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There's something about a Greek island that seems to make it the ultimate honeymoon destination. But why settle for one when you could explore several in the same go? Greece is practically specifically designed for island-hopping newlyweds who crave jaw-dropping scenery, hot rays of sun (best enjoyed from one of hundreds of infinity pools), mouthwatering cuisine and the possibility of easy adventure.
Most flights arrive in Athens, and it's worth spending a day or two there before setting off into the Aegean sea to see the monumental Acropolis and Parthenon. Check out serious ancient bling at the National Archaeological Museum and try celebrity chef Argiro Barbarigou's pioneering Greek gastronomy at Papadakis Restaurant. Stay at the artsy-chic boutique NEW Hotel, where the Penthouse Suite features an outdoor bed (in addition to an indoor one) so newlyweds can sleep under the stars, with the glowing Acropolis watching over. (The brunch at NEW is epic, featuring Bloody Marys made with garam masala spices and handcrafted vodkas infused with lemongrass, horseradish or basil and coriander.)
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From Athens, hop a boat or short flight to your first picturesque island — there are 277 inhabited ones to choose from, 6,000 total in the country. The famous honeymoon isle, Santorini, is a wise choice to start. Long walks on the beach are tough on the popular cliff-heavy Cycladic Island, but you're guaranteed some of the most memorable sunsets of your life over the caldera, which was created when a volcano erupted thousands of years ago. By day wander the stacked, whitewashed villages of Oia, Thira and Imerovigli; check out the ancient archaeological site, taste local wine and sail the salty sea by catamaran. By night hide out in the chic, artisanal confines of Grace Santorini, where private pools, dreamy beds, out-of-this-world amenities and unobstructed views of the caldera are standard. Must-eats include the hotel's own restaurant and The Athenian House, across the path, for memorable dinners of innovative Greek cuisine.
Ios, which means flower, is an easy boat ride away, and is known for more of an upbeat party scene in the summertime, along with spectacular stretches of golden sandy beach with turquoise water and a plethora of blue-roofed buildings. There, the five-star Liostasi Hotel is preferred for its enchanting views and sleek design. Beaches are also prized in Serifos, another Cycladic Island, where you can snuggle up at Hotel Coco Mat's eco-friendly renovated miners' houses right by the sand of Vagia beach. If gastronomic pleasures top your list of interests, Sifnos island should make the itinerary, since it has some of the most outstanding food in the Cycladic cluster (stay at Elies Resort on a private beach).
Photo: Courtesy of Mykonos Blu
Mykonos has a reputation for debauchery, but that's not the whole story. Unlike Santorini, it has sandy beaches, and since it's on the larger side there are many places to escape the Ibiza-style buzz — if you want to. Belvedere Hotel, near the port, is one of the trendiest stays, complete with a Nobu. Down the way from the photo-ready windmills, the villas and bungalows of Mykonos Blu are some of the most opulent, and get you access to a bi-level infinity pool and staff that can book a champagne sunset sail or helicopter tour. Try the new Nice n Easy restaurant in Little Venice, where the legendary sunsets are as photogenic as the contemporary dishes, made with indigenous ingredients; patrons have included fashion photographer Mario Testino and Victoria's Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio.
For a much mellower scene, Pano Koufonisi — where honeymoon-friendly private villas seem to outnumber hotels — is one of the most postcard-perfect islands imaginable. Part of Naxos and the Lesser Cyclades, it's an up-and-coming destination for those in-the-know, with hidden swimming caves (reportedly once favored by pirates), crystal-clear water and unspoiled beaches. And Antiparos, the smaller island off the coast of Paros where Tom Hanks and Madonna are rumored to own homes, is another off-the-beaten-path island Eden. (Tip: Rent a car so you can truly explore the island.) It's a bit on the rustic side still, having only gotten electricity in the last few decades, but boasts an adorable bougainvillea-filled street of cafés, bars, and boutiques (visit Morethanthis for a chic Greek-crafted accessory and decor shopping spree), a hippie nudist colony, and a deep cave with Europe's oldest stalagmite. Beach House isn't plush, but it's in a calm, sandy cove prime for paddleboarding, swimming, and sipping Aperol spritzes at the open-air Nixon restaurant and bar. Ultimately, the Greek Islands just ooze sex appeal, so whichever you choose, it's impossible to go wrong — these hideaways were made for lovers.