See the hidden side to Greece’s islands

Sun-soaked and care-free, Greece’s islands harbour plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered. Join Eliza was here on a tour of their most charming corners…

Alexandra Gregg
06 April 2023
Promoted by
Eliza Was Here

A bit of warmth, hospitality and the kindness of strangers can go a long way in turning a good getaway, into an unforgettable one. That’s what tour operator Eliza was here loves most about Greece. Sure, there’s an abundance of hidden gems tucked away on its islands, itching to be uncovered, but it’s the people that are the real treasure here. The Greeks philosophy of philoxenia is an eagerness to show great hospitality. Eliza was here’s trips mirror that vision, where your new, local friends can help guide you off the beaten track. But where do you begin? Here Eliza shares her top places and tips on Greece’s islands…

Be charmed away from the crowds

Kassiopi marina in Corfu (Shutterstock)

Greece’s most beloved islands – including the likes of Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, and Corfu – are popular for a reason. Unrivalled sunsets, black-sand beaches, enchanting, technicolour architecture: it’s the stuff of Mediterranean dreams. But these islands are more than just pretty faces. In Crete, you’ll find a cluster of traditional, untrodden towns. Eliza’s vote goes to Piskopiano – only rivalled by the authentic villages in Corfu. There are few better places than Kassiopi and Kalami to grab a glass of ouzo in a quintessentially Greek taverna. Yamas!

Santorini secrets abound, too. While the droves are clamouring for a spot along Oia’s blue-domed skyline at dusk, you could be bedding down in a unique windmill villa or catching a movie under the stars in Kamari’s forest-reclaimed outdoor cinema, to the south-east. On the road to Rhodes? Eliza makes it easy to find charm away from the nightlife scene. A mix of mountain villages – including the likes of remote Embonas, some 850m above sea level, and medieval history in Rhodes Town, await.

Best of all, exploring these islands could not be easier, thanks to Eliza was here’s included car hire, offered with every trip. Embrace the exhilaration and freedom of exploring at your own pace.

Signature stay

Kapsaliana Village Hotel (Eliza was here)

Kapsaliana Village Hotel, Crete

Tucked away in Crete’s largest olive grove, Kapsaliana Village Hotel is the epitome of all things Greek. Its terraces offer uninterrupted views out to sea, its rooms and grounds feel authentically Mediterranean, and the resort is so historic, it even has its own museum. The whole place has a thick air of romance, too, particularly come nightfall, when its centuries-old pavements and fragrant gardens are illuminated by soft lighting. And of course, it wouldn’t be a true Greek getaway without some delicious fare. Eliza recommends its intimate restaurant for the local, organic ingredients, lovingly crafted into tasty dishes by passionate Chef Vasilis.

Ionian neighbours

Navagio beach in Zakynthos (Shutterstock)

Hotel Petani Bay in Kefalonia (Eliza was here)

Speaking of exploring under your own steam, head west for Ionian islands Zakynthos and Kefalonia – which are equally easy to navigate. Eliza’s included hire car gives you ultimate flexibility here; crucial when there is so much to see.

Zakynthos is well known for its nightlife scene. But there’s more to it, reckons Eliza. While beach clubs and pool parties are big business, nature is busy having its own shindig. After dark, Laganas Beach sheds its commercial hat to make way for endangered loggerhead sea turtles, who create 1,400 protected nests every year. Come July-September, if you’re lucky, you may spot hatchlings making their big ocean journey. Of course, it would be rude not to visit picturesque Navagio Beach, but it’s the limestone landscapes and atmospheric coastal towns, like traditional Tsilivi, that give this small island an almighty punch.

The larger, but lesser known, of the two islands, Eliza loves Kefalonia for its rare flora and fauna, like the bright purple viola cephalonica, not to mention its wild horses and vast cave networks. Some are as big as concert halls, while Melissani cave even boasts an underwater lake, surrounded by forest. Eliza recommends visiting at noon, when the sun penetrates the deep turquoise waters.

Melissani Cave in Kefalonia (Eliza was here)

Tramonto di Roccia in Zakynthos (Eliza was here)

Signature stay

Agrikia Villa, Zakynthos

Hospitality at the new Agrikia Villa goes beyond the standard Greek warmth. Nestled into the mountainside, its cosy, welcoming interior makes it feel like you’re staying with an old friend, rather than at a hotel. But that’s all part of the appeal according to Eliza. Pick your own vegetables for dinner, relax amid the olive trees, and even join the local villagers for a barbecue – this is your home away from home, but with much better, more beautiful, view. Eliza likes to end her nights with a crisp glass of Metaxa, admiring the field and coastal vistas.

Agrikia Villa (Eliza was here)

Go off the radar

Dimosari waterfall in Lefkas (Shutterstock)

Eliza was here goes beyond the brochures to help you explore some undiscovered outposts, perfect for that unforgettable Greek getaway. Lefkas, otherwise known as Lefkada, is almost completely surrounded by the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, save for a slither of soil linking it to the mainland. It’s easy to fall head over heels for its crisp white mountains, golden beaches, and emerald interior – and that’s not just because it’s so heavily linked to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The beaches are famously beautiful, making it onto more postcards than you can shake a fig at. Windsurfers flock here for the strong winds and calm waters while, inland, mysterious waterfalls, like Dimosari, await. And, for unique stays, look no further. Eliza has curated quirky apartments with private pools and ocean views, as well as rural villas, flanked by nature.

Also connected to the mainland is the iconic Peloponnese peninsula. We know it must be good because, as Eliza explains, the Greeks love to holiday here. Think pretty villages, a seemingly endless coastline, and a hodgepodge of history – from fortresses to ruins and archaeological sites. It’s also an easy 88km from historic capital Athens, making it a twin-centre option for culture vultures.

Signature stay

Mounty Island (Eliza was here)

Mounty Island, Lefkas

Attention honeymooners! Add some flavour to your romantic adventure at Mounty Island, where the scent of fresh oregano hangs in the air. According to Eliza, this is one of the most idyllic villas in Lefkada, not only thanks to its delectable dishes – from fresh bread to Greek tomatoes and feta – but also its remote locale. Set just off a winding mountain path, it has a distinctly rural feel, sheltered amid undulating, emerald hills. It’s not completely isolated though. In fact, relax on the terrace or next to the private pool, and you can gaze out to the big blue beyond…

Make it happen

Get fully immersed in those Greek island vibes with Eliza was here’s tailor-made holidays. Flights, accommodation and car hire are all included, all with ATOL protection, so you can explore with ease, soaking up as much sun, sea, and souvlaki as you can handle. And you don’t need to stress about the finer details either. Eliza’s know-it-all experience of where to go, what to see, and delicious dishes to devour, means your trip to this ancient, mesmerising, and philosophical land can be as unique as you are.

To find and book your next Greece holiday, head over to the Eliza was here website.

Explore More

More Articles