Sunshine and culture on the Greek Islands
Guest Post: February 2013
Sunshine and culture make for a heady mix for those on holiday in the Greek islands.
There are about 1,200-6,000 Greek Islands, quite a choice and not an exact number. OK, "only" around 200 are actually inhabited, of which a little over 70 have more than 100 inhabitants. The number of Greek island holiday with an active tourist industry run to about 40, of which a dozen or so attract thousands of holiday visitors each year.
There are still enough islands to ensure you may want to visit more than one.
And it's not all sunshine and sand on a Greek island holiday. Greece is known as the cradle of civilisation and no matter which Greek island you head for on your holiday you will sure to find evidence of the ancient culture for which Greece is rightly famous.
Every large island will have its ancient ruins, its archaeological sites, its museums and local cultural traditions. Some islands have historic sites that are world famous. The tiny islet of Delos, for example, near Mykonos is so crammed with ancient monuments the whole island has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site; Santorini island has it's own 'Pompeii' at Akrotiri where a whole village was buried and preserved by volcanic ash while Crete has its famous museum complex at Knossos, once centre of the Minoan civilisation.
Down the ages the Greek islands have been ruled by Romans, Venetians, Byzantines, Turks, even the British, and each has left its cultural mark. The islands of the Ionian in the west are known for their beautiful Venetian buildings, Crete is noted for its Byzantine minarets, Rhodes for its Crusader castles.
But all Greeks have a great love of art, culture and heritage so that often even the smallest island village or resort will boast a local house converted into a cultural museum stuffed with traditional furniture, costume, farm implements and other historic artefacts.
No matter of where you are in Greece, if ever you tire of the sunshine — and most Greek islands boast more than 300 days a year of clear blue skies — you can be sure to be within striking distance of some cultural attraction, from the splendid museums and modern galleries in the more cosmopolitan resorts to the smallest of converted homes or barns in more remote places.
In the tiny mountain village of Kares, on Crete, for instance is a museum devoted to weapons of World War Two; the charming coastal resort of Vichladia, on the island of Kalymnos, has an impressive private museum of maritime findings with underwater exhibits from sponges to sharks; in a two-room house in Apiranthos on Naxos is a remarkable museum of natural history; an old olive press on Samos now details the history of Greek olive oil production while Corfu Town even has a museum devoted to old Greek banknotes.
All the popular Greek islands are noted for their wonderful beaches, watersports and diving but, when you add to that the hundreds of open-air archaeological sites to be found all over the Greek islands and any visitor is sure of plenty on interesting sights and cultural diversions away from the seaside sunbeds.
Of course, making a quick getaway for your Greek island holiday is always a bonus and travelling to the airport can be a chore. If your departure point is London then quickly, efficiently and easily is a big plus.
The Heathrow Express was launched in 1998 and now carries around 16,000 passengers a day on the quickest rail link between London and Heathrow, with a journey time of just 15 minutes to the nearest airport terminals.
This is a private company train company which owns its own trains, the stations at Heathrow, and the entire underground section of the track between Paddington Station and the airport.
Details of Heathrow Express services can be found on their excellent website at where there is information on timetables, ticket prices, service updates and latest travel information.
With a swift holiday getaway you can be sure that your Greek island holiday gets off to a flying start even before you get to the airport. And while soaking up the Greek summer sunshine be sure to take time out to enjoy the artistic, cultural and historic treasures that will never be far away whichever Greek island holiday you choose.