Not for sale. The most beautiful islands in the world... They may be having a horrid time of it of late but one tiny crumb of consolation for the beleaguered Greeks is that they possess possibly the world's most beautiful collection of best Greek islands. You can imagine what the reaction was when German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested the Greeks sell some of them off to repay their national debt.

Across the Aegean

Of the thousand-odd scattered around the Aegean, the Cyclades are perhaps the most evocative. So named because they encircled the sacred island of Delos (once central to Greek mythology) these days the most famous islands of the group - Santorini and Mykonos - draw a different kind of worshipper, with the ancient gods and goddesses replaced by models and DJs.

'The most beautiful ones'

Über-chic Mykonos is the Ibiza of the eastern Mediterranean, a summer playground where Europe's hip young things party till dawn beneath the island's iconic windmills. Crescent-shaped Santorini is one of the most scenic islands in the world (it was formerly known as Kalliste, meaning 'the most beautiful one'). Thought by some to be the site of the legendary Atlantis, it is hard to imagine the force of the cataclysmic volcanic eruption that created its giant, sea-filled caldera and towering, 300-metre cliffs. Further afield and on an all together bigger scale lies Crete, home to (we hope, for health and safety's sake) the mythical Minotaur.

One particular thing binds them all together: the unmistakable sight of brilliant white buildings against a vivid blue sky reflected in clear blue water that really couldn't be anywhere else.