It is no secret, that the Greek Islands are amazing. After all, they are perfect combinations of natural beauty with sand and pebble beaches and crystal-clear water in dreamlike shades of blue and green. And of course, there is also the stunning architecture that ranges from picturesque white villages to old monasteries and ruins with a rich history like the Minoan palace of Knossos. And let’s not forget the stunning sunsets you get to see while exploring the islands of Greece or the opportunity to indulge in Greek food.
Exploring the Greek islands is a unique experience that makes you feel like you somehow stumbled into ‘Mamma Mia’. And every single island has its own charm, so you should add island hopping in Greece to your bucket list. Be sure to rent a small motorboat and explore the waters just off the coast or go on a catamaran cruise to explore more remote locations. You are bound to stumble upon beaches that are more amazing than your wildest imagination. After all, there are around 7500 kilometers of coastline on the Greek islands, so you are bound to find the beach of your dreams.
My own love story with the Greek islands had a rather unexpected start. While the country had been on my top 10 travel list for more than a decade, I did not make it there until I somehow ended up planning a girls trip with strangers.
I flew to Corfu and was blown away by the nature, the architecture, the people, and of course the amazing Greek food. I fell in love with the country, and it should not surprise you, that I cannot wait to explore all islands and islets on this list that I have yet to explore and many more.
The Amazing Greek Islands
It is hard to say how many Greek islands there are, as estimates vary a lot. However, there are at least 1200 bigger islands and according to some estimates even five times as many if you choose to include the smallest islets. Of these, only 227 are inhabited.
Based on their location, the islands are split into groups. Hereby, the most popular island group is the Cyclades which include Mykonos and Santorini. Other Greek island groups are the Argo-Saronic Islands, the North Aegean Islands, the Dodecanese Islands, the Sporades, and the Ionian Islands. Only the biggest Greek island, Crete, and Evia are not part of an island group.
With their Mediterranean climate, the Greek islands have hot and dry summers. And while mainland Greece tends to have cold winters that cover the landscape in snow, the islands typically have mild winters.
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Everyone knows the popular Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos, or Crete, but hardly anyone has ever heard of Tinos. Tinos is an underrated yet beautiful island between the two Cycladic islands Andros and Mykonos. Even though it offers stunning landscapes, picturesque villages, and serene beaches, it is a non-touristy and quiet island.
The best & easiest way to get there is by ferry from Athens which is a 3-hour ride. Optionally, you can also fly to the popular neighbor island Mykonos and take the ferry from there.
Numerous rocky or sandy beaches are perfect if you want to have a relaxing day. If you prefer to experience the local life, head to some of the many villages on the island.
One of the largest and definitely one of the most beautiful ones is Pyrgos, also called Panormos, in the northern part of the island. The village is a real arts center, being the home place of many famous Greek artists. Marble workshops, galleries, and the School of Fine Arts are only a few of the many activities Pyrgos has to offer.
Another very typical thing of Tinos is the great number of dovecotes located all over the island. These white buildings with geometrical patterns can be found on a few other Cyclades islands but neither of them has as many as Tinos.
If you visit Tinos Town, make your way to the restaurant called To Koutouki tis Elenis that offers typical Greek cuisine. The grilled aubergines are seriously to die for!
Where to stay
Just a short 5-minute drive from Tinos Town is the hotel called Big Blue Tinos which is – thanks to its great location, amazing pool, and fantastic service – the perfect place to stay on the island. Plus you’ll have the chance to experience an epic sunset every day!
Explored by Lina from World of Lina
There are numerous islands in Greece, making it the perfect spot if you’re looking to hop islands and spend a while doing this. One of the best Greek islands where you can have a good time and spend a few days in Mykonos.
Located about 45 minutes away by ferry from Santorini, Mykonos is the perfect island if you’re into partying; however, that does not imply it isn’t for families or couples. You could also directly fly to Mykonos as there are numerous direct flights here from most European cities, especially in summer.
There is a lot to do here for all types of travelers. The Chora windmills are very picturesque and instagrammable. Paraportiani Church is located a quick 2-minute walk away and has been seen in many movies too.
The streets here make for a great walk around, and the shops sell many souvenirs and light clothing. Restaurants here have some of the best local food, and the Greek salads are worth trying.
Little Venice is the most popular spot here and is one of the best for sunsets. Ornos beach is great for multi-generational families.
For those who also like history, architecture, and culture, the island of Delos, considered the location where the Greek God Apollo was born, is an hour away or so by ferry and can be visited while here too. Alternatively, you can book a yacht cruise to Delos.
Where to stay in Mykonos
Recommended by Lavina from Continent Hop
When you think of Greek islands, Santorini is sure to come to mind – and rightfully so, Santorini has earned its spot as one of the best Greek islands to visit! With its whitewashed villages, the caldera located against the incredibly beautiful sea, and amazing Greek food, Santorini does not disappoint.
The best way to explore the island is to rent a car and take in the charming towns and villages, the beaches, and the historical sites. The towns of Fira & Oia are the quintessential Greek villages that you see on postcards & travel brochures. Cobblestoned streets lined with whitewashed buildings and lovely small shops will entice you to spend entire days here.
Enjoy the gorgeous Aegean sea around this Greek island & the majestic Caldera through boat tours or take a dip at one of its beaches. Red Beach and Amoudi Bay are perfect to enjoy the crystal clear waters.
One of the best things to do in Santorini is to hike the caldera path from Fira to Oia – an absolutely incredible walk with spectacular views of the island and the sea – and then enjoy the sunset at Oia.
Santorini is one of those Greek islands which is the easiest to visit – it has an international airport with good connectivity to most European cities. You could also take a ferry from Athens.
Where to stay in Santorini
During your visit to Santorini, base yourself at the towns of Fira, Firostefani, or Imerovigli – these are quite centrally located and have bus connections to other parts of the island. Santorini Princess Spa Hotel in Imerovigli and Galini Hotel in Firostefani are both excellent choices – these are cave hotels with incredible views over the sea and wonderful service.
Island explored by Smita from My Faulty Compass
One of the best Greek islands to visit this summer is Milos. Milos is an island that is part of the Cyclades island group. This means that there are many other great islands near the island as well, such as Santorini and Paros, which makes it possible to combine a visit to several of them!
A visit to the island of Milos is a great experience. Going here allows you to better experience local life on a Greek island, in comparison to many other Greek islands, such as Santorini. That’s because fewer tourists visit the island and thus it is much more authentic! There are many things to do on the island of Milos. You can see the highlights during one day in Milos, but more time on the island is great as well!
One of these is going to the fishing village of Klima. This is a very small village where you can find a lot of colorful houses next to the sea. Another one of the best things to do on the island is to visit Sarakiniko Beach. This is an incredible beach that is very unique. At the beach, you find a lot of volcanic stone that has a white color. Moreover, this stone has a shape that is very lunar-like! It got its shape from the wind and water, and you should definitely see it when going to Milos.
Furthermore, exploring Plaka is another thing you can do on the island. This is the capital of Milos! You find here lots of small Greek houses that look very picturesque. This makes it a wonderful place to go for a stroll!
Getting to the island of Milos is very easy and you can do so by ferry or by airplane from several places in Greece.
Where to stay
Island explored by Dymphe from Dymabroad
There’s something magical about going off the beaten path, which is why Paros is one of the best islands to visit in Greece! Paros is a small island in the Aegean Sea. It’s known for its beaches, traditional villages, and one of the oldest churches in the country. It’s also a great place to party the night away. Spending 3-4 days in Paros will allow you to explore the island’s beauty at a leisurely pace with enough time to chill on the beaches as well!
September is probably one of the best times to visit. The weather is still hot and the tourist crowds have left Paros (and Greece). The prices will also be lower than during the high-season. Getting around the island is easy if you’re using public transportation – You have the bus and water taxis that hop around the beaches, attractions and ports.
While on the island, there are a ton of different beaches where you can either chill or party. Take a stroll through Naoussa, a port village, with tons of amazing restaurants to choose from, cute shops, and alleys to get lost in.
Also, be sure to check out Lefkes, a traditional village on top of the hill, at the center of Paros. And make sure you end each day with a sunset. The show the sky puts on in Paros is one of the best we’ve seen in the world! A great spot to view one is right by Piperi beach.
The best way to get to the island is by taking a ferry from Athens, Naxos, or Santorini, which are the closest ports. The ferry will drop you off in Parikia. If you’re looking to party, pick accommodations in Parikia, where you just landed with the ferry. If you want a more relaxing stay, we recommend the Naoussa area. Either way, you will find something for every budget.
Suggested by Carine from We did it our way
Andros Island lies close to Athens and as it has no airport, visitors need to catch the ferry from Rafina, which takes just two hours. Andros is the most northern of the Cyclades Islands and unlike the others, it is fertile with lush vegetation. It is well known for its spectacular sunsets best seen on its western coast.
The island is a wonderful mixture of mountains, beaches, and charming villages and is ideal for hikers with 18 hiking trails – 100 km of paths. There is the Dipotama Gorge and the monasteries of Agios Nikolaos and Agios Panachrantos to explore and Aghia Marina contains a famous icon of the Virgin Mary. Additionally, there are numerous little villages including Sireti with its windmills and Apikia with the Sariza spring, which provides the island’s famous mineral water.
Chora is the charming main town which is located on a narrow inlet with neoclassical mansions with red-tiled roofs. The mansions were once owned by wealthy Greek Shipowners. There is the Maritime Museum tracing the island’s rich maritime heritage and Kairis Library with its impressive collection of manuscripts and rare publications. There are the ruins of the Venetian castle and numerous winding streets for wandering.
Andros has many beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear waters including some with tavernas. Korthi beach is well known for its windsurfing competitions. There are the island foods to try which include Doppio – the local cheese, Froutalia omelet, and kaltsounia and amygdalota – two irresistible sweets made with crushed nuts.
Where to stay in Andros
A great place to stay is Blue Era Apartments at the seaside resort of Batsi.
Explored by Chrysoula from Greece Travel Ideas
The island of Naxos, found in the heart of the Aegean Sea, is sought-after for its striking beaches, warm waters, interesting history, and archeological ruins. It is the largest of the Cyclades and offers a host of things to do and sights to see.
Top attractions include Mikro Vigla, Ano Koufonisi, the Temple of Demeter, and the Archeological Museum of Naxos. Don’t miss a chance to explore the Apollo Temple and the streets of the Old Town.
Blessed with good weather and beaches to match, beach hopping is a popular activity. The best ones to visit are Agios Prokopios, Plaka Beach, and Cedar Forest of Alyko. Must-try meals include kokoras me makaronia, melachrino, and kouneli riganato.
Because the island is so large, it is recommended to spend at least a couple of days here to really experience it all. Fortunately, this cheap island to visit is easily reached by direct flight from Athens by ferry from the port of Piraeus. It is also well connected to the adjacent islands. Offering a unique mix of island life, beach culture, and ancient ruins, Naxos has it all and should not be missed.
Explored by Rai from A Rai of Light
Corfu is located in the Ionian Sea and is one of the best Greek islands. It offers a large variety of amazing things to see and do. There are monasteries and old Town of Corfu that is a UNESCO world heritage site and stunning natural sights. And if you want to party, the south of the island is perfect for you. All in all, Corfu is a great destination for a girls trip as this island has it all. Surprisingly, the daily costs in Corfu are lower than on other Greek Islands, so you can get a luxurious vacation for less.
This amazing island in Greece has turquoise water and a lot of beaches and coves. Hereby, the best ones are Bararia Beach in Kassiopi, Canal d’Amour Beach in Sidari, Loggas Beach in Peroulades, Porto Timoni Beach, Agios Spiridon Beach in Palaiokastritsa and Rovina Beach in Liapades.
If you want a break from the beaches, you can explore the mountainous area in the center of the island. Alternatively, you can also explore Corfu Old Town with its historic buildings like the Old and the New Venetian Fortress or the Achilleion.
If you want amazing food in Corfu, Thymari in Corfu Old Town is amazing. The outside sitting area of the restaurant is situated on the stairs of a plaza and the atmosphere there only enhances the already amazing food. And if you dream of sipping cocktails while enjoying an incredible view, you should head to Paleokastrites where you will find the Golden Fox and the Bellavista restaurants.
The best time to visit Corfu is from June to September. You can fly into Corfu International Airport or take the ferry from the mainland. There are several ferries per day.
Where to stay in Corfu
It is best to split your trip between two accommodations in different parts of the island if you want to make the most of your trip. Spend a few days in Corfu Old Town in a studio, like the beautiful Kâmara Old Town Studios, and then head towards the northern beaches. The best hotels for a beachside stay are in Sidari, Kassiopi and Paleokastritsa.
Zakynthos is a Greek Island within the stunning turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea. Also known as Zante, this island is most famous for its iconic Shipwreck Beach (Navagio) and the surrounding white cliffs and blue lagoons. A trip to Zakynthos would not be complete without a boat trip to this beautiful beach. White sands and the crystal-clear bright blue ocean are enough to draw you in on their own. However, the humongous shipwreck certainly makes a unique photo opportunity.
As Zakynthos is an Island, there are several different beaches you can explore. Banana beach is a must as it has soft sand and various beach bars and facilities to enjoy while you relax.
However, if you’re looking for a beautiful sunset, then head to the top of the mountains. The Garden, Argassi is a brilliant location to see the sunset from. The décor is absolutely fabulous, and the view is just as spectacular. Drink a glass of wine and enjoy tapas as you watch the sunset over the beach and ocean below.
If you’re looking to explore Zante Zakynthos then it would be best to rent a car. You can pick one up easily at the international airport and be on your way in no time. Laganas is the most popular area of ‘Zante’ and this district is known for its nightlife and party scene.
Where to stay
If you choose to stay in the area of Laganas but don’t want to be too close to the strip, you should stay at Litore Luxury Living hotel. It is clean, modern, and within walking distance. You feel as though you could easily be somewhere else.
Otherwise, consider staying near Dafni beach. If you are lucky enough, you might see sea turtles lay their eggs!
Recommended by Kerry Hanson from VeggTravel
Other Greek Islands
If you are open to visiting the islands around Greece then consider one of the largest in the Cyclades at Crete. Crete has so much history, gorgeous beaches, old cities, and stunning landscape to visit around the island that it is worth a relatively short flight from the international airport at Athens to get to Crete.
For outdoor lovers, there are plenty of beach scenes, outdoor hiking and visiting Unesco sites around the island and even taking some wonderful road trips around the island to discover.
You should consider basing yourself around Unesco town of Chania with so many options for inns, hotels, and Air Bnb accommodations, and walking around the historic district is easy enough to enjoy the harbor and old town city without a car.
Outside of visiting historic Chania you can visit so many amazing places that are historic, gorgeous landscapes and road trips and other unique only in Crete venues including:
Knossos – the historic Minoan palace with amazing ruins that have been partially restored
Heraklion – explore the bustling port city and unique architecture, food, and attractions in the city
The old town of Rethymno – explore the cool alleyways, streets, and markets in the historic old district
Imbrose Gorge – beautiful hiking trail, gorgeous vistas, and a sleepy village to explore in this fun outdoor hiking venue You’ll find so many unique and wonderful things to do and explore around the island and Crete shines with so much history, amazing local foods, and wines and beautiful landscapes and beaches that really are special and unique to experience.
Suggested by Noel Morata from Oahu Travel Now
Rhodes is one of the great Greek islands to visit. One of its particular strengths is its wonderfully diverse landscape. You can go here from deep forests to spectacular mountains and with a really beautiful coastline.
There is so much history in Rhodes too and one of the great places to visit is Lindos Acropolis which sits high on top of the clifftops. It’s a great place for a wander with inscribed tablets and fallen pillars dotted across the site.
It is worth visiting the town of Lindos, far below too, which is full of the sweetest whitewashed houses.
Don’t miss a chance to visit Rhodes Town too which exudes Medieval charm. Stroll through the cobbled streets with buildings that look like they’re out of a film set. Rhodes is ideal for outdoor pursuits too with kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and surfing being perfect activities on this island.
The best way to get to Rhodes is to fly in. You can get a combination of ferries across from Athens but it’s a fairly long trek. Ladiko, while fairly small is a lovely beach as is Fourni Beach which is a great spot to watch the sunset from.
Where to stay in Rhodes
Explored by Nicola from Family Hotel Expert
Kos is one of the Greek islands within the Aegean Sea. It is well known because it is settled just in front of Turkey, which makes it possible to also visit the gorgeous Turkish town of Bodrum. On the other hand, you’ll be able to additionally spend a day or two on Kos if are spending some time in Bodrum. The ferry presently costs about 20€.
Kos isn’t a small island which is why you can relax on the beach or hike through the beautiful mountains with no problems. If you would like to travel directly to Kos, you can use the island’s own airport. Make sure to check out this Greece packing list for additional helpful info and tips before leaving. After you arrive on Kos, these are our top three suggestions:
Visit the sunset in Zia and eat at a very special restaurant – One of the highlights is a visit to the mountain village of Zia. The village itself is incredibly popular with several souvenir stores and restaurants. However, all are very charming!
One among the upper restaurants includes a breathtakingly stunning terrace from where you will be able to admire one of the foremost beautiful sunsets in Greece.
Do some water activities at Marmari Beach – If you had to decide on one beach, you should go to Marmari Beach, but hopefully you’ll never be forced to decide on only 1 beach in Kos. The reason: Marmari Beach includes a attractive white sandy beach with beautiful blue water. The various activities there make it the perfect beach to spend the entire day.
Taste the Greek hospitality – If at all possible, eat outside of your hotel and you may even get lucky and be invited to a Greek family’s home. Keep in mind that a little gift is common in Greece. It is best to not eat beforehand. This is not solely because you will get a lot of food, but also because it is unbelievably delicious and you will certainly want to try as much as possible.
Where to stay
Kos Aktis Art Hotel – Here you’ll find rooms directly on the beachfront with a stunning view!
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Thassos is one of the lesser-known Greek islands, somewhat of a hidden gem in the Northern Aegean Sea. However, it is very easy to access on a short ferry ride, from either Kavala or Keramoti on the mainland.
As opposed to most Greek islands, Thassos is a green one, with lush vegetation. The best about Thassos island is that it is very diverse. You can spend your time relaxing on the best beaches, but also hiking in the forests to find a waterfall, exploring the traditional villages or the ancient ruins in Limenas or Aliki for example.
Rent a scooter or a bike and start exploring. Theologos and Panagia are two beautiful villages, where time stood still. Stop in Theologos for lunch and try the famous roasted lamb, a local specialty.
You can rent your equipment and try kayaking or other watersports at Golden Beach, Skala Rachoni Beach in the north, or Pefkari or Potos Beach in the southern part of the island. Some other beautiful beaches are Paradise Beach or Marble Beach. And if you’re looking for a spectacular place to take a dip in, go to Giola lagoon, a gorgeous natural pool in southern Thassos.
You can also spend a perfect day if you rent a small boat and explore the coastline in search of the most beautiful bay on the island. From the southern part of Thassos, you will see beautiful sunsets with Mount Athos in the background.
Where to stay on Thassos
Suggested by Anda from Travel for a while
Aegina belongs to the Argo-Saronic group of Greek islands. Ferries and speed boats to Aegina depart multiple times a day from Piraeus and reach the island within one hour, more or less. It is an island that is famous for its pistachios. They are considered among the best in the world and late August or early September is the right time to visit Aegina if you want to taste fresh pistachios.
Among the must-see highlights of Aegina Island there are the Temple of Aphaia, the Archeological Site of Kolona, the Agios Nektarios Monastery, and the Tower of Markellos. As the island is small, one or two days are enough to cover all these.
Aegina isn’t one of those Greek islands that are famous for their beaches. Nevertheless, it has some good ones. Marathonas beach is probably the best. Also, the beach on Moni, an islet you can reach by water taxi, is perfect for spending one day in nature, sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and even hiking.
The best sunset spot on Aegina is the coastline between Aegina Town and Souvala. Marathonas Beach is another great spot to enjoy some amazing sunsets.
Where to stay on Aegina
Danae Hotel is one of the best mid-price accommodation options on Aegina. Conveniently located on the coastal road at about 10 minutes walk from the center of Aegina Town, this hotel is the ideal place to stay if you want to enjoy the promenade and the restaurants in the city center without the need for hiring a car.
Those who prefer luxury accommodation may be better off at Lalibay Resort and Spa, the newest resort on the island, with a private beach area and a very beautiful garden.
Explored by Violeta from Offbeat Greece
Planning a trip soon? Check out these useful websites and resources that I use to plan my own adventures
Which Greek Island will you visit this summer?
Every single island is great, but which one is the best Greek island for you? Has it already been on your travel bucket list for a while or did you add further islands to the list after reading this list?
Still not sure which island in Greece is your next destination?
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