If you’re on the hunt for the best Greek island for older couples, then you’ve come to the right place. Yep – we’re experts in all thing feta cheese, bath-warm Aegean water, and white-tinged Cyladean sand. So, we’ve put our heads together and come up with this selection of seven options; the finest seven options for, shall we say, the more mature crowd looking for a taste of southern Europe.
Our picks vary a lot. There are some that are about escaping the crowds of partiers in the mainstay resorts. There are others that offer chilled fishing villages and hiking in the backcountry. And then there are the ones that offer long seasons, staying warm into November and getting warm in May, making them perfect for vacations outside of the peak times when everyone goes.
From Crete, where you can bathe in 25-degree warmth right up until the clocks go back at home, all the way to Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, which has secret coves linked together by ancient donkey paths, there’s all sorts to get through. Without further ado: Our picks for the best Greek island for older couples…
While the rest of the Ionian bunch – Zante, Corfu – buzz all summer with their 18-30s resorts and chic seaside towns, little Ithaka remains rustic and local from head to toe. The size is actually a defining factor. It’s like a fifth of the size of its next-door neighbor Kefalonia, which means there’s not the overload of beaches and big towns. That, in turn, means there’s no massive port or airport, keeping crowds to a minimum.
There’s scope to find an empty cove and a secret taverna all to yourself here even in the peak summer months of June and July. If you’re feeling energetic, Ithaka is walkable from end to end. Old donkey trails link up the lovely beaches of Marmagkas and Afales, Polis and Kantina, which oscillate from pine-backed coves on the west coast to barren pebble inlets backed by dramatic cliffs in the east.
Most people will choose to base themselves in the sleepy harbor town of Vathy. It might be the largest settlement on Ithaka but it’s still a spot to see local oldies playing dominos in the cafes at 1pm; to glug ouzo after long dinners on the marinas. Talk about chilled.
Crete gets a mention here for the very opposite reason that Ithaka makes the cut: It’s huge. In fact, it’s the largest island in the whole of Greece. Just shy of 160 miles from east to west, it caps off the southern Aegean Sea with its soaring Lefka Ori mountains and handsome Venetian harbor towns. There’s something on the menu for pretty much every type of traveler.
We think older couples should focus in on the quieter region of Chania. It’s the westernmost in Crete and offers something a little slower, a little more thoughtful than the rambunctious resorts nearer to Heraklion – the capital. Yep, Chania sprouts a duo of peninsulas – the Rodopou and the Gramvousa. They each come studded with wandering mountain goats and hide stunning white beaches like Balos in their midst.
Even better is the island’s south coast. Go there to find a place where 2,000-meter-high peaks descend suddenly into the glassy Libyan Sea. It’s actually the southernmost part of Greece as a whole, which means hot temps well into the autumn and starting nice and early in the spring, which is perfect for folks who aren’t tied to planning trips during expensive school holiday dates.
Alonissos juts from the eastern edge of the Sporades chain. Nowhere near as built up as its next-door neighbors of Skiathos and Skopelos, it’s a land bathed in the aromas of wild oleander and mountain thyme, where pine woods cascade to a sky-blue Aegean and beaches – secret, woodland-fringed beaches – dash between the coastal rocks.
The villages here (and they are ALL pretty much villages!) are little more than a bakery, a coffee shop, a few fish tavernas, and a mini marina. The largest of the lot is Patitiri, on the southeast coast, which is where you’re likely to arrive by boat.
There are two sides to Alonissos that could very well excite older traveling couples. The first is the shoreline, which is pockmarked by mini coves like Leftos Gialos and Kokkinokastro, with its rust-red cliff faces. The second is the inland forestry, which is woven together by hiking paths that will bring you to ancient olive presses and local dairy farms.
If you’re looking for somewhere that’s a breeze to get to from Athens, look no further than Poros. This oft-overlooked isle sits on the western edge of the Saronic Gulf, the breadth of water that sits right in front of the Greek capital. Boats from Piraeus – the main port in the big city – go there every morning and afternoon in the main season, taking just an hour in all. They drop you right there on the marina. Easy.
Poros is actually an old volcano, now dressed in dashes of pine forest and olive groves. Hop on a bike to explore the eastern coast, which is where the best beaches are. A 20-minute cycle to the north of the town will reveal Love Bay, a charming little inlet hugged by scented evergreens. Go 15 minutes the other way and you’ll come to Monastiri Beach, where an Orthodox monastery hides in the hills behind.
The real pull of Poros for us, though, is the town itself. Also known as Poros, it’s a handsome symphony of whitewashed cottages topped by a belltower. Below, tavernas spill out onto the quays and you can sit with platters of local white cheese and honey as the catamarans come and go from the moorings.
Forget Kos and Rhodes. Those two members of the eastern Dodecanese pulse with huge crowds of visitors during the summer months. Granted, they have the UNESCO history sites and Crusader castles, plus more beaches than you can shake a bottle of grappa at. But little Symi is special, really special…
It’s fronted by a handsome Venetian harbor town that’s a cascade of majestic mansions and guild buildings, all painted in red, mustard yellow, and bluebell blue. That’s what you’ll see first, as you arrive via ferry and step off the boat onto a harbor filled with tavernas that have been lauded by the likes of Rick Stein and others.
The beaches of Symi can all be reached by foot; no need for a rental car here. Simply hit the donkey paths and walk past the creaking windmills on the hill. Behind them are little, daffodil-tinged coves shaded by gnarled stone pines. It’s bliss.
Kefalonia is a forever contender for the best Greek island for older couples. The reason? There are loads of them…First, the whole shoreline – west and east – is a montage of ridiculously gorgeous beaches. Some say they’re, hands down, the best in the country. We’re talking everything from pine-haloed coves like Chorgota to quintessential Ionian stuff like the reef-ringed waters of Pessada Beach.
Then you’ve got the inland of the island. It creeps up to the summits of Ainos Oros in a patchwork of rocky ridges where you can hike to gain sweeping views of the Mediterranean and other Ionian isles. And then you have towns such as Fiskardo, which have cut their teeth on an offering of luxurious, romantic stays with infinity pools and whatnot.
Kefalonia also happens to be one of the most accessible of the Ionian chain. It has its own airport and is linked to the mainland by umpteen regular ferry services.
Last but most certainly not least, Naxos deserves a mention here because it could just be the best Greek island for older couples. Basically, this big rock in the middle of the Cyclades chain offers one of the most quintessential Greek island experiences going, with a bit of nightlife here, great beaches there, and laid back vibes from start to finish.
We actually like the idea of basing yourself in the town of Naxos itself and then driving around the island. That way, you can explore both mountains and sea…
The best beaches string down the southwestern shore, from vibrant Plaka (great for couples with kids in tow) to more secluded Alyko Beach. Inland, there are mystical caves to see, the summit of Mount Zeus to conquer, ruined ancient temples, and thick forests of cypress trees, all riddled with well-worn hiking paths. See – something for adventurers and dedicated sunbathers!
The best Greek island for older couples – our conclusion
If you’re seeking out the best Greek island for older couples, then we hope that this list has given you plenty of food for thought. It’s got seven of the top options in the category, ranging from the forever-balmy Crete in the south to quiet Ithaka and Alonissos further north. We’ve tried to cover a broad range of different places, steering clear of big party destinations like Zante while offering isles that have wild hiking and rich history on the menu.