The Ionian Islands are located to the west of the Greek mainland, closest to the rest of Europe and one of the most popular package holiday destinations in Greece.
There are about 25 islands in this group but only a handful are of interest to the average holidaymaker. Corfu, Kefalonia, Zante and, more recently Lefkas, have all become big hitters in the Greek island holiday stakes.
The smaller islands of Paxi and Ithaca tend to appeal to those seeking a quiet retreat but they are relatively difficult to get to as inter-island ferries are not as frequent as in other island groups. Islets such as Antipaxos, Kalamos and Skorpios are suitable only for day trip visits.
The Ionian islands are the nearest to the rest of Europe for flight times and have lush, green interiors thanks to relatively heavy winter rains — Corfu gets twice as much winter rain for example as London.
he prevailing historical influence is from the West — the Venetians, French and British. The southern Ionian islands have suffered heavily from earthquake damage and little is left of their architectural heritage. T
Today, the tourists are mostly British and Italian. And although popular with package tour operators offering rock-bottom prices there is plenty of room in the Ionian island for those who shun mass tourism.
Even the most popular Ionian islands of Corfu and Zante have their quiet, hideaway corners and some of the outlying islets, such as Ithaca and Meganissi, are heavenly, tranquil backwaters.
Ionian Islands in a nutshell:
Most popular: Corfu, Kefalonia, Zante (Zakynthos), Lefkas
Quiet: Paxi, Ithaca