Ionian Islands, Greece
Corfu and Zante may have reputations as party destinations, but don’t be fooled: pick the right spot, and the Ionian Islands can be a tranquil retreat. The larger isles, like Kefalonia, have plenty of family-friendly resorts with long stretches of calm sea. The more secluded spots, such as Ithaca (historical home of Homer’s Odysseus), will reward the extra mileage accrued with quiet, almost-private bays. Off every island there’s fantastic diving; the underwater caves are home to barracudas, seals and sparkling fish. Of course, all the islands have one thing in common – the perfectly preserved beaches are widely considered to be some of the best in Greece.
When to go
The Ionian Islands are at their hottest in July and August, when the temperature is around 30°C. To take full advantage of the beaches, book a week in early June, when it’s slightly cooler and the coast isn’t too crowded.
PlanesBudget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet operate regular services from all over the UK to most of the Ionian Islands (including direct flights to Kefalonia). Alternatively, British Airways has flights from London to Corfu, from which it’s easy to catch a ferry to any of the other islands.
BoatsKefalonian Lines operates ferry services between Ithaca, Sami on Kefalonia, the mainland port of Killini and Zakynthos (www.kefalonianlines.com).
AutomobilesMost of the Ionian Islands are so small, they don’t take more than an hour to cross by car. If you’re keen to explore, hire a car from a local firm on the island – either from the airport or port.