John Lennon and Paul McCartney travel to Greece

Saturday, July 22, 1967
Timeline More from year 1967
Athens, Greece

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.


On this day, July 22, 1967, Paul McCartney and his girlfriend Jane Asher joined John Lennon, his wife Cynthia and son Julian, Pattie Harrison’s 16-year-old sister Paula Boyd, Mal Evans, and NEMS employee Alistair Taylor on a trip to Athens, Greece. They aimed to explore a group of Greek islands that The Beatles were interested in purchasing to live on. The remaining group members, George and Pattie Harrison, Ringo Starr and Neil Aspinall, had already travelled to Greece two days before.

To reach the islands, they had arranged for a luxurious yacht named MV Arvi. However, it was delayed due to a storm off Crete, so they stayed at the residence of Alexis Mardas in Athens until it arrived on July 25, 1967.

Alexis Mardas had befriended The Beatles a few months earlier in London. He arrived in England in 1965, became friends with John Dunbar of the Indica Gallery in London, and later moved in with him in a flat on Bentinck Street, which was where Mardas first met John Lennon.

I was in my office one day that summer when the Beatles’ private phone rang. It was John calling to say that the Beatles were moving out of England! The idea had come to him the previous night in the studio, when Magic Alex was attending a session. The Beatles were talking about how sick and tired they were of notoriety and were bemoaning how restrictive it was for them to live in London. John suggested they escape it all by creating their own little kingdom, like an island. […]

The very next day I dispatched Magic Alex and Alistair Taylor, who was now office manager and took care of sundry chores for the Beatles, off to Greece to find an island. Not forty-eight hours later Alex phoned to say that he had located a place God had created just for them. It was a tiny cluster of islands twenty-five miles out into the Aegean, 100 acres in all. There was a large main island with four secluded beaches and five smaller satellite islands surrounding it. There were also sixteen acres of rich olive groves on the large island, which Alex computed would pay back the cost of the six islands in just seven years’ time. All this a bargain at £90,000. The Beatles impetuously agreed to leave for Greece at once.

According to Alex, in a story told here for the first time, before the Beatles set out for Athens, he contacted a high government official he identifies as the “vice president of Greece” and asked the man if he knew who the Beatles were. “Yes, they’re a pop group,” the man answered. “But what does this have to do with me?”

“They could be of tremendous publicity value to you if you cooperate in making their journey pleasant,” Alex said. He struck a deal with the government official; if the Beatles were given VIP treatment, and not searched at the airport, they would pose for a set of publicity pictures for the Ministry of Tourism to show how benevolent Greece was; in effect, diplomatic immunity in exchange for an endorsement of the junta. […]

Peter Brown – From “The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles“, 2002

It was 1967 and I was searching the Aegean for a get-away-from-it-all island for the Beatles with the Beatles’ technical wizard Alexis Mardas. Magic Alex was one of the many extraordinary characters the Beatles attracted in their heyday. He was a particular friend of John’s and very nearly as peculiar. But he was good company and he was Greek. We had a great time doing this recce. Eventually, we found a beautiful island of about 80 acres with four superb beaches. So the Beatles could have one each if they wanted. And it even had four smaller islands circled around it.

The Greek island was priced to sell at £90,000 and it looked like just what the Beatles ordered. But this was at a time of currency restrictions so nothing was as easy as it seemed. The Beatles wanted to take a look for themselves and have a holiday into the bargain and I sprang into action to organise it. Alex went off to Greece to prepare his father’s house in Athens for us and to hire a large enough yacht to accommodate Paul and Jane, John, Cynthia and Julian, George and Patti, Ringo and Maureen, Big Mal Evans and his wife, Neil Aspinall and me. […]

We arrived to find Alex with a face full of taramasalata announcing that the motor yacht had been caught up and damaged in a fierce storm around Crete and would not be ready for a few days. So some Athens sight-seeing was swiftly arranged. Only someone kindly told the Greek tourist board of our movements and everywhere we went there were hordes of fans.

Alistair Taylor – From “With the Beatles: A Stunning Insight by The Man who was with the Band Every Step of the Way“, 2011

Alex [Mardas] invited John on a boat holiday in Greece, and we were all then invited. There was some story of buying a Greek island or something. It was all so sort of abstract but the first thing we had to do is go to Greece and see if we even liked it out there. The idea was get an island where you can just do what you want, a sort of hippie commune where nobody’d interfere with your lifestyle. I suppose the main motivation for that would probably be no one could stop you smoking. Drugs was probably the main reason for getting some island, and then all the other community things that were around then – ‘Oh, we’ll paint together. We’ll do this. I’ll chop wood.

I think that if you’re going to write a great symphony or you’re going to rehearse the greatest string quartet in the world, it’s fair enough to cut yourself off. It’s just a practical matter; give yourself lots of time and if you’re going to do that, then why shouldn’t it be in Greece? It was a drug-induced ambition, we’d just be sitting around: ‘Wouldn’t it be great? The lapping water, sunshine, we’d be playing. We’d get a studio there. Well, it’s possible these days with mobiles and …’ We had lots of ideas like that. The whole Apple enterprise was the result of those ideas.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

Three months earlier the democratic Greek government had been overthrown in a military coup, ostensibly to prevent any Marxist influences from corrupting the nation. The new regime tortured and executed its opponents with the minimum of judicial process. […]

‘I’m not worried about the political situation in Greece, as long as it doesn’t affect us,’ Lennon declared. ‘I don’t care if the government is all fascist or communist.’ Their more socially aware friends, such as Barry Miles, were shocked by their indifference. ‘I was horrified,’ he recalled. ‘As I remember it, Paul was faintly embarrassed by it all, but John wasn’t concerned.’ Paul McCartney’s political misgivings were, in any case, outweighed by more selfish concerns: ‘I suppose the main motivation would probably be [that] no one could stop you smoking. Drugs was probably the main reason for getting some island.’

From “You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup” by Peter Doggett

Although Epstein still exercised his guidance over the Beatles’ careers, before he died [in August 1967] he had at least begun to allow them more contact with the world-at-large, from which he had kept them shielded for so long. In July they went off to Greece to buy an island, an idea Brian disapproved of, but with which he went along. Giving the Beatles a free rein was a hard decision for Brian, who was still devoted to them and wanted to protect them at all costs.

From “Apple To The Core” by Peter McCabe and Robert D. Schonfeld

From Meet the Beatles for Real: Greece
From 22 July 1967 – John and Paul travel to Greece – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (


In all our holiday party numbered twelve people. Four flew to Athens on the Thursday —George and Pattie, Ringo and Neil. The remaining eight followed two days later — John, Cynthia and Julian, Paul and Jane, Pattie’s 16-year-old sister Paula, Alistair Taylor from the NEMS office and Mal.

Apparently the photographers at the airport in Athens hadn’t a clue who Paula was. One newspaper back home in London decided to identify her very vaguely, but they had an idea she was Cynthia Lennon!

There was a 13th man in our group — in fact the whole trip was his idea in the first place. His name is Alexis, a young and very clever electronics man, a Greek who became a close personal friend of the Beatles in London a few months ago. Alex took care of us all in Greece, translating when it was necessary, and we stayed at his house in a suburban part of Athens.


The plan was to move onto a big white motor yacht at the weekend as soon as everyone had settled in. But the rented boat was delayed on another cruise, stuck somewhere near Crete in high winds which prevented her sailing. In the end the boat — named the m.v. Arvi — arrived at Athens on the Monday and we went on board on the Tuesday. Minus Ringo who headed home with Neil that day.

Maureen hadn’t been able to join us because the baby was nearly due so Ringo didn’t want to be away from her too long. […]

From The Beatles Monthly Book, September 1967
From The Beatles Monthly Book, September 1967

Greeks Say The Beatles Are On ‘Secret Mission’

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Police barred newsmen from the airport tarmac Saturday to keep them from talking to Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney on arrival in Athens.

Although there was not a single fan to greet the two British pop singers, Athens Airport commander C. Farkakoris said he had government orders not to let reporters in to see them because he said it concerned a “secret mission.”

The two Beatles came to Athens on a British airliner to join Ringo Starr and George Harrison, the other two Beatles, who came here incognito Thursday.

Lennon and McCartney alighted from the plane and were rushed to the Athens Airport VIP lounge as police officers kept newsmen behind a fence surrounding the area.

Starr and Harrison did not show up at the airport.

There were unconfirmed reports in the Greek press that the Liverpool quartet came to Greece to buy or visit a tiny Aegean island they allegedly bought for $400,000.

As they left the airport, Lennon and McCartney tried to stop and talk to newsmen but police prevented it.

From The San Francisco Bee – July 23, 1967
From The San Francisco Bee – July 23, 1967

The Beatles in Arachova: The detail that few have found in the photo

Aristotelis Sarrikostas, an associate photographer for the Associated Press since 1965, received a call from the Beatles’ agent informing him about their incognito arrival in Greece. “His only request”, as Mr. Aristotle tells NEWS 24/7 today, was “to be as discreet as possible“. Knowing the data, July 22, exactly 50 years ago, the photographer waited for their flight from Heathrow to the VIP lounge at Hellinikon airport with his camera in his bag.

Being a simpler time, even international stars had to cover some distance to reach the cars waiting for them. Sarrikostas took advantage of the natural light and took some shots of the initially surprised Beatles who then, accustomed to such situations, marched to the two black limousines waiting for them.

That first contact lasted about 10 minutes. I tried to be as discreet as possible. Just before they depart, I approached John Lennon and asked him about their next stop. ‘I have no idea,’ he said, a little annoyed.” This moment of the conversation between Aristotle Sarrikostas and John Lennon was immortalized by his colleague Fotis Floros. […]

From The Beatles in Arachova: The detail that few find in the photo (, July 23, 2017 (translated from Greek to English)

The Beatles’ Travels in Greece and the Dream to Buy an Island

[…] Last year, I came across some articles from July 1967 in the Greek newspaper To Vima, containing daily reports about the group’s movements. Together, these suggest a detailed and plausible route for the group’s cruise in Greece, including a number of specific locations, which I’ve never previously seen discussed.

According to these reports, the first of the group to arrive in Greece were George Harrison and Ringo Starr. On July 21st, the newspaper reported that the pair had been spotted in Athens the previous day, noting the former’s outfit of orange trousers, a flowery shirt, and a striking blue jacket. The next day, another article says the two Beatles travelled in a Mercedes to Vouliagmeni beach on the outskirts of the city, where for about three hours “they swam, ate fruit and sunbathed.”

On July 23rd, To Vima’s coverage of the Beatles became more prominent, with an exclusive article on page four headlined “In the Beatles’ bolthole.” The article reports that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had arrived in Athens the previous afternoon. The former is described as wearing “smart glasses, a shirt decorated with red and yellow flowers, and corduroy trousers,” and the latter a long ‘Nehru’ jacket. The two were greeted at the airport by a young blond man with a moustache and dressed in “super-modern attire.” This surely refers to Alexis Mardas, the Beatles’ Greek friend who had helped to arrange their trip and whose family was hosting the group in Athens.

The article also features comments from Ringo and George relaxing at an “elegant villa” – presumably belonging to the Mardas family, which To Vima had located in an Athenian suburb (named in a later article as Papagou) following a five-hour search. The two Beatles were spending carefree hours “lying comfortably in the coolness of the veranda, among the flowers of the villa’s garde.” According to the article, they told the newspaper: “It is true that we are thinking of buying a plot of land on an island and building villas. But we have not reached a final decision yet.”

This article is bylined “L. Tsirigotakis,” presumably referring to Labis Tsirigotakis, who was at that time a reporter for To Vima, and who would later become a well-known London-based correspondent for Greece’s state broadcaster ERT. […]

Jonathan Knott – The Beatles’ Travels in Greece and the Dream to Buy an Island –

‘Used as propaganda’: the Beatles’ Greek island plans and international politics

In July 1967 the Beatles were making plans to buy a Greek island, and visited the country with this aim in mind. At the time, negative international opinion regarding the military dictatorship that had recently come to power in Greece was contributing to a decline in the country’s tourism sector. Several credible accounts suggest that the Beatles’ visit was used to generate publicity in the hope of encouraging tourism to Greece. But if so, the details of how such an initiative might have come about have remained unclear. In this article I examine the evidence for the group’s activity in Greece, as well as relevant actions from other individuals and the wider historical context. Doing so highlights a range of political connections and dimensions to the events that offer a new perspective on the Beatles and may help us better understand the interactions between politics, celebrity and culture at the time.

Jonathan Knott – From ‘Used as propaganda’: the Beatles’ Greek island plans and international politics | Journal of Beatles Studies (

Last updated on February 24, 2024

Going further

The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."

We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!

Shop on Amazon

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *