The ancient Greeks recognized six different varieties of love, but there are far more ways than that to be romanced by the Greek islands. Honeymooners may naturally gravitate toward the culture and nightlife of Mykonos and Santorini, but even these popular destinations offer countless opportunities for couples to slip quietly away to peaceful nearby islands seemingly frozen in time.
The queen of the Cyclades islands, Mykonos is famed for its lively nightlife, whitewashed homes, picturesque windmills and upscale shopping and dining in the capital of Hóra. The style and sophistication of Mykonos is perfectly captured at romantic resorts like Kivotos Mykonos, which has 32 luxury suites set on a private stretch of Ornos Beach a mere five minutes from Hóra, and the boutique Bill & Coo Mykonos, which overlooks Megali Ammos Bay, a short stroll from the heart of town.
These five-star resorts are a perfect base for honeymooners eager to explore Little Venice and the other charms of Hóra, and to check out the party scene on Paradise Beach. When you’re ready to break away from the crowd, a short ferry ride can take you to some of the most intriguing islands in the Aegean, including Delos, Paros and Tinos.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Delos was a sacred sanctuary to the God Apollo and remains a treasure trove of ancient Greek history, art and architecture. Compact Paros is easily bikeable, and couples can pedal between small villages and beaches like Kolymbithres and Santa Maria, taking a break to cool off with a windsurfing lesson on Golden Beach. To get in touch with small-town Greek culture, boat over to Tinos, where the Church of the Virgin Mary is a famous destination of pilgrims and the village of Pyrgos is one of the loveliest towns in the islands.
The blue domes and dazzling white buildings of Santorini peer over the caldera of an ancient volcano, making this island in the Cyclades one of the most recognizable honeymoon destinations in the world. Dramatic cliffs drop down to black sand beaches like Kamari, lined with thatched umbrellas and backed by a lively town full of tavernas and shops.
Nearby are the ruins of ancient Thera, and couples can toast their love at Santorini’s wineries and breweries and stroll hand-in-hand along the scenic path linking the villages of Fira and Oía. The latter is home to two of Santorini’s most exclusive resorts: Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa luxuriates on a cliffside at the edge of Oía village, offering spectacular sunset views from the verandas of its suites and villas, while the flooded caldera of Santorini’s ancient volcano enchants the eye when seen from the terraced gardens and infinity pool at the Perivolas Lifestyle Houses.
Perivolas Boat Tours can spirit honeymooners away for day-long explorations of the caldera and coves of Santorini or bespoke journeys to nearby islands including Thirassia. Ferry service is another option for reaching many of Santorini’s neighbor islands. Once part of Santorini and now forming the western edge of the caldera, Thirassia is famed for its quaint tavernas and traditional lifestyle—just a mile from Oia, but a world away from Santorini’s hustle and bustle. Ferries also connect Santorini to nearby Anafi, a lightly populated island with dramatic scenery rarely seen by tourists, making it a great destination for honeymooners seeking the romance of a deserted beach, some reachable only by boat.
Ios is another island you can visit for a day from Santorini, but its fun-loving capital of Mylopotas, serene villages and secluded beaches make Ios worth lingering over. The boutique Liostasi Hotel & Suites has traditionally designed luxury accommodations in the heart of Ios town, an open-air cinema and a freshly renovated spa. The hotel’s Grandma’s restaurant is one of the best on the island for gourmet Greek dining—there’s no better way to end a day on the beach at Mylopotas or Manganari than with wine and a delicious meal on the hotel’s poolside patio.
Charter a yacht or hop a ferry from Ios to Sikinos, where walking trails snake away from the small town of Hóra to reach historic and scenic sites such as the monasteries of Zoodochos Pighi and Episkopi, the Manalis Winery, where you can sip sweet wine made from sun-dried grapes, and drop in on one of the many traditional feasts held throughout the year on this quiet island.
A switchback road leading to a gleaming white church is the leading landmark on Folegandros, and the sparsely populated island—only 700 people live here year-round—is a favorite of couples who arrive by boat (there’s no airport) to stroll the streets of the clifftop main village. The beaches of this rugged island, like the serene strand of Kátergo, are happily free of crowds.
There’s a touch of Venice in lush Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades but far from the busiest. The Venetian Duchy of the Aegean ruled Naxos for more than three centuries, leaving behind some unique architecture on an island known for its wine, cheese and kítron liqueur. Honeymooners who venture to Naxos will find charming villages like Halki and Apiranthos hidden in the folds of the island’s mountainous interior. No matter how you define romance, honeymooners will find love in the land where the legends of Aphrodite and Eros were born, island-hopping across the Aegean, partying with thousands of your new closest friends, or stealing quiet moments together on a deserted beach.
> Written by Bob Curley