THE Greek Islands have long been a top summer holiday destination for British holidaymakers.
It's on Mykonos - known as 'the isle of windmills' - that families and couples alike can escape to a cosmopolitan Grecian paradise in the most sophisticated of settings, NICOLA McCAFFERTY discovers...
The island: Like neighbouring Santorini, Mykonos' beauty lies in the simplicity of its white villages with blue dome-lids; mazes of whitewashed streets and picturesque beaches. Mykonos Town is the hub for club-hopping couples, where bars boasting sea-views and blaring nightclubs jostle for partygoers' attentions.
Just a few, higgeldy-piggeldy streets away and you'll be surrounded by rails of chic boutiques (the key is to stop if you're interested, as it's tough to ever find the same ones again), before the sumptuous smell of local cuisine fills the air and welcomes you into lanes of designer-looking eateries at every turn.
It's these attractions, hidden within the hubbub of the traffic-free streets, that earns Mykonos its label of 'cosmopolitan charmer' - with the chance to escape it all for tranquil and picturesque beaches, such as the nearby Agios Sostis.
Where to stay: Mykonos Theoxenia (www.mykonostheoxenia.com) is a stunning boutique hotel situated next to the island's fabled windmills and just a stone's throw from the main streets. With 52 rooms all designed in a modern and vibrant style, guest can expect to relax in the fashionable style that they'll come to expect from the chicest of the Greek islands. Built in the 1960s by iconic architect Ares Konstandinides, the listed building was Jackie Onassis' favourite hotel on the island. Today, it is considered one of the jewels of the island and owes much if its glamour and fame to the fact that it always hosted Jackie and Aristotle Onassis with their colourful and often noisy entourage. A double room starts from 165 euros per night including breakfast.
Where to eat: One of Mykonos' many draws is its huge variety of restaurants offering a delectable array of local and international cuisine. To tempt your tastebuds with a real Cycladic feast, then Bakalo Eatery (www.bakalo.gr) is a must. Expect to be wooed by perfectly-portioned plates of traditional moussaka (thankfully, they allow you room for more) and mouth-watering vine leaves, as you find an oasis amid the hubbub of the bustling streets.
International palettes are more than catered for on this isle of paradise too, with Italian trattoria Catari serving up a delectable assortment of pizzas, bowls of pastas and dishes that'll delight carnivores - all in the heart of Mykonos Old Town. Maitre'd Egidio will be sure to tempt you with the likes of the delicate sliced veal fillet with a tuna and caper sauce, chunky wedges of bruschetta with ham, gorgonzola and artichokes - or perhaps their sumptumous pizza with beef carpaccio and black truffle cream.
In fact, the eaterie has gone down such a storm that it's spawned a beachside eaterie, Catari Plage at Kalo Livadi - where beachcombers and locals can escape the midday heat to fill up on tagliatelle with amberjack and black truffle oil, and a glass of refreshing Frascati.
Of course, no visit to a Greek island would be complete without a trip to a traditional Greek taverna. Expect a Shirley Valentine experience at Babulas, where owner Nikos will offer up plates of delectable chicken kebabs, all cooked in traditional herbs and spices, while you listen to the sound of the waves lapping the shore next to you. To book a table contact +30 22890 26804.
What to do: If you're still eager for more after sampling the gastronomic delights, non-stop nightlife and flashing your credit card in one of the island's many chic boutiques, then head for a cultural tour on the island of Delos. The small island is considered one of the most important archaelogical and mythological sites in Greece and offers a insight into the historical wonders of the island. To visit Delos by Orca Boat, contact Mr Nazos on +30 6944 374983. Alternatively, visit Platis Gialos Water Sports on the Platis Gialos Beach for a selection of family-friendly watersports www.mykonoswatersports.gr.
Flights: Easyjet (http://www.easyjet.com/en) has 6 flights per week from London Gatwick direct.
Getting Around Mykonos: Quattro Rent A Car offers a good selection of cars, mopeds, 4x4. For an economy car prices start from 20€ per day plus taxes. To book visit www.quattro-rac.gr or call +30 22890 22675.