Looking to escape the summer crowds in Greece’s most popular island destinations? Zoe Koskinidou, gives us her insider tips on where the celebrities go when they want to find a secret paradise.
Why go: The island is dubbed the Jerusalem of the Aegean, because John the Evangelist wrote the Book of Revelations there in 95 AD. But visitors don’t need to be religious to enjoy the island: Patmos, combines a laidback pace of life with lively nightlife.
What to see and do: The most important attraction here is the fortress-like monastery of St. John, built in 1088 by monk Christodoulos. Halfway between Chora and Scala, the island’s port, there is the Grotto of the Apocalypse, where the manuscript was written.
Where to stay: Casteli Hotel, casteli.gr, by the beach of the port has rooms for 45-75 euros a night for a double room and Byzance Hotel, byzancehotel.gr, in Skala with room rates from 30 to 100 euros per room per night.
What to buy: Porcelain, crystal and silver items. Patmos is also famous for its elegant embroidery.
Where to eat: George’s place at Cambos offers great Greek cuisine and is a great place for celebrity spotting. Try Kima at Aspri for fish dishes and a unique view.
Where to drink: for early drinks try Astivi in the town of Chora. After midnight, Casbah at the port town of Scala is a total must for visitors who really want to have fun, drink and dance all night long.
Celebrities on the island: David Bowie has a house in the island, and it’s the favourite holiday spot of fashion designer Valentino.
Why go: This is one of the smallest Greek islands, located near the island of Rhodes and close to Turkey. Getting there involves a bit of a long journey, but the beauty of the place is ample reward.
What to see and do: The famous aqua-colored cave of Kastellorizo is a geological phenomena and one of the most amazing formations on earth — the island is worth visiting for this cave alone. It’s situated south of the island and the entrance is the height of a small boat that can just pass through the mouth when the sea is calm at dawn.
Where to stay: Try the quiet rooms of Damien’s and Monika’s Pension (Tel. 0030 22460 49028).
What to buy: When in Kastellorizo you must buy katoumaria, a local sweet and strava, a sort of fried baklava filled with walnuts and spices.
Where to eat: There are several small taverns on the island. Wherever you go try seafood dishes and chickpea balls.
Where to drink: Although Kastellorizo is a very small island, you can find several bars to enjoy an early drink. Keep in mind that it is a quiet island, best suited for people who want to spend their vacations on the beach and have a great Greek dinner after a swim.
Celebrities on the island: Princess Caroline of Hanover (and Monaco) picked the remote island to spend her holidays with her family.
Why to go: Forget Corfu and Kefalonia — Paxos is the place to be if you want to visit the Ionian islands. Paxos, the baby of that group, is actually a cluster of small islands and rocky islets, the largest of which are Paxos and Antipaxos. The capital of Paxos is Gaios, a picturesque village build around a port which is protected by two small islands, Agios Nikolaos and Panagitsa.
What to see and do: Visit Antipaxos and go to see the traditional vineyards. Another essential place to visit are the magical caves of Mogonissi.
What to buy: One of the main products of Paxos is olive oil. You can also buy excellent wine from Antipaxos’ vineyards.
Where to stay: Villa Kastanida, is a beautifully restored farmhouse with private pool set amongst the olive groves. Or you can stay at Villa Lioniskari, a charming traditional villa situated on a headland at the entrance to Mogonissi Bay, just a short drive south of Gaios town.
Where to eat: Restaurant Mambo is perhaps the best restaurant in Gaios and a favourite with locals, who pack the outdoors terrace. Try tasting the chicken dishes, grilled squid and meatballs.
Where to drink: Paxos is an island best suited for the romantic souls of this world — you won’t find it full of wild clubs and bars.
Celebrities on the island: Actors Albert Finney and Susannah York and the Italian Agnelli family, who run Fiat, are among those who have chosen Paxos for their vacations.