonio Fellino, Travel Republic’s managing director. 

“As a destination it really does offer so much. Whether it’s a visit to the historic landmarks and Unesco heritage sites you’re after, or you simply want to chill out on the many cosmopolitan beaches, it has something to suit everyone’s taste.”

Where should we go?

Corfu, Crete, Kos and Rhodes are four of the best-loved islands for good reason.

Set in the Ionian Sea, west of the Greek mainland, peaceful Corfu is perfect for families and nature lovers. Its stunning cobalt blue seas offer breathtaking underwater scenes for snorkelling in.

For bargain hunters it even gives you two breaks in one – Corfu Town was built by the Venetians, and its buildings look like they were transported from the floating city. 

Crete is a whopper of an island with sandy beaches a-go-go. The furthest south of the main Greek islands, it’s one for history lovers, with an ancient Minoan palace and plenty of Venetian architecture. 

Explore the city sites of Heraklion, which offers an abundance of restaurants, shops and bars, or journey towards Chania, which has a more traditional feel with local tavernas and scenic views from the marina. Plus, Crete is family friendly, offering sandy coves, waterparks and an aquarium to keep kids happy.

Further east, off the coast of mainland Turkey, are the Dodecanese islands of Kos and Rhodes. 

Low-key Kos has ancient Greek remains, pretty villages and sandy beaches – plus it’s relatively flat, so it’s easy to explore. Rhodes is officially the sunniest island of all, with more sandy beaches, ancient temples and a medieval Old Town.

Best for: families with young kids

“Greece is a great destination for family holidays, and nearly half of our bookings to the country are for the family market,” Fellino says. 

It’d be hard to find an island that isn’t great for families, but hotels can make the difference when it comes to keeping the little ones occupied. 

At the four-star Star Beach Village & Waterpark Hotel in Crete, the clue’s in the name: the beachfront hotel has a 16,000 sq m waterpark, with a family-friendly area including slides, games and water playgrounds. 

There’s also a kids’ club to keep them occupied – and you’re just a 15-minute drive from Crete’s aquarium in Heraklion.

On the peaceful southeastern coast of Rhodes, the Lindos Imperial Resort & Spa overlooks a soft-pebbled beach. The Mini Club gets youngsters from four and up outdoors having fun, and there are two kids’ pools – plus an octopus multi-slide and six waterslides in the main activity pool. 

Both these hotels are all-inclusive, so if the kids don’t want to go out, you don’t have to either. 

An all-inclusive seven-night stay at Star Beach Village & Waterpark Hotel for a family of four costs from £671pp, and the price includes return flights with easyJet, departing on June 20 from London Gatwick.

Or save up to 10 per cent on a family room with a private pool at Lindos Imperial Resort & Spa. This seven-night all-inclusive break includes return flights with easyJet from London Gatwick, leaving on May 22, from £779pp (based on a family of four with children aged five and six).

Best for: families with teenagers

The Greek islands are brilliant for teenagers – they are places where older kids can explore and get some independence in a safe environment that Mum and Dad approve of. 

Add an all-inclusive hotel and there won’t be any nasty surprises on the bill, either. Mitsis Hotels offers great luxury and quality all across Greece, and two of its properties are perfect for teens.

On Rhodes, the five-star Mitsis Alila Resort & Spa is just north of Faliraki, with its pool area leading straight on to the beach. 

Guests get the run of five restaurants, including a pizzeria and four snack bars (for Mum and Dad, there are five bars too). There’s all the action teenagers need, from tennis courts and beach volleyball to water sports and horse riding (for an extra fee).  

The price of a seven-night all-inclusive stay at Mitsis Alila Resort & Spa – including return flights with Jet2 from London Stansted, departing on May 8 – starts at £758pp for a family of four. That’s a saving of up to 11 per cent.

Its five-star sister hotel on Kos, Mitsis Blue Domes Resort & Spa, is built to look like a self-contained Mediterranean village and its bungalows, villas and maisonettes allow you all to spread out. 

The giant 650m pool weaves all the way through the resort, ending at the beach. And if teenagers are keen to venture outside, the nearest village, Kardamena, is an easy 5km away.

A family of four can save up to 12 per cent on a seven-night all-inclusive stay at Mitsis Blue Domes Resort & Spa (based on two children aged 13 and 14), flying with easyJet and British Airways from London Gatwick on June 7, from £1,123pp.

Best for: adults only

Greece ticks all the boxes for romance: sea views, endless beaches, first-class food and laid-back island life. Pick an adults-only hotel and you’ll dial it up a notch, with boutique-style rooms and quieter poolsides. 

Towards the northern tip of Rhodes, the art deco Ixian Grand sits surrounded by moat-like pools leading towards the beach, with a top-notch spa, three restaurants and all-important room service. Book a Deluxe Sea View room and you’ll get Insta-perfect sunset views from the balcony. 

Including return flights with Jet2 from London Stansted, departing on May 8, a seven-night all-inclusive stay at Ixian Grand (based on two adults sharing) costs from £830pp, a saving of up to 14 per cent.

Over on Crete, the Enorme Maya Beach is a boho boutique hotel just outside Gouves, near Heraklion. It’s all about style here, from the rustic wood-clad rooms to the beanbag loungers and swings around the pool. 

Step outside and you’re on the waterfront beside a dinky Greek church; or in 10 minutes, you can be having a romantic dinner à deux at a Gouves taverna. 

Enjoy seven nights at Enorme Maya Beach half-board, including return flights with easyJet from London Gatwick departing on May 16, from £566pp (based on two adults sharing).

Best for: budget-friendly stays under £250

Another great thing about Greece is that its main draws – the sun and sea – are free. And if you’re on a budget, Travel Republic has curated a brilliant mix of places that won’t break the bank, including these two family-run gems. 

Regulars come back year after year to Jimmy’s Apartments on the northwest Corfu coast. Set around a pool and pretty palm-lined garden, the 21 apartments are run by Jimmy himself, and it’s an easy 10-minute stroll to the sandy beach (and bars and restaurants) at Sidari. There’s a paddling pool for kids, and a poolside bar for food and drinks if you want to stay in. 

Including return easyJet flights from London Luton (departing on October 4), two adults can share a self-catering apartment at Jimmy’s Apartments for seven nights from £211pp.

On Rhodes, just outside Faliraki, Irene, Jordan and their sons run the Old Windmill Studios – a striking pink and white block of apartments less than a mile from Anthony Quinn Bay. All the spacious flats have kitchenettes and balconies, while outside there’s everything you need: a pool, a lovely sun terrace, and a snack bar with Greek and British food, plus a great cocktail menu. 

Seven-night self-catering stays here, with return flights with easyJet and British Airways from London Gatwick leaving on October 5, start at £202pp (based on two adults sharing).

Best for: young and lively choices

Once the sun goes down, it’s time for the party crowd to come out. The Greek islands have plenty of buzzing nightlife hotspots and two of the best are on Zante (Zakynthos) and Crete.

Savvas De Mar Hotel is in the centre of the action in Laganas, the east-coast party hub on Zante. You’re right on the main drag here and it’s an easy walk to two beaches: Laganas and Kalamaki. And if breakfast is over by the time you get up, don’t worry – rooms have fridges and kitchenettes so you can live by your own timetable and snooze off the rest of the day by the pool. 

Prefer red-hot Crete? Try the Danelis Hotel Malia, an easy stroll from Crete’s beloved nightlife area in Malia. A small, family-run affair, it has just 15 rooms – again, they have kitchenettes, which keeps things casual and easy to budget for. Spend the afternoon on your balcony or outside between the pool and hot tub, then get ready for another night on the tiles.

Enjoy seven nights self-catering at Savvas De Mar Hotel from £665pp, based on two adults sharing. This includes return flights with Jet2 from Bristol, departing on June 12.

Or spend seven nights self-catering at Danelis Hotel Malia from £389pp, based on two adults sharing, including return flights with easyJet from London Gatwick, departing on June 13.

Prices are subject to change and were correct at the time of publication

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