National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Q // Which Greek island do you recommend for a lively autumn beach break?

Q // I want to learn about permacultu­re farming. What residentia­l courses do you recommend?


While there are more than 200 inhabited islands in Greece, only those with significan­t permanent population­s remain lively in low season (November to March) and are more easily reached by flight or ferry. While ‘mainstream’ during high season, islands such as Rhodes, Corfu, Kos and Lesbos are even more enjoyable when the crowds have dissipated and you have villages and beaches largely to yourself, not to mention stunning, grassy valleys and craggy gorges.

Crete is also a good choice, and one of the best islands for those seeking excellent local food. From October, Crete’s main beach resorts close, yet the island comes alive in other ways — goat herds roam, wildflower­s are in final bloom and there’s plenty of great hiking to be had.

Spend a night or two in

Chania, then head to Samaria Gorge for hiking (open until mid-October). The ancient sights of Knossos and Phaistos are ‘must-sees’, as is Heraklion’s wine country. Spinalonga Island, a former leper colony, is also well worth a visit. Stay at plush Villa Ippocampi, in the hillside village of Koutoulouf­ari (until the end of October), or at boutique Ionas Hotel, in Chania.


The smallest of the Saronic Islands, hugging the Peloponnes­e coastline just south of Athens, Agistri is popular with visitors from the Greek capital (mostly at weekends and in summer).

Just one hour away by hydrofoil, it’s covered with pine trees, surrounded by clear seas and has some good walking trails. You’ll find cafe-bars and a sandy beach in the laid-back village of Scala. You could also add a few nights in Athens, which, off-season, means you avoid the heat and crowds.

The family-run Oasis Scala Beach Hotel (open until the end of October) on Agistri has a restaurant above the beach, modern rooms and spa facilities. Seven nights’ B&B start at £685 per person in early October, including British Airways flights from Heathrow to Athens and transfers. Two nights in Athens and five nights in Agistri are available from £804 per person, B&B, with transfers. DUDLEY DER PARTHOG

(At the time of going to press, wildfires were affecting the Greek mainland and island of Evia)

Permacultu­re — a portmantea­u of ‘permanent’ and ‘agricultur­e’ — is a sustainabl­e living movement that’s working its way into travel itinerarie­s, and several UK retreats o er taster sessions for those looking to understand more about the practice of developing sustainabl­e farming and selfsucient agricultur­al ecosystems.

Lammas Ecovillage in Pembrokesh­ire is a residentia­l hamlet focused on sustainabl­e living (Saturdays only; no booking required). If you’re looking to dig deeper, or even obtain a beginner’s qualificat­ion, seek out farms and retreats o ering a Permacultu­re Design Certificat­e (PDC). On the Permacultu­re Associatio­n’s website, eco-focused landowners worldwide advertise placements under the ‘courses’ section, with options from one-day experience­s to two-week immersions). Look for courses that o er hands-on, practical experience outdoors, such as Terra Alta in Portugal; its two-week stays o er group learning experience­s and an internatio­nally recognised permacultu­re qualificat­ion. The €790 (£674) fee includes classes Monday-Friday, camping and meals, all set amid spectacula­r mountain scenery. permacultu­


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