Discover the Ionian Islands – a mix of distinctive historic architectural and geological sites, friendly locals, energetic night-life, bustling beach resorts and excellent accommodation options – just perfect for a honeymoon or romantic getaway holiday.
The Ionian Islands lie just off the west coast of mainland Greece and comprise the islands of Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Levkas, as well as Ithaca, Paxos and Kythira, which sits further south off the southern tip of the Peloponnese, at the southern end of the Greek mainland.
Take a day-trip or stay longer to explore stunning green landscapes, sugar-cube villages and relax on the sun-bleached white-sand beaches of these beautiful islands.
After the Cyclades and Crete, the Ionian islands are the most popular island group in Greece, with Corfu, Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Lefkas the most popular with visitors.
With its lush green landscape of cypress trees, vineyards and shimmering olive groves fringed by blue bays and long golden-sand beaches, Corfu is one of most beautiful islands in Greece.
The island’s natural beauty has been lauded through the ages: Homer called it a ‘beautiful and rich land’; Odysseus stopped off here on his journey home to Ithaki; Shakespeare used the island as background for The Tempest; and various writers have sung its praises in the 20th century, including Gerald Durrell in his 1978 memoir The Garden of the Gods.
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Zakynthos (also known as Zante) is the southernmost of the Ionian Islands and offers elegant neo-classical buildings, medieval churches, weather-sculpted sea caves and a choice of gorgeous golden-sand beaches.
Here, you can see artefacts dating back to the 12th century at the Byzantine Museum, enjoy panoramic views from the hilltop ruins of the Venetian fortress and have fun at the Zakynthos Water Village, with its numerous slides and pools.
Take a water taxi to swim in the remarkable nature-sculpted Blue Caves of Volimes and visit the 14th century Church of Agia Mavra at the traditional Greek village of Macherado. With its impressive Venetian belfry and collection of icons and frescoes, the church is considered one of the most important on the island.
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With its dramatic mountain ranges, sprawling vineyards, picturesque villages, Roman ruins, venerated monasteries, good walking trails and some of Greece’s best beaches, Kefalonia offers all the ingredients you need for a great island holiday.
Best known as the movie setting for Louis de Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Kefalonia is easy to explore on foot and by car.
Explore picturesque mountain villages such as Lixouri and Assos, well known for its picturesque castle, as well as Fiskardo, well-known for its narrow stone-paved streets lined with 18th century structures and traditional whitewashed houses.
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Blessed with great natural beauty, friendly villages and a string of gorgeous beaches along its west coast, Lefkas (or Lefkada) is the fourth-largest island in the Ionian Islands and offers a verdant landscape of olive groves, vineyards and forests of pine and fir sprinkled with several 1000m-high mountain peaks and picturesque villages where older women still wear traditional dress.
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Famous as the island home of the mythical King Odysseus, and perhaps Homer, the tiny, unspoiled and beautiful green island of Ithaca offers a magical setting for a tranquil Greek Islands honeymoon holiday.
Easily explored on foot and by car, Ithaca consists of two large peninsulas joined by a narrow isthmus, with a landscape of vertical cliffs and mountains on the west coast and rolling hills scattered with cypress trees and olive groves on the east.
Inhabited by man since prehistoric times and named after Ithakos, son of Poseidon and Amphimile, Ithaca is wrapped in mythology and legend as described by Homer in The Iliad and The Odyssey. Step back into legend and antiquity on the paved streets of ancient Ithaca on the Pilikata Hill and in the ruins of ancient Alkamenae. Visit the Cave of Loizos, once used to worship the goddesses Artemis, Hera and Athena.
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Go for a day trip or stay longer on this beautiful green island covered with hills of olive groves that fringe scenic cliffs and several mainly small and secluded beaches. By hydrofoil, Paxos (or Paxi) is just one hour from Corfu.
Much loved by painters such as Watteau, Kythira (or Cythera) is the southernmost Ionian island, lying at the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese.
Explore the small picturesque capital of Kythira town, which sprawls across a hilltop and consists of both Venetian and Cycladic-style buildings. Visit the Byzantine ruins at Milopotamos and the Cave of St Sophia, adorned with stalagmites, stalactites and frescoes.
Along the coast, discover several secluded white-sand and pebble beaches such as Agia Pelagia, one of the most beautiful beaches on Kythira Island, and Chalkos Beach, a golden sand and shingle beach that nestles in front of an isolated cove framed by dramatic rocky headlands.
Many of Kythira’s beaches are perfect for windsurfing. Kythira also offers a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets.
The best time to visit any of the Ionian Islands is during March to June and September through October when the weather is warm and the island is less crowded.
But for the best weather visit during the hot summer months of June, July, August and September.
The Ionian Islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate with sunny, dry summers and mild, wet winters.
Summer, from June to September, you can expect long sunny days with cooling sea breezes in the evening. Daily averages of 29°C (84°F) peak around 35°C (95°F) on occasions. You can expect average highs of 28°C(82°F) in June, 31°C (88°F) in July and August and 28°C (82°F) in September.
Cooling sea breezes are fairly consistent throughout summer but strongest during July and August, when the strong, dry northerly wind known locally as the Meltemi blows. Sea temperatures peak around 25°C (77°F) in August.
Autumn sees an average temperature of 18°C (64°F) in October and 14°C (57°F) in November.
Winter experiences higher rainfall and cloudy days with little sunshine while temperatures average 10°C (50°F) from December to February.
Spring temperatures average 12°C (53°F) in March, 15°C (59°F) in April and 19°C (66°F) in May.
November and December are the wettest months, with light showers falling during spring and autumn.
High season: July and August, when hotel and restaurant prices are at their highest.
Low season: Spring and autumn – the temperature is cooler, hotel prices are more reasonable and the crowds non-existent.
Time-pressed holidaymakers can fly direct to Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Lefkas and Kythira, with daily international and local flights connecting all the islands to each other as well as to and from Athens.
A choice of inexpensive (but relatively slow) ferries, high-speed (but noisy) hydrofoils and smooth and quiet catamarans connect all the islands to each other and to the Greek and Italian mainland.
Latest update: Where to Honeymoon in the Ionian Islands: 10 January, 2019
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