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. ippocampi.gr ionashotel.com
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. sunvil.co.uk 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 selfsucient 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. lammas.org.uk permaculture.org.uk terralta.org