With their cooler climate, abundant olive and cypress trees, and forested mountains, the Ionians (Τα Ιόνια Νησιά) are a lighter, greener variation on the Greek template. Venetian, French and British occupiers have all helped to shape the islands’ architecture, culture and (excellent) cuisine, and contributed to the unique feel of Ionian life.
Though the islands lie linked in a chain along the west coast of mainland Greece, each has its own distinct landscape and history. Corfu Town holds Parisian-style arcades, Venetian alleyways and Italian-inspired delicacies. Lefkada boasts some of Greece’s finest turquoise-lapped beaches, while Kefallonia is adorned with soaring mountains and vineyards. Paxi’s Italianate harbour villages are impossibly pretty, and soulful Ithaki preserves wild terrain and a sense of myth. Zakynthos has sea caves and waters teeming with turtles, and Kythira offers alluring off-the-beaten-track walks. The Ionians hold something new for adventure seekers, food lovers, culture vultures and beach bums alike.