One of the most commonly asked questions by our readers who plan to visit Greece is, which islands do we recommend during off season? Greek travel and tourism expert Maria Athanasopoulou shares her favourite destinations, outside the peak season, and lets us know why they deserve a visit any time of the year!
by Maria Athanasopoulou
During this non-summer period, people from all over the world, plan their trips, in order to take advantage of good deals and also to enjoy spots where they can travel with fewer people. So, I recommend two destinations for your vacation in Greece during off-peak; the island of Crete and the island of Corfu.
The island of Crete
For me, one of the most beautiful Greek destinations during this time is Crete. In September, October and even November, the temperature is still very high, allowing guests to enjoy the sea, swimming and sunbathing daily, while also avoiding the crowds of July and August, especially when taking part in tours and excursions.
As for the beaches of Crete, whatever one says will not be enough to do them justice. Most of the beaches really are fantastic and even if you only get the chance to visit one, it will probably be much better than you would have hoped for. Indicatively, I will mention Elafonisi, Falasarna, Balos, Kalamaki, Frangokastelo, Hiona, Paleokastro, Platanias, and Potamos.
If you decide to stay in Heraklion, I recommend ibis Styles Heraklion Central. It is located in the city center. It has large and nicely decorated rooms and serves a very good breakfast.
In Chania, this beautiful city of Crete, there is so much to see. Just a walk around the Old Port gives you the opportunity to take in so much history and culture! For your stay around this area, I highly recommend the Domus Renier Boutique hotel, it is an excellent choice that you will not regret. For food, visit the Enetikon restaurant in the Old Port. Try local recipes that will completely satisfy!
Also, visit The Cellar Restaurant in the beautiful Telonio beach of Kissamos village. The cuisine was excellent and highly recommended!
The beautiful Rethymnon is waiting for you and will excite you with its unique beauty. In my opinion, it is probably the most beautiful city of Crete and fully retains its local traditional identity. For your stay, I recommend the Steris Elegant Beach Hotel. Very nice rooms and nice location.
For eating out I highly recommend Raki Ba Raki Restaurant. You will be thrilled with its local recipes and the excellent taste of its dishes.
Finally, if you visit Agios Nikolaos, do not forget to eat at the restaurant Archontiko, one of the best restaurants in town.
The Archaeological Museum at Heraklion is a real experience. It is one of the biggest and most impressive museums I have visited! A virtual trip of about 5500 years, from the Neolithic Age to Roman times, awaits the visitor. The Minoan Exhibits and especially the collection of Minoan Frescoes is impressive.
There is no doubt that Knossos is one of the most important ancient cities of Crete. Visitors to the site have the chance to see how the Palace was in ancient times since the monuments are very well preserved. The palace was the house of the ancient King Minos in the Minoan era. Arrange to take the tour with an expert guide to hear all the historical details. The tour lasts about an hour and twenty minutes and be sure to put on your hat and take with you a bottle of water- it is really hot here when the sun is out!
If you love good wine, I recommend a visit to Manosakis Winery, where you will have the chance to listen to the owner’s life story while tasting some excellent wines.
The Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete
It is an olive grove, where after a big fire, the owners created a park with plants from all around the world. Visitors may walk through the paths of the park for almost an hour and a half to view various species of plants and trees and then taste the products produced, in the restaurant located inside the park.
The island of Corfu
Another dream destination for your holidays in Greece during off season, is the beautiful island of Corfu. You will enjoy it with fewer people and all your travels will be much easier.
Much has been written about the beautiful island of Corfu! This is an amazing place, with beautiful beaches and very good food. During the summer months, the island is full of visitors. I recommend you visit it before or after the summer months, so as not to encounter crowds. The city harbor, one of the most beautiful of Greece, is the first picture for anybody who reaches the island by sea.
A really beautiful city, the capital of the island of Corfu, with strong Venetian, French and English influence, is itself a unique destination. Esplanade, a large and beautiful square, is the largest in the Balkans. If you walk in it, you will admire many stunning buildings and within the small alleys, you will find many small souvenir and trade shops.
Fortress of Corfu
The Fortress of Corfu is one of the most popular attractions of the island. It is the first image that the visitor sees as they approach the capital of the island by the sea. The fortress is really imposing. It is built on a rocky peninsula. The location was perfect for the residents to control all the neighboring coasts in the past. The Fortress is now open to the general public. It is an attraction of the island that is worth seeing.
One of the most famous sights of Corfu is this green rock that got its name from its shape. It looks like a mouse. In Pontikonissi there is a church dedicated to the Transfiguration of Sotiros. In order to get there, where the visit is short-term in order to protect the natural environment, you will begin across from the cannon, with the boats you’ll find there. It is worth making the circumnavigation of the island with a boat.
Paleokastritsa is one of my favorite beaches. Also visit the beach of Agios Georgios, the beach of Agios Stefanos, Pelekas, and Benitses. Of course, the island has many beautiful beaches, I’ve just mentioned a few of my favourites.
The emblematic hotel Corfu Palace in the city of Corfu is undoubtedly the best choice for your stay.
For eating out I highly recommend Paxinos Restaurant in Benitses. I tried some amazing food, with authentic Corfiot flavors. I combined my dishes with red Corfu beer, definitely try it!
For authentic Galaktoboureko I recommend the Milk Bar Periklis Alexis in the old town of Corfu. You will never forget its rich taste.
Please check all the above details before planning your trip, regarding the applicable regulations due to current restrictions.
Maria Athanasopoulou is the founder of the tourism marketing company Respond On Demand. She is also the founder of the non-profit urban company Top Tourism. She serves as the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the World Food Travel Association and she is also a Master Culinary Travel Professional. She serves as ambassador of the World Gourmet Society in Greece and Cyprus, and she also serves as ambassador of Green Destinations. She has given seminars for tourism professionals, as well as many speeches and presentations on tourism issues, in events in Greece and abroad. She is also a Sustainable Tourism marketing expert.