1 Crete You can pack a lot in to an island that is 260km long, even if it is only 12km wide in places. This is Greece's largest and most southerly outpost, and with a summer season from March to November, one of its busiest. The buzzing capital Iraklion and the lovely old port towns of Rethimno and Chania offer constant reminders of Greek island charm as well as ample opportunities to pick up linen, stoneware and jewellery at low prices. Crete's lively history is in evidence everywhere, from the massive battlements of Iraklion to the awesome ruins of the lost Minoan civilisation at Knossos. Then there's the south of the island, where the vast Samaria Gorge provides a testing early morning walk, but the half-forgotten coves of the coast offer blessed relief at the end of the trail. Double rooms at the Elounda Bay Palace (from 404 euros - HK$3,623 - a night, tel:  28410 41502; www.eloundabay.gr ) may tempt you to spend your days within the grounds but resist the urge: the trail's views are worth the effort. 2 Thira Peering over the edge of this vast, submerged crater, you can understand how the volcanic eruption of Thira changed the ancient world. The locals have adapted over the centuries, constructing beautiful whitewashed houses that spill down the upper slopes of the caldera. If Thira is impressive, nearby Oia almost defies description, especially at sunset, when the bars and restaurants are at their best. Hotel Katikies has doubles from 202 euros (tel:  22860 71401; www.katikies.com ), and for those who like luxury self-catering, Aeolos Villas (suites from 170 euros, tel:  22860 23321; www.aeolos.gr ) offers fine service and better views. 3 Symi This Dodecanese island, nudging the Turkish coastline, is for romantics. If you arrive by boat you will never forget your first view of the harbour. The deep horseshoe shape is lined by tier upon tier of Venetian neo-classical villas, many of them now in ruins but an encouraging number are restored and displaying their fine colours and elegant architecture. Symi was the former home of the Greek sponge fishing industry, and while that may have declined, the locals have turned to sea fishing, agriculture and a laid-back style of tourism. The town has a tranquil square, sea view or church around every corner. 4 Mykonos The style capital of the Aegean, Mykonos features designer boutiques and a very good range of restaurants, with lots of classy hotels and villas tucked into the pristine, whitewashed streets. A big gay presence makes the atmosphere cosmopolitan and international, particularly in the thriving club scene, the best of which is around Super Paradise beach. Dhilos, with its wonderful ancient city which was the heart of ancient Greece 3,500 years ago, is a couple of hours away by boat ( www.mykonos-web.com ). 5 Skopelos Among the Sporades islands, Skopelos is home to perhaps the most perfect example of a whitewashed island town. Said to contain more than 100 churches, it tumbles down the hillsides from the ruined castle to the harbour, where dozens of tavernas serve fresh fish and crisp, cold retsina - the pine resin wine so typical of Greece. Pine forests spread across the island to the cool, refreshingly scented west coast beaches of Limnonari and Agnondas. 6 Corfu This island relishes its British and Venetian legacy, and there are more upmarket villas along its long, winding northeastern coast than on the rest of the Ionians put together. The standard of accommodation is generally five-star. The little coves dotting this coastline are full of good restaurants and one tiny hamlet, Agni, boasts three of the best: Toula's, with its eastern Mediterranean influence, tops the bill but Taverna Nikolas and Taverna Agni are close behind. Corfu town is great to wander through, with its mix of Greek and foreign influences, including a cricket pitch. Hiding away in the back streets is the Venetian Well bistro (tel:  661 44761), set in a beautiful old square with fabulous food at about 15 euros a head. British tour operators are good for luxury Greece villas - try Meon Travel (tel:  1730 230200; www.meontravel.co.uk ) or Simply Travel (tel:  20 8541 2202; www.simplytravel.co.uk ). 7 Paxos A beautiful little island just south of Corfu, Paxos has hundreds of two- and four-man boats for hire, and the best way to spend the day is pottering up and down the east coast, stopping off for a swim or a drink at a beachside taverna. The food in the main town, Gaios, reflects the international nature of tourists and the other two stopping-off points, Loggos and Lakka, also has some good tavernas. The satellite island, Antipaxos, has one taverna and three beautiful white-sand beaches. 8 Folegandros In all the Greek Islands, Folegandros in the Cyclades is unrivalled as a place for chilling out ( www.folegandros.com ). The little port is nothing special, but when you catch the bus to the town a couple of kilometres uphill, you can see why so many foreigners fall in love with the place. Picture-postcard perfect, it is set on the brow of a very high cliff, overlooked by the beautiful church of Analipsi. The series of inter-connecting shady squares are full of flower-filled pots adorning the ubiquitous white walls and blue window frames. It's a pleasant 2km walk from there to the main beaches, but most people don't make it out of this bewitching town. The Kastro Hotel has good rooms and spectacular sea views (tel:  22860 41230). At nearby Nikolas' Bar, borrow a backgammon board, order a bottle of retsina and nibble on his mezes - a selection of Greek tasting dishes. 9 Koufonissia If beaches and isolation are what you want, go to this island in the Lesser Cyclades, south of Amorgos. It takes a few hours on a boat to get there, but the string of golden, crescent-shaped beaches around the south and east coast are well worth it. The island only has one town, and while it doesn't boast the facilities of, say, Mykonos, there are enough tavernas and bars to keep even a dedicated gourmet from losing weight. The fresh fish is fantastic - grilled almost as it comes off the fishing boats. Replicas of early stone figurines from the Neolithic village on nearby Keros make fine gifts. 10 Naxos This island has something for everyone. Famed in ancient Greece as the place where Theseus dumped Ariadne, it would give her plenty of reasons to tarry of her own accord nowadays. The main town of Naxos may be one of the Aegean's main transport hubs, but it still retains its Venetian charm and ruined castle. Kilometres of sandy beaches lie south of the port, while the interior of this largest of the Cyclades is lush and full of fertile valleys and mountains topped with more ruins. There are outsized classical statues still in their original sites, a couple of pretty little fishing ports in the north, some beautiful deserted coves overlooking the Lesser Cyclades on the east of the island and there's the chance to hop over to Paros and some of the other Cycladic islands, most of which are within two hours by ferry. Best place to stay is the lovely Chateau Zevgoli Hotel (doubles from 100 euros, tel:  22850 26123; www.greekhotel.com/cyclades/naxos/chora/zevgoli/home.htm ).