“Above all, the Greek islands are peopled by the Greeks, among the most hospitable nations in the world,” says travel writer Paul Hellander
Ranking number 5 on the list, the island of Mykonos, a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades, remains Greece’s most cosmopolitan island and the most popular tourist magnet in the country.
Having inherited its name from the grandson of Apollo, when tourists set out on a journey to discover the world of Mykonos, where glamour meets simplicity, they are taken aback by the island’s rich history as well as its luxurious and trendy lifestyle.
“Said to have been where Hercules killed the giants, Mykonos is steeped in mythological history. A popular cruise ship stop, the island hasn’t quite outgrown its raucous party reputation that would impress even Dionysus, but is on the path to attracting a more sophisticated and upscale type of traveller,” wrote CNT’s editors.
“The islands’ collective histories reflect those of the parent mainland and offer an irresistible pull to travellers equally interested in culture as they may be into ouzo, octopus and sand. The Greek islands hosted a rich culture when most islands in the world were undeveloped or uninhabited,” says Hellander.
The island of Crete ranked number 13 on the prestigious list with CNT readers paying tribute to the island’s unmistakable culture, landscape, cuisine and mythological history, urging visitors to include a visit at the Minoan palaces in Knossos.
“Each island is different in some way from the other; no two look or feel the same despite their shared proximity, geography, fauna or flora and this is what is most fascinating. They are akin to differing pieces of jewellery scattered in one big unlocked jewel box.
“The most defining feature of the Greek islands that makes them universally unique is their location in a closed and for the most part non-tempestuous sea and being never really far from some mainland. Neither the Caribbean, nor the islands of Thailand, or Australia’s Barrier Reef islands offer the same fortuitous mix,” notes Hellander.
All-time favourite Santorini charted at number 25.
“No island group is so shrouded in myth as the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. Santorini, on the southernmost end of the chain, is a volcanically formed island with dramatic cliffs, ancient ruins, and idyllic towns said to be the inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis,” wrote the editors of CNT, urging tourists to watch the sun set from Oia, a village on the southwestern coast made up of whitewashed structures and cave houses built into the side of cliffs.
“The Greek islands beaches are unparalleled in variety and photogenic beauty and because they are closed sea beaches in the main, they are safe, warm and not subject to ocean surf. They are perfect for families. At the same time, the islands are alive with visitors from April to the end of October and enjoy excellent weather throughout their domain. This has to be a prime attraction for visitors from colder northern climes,” explains Hellander.
Historically, Greece has been well known for its beautiful landscapes, rich culture and heritage and in particular for its hospitality and the warmth of its people. Despite the refugee and economic crisis, international visitors continue to arrive to what is considered by most, a piece of heaven on earth and they never cease to stray away from that part of the Mediterranean.
“Above all, the Greek islands are peopled by the Greeks, among the most hospitable nations in the world. Combine that with the stunning brilliance of the light, irresistible cuisine that is simple yet healthy, the permanent presence of the sea and a packaging and presentation that is unprecedented and you have a total winner,” concludes Hellander.