Cheap Holidays to Greece
Greece Holidays & Hotels
Hotels in Greece
Wonderfully welcoming to holidaymakers with any budget, Greece has hotels for all; party-ready resorts, all-inclusive holidays, cheap playful stays for families and private apartments for self-catering. There are historic houses and villas, grand and brand hotels with the full-deck of facilities. Beachside beauties with cool pools, designer hideouts and, in Santorini, romantic cave dwellings for honeymoon flings.
Each Greek isle has a distinct feel, history and sense of fun, from Crete to Kefalonia, Halkidiki to Zante. However, they all share dazzling Aegean views, sunshine aplenty, and most have poster-child beaches, too. Set for sunset watching and with many isles ready to party after sundown, Greece remains the ultimate holiday destination.
Where to stay
The birthplace of the legendary Minotaur, Crete’s charms are indeed labyrinthine. Its natural virtues include pink-sand beaches, luminous turquoise bays, sheltered, safe-for-swimming bays and soft sandy stretches of shore. Its rugged interior also has hills and gorges for hiking. Mired in history, with fortified islands, a Venetian Harbour, Bronze Age palaces and other mementoes of its classical past – Crete is nothing short of breathtaking. Plus, the nightlife scene is legendary.
Glamourpuss Mykonos has all the bombast of the Balearics, with hard-partying crowds that descend in summer and bustling beaches where monied holidaymakers throng. When you’re not socialising or splashing your cash, there are watersports to try, the ancient settlement of Delos to explore and port town Chora to wander – famous for its whitewashed windmills.
One for lovers: Santorini’s resorts, restaurants and bars are scattered over the island’s cliffs, facing Skaros Rock and the azure caldera. When the sun starts to set, couples gather on their terraces to soak up the stunning views. You’re also likely to spy wedding-dress-clad pairs posing like cake-toppers amid the blue-and-white sugar-cube dwellings. Fira, Imerovigli and Oia are the main hubs, but head to the far south to escape the crowds.
What to see
Each Greek Island is unique. When you’re not beachside at Balos and Elafonisi in Crete, explore the ruins at Knossos, Malia, Zakros and Phaistos, or take a hike in Samariá Gorge and roam Spinalonga island. In Corfu, admire Unesco-protected Kérkyra (the island’s old town), hike the Corfu Trail past villages and monasteries, and climb Mount Pantokrator, before hitting the beach at Palaiokastritsa or the slides at Aquapark. Paradise Beach in Kos lives up to its name, and Aghios Stefanos’ sands come with a side of history: two paleo-Christian churches to admire from the water. Antimachia Castle makes a lovely sunset-watching spot, too.
Zante’s conservation areas are especially picturesque. Visit the Marathonisi to spy loggerhead turtles, and Marine Park for calm waters and sands to bathe on. Shipwreck Beach has – you guessed it – a wrecked freighter. In Mykonos, hit Delos for impressive ancient-Greek ruins and to summit Cynthus hill; chill out on Agrari Beach and soak up the atmosphere at Little Venice, with a whistlestop tour of windmills and lighthouses in between. Kefalonia’s caves – Melissani and Drongorati – offer boat rides and spectacular scenery. There are brilliant beaches, too: Lourdas, Antisamos, Petani – you’re spoilt for choice on holiday. See Halkidiki’s forests and seek out its sheltered bays for sun and fun. Get schooled at Aristotle Park and descend into Petralona Cave, where the oldest human skull was found. Santorini also has cobbled streets to stroll along and red-sand beaches, but you’ll likely be too busy gazing into each other’s eyes.
What to eat
Sure, there are gyros and souvlaki on the islands, but Grecian cuisine is rightly renowned for its freshness and flavour, thanks to the readiness of high-quality ingredients from farms, groves and the sea. Each island has its own delicacies to sample during your holiday. In Crete, look out for gamopilafo (a rice dish with rooster or goat meat), fried snails, and sweet and savoury pies (kaltsounia and sfakianes pites, respectively). Wash down with local spirit Raki.
Santorini is famous for its produce, especially white aubergines, tomatoes and fava beans; goat’s milk cheese and spinach pie; its Assyrtiko wine has also won many awards in its time. Try salt cod and stuffed hen in Corfu, cheese pie and baklawa in Kos, tzatziki drizzled meat skewers in Zante, kreatopita pies in Kefalonia, proper taramasalata (white, not pink) in Halkidiki, and moussaka in Mykonos.
For non-stop partying and up-till-dawn clubs, Crete, Mykonos and Zante put on a thrilling show, with packed clubs and glossy bars. Mykonos is a little pricier and caters to a slightly older crowd – Matogiania is its going-out area, and its Paradise beaches cement its Grecian-Ibiza reputation. In Zante, find the liveliest spots in Tsilivi and Laganas, where the strip of bars are loud and live-it-large.
In Kos, the main town has excitable streets, with places to dance and drink in Tigaki and Agios Stefanos; while Kavos and Sidari represent for Corfu’s after-dark scene. In Kefalonia, try Argostoli, where there are discos. Santorini is more of a ‘drink wine on your balcony ‘till late’ sorta place, so don’t go expecting a rager.
Away from the mainland, there are well-equipped shopping malls in larger towns, touristic trinket shops, bucket-and-spade peddlers and authentic crafts stores; plus, you can pick up deli goods to take home. Note that shops work around siestas, opening in the morning, then closing until later in the day around lunch. In Crete, Heraklion has a number of interesting boutiques to browse, as does Eleftherios Venizelos, while Chania has some fine jewellery and leather goods. In Corfu, head to Kerkira for luxury goods and fashion; for local wares, try the Old Town.
In Kos, buy locally grown olive oil, wine and more unique products, such as cinnamon-flavoured drink, Kanelada and sweet orgeat syrup. In Zante, seek out Alexa Roma for household goods, perfume, jewellery and food. Like its nightlife, Mykonos’ shops stay open ‘till late and capital, Chora, has the best. Kefalonia’s main shopping street is Lithostroto in its capital, Argostoli. Halkidiki’s Enigma Shopping Centre (in Moudania) sells everything from perfume to monastic art – there’s a grocery store, too. And, in Santorini, Oia has a pretty stretch of shops selling local artwork and trinkets and holiday essentials.
Fast Facts about Greece
- Direct flight time to Athens: 4 hours from London
- Transfer time from Athens to Heraklion in Crete: One hour
- Transfer time from Athens to Corfu: One hour
- Transfer time from Athens to Kos: One hour
- Transfer time from Athens to Zante: One hour
- Transfer time from Athens to Mykonos: One hour
- Transfer time from Athens to Kefalonia: One hour
- Transfer time from Athens to Thessaloniki in Halkidiki: One hour
- Transfer time from Athens to Santorini: One hour
- Time Zone: EET (+2 hours)
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Greek
- Average price of a domestic beer: €1–2
- Average price of a bottle of wine: €4–6
- Number of Brit tourists per year: 928,000