Patmos, Dodecanese

The very long ferry trip from Piraeus (usually docking at 3am) and lack of an airport mean that Patmos is too remote for the faint-hearted or the package tourist; there is little here for the party set, and its beaches are simple. Above all, it has a beautiful rocky purity, pebbly shores, the coldest, cleanest sea in the Aegean, old mountain pathways and simple beach tavernas. The island is dominated by its monastery, perched high as an eagle’s nest, and the power of the orthodox church is tangible: Byzantine gold treasures; dark cars speeding high-ranking priests to the port; and pilgrims queuing to enter the cave where St John saw his apocalyptic revelations.

Patmos has long attracted those who want peace and solitude (if not visions) and many artists and writers have found inspiration here. However, it also has a reputation as a summer haven for a discreet international elite, and the old merchants’ mansions are mostly owned by wealthy outsiders. Each August, the Italians arrive – a reminder that the Dodecanese were colonised by Italy until 1948.