The Greek Islands: A Who's Who

A plethora of islands both beguiling and extensive, the Greek islands is an eclectic family that has something for everyone. Numbering more than 6,000 if we're counting every islet and stone poking out from beneath the sea, only 78 of them have more than 100 inhabitants.

However, that's more than enough to be getting on with. Here is Seafarer's Who's Who guide to some of the most prominent family members.

The Cyclades

'Fun' is undoubtedly the name of the game for the Cyclades islands. It wasn't going to be anything else for this particular branch of the family tree, which happens to contain nightlife capital of the Mediterranean: Mykonos. If that's not enough, Mykonos's younger brother Syros is always trying to upstage his sibling with a boisterous scene that sees the parties going on until dawn.

But while the Cyclades islands can strike some as a little wild, there is also plenty to do here for history buffs. The island of Delos near the centre of the archipelago contains one of the most important mythological and historical sites in the world, being the supposed birthplace of Artemis and Apollo from the Greek mythology.

Other must-visit landmasses include Kythnos and its gorgeous Kolones bay, and the similarly tranquil Paros. Santorini is also worth mentioning, being one of the most famous islands for its rather volcanic past.

The Ionian Islands

The Ionians are a cheerful bunch that you will find welcoming and warm in their approach to life. Take the fair Kefalonia with her sophisticated settlements and Venetian architecture. Get on her right side and she'll let you see her endangered loggerhead turtle population.

Or how about stunning Lefkada, famed home to some of the best water sports conditions in the entire world? Explore the alleyways of her gorgeous capital and sit at the marina outside Zeus Bar, watching the windsurfers do their thing on the horizon.

You also won't want to miss out on the chance to explore Corfu, which many argue to be one of the most multi-faceted and interesting Greek islands in the family. So it's lucky Seafarer's Ionian tour allows for three days of getting to know her fabulous castle, intimate villages and extraordinary beaches. Make yourself at home on Corfu – she won't mind.

The Dodecanese Islands

If you're looking for a group of islands that allow for a more exclusive and intimate experience, look no further than the Dodecanese. Suave, sophisticated and stately, this is a cruise for those who love their history and want to indulge in a relaxing holiday off the beaten path. Adventurers, nature enthusiasts and beach lovers will all adore it here.

The first island we feel compelled to mention is Tilos. It's certainly off the beaten track, and while its status as an internationally protected bird sanctuary is enough to draw a few birdwatchers, the atmosphere is wonderfully quiet and intensely private. 

Of the Dodecanese, perhaps Kos and Rhodes are the best known. The former is, of course, mentioned in Homer's Iliad, but it has also been visited by Hercules and has plenty of wonderful history to dig around in. While Rhodes is equally well-respected as being a World Heritage Site, full of incredible natural beauty including soaring mountains, stunning forests and wide sweeping planes. Its coastline is fantastic and you won't find a nicer selection of beaches anywhere in Greece.