National Geographic content straight to your inbox—sign up for our popular newsletters here

The 25 best Greek islands to visit in 2023

There’s a Greek island to suit every traveller — if you know where to look.

Greece’s numerous isles are best known for their idyllic beaches, toes-in-the-sand tavernas and laidback pace of life. But for those willing to explore a little further, cloud-circled clifftop villages, local markets stocked with mountain herbs and secret stretches of sand await. 

Walk this way

Crete’s gorges and mountains echo not just with tumbling rocks, but with myth, infusing every realm of Cretan life just as olive oil infuses every Cretan recipe. According to Greek mythology, it was on this island that Zeus was born in a mountain cave and that Theseus braved the Labyrinth to slay the Minotaur. And the fridge of every taverna is well-stocked with Mythos, Greece’s best-selling beer.

The hardy souls who once made Samaria Gorge their home are gone now, moved out to make way for Samaria National Park in 1962. The 10-mile hike through the gorge isn’t particularly dangerous or difficult, but nothing motorised can reach down here and the nearest helipad is several miles down the track — break a leg, and you’re carried out the old-fashioned way: on the back of a mule. 

Trees of cypress and maple shade the path as rock formations rear up on either side, the latter’s faces twisted and deeply ridged like carved flames. The air is heavy with the aroma of mountain herbs: wild thyme, oregano, Jerusalem sage. DANIEL STABLES

2. Kefalonia

Ionia's wine country

The rugged mountains and cream-coloured beaches of Kefalonia have been winning over travellers for decades, but as Greek wine’s international profile grows, the Ionian island’s wine country is providing another reason to visit. Kefalonia is renowned for its signature Robola grape, which is used to produce an excellent, crisp white wine. The grape’s heartland is the Omala Valley, on the western slopes of Kefalonia’s Mount Ainos .  

The vineyards of the Omala Valley benefit from a hillside position and limestone-enhanced soils that account for the grapes’ balanced acidity and rich flavour. At Orealios Gaea , a winemaking cooperative supporting around 300 growers, and at wineries including Vassilakis , you can sample the latest vintages of Robola, as well as other Greek varietals like Mavrodafni and Muscat. Sticking with the wine theme, travellers can spend the night at Gentilini Retreat (from £96, room only), set within a seaside winery. ALEXIS AVERBUCK

Island-hopping

For the perfect getaway from busy Athens, head to Spetses. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour cruise away, meaning it tends to avoid the bulk of the day-tripping crowds. Piney and beachy, it greets arrivals with a jigsaw waterfront of tile-roofed sea captains’ houses, palms and cypresses. The main square is carpeted in pebble mosaics and overlooked by a statue of a woman, dressed in traditional costume, with a pistol. This is Laskarina Bouboulina, a naval commander and heroine of the Greek War of Independence. Nearby, her family home now houses a small museum dedicated to her legacy.

Author John Fowles taught English on Spetses before writing The Magus , the novel forever linked to the island. Cinematic hits The Lost Daughter , with Olivia Colman, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery , with Daniel Craig, were filmed here, and a TV miniseries of The Magus is in the works. Spetses is largely car-free (taxis are permitted), so hire a bike to pedal the 17 miles around the island; don’t miss Zogeria beach, where The Lost Daughter was filmed. 

The best place to stay is the Poseidonion Grand Hotel (from £178, B&B), built in 1914 to lure wealthy Athenians to Spetses and the first Greek island hotel to offer bespoke spa treatments. DANA FACAROS

4. Santorini

Volcano touring

Honeymooners love the Cycladic island of Santorini, where sugar-white villages and bubble-domed churches teeter on blackened cliffs, offering spine-tingling views over the fathomless caldera, formed in around 1620 BC in one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past 10,000 years. Frescoes from the Late Bronze Age town of Akrotiri that were buried in ash following the eruption are on display at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and are so charming you’ll wonder if Santorini really was Atlantis. To experience the volcano’s heat and sulphurous smell, sail across the caldera to Nea Kameni island, whose volcano last erupted in 1950.

There’s also the island of Thirasia, where villages delightfully evoke pre-tourism Santorini. The real action, however, is underwater: the submerged volcano Kolumbo, the most active in the Aegean, is rumbling again. The Santorini Paradise Cave Houses in Oia (from £135, B&B) has the frisson-giving views. DANA FACAROS

Sea kayaking

To the west of Santorini, Milos was formed by a volcanic eruption and its 80-mile coastline is scattered with geological wonders. You have to go by sea, ideally in a kayak , to see its highlights, among them the formations of volcanic ash as white and frothy as meringue, the red-and-yellow precipices, and an abandoned sulphur mine with a yellow beach. Also look out for the black basalt cliffs, the towering sea rocks shaped like dancing bears, and the pocket-sized ports with colourful boat garages hollowed out of the stone. Stay at White Rock Milos Suites near the kayak base in Adamas (from £102, B&B).  

For jaw-dropping inland views, hire a quad to tackle the road up Profitis Ilias, whose 2,450ft summit makes it the tallest mountain on the island. In the capital, Plaka, you’ll find the nation’s only catacombs and the Archaeological Museum of Milos, which houses a replica of the Louvre’s famed Venus de Milo sculpture. DANA FACAROS

Artist residency

Just two hours from Athens by boat, car-free Hydra has long been known as an island of artists, with galleries, studios and cultural festivals creating a spirited atmosphere. Gliding into Hydra’s harbour, tiers of stone houses glitter in the soft sunlight, rising up imposing rocky mountains. This car-free island in the Saronic Gulf attracts visitors with its lively port and sense of utter timelessness — there are no billboards or scooters here, and the influence of technology feels very far away.

A visit to Hydra is an immersion in the best of Greek life and art. Start your explorations by strolling beyond the cannons on the point to reach the DESTE Foundation , where an annual installation of art world stars fills a former slaughterhouse on the seafront. For a change of scene, take a walk along Hydra’s marble lanes and onto its rustic coastal trails, which lead to myriad craggy coves with deep cerulean waters. Settle down and enjoy the views over a coffee or cocktail at Hydronetta beach bar before strolling a mile down the northwest coast for a leisurely seafood taverna lunch at Marina in the beachside hamlet of Vlychos, or the Four Seasons — no relation to the large hotel chain — at Plakes Beach for sunbeds and iced cappuccinos.   

For somewhere to stay, try the new Keresbino hotel (doubles from £150, room only) deep in the heart of Hydra town. ALEXIS AVERBUCK

7. Kastellorizo

Cultural fusion

‘Airport’ is a grandiose term for the narrow strip of tarmac and shed that greet me on arrival on the island of Kastellorizo. Closer to the Turkish mainland than it is to Athens, it’s the country’s most far-flung island, where permanent residents number just 300 and the only action happens around the harbour, where wild turtles bob sedately between traditional fishing kaikia (boats).

Naturally, it’s there I’m headed. There’s just one taxi on the island and I jump in, bound for the pretty, pastel-hued coast. “Turkey,” says the heavily moustached driver, pointing to the mirage-like stretch of land visible across the sea when we arrive.

I’m here to meet yiadiades (Greek grandmothers) as part of my research for my next book, Yiayia , a collection of their recipes. The reason is simple: Kastellorizo is where Greek and Turkish customs and cultures collide, which means it’s home to some of Greece’s most interesting dishes. ANASTASIA MIARI

Beyond the nightlife

The beaches on Mykonos’s southwest coast are among the Med’s best for parties, but head east to find a different vibe among a rocky, filigreed coastline dotted with sandy coves.

Park your vehicle in the dirt lot and stride over the low dunes to find perfect little Fokos Bay , where deep, sheltered waters offer delightful swimming for all ages. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, head on over to the renowned taverna overlooking the sand for a lazy seafood lunch.

Stroll west around the headland to the next beach along — the gentle arc of Mersini beach, which is usually the least-crowded on Mykonos. Bring your own sun mat and even an umbrella as this beach is service-free: wild and raw, and perfectly matched to the nakedness of many of the sunbathers who make the pilgrimage out here. ALEXIS AVERBUCK

9. Karpathos

Traditional ways

Dropped into the inky Aegean between Crete and Rhodes, Karpathos feels like it belongs to a different age. This pristine, far-flung spot in the Dodecanese is locally renowned for its white-sand beaches, hugged by pine trees up until the water’s edge. 

Nestled atop a cliff, you’ll find one of Greece’s best-kept secrets. Olympos has held onto its traditional ways thanks to its remoteness. Here, local women still sport the colourful, traditional folk dress — embroidered waist coats, full skirts and leather boots — that’s long since been abandoned in the rest of the country. It’s a chance to experience a part of Greece as it once was, and worth the drive. ANASTASIA MIARI

10. Kythera

Kythera remains a nugget of Old Greece, isolated south of the Peloponnese, where family-run hotels dot the beaches, welcoming tavernas spill out onto the streets and old-timey kafeneions (coffeeshops) still echo to the click clack of games of backgammon. 

It’s a bucolic island of dramatic landscapes, sacred to Aphrodite, who was born here in sea foam. Stay in the Palaeopoli Villas (from £66, room only) near the fishing village of Avlemonas, and hire a car to explore the pretty castle-topped capital Chora, the waterfall at Milopotamos, the Venetian-era ghost town of Palaiochora and the Sunday farmers’ market in Potamos, where all the locals meet. DANA FACAROS

11. Elafonisos

Simple pleasures

Simos beach, where twin crescents of dunes form an hourglass in the turquoise sea, is irresistible. But you have to work to get there; Elafonisos is in the southeast Peloponnese, a short ferry hop from Pounta, which is a four-hour drive from Athens airport or just under three hours from Kalamata.

All the hotels are small, including the Elafonisos Resort (from £82, B&B). There are other gorgeous sandy beaches but only one ‘sight’, the world’s oldest submerged city, 5,000-year-old Pavlopetri, so bring your snorkel. Elafonisos is no longer a secret, but it’s not spoiled; Elafonisos Eco , the first environmental association on a Greek island, is dedicated to keeping it that way. DANA FACAROS

12. Agistri

Quick escape

This tiny, pristine teardrop of an island sits a mere 50 minutes from Athens. The high-speed ferry zips first to the island of Aegina and then 10 minutes further to the even more remote-feeling shores of Agistri.

The island is easily walkable, with a dense blanket of pine trees offering welcome shade. In July and August, Agistri’s pair of harbours, Skala and Megalochori, thrum with sunseekers who come for the island’s radiant waters. June and September are the ideal months to visit for fewer crowds and warm seas. Head for beaches such as Draghonera and Aponissos in the west, or closer to Skala there’s clothing-optional Chalikiada Beach, backed by cliffs. ALEXIS AVERBUCK

13. Skiathos

Design hotels

The queen of the Sporades Islands is a magnet for beach lovers. It’s also the ideal option for those looking for alternative accommodation, thanks to its blossoming design hotel scene. Built into the hillside, the Atrium Hotel (from £185, B&B) is top of the list — a rural haven created by a family of architects. Over by the powdery blonde strand of Koukounaries, at the western end of the island, Elivi Skiathos (from £275, B&B) is making a five-star splash with its flowing spaces and calming neutral-toned rooms. Or there’s the adults-only Aegean Suites (from £260, B&B), which has just 20 rooms opposite Megali Ammos beach. ISABELLA NOBLE

Family-friendly

Families are never bored on Rhodes, even during cooler spring and autumn breaks. Young imaginations are fascinated by the Old City, with its walls, moats and Palace of the Grand Masters built by the Knights of St John. A new cinema, the Throne of Helios , brings the island’s action-filled history and famous Colossus to life for little ones. 

Away from Rhodes Town, stroll through the Valley of the Butterflies , or Farma Rhodes where kids can feed ostriches. Near the waterpark in Faliraki, under-12s stay free at the Grecotel LuxMe Dama Dama (rooms for four from £247). DANA FACAROS

Island of immortals

Remote and savagely beautiful, Ikaria is one of the world’s five Blue Zones, places with inhabitants of remarkable longevity, with incredibly high percentages of centenarians. Ikaria, which is just 30 miles off the coast of Turkey, in the eastern Aegean, is one of them — alongside Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and Loma Linda (California). More than 30% of Ikarians live into their nineties, generally free from chronic illness and dementia, and many hit 100. 

One possible reason for this is genes. But Ikarians also benefit from an outdoor lifestyle in tune with nature, a plant-based diet rich in wild herbs, vegetables, pulses, olive oil and natural wine, a lack of stress and tight-knit communities. Today’s centenarians have had tough, self-sufficient lives, working in the fields and tending vines and olive groves, often without roads, phones or convenience foods. In short, the opposite of what the western world perceives as progress. KERRY WALKER

Greece's craft heartland

In the Sporades island group north of Athens, Skyros is a vision of deep-blue bays bordered by pine trees, with a string of chic, laid-back, whitewashed villages. Famously the last home for the endangered Skyrian horse, a miniature Greek breed that roams in the mountains, the island is also unique for its thriving artisanal tradition, stretching back to the Byzantine era.

The island’s living artisanal scene can be experienced on a stroll through the tangled, white-walled streets of the capital, Skyros Town, which cascades down the hillside from a now-restored kastro (fortress) of Byzantine and Venetian origins. From ceramicists and embroiderers to watercolour painters and woodworkers, this is where most of the island’s artisans have their workshops and sell their pieces to people who pop in for a chat. ISABELLA NOBLE

Secret beaches

Dolphin-shaped Kos in the Dodecanese was the 5th-century BC birthplace of Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine’. His followers founded the Asklepieion, the most important healing sanctuary in the ancient world, where relaxation was part of the cure. Today, the ‘cure’ visitors seek in Kos is on the sunbeds of smart beach resorts. When Kos Town seems too busy, head out west to Kefalos and the ‘dolphin’s tail’ for its secret beaches: sandy Agios Theologos, with an excellent taverna and gorgeous sunsets; picturesque and rocky Tripiti, or cliff-backed quiet Kata, at the end of half-a-mile of rough road. For a place to stay, try Kouros Palace in Mastichari (from £99, B&B). DANA FACAROS

Homer's Odyssey

Homer’s adjectives ‘narrow’, ‘rocky’, ‘unfit for riding horses’ describe Ithaca perfectly, but was this Ionian island the kingdom of Odysseus? Some scholars say no, but the locals disagree.

Stay in Hotel Familia in the capital Vathy (from £75, B&B) and seek out the sites where they believe the Odyssey took place. South of Vathy, there’s the field where Odysseus met his father Laertes, the Cave of the Nymphs where he hid his treasure, and the plateau of Marathias, where he stayed with Eumaeus. North of Vathy, Stavros has Mycenaean-era walls identified as Odysseus’s palace and an archaeological collection that includes a 2nd-century BC mask inscribed ‘Pray to Odysseus’. DANA FACAROS

Idyllic escape

Most visitors to Greece’s second-largest island are Greek, but even only a few of them have heard of the Lichadonisia. Lush and volcanic, these seven uninhabited islets off Evia’s northwest coast are nicknamed the ‘Seychelles of Greece’ for the thousands of blue-and-green shades in the shallow sea in which they sit. 

Boats to the islands depart from Kavos on Evia’s Lichada peninsula. While here, stop at the seafood tavernas in the fishing village of Agios Georgios Lichados, take a tour of the Vriniotis vineyards , or brave the dirt road to the often deserted Krokodil beach. Reward yourself with a soak at the Thermae Sylla in the spa town of Edipsos. The Ilia Mare , east of Edipsos, is a great base (from £66, B&B). DANA FACAROS

Coming into its own

A short ferry hop from its sister in the Cyclades, Santorini, Ios has been dogged for decades by its reputation as a hippy hangout and party island — the latter acquired in the ’80s, when backpackers flocked here to sleep on its sandy beaches and blast away the cobwebs in the bars along the bougainvillea-lined alleys of capital Chora.

In 2014, though, all that started to change when Greek stockbroker-turned-artist Angelos Michalopoulos and his wife, Vasso, bought a chunk of the island around the ancient Cycladic site of Skarkos and launched the Mediterranean’s largest private conservation project, to be left exactly as nature intended — only with 55,000 new trees.

Vowing to develop only 1% of their land, the couple built their flagship luxury resort, Calilo , comprising a dozen plush suites clad in monochrome mosaics and featuring lagoon-like pools, on a remote plot of land overlooking Papas Beach (suites from £422, B&B), and Pathos Sunset Lounge , a chill-out venue that hosts big-name DJs. Gone are the tacky souvenir shops in Chora’s windmill-studded port, and in are indie boutiques selling Greek designer wear, hyper-local tipples — innovative vintner Georgós Zanganas has just launched the island’s first modern winery — and chic new cocktail bars such as Click. HEIDI FULLER-LOVE

22. Alonissos

Underwater museum

Alonissos is a short hop from cosmopolitan Skiathos, but couldn’t be more different: rustic, sparsely populated, forested and tranquil. Queen of its own little uninhabited archipelago, it’s surrounded by the pristine seas of Europe’s largest marine reserve , home to the critically endangered monk seal, as well as Eleanora’s falcons, dolphins and whales. Visit aboard the Stella , from where you may just spot some of the resident wildlife between swims off islands. 

In 1985, Dimitris Mavrikis was fishing off nearby Peristera island when he spotted an ancient, 30-metre-long shipwreck that turned out to be loaded with 4,000 amphorae dating to around 425 BC. Soon the wreck was dubbed the Parthenon of Shipwrecks, and last year it became Greece’s first underwater museum . Divers can book an immersive experience; landlubbers can enjoy a virtual-reality tour at the information centre in Chora, the former hilltop capital. The village was devastated by an earthquake in 1965 but is now mostly restored and famous for its glorious sunsets.   

Most residents live near the port of Patitiri in the south of the island, where the Ikion Eco Boutique Hotel (from £109, B&B) is a great place to stay. DANA FACAROS

An island reborn

Floating between the heel of Italy and the western shores of mainland Greece, close to the border with Albania, the strategic position of Kerkyra (as locals know it) has lured in outsiders since antiquity. It’s this legacy of foreign rule that you can see reflected in every street of the island’s atmospheric Old Town. Its two forbidding forts and patchwork of sinuous alleys, crammed with terracotta-tiled townhouses, are testament to four centuries of Venetian occupation; the elegant arcades and pavement cafes of the Liston extend to a lawned cricket ground left by the British in the 19th century. ZOË MCINTYRE

Greek mojitos

Greeks call the big, north-Aegean island of Chios ‘Myrovolos’ (‘fragrant’) for its citrus groves and wild herbs, but above all for the gum mastic trees that grow only here. Even on this island, they only flourish on the hills of the south; evergreen, with trunks that writhe like dancers at a bacchanalia. In summer, the trees undergo the ‘needling’ that will make the trees weep ‘tears’ — the sweet resin that dries and hardens and has been prized since antiquity, used to treat stomach ailments, to make cosmetics, sweets and the liqueur in a Greek mojito, and as a varnish for paintings. 

Chios is made for touring. Don’t miss the Byzantine mosaics at 11th-century Nea Moni monastery (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the ghost town of Anavatos, abandoned since a massacre of the townsfolk by the Ottomans in 1822 (Eugène Delacroix’s famous painting of this, now in the Louvre Museum, rallied international support for the Greek War of Independence). ‘Craggy Chios’, as Homer called it, defines the north of the island — here, aim for the village of Volissos, with its medieval castle, high above beautiful Agia Markella Beach.

The lively capital, Chios Town, rebuilt after an earthquake in 1881, still has its Byzantine castle walls, as well as several museums and four seafront windmills. Just to the north, Vrontados is popular over Greek Easter, when rival churches bombard each other with homemade fireworks. DANA FACAROS

For food lovers

The Cyclades’ largest island has been a celebrated food producer for centuries, thanks to its fertile soil and freshwater springs. The island’s sixth-century Temple of Demeter, built to honour the goddess of the harvest, is a symbol of this prowess. Surrounding it are mountain vineyards, village tavernas and markets.

All of which makes Naxos one of Greece’s most delicious destinations. In the whitewashed capital of Hora, crowned by a hilltop Venetian castle, visitors should try the popular restaurant Doukato , set in a former monastery, for island recipes such as kalogeras (beef, aubergine and cheese). For a more modern spin with small plates and views across the Cyclades, there’s Avaton 1739 , located on the roof of the castle. Escaping town, visitors can join a culinary tour with Vioma to meet local producers and chefs, or learn to make Naxian specialities on one of its cooking classes. Drive inland to sample the island’s signature liqueur, kitron, made from the leaves of the citron fruit, at Vallindras Distillery . ALEXIS AVERBUCK

Getting there & around

Crete, Corfu, Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini and Skiathos have regular direct flights from the UK in summer. Airlines serving some or all of these islands include British Airways , EasyJet , Ryanair and TUI . All islands, with the exception of the few that lack airports (such as Agistri, Elafonisos, Hydra, Ios, and Spetses), are linked to Athens by regular flights on Aegean Airlines and its affiliate Olympic Airlines , as well as other Greek carriers such as Sky Airlines .

All islands have regular ferry services in high season (July and August) and some, such as Mykonos and Santorini, are ferry hubs with routes that serve many other islands. The boat networks in the Ionian and Aegean Seas have myriad routes and  operators, so consult openseas.gr or ferries.gr . Ferries from Athens leave from the port of Pireaus. The Cyclades has the largest ferry network and is the easiest region to island-hop in. Book via ferryhopper.com or individual ferry companies. 

Average flight time: 4h

The best time to visit is May to September; average temperatures in August are around 30C but it can get much hotter. In April and October, some businesses operate shorter hours or close completely. Some ferry services only run in summer.

Read This Next

  • Paid Content

Enchanting Epirus: inside Greece’s wild north

5 reasons to visit japan's sado island, where to travel in august, the best winter sports gear for 2023.

  • Wildlife Watch
  • Environment

History & Culture

  • History & Culture
  • History Magazine
  • Best of the World
  • Mind, Body, Wonder
  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your US State Privacy Rights
  • Children's Online Privacy Policy
  • Interest-Based Ads
  • About Nielsen Measurement
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information
  • Nat Geo Home
  • Attend a Live Event
  • Book a Trip
  • Inspire Your Kids
  • Shop Nat Geo
  • Visit the D.C. Museum
  • Learn About Our Impact
  • Support Our Mission
  • Advertise With Us
  • Customer Service
  • Renew Subscription
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Work at Nat Geo
  • Sign Up for Our Newsletters
  • Contribute to Protect the Planet

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society Copyright © 2015-2024 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

Protect Your Trip »

Which greek island should you visit our 2023 ranking.

With more than 200 inhabited islands in Greece, each with its own attractions, brilliant sunsets, postcard-worthy beaches and aquamarine waters, it can be a tall order to decide which one is best suited for your island-hopping vacation. That's why U.S. News took into account sights, seasonality, traveler sentiment and more to come up with this list of the best Greek islands. Now the only decision you'll need to make is which beach hat to pack. Have a favorite Greek island? Vote below to help determine next year's ranking.

Folegandros

greek island visit

Santorini's classic Cycladic architecture (think: whitewashed buildings with blue-domed roofs) makes this archipelago one of the most stunning and frequented of all of the Greek isles. On the main island of Thira, you'll find beautiful red and black sand beaches and well-preserved archaeological sites thanks to its volcanic history. After exploring Thira's busy tourist sights, take a daytrip to quieter Thirassia to experience its quaint villages and untouched wilderness. You'll also want to visit Santorini's acclaimed wineries. Most are concentrated in central Santorini and can be seen during a winery tour . And don't miss catching the sunset from Oia for a postcard-perfect view.

greek island visit

Through the ages, Corfu's natural beauty has caught the eye of famous writers like Homer and Shakespeare, as well as ancient Venetian, French and British armies that fought to control the island. Today, it's a picturesque haven for travelers seeking some serious rest and relaxation. There are plenty of resorts overlooking the Ionian Sea and restaurants, bars and shops lining the streets in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town of Corfu. Here, you'll also find plenty of museums, palaces and historic estates to keep you busy. For a more secluded getaway, venture farther up the coast.

greek island visit

Paros, one of the most central Cycladic islands, is a mecca for water sports activities. At the island's sun-drenched beaches, travelers can windsurf, kitesurf, scuba dive and go boating, among other pursuits. Away from the water, visitors will find bustling Parikia, which boasts numerous boutiques, restaurants and bars. Paros' capital also features several noteworthy historical sites, including the sixth-century Panagia Ekatontapiliani (which means "Church with 100 Gates" in English) and a 15th-century Venetian castle. Arrive in summer to attend the Festival at the Park, a popular event held annually at the island's 800-acre Paros Park.

greek island visit

One of the most popular Dodecanese islands, Rhodes hugs Turkey's coastline. Rhodes' large footprint allows for a wide range of activities for vacationers to enjoy. The island's namesake medieval city, which historically hosted the Knights of Saint John, showcases its rich history with well-preserved Gothic structures and several museums. Meanwhile, turquoise waters and sandy stretches like Lindos Beach (which sits alongside a scenic seaside village) and Agathi Beach (set in a picturesque cove) will suit any beach bum, and nature lovers can delight in the verdant Valley of Butterflies. What's more, Rhodes' many villages and cities boast flavorful food offerings and lively nightlife scenes.

greek island visit

Head to Zakynthos for its breathtaking yet rugged Ionian Sea coastline full of hidden coves and beaches, some of which are home to the endangered caretta caretta sea turtle species. Popular spots include Navagio (or Shipwreck) Beach – one of the most enchanting beaches in the world –  and the magical Blue Caves, where the reflection of the sky and the white limestone turns the water an ethereal shade of blue. While both of these attractions are only accessible by boat, there are plenty of other can't-miss sights away from the water. Check out the Venetian Castle that overlooks Zakynthos' main town, then visit the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zante to peruse art exhibits.

greek island visit

Since only a portion of Karpathos is developed for tourism, this Dodecanese island is a haven for those seeking a secluded, low-key getaway. Spend days swimming in crystal clear water and lounging on unspoiled beaches like Apella and Kyra Panagia. Adventurers can try their hand at windsurfing, a popular activity in the southwestern bay of Afiartis, or hike some of the island's mountainous trails. Travelers who really want to get away from it all can also take a daytrip via boat to Saria or Sokastro, uninhabited and undisturbed islets that were once connected to Karpathos.

greek island visit

Although much of Kefalonia's impressive Venetian architecture was destroyed during an earthquake in 1953, the island still feels magical thanks to its diverse landscape. Wander through charming villages like Assos and Fiscardo to see colorful houses and beautiful churches. Then, soak up some sun on one of the island's pebbly or sandy beaches (Myrtos is the most popular), or take a dip in the clear turquoise water to snorkel or scuba dive. If you'd rather get an adrenaline rush, hike to the top of Megas Soros (the highest point in the Ionian Islands) in Mount Ainos National Park or explore one of Kefalonia's underground caves.

greek island visit

Gorgeous scenery is available everywhere you turn on the Cycladic island of Milos. This volcanic island boasts 40 beaches surrounded by jaw-dropping rock formations (check out the lunar landscape at Sarakiniko), as well as houses in a variety of colors. Plus, Milos features multiple caves (including underwater options for scuba diving), hot springs and hiking trails. For a dose of local history, check out the island's catacombs, ancient theater and Archaeological Museum. The latter houses a life-size replica of Alexandros of Antioch's world-renowned Venus de Milo sculpture, which was discovered on the island in 1820.

greek island visit

Greece's largest island offers something for every traveler. Sun-seekers can lounge on Crete's sandy beaches (such as Vai and the pink sand Elafonisi ), and nature lovers can hike through Samaria Gorge in White Mountains National Park. History buffs can explore ancient sites like the Venetian Fortezza in Rethymnon, or visit Heraklion to see the Palace of Knossos (where the mythical Minotaur reportedly roamed) and check out the esteemed Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Everyone will enjoy savoring authentic Cretan fare – including graviera (a Gruyere-like cheese) and dakos (a twice-baked bread topped with tomato, oregano and olive oil) – at the island's tavernas.

greek island visit

Folegandros offers a completely different experience than its Cycladic neighbor, Santorini. Here, you'll find undeveloped, hard-to-reach beaches surrounded by steep cliffs, lending a quiet remoteness far from the beach clubs of more touristy islands. Rugged beaches like Katergo and Livadaki are must-visits for their scenery and seclusion, while Agali is a top spot for its nearby tavernas. The clifftop old town of Chora, the largest village on the island, is also worth exploring for its whitewashed architecture, local culture and unbeatable sunset views.

greek island visit

Part of the Saronic Gulf, Hydra is one of the closest Greek islands to Athens and immediately stands out from its neighbors for its lack of motor vehicles. That's right – you'll have to meander your way around the car-free cobblestone streets on foot or on one of the nearly 500 donkeys on the island. But such romanticism is a large part of Hydra's appeal to travelers. While here, walk the island's pebbly shorelines and explore its charming seaside towns like Hydra Town, where you'll discover lavish mansions (many now turned into museums) of elite families of yore and some of Hydra's best nightlife venues.

greek island visit

This small island's proximity to Athens makes it a popular weekend getaway for city-dwelling Greeks. But since Serifos is less visited by international crowds, the island retains a distinct authenticity and an opportunity to unwind. Here, visitors should embrace the art of doing nothing. But don't worry, the island's secluded stretches of sand like Ganema Beach (popular with the yacht crowd) and Psili Ammos (known for its soft sand) are perfect for doing just that. More social vacationers can also shop for souvenirs or sip ouzo at open-air cafes in the villages of Chora and Livadi.

greek island visit

Koufonisia's islands may be among the smallest of the Cyclades, but they offer everything you need for a relaxing seaside getaway. Pano Koufonisi (Koufonisia's only inhabited island) is where you'll find the destination's most beautiful beaches, some of which are clothing optional. After the day's adventures, eat, drink and shop in Chora, the island's capital. For a more secluded feel, take a daytrip to Kato Koufonisi to swim or sightsee by boat. A third island, Keros, is not accessible because of its status as a protected archaeological site, but you'll likely see it from afar while traveling.

greek island visit

Most Greek islands are known for their beaches, but Skiathos features some of the region's best. Here, you'll find more than 60 awe-inspiring options, including secluded Lalaria Beach and clothing-optional Banana Beach. Skiathos' vibrant blue water also makes it a terrific place to go sailing. Or, get picture-perfect views from above by hiking some of the island's 122 miles of trails. When you've gotten your fill of sun and sand, spend some time admiring the historic Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria. No visit would be complete without heading to Skiathos Town to eat authentic Greek cuisine and party at a local nightclub.

greek island visit

Kos is home to numerous historical sites, making it a haven for history buffs and archaeology enthusiasts. In addition to offering old-world relics like a medieval castle, 18th-century mosques and the ruins of an ancient city, Kos features the Tree of Hippocrates, under which the famous Greek physician (who was born on Kos) is said to have taught his students. Additionally, Kos boasts nearly 70 miles of coastline, so you'll have your pick of top-notch beaches, including visitor favorites like Paradise Beach and Marmari beach. And when the sun goes down, check out the island's none-too-sleepy nightlife.

greek island visit

Spend your next vacation on Syros if you want to be surrounded by history and culture without rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists. Syros offers a quieter scene than other Cycladic islands, making it easy to leisurely meander through its charming towns. Check out Ermoupoli's architectural marvels, such as its town hall and the Apollon Theater, then climb the hill above Ermoupoli to Ano Syros, where you'll discover medieval fortifications and panoramic city views. After a few hours of sightseeing, unwind on one of Syros' sandy beaches.

greek island visit

Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades, meaning there's a lot more shore to go around. On this unassuming island, you'll find plenty of beaches to write home about, from popular Plaka to low-key Alyko, and lots of water sports activities. Due to the wind the west side of the island gets, Naxos is an excellent destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing, so be sure to sign up for a lesson. Also save time for exploring ancient ruins like the temples of Apollo, Demeter and Dionysus.

greek island visit

An ideal spot for slow travel, Astypalea was made for long days of sunning on the sand, hiking through rocky countryside and perusing quaint villages. Shorelines here range from the sandy cove of Agios Konstantinos, which offers spectacular views of the hilltop village of Chora, to the rugged and rocky Kaminakia, which is worth the extra effort it takes to get there. Visitors can spend time hiking between beaches, passing Byzantine chapels and scenic monasteries along the way. What's more, the main village of Chora features a Venetian castle, idyllic old town streets to stroll through and a variety of locally produced cheeses and honey to sample.

greek island visit

A Blue Zone-designated island thanks to its residents' healthy habits that help them live well into their 90s, Ikaria is an ideal place to unwind. Make your way to this North Aegean island's beaches to swim or surf, or head inland to its mountains to hike, rock climb or bike. Later, revel with the locals at one of the night-long village festivals held throughout the summer, or relax with a glass of Ikaria's famous Pramneios wine. The bold red varietal is said to be named after the island's mountain range, where the god of wine (Dionysus) was born, according to Greek mythology.

greek island visit

Amorgos is the hidden gem of the Cyclades. This quiet island appeals to nature lovers with its beaches, sea caves and hiking trails. Plus, Amorgos is home to the town of Chora, where visitors can explore a 13th-century castle, sip a glass of rakomelo (a warm alcoholic beverage made with honey and clove) and admire traditional Cycladic houses. While in Chora, travelers should visit the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, the second-oldest monastery in Greece that dates back to the 11th century. Located about a mile outside of town, this cliffside sight offers spectacular views of the Aegean Sea.

greek island visit

Movie buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike will love visiting Skopelos. Greece's greenest island is where the movie "Mamma Mia!" was filmed. In addition to featuring the romantic Agios Ioannis Kastri (the church where the movie's characters get married), this island in the Sporades island group is home to pine forests, vineyards, orchards and olive groves. Plus, it offers several stunning stretches of sand, including pebbly Panormos, a prime spot to catch one of Greece's famous sunsets. Since Skopelos only has two main roads, plan on getting around on foot or by bike.

greek island visit

If you're looking for a more raucous Greek vacation, opt for Mykonos. When you're not dancing the night away at one of the island's many clubs, you can relax with a cocktail as you admire the Aegean Sea. Other Mykonos must-dos include trying its delicious seafood and admiring its whitewashed architecture. Keep in mind that, while it's relatively easy to get to from Athens, this popular island does not come cheap – especially during the peak summer season. To see Mykonos without the crowds and avoid paying more for flights and accommodations, visit during the shoulder seasons in spring and fall.

greek island visit

Located just south of mainland Greece, Kythira wows visitors with its natural beauty and sense of seclusion away from the crowds of other Ionian islands. According to Greek mythology, the island is where Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, was born. It's hardly surprising, then, that travelers will find beautiful beaches and waterfalls here. Vacationers can swim in coves at Kaladi beach or visit the village of Milopotamos to hike to Neraida waterfall. While relaxation takes precedence over sightseeing here, visitors can still get a dose of history with relics from Kythira's past, including medieval and Venetian castles.

greek island visit

Visitors flock to Ios during the warmer months to enjoy its excellent nightlife scene. But this island north of Santorini offers more than nightclubs and beach parties. Vacationers can also enjoy Ios' quieter side while they stroll the winding streets of Chora, a village with whitewashed buildings and quaint windmills. Or, they can check out can't-miss attractions like Panagia Gremiotissa (a church with superb sunset views), Skarkos (a prehistoric archaeological site) and Homer's tomb (where the world-renowned Greek poet is allegedly buried). Travelers who prefer to stay active while on vacation should hike to Monastery of Pyrgos, the highest spot on Ios.

greek island visit

Patmos appeals to everyone from history lovers to sun-seekers. This small Dodecanese island in the Aegean Sea is where St. John reportedly wrote the Book of Revelation based on visions he received about the end of the world. Start your trip in Chora, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital of Patmos, to see the Cave of the Apocalypse and the hilltop Monastery of St. John the Theologian. Then, relax at a popular beach like Agriolivado or Psili Ammos before grabbing a bite to eat in the port city of Skala.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

greek island visit

You May Be Interested In

greek island visit

Best Places to Visit in Europe for 2023-2024

greek island visit

Best Islands in the World for 2024

greek island visit

Best Beach Honeymoons

greek island visit

Best Wine Vacations

greek island visit

Best Beaches in Italy

greek island visit

Best Beaches in the World for 2024

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

The 32 Most Famous Landmarks in the World

Gwen Pratesi|Timothy J. Forster February 1, 2024

greek island visit

9 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Florida for 2024

Gwen Pratesi|Amanda Norcross January 5, 2024

greek island visit

24 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S. for 2024

Erin Evans January 4, 2024

greek island visit

26 Top Adults-Only All-Inclusive Resorts for 2024

Zach Watson December 28, 2023

greek island visit

Solo Vacations: The 36 Best Places to Travel Alone in 2024

Lyn Mettler|Erin Vasta December 22, 2023

greek island visit

26 Cheap Beach Vacations for Travelers on a Budget

Kyle McCarthy|Sharael Kolberg December 4, 2023

greek island visit

The 50 Most Beautiful White Sand Beaches in the World

Holly Johnson December 1, 2023

greek island visit

The 26 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Rachael Hood November 16, 2023

greek island visit

44 Cheap Tropical Vacations That Feel Expensive

Holly Johnson|Alissa Grisler November 10, 2023

greek island visit

18 Fall Family Vacation Ideas

Amanda Norcross September 11, 2023

greek island visit

All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The best Greek islands to visit in 2024

By Rachel Howard and Condé Nast Traveller

Best Greek islands to visit in 2024

Lord Byron was on to something when he waxed lyrical about the Greek islands. But with more than 200 inhabited to choose from, which ones are the very best Greek islands? Here regular isle-hopper Rachel Howard reveals the ones to get in a speedboat for in 2024, with where to stay recommendations chosen by the editors of Condé Nast Traveller .

Here, we've also ranked the best Greek islands, from 1-29. While we love and highly recommend every island on this list – and advocate visiting all of them throughout your lifetime, if you can – we've also edited the list in order so if it's your first time planning a visit to this magical corner of the world, or you just want to branch out from your usual summer isle trip, we can help you choose where to go next. The order below reflects our well-travelled team's personal opinions, the landscapes, food, beaches, hotels and more.

For more recommendations, see our round up of the best Greek Islands hotels .

Colourful port of Mandraki on the island of Milos Cyclades Greece

Best for: A photogenic and dramatic coastline

Everyone knows the  Venus de Milo (which has stood in the Louvre since the 19th century). Until recently, very few had heard of  Milos , the volcanic island where Aphrodite’s graceful likeness was discovered. Those in the know jealously guard their treasured island, and especially its 70 (or more) beaches — surely the most diverse and dramatic coastline of all the Greek Islands.

Little by little, though, Milos is being discovered. Instagram is saturated with no-filter shots of the undulating white cliffs at Sarakiniko, the bottle-green swimming hole at Papafragas, and colourful, rickety syrmata, tiny boat houses wedged between rock and sea. (You’ll find the best photo opportunities at Klima and Mandrakia). This painterly landscape was shaped by the minerals that have long been a source of wealth – obsidian, alum, barite and sulphur, which still bubbles up in the island’s many hot springs. As the 11,000-year-old mining industry is gradually giving way to tourism, several chic hotels have made an appearance. Go now, before the trickle of visitors turns into a tide.

Where to stay on Milos:

  • For romance: Milos Cove or Domes White Coast Milos
  • For families: Captain Zeppos
  • For an eco-retreat: Skinopi Lodge
  • For an authentic stay: Achinos By The Sea

Hydra Greek Islands

Best for: A long weekend with the art crowd

You know when Dakis Joannou, Greece's foremost art collector, is on Hydra. His yacht,  Guilty , is painted in gaudy 'camouflage' by Jeff Koons. Every summer, Joannou invites big hitters such as Matthew Barney and David Shrigley to create site-specific installations in the Greek island's old slaughterhouse. Even the school is commandeered for exhibitions in the summer holidays. Car-free and protected by a preservation order, Hydra has always been the artists' muse of the Greek Islands. Leonard Cohen set the scene in the 60s; now Brice Marden, Sadie Coles and Juergen Teller have homes here. Athenian artists take up residence at the School of Fine Arts, one of the vast, grey, stone mansions overlooking the horseshoe harbour. Musicians of all stripes rehearse and record at the  Old Carpet Factory , an 18th-century residence whose double-height ceilings and underground cistern have incredible acoustics.

Less than two hours from Athens , Hydra fills up with chic Greeks at weekends. They come to disconnect and slow down, but also to see and be seen. Wily cats and weary donkeys patrol the back alleys, but all the action happens along the waterfront. Oh look! There's Olivia Palermo at The Pirate Bar and Chloë Sevigny shaking her tail feather at Hydronetta beach bar. Who cares if there are barely any beaches? You can always find a slab of sun-baked rock from which to leap rock from which to dive into the clearest water in the world. See our full guide to  Hydra, Greece .

Where to stay in Hydra:

  • For a boutique stay: Orloff Boutique Hotel
  • For a beachfront stay: Onos Residence
  • For a group: Mirkella sleeps 12 people

Chapel on Sifnos island Greece

Best for: Big, fat Greek feasts

Sifnos owes its foodie reputation to its most famous descendant, Nicholas Tselementes, who wrote the first Greek cookbook in 1910. Forget souvlaki and moussaka: here, chickpea croquettes and stewed capers are taverna staples. The island is peppered with potteries that produce the earthenware casseroles used for revitháda (baked chickpeas) and mastelo (lamb with red wine and dill). Traditional dishes are slow-roasted in a wood-fired oven at To Meraki tou Manoli, a local institution on sheltered Vathy bay. (While you’re there, invest in some timeless tableware from Atsonios Ceramics, in business since 1870.) In postcard-pretty Artemonas, all roads lead to Theodorou, purveyors of nougat wafers and almond sweets since 1933. You can eat in your bikini at Omega3 , where locally foraged and fished ingredients are given an exotic twist: baby-calamari tempura, smoked eel in chilled melon soup with wasabi, and chickpea sorbet with wild apricot jam and pine nuts. In 2021, Omega3’s previous energetic head chef Giorgos Samoilis opened Cantina , an equally experimental restaurant in Seralia, a pretty little bay below the beautiful medieval village of Kastro. Lobsters are plucked straight from the sea at Heronissos, then served with spaghetti on the jetty. It's just the right balance of low-key luxury and unspoiled authenticity. Rather like Sifnos itself.

Where to stay in Sifnos:

  • For romance:  NÓS
  • For a boutique stay:  Verina Astra
  • For families:  Verina Terra
  • For a laidback stay: Sifnos House
  • For something unique:  This windmill Airbnb

Oia Santorini Greek Islands

4. Santorini

Best for: Honeymooners and first-timers

Cooing American and Chinese honeymooners line up to take selfies as the sun sinks behind  Santorini 's caldera, the flooded volcanic crater. That view may be a romantic cliché, but it still takes your breath away. A volcanic explosion blew out Santorini's heart 3,500 years ago, leaving black-sand beaches, vertiginous cliffs in psychedelic hues, and swirling rumours about Atlantis in its wake. The eruption also preserved the ancient city of Akrotiri under layers of ash, and created fertile ground for exceptional Assyrtiko grapes and Vinsanto wines. (Sample them at Domaine Sigalas and Vassaltis wineries, paired with delicate dishes that let the grapes sing.)

Apart from a boat trip to the smouldering crater of Nea Kameni and hot springs at Palia Kameni, there's not much to do but gaze at the mesmerising views from your suite, dangling on the edge of the caldera. Most places to stay are concentrated in Oia and Imerovigli, but the inland village of Pyrgos is up-and-coming. Go for a twilight Bellini at Franco's Cafe and visit Emporio, with its smattering of old-school coffee shops and Airbnbs. For a glimpse of Santorini before the onslaught of cruise ships and Instagrammers, explore the quieter south (but keep your discoveries to yourself).

Where to stay in Santorini:

  • For laidback luxury: Perivolas
  • For glamour: Nobu Hotel
  • For romance: Andronis Boutique Hotel
  • For the wine: The Vasilicos
  • For groups: Elilia Superior Villa sleeps 8 people
  • For something unique: this cave house

For more recommendations, see our guide to the best hotels in Santorini and the  best Airbnbs in Santorini .

Syros Greece

Best Greek island for: Culture and off-season cachet

On Syros, capital of the Cyclades, you won’t find sugar-cube villages and whitewashed lanes. The colourful 19th-century city of Ermoupoli is built on twin peaks – one Orthodox, the other Catholic, the heritage of a long Venetian occupation. There’s still a strong Italian flavour in Ermoupoli’s marble piazzas, princely mansions, and miniature replica of La Scala, the showpiece of a year-round cultural scene. Syros hosts festivals of animation, dance, digital art, film, classical music, jazz and rembetiko, the Greek blues popularised by local musician Markos Vamvakaris. A few rembetiko joints have survived in the upper town, Ano Syros.

Once Greece’s ship-building centre, Syros' industry centres around the yard in Neorio. But the most splendid legacy of the shipping industry are the manor houses in Vaporia and Poseidonia. The beaches are slightly less splendid — with the exception of Delfini, Varvarousa, and Aetos in the wild north. But fabulous seaside tavernas abound:  Iliovassilemar on Galissas beach for samphire and sea-urchin salad and rockfish soup;  Allou Yialou in the pretty seaside village of Kini for lobster with orzo. In Ermoupoli, the finest places to eat and drink are around Androu Street: Ousyra , where the chef plates up Greek-ified pasta and beautifully balanced salads, and  Django Gelato , where the pistachio gelato reigns supreme, and the fig sorbet made in August can sell out in less than half an hour. Perhaps the prettiest restaurant of all is  Mazi , a vine-covered courtyard festooned with bougainvillaea. Before you leave, stock up on loukoumi (rose-tinted Turkish delight) and San Michali cheese from  Prekas delicatessen , and visit Zeyelo for hand-made wooden sunglasses. For more recommendations, see our insider  guide to Syros .

Where to stay on Syros:

  • For a boutique stay: Xenon Apollonos
  • For glamour: Hotel Ploes
  • For romance: Aristide Hotel
  • For groups: Villa Syros sleeps 12 people

Folegrandos in Greece

6. Folegandros

Best Greek island for: Authenticity with a bohemian buzz

The village square should be your first port of call on any Greek island: settle into your favourite café, pick up local gossip, and adjust to the languid pace of life. On Folegandros, this presents a challenge: the cliff-hanger capital, Hora, has not one but three squares, each brimming with a jumble of cafés, tavernas and dinky raki bars. We recommend  Pounta , where the Danish owner makes and sells the lopsided cups and bowls in which your coffee and Greek yogurt are served. From Hora, zigzagging steps lead up, up and away to the only real landmark, Panagia church; make the pilgrimage at sunrise (perhaps after an all-nighter at dimunitive Astarti bar).

Folegandros – which means ‘iron hard’ in ancient Greek – is as barren as its name suggests. Fruit trees are protected from fierce winds by rings of stones. You won’t find sandy beaches lined with sunbeds; only limpid, pebbly coves, such as Katergo, Ambeli and Livadaki. Set in the rocks above Agios Nikolaos bay, Papalagi serves big fat prawns and whole grilled octopus on a wooden deck aligned with the horizon. Water taxis service some beaches in high season; otherwise you’ll have to scramble down rocky footpaths to cool off. On your way home, stop at Mimis or Synantisi in Ano Meria for the island speciality of  matsata (goat or rabbit stew with hand-made pasta).

Where to stay on Folegandros:

  • For views: Anemomilos
  • For families: Anemi
  • For beach access: Blue Sand hotel
  • For a private stay: Maistros

Best for Antiquities active adventures and sunshine all year round  Greece's largest island the birthplace of...

Best for: Antiquities, active adventures and sunshine all year round

Greece's largest island, the birthplace of Zeus,  Crete has ancient ruins, snow-capped peaks and beaches galore. Sunshine is pretty much guaranteed year round, but spring is especially lovely for rambling and sightseeing. The Minoan palace of Knossos is glorious, despite the steady stream of coach parties (go early: it opens at 8am); but there are stunning ancient sites, such as Aptera and Malia, peppered all over the island. The 16km-long Samaria Gorge also teems with pilgrims, but there are hundreds more canyons to explore, often with only the elusive kri-kri (wild goats) for company. One of the most staggeringly beautiful hikes is through the Aradena Gorge in the wild and rugged Sfakia region, ending at Marmara, a translucent cove on the Libyan Sea, for a cooling dip and lunch at one of Crete’s finest tavernas, Dialiskari.

With the exception of Elounda – a pocket of bling popular with oligarchs – the north-east coast is scarred by over-development. Head west to the Amari valley or Apokoronas for authentic villages surrounded by olive and orange groves. Or go south, where you'll find the  best beaches in Crete – try Ligres, Sougia, or Kedrodasos. Alternatively, take a back-to-nature break at Milia Mountain Retreat, a 16th-century hamlet powered entirely by solar energy. Everything on the mostly organic menu is grown, caught or reared locally. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to eat well on Crete, which produces superb cheese, honey and olive oil, as well as delicious goat, rabbit and smoked-pork dishes. Time slows almost to a standstill in the mountain villages, where locals with formidable whiskers welcome you with shots of raki (Cretan grappa) for breakfast and celebrate saints' days with a volley of gunshots. Even the road signs are peppered with bullet holes.

Where to stay in Crete:

  • For families: The Royal Senses Resort & Spa and Cretan Malia Park
  • For romance: Acro Wellness Suites
  • For a great location: Blue Palace Resort & Spa
  • For a village stay: Kapsaliana Village
  • For a private stay: Azure Awe
  • For a group: Cien sleeps 16 people

For more, see our edit of the  best hotels in Crete .

A jetty in Corfu Greece

Best of the Greek islands for: character and lush landscapes

Corfu is the It Girl of the Ionian islands. The cosmopolitan capital is a charming clash of Venetian, British and French colonial influences. Evenings kick off with cocktails on the Liston (a colonnade modelled on Paris's Rue de Rivoli), followed by dinner at  Salto , an unpretentious wine bar and bistro on the edge of the Old Town.

With its pastel villages, rolling olive groves and grand manor houses, the rest of the island recalls  Tuscany – but with some of the  best beaches in Europe . The smart set stay on Corfu's north-east coast (nicknamed Kensington-on-Sea) where the Rothschilds like to unwind. It's wall-to-wall Sloanes and speedboats at Agni, a tiny fishing village with three rival tavernas (Toula's is the best). From here, you can rent a boat and putter to your own cove: perhaps Nissaki, Agios Stefanos or Kerasia. These idyllic bays still resemble the 'delectable landscape' that  Lawrence Durrell fell for in the 1930s – now back in vogue thanks to the ITV series, The Durrells . Or venture inland to  Ambelonas , an enchanting winery, restaurant and cooking school that specialises in unusual local dishes, such as roast pork with quince and crème brûlée with Corfiot kumquats. Steer clear of the south, especially Kavos – unless you happen to like wet T-shirt contests.

Where to stay in Corfu:

  • For a standout spa: Angsana Corfu Resort & Spa
  • For all-inclusive: Ikos Dassia
  • For romance: Domes Miramare
  • For families: Domes of Corfu
  • For groups: Emerald Oasis sleeps 10 people

For more, see our pick of the  best hotels in Corfu .

The 25 best holiday destinations in April 2024

Sarah James

The best holiday destinations in March

Olivia Morelli

The most beautiful restaurants in London

Sophie Knight

Naxos old town Greek Islands

Best for: Endless sandy beaches

Naxiots once made considerable fortunes exporting potatoes, cheese, marble and emery. Locals bequeathed undesirable seaside plots – useless for farming – to their laziest offspring. When tourists cottoned on to the island's scores of fabulous beaches, these wastrels found themselves sitting on gold mines. The west coast of Naxos is fringed with mile upon mile of powdery sands. Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna delight toddlers and teenagers alike with their shallow waters and beach bars. As you head south, the beaches get wilder: Plaka, where you can gallop across the dunes on horseback, Mikri Vigla for windsurfing and kitesurfing, and crystal-clear Kastraki.

Should you tire of frolicking on the shore, three supersized kouros statues are hidden in the hills and there are dozens of drowsy villages to explore. Try kitron, the local citron liqueur, at the Vallindras distillery in Halki or sample homemade wine and arseniko cheese under the plane trees in Ano Potamia village. No wonder Herodotus described Naxos as “the happiest of islands."

Where to stay in Naxos:

  • For romance:  Naxian on the Beach
  • For laidback luxury:  Kavos
  • For a private stay:  Eye of Naxos Sky
  • For families: Hidden Hill

Cephalonia Greek Islands

10. Cephalonia / Kefalonia

Best Greek island for: Laidback family holidays

Casting Penélope Cruz as a Greek peasant is improbable. Shooting a World War II film on an island flattened by an earthquake in 1953 sounds even crazier. And yet  Captain Corelli's Mandolin put under-the-radar Kefalonia (Cephalonia) in the spotlight in 2001. The dramatic scenery still lives up to the hype: milky-white Myrtos beach, the island's pin-up; pine-fringed Horgota beach; and the giddying heights of Mount Ainos, a national park where wild horses roam. Outdoor Kefalonia organises four-wheel-drive safaris, if you can't face the hairpin bends. Surprisingly, the two prettiest seaside villages – Assos and Fiskardo – didn't make the cut. But the yachting set has discovered their photogenic charm. Everyone from John Galliano to Jon Bon Jovi has jumped ashore to taste the seafood pasta at  Tassia Restaurant in Fiskardo, washed down with local Robola and Muscat wines. (We recommend the organic muscat from the 19th century  Haritatos Vineyard in Lixouri, also an enchanting setting for wine tasting.) The rocky coastline around Fiskardo is deliciously pristine: go snorkelling at tiny Dafnoudi or Emblisi, flanked by slabs of limestone that turn the water electric blue.

Where to stay in Kefalonia:

  • For an adult-only retreat:  F Zeen
  • For families:  Emelisse Nature Resort
  • For groups:  Odyssea sleeps 12 people
  • For a private stay:  Wilderness Whisperings house
  • For something unique:  This sky high villa

See our guide to the best hotels on Kefalonia for more.

Chora of Andros island early in the morning.

Best Greek island for: Walking trails and wild beaches

Divided by four mountain ranges, Andros is like several islands in one. Lush valleys, rushing streams, handsome villages, and wild, windswept beaches are connected by a well-maintained network of hiking trails, making this an excellent off-season destination. Many of Greece’s powerful shipping dynasties hail from Andros; they have bequeathed the island with grand estates, splendid museums, and an elegant neoclassical capital. The marble-paved streets of Chora are full of unexpected treasures: a tiny, open-air cinema showing black-and-white classics, great pizzas and cocktails in a  converted slaughterhouse , sublime sundresses and sandals at  Waikiki boutique. Inland, there are fortified monasteries, ice-cold waterfalls, and fantastic farm-to-table tavernas like Kosses in Ano Fellos, Fofo’s in Livadia, and Tou Josef in Pitrofos to explore. And then there are the mind-blowing beaches: from the spectacular sandy bays of Zorkos, Vitali, and Vori on the north coast to the mellow beach bars at Apothikes and Chryssi Ammos, or the sunset views and old-school fish taverna at Agia Marina, there are options for whichever way the wind or your mood is blowing. You could spend weeks on Andros and still have more to discover.

Where to stay on Andros:

  • For a guesthouse stay: Melisses
  • For privacy: Onar
  • For a village stay: Touchstone House
  • For groups: Five Star Greece

Best Greek island for Naturists and purists  The sleeper hit of the Cyclades Serifos is the summer retreat of interior...

12. Serifos

Best Greek island for: Naturists and purists

The sleeper hit of the Cyclades, Serifos is the summer retreat of interior designers and architects who prefer to keep the sandy beaches to themselves. (One French home-owner is so protective of her hideaway that she tells all her friends she summers on nearby Sifnos.) Even in  August , you’ll find coves where you can skinny dip in blissful solitude. That’s because the best beaches (such as Kalo Ambeli and Skala) are only accessible via bone-rattling dirt roads or donkey tracks. Better still, rent a motor boat from the laidback harbour, Livada. Make sure to moor outside Anna’s taverna on Sikamia beach for freshly caught fish and garden-grown salads.

In the cascading hilltop Hora, there’s barely any nightlife, no smart boutiques or fancy hotels. But who cares when you can kick back with fennel pie and raki at  Stou Stratou , pick up Natassa Kalogeropoulou’s minimalist ceramics at  Kerameio , and listen to Greek folk in the open-air amphitheatre? And all less than three hours from Athens.

Where to stay on Serifos:

  • For a boutique stay: Verina Astra
  • For romance: Chill & Co.
  • For groups: Lenia sleeps 12 people
  • For something unique: This 19th century captain’s house

The port in Mykonos Greek Islands

13. Mykonos

Best of the Greek islands for: Decadent parties and five-star hotels

Mykonos had LGBTQ+ clubs and sunrise parties long before rave culture was even invented. Its bohemian allure hasn’t faded since the 1960s, although the once naked beaches now have nail bars, personal trainers and house music pumping out all hours. The influx of supermodels and superyachts has inspired hot new hotels and restaurants. The hippest place to show off your abs is  Scorpios , a louche beach bar that puts Ibiza 's finest in the shade (book a cabana to watch the sunset). After hours, it's always Astra, where you might find Keith Richards chatting up Karolina Kurkova. The LGBTQ+ crowd has dwindled, but drag queens and oiled bodybuilders make a splash at Jackie O' , overlooking Super Paradise beach.

If the glitzy excess gets too much, escape to Fokos taverna for superfood salads and lamb chops, or Kiki's, an off-grid grill-shack overlooking Agios Sostis bay, where even Naomi Campbell has to queue for a table. Or cruise over to the tiny island of Delos, an archaeological sanctuary that once thronged with 30,000 sun worshippers (the temple is dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god of light).

Where to stay in Mykonos:

  • For romance: Cali Mykonos
  • For the party scene: Soho Roc House
  • For a laidback stay: Once in Mykonos
  • For families: Santa Marina resort
  • For groups: Bluewave XL sleeps 36 people

For more recommendations, see our guide to the  best hotels in Mykonos .

Zakynthos Greek Islands

14. Zakynthos / Zante

The best Greek Island for: seaside holidays with toddlers or teens

Zakynthos, or Zante, has shrugged off its reputation as a destination for lads on tour (as long as you avoid Lagana and the built-up south coast) by rebranding itself as one of Greece's greenest islands. It's not just the emerald hills sliding into the electric blue Ionian: much of the south coast is a nature reserve where endangered loggerhead turtles hatch in the sand. The turtle beaches are off limits, but there are countless coves in every hue of green and blue. Favourites are tiny Xigia, with its bubbling underwater springs, and craggy Porto Limnionas, with sunbeds wedged between the rocks and palm-frond umbrellas positioned between the pine trees. Skinari is the starting point for boat trips to the most famous landmarks, the Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach, where a rusting liner leans into the chalky cliffs. From Keri, you can cast away for Marathonisi island, another turtle sanctuary.

The mountainous interior, all sleepy stone villages poking out of pine forests, is great for hikes and bikes. ( Eco Zante can arrange outdoor activities guided by insiders.)  Askos Stone Park is a wildlife sanctuary inhabited by deer, chinchilla, and dozens of other species. After exploring the Venetian castle high above the harbour, treat the kids to thin-crust pizzas (with grown-up toppings like bresaola, aubergine, and gorgonzola) at  Alesta on cute St Mark's Square.

Where to stay in Zante:

  • For families: Porto Zante
  • For romance: Zante Maris Suites and Olea All Suite Hotel
  • For a private stay: Halcyon Seas
  • For a group: Ble Kyma sleeps 12 people

Best for Deepblue seas and wideopen spaces  Its not easy to get tonbspAmorgos. In high winds the fast ferries stay...

15. Amorgos

Best for : Deep-blue seas and wide-open spaces

It’s not easy to get to Amorgos. In high winds, the fast ferries stay grounded and the slow boat takes upwards of eight hours from  Athens . When you disembark at Katapola, a sleepy harbour lined with great little fish tavernas (our favourites are Prekas and Mouragio), a sign announces: 'Welcome to Amorgos. Nobody will find you here.'

That’s just the point. This craggy Cycladic island has always attracted loners, hikers, divers and pilgrims, who shuffle up the cliff face to the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, a sliver of white dangling 300 metres above the sea. The water here is a million shades of blue and so startlingly clear you can see every sea urchin lurking on the rocky shore. Even the sage-scented hiking trails are called Blue Paths, because the sea and sky are visible in all directions.

With a population of under 2,000, the locals are outnumbered by shaggy goats that blend in perfectly with the burnished landscape and hippie vibe. But you don't have to be a recluse to fall for Amorgos. There are plenty of all-day spots and a few late-night bars where Amorgos groupies meet, summer after summer: Jazzmin, in Hora, for backgammon and cocktails; Pergalidi in Langada for herbal infusions and jazzy tunes; Seladi in Tholaria, with giddying views and a telescope for stargazing.

Where to stay on Amorgos: There are very few hotels on Amorgos, beyond basic rooms to let.  Vorina Ktismata is the exception, with seven smart apartments looking out across Hora’s white-washed rooftops.

The harbour in Paxos Greece

Best for: The perfect balance of seclusion and sophistication

One of the tiniest Ionian islands, Paxos packs a big punch. Not for its five-star hotels (there are hardly any) or its sandy beaches (practically none), but for its electric blue sea and three dinky harbour towns, each one so pretty it’s impossible to pick a favourite. In laid-back Loggos, on the northeast coast, star-spangled evenings are spent on the waterfront terrace of Taxidi bar, where the owner, Spiros, often jams with local musicians. You could while away days in the waterfront cafés of Lakka, watching lissom sailors hop on and off their  yachts . Protected from the wind but with a lively social scene, the main port of Gaios is characterised by Venetian architecture and a high quota of stylish Italians, who own pale stone villas hidden in the wooded interior or on the crest of the limestone cliffs along the western shoreline. For the many British Paxos aficionados, all roads lead to  Ben’s Bar , a happy-go-lucky hangout on Monodendri beach, where you can laze under the olive trees with French toast and Piña Coladas. Make sure to rent a motor boat to putter along the coast to pebble coves such as Marmari and Kipiadi, or across to Antipaxos, an even smaller island that’s a hit with the yachting set. Paths through vineyards and orchards trickle down to bays with sea so clear it looks retouched.

Where to Stay in Paxos:

  • For an authentic stay: Paxos Villa
  • For a great location: Oneiro
  • For groups: Panayia View sleeps 14 people

A beach on Lefkada Greek Islands

17. Lefkada

Best for: Sailors, surfers, and superstar beaches

Lefkada is something of an anomaly. Unlike the other Ionian islands, it’s accessible from the mainland via a causeway on the northern tip. It’s also easily reached from the  UK , with direct flights to Preveza, a 40-minute drive. Lefkada’s main town, flattened by an earthquake in the 1950s, certainly won’t take your breath away, but those famous cliff-backed beaches, Egremni and Porto Katsiki, sure will. You’ll find sheltered beaches no matter which way the wind is blowing; but if you’re here for the swell, the south coast is fantastic for windsurfing (head to Vassiliki or Sivota, home to the world windsurfing championships) and Agios Ioannis bay billows with kite-surfers. At Nidri, ignore the unlovely bars and watersports centres, and hop on a boat to explore the little isles nearby. You can  swim through sea caves near Kalamos; eat seared tuna with tarama at Errikos taverna on Meganisi, a favourite of reclusive billionaires; and watch the sunset with a basil-infused Mastiha and tonic at Mylos bar, a converted windmill on Kastos.

Want to cool down or escape the summer crowds? Drive through forests of chestnut and pine into Lefkada’s mountainous interior to the somnolent villages of Karya (home to an enchanting textile museum), Eglouvi (to play backgammon under plane trees) and Exanthia (to watch the setting sun from up in the clouds at Rachi restaurant). You might even see paragliders leaping off the mountain.

Where to Stay in Lefkada:

  • For romance: Ibid
  • For views:  New Morning villa

Ithaca Greece

Best Greek island for: A mythical retreat for lovers and loners

Despite its legendary stature, the homeland of Homer's hero, Odysseus, remains surprisingly under the radar. Ithaca’s turquoise and emerald coves are popular with the sailing set, but few visitors venture into the forested hills. So you might be the only person exploring the eighth-century BC ruins of Odysseus’ palace, or making the heady trek to the church of Anogi, covered in Byzantine frescoes (ask for the key at the village coffee shop, where the owner will cook you a set menu of whatever is available – maybe a tomato salad, some local cheese and braised goat – straight from her garden or neighbours’ fields).

From Anogi, it’s an exhilarating two-hire hike down to Kioni, a miniature port where you’ll find  Spavento , the perfect pier-side café-bar. Go any time of day or night for ice-cream sundaes, excellent cocktails, and a soundtrack to make your heart sing. The waterside tavernas at the drowsy fishing port of Frikes are unfailingly delightful, especially  Ageri . The deep, sheltered harbour town of Vathy is barely livelier, but the mood can be deliciously mischievous at Mylos bar. Beaches are mostly small and pebbly, but the sea is as clear and refreshing as gin. Authentic, unspoiled and infuriatingly (or gratifyingly) hard to reach, rugged little Ithaca is somewhere you can still disappear.

Where to stay on Ithaca:

  • For a private stay: Ithaca Airbnb house
  • For families:  Levendis Estate

Best for Traditional villages and knockout tavernas  Tinos has more than 50 villages each vying to be fairest of them...

Best for: Traditional villages and knockout tavernas

Tinos has more than 50 villages, each vying to be fairest of them all. In Pyrgos, famous for its marble craftsmen, sculpted birds and flowers decorate every doorway. In Volax, basket weavers squat outside cottages surrounded by giant boulders, seemingly flung from the heavens by Zeus in a fit of pique. There's even a village called 'love’, Agapi, where you can tuck into wild-fennel fritters at the only taverna. Tinos takes its food culture seriously: there are artichoke, caper and honey festivals.  Marathia launched the island’s farm- (or fishing-boat-) to-table scene, elevating local ingredients into complex modern dishes. For a perfect meal in perfect surroundings, go for cuttlefish risotto and octopus caramelised in grape must at Thalassaki, served on the jetty in Isternia bay, then watch dusk bleed into the horizon from Exomeria bar.

Tinos is only 20 minutes from Mykonos, so it's a wonder it isn't overrun with tourists. The harbour is swarmed on 15 August, however, when Orthodox pilgrims flock here to kiss the Virgin Mary at the Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria, one of the holiest sites in Greece. Otherwise, the island is miraculously untouched. Solitary chapels and whimsical dovecotes stud thyme-scented hills, dropping to sandy bays whipped by the meltemi wind. There's a nascent surfer scene on Kolibithra bay, where a VW camper van has been converted into a cute beach bar.

Where to stay in Tinos:

  • For a guest house stay: Xinara House
  • For a private stay:  The Detailor  

Best for Stark mystique and showstopping villas  Patmos has an indefinablenbspje ne sais quoi  an otherworldly quality...

Best for: Stark mystique and show-stopping villas

Patmos has an indefinable je ne sais quoi – an otherworldly quality that radiates from its crowning glory, the medieval Monastery of St John. This turreted fortress, bursting with Byzantine relics, is named after John the Divine, who conjured up his apocalyptic revelations in a cave nearby. Pure-white Hora, a World Heritage Site, is where A-listers and fashion editors stay. High walls and heavy doors conceal magnificent mansions dating back to the 16th century. The almighty church has kept nightlife in check. If you must see and be seen, head to quietly glamorous Astivi or Stoa Theo's bar, on miniature Agia Lesbia, in Hora. Beach life is generally languid and low-key; Psili Ammos and Livadi Geranou are our favourite hideouts. Dinner reservations are essential at Benetos, for Med-Asian fusion on an organic farm, and Lambi for grilled fish on a purple pebble beach.

Joining the Patmos in-crowd requires commitment. There's no airport and it's a nine-hour ferry journey from Athens, which keeps the hoi polloi at bay. Seriously reclusive types hop on a fishing boat from Patmos to Marathi and play castaway at Pantelis, a divine taverna with modest rooms to let. Read our full guide to  Patmos , the spiritual Greek island.

Where to stay in Patmos:

  • For a guest house stay: Pagostas
  • For a private stay: Patmos 360
  • For a village stay: Eirini

Rhodes windmills and lighthouse fort Greek Islands

Best for: Travelling back in time

When the writer Lawrence Durrell arrived in Rhodes after World War II, he found an island devastated by centuries of crusaders and invaders. Like the fallen Colossus, it was 'a Rhodes dispersed into a million fragments, waiting to be built up again.' Since then, Rhodes has reinvented itself as one of Greece's top travel destinations. The big draw is the medieval citadel in Rhodes Old Town: stroll along the battlements and you'll spy Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, synagogues and minarets. In the maze of alleys, seek out Marco Polo Mansion, a 15th-century guest-house decorated like a pasha's harem, with an enchanting restaurant in the garden.

Upmarket hotels are clustered around Lindos, its magnificent acropolis surrounded by slate cliffs and emerald coves. Go for the views – and the sublime octopus ragout at Mavrikos restaurant.

As you head south, high-rise resorts give way to stretches of golden sand, such as Glystra, Tsambika, and Fourni. Inland, you'll find alpine forests (Mount Attavyros), hilltop castles (Monolithos), faded frescoes (Saint Nikolaos Fountoukli) and ancient ruins (Kamiros). Marooned on the southern tip, Prasonisi is a powdery peninsula where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean. One side is calm, the other choppy – a metaphor for this island of two halves.

Where to stay in Rhodes:  

  • For romance: Casa Cook
  • For history: Kókkini Porta Rossa
  • For a boutique stay:  Melenos Art Boutique Hotel

Symi Greek Islands

Best for: Castaway coves and a picture-perfect port

Little Symi has the prettiest port in Greece. As you round the headland, neoclassical mansions in every shade of apricot and peach rise like a mirage from the sea. Built by 19th-century sponge and spice merchants, the whole town is now a national monument. You need strong legs to explore – it's about 500 steps up to the crumbling acropolis – but you won't need a car. The only proper road peters out at Panormitis monastery, a major pilgrimage site. Ravishing beaches such as Agios Giorgos Dysalona (backed by monumental cliffs) and Marathounda (where goats will try to filch your picnic) are only accessible by boat or on foot. In the rugged hinterland, more than 100 monasteries are hidden among the pine and cypress forests.

With its laid-back glamour, luminous sea and almost tropical microclimate, Symi is a hit with French and Italian yachties. You'll find them eating flash-fried baby shrimp, a local specialty, at Tholos, a sensational taverna where the harbour views almost steal the show.

Where to stay in Symi:

  • For a hotel stay: The Old Markets
  • For a private stay: On The Rocks

Chora village Astypalea Greek Islands

23. Astypalea

Best for: Escaping the crowds

A throwback to a gentler, slower, more elemental way of life, Astypalea is surprisingly easy to get to (daily one-hour flights from Athens). Every gap in the burnished hills frames a different view of Hora, cascading from the Venetian castle to seaside Skala. The scent of saffron biscuits wafts through the whitewashed lanes. Tucked beneath the battlements, Castro bar has a magical terrace that seems to float above the archipelago.

The nearest beach is Livadi, a sort-of-resort surrounded by citrus orchards. The rest of the island is stark and wild. Treacherous tracks hurtle down to shingle bays such as Vatses, with a rocking beach bar, and Kaminakia, where Linda's farm-to-table taverna serves the best roast goat in the Dodecanese. If you really want to be alone, rent a motorboat from Maltezana, an old-time fishing village, and putter to Koutsomiti and Kounoupes, tiny islands connected by a double-sided beach. At Vathy, a lagoon where erotic graffiti was etched into the rocks 2,500 years ago, the only taverna is called Galini (Peace). Which sums up Astypalea perfectly.

Where to stay in Astypalea: Saluti da Stampalia Suites , with seven subdued but very stylish sea-view rooms, has upped the ante on an island where most accommodation is uninspired.

Elia beach Skiathos in Greece

24. Skiathos

Best Greek island for: Flopping onto a sandy beach with a good book

Skiathos may be the smallest of the Sporades islands, which counts among its number sleepy Alonissos and the pretty  Mamma Mia! location of Skopelos, but it’s by far the most popular, especially with families, who come for the baby powder-soft sandy  beaches and laid-back vibe. The island has some of the finest beaches in Greece, with the tree-lined, turquoise-watered Koukounaries in the south the most celebrated and the busiest (forget about getting a sun lounger here in peak season). Those in the north of the island, which can only be accessed by a steep, winding drive through pine groves, are more rugged and windswept but no less idyllic – emerging onto Elia beach on the west coast, with its crystal-clear sea and rickety wooden taverna, is like stepping into a little slice of paradise.

As dusk falls the town starts to liven up, with most of the action centred around Papadiamantis Street, the main shopping drag. Stroll down it on the way to dinner and browse smart boutiques selling handcrafted jewellery and knick-knacks, or pick up local delicacies from the upmarket Ergon deli (reopens in May), which also has outposts in  Athens , Thessaloniki and Mayfair. The buzziest restaurants are clustered around the harbour, with Bourtzi, perched atop a tiny rocky island, the best spot for sundowner  cocktails and The Windmill a favourite for elegant suppers. For the most charming setting, head to Sklithri and book one of the taverna’s tables right on the beach. Order an ice-cold Mythos beer, baked feta and a platter of perfectly-chargrilled and out-of-this-world delicious vegetables then watch the sun set over the Aegean, with your toes in the sand.

Where to stay in Skiathos:

  • For a hotels stay: Elivi Skiathos
  • For a private stay: Villa Azalea

Boats in the port of Aegina island Greece

Best for:  Low-key authenticity all year round

Unusually for Greece, Aegina is truly an island for all seasons. Only about an hour’s ferry ride from Piraeus, the unpretentious port (briefly the first capital of modern Greece) has a lived-in charm. Athenian weekenders come for the excellent seaside ouzeris; Skotadis, on the harbourfront is the standout. Classicists come to explore the portside antiquities of Kolona, the hilltop temple of Aphaia (allegedly the template for the Parthenon) and the ghostly Byzantine chapels at Paleochora. Canny ex-pats have snapped up properties in Pachia Rachi, a stone village with sensational views across the straits to the Peloponnese. The Dumas family, heirs to the Hermès fortune, have been discreetly spending their summers here for decades. With its soft light and gentle landscapes, Aegina has always been a muse for Greek artists and writers, including the prolific painter Nikos Nikolaou, whose former home and atelier is now an  enchanting guesthouse and museum (open on Saturdays by appointment). Thanks to a tight-knit community of locals, Athenian escapees, and cosmopolitan emigrés, there’s always something interesting afoot: live music at Proka bar or  Il Posto , a cosy Italian restaurant in Kypseli village, an exhibition in the 17th century Markellos Tower, or a travel writing and ceramics retreat at  Oikia Karapanou , one of many stately homes in various states of ruin and repair that dot this incredibly diverse island. The only thing Aegina doesn’t have is great beaches — perhaps that’s what has spared this accessible island from over-development. This is an island that doesn’t depend on foreign tourists and is all the better for it.

Where to stay on Aegina:

  • For a hotel stay: Nikolaou Residence
  • For something unique: this bohemian artist's house
  • For a group: Villa Calypso sleeps 11 people

Best of the Greek islands fornbspCastaway dreams and swimming through caves  Michael Anastassiades Lynda Benglis Savvas...

26. Kastellorizo

Best of the Greek islands for:  Castaway dreams and swimming through caves

Michael Anastassiades, Lynda Benglis, Savvas Laz, Silvia and Nicoletta Fiorucci… the number of artists, designers and their patrons who summer on tiny Kastellorizo is remarkable. Covering less than 5 square miles, with fewer than 500 inhabitants, this sun-blistered fleck lies just over one nautical mile from Turkey’s Anatolian coast. You can sail across to the town of Kaş for kofte and a trawl though the flea market and be back in time for a sundowner at Faros, a day-to-night hangout in the old lighthouse beside the mosque. A confluence of Levantine influences draws a culturally curious crowd to this remote Aegean outpost. Once a thriving maritime economy, Kastellorizo was bombed during World War II and then virtually abandoned. Gradually, the handsome sponge and spice merchants’ houses in vibrant shades of turquoise and terracotta are being revived as artists’ residences (such as Fiorucci’s 4Rooms), or enchanting guesthouses like  Mediterraneo . You can dive straight from Mediterraneo’s sundeck into the port, where sea turtles bob alongside colourful fishing boats. There’s not much action beyond the waterfront strip known as the  kordoni , or shoelace: a little snorkelling, cave swimming, or boat-watching, a ramble along goat tracks, a slow supper of stuffed onions under the fairy-lit plane trees at Ta Platania, or perhaps some yoga in the wild on the even tinier islet of Ro. This is a pure and simple Greece.

Where to stay on Kastellorizo:

  • For a boutique stay:  Casa Mediterraneo
  • For romance:  Mediterraneo
  • For groups:  The Admiral’s House

Antiparos Church Cyclades Greece

27. Antiparos

Best for:  Relaxed cool

This tiny island packs a surprisingly hip scene into its low-slung hills and shallow coves. Most of the action centres around the dinky port, where life drifts by in the waterfront cafés and the lively strip that leads to the square. Every season, more upmarket restaurants ( Yam ,  Lollo’s ) and boutiques ( More than This ,  Zali ) spring up alongside classic dive bars like  Doors and Lucky Luke. At dusk, all roads predictably lead to  Sunset bar for a spritz; after hours, everyone stumbles to cult disco La Luna, where both the décor and music are stuck in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

By day, the scene is way more mellow: brunch at  Margarita’s in town or  Time Marine  on Psaralyki, one of a string of shallow, narrow beaches along the southern coastline. Beyond the modest, boxy houses of the harbour town are dozens of sensational villas designed by in-demand architects. The fanciest properties are scattered around Soros and Agios Georgios bays, where you’ll also find two of the island’s best tavernas,  Peramataki and  Captain Pipinos . The latter is a short boat or kayak ride from Despotiko island, where goats roam around the semi-excavated sanctuary of Apollo. The beauty of Antiparos is that nothing is more than ten minutes away, and after a couple of days, you’ll feel like a regular, bumping into the same good-looking faces wherever you go. If you get cabin fever, you can hop on the 7-minute ferry to Paros for kite surfing, windsurfing, fine dining, or village hopping.

Where to stay on Antiparos:  

  • For a hotel stay: The Rooster
  • For a private stay: Antiparos Escape Villas  and Oliaros

Windmills

Best of the Greek islands for:  Distinctive architecture and good vibes

Long overlooked because of its chequered history – this Dodecanese Island was an Italian naval base from 1912-1943, and later became the site of a notorious insane asylum — Leros is all the better for flying under the radar. The vast natural harbour of Lakki (an excellent marina for sailboats) still bears the surreal hallmarks of Fascist rationalism, an Art Deco mirage that’s like a faded version of Miami on the Med. The colourful neoclassical houses of Agia Marina and Platanos have a more lived-in feel, peppered with appealing patisseries, antique shops, and B&Bs. Italian cognoscenti and Turkish yachties have discovered Leros for one very good reason:  Mylos by the Sea , arguably the best seafood restaurant in Greece, with a hopelessly romantic setting overlooking a windmill jutting out to sea. Sunset watchers converge on  Harris Bar , another windmill poised between the medieval castle of Panagia and Panteli’s pebbly beach. Most beaches on Leros may be small and scrappy, but the water is luminous and there are just enough low-key beach bars like  Zephyros  and  Lime . Since restaurants cater mainly to Greeks, the food scene is authentic and affordable: Thea Artemis taverna on gentle Blefouti bay, Lychnari in Lakki, and the cult souvlaki joint Yparxo in Platanos are local favourites. Although there’s a tiny domestic airport, there are no international flights or big, branded resorts on Leros. Instead, there are family-run guesthouses brimming with character, where you feel more like a friend than a room number.

Where to stay on Leros:

  • For glamour:  Villa Clara
  • For (vegan) romance:  Archondiko Angelou
  • For a private stay:  Lakki Old Farmhouse

Best of the Greek islands fornbspnbspFamily holidays with the smart society set  If it werent for Sotirios Anargyros...

29. Spetses

Best of the Greek islands for:   Family holidays with the smart society set

If it weren’t for Sotirios Anargyros, Spetses might be as barren as its more bohemian neighbour, Hydra. In the early 20th century, after making a killing in tobacco, Anargyros bought up huge swathes of the island and planted thousands of pine trees. Anargyos also founded the famous boarding school (whose grounds are a lovely spot for an evening stroll) that inspired a certain English teacher to write ‘The Magus’, and built the Poseidonion, a grand harbourfront hotel that has been gloriously restored (there’s no finer place for an aperitivo). From the heirloom-filled mansions built on shipping fortunes to the horse-drawn carriages and tasteful yachts, the whole place reeks of old money. But there’s plenty of new-fangled fun too: late-night bars ( Bikini  or retro-cool  Bar Spetsa ), two open-air cinemas, stylish boutiques ( The Closet , whose resident cats are an attraction) and expensive restaurants ( Patralis  and  Tarsanas  vie for the best fish soup). In the summer, Spetses is a sociable place to see and be seen. But it’s also lovely off-season, when you can hike the gentle green hills or cycle the coastal road that circles the island (there’s even a Tweed Run in October). Compact, well-kept, and easily accessible from Athens (2-3 hours by catamaran), Spetses is a people-pleaser for all ages and seasons.

Where to stay on Spetses:

  • For glamour:  Poseidonion Grand Hotel
  • For families:  Orloff Resort
  • For a private stay:  Magus House
  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Sweepstakes
  • Beach Vacations

Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Perfect Greek Islands Vacation

First-timers often describe their trip to "the Greek islands," as if they were one monolithic entity, easily popped into and out of and in between, like boutiques in a mall. It's only once a visitor gets to know the country that the magnitude and diversity of the archipelagos becomes clear. The truth is, there are more than 200 inhabited Greek isles (and about 6,000 islands total). Each inhabited island has its own character, from the white-and-blue houses on the Cyclades islands to the lush, green Ionian islands to the castle-lined Dodecanese islands.

Overall, Greece has six main island groups, plus a significant stand-alone: Crete. It's generally easiest to travel between islands within one group than to archipelago-hop. In this guide, we'll break down the best Greek islands to visit, including what each island group is known for, and how to travel within each archipelago.

Getting Around the Greek Islands

While many of the Greek islands have airports, not all of them are international. Many of the islands are serviced solely by domestic carriers like Aegean Airlines , and you can only fly from neighboring islands or Athens. However, some of the most popular islands have international airports (like Crete, Santorini, and the like), where you can fly directly from cities in Europe or the Middle East.

Traveling by ferry makes island hopping simple, especially if you're staying within one archipelago. In the Cyclades Islands, Seajets is the high-speed ferry, though travelers can find all options (including less expensive ferries) via Greek Ferries. It is possible, of course, to rent a car in Athens — or on one of the islands — and drive it onto the ferry, essentially turning your island-hopping excursion into a seafaring road trip. However, it's simple to rent a car on each of the islands, too, provided you have an international driver's license with you.

When to Visit the Greek Isles

May, June, andSeptember are great months to visit the Grecian isles if you're looking for nice weather but still hoping to avoid the crowds. The high season (mid-June to mid-September) offers more ferry routes and flight options. It's also when you'll find the most open restaurants and beach bars to choose from, but that comes with more tourists to compete with and higher prices. Each island group has its own weather to look into — Crete is warmest year-round, making it a great choice for late fall or winter. And while some islands, such as Hydra, are full of locals and see tourists year-round, others, such as Santorini, get very quiet in the off-season (November to March). Here, we've put together an overview of each group of islands (and the highlights of each archipelago) to help you plan your next Grecian adventure.

The Cyclades Islands

Monica Farber/Travel + Leisure

This archipelago is the most common first stop for American travelers in Greece, with two of the most-visited islands: Mykonos and Santorini. A group of 24 inhabited islands (and 220 total isles), this bunch looks like all the postcards of Greece you've seen: white churches with blue domes and pink bougainvillea vines shading secluded side streets.

Mykonos is known for its nightlife and see-and-be-seen beaches, but it also has a gorgeous Cycladic village in its center, with windmills and winding lanes that were meant to stymie pirates centuries ago. Santorini is romantic and luxurious, beloved by honeymooners lounging in their private pools overlooking the caldera. For those looking for alternatives to Mykonos and Santorini, options abound. Up-and-coming Milos has otherworldly beaches and the famed Kleftiko caves, Tinos is the site of a famous church to the Virgin Mary, and the rustic Lesser Cyclades (Koufonisia, Donousa, Schinoussa, and Iraklia) are great for camping. There are large islands, like Naxos and Syros, the archipelago's capital, and tiny ones with very little tourism, like Sikinos.

How to Travel the Cyclades Islands

The tourist season on the Cycladic islands runs from mid-April to mid-October (peaking in June, July, and August). If it's your first time in the area, you'll certainly want to start by visiting either Mykonos or Santorini. In Santorini, you'll find great wineries, like Venetsanos and Santo , while on Mykonos, it's the nightlife that will keep you coming back, with iconic clubs like Scorpios and Super Paradise . When exploring some of the smaller islands, like Ios, Folegandros, and Milos, swim, snorkel, and wander the fortress-like capital of each island whose cobbled alleyways are home to shops, galleries, bars, and tavernas (on most islands the main town is called "Chora"; on Milos, it's "Plaka"). And don't miss sailing adventures on the Cycladic islands — look into companies like Polco Sailing on Milos and Sunset Oia Cruises on Santorini.

Where to Stay

On Santorini, start your trip by staying amidst the iconic, cliffside white-and-blue houses of Oia at Andronis Luxury Suites . Next, move along the caldera to Imerovigli, where you'll find some of the most over-the-top and romantic hotels, including Andronis Concept Wellness Resort and Grace Hotel, Auberge Resorts Collection . Finally, stay a night in the old town of Pyrgos at Santorini Sky .

On Mykonos, start your vacation at The Wild Hotel by Interni , which has a luxurious boutique atmosphere and — best of all — a private beach open only to hotel guests. For more of a honeymoon experience, spend a few exceptionally romantic nights at Kalesma Mykonos , where each suite has its own infinity-edge pool.

Elsewhere in the Cyclades, look for luxury boutique hotels (many, like The Wild and Kalesma, will be family owned). Try Milos Breeze on Milos, Coco-Mat Eco Residences on Serifos, Calilo on Ios, and the Naxian Collection Luxury Villas & Suites on Naxos.

The largest Greek island (and the southernmost, roughly halfway between Europe and Africa), Crete could be a country unto itself, with its own customs, climate, accent, and cuisine. Because there's so much to explore in Crete, generally travelers opt to focus their energy on the 160-mile-long island rather than straying to other archipelagos.

How to Travel on Crete

The island has two main airports, making Crete very easy to get to from Athens. Once on the island, you will want to rent a car; it takes about six hours to drive from one end of Crete to the other.

On Crete, explore beaches like Elafonissi, with its unparalleled pink sand, and Elounda, which is known for its five-star beach clubs. Hike the Samaria Gorge (which takes five to seven hours through streams and between cliffs), or walk through wildflowers along paths in the mountain villages. Visit the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, home of the Minoan empire (and the dreaded Minotaur monster), and the Boutaris winery if you're an oenophile interested in sampling Cretan wines. Finally, if you have time for a day trip, the isle of Spinalonga, off the coast of Elounda, is worth visiting for its wild beauty and tragic history — it was used as a colony for people affected by leprosy until the middle of the last century.

Where to Stay on Crete

A hillside of olive groves sloping down to sandy beaches, the Elounda peninsula has become something of a Cretan Riviera, lined with swanky resorts including Crete's only Relais & Chateaux property, the Elounda Mare , as well as one of Crete's newer hotels, Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa .

Outside of Heraklion is family-friendly, five-star, beachfront resort Amirandes , part of the national Grecotel chain (take a detour to have dinner on their farm, Agreco ). Moving west, you'll find the well-preserved Venetian town of Rethymnon, and more historic boutique options like Kapsaliana Village Hotel , a transformed 18th-century olive press, and Casa Delfino , a renovated 17th-century mansion outside the port of Chania.

Saronic Gulf Islands

The closest island group to Athens is also home to some of the most scenic, under-the-radar isles. Hydra, Spetses, Poros, Aegina, and little Agistri are popular with Greek weekenders and European visitors, but are less known to Americans.

How to Travel the Saronic Gulf Islands

The Nantucket of Greece, car-free Hydra is tiny but mighty. Spetses has green pine trees, horse and carriages trotting along the waterfronts, and yachts parked in the harbor. Family-friendly Poros, with a large, cute town dominated by a clock tower and tree-shaded beaches, is popular with sailing aficionados. Aegina, the closest island to Athens, has a large port town, four sandy beaches, and its very own ruin, the temple of Athena Aphaia. Because the Saronic Gulf islands are so close to Athens, getting here is simple: A hydrofoil from the port of Piraeus ferries you from Athens to each of these destinations.

Hydra and Spetses are brimming with converted captains' homes (we like the Cotommatae on Hydra and Orloff Resort on Spetses). On Poros, Sto Roloi is a collection of traditional island houses turned into holiday villas, while Sirene Blue Resort offers a more luxurious take on Poros accommodations. A private villa rental is also an option, especially on Aegina where weekend homes outshine the hotels. And the jewel in the crown of the Saronic Gulf is Spetses' harborfront Poseidonion Grand Hotel, established in 1914, which is just as grand as its name suggests.

The Ionian Islands

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

Lush and green, the Ionian Islands (also known as the "seven islands" or "Eptanissia") offer unique local culture, music, art, cuisine, and architecture. While the Ionians are known, first and foremost, for Corfu, the six other main islands hold their own and attract their fair share of tourists, too.

How to Travel the Ionian Islands

On Corfu, you'll want to wander the streets of Old Town, which is protected by UNESCO. Near Corfu, tiny Paxos is covered in olive trees, with three charming bays and a satellite island, Antipaxos, known for its translucent waters. Kefalonia, the largest island in size, has wild horses running around Mount Aenos in its center. Zakynthos is home to Shipwreck Beach, accessible only by sea, and iconic blue caves you can swim through. Lefkada, connected to the mainland by a bridge, has woodland villages in the middle and some of Greece's best beaches along its shores. Small Ithaka, known to Homer fans as the home of Odysseus, is still relatively undiscovered. Finally, Kythera is the outlier—it looks more Cycladic than Ionian and is more easily reached from the Peloponnese.

Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Kythera all have airports, which receive domestic flights from Athens as well as international charters and airlines.

On Corfu, options range from modern luxury seaside resorts like the Grecotel Corfu Imperial to historic 18th-century estates in the Tuscan-like interior such as the Pelecas Country Club . Near Old Town, Banyan Tree recently opened their first European property on Corfu, and the gorgeous seaside enclave has 159 rooms and lavish pool villas.

On Kefalonia, there's ultra-modern Tesoro Blu in Skala, and the Emelisse Art Hotel is a gem outside the picture-perfect town of Fiscardo. Its sister property on Ithaka, the Perantzada , is a contemporary hotel within a 19th-century mansion on the harbor in Vathy. Little Paxos is all villa rentals and rooms to rent except for a few intimate hotels, like Paxos Beach and Paxos Club Resort & Spa . On Zakynthos, Porto Zante Villas & Spa is a swanky oasis on the busy eastern coast, and in the quiet north of the island, near the blue caves, Nobelos is a four-suite, family-run hotel beloved for its organic restaurant.

The Sporades Islands

There are 24 of these green islands off of the northeastern coast of mainland Greece, but only four are inhabited — and if you've seen "Mamma Mia , " you know what they look like. Dark green pine trees, white churches, and lots of sand, rocks, and singing. It's all part of the Sporades experience.

How to Travel the Sporades Islands

Buzzy Skiathos is famous for its gold-sand beaches and nightlife, while low-key Skopelos is a natural paradise of white pebble coves, oak forests, monasteries, traditional villages, and lots of shipwrecks off the coast in the National Marine Park. Alonissos is at the center of the National Marine Park, a great base for fishing, bird-watching, and spotting the protected Mediterranean monk seal. Finally, Skyros is known for its ceramics and local crafts, churches, and gorgeous Chora, a mountaintop capital crowned by a Venetian castle.

To get to the Sporades Islands, thereare direct flights from Athens to Skiathos and Skyros. Skiathos is also served by a ferry from Thessaloniki. In summer, hydrofoils sail to all four islands from the port of Agios Konstantinos on the mainland. Each of the Sporades connects to the other by ferry or boat.

On these four islands, tourism is all about sailing, swimming, mountain biking, sea kayaking, and hiking. Hit the beaches — Skiathos's swanky Ambelakia to see and be seen, Skyros's Kalamitsa for wind-surfing, Skopelos's Hovolo for pine-scented breezes. And above all, do not miss sailing, swimming, or scuba diving in the National Marine Archaeological Park.

There are villas to rent all over the islands (like the ones with private pools run by Poikilma Villas on Alonissos). For a more full-service hotel, try the family-run Atrium Hotel above Agia Paraskevi beach in Skiathos, or the Adrina Resort on the beach in Skopelos.

The Northeast Aegean Islands

This collection of 13 islands (the five most notable being Ikaria, Samos, Limnos, Lesvos, and Chios) are the area of Greece closest to Turkey. For your journey here, you'll be richly rewarded with incredible beaches and natural wonders (a petrified forest on Lesvos, volcanic rocks and sand dunes on Limnos, and thermal springs on Ikaria).

How to Travel the Northeast Aegean Islands

Limnos, Lesvos (also known as Mytilene), and Samos all have international airports, and Chios and Ikaria have domestic ones.There are several ferries from the port of Piraeus in Athens that can take you to these islands as well.

Visit the archaeological sites of the Temple of Hera on Samos, the acropolis on Thassos, the ancient city of Ifestia on Limnos, and the magnificent castle atop Lesvos. While these islands are known for their history, they're also known for their water sports. Keros Beach on Limnos is one of the best places to kite or windsurf in Europe. As for swimming, it's hard to beat the Seitani coves on Samos, Kipos beach on Samothrace, white-sand Seychelles on Ikaria, and Vatera on Lesvos.

Time-travel back to when Genovese nobility ruled Chios and stay at the majestic Argentikon Luxury Suites in a 16th-century estate. Sleep above popular Tsamadou beach at the Armonia Bay Hotel on Samos, overlooking the sea at Toxotis Villas on Ikaria, or on the beach in a luxury safari tent through Surf Club Limnos .

The Dodecanese Islands

This archipelago gets its name from the Greek number 12 (dodeca) because it contains — you guessed it — 12 main islands and multiple smaller ones. Rhodes and Kos are the two largest islands, while the smaller 10 are quieter and less discovered.

How to Travel the Dodecanese Islands

Rhodes and Kos have international airports (making them popular with charter flights from England and Germany), and Astypalaia, Kalymnos, and Karpathos receive domestic flights. All 12 main islands are served by ferries from the port of Athens, Piraeus.

Rhodes is known for its beautifully preserved walled city with Crusader castles and an ancient synagogue. And in the town of Lindos, there's an ancient Greek acropolis at the top of the hill, a medieval village in the middle, and a modern town on the beach at the bottom. On adjacent islands, you'll want to visit the mansions of Kassos, the brightly painted houses of Kastelorizo, and the hilltop Chora of Astypalea, one of the prettiest fortified villages in all of Greece. For a more active Greek isles experience, retreat to Karpathos to hike or windsurf, or scuba dive amid the World War II wrecks on Leros.

On Rhodes, soak in the atmosphere at Melenos Lindos , a 17th-century building with a pebbled mosaic roof deck offering sea views, set into the hill just under the Acropolis. On Astypalaia, the island's breathtaking Chora is both the inspiration for, and the location of, Pylaia Hotel , which has a pool, spa, and ocean views from the Plori restaurant at its peak. And finally, on Patmos, overlooking the sea (and the famous Kalikatsou rock), luxe Petra Hotel and Suites is equally convenient to the beach and the Monastery of St. John.

greek island visit

The Times & The Sunday Times

  • South Africa
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • New Zealand
  • Dominican Republic
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • City breaks
  • GREEN TRAVEL
  • Staycations
  • Best uk hotels

Best Greek islands to visit

greek island visit

James Litston

Destination Expert

Wednesday October 4 2023, 13:33pm

Mykonos and Santorini may be the obvious stars of the show, but the scattered isles of Greece play host to plenty of other headline acts. From the Cyclades to the Dodecanese and across to the Ionian, each and every island group has standout attractions to put it on any must-visit list. The secret to their unfailing appeal is diversity; no matter what type of sunshine-filled holiday you seek, you’ll find it somewhere among the forest-backed beaches of Skiathos, the car-free calm of Hydra, the clifftop vistas of Santorini or the non-stop buzz of Mykonos. And with less well-known Ios and Evia alongside tourist hotspots such as Kos, your pick of the best Greek islands to visit can be as lively — or as peaceful — as you please.

Main photo: the shipwreck beach on Zakynthos (Getty Images)

This article contains affiliate links, which may earn us revenue

1. Skiathos

Best for  beautiful beaches Petite  Skiathos  punches above its weight in terms of coastal chic. Home to some of Greece’s most picture-perfect beaches, this is a place where bottle-green pines descend from the hilly interior to meet the Aegean, casting natural shade for bohemian days beside the sea. Four of the island’s best beaches — Big Banana, Little Banana, Ampelakia and legendary Koukounaries — lie within walking distance of Elivi Skiathos, making this high-end hideaway an ideal place to stay. Mix things up with trips into Skiathos Town, where harbour-view cocktail bars and gourmet restaurants are the scene of lively street parties pretty much every summer night.

Book a trip

  • Best hotels in Skiathos

Skiathos is one of the best Greek islands to visit

Best for sand between your toes With its 180-mile coastline, Kos — the third-largest Dodecanese Island — has plenty of seaside appeal. From the white sands of Tigaki beach to the crystal-clear waters of Paradise beach, there’s a stretch of sandy shore to suit everyone. Even Kos Town has its own lovely beach at Lambi, which is walking distance from the adult-only Lango Design Hotel & Spa, a boutique retreat that’s a world away from the island’s many mass-market resorts. Don’t forget to head inland to find ancient temples at Asclepeion or the mountain village of Zia for local tavernas and sunset views. 

Tigaki beach in Kos – one of the best Greek islands to visit

Best for sophisticated stays Ios may have a reputation for youthful, all-summer-long partying, but it’s easy to bypass the big nights out in favour of classier experiences. Much of the raucousness takes place at the far end of Mylopotas beach, but its quieter end has upmarket beach clubs and, above them, the hillside Hideout: a 12-strong collection of luxury suites and villas with private verandas and infinity pools. Boat trips can zip you down the coast for swims at lonely, wild beaches, while Ios Town’s characterful jumble is great for sunset drinks, lively restaurants and ferries to Paros, Santorini and Mykonos . 

Hideout suites and villas in Ios – one of the best Greek islands to visit

Best for hiking and history Greece’s largest island, Crete, is very well known, but Evia, the next in line, flies rather more under the radar. Though popular with weekending Athenians (for whom it’s easily reached by car), foreign visitors are fewer here, so it feels authentically Greek. Euboea in the north is known for its mineral-rich hot springs; or look to the south, where Eretria offers temples, ruins, the House of Mosaics and a tonne of seaside tavernas. Elsewhere, there are walking trails that pass waterfalls and mountain heights; plus comfortable places to stay, such as Brown Beach Evia Island, a luxury all-inclusive resort.

The village of Amarynthos in Evia – one of the best Greek islands to visit

Best for  variety As Greece’s biggest island, Crete essentially ticks every box. It has sandy beaches, serious mountains and myth-laden archaeological sites, plus accommodation from boutique hotels to all-inclusive resorts with sports facilities and kids’ clubs. Its southerly position gives it the longest summer of any Greek island and some of the warmest winters in Europe. From built-up seafronts to pristine coves, there are shores to suit every sunseeker, alongside mountains and gorges for active pursuits and the palace at Knossos for antiquity buffs. Find the best of all worlds at Asterion Suites & Spa: a boutique retreat with design-led rooms and an excellent Cretan restaurant that’s close to historic Chania and touristy Platanias with its shops, bars and restaurants.

Asterion Suites & Spa in Crete, one of the best Greek islands to visit

  • Best things to do in Crete
  • Best all-inclusive hotels in Crete
  • Best family hotels in Crete

Best for  lush landscapes Easily reached via direct flights from Britain, Corfu  is one of the greenest Greek isles. Beyond its rugged slopes dressed in olive trees, pencil-thin cypresses and some 400 types of wildflower, this Ionian island is scattered with nearly 60 stunning beaches and hidden coves. Dassia and Kontokali are a hit for family holidays, or try wilder Rovinia: accessible only by boat or on foot. For a cultural fix, head to Corfu Town and its hotchpotch of Venetian, British, French and Greek architecture, history and cuisine. Or get away from it all by checking into the peaceful Olivar Suites — complete with a beach bar and 300-year-old olive grove.

Paleokastritsa on Corfu, one of the best Greek islands to visit

  • Best things to do in Corfu
  • Best all-inclusive hotels in Corfu
  • Best villas in Corfu

Best for families Rhodes  is by far the best Greek island for families. As well as calm beaches offering safe swimming, there are oodles of days out away from the sand and plenty of convenient flights from the UK. In mythology, this was the island of the sun god Helios, a statue of whom (the Colossus of Rhodes) was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Roman, Ottoman and Venetian occupations have all left their mark on Rhodes Town, one of the most atmospheric island capitals in Greece. Not travelling with kids? Stay at adult-only Sentido Port Royal Villas & Spa, whose position on a headland gives it both sunrise and sunset views.

Sentido Port Royal Villas & Spa in Rhodes, one of the best Greek islands to visit

  • Best hotels in Rhodes
  • Best villas in Rhodes

Best for summer hedonism Mykonos  has been the Aegean’s top spot for the jet set since the 1960s, when Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly and Jackie Onassis holidayed here. Today’s high-rollers splash cash at expensive beach clubs such as Nammos and Scorpios, but if that’s not your scene there are plenty of spots where the lunch bill won’t make your eyes water. Come the evening, attention turns to gorgeous Mykonos Town, which is home to Semeli Hotel — a luxurious retreat with gourmet dining, friendly staff and a lovely pool that’s only a ten-minute walk from the waterfront and its famous windmills.

Windmills on Mykonos, one of the best Greek islands to visit

  • Best things to do in Mykonos
  • Best luxury villas in Mykonos
  • Best hotels in Mykonos

Best for  ferry-free island-hopping You don’t have to be a seafarer to consider a trip to Lefkada. This Ionian isle can be reached from the mainland by driving over a floating bridge, which makes it super-straightforward to access from nearby Preveza airport. Unspoilt mountains, untouched villages and plenty of adventures await (such as world-class windsurfing and sailing off stunning beaches). Explore it all from the comfortable base of Papadria Villas, three contemporary units on a private compound near a beach and lively Lefkada Town. There’s a pool, outdoor dining and support from a concierge team.

Porto Katsiki beach on Lefkada, one of the best Greek islands to visit

10. Santorini

Best for  romantic retreats Sugar-cube houses, blue-domed churches and epic volcano views: is it any wonder that Santorini is such an enduring Greek icon? From sunsets in Oia and nights out in Fira to lazy days by your own private plunge pool, this is an island that’s best experienced à deux. Sure, there are beach hotels on the island’s gentler eastern shore, but the most memorable Santorini stays are in cave hotels carved into the flooded caldera’s steep cliffs. Among the many options is Ikies Santorini, where 13 luxury suites on the fringes of Oia have exquisite sea views.

Ikies Santorini in Santorini, one of the best Greek islands to visit

  • Best things to do in Santorini
  • Best cave hotels in Santorini
  • Best villas in Santorini

Best for  car-free cool In-the-know Athenians love Hydra , an unrushed island that’s close to the city (just two hours away by ferry). Its one town has been inspiring artists and writers since the 1950s, including Leonard Cohen (who wrote Bird on the Wire here) and has long drawn famous faces ranging from pop stars to Princess Diana, earning it the nickname of the “St Tropez of Greece”. The town’s stone mansions and whitewashed houses cascade down to the port, which is free from the noise of cars and motorbikes (both are banned here). Stay shoreside at Mandraki Beach Resort, a five-star boutique property beside a bay.

Hydra harbour -  Hydra is one of the best Greek islands to visit

12. Skopelos

Best for  Abba fans Sand may be comfortable to lie on, but if you’re not a fan of it getting into everything you own, the pebble beaches of Skopelos are for you. Better still, the absence of sand means that the sea is clear and aquamarine, making for incredibly memorable dips. Though best known as a setting for the movie Mamma Mia! , the island thrills with its two red-roofed towns, Skopelos Town and Glossa, and an interior that’s emerald with forests. Stay in step with nature by booking into Natura Luxury Boutique Hotel, where rooms come dressed in earthy tones and up-to-date furnishings.

The beach at Agnotas on Skopelos, one of the best Greek islands to visit

13. Cephalonia

Best for  spotting sea turtles Home to Myrtos beach and the setting for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin , Cephalonia  has to be one of the best Greek islands to visit. Beyond lazy days at its busy beach resorts or sleepy villas tucked into the countryside, there are ruined villages to explore (a legacy of the 1953 earthquake) and, in Argostoli, the chance to spot loggerhead turtles swimming in the harbour. The unhurried approach to island life lends itself to relaxing escapes: an ethos that’s fully embodied at F Zeen Retreat, an adult-only haven with its own spa, open-air cinema and private beach.

A sea turtle in the harbour at Argostoli on Cephalonia, one of the best Greek islands to visit

  • Best villas in Cephalonia
  • Best hotels in Cephalonia

Best for  yesteryear appeal This rocky Dodecanese island of former boat-builders, merchants and sponge divers was once the wealthiest in the archipelago. Today it’s home to just a tenth of its 19th-century population, but numbers swell with day-trippers arriving by ferry from nearby Rhodes. Peace returns when they depart, save for the laughter and tinkling of glasses on the waterfront of Gialos and the upper village of Chorio, whose labyrinth of narrow streets was designed to befuddle sea pirates. Symi’s horseshoe bay and neoclassical buildings in sorbet shades are lovely. One such mansion has been reborn as the 1900 Hotel, where the vintage elements and charming ambience evoke another era.

The harbour at Symi, one of the best Greek islands to visit

15. Zakynthos

Best for that world-famous shipwreck Its south-coast resorts may be known for cheap drinks and an all-night party scene, but Zakynthos (or Zante) is magical to visit. Its biggest beach, Laganas, is home to the loudest built-up resort, but even here there are surprises in the form of a National Marine Park. There’s another, more famous beach at the other end of the island, however: Navagio, upon whose white pebbles sits a picturesque shipwreck that’s one of the most iconic images of Greece. Equally memorable is the food at Anadalis, one of Zakynthos’s best restaurants, located in the seaside resort of Argasi’s Windmill Bay Hotel.

The shipwreck beach on Zakynthos, is one of the best Greek islands to visit

  • Best villas in Zakynthos
  • Best hotels in Zakynthos

Take me there

Inspired to visit Greece but yet to book your trip? Here are the best packages from Tui and  B A Holidays

greek island visit

The World Was Here First

The Perfect 7 to 10 Days in the Greek Islands Itinerary

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.

greek island visit

Planning the perfect Greek islands itinerary is often top of the list for visitors to Southern Europe. Year after year, Greece tops the list of best holiday destinations in Europe. Could it be the friendly locals, the amazing cuisine, or the gorgeous islands that bring visitors back?

Of course, it’s all of the above, but Greece has so much to offer to a first-timer that it can often be confusing knowing where to start. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered with this Greek island hopping itinerary showcasing the most iconic destinations in Greece.

Read on to discover the perfect way to spend 7 to 10 days in the Greek islands.

Table of Contents

How Many Days in the Greek Islands?

With 227 inhabited Greek islands to explore, you could spend a lifetime exploring golden beaches and white-washed towns.

There are six major groups of islands in Greece, and most travellers choosing a first-time Greek islands itinerary will opt for the famous Cyclades.

Of course, the delightful Dodecanese, the iconic Ionian (like Kefalonia and Corfu ) and the sleepy Saronic islands are all worth their own trips. But ferries often link islands in the same group, so sticking to one chain will be easier and will allow you to effortlessly hop from island to island.

In my experience, 7 days in the Greek islands will serve as a snapshot into this amazing corner of the world.

But if time allows it, you should try and spend at least 10 days in the Greek islands – the sleepy villages, warm evenings and views from the ferries are intoxicating and addictive!

Sunny Mykonos

Getting To & Around the Greek Islands

Most visitors to Greece will arrive at Athens International Airport, the largest in the country. Get your bearings in the capital then head to the port of Piraeus, then onto the islands. Santorini and Mykonos airports also serve European arrivals in the busy summer months.

The obvious, and the most iconic and idyllic way to make your way around your Greek island hopping route is using Greece’s extensive ferry network.

Ferries run frequently, and price affects quality and journey time. Slow boats are cheaper, but SLOW – whilst fast boats are more expensive and quicker. But note due to bad weather, fast boats generally only run during the summer.

You should book any peak-season ferries well ahead of time, tickets for fast boats can sell out well in advance. You can book ferries online here.

On the islands, public transport in peak season is quite efficient, so unless you want to get off the beaten track, you shouldn’t need your own transport. If you do decide to rent a car, you can browse options here.

Port Piraeus

7-10 Day Greek Islands Itinerary

So, pack your flip flops, get your best Instagram hat, and make sure your camera is charged as we’re about to embark on the ultimate Greek island-hopping itinerary!

If you only have 7 days in the Greek islands, it’s perfect for a classic Athens-Santorini-Mykonos itinerary (with a stop on another island as well). If you have 10 days, you will have more time to visit even more islands.

Day 1 – Athens

Athens, the vibrant, unorthodox, love-it-or-hate-it capital is where most Greek adventures start.

The first stop during your day in Athens is the Acropolis. Visible from across the city, with temples dating back nearly 2,400 years, the jewel in the crown is the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the city’s namesake Athena.

Heading downhill from the Acropolis, investigate the Ancient Agora, littered with statues and ruins including the incredible temple of Hephaestus.

Exploring atmospheric Monastiraki square will lead you down alleys to shops filled with everything as well as delightful tavernas. There are plenty of accommodation options in this area.

A must-see is the changing of the guard at the parliament. Every hour the elaborately dressed presidential guard, the Evzones, march in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier.

For dinner, explore the hip Athens neighbourhood of Psiri, stopping at the delicious Lithos Tavern, before drinks at 360 Cocktail bar, with illuminated views of the Acropolis.

If you have more time in Athens, you can also opt to take a day trip to Delphi or Meteora before heading onto the Greek islands.

Parthenon temple on the Acropolis

Where to Stay in Athens

Athens Ivy Suites – If you’re visiting Athens on a mid-range budget then this hotel is a good option. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms on offer, a great location for seeing the highlights of the city and a terrace with beautiful panoramic views. Click here to check availability

The Modernist Athens – Luxury travellers will love this 4-star hotel in Athens. Located in the perfect spot for exploring the highlights of the Greek capital, they have a number of bright and modern rooms available and plenty of other amenities to enjoy. Click here to check availability

101 Adrianou Apartments – This aparthotel gives you the convenience of having your own flat while staying in Athens with the amenities of a hotel. They have a range of fully-furnished apartments on offer and a location perfect for exploring the Greek capital. Click here to check availability

City Circus Athens – This hostel is a great option for those pinching pennies in Athens (or who simply want a social atmosphere). They have both private rooms and dorms available, a great location and they organise social events for guests, as well. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Athens hotels!

Day 2 – Mykonos

Start early and head to the port of Piraeus, before boarding a high-speed ferry destined for the Island of the Winds, Mykonos .

Your first stop should be to explore the beautiful main town of Chora. A maze of winding alleyways filled with shops, churches and whitewashed houses with painted shutters.

Explore the waterfront, stopping to admire the Paraportiani church, which is five separate chapels that are all built together. Look out for the island’s mascot Petros the Pelican, who can often be found taking an afternoon walk in this area.

Little Venice is full of restaurants and cocktail bars with excellent views over the water. Mykonos is a foodie heaven, but book ahead in the summer months – try M-Eating or Eva’s Garden for delicious cuisine.

There are a myriad of cute pensions and hotels in Chora, ideal for couples. If you want something more luxurious head to Elia beach, or if you like to party stay at Paradise Beach. There are countless beautiful beaches on Mykonos so you can’t really go wrong.

Square in Chora

Where to Stay in Mykonos

Panormos Village – This lovely hotel located on the North Coast of Mykonos is a great option for those looking for a mid-range option on the island. They have a range of wonderful rooms on offer, have breakfast included each morning and there is even a swimming pool for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability

ELA Boutique Hotel & Spa – This boutique hotel located close to Elia Beach is fantastic for those looking for a great luxe option in Mykonos where cost isn’t a factor. They have a number of rooms available, a great terrace and breakfast served each morning. Click here to check availability

Alissachni Mykonos – Located in the village of Psarou, this luxe hotel is perfect for those after the high life in Mykonos. There are a range of suites available, some rooms include private pools and/or hot tubs and there is breakfast available daily. Click here to check availability

MyCocoon Hostel – Solo and budget travellers will love this hostel in Mykonos. Offering both dorms and private rooms, they also have a swimming pool and an on-site bar — perfect for making friends while island hopping in Greece! Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Mykonos!

Day 3 – Mykonos

With a full day to explore, start early to discover all that Mykonos has to offer!

If history is your thing, take a guided tour of Delos. A 30-minute boat ride from Mykonos, this island is an archaeological site and is the birthplace of gods Apollo and Artemis.

A package including return boat trip, guide and ticket is well worth the cost and will take up about four hours of your day. You can  book the guided morning tour here .

If beaches are more your thing, don’t worry because Mykonos has you covered there too! The southern coast of the island has beaches for every taste – from family-friendly Ornos, to raucous Paradise Beach, and LGBTQ-friendly Super Paradise. The beaches can all be explored via the Mykonos water taxi.

Delos

Day 4 – Paros

Today we’ll be taking our foot off the gas a little and taking a morning ferry across to idyllic Paros.

You’ll arrive in Parikia, the biggest town on the island of Paros , and the most central location to stay. The town is a jumble of gorgeous alleys filled with bougainvillaea, delightful cafes to grab a frappe and seafront tavernas and bars.

Be sure to check out the mighty Ekatontapiliani – the Church of 100 Doors. This church complex is steeped in legend and rumour has it there are 99 visible doors, and one hidden door. When the hidden door is found, Constantinople will return to Greece!

Check in and then jump on the public bus over to Santa Maria beach. This organised beach has great restaurants, watersports, excellent tunes and drinks flowing throughout the day.

Ekatontapiliani Church in Parikia

Where to Say in Paros

Hotel Dina – Located in the heart of Parikia, this mid-range hotel has the perfect location for exploring all Paros has to offer. They also have a myriad of clean and comfortable rooms available and there is even free parking available if you have a car. Click here to check availability

Paros Palace – If you’re looking for a luxury option in Paros then this plush hotel in Parikia village is an excellent choice. They have a number of beautiful rooms on offer and countless amenities to ensure your stay is a memorable one. Click here to check availability

Nautilus Apartments-Suites – Those after their own space in Paros will love this aparthotel on the island. There are a number of fully-furnished flats on offer that can suit all kinds of group sizes and they have a great location for exploring the island. Click here to check availability

Paros Backpackers – This hostel is a great option for those looking for to visit Greece on a budget. They have a range of both dorm beds and private rooms available, a swimming pool and excellent common areas. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Paros hotels!

Day 5 – Paros

Paros has some of the clearest water in Greece, and getting out to explore the many coves & beaches is a must. Jump on an organised boat tour and head out for a day on the waves – many of the tours include a BBQ lunch onboard.

Did you know that Paros is one of Europe’s best windsurfing destinations? The east coast of the island can be very windy and is a great spot to try this fun sport.

If you fancy exploring on foot, get the small ferry over to Antiparos to check out the island’s many cave systems. More hiking opportunities can be found in the interior of Paros around the hilltop village of Lefkes, checking out Byzantine ruins, and ancient stone paths.

For dinner, you must head to the tiny fishing village of Naoussa where you can get some delicious traditional Greek cuisine. Nestled in a cove protected by a Venetian fort, you’ll find seafood tavernas all along the waterfront serving beautiful food well into the night.

Port of Naoussa on Paros Island

Day 6 – Santorini

Heading south, today we will head off to maybe the most iconic Greek island and hop on a ferry to Santorini .

Actually an archipelago of five islands, Santorini was shaped when the original volcanic island of Strogili erupted over 3,500 years ago, leaving us with a series of smaller islands. Nearly all visitors will stay on the main island of Thera – the only other inhabited option being the laidback Thirassia.

Most travellers will stay in the capital of Fira, on the southern black sand beaches of Perissa or Kamari, or in the expensive but enchanting cave houses of the village of Oia.

Both Fira and Oia are on the caldera, the cliffs that are left from the old eruption, and you can find restaurants and cafes in both towns to gaze out at the incredible views at sunset.

Iconic Oia

Where to Stay in Santorini

Kalimera Hotel – Mid-range travellers will love this family-run hotel in Santorini. Situated close to a number of sandy beaches, they have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available, there’s a swimming pool and breakfast is included daily. Click here to check availability

Seaside Breeze – This luxury hotel is a great choice for those looking for something fancy on their Greek island hopping route. They have both standard rooms and larger suites available – all with their own balcony. There is also a terrace, pool and breakfast daily for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability

Remezzo Villas – If you’re looking for a luxury option during your time in Santorini, then these villas are an excellent option. There are a range of suites to choose from along with a daily breakfast, swimming pool and outdoor terrace. Click here to check availability

Caveland Hostel – Situated in a small village on the island, this hostel is perfect for those visiting Santorini on a budget. They offer both dorms and private rooms and there is even a swimming pool for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability .

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Santorini!

Day 7 – Santorini

Santorini has so much to explore, and if this is the final day of your 7-day Greek islands itinerary it will certainly be one to remember!

Wherever you are on the caldera, your eyes are often drawn towards the two imposing volcanoes jutting from the water. If you’re feeling active you can join a great day tour that will take you on a hike up the active Nea Kameni, and then swimming in the thermal mud springs at Palea Kameni.

Afterwards, you can take the cable car from the old port up to Fira for one last shopping trip in town to grab some unique souvenirs.

If you are heading back to Athens to end your trip, you grab a quick one-hour flight that will take you straight to Athens International Airport, thus maximising your last day in Santorini!

Nea Kameni

Day 8 – Ios

If you’re lucky enough to be continuing your Greece itinerary beyond the Athens-Mykonos-Santorini route, then today it’s only a short 40-minute ferry ride to the nearby island of Ios.

A relatively unknown option compared to the likes of Mykonos and Santorini, Ios is famous in its own right. The first tourists visited in the 1960s and were hippies that camped on the beaches, stayed with locals and made makeshift homes in caves.

Now it is famous for its excellent restaurants, eclectic nightlife scene and its mix of raucous and relatively untouched beaches.

There are plenty of great value pensions in Chora, the main town, but if you want to be relaxing on the sand, then you should stay at Mylopotas Beach.

Mylopotas is a beautiful white sand beach, where you can get involved in beach volleyball, watersports, or just lounge on a hammock, iced coffee in hand and watch the world go by. You’re on holiday after all!

Mylopotas beach on Ios

Where to Stay in Ios

Homer’s Inn Hotel – This cosy inn in central Ios is the perfect place for mid-range visitors to this island. They have a number of lovely rooms on offer and a great location for exploring all Ios has to offer. Click here to check availability

Levantes Ios Boutique Hotel – Those looking for luxury will love this plush hotel. They have a number of wonderful rooms to choose from, a gorgeous pool for guests to enjoy and a location perfect for exploring the incredible island of Ios. Click here to check availability

Hide Out Suites – These suites are perfect for those who’d like their own space on Ios. They have a range of different fully-furnished properties on offer along with an excellent location for exploring the island. There are also plenty of plush amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability

Francesco’s – If you’re island hopping in Greece on a budget, then this hostel is a great option. They offer both dorms and private rooms, they have great common areas and a fantastic location on the island. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Ios hotels!

Day 9 – Ios

Today, why not head to the interior of the island, where you can find the tomb of Homer, the poet responsible for the Iliad and the Odyssey .

Heading further afield you can find the super sleepy beaches of Magganari and Psathi where you can feel like you’re the only person on the whole of the Greek islands.

But as you are in Ios, it would be rude not to sample the nightlife. Start with some drinks at dinner, and then head into the main town around midnight – there are plenty of tiny bars dotted around the old town.

All have their own unique twist, be it Slammer, where they slam you on the head whilst wearing a crash helmet, Shush the silent Disco or Coo which plays funky R&B well into the wee hours.

Greek Church in Ios

Day 10 – Ferry to Athens

For the final day grab a tasty brunch at Hellenic Social in the old town and then head down to the port.

Jump aboard the ferry, it’ll take around four hours on the fast boat back to Athens. Stay in Monastiraki again, and if you aren’t up for exploring too far, grab some last-minute souvenirs on Adrianou street, featuring everything from olivewood backgammon sets to beautiful artisan jewellery. 

For a relaxed experience, head to Mnisikleous street, known as the steps, where cafes and eateries have cushions and chairs right out on the street steps – it is very relaxed and bohemian.

Finish your evening with drinks at The Clumsies, one of the best cocktail bars in all of Europe – what a way to wrap up your 10-day Greek island-hopping itinerary!

Monastiraki square

Have More Time?

If you are lucky enough to have more time to spend in Greece, why not extend your trip to include a visit to Greece’s largest island Crete ? This massive island is perfect for road-tripping and is dripping in culture, history and amazing beaches.

Alternatively, you could simply visit a few more islands in the Cyclades, including loves Milos , Naxos or Sifnos. Planning a trip to these islands is a little bit more off the beaten path than some of the other islands mentioned above and are the perfect addition on any trip to Greece.

The Saronic islands are only a short ferry ride from Athens (the closest island, Aegina, is only 40 minutes from the capital), and are a far more low-key experience than some of the busier Cyclades islands.

Finally, if you have a lot more time you can visit some destinations further afield such as Corfu , Rhodes or even explore more of the Greek mainland such as the Peloponnese region.

Beautiful Milos

So, there you have it, the perfect way to spend 10 days in the Greek islands. You’ve seen the most famous, the most beautiful, the laid back and the craziest places in the Cycladic islands. But don’t worry, you have another 223 islands to come back and explore!

Are you planning a trip to the Greek islands? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

greek island visit

Related Posts:

Ruins in Corinth on mainland Greece

Is Greece Expensive? A Greece Trip Cost Guide in 2024

Agios Stephanos Monastery in Meteora

Meteora Day Trip from Athens: A One Day Itinerary

Super Paradise Beach on Mykonos

Is Mykonos Expensive? A Mykonos Trip Cost Guide

Avatar photo

About Lizzie Fitzgerald

Lizzie is a writer for The World Was Here First. She loves travelling and discovering new places but also often finds herself returning to her favourite destinations. She has a particular affinity for Greece where she has visited countless islands and destinations on the mainland.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Definitely Greece

Your Master Guide To All Greek Islands And How To Pick One

paxos-islands-boat-catamarans-greece

☞ Table of Contents:

What complex of greek islands to pick or how to combine them, best greek islands to visit in the winter, best greek islands to visit in april or may, best greek islands to visit in september or october, best greek islands to visit close to athens, best greek islands to visit for nature lovers, 11 smallest greek islands to visit, 11 biggest greek islands to visit, 7 most popular greek islands to visit, greek islands that have airports, best greek islands for party lovers, best greek islands for families, best greek islands for couples & romantic holidays, most expensive greek islands, the inexpensive greek islands, best greek islands for history lovers, best greek islands to visit if you love watersports, best greek islands to visit if you don’t have a car, most insta-worthy greek islands to visit.

E verything you need from a guide to the Greek islands. How many Greek islands are there? More than 6,000 but only a couple of hundred are inhabited.

What are the best Greek islands to visit in the winter?

Islands in the south of Greece for better weather and with a large permanent population for easy accessibility.

Is April a good time to visit the Greek islands?

Yes, April is a great time to visit the Greek islands. The best weather is in the southern Aegean like Crete, Kos, Karpathos and Rhodes. There are less crowds but more Greek tourists due to the Easter celebrations.

The number of inhabited Greek islands varies between 150ish to 220ish depending on what size you consider an island to be. While all of them are stunning, some of them will fit your style of travelling more than others.

This guide was created to help you pick which of the Greek islands most suits your preferences, so let’s begin. We suggest grabbing a pen and paper to note down the islands that sound most like you as you go through the article.

When you begin researching what island you want to visit in Greece, the easiest way to proceed is to narrow down which complex or cluster of islands you prefer. While there is no reason you can’t combine islands from different clusters, to do so you may need to add extra dates just for travelling to and from a location, which increases the cost and cuts down on the actual holiday time. There are 6 different complexes of Greek islands and some that belong to no category.

1. Eptanisa

The Ionian Sea is home to the first cluster which is also called Eptanisa, or 7 islands. This includes Corfu , Paxos & Antipaxos , Ithaka , Lefkada , Kefalonia and Kythira . Kythira is located under the Peloponnese Peninsula and while it is grouped together with the 7 islands it is under the administration of Athens . These islands share a lot of characteristics, like the Venetian architecture seen in houses, castles and churches, the lush greenery and turquoise waters.

2. Cyclades

The Cyclades is another complex of Greek islands which translates to circle due to the way the islands form a protective barrier around the sacred island of Delos. While the Cyclades counts more than 220 islands, only a handful are inhabited. The primary island list includes Amorgos , Anafi, Andros, Paros , Antiparos, Koufonisia , Milos , Naxos , Mykonos , Santorini or Thira, Kythnos, Kimolos, Kea, Ios, Folegandros, Serifos, Sithnos, Sikinos, Syros, and Tinos.

The Cyclades are famous for their distinctive architecture, the whitewashed cube shaped houses that are built close to each other usually at a high point for protection against intruders and the windmills which once were used to mill grains but now are mostly a tourist attraction.

3. Dodecanese

The Dodecanese complex of islands is another number-name, but while it translates to “twelve islands” there are fifteen major islands of the more than 100 in the area, that are included in the list. The location of the islands is between the Cyclades and the coast of Turkey. The largest of all the islands is Rhodes . There is also Symi, Tilos, Astypalaia , Kalymnos, Karpathos , Kasos, Kos, Leros, Nisyros, and Patmos. As well as the smaller Kastellorizo, Lipsi, Halki and Agathonisi. As the largest and most popular island, Rhodes is a good option to fly into and then set out to explore the other islands if you so choose. For off season travel, options may be limited so you need to give yourself more time to reach from one island to another.

4. Northern Aegean

The Northern Aegean islands are as the name states further up the north Aegean coast. They are Thasos, Samothraki, Lemnos , Lesvos, Chios , Ikaria and Samos. As well as the much smaller Psara, Fournoi, Agios Efstratios and Oinnousses. Most of the islands in the North Aegean are bigger in size but less popular holiday destinations with the exception of Ikaria that has become a mecca for “panigyria” the Greek religious festivals where people dance until the early hours of the morning. Island hopping between these islands is not easy and ferries to these islands are often slower and travel during the night.

5. Sporades

The name of the next group of islands is Sporades meaning “scatterred”. It is often used to describe four islands located close to the east coast of mainland Greece, however, the name applies to a lot of other islands outside of the Cyclades. The four islands that are inhabited are Allonisos, Skopelos , Skiathos and Skyros. During the summer high season there are regular ferries departing from the mainland. Flights can be organized for Skiathos Airport that receives both domestic and charter flights from some European countries. A much smaller airport operates in Skyros island that is located a fair distance away from the other three. You can only find domestic flights from Athens and Thessaloniki here.

6. Saronic Gulf

The Saronic Gulf islands are the ones located closest to Athens. They are Aegina, Salamina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, Agistri, and Dokos. These islands are ideally located very close to the mainland and can be reached from Athens with high speed ferries, that often take less than 1 hour of travel. The gulf offers protection from the wind and so these islands also make ideal options for off season or winter destinations, even if the sea is not warm enough to swim in. There are plenty of day cruises leaving Piraeus port that visit Hydra, Poros and Aegina which is an ideal option if you have extra days in Athens .

7. Crete and Euboea

Two islands that don’t really fall under one category are Crete and Euboea. Crete is the largest island in Greece and it could be a separate country all together with its distinctive accent and traditional mantinades (a short of limerick with 15 syllables that locals can expertly whip up within seconds, either accompanied with music or when communicating with each other), the diverse natural scenery, with gorges, lakes, some of the best beaches in Greece and strong local flavours that make it a favourite destination for all. Euboea or Evia as is pronounced in Greek is the second largest island, however, it is seldom thought of as one, due to the two bridges that link it to the mainland.

knossos-greek-island

Dodecanese: Rhodes

Cyclades: Mykonos, Santorini

Saronic: Hydra, Poros, Aegina, Salamina

Other: Crete, Euboea

Greece has long marvelous summers and sunny winters but the temperature can still plunge to freezing temperatures especially on the northern part and high altitude cities like Thessaloniki and Kastoria . While less common, we have seen plenty of Greek islands and beaches covered with a dusting of snow in 2017 , 2018 , and 2019 .

That is because you are more likely to find restaurants and attractions open, there is a lower chance to be stuck on the island due to rough seas (if you were taking a ferry) and there is a large medical center in case of accidents.

  • Tip: The best Greek islands then to visit in winter would be the one’s that have an airport, are considerably big and that have a steady amount of permanent residents throughout the year.

Dodecanese: Rhodes, Kos, Karpathos, Patmos, Kalymnos

Cyclades: Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Milos, Syros, Sifnos, Folegandros

Eptanisa: Corfu

Other: Crete

The months of April and May are when spring starts to make its presence known. The temperature is mostly mellow and ideal for outdoor activities and excursions and there is a lesser chance of a crowd wherever you go. They also tend to be some of the cheapest months to travel in! In addition, travelling to Greece in April is special due to the number of festivities and events that surround Easter. The island of Chios hosts the Easter Rocket Wars, where two churches compete for the most impressive fireworks of the night. Mykonos and Santorini lack the summer crowds so you are more likely to run into locals and see the everyday rhythm of Greek people. While most Greeks don’t venture into the sea until June, plenty of visitors will find the waters pleasant and refreshing.

  • Tip: The dates for Orthodox Easter change slightly every year so plan ahead if you want to combine your trip with some cultural experiences.

Saronic: All of them

Cyclades: Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Syros

Eptanisa: Corfu, Cephalonia

  • Tip: If you wish to combine multiple islands on your visit to Greece in September or October make sure to pay close attention to ferry schedules since a lot of the routes are cut down substantially.

Other: Euboea

The Saronic islands are the best option for visitors that can’t venture too far away from Athens. Whether you are short on time or just prefer to spend more of your holiday at the beach rather than on a plane or boat, the Saronic Gulf islands offer glamour, tradition, aesthetics and unique experiences that are sure to captivate you. An island-hopping tour can also be a good option to see more islands within a short period of time, like the popular Aegina, Poros and Hydra tours. However, fast ferries departing from Piraeus port, can also take you to the ever popular Mykonos and Santorini. SeaJets and Golden Star Ferries offer the fastest option from Piraeus to Santorini, that take approximately 5 hours. The slower and less bumpy ride for those prone to sea sickness takes approximately 8 hours. There are usually more than 3 ferries leaving Piraeus towards Mykonos during the summer and at least 1 during the winter.

Euboea, the second largest island that you can reach by car, is only one hour from Athens and has incredible beaches, fantastic fish taverns and a rich history. Due to its size it may not feel like an island but you should dedicate at least 3 days to exploring this area.

  • Tip: The port of Rafina is another excellent option for those travelling to Mykonos.

Dodecanese: Nisyros, Rhodes, Kalymnos

Eptanisa: Corfu, Cephalonia, Lefkada, Kithyra

Cyclades: Andros, Sifnos, Tilos, Milos

Other: Euboea, Crete

Sporades: Skyros, Allonisos

Northern Aegean: Samothraki, Chios

  • Tip: If you want to explore nature consider travelling outside of July or August because the temperature can reach more than 40 Celsius making it uncomfortable and even dangerous to be under the sun the whole day.

Dodecanese: Patmos, Nisyros, Kastelorizo, Halki, Lipsi

Eptanisa: Paxos Antipaxos

Cyclades: Koufonisia, Anafi, Folegandros

Saronic: Agistri

Northern Aegean: Fournoi, Psara

Visiting some of the smaller islands has both advantages and disadvantages. Almost all of the smaller islands lack airports and as such you will need to travel to a bigger island and then catch a ferry or else take a longer journey on the ferry from Piraeus. Some may take more than 15hours but they almost always travel over night and you can book a cabin. However, once you get there, smaller islands will reward you with their lack of tourists and authentic representation of life. You may be able to witness customs and traditions that you wouldn’t be exposed to elsewhere and taste local flavours that are truly homemade.

  • Tip: If you have booked an international flight from Athens airport always plan to be back in the capital a few days in advance to avoid delays or strikes on the smaller island ferries.

kamari-beach-cephalonia

Eptanisa: Zakynthos, Cephalonia, Corfu

Cyclades: Naxos

Northern Aegean: Lesvos, Chios, Lemnos, Samos

The biggest island by far is Crete island. It is twice as big as the second largest island Euboia. Most of the other big islands can be found in the Ionian Sea. If you want to travel to one of the bigger islands of Greece you will be rewarded with more options for accomodation and activities and most of the times a smoother and more comprehensive infastructure for tourism compared to the tiny Greek islands. Most of the islands with a static population all-year-around will have a medical centre, but if you have specific health problems, it pays to inquire ahead of time.

  • Tip: The biggest of the Greek islands like Crete and Euboia will certainly require for you to have a car. So, plan for that within your budget.

Cyclades: Mykonos, Santorini, Milos

Eptanisa: Zakynthos, Corfu

What suits one traveller will not suit another, so don’t rely only on the Greek islands that first come to mind. While undoubtedly beautiful and amazing destinations that we would always recommend, the most famous islands of Greece tend to get a bit overcrowded. If your heart is set on one of these islands and you are not a fan of crowds try to plan for late spring or early autumn. Your wallet will also thank you. The sweet-smelling Mykonian nights through cobblestoned labyrinths and stupendous sunsets of Santorini, will be there waiting for you!

  • Tip: Because Crete is twice as large as the second largest island, Euboia, it is possible to visit in peak season and still find quiet beaches. To do that, head out of Chania and Rethymno and choose smaller towns on the east side of the island.

♥ READ MORE ABOUT POPULAR GREEK ISLANDS ♥

Dodecanese: Rhodes, Kos, Astypalaia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros

Cyclades: Mykonos, Santorini, Milos, Paros, Naxos, Syros[

Sporades: Skyros, Skiathos

Northern Aegean: Samos, Lemnos, Lesvos, Chios, Ikaria

Eptanisa: Zakynthos, Corfu, Cephalonia, Kythira

All of the “biggest islands” you can find in the above section have airports. The bigger islands will also have more frequent routes, especially during the off season, and you can often find good deals. In comparison, the smaller and less popular islands have charter flights that may only operate during the busiest months and even then come with a hefty price tag. There is always one airport per complex of islands, however, with the exception of the Saronic Gulf islands. These islands are served by Athens International Airport and Piraeus port, from which they are only a couple of hours or less away.

  • Disclaimer: Due to tourism and changes in the economy of Greece, information in this section may change. If you have information regarding an airport in the Greek islands or have spotted a mistake please contact us so we can make the necessary amendments.

Sporades: Skiathos

Cyclades: Mykonos, Ios, Paros

Eptanisa: Zakynthos

Some of the Greek islands feature prominently on the radar of party lovers! Mykonos and Crete in particular have long been favourites for people that prefer to sleep during the day and party all night. Every island attracts a different crowd as though people organically started to favour one over the other and a niche market was created. In Crete you will find all-inclusive resorts that are a favourite package holiday for Brits in the summer. Mykonos was once called the Ibiza of the Aegean but now has achieved a spot of its own on the throne of nightlife entertainment and is LGBTQ+ friendly. Skiathos and Paros is where a lot of Greek students have their first away from home adventures.

  • Tip: Even the above mentioned “party-islands” have a lot to offer for people that do not enjoy all-night outings. Try to stay away from the “Chora” or main village of the island or visit during the off season.

Sporades: Skyros

Dodecanese: Symi, Kos, Rhodes

Cyclades: Naxos, Sifnos, Syros, Andros, Paros

Other: Crete, Euboia

Eptanisa: All of them

For family friendly Greek island destinations location might be the biggest determining factor depending on how many kids or families are travelling, their ages and for how long. The biggest islands on the list like Rhodes, Crete, Cephalonia, Corfu and Lefkada (in the Eptanisa) have more options for family resorts and are better connected with flights. If you don’t want to spend more than a couple of hours in a ferry to reach an island and would rather fly, then the list above is a very good starting point. The complex of Eptanisa is another ideal choice, with lots of green and shade, adequate size to offer options for all and great accomodation options and well connected to the rest of Greece.

  • Tip: Kythira island is technically part of the Eptanisa complex but you will find it under the Peloponnese peninsula away from the Ionian Sea. You can read more about family travel in Kythira here .

Dodecanese: Symi, Astypalaia

Cyclades: Santorini, Naxos, Milos, Amorgos, Folegandros, Mykonos, Koufonisia, Paros,

Saronic: Aegina,Hydra, Spetses

Eptanisa: Paxos Antipaxos, Corfu

Most destinations can become romantic if you visit them with the person that makes your heart flutter! Even so, some places seem to have a bit of extra magic in the air. The way the dark purple light hits the sea and the colour palette of the architecture join together to create a veil of romance that is hard to resist. Santorini is undoubtedly one of these places; a unique destination that is ideal for couples. If you are a fan of the sugar cube houses and colourful bougainvilleas then the Cyclades are a great option. Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos and Paros will be the busiest during peak summer season so if that is something you wish to avoid Folegandros and Amorgos or Astypalaia in the Dodecanese are exceptionally beautiful spots.

  • Tip: Folegandros and Amorgos are great options if you also want to see Santorini for a few days. Ferry tickets are frequent during summer and only last 1 to 3 hours depending on the vessel.

Cyclades: Naxos, Santorini, Mykonos

Eptanisa: Cephalonia, Zakynthos, Corfu

It is hard to answer this question without knowing the travel style of each visitor. But since people tend to ask for the “most expensive Greek islands” we will try our best to answer it. The most popular and biggest islands tend to also be the most expensive. Santorini and Mykonos are definitely at the top of the list. The demand is high, supplies, food are brought in from the mainland and drinking water from the tap is not possible. One exception in regards to size are the islands of the North Aegean that see far fewer international visitors than the Cyclades or the Ionian islands.

  • Tip: Popular islands may have higher costs in accomodation but are easier and cheaper to reach than others. Smaller far away islands may have no airport and require more than 12hours in a ferry to reach. You should pick whatever sounds best for you!

Dodecanese: Nisyros, Symi, Karpathos

Cyclades: Kythnos, Sifnos, Kea, Kimolos, Serifos, Andros,

Northern Aegean: Ikaria, Thassos, Lemnos, Lesvos, Samothrace

Eptanisa: Ithaka

Other: Euboea, Aegina

Greece is in general a very affordable destination for international visitors. Mykonos and Santorini can still be visited on a budget but if you want the most bang for your buck and are not after fine dining or luxury accomodation there are a lot of options for you. One general advice is to look at the “ Greek Islands With Airports ” list above, and remove them from your list. Smaller, harder to reach islands will be more traditional, authentic and representative of the pace and lifestyle of Greek people. Reaching these islands, however, may require more planning especially if you want to island-hop.

  • Tip: In the most popular islands, locals that work in tourism work long hours from the start of the season in April till late October. If you want to meet and chat to locals try visiting smaller islands that are not dependant on tourism or come during the off-season.

Dodecanese: Patmos, Kos, Rhodes

Cyclades: Naxos, Santorini, Delos

Northern Aegean: Lemnos, Chios

Eptanisa: Kythira, Corfu

Other Crete

For history lovers, Greece, in general, is full of traces of its ancient past. While most people know of the Parthenon in Athens and maybe the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, some of the Greek islands are home to imposing castles, ancient ruins and impressive monuments from different periods. Rhodes is home to the second most visited ancient site after the Acropolis in Athens. In Santorini, you can see the excavations that have been taking place at the Akrotiri peninsula that date back to the Minoan period. While in Crete, you will find the grand palace of Knossos that could very well be one of the earliest European cities.

  • Tip: Delos is an island that has been uninhabited since the 7th century AD. To explore this archaeological place you need to travel from one of the neighborhing islands, like Mykonos, Naxos, Paros or Tinos.

Dodecanese: Karpathos, Rhodes[

Cyclades: Naxos, Paros, Antiparos

Northern Aegean: Lemnos

Eptanisa Lefkada

Naxos is arguably the most well known destination in Greece for windsurfing and kitesurfing. If you want to get amongst the action, the nearby Paros and Antiparos also offer ideal wind conditions and organized clubs whether you are an expert or a new fan that requires a few lessons. In the Northern Aegean, the vast Keros Beach in Lemnos is a favourite for locals and visitors. The beach is on the east coast of the island and is always windy, so if you are not planning to kite or surf, this might not be for you.

  • Tip: If you want to experience the verdant landscape of the Ionian islands you should consider Lefkada. In addition to having some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece, Lefkada’s sandy Vassiliki Beach on the south coast, is the perfect spot for windsurfing enthusiasts.

Cyclades: Santorini, Anafi, Naxos, Koufonisia

Saronic: Hydra, Spetses

There are two reasons why you travel somewhere without a car. The first is that cars are strictly not allowed on the island, just like in the case of Hydra and Spetses. Alternatively you may wish to spend your holidays free of cars because you have no drivers licence or would rather skip the cost of hiring a car. If that sounds like you, the smallest islands of the list like Koufonisia, Anafi or bigger islands like Naxos that has good public transport is ideal.

  • Tip: Driving in Santorini is a good option for those that want the flexibility of exploring the whole island and are not scared to share the narrow alleyways with big tour buses. By not renting a vehicle you may need to stay around certain locations like Oia or Fira, or spend a bit extra on taxis and skip the hassle of finding a parking spot.

Cyclades: Santorini, Mykonos, Milos

Eptanisa: Cephalonia, Zakynthos

All of the Greek islands are incredibly beautiful! But it would hard to deny that some of them feature more prominently on Instagram feeds. As a result, there are certain images that have become iconic of these islands. In Mykonos, you think of the colourful houses of Little Venice getting bashed by the waves and that “alleyway” shot with the crisp white walls and Pinterest worthy cushions that look out to sea. Try to search for Santorini and we will be surprised if you don’t instantly spot a sea of blue church domes looking out at sunset light. And as far as Milos goes, the moon like reflections of the rocks around Sarakiniko beach are front and centre every time.

  • Tip: One of the most famous beaches in Crete is Elafonisi with its unique pink-hued sand. The up and coming competitor is Seitan Limania. A small beach that until recently was inaccessible, now is there to reward visitors that brave the steep and windy ride.

Did you forget something?

Don’t miss out on our complimentary guide to the Greek islands. More than 60 island destinations analyzed and a destination tracker just for you!

*Disclaimer: This page includes affiliate links. If you decide to book something through one of them, I might get a little bonus, but it won't cost you anything extra.*

greek island visit

Rania Kalogirou

Claim your free travel guide.

Subscribe and receive ongoing travel inspiration through our newsletters.

Related Articles

How To Get Around Greece

How To Get Around Greece

5 Museums in Greece That Will Amaze You

5 Museums in Greece That Will Amaze You

Visit Greece in the Fall: 3 Destinations You Will Fall In Love With

Visit Greece in the Fall: 3 Destinations You Will Fall In Love With

greek island visit

One trip can last a lifetime. Let’s begin!

one trip can last a lifetime. Let’s begin!

INFORMATION

GET IN TOUCH

© 2024 – All rights reserved. • Powered by WordPress

Definitely Greece

21 Best Greek Islands to Visit In 2024

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

Updated On: January 5, 2024

Searching for the best Greek islands to visit? The good news is that you have lots of choices. Greece has 227 inhabited islands where you can stay and over 6,000 uninhabited islands and islets that you can explore by day trip.

Whether you want traditional villages, busy  cities , gorgeous beaches, or a UNESCO World Heritage Site or two, all the Greek Islands have something to offer. You could visit Santorini – one of the most romantic destinations in the world. You could visit Paxos and Antipaxos, some of the smallest inhabited islands in Greece. Or, for a party experience, you could fly to Zante or Mykonos.

Table of Contents

Top Greek Islands to Visit Right Now

A holiday on a Greek island is the ultimate getaway. This guide will cover the best Greek islands.

Corfu is hardly a hidden gem, and, in peak season, the island does get a little swamped by mass tourism. However, Corfu is one of the best Greek islands to visit if you are visiting off-season or in the shoulder seasons.

Corfu is Greece’s greenest island. It also has lots of historical sites dotted around the island. Corfu Town is perhaps the epicenter of history in Corfu and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How to get there

Corfu’s one of the most popular Greek islands to visit and is one of the best Greek islands to fly into if you want an easy journey. Corfu International Airport is situated within a short taxi ride (or half an hour’s walk) of Corfu Town, and it has regular flights from many major European cities.

You can also catch ferries or plan cruises to Corfu. The island has a busy port with regular ferries.

Things to do

  • Dine and shop in Corfu Old Town.

Corfu Old Town is an ancient city with UNESCO-protected houses, museums, and market streets. Allow at least half a day to treat yourself to a traditional meal and souvenir.

  • Visit Cape Drastis.

Cape Drastis is one of the most spectacular beaches in Corfu. The limestone peninsula stretches out into eye-catching cliff and rock formations, with sections of beach along the rocks.

This Corfu Private Yacht Cruise takes you along the central east coast including of Corfu with with several stops for swimming and snorkelling as you explore Garitsa bay, Mouse Island, Vido Island, and Lazareto Island, and more.

  • Take a day trip to Albania.

One of Corfu’s most unique aspects is its location. Make sure to take a boat trip to appreciate the coastline from the water and, if you have time, take a day trip by ferry to Albania. You can reach Sarande in just thirty minutes and explore Roman ruins at Butrint National Park with much fewer tourists than in Corfu.

Crete is a popular island amongst tourists and is the largest Greek island. It is full of wild, natural beauty and is home to the spectacular Samaria Gorge National Park. However, it also has a nightlife to rival that of even Mykonos, and you’ll find plenty of nightclubs and beach bars.

Crete is one of the best Greek islands to visit if you want a bit of everything. Nature, nightlife, attractions, and sandy beaches –  Crete  ticks many boxes.

Getting to Crete is easy. The island has an international airport with many direct flights from major European cities. There is also a regular ferry network from other nearby islands.

If you are traveling to Crete from another Greek island, we recommend catching the ferry if possible. The island hopping experience is much more exciting and traditionally done by boat – plus, it is better for the environment.

  • Visit Samaria Gorge National Park

The national park is sat on the west coast of Crete and is a great place to spend a day. You can walk the Samaria Gorge, climb the White Mountains, and even go wine tasting. Book this tour of the Samaria Gorge from Chania for a challenging trek through one of Europe’s longest gorges.

  • Visit Elafonsi

Forget golden sand; Elafonsi has pink beaches. Millions of crushed-up Foraminifera sea shells turn patches of the sand pink. It is quite a phenomenon.

  • Heraklion Archaeological Museum

For Greek history, look no further. Heraklion is a fantastic museum full of Cretan artifacts and fascinating exhibitions. Book a private Heraklion wine and history tour to better understand the past of the mysterious Minoans and appreciate the objects found on the site as well as in many other settlements around Crete.

3. Naxos Island

Naxos Island is a traditional Cycladic island in the Aegean Sea, between offshore Athens and the west coast of Turkey.

Naxos is a laidback island with plenty of beautiful beaches and mountain villages. It is one of the best Greek islands for a quiet experience of Greece – away from all the crazy partying on more touristy islands.

Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades Islands, so it’s the easiest to reach from Athens and by ferry. The great ferry connections to Naxos town make it an excellent island-hopping destination. You can easily get to it from bigger islands like Santorini and Mykonos.

You won’t find direct flights to Naxos from abroad. Therefore, you’ll have to plan a stopover in Athens if you fly into Naxos. Book this airport transfer to your hotel in a luxury vehicle for a smooth and hassle-free transfer to your accommodations.

  • Temple of Demeter

This temple dates back to 530 BCE and is scenically located on a hilltop above the village of Kastri. Allow an hour or two to wander the marble ruins and admire the panoramic view.

  • Eggares Olive Oil Museum

Naxos is full of olive groves, and Eggares Museum is where to learn more about butter, olive oil, and olive harvesting. You’ll get access to informative exhibits and tasting opportunities.

  • Cedar Forest of Alyko

If you love secluded beaches, Cedar Forest is for you. Forget forest walks; this spot is a remote beach surrounded by patches of shrubs and small trees. Quiet and idyllic, where better to unwind?

4. Zakynthos AKA (Zante)

Zante is one of the best Greek islands to visit for a party holiday. Lively, busy, and full of things to do, it is no wonder that the Ionian island of Zante is favored for a girls’ trip or boys’ holiday. Read more: Things to do in Zakynthos, Greece

Zante is actually the island’s Italian name, so we’ll reference it by its Greek name, Zakynthos, from now on. However, you can refer to it by either name, and everybody will know what you mean. Regardless this is one of the most beautiful islands to visit in Greece.

The easiest way to get to Zakynthos is to fly. You’ll find direct flights from most European airports – which is very convenient and means no stopover in Athens.

If you want the island hopping experience, though, there are plenty of ferry services to Zakynthos. It is well-connected to the other Ionian Islands, the mainland, major Greek Islands, and some surrounding countries.

  • Navagio Beach

Navagio Beach, aka Shipwreck Beach, is the postcard image of Zakynthos. The cove is famous for its rusted shipwreck, curved limestone cliffs, and bright blue waters. Book this trip to Navagio Beach for a guided tour to the north of Zakynthos on a glass bottom seed boat.

Speaking of blue waters, the Blue Caves are another must-visit in Zakynthos. The sea caves are formed by unique cliff formations and are made bright blue by reflected light. You can book a boat tour to reach them, which often includes the chance to swim. This trip also includes a stop a the Blue Caves.

  • Volunteer with sea turtles

Zakynthos is famed for its turtles; between May and October, every year, thousands of baby turtles hatch on its beaches. You can contact charities like Archelon The Sea Turtle Protection to get involved.

5. Skopelos

Skopelos is a quiet island in the Aegean Sea. It is incredibly beautiful and unassuming – full of laidback residential areas and picturesque scenery.

Skopelos is a hidden gem but definitely one of the best Greek Islands. Skopelos was only brought into the mainstream limelight after Mamma Mia used it as a filming location.

For Mamma Mia fans, Skopelos is easily the best Greek island. The district of  Pelion  is also worth a visit for die-hard fans. However, Mamma Mia aside, for a small island atmosphere with a peaceful vibe and stunning beaches, Skopelos is an excellent choice.

You can only reach Skopelos by ferry. There’s no airport on Skopelos, so you’ll have to take to the seas.

Luckily, the island has several regular ferry connections, including from Thessaloniki, Kymi, and Volos. It is easiest to catch the ferry to Skopelos from the mainland.

  • Walk Skopelos Old Town

Skopelos Old Town is photogenic and the best place to wander on the island. The buildings are white-washed with colorfully painted details. You can snap photos, shop, and dine al fresco on car-free roads.

  • Visit Agios Ioannis Church

For the Mamma Mia fans amongst you, Agrios Ioannis is where Sophie was married. However, the church is also stunningly located on a towering rock in the ocean. Visitors scale 198 steps to reach the top, where you get stunning views and a historical religious site.

  • Go scuba diving

Get trained at Skopelos Dive Center and go scuba diving while on Skopelos. The ocean around the island is full of caves, wrecks, and reefs. Plus, it has some of the best water clarity in Greece.

6. Santorini

Santorini doesn’t need an introduction. The island is world-famous as one of the most romantic destinations on Earth. You can hardly open a social media app without seeing the white-washed buildings, cobbled streets, and sunset influencer shots.

Santorini is well-known as one of the best Greek Islands. While typically expensive and busy, it is a beautiful Greek island if you don’t mind sacrificing a budget-friendly and quiet experience of Greek island living. There are unique  places  to stay and  things to do  on Santorini. Want to splash out? Santorini is your best choice. Read more: Where to Stay in Santorini: Best Hotels and Towns

Santorini is well-connected. It has Thira Airport, which has international and domestic flights, and there’s a high chance of finding a direct flight from abroad.

Of course, you can also catch a ferry if you wish. Santorini has plenty of connections to other islands in the Aegean Sea, plus connections to the mainland and other major islands, thanks to its superstar status.

  • Visit the Venetian castle

Akrotiri Venetian Castle is a collection of stunning ruins on a hilltop with panoramic views over Santorini. Plan a few hours in your itinerary to hike up and explore the castle remains.

  • Visit the Santorini Wine Museum

Santorini is a leader in Greece’s wine scene. Here, you can learn about regional wine-making and get regular chances to taste products.

  • Watch the sunset at Oia

Oia is where influencers get that sunset shot. The town is cut dramatically into a rugged coastline with all white-washed houses. It is definitely the place to be by sundown. This catamaran Tour is also a beautiful way to enjoy the sunset while taking in the views of the calderra and high sea cliffs of the isalnd.

Lefkada is a medium-sized Greek island known for its traditional villages and dramatic coastlines. The island’s beaches are plentiful, and its coasts have towering limestone cliffs. You’ll have many scenic beach days if you visit Lefkada.

Lefkada is one of the best Greek islands to visit if you are based on the mainland and looking for an add-on island experience. It is one of the only Greek islands you can drive to, which is often much more convenient than flying or sailing.

Lefkada is the most accessible island to access from Mainland Greece and is attached by a causeway. If you rent a car or purchase a transfer, you can easily cross over to Lefkada for a day or a full holiday.

You can also reach Lefkada by boat, and it is well-connected to other Ionian islands like Kefalonia and Zakynthos. There is no airport actually on Lefkada Island, but there are so many just across the causeway that you won’t have an issue.

  • Lefkaditiki Gi Winery

It’s no secret that Greek wine is delicious. Visiting Lefkaditiki Gi Winery allows you to discover the production process and sample the products.

  • Porto Katsiki

Porto Katsiki is the most stunning beach on Lefkada. You reach it via a steep stairway and can enjoy golden sand, bright blue water, and white limestone cliffs on all sides.

  • Faneromeni Monastery

This monastery is scenically located up in Lefkada’s mountainous district. Visitors can admire the views, explore the monastery complex, and visit the small zoo that is quirkily built on the property.

Thassos is one of the best Greek islands for an off-the-beaten-track experience. The island is half-covered in pine forests and olive oil farms – perfect for experiencing Greece’s agricultural, rural side.

In Thassos, you’ll spend your days hiking, eating, or relaxing on the quietest beaches in Greece. The island isn’t short of museums either, but primarily it is a place to visit and unplug from the stress of life at home and in cities.

To get to Thassos, you must take a ferry from Kavala or Keramoti. The ferry connections for Thassos are pretty limited, so you only have these two departure options. However, the ferries do leave almost every hour daily. The island is also located just offshore of Kavala, so this shouldn’t put you too far out of your way.

If you fly, fly into Kavala International Airport, as you won’t be able to fly directly to Thassos since the island has no airport.

  • Giola Lagoon

Giola Lagoon is an emerald rock pool popular amongst swimmers and tourists. It is one of the best places to take a dip when visiting Thassos.

  • Archeological Museum of Thassos

You can’t visit a Greek island without learning about its archeological finds and history. The Museum of Thassos has ancient artifacts on display and tells of the island’s ancient history.

  • Olive Oil Museum

Thassos’ Olive Oil Museum is an excellent way to mix tasting with learning. You’ll follow the production of olive oil and then get a tasting session at the end.

9. Antipaxos

Antipaxos is a tiny island adjacent to the nearby island of Paxos. With an estimated 20 residents, Antipaxos is one of the best Greek islands to visit for a deserted, desert-island feel.

You can visit from Paxos on a day trip or base yourself on Antipaxos. Book overnight accommodation in advance though, as spots are understandably limited compared to other larger Greek islands.

The only way to reach Antipaxos is by boat from Paxos. You can catch a water taxi from Paxos Harbor and arrive in Antipaxos in just fifteen to twenty minutes.

The nearest airport to Antipaxos (and Paxos) is in Corfu, so you’ll have to take two boat trips to reach Antipaxos. You can also take this tour from Corfu to explore Paxos and Antipaxos along the Turquoise waters of the Ionian sea to view the Caves of Paxos, admire the white cliffs of Erimitis and more.

  • Go snorkeling

Antipaxos has some of Greece’s best beaches. The waters are shallow, calm, and a beautiful blue – perfect for snorkeling. Just remember to bring snorkels with you or buy some from Paxos as there aren’t any shops in Antipaxos.

  • Take a boat tour

Taking a boat tour around Antipaxos allows you to see its coastline from a unique vantage point. If you are lucky, you may also spot dolphins or turtles.

  • Hike the island

The best thing about a small island is that you can hike the whole island. Allow around half a day, although the island only covers an area of 4km2.

10. Skiathos

Skiathos  is cosmopolitan and lively. Yes, you’ll have sandy beaches and traditional areas. However, Skiathos is one of the best Greek islands for partying and has an outgoing nightlife with lots of hospitality venues.

Most nightlife is centered around Skiathos Town, so stay there if you want easy access to the action.

Skiathos is well-connected to the other Sporades Islands by ferries. The island also has an airport with international and domestic charters. You can probably find a flight that flies directly to Skiathos, but you may have to stopover at Athens if not.

  • Shop and dine in Skiathos Old Town

Skiathos Town is that postcard-perfect center, with irregular grey slabbed streets and white-washed cafes and shops at every corner. Visit in the late afternoon for shopping and enjoy dusk dining al fresco.

  • Evangelista Monastery

Evangelista Monastery is a fantastic example of religious and historical architecture. It was also an essential base for Greek fighters in the Greek and Ottoman unrest. Allow at least a couple of hours to take in the monastery’s beauty and significance.

  • Lalaria Beach

Lalaria is a stunning beach surrounded by cliffs so steep that it is only accessible by boat. You can plan a boat trip and easily spend a whole day at Lalaria.

11. Astypalea

Want a Greek island that is lesser visited? Astypalea is one of the best Greek islands to visit for a quiet experience.

The island has Cycladic architecture and fantastic beaches and is small enough to get around on foot. It is easily one of the best islands to get off the beaten track, and you shouldn’t struggle with crowds of tourists – even in peak season.

You can fly to Astypalea from Athens about three times a week. But that is the island’s only regular aircraft connection, so make sure to plan ahead.

It is best to reach Astypalea by boat as there are regular connections between nearby Greek islands.

  • Astypalea Castle

Astypalea’s Venetian Castle sits on a hill above Chora, the island’s major town. You can hike up to explore the ruins and are rewarded with fantastic views and lots of historical and archeological information.

  • Traditional windmills

Eight windmills famously line a road in Chora, and it’s well worth walking to take a look. The windmills are white-washed with orange terracotta roofs and are popularly featured on postcards.

  • Drakos Cave

Drakos Cave is an exciting place to visit and full of stalactites and stalagmites. Drakos Cave is an excellent addition to your itinerary if you like natural attractions.

12. Mykonos

If you want flashy, outgoing nightlife,  Mykonos  is one of the best Greek islands to visit. Mykonos is known for its dance clubs and world-renowned DJ appearances.

Unlike party hotspots like Magaluf and Kavos though, Mykonos also retains a luxury, upscale side to its hospitality. Nightlife can be classy, and Mykonos is the best Greek island to visit and prove that.

Flying into Mykonos Airport is easy, and you’ll find regular flights from across Europe.

Mykonos also has regular ferries from other nearby islands, so you can always stick to the seas while traveling to the island.

  • Paraportiani Church

This famous church is entirely white and looks like a mound of rock rather than a building. However, the orthodox church is easily one of the most famous churches in Greece and is worth visiting.

  • Mykonos Windmills

Once practical and now just beautiful, the Mykonos Windmills are located on a hill outside Mykonos Town. It’s well worth a walk up to admire the windmills and enjoy the view over the town.

  • Little Venice

Health and safety nightmare or the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? We’ll let you decide. Little Venice is an area in Mykonos where colored balconies and white-washed houses dangle right over the ocean.

Rhodes is known for its history and definitely has a World Heritage Site or two. The island got its name from the Greek goddess Rhode, who was the daughter of Poseidon, and it is full of myths, archeology, and cultural significance.

Rhodes is the best Greek island to visit if you like Ancient Greek mythology and history. Take this Rhodes cruise to Simi Island where you’ll visit one of the most traditional and colorful islands in the Aegean Sea.

The best way to get to Rhodes is to fly into Rhodes Diagoras International Airport. However, there are also regular ferry services between nearby Dodecanese islands and the mainland. If you want to island-hop instead, there are enough regular boats to sail to Rhodes.

  • Acropolis of Rhodes

The Acropolis is one of Rhodes’ most famous archeological sites. You can wander different ruins, including an amphitheater.

  • Rodini Park

Rodini Park is a suburban park like no other. The park has fairy-like walkways with twisted branches as railings, shaded water features, and peacocks roaming en route.

  • Street of Knights of Rhodes

Drinking at inns on a medieval street is not what you imagine a Greek island holiday to be like, but it is an experience you should have. The cobbled ‘Street of Knights’ is an exciting place for a drink or two.

Evia is not the most commonly mentioned holiday destination, but we have no idea why. The island has the biggest complex of natural hot springs in Greece. Out of all of our ‘best Greek islands’, Evia is where to go if you want to experience bathing in springs.

Evia is also huge. It is the second-largest Greek island with plenty of attractions and even mountains to climb, like Dirfi. For outdoor adventures, Evia is the best Greek island.

Like Lefkada, Evia can be reached by car from the mainland. Evia is connected to the mainland by a large bridge, so it is an excellent option if you’d prefer to drive.

While Evia doesn’t have an airport, you can easily fly to Athens and then pick up a rental car to reach Evia.

  • Edipsos Springs

Edipsos is a spa town in Evia and is home to many thermal bath resorts. You can bathe in the luxury resorts or head to the beach to soak in the public hot springs for free. The town has over 60 springs, so you will find a quiet one.

  • Hike to find Drakospita

When hiking on hills and mountains in Evia, it’s common to find rock houses. These buildings are made with stacked rocks – similarly to drystone walls – and are called ‘dragon houses’. They aren’t just valuable shelters; some date back to the 8th century BC.

  • Drimona Waterfall

Hiking to and swimming in Drimona Waterfall is one of the most fun things to do in Evia. Plus, there is a small fossil collection by the entrance.

15. Kefalonia

Kefalonia is where to head to eat good food, drink wine, and unwind rather than party until the early hours. You’ll find the odd bar or two, but the focus is usually more on quality beverages than quantity.

Kefalonia is one of the best Greek islands to choose if you want to be surrounded by nature and just enjoy gorgeous beaches and hospitality.

Kefalonia has an international airport, so the best way to get to Kefalonia is to fly. Most European cities have flights to Kefalonia Airport.

There are also regular ferries to the Greek mainland and many islands in the Ionian Sea, including Zakynthos and Corfu.

  • Meet sea turtles

Thanks to Kefalonia’s quiet waters, you can find loggerhead sea turtles all over the island’s beaches and waters. The most reliable place to spot them is Argostoli Harbor, so head there first.

  • Climb Mount Aenos

Fancy a challenge? Hike the 6.5km trail up to the summit of Mount Aenos. You’ll need a full day, and the hike will take around five hours one way.

  • Spend a day in Assos

Assos is a coastal village with colorful houses. It’s the perfect place to dine out and spend an afternoon wandering.

Milos is known for its striking coastlines and limestone rock shelving. While not as busy as its neighboring Greek islands like Corfu or Zakynthos, it certainly has a buzz.

In peak seasons, Milos’ nightlife is enough to entertain you for a few nights. Then, throughout the day, the volcanic island has a lot of natural and historical attractions to explore. Milos is one of the best Greek islands to visit if you want to try something slightly new.

You can easily access Milos by ferry, and the island is well-connected by boat to other Cyclades islands.

Milos also has a domestic airport, so you can reach Milos by flying internally (usually from Athens). There are no international flights to Milos though, meaning you’ll most likely have an in-direct flight.

  • Sarakiniko Beach

Sarakiniko Beach looks a bit like you’ve landed on the moon. It is surrounded by overhanging white volcanic cliffs and is an amazing place for a beach day.

  • Milos Mining Museum

If you want an insight into Milos’ industrial history, the Mining Museum is a great place to start. It contains exhibits and artifacts, plus educational videos on the island’s mining history.

  • Catacombs of Milos

Brave? The Catacombs of Milos are a little creepy but otherwise impressive. The Christian burial tombs are in an underground network that dates back to the 1st century.

Syros is one of the best Greek islands to escape cruise ships and mass tourism. The island is small, with coastal cycadean villages and just a sprinkling of taverns and bars. Syros also has a rich cultural heritage, so you’ll have plenty of attractions to appreciate.

Syros has just enough infrastructure to keep things convenient yet not too much to disrupt the calm atmosphere. Syros is a great island for a peaceful retreat. For a quiet, authentic elegance, you shouldn’t look much further.

How to get to Syros

Syros Airport is only domestic and has a handful of weekly flights from Athens. You could fly if you want to, but getting the ferry is much more popular – even from Athens.

Ferry connections include all the main Cyclades islands and a few places on the mainland.

Things to do in Syros

  • Agios Stefanos

Sunset lovers, Agios Stefanos is the ultimate spot. The tiny Catholic church is tucked under a rock and is a beautiful place to sit and watch the ocean.

  • Saint Nicholas

Another sacred spot, Saint Nicholas, is an Orthodox church in the town of Ermoupoli. If you want an indoor activity, touring the church interior is fascinating, and there are ornate paintings, designs, and relics.

  • Miaouli Square

Miaouli Square is an architectural highlight of Syros. The square is surrounded by neoclassical buildings and rows of palm trees – the perfect spot for a morning stroll.

When a Greek island is described as ‘charming,’ it can seem cliche. However, you also immediately get the right idea. Symi is charming in every sense of the word; friendly, colorful, pretty, and slightly reserved.

Symi is one of the best Greek islands if you want a family atmosphere or a quiet couple’s holiday.

How to get to Symi

Symi does not have an airport, so you’ll have to reach the island by ferry.

The best way to reach Symi is by flying to Rhodes and catching a ferry there. However, Symi is also connected to many nearby islands and the mainland if you don’t mind a longer voyage.

Things to do in Symi

  • Symi Castle

Symi Castle is a 14th-century-built castle set on a hill above Ano Symi. It takes approximately 30 minutes to hike there and is best timed with sunset for the best views over Symi.

Symi has lots of beaches and coves that are inaccessible without a boat. Hopping on a boat for a day is a fun way to discover more of Symi’s hidden corners.

  • Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis

This monastery is one of the most beautiful on Symi, which is saying something, as Symi has a lot of stunning monasteries. The monastery is still functioning and is home to a brotherhood of monks, but you can tour the property during opening hours.

19. Donoussa

Donoussa is a small, remote island located off the shores of Naxos. Laidback and unassuming, Donoussa has a real ‘manana, manana’ atmosphere and is a grand island to experience rural Greece.

Donoussa is safe, but you should be prepared to deal with fewer facilities than on other Greek islands. Donussa is one of the best Greek islands to visit if you are happy with a simplistic lifestyle on holiday.

How to get to Donoussa

Donoussa is only accessible by ferry. You can catch a ferry to Donoussa from most islands in the Aegean Sea and Athens on the mainland.

The best way to reach Donoussa is to fly into Naxos and catch a short ferry.

Things to do in Donoussa

  • Take a boat tour to the caves

On Donoussa boat tours, you can visit the Cave of the Wall and the Cave of Fokospilla. These caves make a fun day out, and the light reflections often brighten the appearance of the water.

  • Church of Holy Cross

This church is an eye-catching white building with a blue dome. It was built to house the Holy Cross relic and is the site of celebrations every September the 14th.

  • Kedros Beach

Kedros Beach is popular because of its beach bar and dramatic WW2 shipwreck. If you want an exciting beach day, Kedros is a good option.

20. Serifos

Serifos is another remote island on our ‘best Greek islands’ list. Serifos is everything you want on a quiet Greek island – full of tradition, the best beaches, and friendly hospitality.

Be prepared to bring a beach towel, as you won’t find beach facilities and endless convenient infrastructure. But, if that’s what you are avoiding, Serifos is one of the best Greek islands to visit to escape the crowds.

How to get to Serifos

Like many remote Greek islands, Serifos is only accessible by ferry. It’s best to fly into Athens and then catch the ferry to Serifos from there.

Things to do in Serifos

  • Go tasting at Chrysoloras Winery

Chrysoloras Winery is scenically perched on a hill in rural Serifos. You can learn about local wine production and sample the best Greek white and rose wines.

  • Hike the mining trail

Mining is central to the history of most Greek islands, Serifos included. The mining trail is a great way to combine outdoor activity with history, and the trail passes disused mining machinery, railway tracks, and mine shafts.

  • Attend a pottery workshop

Kerameio Ceramic Studio is a relaxed, creative place to spend a few hours. And what better souvenir to take home than one you’ve made yourself? Attend a pottery workshop if you can, or purchase some local pottery from the gift shop.

So, we’ve covered Antipaxos, but what if Antipaxos was just a bit too quiet for your liking? Paxos is a fantastic choice if you still want to stay in the Paxi islands.

Paxos is still slow-paced and laidback. It just has more infrastructure and entertainment than Antipaxos. Paxos is the best Greek island if you want a gentle introduction to rural living. Plus, the local boat trips are amazing.

How to get to Paxos

There is no airport at Paxos, so you must use the ferry. The quickest way to get to Paxos is to fly into Corfu and then get the ferry from Corfu to Paxos. However, there are many ferry connections between Paxos and other islands and the mainland if you prefer to take a different route.

Things to do in Paxos

  • Shop and dine in Gaios

Gaios is the capital and center of action in Paxos. Whether you want a boat trip, souvenir, or meal out, Gaios is the place to go. Allow at least half a day to enjoy the town.

  • Erimitis Bay

Erimitis Bay is the prettiest beach in Paxos. To reach it, you descend (what feels like) endless flights of stairs. But, at the bottom, surrounded by limestone cliffs and sitting on a sandy beach, it is all worthwhile.

  • Tripitos Arch

Tripitos Arch is a unique cliff formation best seen by boat trips. If you fancy a challenge on the land though, you can complete a hike to overlook the arch from the cliffs.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of which one of our ‘best’ Greek islands you choose, you’ll have a fantastic experience. The Greek islands are known for their delicious food, warm hospitality, and beautiful beaches.

If you want an unforgettable holiday experience, you’ve already made a great decision by narrowing down your search to the best Greek islands. Greece is full of beautiful islands and  places to visit .

Still, picking the island most suited to you will make your holiday even better. We hope that you’ve found your perfect match while reading this guide.

Plan Your Next Trip to Greece With These Resources

  • Places to Visit in Epirus – The Best Kept Secret in Greece
  • 22 Best Things to do in Mykonos, Greece
  • 17 Best Cities in Greece To Visit
  • 25 Best Things to do in Santorini, Greece
  • 25 Interesting and Fun Facts About Greece

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

You May Also Like

22 Best Things to do in Mykonos In 2024

17 Best Things to Do in Zakynthos, Greece In 2024

Discover the Magic of Yacht Getaways – Greece Ionian Explorer

About ThePlanetD Team

Guest writers for The Planet D offer insider tips and information on destinations that they are experts in. We can't be everywhere at once, and it is important to have the highest level of travel information from local writers and experienced travelers.

Join thousands of others who get our monthly updates!

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

2 thoughts on “21 Best Greek Islands to Visit In 2024”

I want to have an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ experience where I drop off the face of the planet and move to Greece.

Which is the best Greek island to stay on for the weekend?

How to choose which Greek islands to visit

Oia village in Santorini, Greece.

Oia village in Santorini, Greece.

BY Alissa Jenkins

Last updated . 07 February 2020

With some 6000 islands and islets surrounding Greece, each boasting irresistible waters, myriad landscapes and varying degrees of development, the question begs just which island is for you?

Here we speak with the good folk from Sunsail (sailing holiday specialists) to get their take on which islands suit what type of traveller.

The picturesque waters of Santorini, Greece

The picturesque waters of Santorini, Greece

Located: in the southern Cyclades.

Best known for: pure white villages, craggy cliffs, volcanic black-and-red beaches and stunning sunsets.

If Santorini was a person: she’d be a popular sort renowned for her exotic good looks, often spotted socialising in town with a local wine in hand, or reclining on a beach.

Ideal for: photographers, couples and sunset lovers.

Must see: At the northern point of Santorini is the instantly-indentifiable township of Oia. Here you’ll see the Cycladic white-and-blue buildings contrasted against the rusty red cliffs that has made Santorini famous the world over. Bring your camera!

Hot tip: Looking for the best spot to snap a picture of Santorini’s celebrated sunset? Oia is best-known for the view but if you want to avoid crowds, the outlook from Thira in the south also deserves serious travel-bragging rights.

Chora port in Mykonos, Greece.

Chora port in Mykonos, Greece.

Located: in the Cyclades between Tinos, Syros, Paros and Naxos.

B est known for: its pumping nightlife, shopping and celeb spotting.

If Mykonos was a person : she’d be a loud, proud social butterfly who plays beach babe by day, party animal by night, with a healthy bank balance to boot.

Ideal for: oiled-up beach bums, fashionistas and party goers.

Must see: The whitewashed windmills overlooking Mykonos Town are iconic Cycladic buildings – a prime photo opportunity once you’ve recovered from the night before.

Hot tip: Avoid the crowds and visit in the early morning or off-season to soak in the quieter, small-town atmosphere.

Paleokastritsa bay in Corfu, Greece.

Paleokastritsa bay in Corfu, Greece.

Located: off the northwest coast of Greece.

Best known for: golden beaches and emerald green mountainsides.

If Corfu was a person: they’d be a lover of the outdoors, hiking mountains by day then partying until dawn – recovering the next morning by heading to the nearest beach and diving into some watersports.

Ideal for: active explorers, thrill seekers and party animals.

Must see: Dassia is the place for watersports, but history fans should explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Corfu.

Hot tip: Looking for quiet beaches away from the crowds? Head to the west and north coasts of Corfu.

greek island visit

Paxos island, Greece.

Located: around 11 kilometres south of Corfu.

Best known for: its twenty-plus pearl-white beaches and olive groves.

If Paxos was a person: she’d be a laidback, Mediterranean beach babe who enjoys the simple things in life, like reclining on a secluded beach or wandering barefoot through an olive grove.

Ideal for: travellers in search of some peace, quiet and an empty beach.

Must see: Paxos’ adorable postcard-perfect harbours are a must see, as are the island’s restaurants, which boast locally-grown olives and wine from nearby Antipaxos island.

Hot tip: Three kilometres south is Paxos’ little sister Antipaxos, which is covered in vineyards – make sure you sample some of the local produce!

greek island visit

Morning view of Chora on Ios island, Greece.

Located: in the Cyclades, halfway between Naxos and Santorini.

Best known for: golden beaches and sapphire waters, hillside villages and a surprisingly raucous nightlife.

If Ios was a person: she’d be a lazy beach dweller by day, lapping up the Mediterranean sun and serene waters, but then as the sun goes down she’d liven up and party the night away…only to do it all again the next day.

Ideal for: beach lovers and party goers.

Must see: Take a boat trip to one of Ios’ many secluded caves and swimming holes for respite from popular beaches.

Hot tip: From July to August, Ios is a much-loved stomping ground for hedonistic younger crowds, so aim for the shoulder season for a quieter pace that appeals to more mature travellers and families.

Lefkas island, Greece.

Lefkas island, Greece.

Located: off the west coast of Greece, around 20 kilometres from Preveza airport.

Best known for: beaches, forest hiking trails and a small collection of lavish resorts.

If Lefkas was a person: she’d be a nature-lover at heart, with a particular knack for hiking and swimming. She’d also be quite the bookworm, with a library full of history books.

Ideal for: hikers, beach bums and history buffs.

Must see: See the history of Lefkas captured in the castle of Agia Mavra, from its Greek builders to its Turkish and Venetian occupiers.

Hot tip: If you have a head for heights, clamber 80 steps down a sheer cliff face to the stunning golden-sand beach of Porto Katsiki – it’s Lefkas’ best kept secret. Alternatively, you can skip the hike and sail there.

Kefalonia (Cephalonia/Kefallonia)

Kefalonia island, Greece.

Kefalonia island, Greece.

Located: in the Ionian, just west of Ithaca and north of Zakynthos.

Best known for: its pretty beaches, striking caves and delectable local cuisine.

If Kefalonia was a person: she’d be a warm-hearted social type, whose world revolves around life’s simple pleasures – good food, local wine and beach dips in between.

Ideal for: Greek cuisine aficionados and those seeking a more laidback lifestyle.

Must see: Don’t leave the island without visiting Melissani Cave – a unique cavern with an underground lake that glows a stunning blue-green when sunlit.

Hot tip: Myrtos might be beautiful but it’s also Kefalonia’s most famous beach, so get here early because in summer it gets busy quickly.

Ithaca (Ithaka/Ithaki)

Ithaca island, Greece.

Ithaca island, Greece.

Located: in the Ionian, east of Kefalonia.

Best known for: ancient legends and hidden beaches.

If Ithaca was a person: she’d be much more quiet than her big sister Kefalonia, but no less beautiful. She’d enjoy life in the slow lane, relaxing with bike rides through scenic countryside or pondering life at a traditional harbour.

Ideal for:  cyclists and historians.

Must see: Kioni is a picturesque little harbour frequented by sailors, and is an idyllic stopover on any trip. There are plenty of secluded pebbly bays nearby too for a quiet swim.

Hot tip: Ithaca’s handful of museums are the place to go if you want to find out more about Ithaca’s history – Greek legend depicts this island as the home of the heroic Odysseus.

Meganissi island, Greece.

Meganissi island, Greece.

Located: in the Ionian, southeast of Lefkas.

Best known for: laidback island life, quiet beaches and sea caves.

If Meganissi was a person: she’d be a traditionalist who enjoys peace and quiet, sampling olives and taking boat rides out to secluded beaches.

Ideal for: beach bums and people searching for traditional Greece.

Must see: Meganissi is most famous for the sea caves that dot the island, the largest of which – Papanikolis – is easily big enough to accommodate a tour boat.

Hot tip: The most remote bays and beaches are only accessible by boat, so take a trip out to find your own private slice of paradise.

greek island visit

Kalamos, Greece

Located: off the western coast of mainland Greece.

Best known for: hiking trails, history and snorkelling.

If Kalamos was a person: she’d be quiet and reserved, but most in her element when diving into deep turquoise waters or wandering thick pine forests, away from human civilisation.

Ideal for: hikers and those seeking a side of Greece that’s untouched by tourism.

Must see: Port Leone in the south of Kalamos was abandoned after the 1953 earthquake, but if you stop here now you can see a village preserved in time.

Hot tip: Keep your eyes on the sea – dolphins are frequently spotted in the serene waters around Kalamos.

Aegina (Aigina)

Aegina island, Greece.

Aegina island, Greece.

Located: in the Saronic Gulf, southwest of Athens.

Best known for: amazing beaches and ancient history.

If Aegina was a person: she’d be a sun-loving beachgoer, where you could often find her devouring novels inspired by ancient history.

Ideal for: any sun-seeking, would-be Indiana Jones.

Must see: Aegina’s greatest attraction is the Temple of Aphaia, an incredibly well-preserved ancient temple perched on a hilltop. The trip up is well worth it for the spectacular views alone.

Hot tip: Aegina is only a short trip from Athens so it’s popular with daytrippers – get here early if you want to avoid the crowds.

Poros island, Greece.

Poros island, Greece.

Located: at the entrance of the Saronic Gulf, south of Aegina.

Best known for: its traditional villages, citrus groves and history.

If Poros was a person: she’d be a sophisticated type who enjoys museums, walking amongst neoclassical buildings and a glass of wine on a traditional waterfront.

Ideal for: history buffs and walkers.

Must see: Head inland to see the Theatre of Epidavros, a perfectly preserved theatre with incredible acoustics that have to be heard to be believed.

Hot tip: Want to dodge the crowds? Across on the mainland is Lemonodassos, a huge lemon grove that makes for a quiet – and fragrant – walking route.

Kithnos (Kythnos)

Kithnos island, Greece.

Kithnos island, Greece.

Located: in the western Cyclades, between Kea and Serifos.

Best known for: stunning beaches, snorkelling and remote traditional villages.

If Kithnos was a person: she’d be quiet and traditional, keen to stay off any tourist trail and find secluded beaches.

Ideal for : sun seekers and beach bums.

Must see: Kolona beach is Kithnos’ most famous or having two sides! This narrow peninsula is characterised by its fine golden sand and blue water on either side.

Hot tip: Fancy an open air bath? Loutra, in the northeast, is famous for its thermal springs, which is an idyllic place to unwind at the end of a long day.

Kea island, Greece.

Kea island, Greece.

Located: in the Cyclades, north of Kithnos.

Best known for: clear blue waters, ancient ruins and peaceful beaches.

If Kea was a person: she’d be laidback but hate crowds, opting for deserted beaches over bustling towns.

Ideal for: snorkelers and swimmers.

Must see: The crystal clear, warm waters of Kea make this a great place for snorkelling or diving. Join a local tour operator or head out by yourself.

Hot tip: Hiking Kea lets you see ruins of its ancient past, including city foundations and the stones of temples, dedicated to Greek legends Apollo and Athena.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

Cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

You might also like

How to spend 48-hours in Athens

How to spend 48-hours in Athens

The ghosts of Greece’s venerable ancient history rub shoulders with restless youths, contemporary architecture and lots of graffiti in modern-day At...

travel adventure experiences sights world undiscovered

The 10 unquestionably hottest travel destinations this year

With a whole year ahead to fill with new adventures and experiences, here is the ultimate roster of destinations to keep you tantalised and fascinate...

Azure waters surround Leros Island, Greece.

Leros – the Greek island tourists don’t know about

Enchanting Leros is not the Greek island your travel agent tells you about, but should, as Despina Meris reveals. (more…)...

Kythira, Greece, secret travel gems Europe

Four secret spots to explore in Greece

Greece's stunning seaside views and charming villages make it very popular with tourists. Fortunately these 4 of our 100 Secret Gems You Need To K...

subscriptions footer

The islands are the main characteristic of Greece’s morphology and an integral part of the country’s culture across the ages.

The country includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Greek Seas , of which only 227 islands are inhabited. The Greek coastline offers a diverse landscape: beaches stretching over many kilometres, sheltered bays and coves, sandy beaches, sand-dunes, pebble beaches, wetlands and deltas, caves formed by seawater and dark-coloured sand in volcanic areas. Explore the beautiful Greek islands!

Picturesque seaside village with tiled roofs in front of a canal with small boats and another village on the opposite side.

Argosaronic

The Peloponnese’s east shoreline and the islands dotting the Argolic & Saronic Gulf waters are popular tourist destinations in close proximity to Athens. Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses can offer their visitors memorable experiences that include views of beautiful land & seascapes, impressive archaeological sites, museums, stately homes, picturesque villages and wonderful beaches.

White windmills with red roof at the top of hills with sparse bush vegetation. In the background there are other hills.

The most famous island group in the Aegean Sea comprises some of the most beautiful islands in the world! Gorgeous sandy beaches, architecture in white and blue, traditional lifestyle, folk music, warm, hospitable people and barren landscapes with isolated chapels turn a trip to the Cyclades into a lifetime experience.

Pier with boats and a small fortress made of stones at sunset with the lights on.

Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges, and become part of the island’s rich gastronomic culture. Crete is, after all, a small universe teeming with beauties and treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!

Traditional seaside village with colorful houses and trees under the sun.

The island complex of Dodecanese in south-eastern Aegean is the sunniest corner in Greece. Twelve large islands and numerous smaller ones with crystal clear waters, sandy or pebbly beaches, important archaeological finds, imposing Byzantine and medieval monuments and unique traditional settlements are waiting to be discovered.

Modern cable bridge over the sea that leads to a tree-lined area. In the background you can see a city.

Evia, the second largest island of Greece and the third in the eastern Mediterranean, is located close to the Prefecture of Attica. However, it has a somewhat mainland character, since two bridges - the modern, suspended one and the older, sliding one - link it to mainland Greece, called "Sterea Ellada”.

View from above of a sandy beach and a shipwreck. Around them are high rocks and in the background you can see the horizon.

Scattered off the western coastline of Central Greece and to the south of Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands are an island group comprising large and small islands.

Four windmills made of stone on the sea at sunset.

North Aegean

Just a breath away from the Asia Minor coast, in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea, explore islands with fascinating green landscapes, crystal clear waters, beautiful sandy and pebbly beaches, traditional villages and rich history on each island. Choose among big islands (Ikaria, Samos, Limnos, Lesvos, Chios, Thasos, Samothrace) and some smaller ones (Agios Efstratios, Agios Minas, Antipsara, Thymaina, Oinousses, Samiopoula, Fournoi and Psara) offer you exciting holiday options. Despite the fact that some of these islands are far from mainland Greece, they have grown into popular destinations thanks to frequent ferry and flight connection.

Girl with open arms on a sunny beach with sand and trees on the side is looking at the calm sea.

Emerald waters and a salty sea breeze keep you company on the most carefree of yachting holidays. Rules and restrictions are blown away like a puff of cloud on the clear blue horizons; no hotel check-ins or “quiet hours” to observe. You’ll swim on the crest of silvery waves with dolphins as playmates, explore unspoilt beaches, discover a brand new passion for fishing, find the perfect spot in a calm, windless harbour and succumb to the ruby sunset, cocktail at hand.

Picturesque seaside village with tiled roofs in front of a canal with small boats and another village on the opposite side.

Picturesque seaside village with tiled roofs in front of a canal with small boats and another village on the opposite side.

White windmills with red roof at the top of hills with sparse bush vegetation. In the background there are other hills.

© P. Merakos

Traditional seaside village with colorful houses and trees under the sun.

Four seaside windmills during dusk

Beach with white stones and turquoise waters. People in swimsuits on the beach. Rocks around like a cave.

Best Greek islands to visit in your lifetime

Book your individual trip , stress-free with local travel experts

  • roughguides.com
  • best-islands-greece

written by Nick Edwards

updated 27.02.2023

facebook

Greece offers well over two hundred inhabited islands of all shapes and sizes, set like gems in the sparkling Ionian and Aegean seas. It can be hard to pick which ones to visit on your trip. Former resident and Rough Guide to Greece author Nick Edwards picks the best Greek islands to visit.

1. Crete: one of the best Greek islands for archaeology

2. milos: the island with the most beautiful beaches, 3. pátmos: perfect for spirituality, 4. lefkada: best greek island for ocean activity, 5. lésvos: the island with a little bit of everything, 6. skiathos: an ideal mix of relaxation & nightlife.

  • 7. Skopelos: Greece's greenest island

8. Zákynthos: best of Greek Islands to visit with family

9. sérifos: one of the best greek islands for a calm stay, 10. náxos: the happiest of greek islands, 11. rhodes: one of the best greek islands for exploring the mediterranean sea, 12. corfu: an island with a beautiful, lush landscape.

The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to the Greek Islands , your essential guide for visiting Greek islands.

When planning your Greek holiday, take a look at our list of tips for travelling in Greece .

Tailor-made travel itineraries for Greece, created by local experts

The Historical and Mythological Cyclades islands

10 days  / from 2657 USD

The Historical and Mythological Cyclades islands

The Cyclades islands include two of the most famous Greek Islands: Mykonos and Santorini. Visit these and some of the smaller, quieter, islands. With white washed houses, narrow cobbled streets, blue domed roofs and stunning beaches, they are what Greece is all about.

A secluded villa stay on Mainland Greece

9 days  / from 2246 USD

A secluded villa stay on Mainland Greece

Stay in a secluded private villa with magnificent views to the sea and explore this beautiful corner of Mainland Greece with your own rental car. Under the impressive Mt Taygetos in Southern Peloponnese, the region of Mani will give you a snapshot of authentic Greece.

Along the Coast of Crete: from Heraklion to Platanias

10 days  / from 2030 USD

Along the Coast of Crete: from Heraklion to Platanias

As Greece's largest island, Crete's culture and atmosphere is distinctly different from mainland Greece. Thousands of years of unique culture and rich history complement the island's untamed natural beauty. Explore Crete at your own pace with this unique self-drive trip!

Cultural and natural sites of Athens and the Peloponnese

8 days  / from 1609 USD

Cultural and natural sites of Athens and the Peloponnese

Welcome to wonderful Athens for an unforgettable adventure. Enjoy getting lost in this maze of charming streets, where the modern sits beautifully with the ancient. Venture out into the Peloponnese on mainland Greece, and discover historical, cultural and natural wonders the region is blessed with.

An Odyssey Adventure in Ancient Greece

10 days  / from 3472 USD

An Odyssey Adventure in Ancient Greece

Learn the secrets of Ancient Greek mythology and history visiting the world-renowned site of the Acropolis, explore the unspoiled landscape of Peloponnese, become a true Spartan warrior in Thermopylae and much more - this self drive tour takes you on a real Greek adventure.

Explore Classical Greece: self-drive motorhome trip

15 days  / from 2711 USD

Explore Classical Greece: self-drive motorhome trip

This 15-days motorhome road trip will take you to Athens, the city of legends and some of the most fascinating classical sites, such as Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi and the man-made marvels of the Corinth Canal and Byzantine monasteries of Meteora. A perfect tour for history.

Athens: City of the Gods

4 days  / from 950 USD

Athens: City of the Gods

Welcome to wonderful Athens. Wander this maze of charming streets, where the modern sits beautifully with the ancient; discover the Acropolis and the Parthenon, the crowning architectural achievements of the Classical Age; indulge your sense with delicious Mediterranean food at local tavernas.

Discover Naxos in style

9 days  / from 2365 USD

Discover Naxos in style

Stay in a secluded private villa and explore Naxos at your own pace in your own rental car. Lasting just above 1 week, this itinerary leaves plenty of room for relaxation and exploration of the amazing island of Naxos, with its authentic mountainous villages and magnificent sea views.

Epirus and Athens: The Ancient Sites

8 days  / from 1544 USD

Epirus and Athens: The Ancient Sites

Discover the ancient cities of the Epirus region and Athens. Shrouded in myths and legends of Greek gods and Roman and Byzantine warriors, the sites in the Epirus region of Greece, temples, castles, fortresses and rivers, all have tales to tell.

An exclusive stay in Milos

9 days  / from 2549 USD

An exclusive stay in Milos

Get to know the most exotic island in the Aegean by staying in a private luxury villa by the sea. Volcanic rocks paint the beaches red, pink and orange, white rock formations, emerald green waters and caves eroded by the sea, are steeped in stories of pirates. Milos is truly unique.

Relaxing discovery of classical Greece

7 days  / from 1534 USD

Relaxing discovery of classical Greece

Spend a wonderful few days exploring Athens and the ancient sites surrounding the capital on mainland Greece. Blessed with glorious weather, nature and beaches, see sites that rival anything which you may find on the Greek Islands.

From Athens to Milos, Naxos and Santorini

11 days  / from 4828 USD

From Athens to Milos, Naxos and Santorini

Stay in Athens, Milos, Naxos, and Santorini, as well as a day trip to Mykonos. Immerse in history at the Acropolis, bask in the Cycladic charm of Milos, explore Naxos's ancient sites, and savor sunsets in Santorini. Cruise the Aegean, savor food tours, and relish private excursions.

Greek Dreams: Athens, Corfu, Santorini and Crete

13 days  / from 4363 USD

Greek Dreams: Athens, Corfu, Santorini and Crete

A private journey through Athens, Corfu, Santorini, and Crete, staying in exquisite accommodations. Explore ancient history, savor Mediterranean cuisine, and unwind in stunning settings, creating beautiful memories throughout.

Athens, Meteora & Santorini

8 days  / from 1793 USD

Athens, Meteora & Santorini

Experience Greece's best: Athens' culture, culinary adventures, Meteora's monastic marvels, and the breathtaking beauty of Santorini. An unforgettable journey awaits!

Majestic Greece: Temples, Castles, Monasteries & Myths

10 days  / from 5508 USD

Majestic Greece: Temples, Castles, Monasteries & Myths

Go on an epic fast paced 10-day journey with a private driver through Greece's ancient wonders & natural beauty. From Athens to Meteora, experience history, culture & breathtaking landscapes along with local tour guides, all culminating in a journey of a lifetime. Recommended for the months Apr-Oct.

Mainland & Islands: Athens, Paros and Santorini

9 days  / from 3931 USD

Mainland & Islands: Athens, Paros and Santorini

Embark on a 9-day Greek odyssey! Begin with an Athens Acropolis tour, relax on the idyllic island of Paros, and then immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of Santorini. Explore history, unwind on stunning beaches, and relish unforgettable moments on this incredible journey.

Greek Island Hopping: 4 Cycladic Gems

12 days  / from 3607 USD

Greek Island Hopping: 4 Cycladic Gems

Hop between the islands of Andros, Tinos, Naxos and Syros on this authentic trip. Drive around stunning coastlines, explore mountain villages and unique paths, meet the locals, visit ancient sites, and relax on secluded beaches as you are transfixed by the allure of the Aegean’s turquoise waters.

Capital & islands - Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Crete

12 days  / from 3175 USD

Capital & islands - Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Crete

Experience a diverse Greek holiday exploring Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. Enjoy daily excursions and the freedom of a rental car in Crete, immersing yourself in rich history, picturesque landscapes, and local charm.

As Greece’s largest island, Crete is something of an all-rounder. Crete boasts the dramatic White Mountains, kilometres of fine beaches, the delightful Samaria Gorge and several interesting cities, not least the island capital of Iraklion. For anyone interested in archaeology, however, it’s the obvious place to combine the joys of an island with a variety of ancient remains to rival the mainland.

Just 5km outside of Iraklion lies Knossos , the island’s preeminent ancient site, with its grand, second millennium BC Minoan palace, where King Minos once kept the legendary Minotaur. The layout of the interconnected halls and rooms is truly labyrinthine and much of the palace amazingly well preserved.

Here you can marvel at superb ancient art, such as the famous dolphin fresco. Iraklion’s archaeological museum, meanwhile, is also one of the country’s finest, with a host of fascinating Minoan treasures. East along the coast, Malia Palace is another great site from the same era.

A fine fresco in Knossos Palace, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

A fine fresco in Knossos Palace, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Other star Minoan attractions near the south coast are the Palace of Phaestos, which enjoys a splendid hillside location and view of Mount Psiloritis, and the smaller remains at Ayia Triada.

In the same region, the ruined capital of a Roman province that encompassed Crete and a chunk of north Africa can be seen at Gortys. Further afield the Dhiktean Cave and Palace of Zakros are yet more ancient sites to be enjoyed.

If a beach holiday is what you're looking for in Crete, explore our guide to the best beaches in Crete .

Where to stay on Crete:

  • For families: Corinna Mare
  • For peaceful and stunning surroundings: Kavos Hotel & Suites

Find more accommodation options to stay in Crete

Despite being one of the lower profile Cyclades , most beach connoisseurs rate Milos as one of the best Greek islands. Perhaps that is not so surprising, thanks to its volcanic nature and horseshoe shape, it boasts an impressive seventy-five beaches, yet is barely 20km across.

Rarely crowded except in the height of peak season, Milos has a laidback feel and offers plenty of choices in accommodation and eating.

One of the best beaches on the south coast is sandy Paleohóri, gently heated by underground thermal currents and linked to a second strand, hemmed in by colourful cliffs, via a tunnel through the rock. The headland that encompasses the northern settlements of Adhámas and Plaka is punctuated by a variety of coves.

The long sandy stretch at Pollonia in the northeast is shaded by tamarisks. It is the rugged west coast, however, that offers the purest beauty and most undeveloped beaches of Triadhes, Ammoudharaki and Kleftiko, the latter accessible only by boat.

Get to know the most exotic island in the Aegean with this tailor-made trip to Milos . Volcanic rocks paint the beaches red, pink and orange, white rock formations, emerald green waters and caves eroded by the sea, are steeped in stories of pirates. Milos is truly unique.

Where to stay on Milos:

  • For budget stays: Hotel Eleni
  • For beach location: Artemis Seaside Resort

Find more accommodation options to stay in Milos

Sarakiniko beach in beautiful island of Milos, Greece © leoks/Shutterstock

Sarakiniko beach on the beautiful island of Milos - one of the best Greek islands © leoks/Shutterstock

Given the ever-present significance of religion in Greece, diminutive Pátmos is regarded as one of the best Greek islands. It’s where St John holed up and received the visions that he dictated to his disciple Prohoros as the Revelation, the final book of the New Testament.

Hike up early in the morning to the cave where this took place. It's now enclosed in an eleventh-century chapel. Here you'll have the best chance of getting the place to yourself and even being able to rest your head in the niche where the saint laid his. Gazing out across the sea to the surrounding islands is enough to get even hard-nosed cynics feeling spiritual.

Monastery St. John, Patmos Island, Greece

Monastery St. John, Patmos Island, Greece © leoks/Shutterstock

Further up the hill, another eleventh-century monastery, that of Ayiou Ioannou Theologou, commands more wonderful views and is home to a community of monks. Much of the solid structure is off-limits to visitors but the church is delightful.

Likewise, the museum displays some dazzling Orthodox paraphernalia, dark and brooding medieval icons, and some parchment manuscripts. Needless to say, there are some fine sandy beaches and plenty of secular delights to detain the visitor back down at sea level.

Where to stay in Pátmos:

  • For luxury: Patmos Aktis Suites & Spa
  • For charming atmosphere: Skala Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay in Pátmos

Mid-sized Lefkada has one of Europe’s largest windsurfing centres (near its southern tip) and a gleaming new marina on the edge of the island capital. This makes it one of the best Greek islands for those who love to spend time on the water. It also boasts easy accessibility, being joined to the mainland by a causeway.

Look out for dramatic mountain scenery and a few of the most stunning beaches in the Ionian Sea on its west coast. In addition, Lefkada Town is an attractive and cultural place, with some fine old churches.

Lefkada island, Ionian Sea, Greece © Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock

Lefkada island, Ionian Sea, Greece © Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock

Yachties flock here for the great facilities at the marina, the large dry dock at Vlyho and the ease of mooring at the various bays on the east coast, such as Dessimi, Rouda and Syvota. The satellite islands opposite the main resort of Nydri constitute good sailing territory too, while Nydri itself offers the usual range of watersports.

Meanwhile, at Lefkada’s southern end, the bay that stretches from Vassiliki to Pondi draws a youthful crowd. They take advantage of the favourable wind patterns and shallow water that are ideal for windsurfing. At any one time, you might count literally hundreds of colourful sails flapping in the breeze.

Where to stay in Lefkada:

  • For sea view: Florena Hotel
  • For calm stays: Katerina Lefkada

Find more accommodation options to stay in Lefkada

Related articles from the blog

Souvlaki © Shutterstock

The third-largest island behind Crete and Evvia, versatile Lésvos (often referred to as Mytilini after its capital) is, surprisingly, little visited. Mytilini itself is a large town with a rather grand seafront, an extensive fortress and several absorbing museums, plus plenty of places to eat and drink.

Among the smaller towns that impress architecturally, Molyvos (aka Mithymna) and Ayiassos stand out. The former sits on a north coast headland crowned by an imposing castle. The latter straddles a mountainside valley and has a warren of streets around the picturesque central church. Various other beautiful monasteries are dotted around the island.

The coastline is blessed with numerous excellent beaches. None are better than the 9 km-long stretch of pebble and sand at Vatera on the south coast. But there are more geological features than just rock and sand. The large shallow Gulf of Kalloni includes salt marshes that are a birdwatcher’s dream. Over in the west there’s a petrified forest; and thermal spas punctuate the eastern half.

Lesvos island, view of town Molyvos (Mithymna) with old castle above © leoks/Shutterstock

Lesvos island, view of town Molyvos (Mithymna) with old castle above © leoks/Shutterstock

As the home of Greece’s most highly rated ouzo, there are a fair few lauded distilleries, such as Varvayianni and Samara. Yet the island also produces great wines, such as Methymneos, and olive products.

Finally, there is a strong cultural aspect to Lésvos, which has had a literary reputation since ancient times, as the birthplace of the poets Sappho, Aesop and more recently Elytis. It is also the birthplace of the twentieth-century artists Theriade and Theophilos, who have museums in their honour on the island.

A lot of Sappho’s erotic poetry was addressed towards other women (quite a thing for the sixth century). Her legacy is perpetually sustained at lively Skala Eresou, which draws visitors from all over the world.

Where to stay in Lésvos:

  • For town stays: Lesvion Hotel
  • For romantic stays: Villa Molivos Castle

Find more accommodation options to stay in Lésvos

Undulating green countryside, some fine rural monasteries and a labyrinthine old town notwithstanding, the real business of Skiáthos is beaches: by far the best, if also the busiest, in the Sporades. There are nearly 60 strands, most with fine, pale sand, but still barely enough room for the legions of visitors.

The main road along the south and southeast coasts serves an almost unbroken line of villas, hotels, minimarkets and restaurants. Although they’ve not impinged much on Skiáthos’ natural beauty, they make it difficult to find anything particularly Greek here. But by hiking or using a 4WD vehicle, you can find relative solitude, refreshing vistas and charming medieval monuments in the island’s north.

Lalaria beach, Skiathos, Greece © Shutterstock

Lalaria beach, Skiathos, Greece © Shutterstock

Skiathos Town, the only real population centre on the island, is set on a couple of low hills around a point, with the ferry harbour and new town to the east, and the picturesque old port, with the old town rising above it, in the west.

There are few specific sights in Skiáthos, though the Alexándros Papadiamántis Museum, housed in the nineteenth-century home of one of Greece’s best-known writers, is worth a look.

The peninsula that separates the two harbours, the Boúrtzi, makes for an enjoyable stroll. Surrounded by crumbling defences and a few rusty cannon it is today a peaceful setting for the one-room Maritime Museum, a café with great views, and an open-air municipal theatre, with regular summertime music and drama performances.

Where to stay in Skiathos:

  • For budget stays: Babis
  • For bay location: La Luna Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay in Skiathos

7. Skopelos: Greece's greenest island

Skopelos is bigger and more rugged than Skiáthos, and its concessions to tourism are lower-key and in better taste, despite a boom in recent years fuelled by the filming here of Mamma Mia!.

Much of the countryside, especially the southwest coast, really is as spectacular as it appears in the movie, with a series of pretty cove beaches backed by extensive pine forests as well as olive groves and orchards of plums. Skópelos Town (Hóra) and Glóssa, the two main towns, are among the prettiest in the Sporades.

Skopelos island, Greece © Shutterstock

Skopelos island, Greece © Shutterstock\

Away from the main roads there’s plenty of walking on Skópelos. Among the better hikes are those east of Skópelos Town, where three historic monasteries, Metamórfosis, Evangelístrias and Prodhrómou stand on the slopes of Mount Paloúki. Near Glóssa, there’s a beautiful 45-minute trail to the renovated village of Palió Klíma, via the island’s oldest settlement, Athéato (Mahalás).

The town beach doesn’t amount to much, but there are a couple of excellent alternatives very close by: towards Stáfylos is a busy road around which cluster many accommodation options; north to Glystéri is less populated.

Hop between the islands of Milos, Naxos, and Amorgos on this romantic tailor-made Greek Island-Hopping Honeymoon . Drive around stunning coastlines, explore mountain villages, visit ancient sites, and luxuriate on golden beaches as you are transfixed by the allure of the Aegean’s turquoise waters.

The Rough Guides to Greece and related travel guides

In-depth, easy-to-use travel guides filled with expert advice.

The Mini Rough Guide to Athens

Where to stay in Skopelos:

  • For stylish stays: Panormos Beach Hotel Skopelos
  • For natural surroundings and views: Mando Beachfront

Find more accommodation options to stay in Skopelos

Zákynthos (Zante), southernmost of the six core Ionian islands, is divided between relative wilderness and indiscriminate commercialization. However, much of the island is still green and unspoilt, with only token pockets of tourism, and the main resorts seem to be reaching maximum growth without encroaching too much on the quieter parts.

The biggest resort is Laganás, on Laganás Bay in the south, a 24-hour party venue that doesn’t stop for breath during the busy summer season. There are smaller, quieter resorts north and south of the capital, and the southerly Vassilikós peninsula has some of the best countryside and beaches, including exquisite Yérakas.

Navagio beach with shipwreck and motor boat on Zakynthos island in Greece © Samot/Shutterstock

Navagio beach with shipwreck and motorboat on Zakynthos island in Greece © Samot/Shutterstock

The island still produces fine wines, such as the white Popolaro, as well as sugar-shock-inducing mandoláto nougat, whose honeys weetened form is best.

The town, like the island, is known as both Zákynthos and Zante. The town stretches beyond the length of the wide and busy harbour. Its main section is bookended by the grand, recently renovated Platía Solomoú at the north, and the church of Áyios Dhionýsios, patron saint of the island, at the south.

Neighbouring Kefalonia also has a lot to offer. Read our guide to the best things to do in Kefalonia and perhaps you'll find inspiration to visit the place in question.

Where to stay in Zákynthos:

  • For couples: Balcony Hotel
  • For luxury: Arkadia Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay in Zákynthos

Sérifos has long languished outside the mainstream of history and modern tourism. Many would-be visitors are deterred by the apparently barren, hilly interior, which, with the stark, rocky coastline, makes Sérifos appear uninhabited until the ferry turns into postcard-picturesque Livádhi Bay. This element of surprise continues as you slowly discover a number of lovely beaches around the island.

Sérifos is one of the best Greek islands for serious walkers, who can head along documented paths for several small villages in the under-explored interior, plus some isolated coves for swimming. Many people still keep livestock and produce their own tawny-red wines, which are an acquired taste.

Windmills of Greece. Serifos island, Cyclades © Shutterstock

Windmills of Greece. Serifos island, Cyclades © Shutterstock

Most visitors stay in the port, Livádhi, which is set in a wide greenery-fringed bay and handy for most of the island’s beaches. The usually calm bay is a magnet for yachts, here to take on fresh water which, despite its barren appearance, Sérifos has in abundance.

The very attractive curve of Avlómonas, the long Livádhi town beach, has the advantage of overlooking the inland capital, so that when you’re swimming in the sea you have a great inland view. Heading away from the dock, climb over the southerly headland to reach Livadhákia, a golden-sand beach, shaded by tamarisk trees.

A further ten-minute stroll across the southern headland brings you to the smaller Karávi beach, with its clear, blue-green waters, but no shade or facilities.

Where to stay in Sérifos:

  • For beaches: Naias
  • For the friendly atmosphere: Serifos Palace

Find more accommodation options to stay in Sérifos

Náxos is the largest and most fertile of all the Cyclades islands and with its green and mountainous inland scenery, it appears immediately dissimilar to its neighbours. Today Náxos could easily support itself without visitors by relying on its production of potatoes, olives, cheese, grapes and lemons, but it has thrown in its lot with mass tourism, so that parts of the island are now almost as busy as Páros in season.

The island has plenty to see if you know where to look: the highest peak in the Cyclades, intriguing central valleys, a spectacular north coast and long, marvellously sandy beaches on the southwest coast. It is also renowned for its wines, cheese and kítron, a sweet liqueur distilled from the leaves of this citrus tree and available in green, yellow or clear varieties depending on strength and sugar level.

Naxos island in Greece, Cyclades © Shutterstock

Naxos island in Greece, Cyclades © Shutterstock

As your ferry approaches Náxos Town, you can’t help sensing that this is a really special place, if only because of the looming, fortified kástro. A superficial glance at the waterfront may be enough to convince you that most of the town’s life occurs by the crowded port esplanade, but don’t be deceived.

There is a lot more life in Náxos Town in the vast network of backstreets and low-arched narrow alleys that lead up through the old town, Boúrgos, to the kástro itself. And don’t miss out on the second centre of activity to the south, around the main square, Platía Evripéous, where there are more tavernas, shops and cafés.

Stay in a secluded private villa and explore Naxos at your own pace in your own rental car. Lasting just above 1 week, this tailor-made trip to Naxos leaves plenty of room for relaxation and exploration of the amazing island of Naxos, with its authentic mountainous villages and magnificent sea views.

Where to stay in Náxos:

  • For boutique stays: Argo Boutique Hotel
  • For price and quality: Sunday Studios

Find more accommodation options to stay in Náxos

Rhodes (Ródhos) is deservedly among the best of Greek islands. Its star attraction is the beautiful medieval Old Town that lies at the heart of its capital, Rhodes Town. Elsewhere, the ravishing hillside village of Líndhos, topped by an ancient acropolis, should not be missed. It marks the midpoint of the island’s long eastern shoreline, adorned with numerous sandy beaches.

At the southern cape, Prassoníssi is one of the best windsurfing spots in Europe. If you want to escape the summer crowds, take a road trip into the island’s craggy and partly forested interior. Worthwhile targets include the castles near Monólithos and Kritinía, and the frescoed churches at Thárri, Asklipió and Áyios Yeóryios Várdhas.

View at Lindou Bay from Lindos Rhodes island, Greece © Shutterstock

View at Lindou Bay from Lindos Rhodes island, Greece © Shutterstock

The Citadel of Rhodes was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and is one of the best-preserved Old Towns in the world. It is an absolute gem, a superb medieval ensemble that’s all but unique in retaining the feel of a genuine lived-in village – it neither grew to become a city nor became overly prettified for visitors.

Set on a stark headland 50km south of Rhodes Town, Líndhos is almost too good to be true. A classic Greek village of crazily stacked whitewashed houses, poised between a stupendous castle-topped acropolis above and sandy crescent beaches below, it’s the island’s number-two tourist attraction.

Where to stay in Rhodes:

  • For families: Lardos Bay
  • For luxury: Eden Roc Resort

Find more accommodation options to stay in Rhodes

Dangling between the heel of Italy and the west coast of mainland Greece, green, mountainous Corfu (Kérkyra) was one of the first Greek islands to attract mass tourism in the 1960s. Indiscriminate exploitation turned parts into eyesores but a surprising amount of the island still consists of olive groves, mountains or woodland.

The majority of package holidays are based in the most developed resorts and unspoilt terrain is often only a few minutes’ walk away. The capital, Corfu Town, has been one of the most elegant island capitals in the whole of Greece. Although many of its finest buildings were destroyed, two massive forts, the sixteenth-century church of Áyios Spyrídhon and some buildings dating from French and British administrations remain intact.

Idyllic Agios Stefanos on the Greek island of Corfu © Shutterstock

Idyllic Agios Stefanos on the Greek island of Corfu,© Shutterstock

The most famous excursion from Corfu Town is to the islets of Vlahérna and Pondikoníssi, 2km south of town below the hill of Kanóni, named after the single cannon trained out to sea atop it. Reached by a short causeway, the tiny, white convent of Vlahérna is one of the most photographed images on Corfu.

Pondikoníssi, tufted by greenery from which peeks the small chapel of Panayía Vlahernón, is identified in legend with a ship from Odysseus’s fleet, petrified by Poseidon in revenge for the blinding of his son Polyphemus.

Where to stay in Corfu:

  • For stunning views: Oasis Hotel
  • For peaceful stays: Chandris Apartments

Find more accommodation options to stay in Corfu

Discover the variety of holiday opportunities Greece has to offer with our guide best things to do in Greece .

Ready for a trip to Greek Islands? Check out the snapshot The Rough Guide to the Greek Islands or The Rough Guide to Greece . If you travel further in Greece, read more about the best time to go , the best places to visit and best things to do in Greece.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Greece without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

We may earn commission from some of the external websites linked in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Top image © Shutterstock

Nick Edwards

  • Coasts & Islands
  • Boats & Sailing
  • Inspiration
  • See & Do
  • Where to stay

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Travel advice for Greece

From travel safety to visa requirements, discover the best tips for traveling to Greece

  • Culture and Etiquette in Greece
  • Eating and drinking in Greece
  • Getting around Greece: Transportation Tips
  • How to get to Greece
  • Travel Tips Greece for planning and on the go
  • Best time to visit Greece
  • Crete Itinerary - how to spend 5, 7, 10 or 14 days in Crete
  • How to get from Athens to Crete

Find even more inspiration for 2 here

Ready to travel and discover greece, get support from our local experts for stress-free planning & worry-free travels.

  • Itineraries
  • Travel advice

The best Greek islands to visit and what you can do on each

Boats on the water at Asos, Greece

The islands of Greece are renowned for their unrivaled beauty and island-hopping is one of the best ways to experience the unique landscapes. Few things are better than wandering through the cobblestone walkways, swimming in the crystal blue sea and tucking into delicious Greek food.

However, with over 227 inhabited islands, choosing which islands to visit can be overwhelming. Here, we've listed some of the best Greek islands to add to your itinerary.

Aerial view of Corfu in Greece

Best for: Lush greenery and history

Surrounded by crystal-clear waters and luscious greenery, Corfu is one of the most beloved destinations among both locals and travelers. Corfu offers plenty of nature, hiking trails, and opportunities to rest and relax. Two to three days is enough to tour the island’s highlights, but to explore different parts of Corfu, we recommend no less than five days.

Corfu Old Town is one of the top visited places and a good starting point for your trip. Some of the famous landmarks include the Spianada Square , Church of Saint Spiridon , The Liston and the Statue of Georgios Theotokis . If you like history, the Archeological Museum of Corfu has a good collection of artifacts from the different periods.

Paleokastritsa, Greece

Located 14 miles from Corfu Town, the beaches at Paleokastritsa boast incredibly clear waters perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Rent a boat or take a private tour to visit the beaches. If time permits, take a day trip from Corfu to discover Paxos’ Blue Caves and Antipaxos.

Where to stay: For somewhere with lots to do, see and eat, Corfu Town will fit your bill. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed town features stunning Venetian architecture; check out the unmissable Siora Vittoria Boutique Hotel .

For a family-friendly coastal resort, head to Kontokali . There are many places to choose from and if budget is not an issue, stay at the magnificent Kontokali Bay Resort & Spa .

2. Santorini

People walking near the sea in Santorini

Best for: First-timers and honeymooners

Santorini is the most spectacular island and a must-visit when in Greece. We recommend sticking around for a minimum of three days, but it’s easy to linger for five to seven days.

Santorini’s gorgeous coastline is best admired from the water. Go on a catamaran cruise to beaches and other hidden gems only accessible by boat, and visit the island’s volcanic hot springs. During your trip, be sure to visit Fira , Santorini’s capital.

White houses in Fira, Greece

Here, discover the famous white and blue houses and wander through picturesque narrow alleys. Oia is another must-see spot. You can hike from Fira to Oia and enjoy magnificent views of the island along the way. Time your hike to arrive in Oia for the sunset—you can thank us later. There are also half-day hiking tours with a guide.

Where to stay: The four main towns located along the caldera–Fira, Oia, Imerovigli , and Firostefani —are the best places to stay in Santorini . Oia is the most picturesque town in Santorini and is filled with great restaurants and shopping. Imerovigli is a small village that’s quiet and peaceful.

Firostefani, which sits between Imerovigli and Fira, offers amazing caldera views and is less touristy. Fira is centrally located and has good public transportation. However, it tends to be busy and noisy.

A lighthouse in Heraklion, Greece

Best for: Nature, beaches and food

The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is packed with ancient ruins and natural beauty. It’s said that Crete should be a country on its own (yes, it’s that big); we don’t recommend anything less than seven days to fully explore the island.

For the avid hiker, the Samaria Gorge National Park is one of the most scenic national parks in Europe . To save the hassle of arranging your own transportation, consider a hiking tour that includes a guide, and hotel pick-up and drop-off.

Elafonissi beach

For beach bums, explore world famous beaches like Elafonissi or the breathtaking Balos Lagoon . There’s also something for history buffs: take a tour to Knossos Palace and the Heraklion city, including a visit to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum .

Where to stay: Chania Town is one of the most popular places, offering plenty of excellent restaurants, bars and shops. The town is well-connected by public transportation, making it easy to get to other places. Heraklion is another great area with a bustling nightlife.

White concrete houses near a body of water in Paros, Greece

Best for: Escaping the crowd

While still bearing the idyllic stone streets and white-washed building, Paros is definitely worth a visit for travelers looking to escape the buzz of Mykonos and Santorini. Two to three days is enough to discover the best of Paros, but you can spend more time enjoying the serenity of the place if you wish.

Parikia is where the majority of Paros’ landmarks are located, such as the Panagia Ekatontapiliani , the Frankish Castle ruins and the Archaeological Museum . Spend a lazy afternoon sipping wine at Moraitis Winery , or take a dip in the clear waters of Lageri beach .

Blue houses in Prodromos, Paros, Greece

For a truly traditional Greek village experience, head to Lefkes . Popular things to do include walking the Byzantine Road from Lefkes to Prodromos , stopping by Kallitechniko Kafenio , and visiting the town of Marpissa .

Where to stay: The best areas are the two main villages, Parikia and Naoussa . Parikia is a budget-friendly option; it’s also well connected by public transportation. For a more upscale and modern feel, Naoussa is a good bet. There are also more luxury hotels or villas to choose from in the area.

The coast along Naxos, Greece

Best for: Families

While the Greek islands are often great for partying, there are family-friendly options like Naxos . It’s a large laid-back island with long and sandy beaches (sans the crowd) and plenty of family-friendly attractions, from ruins to museums.

For a fuss-free introduction to Naxos, hop on a bus tour to explore the island and experience top attractions such as the ancient Temple of Demeter , the Archaeological Museum of Apiranthos , and the church of Agios Georgios Disasoritis . You can also see Greek mythologies come to life on a Naxos mythology tour . Also, don’t miss out on the views from the top of Kastro of Naxos .

Aerial view of Agios Georgios Beach

Agios Georgios Beach (St. George Beach) is one of the most family-friendly beaches with activities for everyone. Lounge under an umbrella and enjoy the Aegean sun while the kids splash and play in the shallow waters. The shallow lagoon is also popular with windsurfers. If you need windsurfing lessons, head to Laguna Beach Park where Naxos’s premier windsurfing school is located.

Where to stay: Chora is the main town on Naxos and it’s the most convenient area to stay with good bus services to other parts of the island. For a picturesque beach getaway, stay in Plaka , a laid-back seaside town; Agia Anna or Agios Prokopios are also popular locations for a secluded getaway.

White houses along the coast of Mykonos, Greece

Best for: Nightlife and beaches

Known as the Greek party island, Mykonos is certainly the most cosmopolitan (and luxurious) island destination in Greece. Two to three days in Mykonos is enough to take in some history and culture, while four to five days will allow you to experience the island in a whole different way.

With so much to see and do in Mykonos, a half-day tour will cover the main highlights of the island, such as Little Venice , Panagia Paraportiani , and Monastery of Panayia Tourliani . You can also tailor your itinerary according to your interest with this private tour .

View from underwater in Ftelia, Greece

From Mykonos, take a half-day trip to Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. In summer, head for the pristine beaches in Mykonos. For a challenging (but fun) surf in the summer winds, check out Kalafatis, Platis Gialos or Ftelia . Hopping on a cruise is another great way to discover the beauty of the south coast. Plus, you get to hit some of the best beaches in Mykonos along the way.

Where to stay: Most of the action takes place in and around Mykonos Town , Ornos Beach and Platis Gialos Beach. Mykonos town offers lots of nightlife, restaurants and shopping, and it’s compact and walkable. There are also buses running regularly from Mykonos Town to the beaches.

Recommended tours and activities

greek island visit

The Best Greek Islands

Greece › Best Islands by Santorini Dave • Updated: February 11, 2023

• Mykonos – Where to Stay • Santorini – Where to Stay • Naxos – Where to Stay • Paros – Where to Stay • Milos – Where to Stay • Crete – Where to Stay • Athens – Where to Stay

Best island in Greece.

Santorini is the jewel of the Greek islands. A helicopter tour around the caldera and volcano (though not cheap) is a highlight.

The Best Islands in Greece Mykonos is known for nightlife , beaches , beach clubs , and fantastic luxury hotels . What Greek Island do I visit? Best Greek Island for Honeymoon : Santorini Best Greek Island to Party : Mykonos Best Greek Island for Couples : Santorini • Paros Best Greek Island for Young Couples & Singles : Ios • Mykonos Best Greek Island for First Timers : Santorini • Mykonos • Naxos Best Greek Island for Beaches : Naxos • Mykonos • Ios •  Crete Naxos is a phenomenal island for first-time visitors to Greece. Fantastic beaches, great food, and very family-friendly. Plenty of spots for evening drinks but not the dance clubs and DJs like Mykonos or Santorini. Best Greek Island for Kids & Families : Naxos Best Greek Island for Teens : Santorini • Mykonos • Paros • Rhodes Best Greek Island for History : Crete • Rhodes  •  Santorini Best Greek Island for Hiking : Sifnos • Crete • Folegandros • Santorini • Naxos Best Greek Island for Biking : Kos Best Greek Island for Luxury : Santorini • Mykonos Best Greek Island for Quiet and Solitude : Antiparos • Folegandros • Ikaria • Karpathos Best Greek Island for Outdoor Activity : Crete • Santorini Best Greek Island for Food : Crete • Folegandros • Santorini • Naxos Best Greek Island Cruise : All cruises to the Greek islands are awful – don’t do a Greek Cruise , visit on your own Best for Island Hopping : Take Greek Ferries around the Cyclades: Santorini • Naxos • Paros • Ios • Mykonos • Milos The 6 Best Greek Islands

Map of Greek Islands

Book hotels 4 to 8 months in advance: Santorini Hotels • Mykonos Hotels • Crete Hotels • Milos Hotels • Naxos Hotels • Paros Hotels • Folegandros Hotels • Ios Hotels • Rhodes Hotels • Kos Hotels • Corfu Hotels • Athens Hotels 1. Santorini My favorite island in Greece is Santorini. If you can only visit one island make it Santorini. Loaded with great boat tours , wine tours , fantastic hotels , amazing restaurants , and awesome things to do . Along with Crete, Santorini is the best island in Greece in the winter and shoulder seasons when it still has plenty to do. Oia , Santorini for boutique hotels, honeymooners, and sunset views. Fira , Santorini for nightlife, shopping, and caldera/sunset views. 2. Mykonos The best nightlife and clubbing in Greece is found on Mykonos. Also has great beaches and a surprisingly charming capital village, Mykonos Town. Ornos is one of my favorite beaches in Greece. Little Venice in Mykonos Town . Filled with small restaurants and trendy clubs. 3. Crete The largest Greek island and rich with beaches, historical sites, hikes, traditional villages, small cities, and great tours . So big that if you only have a week it’s good to limit yourself to only this island. If you have two weeks it makes a great pair with Santorini. Chania is the most charming town on Crete and a great base for exploring western Crete. Rethymnon has a cool old town and good beaches walking distance from most hotels. 4. Naxos The most family-friendly island in Greece is Naxos. Great beaches and the main town is crammed with wonderful tavernas serving some of the best food on the Greek islands. The inland villages are marvelous to explore. The town beach in Naxos Town – shallow and very kid-friendly. Even better beaches are a short drive down the coast. Naxos Town has some of the best restaurants in Greece. 5. Paros A wonderful mix of the great beaches and villages of Naxos and the nightlife and boutique vibe of Mykonos. This island gets a little more popular every year but is still quiet compared to Santorini and Mykonos. Paros has two of the most charming towns in Greece, Naoussa (above) and Parikia (the ferry port). Either town makes a great base for exploring the other (and the rest of the island). A highlight of Paros is making a day trip to Antiparos – where the beaches are quiet, secluded, and some of the best in Greece. 6. Rhodes Fantastic beaches, energetic nightlife, and one of the best preserved ancient towns in Europe. Rhodes is a fantastic choice for first-time visitors to Greece. A boat tour around the island’s coasts is highly recommended. The Old Town of Rhodes. The stunningly beautiful St. Paul’s Beach, just below the Acropolis of Lindos in Rhodes. Greek Islands – Where To Go

The Best Greek Island for First Time Visitors.

A view of the Santorini caldera. Yes, the best hotels in Santorini are expensive, but there are many affordable hotels with caldera views , like the Iliovasilema (above) in Imerovigli.

Athina Luxury Suites in Fira is one of our favorite hotels, though the best luxury hotels in Santorini are in Oia and Imerovigli. Mykonos has the best nightlife and club scene of any Greek island. It usually starts with dinner and drinks by the water and then hit the clubs in Mykonos Town. Beach parties in Mykonos take place at Paradise and Super Paradise beaches and run from mid-June to mid-September. Other beaches, like Platis Gialos above, Paraga , and Ornos have beach clubs that have thumping music and dancing through the day until about 10pm. Then the party moves to Mykonos Town or the Paradise beaches. Rhodes is one of the best islands for historical sightseeing (Crete, Naxos, and Santorini are also great). This is the main entrance of the famous Knights Grand Master Palace (also known as Castello) in Rhodes Town, a must-visit museum. Santorini and Milos are two of the most beautiful islands in Greece and have a similar other-worldly feel. This is the fishing village of Firopotamos on Milos . The private pool and view at Calilo Hotel on the wonderful island of Ios – a very short ferry ride from Santorini. Island hopping by ferry is one of the highlights of the Greek islands. Sitting on the deck of a ferry and watching the islands pass by until you arrive at your destination. Folegandros is the best Greek island for hiking – great paths all around this beautiful island. All the greek islands have great food and restaurants . The best Greek islands for foodies are Santorini, Crete, Naxos, and Paros. This is a gyros plate from a restaurant in Crete. Naxos is a wonderful family destination. Great beaches, a relaxed vibe, cheap hotels (and luxury ones too), and there’s even a water park. Paros is also a great island for families and it’s got a bit more shopping and activity for teens – and nightlife for older family members. Sifnos is a quiet Cycladic island criss-crossed with beautiful (and well-maintained) hiking paths. Greek Islands – When To Go Chania in Crete . One of the most wonderful towns in Greece. Best Greece Vacations For the best trip to Greece, I recommend visiting Greek islands within the same island group. For example, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Corfu and Santorini on the same trip as they’re on opposite sides of the country. Instead, visit islands in the same island group: the Cyclades (the most popular), the Sporades, the Dodecanese, the Ionian, the Saronic, and the Northeastern Aegean. For one, they’re close to each other. And two, they have frequent ferry connections with other islands within the same group. For first-time visitors to Greece, the Cyclades make the most natural and convenient introduction to the Greek islands. Crete is its only island group and will have good connections to the Cyclades from May to October. Best Greek Islands To Visit in March, April, October, and November This is shoulder season. The busiest islands and those with a local population are quieter but still humming with plenty of hotels and restaurants open. Santorini, Crete, and Rhodes are the best Greek islands to visit in the spring and autumn period. Best Greek Islands To Visit in May, June, and September The Greek islands have beautiful weather in the months just before and after peak season. It’s a great time to see the islands, save money, avoid the crowds, and still have great weather (though not as hot as July and August). If you want to see the super-popular islands of Santorini, Rhodes, Corfu, and Crete without the tourists then this is a great time to visit. Best Greek Islands To Visit in July and August The busiest and hottest months. If you like beach parties and packed clubs then Mykonos is the place to be. The less-busy islands (Antiparos, Sifnos, Ikaria, Folegandros, Milos) have short tourist seasons and this is when they’re fully open and running. Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu are in peak-season but all are large enough to retain their charm. Best Greek Islands To Visit in December, January, and February Most islands are very quiet in the winter. Crete and Santorini are the best islands as they still have plenty to do even in winter and there are lots of (open) places to stay and eat.

Best Greek Island for a family with young kids and teens.

Naxos is loaded with great beaches and the best greek island for families .

Greek Island FAQ What is the best time of year to travel to the Greek islands? June to September are the best months to visit the Greek islands if you’re interested in beaches, hot weather, swimming, sunbathing, and nightlife. If your interests are hiking, exploring, taking tours, and seeing historical sites then April, May, early June, late September, October, and November are the best months. Which is the most beautiful island in Greece? Santorini, Crete, and Corfu are widely considered the most beautiful and picturesque Greek islands. But all the islands have their own charms and beauty and every island has its passionate devotees who claim their island is the most beautiful in Greece. What is the cheapest month to fly to Greece? December, January, and February are the cheapest months to fly to Greece. They are also the quietest and least touristy months. For a good mix of affordability and good weather the months of April, May, and October have cheap flights and happy tourists. Which Greek island has the most beautiful beaches? Naxos, Crete, Mykonos, Ios, and Antiparos have the most beautiful and picturesque beaches with sparkling blue water and long stretches of golden sand. Which is the prettiest and quietest Greek island? Which Greek island is the least touristy? Sifnos, Serifos, Folegandros, Ikaria, and Karpathos are all beautiful islands that see far fewer tourists than the popular holiday islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros. Prices for hotels and food are also much cheaper on these quieter islands. Which is the cheapest Greek island? Sifnos, Serifos, Syros, Milos, and Folegandros all great prices on hotels and inexpensive places to eat. Santorini and Mykonos are the most expensive islands and should be avoided if you’re on a tight budget. Do I need shots to go to Greece? Greece does not require any special vaccinations for visitors from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, or Singapore. But travelers should make sure they are up to date on all shots usually required in western countries.

Best Greek island for weddings, receptions, and honeymoons.

Small Cameo Island on Zakynthos is a top spot for weddings and proposals. Zakynthos (Zante in Greek) is popular with package vacations but is not a great choice for island hopping , like the islands of the Cyclades.

Top Travel Sites for the Greek Islands – My Recommendations Best For Ferries: Ferryhopper.com The easiest way to book and buy Greek ferry tickets in advance.

Best For Flights: Kayak.com • Skyscanner • Momondo

Kayak is the easiest to use. Skyscanner finds the cheapest rates. Momondo is the best for first and business class tickets.

Best For Renting A Car: Rentalcars.com

Great prices from all the biggest rental companies. Easy to use, safe, and reliable.

Best For Hotels: Booking.com

Awesome rates and great for vacation planning. All price ranges. Luxury hotels, 5-star boutiques, cheap hostels, house and apartment rentals.

Best For Tours: GetYourGuide.com

My favorite for booking tours and private tour guides.

Best for Travel Insurance: InsureMyTrip

Compare costs from over 30 insurance providers.
Greece – Where To Go Best Time To Visit Greece Best Beaches in Greece Best Things To Do in Santorini Greece with Kids Amsterdam – The Very Best Hotels Athens – The Very Best Hotels Barcelona – The Very Best Hotels Dublin – The Very Best Hotels Florence – The Very Best Hotels Istanbul – The Very Best Hotels Lisbon – The Very Best Hotels London – The Very Best Hotels Naples – The Very Best Hotels Paris – The Very Best Hotels Prague – The Very Best Hotels Reykjavik – The Very Best Hotels Rome – The Very Best Hotels Venice – The Very Best Hotels

' src=

Hi! Looking to go on our honeymoon end of May. Have 10 nights, would love to hit 3 islands if it’s doable. Would you change this itinerary at all? We are in our upper 20s, want some relaxing/some exploring town, beaches, good food and wine.

Day 1: arrive in Athens and fly to Santorini (night 1) 2: full day in Santorini 3: full day in Santorini 4: full day in Santorini 5: boat to Naxos early 6: full day Naxos 7: full day Naxos 8: boat to Paros 9: full day Paros 10: full day Paros 11: travel from Paros to Athens and fly home

' src=

That looks perfect. The only thing I’d mention is that it’s possible to fly directly to Santorini from many airports in Western Europe. If you could find a direct flight it would save you the time and money spent on the Athens-Santorini flight. Just an idea. Otherwise, looks like a great plan.

' src=

Hello Dave, my wife and I hope to be in Greece in mid-September. The tentative itinerary would start with 3 nights in Athens with a day tour to Nafplio, ferry to Mykonos for 3 nights, then Naxos for 4 nights with a day tour to Paros, on to Santorini for 3 nights, ferry to Crete for 4 nights, and finish by flying to back to Athens for 1 night for next day flight home. Would welcome any suggestions. Perhaps it may be better to drop an island and add time on another (if so, which ones). Your expertise is much appreciated.

That all sounds great. It’s a minor change but I might suggest dropping the day trip to Paros (ferry day-trips are not a great use of time, especially when you’re already doing plenty of ferry travel and seeing multiple islands) and add that day to Santorini, Crete, or an overnight stay in Nafplio (a wonderful town).

' src=

Wow – so glad I found your website! Definitely the most resourceful Greece planning site out there. I’m planning a 2 week trip to Greece in early September. My husband and I have never been to Greece and are looking for help determining what islands to go to. We appreciate history but prefer to not spend time in museums. We like places with outdoor activities (beach, swimming, hiking), places with great food, plan to splurge on a few luxurious hotels/experiences, and are not big into the nightlife and clubbing scene. We definitely want to spend time in Santorini and maybe 1-2 days in Athens when we land. What other islands should we build into our itinerary? I am having trouble choosing!! -Naxos -Paros -Milos -Crete -Nafplion (worth a day trip from Athens?) -Mykonos (is it better to visit Naxos/Paros/Milos/Crete than Mykonos?)

Thank you so much!! Christina Cavanagh

Along with Santorini and Athens, I’d visit Naxos, Paros, and Milos; or Naxos and Crete. Crete is a large island so don’t go unless you have 4 full days (ideally more but with two weeks, 4 days is probably the most you can do). For destinations with outdoor history attractions, I’d rank them in this order: Athens, Santorini, Crete, Naxos, Milos. Nafplio and Mykonos are both wonderful but not sure you’ll have time.

' src=

Hi Dave – what a wonderfully informative website. There is so much information to wade through so was wanting your advice. 14 of us are planning a ladies (no husbands, children, etc.) island holiday to Greece in July this summer for 7 days. We’re coming from all over the world to arrive via Athens or Istanbul. Our budgets (the most important thing) also differ greatly! Our original thought was to visit Paros but I’ve since heard/read that this could be quite windy in July as well as a mini-Mykonos in terms of price.

Our interests would range from nightlife to beaches with everything in between. Greece in a nutshell, I suppose.

What are your thoughts?

Ios has great beaches, nightlife, and restaurants. And accommodations that range from inexpensive and good value to 4-star and very nice. Probably your best choice. Naxos would also be good but a little more expensive and less nightlife.

' src=

Your website is incredibly informative and very helpful. My sis and I are planning a trip to Greece, just the to of us, and would like to go within the next 6 years when our kids are a bit older. I’ve done a ton of research of where we want to go and I have it narrowed down to begin in Athens and would love to end in Crete and visit the five main islands in between. My questions are: What would be the best time frame for this type of trip and are there travel agencies that you recommend to help us build the vacation we would like versus the preplanned destinations? I really appreciate your help.

Sincerely, Abby

Late June or early September would be the best time for your trip (great weather everywhere but not the large crowds of summer). Much better to plan and book your trip on your own than to use a travel agency. Better hotels, better prices, more unique trip.

' src=

Hi Dave! First let me say a BIG TEXAS SIZED THANK YOU for all your information. Your write ups have been very helpful in planning which Islands we want to visit when coming to Greece this summer. I have a question that I have not been able to find an answer for that I wanted to ask you. For part of our trip we will be with 3 other families. There will be a total of 8 adults and 8 children, ranging in ages from 3 to 17. We are really wanting to book a large villa/home while in Crete for 6 nights. I have looked on Booking.com per your recommendation, however, most are showing villas or apartments with renting multiple units. We were really trying to book one large home for all of us during this portion of the trip. Is there a site that is unique or special to booking large homes in Greece? Or just go with the normal Airbnb or Flipkey? Any advise would be much appreciated! Thank you!!

Sorry, I don’t know of any website devoted to large group villas. There certainly are a few large villas on Booking and Airbnb – it’s just a matter of finding them.

' src=

Hi Dave, great website, I’m glad I found you, your expertise and knowledge has blown my mind. I have a slightly different question than the ones above/below. I’m a writer, in my mid 40’s, single, living in England but am looking for a place to live on a Greek Island, not particularly a city, more a friendly village or town, think a more romantic scenario like The Durrells perhaps. I know it’s best I just travel around and see for myself with such a big commitment, but I just don’t have the time I’m afraid for that much traveling right now. So I thought there would be no harm in asking someone in the know for some ideas. What I’m looking for in no particular order is: Somewhere with a general sunny/warmish climate in the winter months. Historical sites, mountains, coasts, forests, to visit/walk/hike. Some nice beaches to relax for an hour or two or three. Great local food and places to eat in the day or evening, all a good walk or short drive away. Friendly atmosphere. I would prefer to live closer to the coast than inland so somewhere not TOO touristy in the summer months if possible. Surrounded by beautiful nature for relaxing and walks.

Be as specific as you like Dave, gimme a road name if something comes to mind. Wherever you suggest I will thoroughly research whether it’s 1, 2, or 20 islands/towns/villages. I’m just a jobbing writer, not wealthy but with a spirit for life, good food, and nature if that helps. So a big thanks for any help you throw my way Dave.

Crete has the warmest weather in the winter, a ton of history, great inland villages, wonderful hikes, and incredible food (no place in Greece has bad food). The large coastal towns and resorts do get a lot of tourists in summer but they are easy to avoid if you’re inclined. I would start there. But there are so many great places that you’d love: Ikaria, Sifnos, Folegandros, Hydra, Nafplio (on the mainland), Corfu Town. The list is long. Good luck.

' src=

What island is the hottest to visit in April? I want to go do for my 30th birthday on April 18 and experience the warm beaches. Also, who should I book through to island-hop?

Crete usually has the warmest weather in April but I wouldn’t call it hot. It’s possible you could be swimming and sunbathing but (on average) unlikely. Book ferries through ferryhopper.com and hotels through booking.com.

' src=

I will go in June with my wife to Greece for 10 days. I will spend 1 day in Athens and then I will have 9 days to the islands. I want to spend 2 days in Santorini and the other 7 days I want to pick up 2 of these 4 islands: Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Milos. What do you suggest? We are looking for beautiful beaches with clear water and travel around the island with moto.

Thanks, Filipe

All are great islands. Mykonos for nightlife and beaches, Naxos for beaches and traditional Greek villages, Paros for trendy restaurants and beaches, Milos for beaches and a wonderful boat tour around the island. All have great food.

' src=

Hi Dave, Your website is fantastic! I’ve really spent some time scouring the information and have used it to come up with an itinerary, but would love your opinion and advice. We are two couples traveling together in our late 50’s, early 60’s, that love activity, tours, hiking or walking around, lots of history with a nice mix of a few days of relaxing/beach enjoying some really great food and wine. Shopping and culture are also things we love to do. We are planning a trip in early May to Mid May for 14 days to avoid the crowds. We are flying in and out of Athens, so we thought we would fly into Athens, rest up the first night, then see the sites there, spend another night and then ferry over to Mykonos the next morning. We want to spend 2 full days in Mykonos so we can take the day trip over to Delos and roam around the next day (3 nights), then ferry over to Santorini for 5 days and then ferry over to Crete for the last 4 days, then fly back to athens from there. The questions I have are 1. Is early May not a good time to visit Mykonos or other islands? I don’t want to be there and have all the restaurants/shops/beaches closed. 2. Is Crete a good way to end the trip? My friend who has been to Greece many times said that a better choice would be to go to Rhodes or to adjust days and fly back to Athens and go to Corfu, she said she even prefers Corfu over Rhodes. She said that she wouldn’t suggest Crete. What do you think about that? This will be our first trip to Greece, but we are good travelers, been all over the world and want to get the most out of our 14 days and don’t want to waste too much time traveling and being on the road. I know you mention Naxos alot, but she didn’t think there was much there for us.

I would change the order of your trip: Crete then Santorini then Mykonos. This will push your Mykonos visit forward 10 days which will make the difference between quiet and not-so-quiet. But if you would make your trip one week later that would be even better (ideally hit Mykonos May 20 to 25). Santorini and Crete will be busier earlier. They also have a larger local population so never are quite as dead. I much prefer all 3 of these islands to Rhodes and Corfu. Though beautiful both of those islands get lots of package tourism which is less than ideal.

' src=

Planning to travel to Greece with my girlfriend from May 13-May 24 (10 nights flying in/out of Athens). Trying to plan our itinerary and we have come up with the following:

Night 1: Athens Night 2: Athens Night 3: Santorini Night 4: Santorini Night 5: Santorini Night 6: Santorini Night 7: Naxos/Paros Night 8: Naxos/Paros Night 9: Naxos/Paros Night 10: Athens

– What are your general thoughts? – Should we take the ferry or airplane from Athens to Santorini? – If we stay in Naxos can we take day trip to Paros (and vise versa)? Which one should we stay in if this was the plan? – Is Mykonos worth visiting if not interested in the nightlife? – Are there any other islands you would recommend adding to our itinerary?

Looks great. I would ferry to Santorini. The only way I’d recommend flying is if you flew directly to Santorini upon landing in Athens (and then leave all your Athens’ days til the end). But if you go into Athens you’re better off taking the ferry. Yes, a day trip is easy between Naxos and Paros. Probably stay in Naxos and day trip to Paros but no great difference. Mykonos is a great island (but don’t bother with a day trip.)

' src=

Looking for a Greek island with nice beaches and windsurfing. What one would you recommend?

Naxos and Paros both have great beaches and are very popular windsurfing islands.

' src=

Hi Dave. In 12 days is it possible to do Athens (1 day), Milos, Naxos, Paros, and Santorini? Is this too much? Which would you remove if necessary?

It’s a lot for 12 days – but comfortably doable, for sure. If you had 10 nights on the islands do 3 nights in Naxos and Santorini, and 2 nights in Paros and Milos.

' src=

Hi, Dave! My husband and I will be going to Greece 8/26 – 9/4. We are flying into and out of Athens for cost efficiency. We really want to see Navagio Beach on Zakynthos for a day, and we realize this will likely be an overnight trip, or even 2 nights depending on the travel options. What is the best way to get from Athens to Zykanthos? What is the best way to get from Zakynthos to Santorini? Or is it best to just go from Zakynthos back to Athens and then to Santorini? We are trying to avoid additional flights but realize we may have to fly from Zakynthos to Santorini.

Our potential itinerary is:

8/26 – flight arrives in Athens at 12:15 PM, check into hotel near Acropolis and explore 8/27 – depart to Zakynthos via bus and ferry 8/28 – Blue Caves & Navagio Beach tour, return to Athens or depart to Santorini if possible 8/29 – Santorini 8/30 – Santorini 8/31 – Santorini 9/1 – Mykonos 9/2 – Mykonos 9/3 – Return to Athens 9/4 – Flight home

Any advice for traveling, places to see, places to stay would be appreciated! We love food, sight-seeing, boat tours, beaches, entertaining night life (but not night clubs). Thank you!

You seem to have your heart set on Zakynthos but I have to say it’s not a good use of time for a sort-of overrated payoff. Your time is much better spent (in my opinion) seeing another Greek island in the cyclades (maybe taking a ferry to Naxos or Paros sitting outside on the deck drinking a bottle of wine) rather than taking a bus and connecting flights. Zakynthos and Santorini/Mykonos are on opposite sides of the country and the only way from one to the other is by flying (or some combination of bus and ferry). So, my recommendation is to consider spending those Zakynthos days in Naxos, Paros, Milos, or some other Cycladic island.

' src=

My family of 5 (wife, myself, 14 yr., 12 yr. & 12 yr. old boys) will finish a trip to Turkey ending in Kusadasi. This will be mid-June. As 1st time travelers to the Greek islands, which islands do you recommend for a short trip of 5 days? I was thinking Santorini and Paros or Santorini and Crete.

What is the best way to get from Kusadasi to the Greek islands and from the islands back to an international airport to fly back to Atlanta? It seems difficult to fly or ferry from Turkey to Greece. Similarly, at the end of the trip it seems like almost all flights from Santorini must go through Athens except for one route nonstop through London.

Any other advice on hotels, villages, activities and logistics would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

The only ferry from Kusadasi to Greece goes to the Greek island of Samos. It’s a great island and certainly worth a few days. From Samos, there are usually direct ferries to Mykonos and Syros. These are very different islands that have a very different vibe – but both appealing in their own way. From Mykonos there will be direct flights to Western Europe (most likely Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, and London) though not every flight flies every day so requires some planning. Santorini would be another ferry ride from Mykonos. And Crete farther still. So you wouldn’t have time to get to either island.

' src=

Hi Dave! Thank you so much for this amazing and helpful blog! I’m planning on taking a post-graduation trip to Greece with around 5-7 other friends (we’re in our late teens, mostly girls) in late-May/early-June of this year. My question is: which island would you recommend for us?

We originally wanted to go to Mykonos for the nightlife, but it looks too expensive. We’re planning to spend around a week, and we’re looking for somewhere safe and cheap with great nightlife and other young people. Good beaches and hikes are a plus. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated as well. Thank you in advance for your help!!

Ios has good nightlife, beautiful beaches, great food, and some good hikes. It’s also very affordable.

' src=

Hello Dave,

My husband and I are visiting Greece for a little over a week over the 4th of July. I was hoping you might be able to give us your opinion on a few things. Here is the itinerary we have come up with so far:

Day 1 – Arrive in Athens around 5ish (sleep – Athens) Day 2 – Explore Athens (sleep – Athens) – Delphi? Nafplio? Day 3 – Travel to Island #1 in morning (sleep – Island #1) Naxos? Crete? Day 4 – Explore Island #1 (sleep – Island #1) Day 5 – Travel to Santorini (sleep – Santorini) Day 6 – Explore Santorini (sleep – Santorini) Day 7 – Explore Santorini (sleep-Santorini) Day 8 – Travel to Athens in evening (sleep Athens – near airport) Day 9 – Fly Home

We are having trouble deciding on another island to go to besides Santorini (we both want to go there). I was hoping you might be able to make a suggestion. We are not really into late night partying/night life. We LOVE good food..quite possibly the most important item on our list. We also like to hike, my husband is very into history, we love beer/wine, we could definitely be into in a less populated/touristy type spot. Gorgeous beaches and great views are also a plus.

Also, if there are any other suggestions you have in general for Athens and Santorini I would love to hear them. I would like to be able to leave Athens early morning on Day 3 so that we can have almost a full day on our first island. We would like to see as much as we can without feeling like we are running around from island to island the whole time.

I am so happy I stumbled on your site as it has been extremely helpful already. I really appreciate your time. Thank you!

Considering your interests (great food, hiking, beaches, nightlife unimportant) then Naxos should definitely be your other island. (And Naxos has many daily ferry connections with both Santorini and Athens.) Also, Athens needs at least one full day to explore so you should drop any thoughts about Delphi or Nafplio. Also, I would look into flights from Athens to Santorini on your night of arrival. If you could get to Santorini that night (and move your day in Athens to the end of your trip) you’d almost gain an entire day and could spend two nights on Naxos.

' src=

Hi Dave, An incredibly helpful site for pinning down the details…what a jewel! Our plan is to visit Santorini (Grace) and Mykonos (Belvedere) and then likely Hydra. Do you recommend Hydra, and if so, which hotel would you recommend. If not, which other island would you suggest? Thanks for your advice. Camille

Hydra is great but it does take a bit of time and effort to get to from the Cyclades. You’ll need to ferry to Athens, then might have to overnight there, then ferry to Hydra. Whereas Naxos, Paros, Milos, Folegandros, etc. would all be one direct ferry from Santorini or Mykonos. If you do go to Hydra then Leto Hotel is a great choice close to the port and shops and restaurants.

' src=

Hi Dave! One more question, do you know of any resorts with heated pools or private jacuzzis/pools in the room that are heated on islands other than Santorini and Mykonos? Looking for something above 26/27 degrees and can’t seem to find any! Elounda Beach resort said they could heat the private pool but it costs 45 EUR per degree! Hoping you know of another option that would allow us to swim comfortably in Early June. Thank you!!

Elizabeth Bresler

NAXOS HOTELS Naxian Utopia: All 9 suites and villas have private pools; the Exotic Suite and the Horizon Suite add indoor steam rooms. Medusa Resort: Executive Suites boast private, outdoor jacuzzis, while Junior Suites have indoor jacuzzis. Naxian Collection: Most suites and villas have private pools. The Premium and Grand Suites share 1 pool, while the Elegant Suite has 2 pools. Naxos on the Beach: All suites include either an indoor or outdoor jacuzzi. Margaret of Naxos: One Suite has an indoor hot tub. Naxos Island Hotel: Family Apartments and some Deluxe Double Rooms have private, outdoor jacuzzis. The Saint Vlassis: Executive Doubles and the Penthouse Suite have outdoor hot tubs; Suites have indoor jacuzzis. Lagos Mare: Sea View Suites have indoor jacuzzis. Kedros Villas: The Family Suite has an indoor jacuzzi tub, while the Grand Villa and Residence have outdoor jacuzzis Iria Beach Art Hotel: Honeymoon Suites include indoor, jacuzzi tubs.

PAROS HOTELS Lilly Residences: Junior, Superior, and Honeymoon Suites have indoor jacuzzis. Both of their Diamond Suites boast private, outdoor plunge pools; 1 Diamond Suite has an additional indoor jacuzzi, while the other Diamond Suite has a second veranda. Anna Platanou Suites: All Suite types include a private jacuzzi or pool. The Luxury Suites can have an indoor or outdoor jacuzzi; Deluxe and Superior Suites have outdoor jacuzzis; the Exclusive Suite has a private pool with a built in jacuzzi. Hotel Senia: 2 room types have private jacuzzis, the Suite with Outdoor Hot Tub and the Superior Apartment with Spa Bath. Blue Mare Villas: Asterias and Ammos Villas both have private, outdoor jacuzzis. Kalypso Hotel: Some Superior Rooms and all Executive Rooms and Villas feature private, outdoor jacuzzis Kanale’s Rooms and Suites: The Junior, Maisonette, and Penthouse Suites all offer indoor jacuzzis. Yria Boutique Hotel: The Pool Experience Suites offer private, outdoor, infinity pools. The Yria Ktima Luxury Villa has an infinity pool and a jacuzzi-jetted plunge pool.

MILOS HOTELS Eiriana Luxury Suites: 3 of their 6 suites feature private, outdoor jacuzzis: Zephyrus, Boreas II, and Eurus. Salt Suites: The Sea Houses and Sea View Suites all have private, outdoor jacuzzis overlooking the sea. Nefeli Sunset Studios: The Master Suite boasts an outdoor, private jacuzzi. Milos Breeze: Exclusive Rooms can have either indoor jacuzzis or private plunge pools; Honeymoon Suites all feature private plunge pools. Captain Zeppos: The White Home offers an outdoor jacuzzi. Thalassitra Village Hotel: Executive Suites and Grand Executive Seaview Suites both have private pools with jacuzzi jets.

' src=

Hi Dave, I am planning my honeymoon to Greece and can’t decide the best itinerary. We want to relax but we also don’t want to lie on a beach for 2 weeks. We would love the right balance of travelling and relaxing. We were thinking Santorini, Milos (or Naxos?) and then maybe Athens? 3 days Athens, 5 days Santorini, and 5 days Milos/Naxos?

What do you recommend? Thank you so much in advance, Sarah

I think that’s a great plan. Santorini is a must and Milos and Naxos are two islands that have both great beaches and lots to do and see away from the beach. Renting a car and exploring the interior villages of Naxos is a must-do and so is a boat tour around Milos. If you’re willing to cut Athens to 2 days, I would recommend Santorini 5 days, Milos 3 days, Naxos 3 days, and Athens 2 days.

' src=

Hi Dave, going to Greece in September from the 3rd to 18th. Paros and Milos are pretty much decided but we are not sure about adding a 3rd island. We arrive in Athens early in the day from an overnight flight so will be jetlagged. My husband is staying on for an additional week near Thessaloniki. We have already visited Athens, Aegina, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, and Rhodes. My husband isn’t really a beach person and I love the beach so we do need a mix of things to do. We are pretty fit and enjoy being Active. Great restaurants are a must. Any suggestions?

I think Naxos would be a great choice for you. Wonderful beaches, interesting inland villages, plenty of hiking, great food.

' src=

Hi Dave. Thank you for your amazing website! We (30’s / 40’s couple – no kids) used your recommendations last year in September and visited Santorini (7days), Milos (3days) and Crete (12days) before spending 3 days in Athens. The trip was amazing and Greece is calling us to go back again this year! We have a conundrum which we are hoping you can assist (well, many of them really!)

We are planning to come back at the start of September for 2 weeks to visit different islands for some beach and sun. To give you some background, we loved Santorini, Milos and the quieter / smaller places in Crete (Loutro, Falassarna, Samaria Gorge). We enjoy beach time, some hiking, site seeing, good wine / food and good / buzzy atmosphere at night for dinner / tavernas.

We originally thought we would try the Ionian islands (something different from what we experienced) with a view of visiting Cephalonia, Paxos, Lefkada or staying with the Cyclades with Paros/Antiparos and Naxos. We know that transport options may be more challenging on the Ionian side.

Can you please give us your opinion of the Ionian islands understanding what we like (above) and compared to our trip last year? We’ve read suggestions that it is more of a package holiday destination like resorts along Northern Crete which we didn’t enjoy being around.

If staying with the Cyclades option, we originally thought of Paros and Naxos although read that Antiparos comes highly recommended. Would you suggest Naoussa on Paros or Antiparos? In this option, we would look to stay 5 days Paros/Antiparos and 5 days Naxos with 4 days left over for another island close by if you have any suggestions??

Thanks in advance Dave!!!

The Ionian Islands are a quite different entity to the more familiar Aegean islands. There are in effect only seven of them plus a sprinkling of satellite islands that make for a very enjoyable package. They are different from the point of view of flora – they are greener and less barren than their Aegean cousins and they share a different history to the rest of Greece and the other islands, having absorbed much Venetian and Italian influences over the years. This is particularly apparent in the Old Town of Corfu where you could be forgiven for thinking you might be somewhere in Italy.

They are packaged tourist places, though not quite in the extreme league of the north coast of Crete, but certainly they look to the ‘managed’ traveller more than the individual. September is a good time, though the start of September is still pretty close to high season and you will need to make bookings in advance. The waters of the Ionian are a bit chillier than the Aegean, but the islands sport some very spectacular beaches and seaside resorts. They are very popular with Italian travellers in their boats and motorhomes.

Transport to them is easy enough with at least four airports receiving international flights (Corfu, Aktio (Lefkada), Kefallonia, and Zakynthos). Ferries to and from the mainland are well provided for, though travel between them is not quite the same deal as the Aegean islands.

The most remote island of the group, though still politically an Ionian island, is Kythira which dangles off the bottom of the Peloponnese and is perhaps the least-known Ionian treasure. It’s largish island with the kind of moody, windswept atmosphere that as you express above that you like. Do consider.

Zakynthos is the one with the ‘reputation’ for rowdy package tourism, though in all honesty it is mainly clustered around the dreadful resort of Laganas. The island happens to be the home of one of the most spectacular beaches in Greece – the famous ‘shipwreck’ beach that you can only get to by boat, or if you are daring enough – by parachute.

Kefallonia is another large island with a busy packaged summer population that combines mountains, beaches and villages in a very appealing way. It’s big enough to get away from others and there’s lots of fine wine and food, buzzy atmospheres and hiking and sightseeing. Look up Fiskardo and Assos.

Ithaki (Ithaca) is Ulysses’ home island and one might argue that it hasn’t changed much since. This is the kind of island where you go to get away from the other islands. It’s not so easy to get to and has a kind of dreamy, earthy kind of atmosphere that will appeal to lovers of an alternate Greek vacation. Hiking, good food, and nature galore.

Lefkada is the island that’s not an island. You can drive to it across the causeway from the mainland, but it feels every bit an island. Aristotle Onassis bought the satellite island of Skorpios here as his own bit of getaway paradise. Beaches, windsurfing, boat hire, good food and wine are all here and there are few built-up package resorts. The main tourist area is centred on Nydri.

The next big island north is Corfu, the grandmother of all holiday packaged islands, but with plenty of other individualized retreats. Arguably the prettiest of all the islands, it is lush, green and clean though it can get a bit cluttered in high Summer. Pretty well all the options you want are on offer, but the best hikes and ramblings are to be had away from the central east coast. Author Gerald Durrell chose well in Corfu: his famous White House in the north-west of the island is at the little seaside village of Kalami.

Off the southern tip of Corfu is the gem of an island called Paxi and may be what you are actually looking for, given your previous experiences. You can’t go wrong with Paxi. It is classy, clean, green and still pretty Ionian Greek. It is not a packaged island, but more a place for selective visitors.

Transport between them can be patchy, but a new service linking Zakynthos with Corfu which started this year now brings all the islands (bar Kythira) together. Zakynthos is otherwise linked to Kefallonia with an old-style open deck ‘slipper’ ferry; Kefallonia includes Ithaki on its local small ferry route to Nydri on Lefkada. There is no link (except for the new service) from Lefkada to Paxi/Corfu. Corfu has links to Paxi and its little know satellite islands just to the north. Kythira has an airport with flights to Athens and ferries to Crete (Kissamos) and the Peloponnese (Gythio, Kalamata, and Neapoli).

In summary, the Ionian islands are very popular for one good reason: they are all attractive destinations in their own right yet differ quite significantly from one another.

For Paros, choose Naoussa if you want trendy restaurants, bars, and shopping. Choose Antiparos if you want quiet charm and beaches within an easy walk.

' src=

I’m traveling to Greece for the first time, and I’m so fortunate to be staying for about 9 weeks (peak season, unfortunately, I’m an educator and it’s summer!). I have ample time planned in Athens, and the Peloponnese (with rental car). Here’s where I need some help and suggestions. I have 5 weeks saved for the islands and I’m still trying to figure out how to spend them. I’m not sure if I’d like to cover just a few islands and soak them in a bit deeper with longer stays…or to travel at a quicker pace covering several islands in each main area (the Cyclades, Ionians, Crete-Rhodes Dodecanese, Eastern Islands) I’m an easy traveler and enjoy diversity. I crave spending time with locals and interacting with families – home stays at times, I enjoy the water and I’m an avid diver, I like hiking and exploring. Also, want to perhaps relax a bit – food/wine tasting welcomed). I’m excited about the trip and my ideas are racing all over. Do you have some ideas and suggestions to share? A rough sketch itinerary for Greece? Thanks so much!

Nine weeks in Greece is a dream itinerary it certainly gives you lots of flexibility. As you seem to have Athens and the Peloponnese sorted, you just need to sort out your five weeks on the islands. What you need to realize, however, is that the islands are not all mutually interconnected, but rather they are ‘grouped’ – both administratively and from the point of view of transport routes. Here are the main groups.

• The Argo-Saronic Islands closer to Athens and run from Aegina to Spetses. • The Sporades Islands in the mid-northern Aegean three of which are connected to Volos and the fourth one to Evvia. • The Islands of the NE Aegean running from Samothraki in the North to Samos in the South • The Ionian Islands from Corfu along the west coast ending at Kythira • The Cyclades (the ‘traditional’ Greek islands) occupying the central Aegean • The Dodecanese Islands running south from Samos along the Turkish coast to Kastellorizo • Crete a large island rounding off the bottom of the Aegean Sea.

These groups are generally better connected among themselves than with other groups, so you are probably better advised to target them on this basis. As it’s your first time to Greece, you may want the full-on Greek island experience and you could easily fill your five weeks flitting from one island to the other in the Cyclades. You could start in Kea and work your way down to Milos via Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos then segue to Paros and Naxos. Dip down to Santorini, up to Mykonos and back to Piraeus. The map will also show plenty of other Cyclades islands to pick and choose from such as Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Amorgos, Syros, Tinos and Andros – yes! too many choices, but you will find that sticking to one group it will be easier to get between them. Realistically for a period of five weeks you will not want to be doing more than 6-8 islands.

Of the above groups the Dodecanese probably constitute the best opportunity to mix islands between groups. You could, for example, take the Blue Star Ferries and map an island-hopping route that essentially heads in the same direction. In this way you could take in some of the Cyclades – Syros, Mykonos, Patmos, Naxos and some of the Dodecanese – Patmos, Leros, Kos, Chalki, and Rhodes – without any backtracking. Hellenic Seaways is another major ferry company whose routes you may want to explore.

The other groups are best tackled individually. For example, the Ionians have no ferry connections to the rest of the Greek islands; the same story with the Sporades and the Argo-Saronics. The NE Aegean islands do have a link to the Dodecanese and the Cyclades but are probably best left for another trip once you have got the feel of the rhythm of the Greek islands.

Crete is a destination unto itself but is commonly linked with Santorini and Mykonos and with daily catamarans between Crete and these islands it is easy to see why. Crete feels less like an island than anywhere else and can seem and feel daunting at first touch because of its size.

To sum up: a lot depends on your own stamina because island hopping means packing and unpacking, getting on and off buses and ferries. Limit your choice of islands to perhaps one or two less than you think you can manage. Maximise transport links to avoid backtracking or port-transferring and since you are traveling high season be aware that you will usually need bookings ahead at most places. It is possible to turn up on an island and not find a place to stay or have to make do with a third-rate option.

As a starter to explore ferry services, go to the Ferryhopper.com and punch in your route searches. Note: air travel between islands is not generally good. Air travel is normally only feasible between Athens (or other mainland destinations) and the island in question. Some exceptions do exist – Rhodes Kastellorizo, Kos-Leros-Astypalaia, Thessaloniki-Limnos-Ikaria etc. but again you will need bookings weeks in advance.

Finally, and this is perhaps the best tip of all – as it’s the old-style romantic one – book transport to and accommodation on one starter island (Paros is a good choice). Sail/fly there, sit down relax, pour cold drinks and eat healthy Greek foods for 4-5 days while working out where to go to next with your tablet under an umbrella on the beach. Book your next stop online and go there. Repeat the exercise. No hassles about being locked into a fixed itinerary and if you like a place, you stay longer. If not, you move on. You will generally find transport tickets for a day or three ahead and hotel owners often know someone on the next island who can fit you in. In Paros, Petres Hotel is a good starting point. Good luck and happy sailing!

' src=

Love your website! So informative. My boyfriend and I will be traveling to Greece on August 1-11th. We have 10 days. Is this a feasible itinerary for a couple in their early 30s who want beach, relaxation, good food, boating, and some history? Fly into Athens have one full day there then fly to Naxos for a day and a half, Milos for 3 nights, then Santorini for 3 nights, then back to Athens for our flight? We chose Milos over Naxos at first, but after reading your blog it seems the beaches in Naxos may be better?

Thanks, Megan

That’s a busy itinerary but doable. Naxos has better beaches, Milos has a more stunning and unique beauty.

' src=

Could you help with suggestions on where to take (2) 18 year old’s celebrating graduation. We will be landing in Athens on the 18th of April and departing for Crete, Mykonos, Santorini and back to Athens for a flight back to the USA on the 26th. Any help on things that are interesting for that age group would be terrific.

Vist Knossos (near Heraklion) and a get a tour guide. Do a boat tour and walk the caldera path in Santorini. Do the cooking class in Mykonos. Visit the Acropolis in Athens (and get a tour guide). Those would be my top recommendations.

' src=

I think you’re killing it with your website with the plethora of information/opinions available.

We are wanting to hit 3 islands and have narrowed it down to Corfu, Crete, and Santorini. I was feeling pretty good about this but I haven’t seen a lot of hype for Corfu. I was thinking it would be more unique as compared to the other 2 with its proximity to Italy and Turkey and Albania. Am I missing something, do you have any insight you could provide, please?

Those are 3 great islands. Corfu is much more green than Crete and Santorini and does have a different feel (more Italian but it’s no where near Turkey). The trouble with doing all 3 is that Corfu is on the opposite side of Greece from Crete and Santorini so you’d need to fly via Athens. It’s better for most people to visit another Cycladic island (Naxos, Paros, Milos, Folegandros) instead of splitting up their trip between the two sides of the country.

' src=

We are planning our honeymoon in Greece. We can probably take up to two weeks. One of the places we want to go is Santorini. We would like to visit one or maybe two other places if possible. The other places we were looking at are Athens, Mykonos & Crete. Which of these would you recommend with Santorini if we were thinking of visiting 2 or 3 places total? Also, with the time we have, how many days would be best in Santorini and the other places I mentioned above?

They’re all great choices. Athens (1 to 2 full days) is great for historical sightseeing. Mykonos for beaches and nightlife (2 to 4 days). Crete for historical sightseeing, greek culture and towns, some beaches but spread out (4 to 7 days). Santorini has great sightseeing, tours, and some history (4 to 7 days). If visiting outside of June to September then drop Mykonos and do the other 3 for sure.

' src=

We are traveling to Greece in early June for two weeks. We are booked for 2 nights in Athens and 2 nights in Santorini. I am trying to decide between going to Crete for a few days or Naxos and Milos rather than Crete. We have three kids ages 19, 12 and 11. Which do you think would be funner for us as a family?

Go with Naxos (great beaches) and Milos (fun boat tours and cool swimming spots).

' src=

Hi Dave! I’m planning my honeymoon for early September, starting from Santorini. I’d like to hit Naxos, Paros and finally Milos before returning to Athens. Is this order of islands doable? I’m most concerned about ferries being available to each of the islands, especially Paros to Milos. Are ferries routinely available daily in September? Also, for all these islands would three full days each be too much or not enough? My wife and I aren’t into nightlife, just looking for relaxation, great beaches, beautiful water and amazing food! Thanks!

You’d have to check the schedule for your specific dates but I think Santorini then Milos then Paros then Naxos and Athens would probably be the best order. 3 days in each sounds great. Or a small tweak: 2 days in Milos and then 4 days in Santorini (splitting time between 2 of the 4 caldera towns) or even 4 days in Paros (splitting time between Naousa and Parikia).

' src=

My fiancee and I are heading to Greece in July. We’ve been to Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, and Santorini. This time we plan on being there July 1 to 23. We’re definitely including Milos, and one of Paros or Naxos. Any recommendations for other islands? Any particular ferry routes we should consider? Some “less touristy” islands are a must (for at least one island). We can be lively or very chilled. Thanks and best wishes! Saro

For beaches: Sifnos (quiet island, an easy stop between Athens and Milos) or Ikaria (quieter still, but a little more effort to get to). For lively: Ios (great nightlife and magical beaches, good restaurants too). For hikes: Folegandros (many paths around the island, great local food). For less-touristy atmosphere: Syros (large local population, tourism occupies a relatively small percentage of economy) or Sikinos (small, sleepy island that doesn’t get a lot of visitors).

' src=

Hi Santorini Dave!

This is a great resource! I am planning our honeymoon for August. We have about 2 weeks. We are thinking of flying into Athens, exploring for a full day, then flying to Santorini for 2 or 3 days, then ferry to Milos and spend maybe 10 days there.

I’m a little worried I’ll get bored in Milos. My husband likes to stay in one place, but I like exploring. We would have split our time more evenly but we want to stay on the caldera and it’s just too expensive to stay any longer than two or three nights. Alternatively, we could stay in Santorini for longer but move to a cheaper hotel. Perhaps Santorini 6 nights and Milos 6 nights?

We love beautiful natural sights, charming Greek towns, the water, swimming, hiking, and biking. I love exploring and figs, the husband would love to see ruins and explore history.

Do you think we should change our itinerary?

Thank you so much!!

10 days would be a log time in Milos. Could be great if you’re happy with quiet days but I’d recommend spending more time on Santorini (or another island). If you’re looking for a cheap hotel steps from the caldera and surrounded by great restaurants then check out Merovigliosso in Imerovigli.

' src=

I need to finalize plans for a mid-June trip, looking to stay 9-10 nights. Traveling with my wife and two sons (24 and 16). Definitely want to go to Santorini, Mykonos and Athens. Was considering 3 nights at each, but after reading on your site, I am thinking about stealing a night from Athens and spending 2 nights at Naxos. We want to see the major sights in Athens, can we do that in a day? Any comments on the itinerary given our group is welcome.

Can you see all the major sights in Athens in one day? No. But you can see the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, and the top historical sites of the Plaka in one day. If you had an extra half-day then visit the Archaeological Museum in Exarcheia. That still leaves many great sights but you will have seen all of the iconic Athens attractions. Adding Naxos is always a good idea. You might even enjoy it more than Mykonos (but no nightlife like Mykonos).

' src=

Hi Dave, My husband and I are heading to Greece in July this year. We fly into Athens and then are connecting to Samos where we are meeting up for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration. We have 4 nights here and then another week to explore some other islands. We would love to visit Santorini although I know it is not close to Samos so not sure if that is the best option? We thought about Paros or Naxos for 3nts, and then Santorini for another 3nts. Then fly back to Athens and spend a couple of days here before we head for Dubrovnik. Do you know if there are ferries between these Island points and would that be the best use of our time? I guess we don’t want to waste too much time travelling between points! We are just playing around with ideas at the moment as Samos is the only part set in stone. Open to any suggestions as this is my husband’s first trip to Greece and my last trip here was with my parents about 35 years ago!

Thanks so much in advance. Carolynn

Your best bet is to take the Hellenic ferry from Samos to Mykonos . Spend a night or two there, then ferry to Naxos, Paros, and/or Santorini (there are many ferries doing this route in summer).

' src=

Hello, Dave! I love your website, congratulations. Me, my wife and a couple of friends are traveling to Greece in March (I know it’s not the best time of the year to visit Greece, but it’s the time we have available). We are in our late 30’s and are looking forward to some beautiful views, chill out time and good food. We’re not after huge parties but some local music wouldn’t be bad. We have 13 days in our hands, so by reading your texts I’m considering spending some 2 days in Athens, 3 days in Mykonos, 4 days in Santorini, 4 days in Chania. Do you think it’s a good schedule? Are we spending too much time or too little time in any of these places? Would you recommend a different setup for that time of the year? Thanks in advance, mate. Tiago

That all sounds good though I would recommend Naxos over Mykonos in March as there’s more to see and do there when not beach weather. And if you do decide to do Mykonos be sure there’s a ferry from Mykonos to Santorini for your dates. And same for Santorini to Crete. There should be ferry service but the route starts different times every year so you do want to be certain.

' src=

I was originally going to fly into Athens, then do Mykonos, Santorini and possibly Paros all in 10 days. Now I’ve decided to skip Athens altogether and just do the other 3 islands. We’re going the last week in August. So I have 3 questions: 1) Which is better to fly into – Mykonos or Santorini? (I’m coming from Boston). 2) Are these 3 islands fairly close to each other and reachable by ferry? 3) Do I have enough time in 10 days to do 3 nights in Mykonos, 4 in Santorini then 2 nights in Paros?

As always, thanks a bunch! Cici

1) Both are fine just be sure to fly in and out of different islands (it’s a waste to backtrack to your original island). So fly into Mykonos and out of Santorini, or into Santorini and out of Mykonos. 2) Yes, they’re close and easy to get between with ferries. 3) 10 days is fine for 3 islands.

' src=

Thank you so much for all the info on this site. I will definitely become a patron when I get more into the weeds of planning. I have always dreamed of visiting Greece (my #1 dream vacation) and I finally get to go this summer!

My boyfriend and I are traveling there in early to mid-June and need some help figuring out which places to visit and how long to stay at each location. We will probably only be spending about 7 days in Greece.

We are in our 20s and looking for a fun and romantic trip. We both love hiking and adventure activities. I love beaches and views. He is interested in the historical sites and Ancient Greece. We do not care about parties or shopping. What itinerary should we follow? Where should we go and how should we budget our time in each locations?

I would do 3 of the following 4 places: Athens (1 full day), Naxos (2 to 3 days), Crete (3 to 4 days), Santorini (3 to 4 days).

' src=

Hi Dave, We would love your help, we are a party of four 50 plus adults from Australia and never have been too the Greek Island. We’re not sure whether we should be going to naxos or paros , we are there for 4 days and not sure whether just to stay on one island and ferry to the other and if you think possible even a day trip to santorini. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming in beautiful beaches, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This will be our one big holiday this year as we will be celebrating my 50th birthday while there so want it too be special. Our budget is more mid-range than sky-high, and hoping for help with hotels to stay at.

This may be way too vague for you to help! But if you can, it would be hugely appreciated! Sharon

My top recommendation is to go to Naxos and stay there (don’t bother with day trips). If by 4 days you mean 4 nights then you could spend 2 on Naxos and 2 on Paros but that wouldn’t be my first choice.

' src=

Hello Dave, great and very informing web page. Added to my favorite pages. We are a couple with an average age of early mid 30s and we prefer calm places. We like nature, old/authentic cities, swimming and snorkelling. Also we like nice restaurants, calm and remote places. Next year, between 18-26 August we plan to visit Greek Islands and my father wants to come with us. Our alternatives are: 1st alternative: Santorini 2 nights, Naxos 2 nights, Amorgos 3 nights, Naxos 1 night, 2nd alternative: Santorini 2 nights, 3 nights Ios, 3 nights Naxos, 3rd alternative: although irrelevant to the other alternatives Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnisos. which alternative do you suggest? Amorgos or Ios? We will be very happy if you can give an idea, we know that all the Greek Islands are very beautiful, thus it is hard to make a decision: Thank you for your help.

In favor of the Ios itinerary is that the 1st alternative seems a little busy and rushed. In favor of the Amorgos itinerary is that you’re visiting during the peak of the high season and Ios and Naxos will be very busy, Amorgos less so. I’d let those two criteria guide what you decide.

' src=

Hi Dave, I used this guide last year to plan my first ever trip to Greece and it was amazing, so amazing that I have to go back! Both my partner and I are 32. My itinerary last year was: – 2 nights Athens, 6 nights in Naoussa (Stayed in Kallisti, couldn’t recommend highly enough) – 3 nights in Santorini (Blue Mills Suites) – 5 nights in Naxos (Nissaki beach hotel, also amazing). BTW my favourite was probably Paros!

So, what should I do this year? My thoughts: – Fly into Chania in Crete – Stay 4 days there in Casa Delfino then move to – Agios Nikolaos or Elounda for 3-4 nights. Which area is nicer and what hotels should I stay in? – Then I’m thinking of taking the ferry to Mykonos and staying in Mykonos town for 3 nights. Up for a party and chillout on a few expensive beaches! – Any advice on where to go after for around 5 nights? Back to Naxos (we didn’t really move from the town last year unlike in Paros where we rented a car and saw the whole island)? What about Folegandros? Tinos? Milos? We would like somewhere with a nice town to walk around, upmarket, more couple less family, nice bars and things to see during the day bit also nice beaches etc?

What do you think of the itinerary and choices? Note: If you would swap Crete or Mykonos with other islands I would be open to that too! Thanks so much, Stephen

Chania is a great choice. A wonderful charming town. Elounda is great for a quiet laid back stop, Agios Nikolaos has a more interesting vibe and is more of a real town. Also very charming. I prefer Ag Nik but Elounda has more luxurious hotels. ( Crete hotels .) Naxos has lots to see in the interior so if you didn’t explore then certainly consider that. Folegandros and Milos are both incredible. Folegandros is more suited to walking and relaxing (and has some top notch restaurants and hotels). On Milos you need to do a tour and get out and actively explore to do it justice. Geologically Milos is stunning. A little like Santorini but with better beaches.

' src=

Hi! I have fallen in love with the cyklades and have visited Santorini, Ios, Naxos and Folegandros in late june. Folegandros was the best, a fantastic island. We are now thinking about going to Paros the last week in September. Naoussa seem to be a great place. What’s the weather like in late September? Is it still quite warm? I also wonder about the sea conditions. May the sea be rough at that time of the year? I don’t like wavy ferry rides 😨 Thank you for a good sight! Ulrika, Sweden

Weather is usually great in late September. Still warm, water is beautiful. See is often rougher in August when the wind can blow hard from the north.

' src=

I’m hoping you can help myself and a friend decide where to go. We are hoping to go away around mid August for 10 days-2 weeks. We’re looking for a sunny place and beaches to tan and relax during the day, with some big nightlife and a good strip (the odd daytime activity maybe too). However we are in mid 20s so want to go somewhere with the same age group or older. I’ve been to Zante and although it was super fun at the time (I was about 18) and loved having the strip etc, just don’t want to be the older people there anymore! Money is also fairly tight, so nothing too expensive (was thinking santorini maybe before hearing the price along with it).

Any recommendation(s) would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Sorcha

Paros is what you want.

' src=

My wife and I are trying to find out which island is best, we are traveling with a newborn, and we are looking for beautiful white sand beaches, cozy and classic greek towns and stay in a hip hotel, also hip restaurants would be a plus. I understand that August is a popular month but also trying to stay away from crazy overcrowded islands. Do you think is possible to find all in one island?

I think Naxos would be the best island for you: incredible beaches, wonderful villages, great restaurants, and some very good hotels (though I don’t think I’d go so far as to call them hip – but nice, for sure). The farther south you go from Naxos Town the quieter the beaches get – so keep going to find the balance you prefer. If you want an island with a little more hip but beaches not quite as perfect then try Paros. If you want to err on the quieter and idyllic side then Antiparos or Ikaria.

' src=

my husband and I arrive in Athens this coming Sunday and fly home the following Sunday. Trying to make the most of our short stay and based on your recommendation we are choosing to tour Athens on the front end of our trip, then Ferry to Paros and then Santorini.

Is two nights in Athens enough? That would leave us one full day of touring the Plaka. Which Island would you recommend staying 3 nights, Paros or Santorini?

Many thanks for your great site!

Rebecca McLean

One full day in Athens is perfect and enough time for most visitors (just try to pack in as much as you can and definitely get up to the Acropolis). I’d spend longer on Santorini than on Paros.

' src=

Hi Dave! Your website is simply amazing and has answered most of my questions thus far. (Basically used your website and information to plan 90% of our trip)! My sister (32 years young) and myself (28 years young) are traveling to Greece from 22nd August – 6th September. This will be the first visit for my sister and my second visit so I am trying to show her my favourite places as well as visit new ones myself (i have only ever been to Mykonos and Santorini). Our trip starts in Athens for 2 days, Mykonos for 6 days, Santorini for 5 days and leaving us with 3 days to spare at the end of the trip. (4th Sept – 7th Sept) We fly out of Athens in the am on the 7th Sept so need to be back in Athens prior to this. Question: Is it worth taking the evening ferry on the 4th Sep to Crete (Heraklion) from Santorini, then the bus onto Chania so that we can do the Samaria Gorge on the 5th? Spending the full day in Chania on the 6th and taking the last flight out of Chania that night back to Athens? (or do you think this is trying to squeeze in too much in too little time)? Alternatively, we are looking at going to Elafonissi Beach instead of the Gorge… but are not sure what will be more our while!! Basically we just want to see the best bits in a VERY small window…. so if you have any other recommendation as to what we can do with these 2-3 days would be much appreciated!

It’s doable and probably worth it. But it would be easier and more practical to use those 2/3 days with a stop in Naxos or Paros on the way between Mykonos and Santorini.

' src=

Hi dave – very cool and informative site! We’re a family of 6 (all adults) traveling to Greece for the first time…and most likely the last time. We’d like to visit some historic sites, but more interested in experiencing Greek life in small towns. Beaches and nightlife are not important. I’m looking to put together a balanced itinerary covering 10 days (11 nights) and had the following in mind:

2 days (3 nights) road trip to include Delphi, Kardamyli, Monemvasia, Nafplio. 2 days (2 nights) Hydra 2 days (2 nights) Santorini 1 day (1 night) Naxos 3 days (3 nights) Athens

Any suggestions? I’m not stuck on this, so feel free to make recommendations.

Thanks Kobus

Looks great. I’m partial to Santorini so would recommend a day more there (and cut one day from Athens). But otherwise, should be a great trip.

' src=

Hello! Our family has traveled to a few Greek destinations on a cruise – Corfu, Kefallonia, and Santorini several years (and three kids) ago. We are coming back to celebrate a (big) birthday in September. We have four kids, from 14 months to 8 years, all of whom will travel with us. We are aiming for 10-12 days. We are mulling over: – Santorini – luxury hotel for 2-3 nights (Perivolas/Katikies or similar) – Crete – 5-6 days, Chania, Agios Nikolaos, Elafonissi Beach worth it? – Naxos – this trip or maybe next, Agios Prokopis, Agios Anna, Plaka Beach, Naxos Town – Skopelos – have seen it is a bit under the radar but being lauded as one of the world’s best islands and have not seen much on it here. Skopelos Town, Paralia Stafilos, Mamma Mia sights…Thoughts? – Hydra – it’s close to Athens, and looks lovely, but is it worth the stop with the kids? May skip for another trip.

We really want beautiful beaches, scenic seaside towns, great food, and once we get there, easy. I don’t mind a little schlepping, as it is part of the adventure. Also, I get really seasick every time I take a ferry or whale watching boat in the Pacific and am curious about that in the Mediterranean in September.

How would you route us, given we would like to stay put a few days in the beginning to get over the time difference? I would like to do Santorini toward the end, but have some beach time right after. Thank you for being a great resource!

You’ve obviously given serious thought to your schedule and it looks good, but given your relatively compressed timeframe, it might be difficult to fit it all in. Travelling between destinations really eats into your down time. Carrying kids along adds to the pleasure, but also slows down movements. So, what’s best?

Crete, Santorini, and Naxos look quite doable within the 12-day block, but Crete’s beaches are scattered throughout a very LARGE island, Santorini really only has Kamari and Perissá (and some southern coast bays) and Naxos does have nice places to swim. If you choose only to visit those three islands in your relatively short time, you will do well.

You’d probably really want to stick to Chania (Platanias/Agia Marina) for your Crete stint, with a day trip to the very worth-it Elafonisi Beach. Kids will work well in this area and if you don’t mind schlepping a tad, you’ll do well.

Be cautious with Santorini and kids. Some hotels don’t do kids (check carefully) and not all hotels are suitable for kids along the caldera lip. Many steps, confined spaces and other guests who don’t actually want to hear kids … Here’s an idea – look for a child-friendly hotel (perhaps on the beach at Perissá) and base yourself where the kids will like it and then take them to the caldera scene. There are a couple of child-friendly hotels on the Caldera, but they get booked very early in the year.

Looking at the wildcards Hydra and more so, Skopelos … you will have quite challenging logistical issues in weaving Skopelos into the mix. Great island – Mamma Mia and all that – but no airport and only serious boat connections with the land port of Volos … It warrants a separate trip.

Hydra is an easy add-on to Athens, but only if you have the free days and you will want at least two nights. It’s a very walkable place (no cars) – or take a horse and cart – but not a beach destination. If you have a spare day in Athens, take the local ferry to Angistri for a great day on the beach.

Ferries in September? The big winds are usually over and it’s commonly smooth sailing, so no worries on that score. The Mediterranean is not the Pacific ;-)

' src=

Good evening Dave

We are a family of 4 adults (ages early 50’s and early 20’s). Will have 6 nights in the Greek islands. We originally planned to stay all 6 nights in Firostefani on Santorini. However, Crete is appealing given our interests below and typical day (see below).

THE ASK: Given this is our first visit to the Greek islands, for 6 nights, our interests and our typical day on holiday, what would you recommend?

1. Stay all 6 nights on a single island – 6 nights Santorini or 6 nights Crete (with day trip to either island)? 2. Split time between the two islands? If so, what is your recommended split between Santorini and Crete?

Our interests: Natural sights and wonders Culture (food, drink/wine, meeting/talking with locals) Historical & Archeological Sites & Stories Daily quiet R&R time at pool or beach

Our preferred activities: Pool & Beach (incl snorkeling/diving, swimming, water sports) Hiking, Biking, & Scooters Visiting historical/archeology sites, quintessential local towns/views, and vineyards

Typical day on holiday: Rise and 1hr workout @ 7:30am Coffee, danish, relax & catch up on news and social media AM Activity for 1-2 hrs (pool, beach, hike, scooters, boat tour, archeological sites) Lunch – onsite or off-site while window shopping at a quintessential town Pool or Beach for 1-2 hours (including nap/book reading time) or planned activity Unstructured time until dinner Dinner around 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM with spectacular sunset view Nightlife for 1-2 hrs

Darryl Miclat

It’s a tough call. The good news is that whatever you decide, it will feel like the right thing after you’ve done it. You’ll almost certainly say to yourself, “I’m so glad we saw both islands” or “I’m so glad we had 6 full days on Santorini.” In deciding I would ask whether a return trip to Greece is likely or possible in the next couple of years. If so, then spend your 6 days on Santorini and explore that island, then return to Crete at some time in the future for a deserving 7 to 10 days. But if this is a one-time deal for the foreseeable future then do 3 days on Santorini and 3 days in Crete. (Whatever you decide don’t do a day trip to the other island as it’s not worth the time and effort.)

' src=

My fiancé and I are interested in the Greek Islands for our honeymoon in early August. I know it’s not the ideal time to go, but it’s right after our wedding. We are two women in our late thirties. We’d fly into Athens and then I was thinking Santorini for 4 nights and then possibly one other island. We’re into the beach, snorkeling/boat trip, maybe a hike or bike ride and amazing food. We’re not interested in the party scene, but definitely want to explore amazing restaurants. You know, the perfect amount of romance and relaxation combined with culture and epic scenery. Suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Cheers, Sam

Yes, Santorini for sure. Other good choices would be Naxos (good hikes, traditional food), Paros (trendy nightlife and restaurants), and Milos (very cool boat trips around the island).

' src=

Hi Dave, you truly do offer and insanely helpful guide to Greece. Thank you so much for doing that, I know it’s super hard work to keep up with responding to people! You do it very well.

I’m sorry if you covered this in another part of your site, (either I’m technically challenged or there just isn’t a search function for your site) but I’m curious about Corfu. From what I can tell, you mentioned it once in your site under your post about best beaches. The Paleokastritsa area is something that has caught my attention for a while and is on my list, and then I saw pictures of Nissakids Bay and that looked kind of amazing.

I’m curious why you don’t mention Corfu more? Is it just because it’s not the region that you tend to be in, and is so far away from the rest of the islands? Or is there something else about it that you don’t like? I very much would value your opinion on this matter! thank you so much, Kimberly

Corfu is wonderful. Great beaches, food, beautiful, and Corfu Town is charming. One disadvantage of Corfu is that there aren’t any nearby islands that are easy to ferry to. So you’re not going to be island hopping like in the eastern Greek islands. But if you’re fine missing out on that then Corfu is a great choice.

' src=

this is the most helpful website I’ve ever come across, thank you so much for all your information! I wanted to ask, my boyrfriend and I will be visiting Santorini from March 28th-April 4th, and even though it’s a short period we were hoping to do a day trip to Ios. But it doesn’t seem like ferries are available on those dates. Do you know if any ferries go to Ios and back on same day during our dates?

Thanks a lot! Faye

Things could change but as of now there are no ferries between Ios and Santorini until later in the year.

' src=

My husband & I were planning to go on an organized Hiking the Greek Isles tour in May, that we just found out is cancelled. It is our 10 year anniversary so we’d still love to plan a trip on our own for about 2 weeks in length. We are a bit apprehensive because we are from Canada and have never been to Europe before. I have several questions I’m hoping you can help me out with. One, how much should we budget/day for eating out for lunch & dinner? Most of the hotels look like they include breakfast. Two, how much should we budget for ferries? We are considering around 2 days in Athens, 2 days in Tinos, 2 days in Naxos, 3 days in Santorini & 4 days in Crete. Our main goals are seeing the beauty of the Greek islands, getting some physical activity in (walking & hiking), and spending time together. Any input would be much appreciated! Thanks very much! Jennifer

Budgeting for Greece is always going to be subject to what your expectations and needs are. Assuming that you, like many travellers, like to eat a filling breakfast, savour maybe a light lunch and feast on a heavier dinner (or vice versa), enjoy a drink with your meals and are not totally vegetarian/vegan and prefer to sleep in comfort and cleanliness, then there is a set of figures that can be guesstimated.

Comfortable accommodation in May for 2 persons can be found for between €40 and €80 per night. A meal for two that includes a starter, two main meals, salad and a litre carafe of local wine will cost you around €25-35. This can vary widely depending of level of establishment you eat at. A cheap vegetarian dish (pulses or vegetable) will set you back by no more than €5-6 a plate. If you get your breakfast included at the hotel, that is good because breakfast can add another €15 for the two of you per day.

Prices do vary across the country with Mykonos and Santorini being perceptibly dearer, but the season is in your favour with May being considered shoulder season with negotiable accommodation rates.

Ferries are not really cheap any more – certainly not like they used to be – but the vessel fleet is better, safer and faster than in previous years so the cost is justified. You can get exceptionally cheap deals on longer-haul routes if you are prepared to forego a booked seat: €14 v €40 on a run to a mid-distant island, but it’s probably wise to consider taking fast catamarans to get to core islands (Mykonos, Santorini, Paros etc.) and even then, go the extra 10/15% for Business or even VIP class for the extra comfort. On longer hauls it can be cheaper to fly if you seek out flights online and book beforehand.

A good place to start researching your ferries is gtp.gr . Once you have got a hit, go to the indicated ferry company and punch in your dates. You can book online and pick up your tickets when you get to Greece.

Finally, as for walking, the Greek islands lend themselves very easily to good walks. You will enjoy the caldera rim walk in Santorini, the Samaria Gorge walk in Crete, and basically walking anywhere you like on other islands. Check out the islands maps and walking trails on maps available here , that will give you a handy heads-up.

' src=

I am a travel agent in Melbourne, Australia and I have used your website regularly.

Really fantastic work and I hope that you don’t mind a professional agent using your services. I have referred many customers to your site as it is easy to go though and full of fabulous information.

I am a bit stuck here with a young couple late 20’s, trendy and cool. They have done Santorini and Mykonos last year and they have booked now 2 weeks for Lefkada, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos. Is there anything you could give me that would help me finding great hotels and places to stay on those islands? Their budget is $500 per night per room.

Thanks again for your great work!

Kindest regards JP Boutefeu, Personal Travel Manager

Excellent choice of islands, though getting between them presents one or two challenges (they are not as conveniently connected like the Cycladic or Dodecanese islands so island hopping is not as popular in this island group). All three islands are served by airports with year-round connections to Athens and in the Summer with international charter flights from Europe. Let’s take the pros and cons of each island.

Lefkada is an island, but is connected to the mainland by a causeway at the northern tip and its access airport is on the mainland at Aktio (Preveza). It is an island popular with Greeks and mainly European visitors. Italians and Brits predominate. It is green, verdant, has good beaches and facilities and is compact enough to get around easily. Tourism is centred on the east coast around the port village of Nydri. It is low-key accommodation with villas and small family-run hotels predominating. Off-shore from Nydri are a couple of islands worth visiting on excursions: the sizeable Meganisi (car ferries run to and fro’) and the private Skorpios Island which belong to the Onassis family. On your own hired motor boat, you can heave-to on just one private beach on the north side of the island and swim and claim boasting rights to having swum on Aristotle Onassis’ private piece of Greece.

Between Nydri and the next main tourism centre is the little port and beach of Mikros Gialos (small bay) that is a great little base for individual travellers for a day or three. The port village of Vasiliki on the southern underbelly of Lefkada is a haven for windsurfers: see this page or this one for more information. The little village is very pretty and is a good base for general holiday-making (as are the two other places). From Vasiliki there is a regular local ferry that runs to Fiskardo on Kefallonia (via Ithaca/Ithaki).

Kefallonia was severely shaken by an earthquake in 1953 and thereafter lost its quaint gloss. The picturesque northern port of Fiskardo however, escaped much of the destruction and remains to this day one of the main focal points for visitors to the island, so is a good spot for a stay of 2-3 days. Pretty, waterfront cafés and restaurants and a cosy, folksy feel predominate. Asos, between Fiskardo and Argostoli is a west coast ‘resort’ village that pulls in its fair share of visitors and the view down to Asos from the main island road is one of the most photographed spots on Kefallonia.

Argostoli is the capital on the mid-west flank of the island and is not really a destination itself, that moniker falling to the contiguous beach scene running from Lourdata south eastward to Skala. While development might have caught up here by now, it should still be a pleasant beach scene and focus for a relaxing stay. The Melissani Cave on the east coast is a must attraction and while it can be visited on a day excursion from anywhere on Kefallonia the two villages or Agia Efthymia and Poros are low-key ‘resorts’ pulling in a regular crowd of travellers and may warrant a look-in. The port of Pesada (just west of Lourdata) is the home of the local ferry to Zakynthos (Zante).

Zakynthos is an island of certain extremes: beauty and crass, mass tourism of the worst sort. The islands – like all the Ionian islands is lush and verdant and boasts the now famous ‘shipwreck beach’ (Navagio) that many seek to travel to and swim at. Yes, it’s worth it and numerous excursion boats make the run from ports on the west side of the island. Environmentalists and capitalists clash daggers at Laganas where the mass tourism trade is carried out to the detriment of the Caretta Caretta, or loggerhead turtle that loves the beach as much as British tourists on a binge. Read this page for the background. There is an alternative scene to Laganas at Vasilikos over to the east, but it is much more low-key and less busy.

Transport between the three islands relies on local ferries and these are unsophisticated ‘landing-craft’ style boats that do little more than ferry passengers and vehicles in Spartan comfort, but they are very functional and vital to the inter-island communication. There is plenty of on the ground support excursions and infrastructure and the islands are well-used to tourism; the only exception is that travellers will need to use a bit of independence in getting between the islands.

' src=

Hi Dave! My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in late May/early April. We already plan to spend a few nights on Santorini, and are trying to choose one other island to pair with it (will have 3 nights on other island). We are in our late 20s and are more interested in outdoors (hiking, exploring, beaches, boat trips). I’d like to keep travel time to a minimum, so I have been looking at the closer islands – Milos, Paros, and Naxos. Do you have any recommendations or thoughts on a good island to pair with Santorini? Thank you! Ann

Naxos for the hiking. Milos for the boat trips. Both for beaches and exploring.

' src=

Thank you for putting together such a great site. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Islands in May – neither of us have been and, honestly, have no idea where to even start putting together an itinerary. We have at least 14 nights to spend there (and may be able to push that to 17). I’m in my early 30s, my husband’s in his early 40s. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This is probably our one big holiday this year so while the budget is more mid-range than sky-high, we can push it a bit for the right places or experiences. We’re happy to take in quite a few islands, or with a mix of longer and shorter stays.

This may be way too vague for you to help! But if you can, it would be hugely appreciated!

The good news is that all the Greek islands are great. There’s almost no chance that you’ll pick 3 or 4 different islands and come back disappointed. That said, you’re probably best to focus on the Cyclades and of those Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, and Milos have everything you’re looking.

' src=

Fabulous site Dave! I am taking my daughter to Greece for 12 days in late May this year as a grad gift (yeah I know…, I think my Dad gave me a Timex watch, but I digress) and we are flying into Santorini expecting to spend 5-6 days there then ferrying over to Mykonos (not really sure why?) for a couple days. A couple days there and then flying into Athens for 2-2.5 days to inject some culture into what is otherwise somewhat hedonistic trip. I was wondering, after reading about other islands whether it is worth going to Mykonos. I’d love to go to Crete but it seems to be tough to squeeze that in. The original plan was to go to Istanbul for a couple days but it seems really sketchy right now. So is Naxos a better idea than Mykonos? Should we stay longer in Santorini? Is 2.5 days too much for Athens? Any and all info is appreciated. Tom

I would recommend Naxos over Mykonos and with 12 days you could easily add Paros too. With Santorini, Paros, and Naxos you’ll get a good mix of different delights and some ferry island hopping too which is fun in itself. 1.5 days in Athens is perfect for most – 1 day for the Plaka, Parthenon, Acropolis Museum area; and a half-day to visit the Archaeological Museum which is a short drive or walk from the Plaka but hard to fit in one day along with the other sights.

' src=

We’re planning a Greece trip to celebrate our 25th anniversary in September next year. We plan to arrive in Athens and directly take train to Kalambaka/Meteora (2 nights), then down to Delphi (hotel stay in Athens), a day to see sights in Athens, a day trip to Nafplio and then leave to explore islands. Our plan is to go to Naxos for 4-5 nights, then to Santorini (for our anniversary) for 4 nights, and then to Crete for 5-6 nights. I would like to see Delos and wonder if it’s possible to stop in Mykonos, do the tour to Delos and still be able to catch ferry to Naxos the same day?

Thank you so much for your assistance! We’re looking forward to visiting Greece!

Yes, it’s possible. Get the SeaJet ferry from Athens to Mykonos. It should arrive at 9:30am or shortly after. You’ll have to hurry to store you’re luggage at the Sea and Sky travel agency across from the Old Port and then buy tickets for Delos. The last ferry to Delos leaves at 11am or maybe 11:30am. Ferry to Delos is about 30 minutes. Last ferry back is at 3pm which will give you plenty of time before the last ferry of the day to Naxos (at 6:15pm on SeaJet). All the ferries mention here use the Old Port. Don’t book any ferries that use the New Port or you’ll have trouble making the connections.

' src=

It’s still months away but my boyfriend and I (we’re in our late twenties) are thinking about going to a Greek island in the first week of October. We’ve both never been to Greece and we’re wondering what the best Island is for us. We’re on a budget (think €50 per person per day) and would like to go someplace warm and sunny where there’s also a combination of culture and nature. So we can explore in the mornings and relax at the beach in the afternoon. Preferably a sandy beach. We don’t need a lot of nightlife but it would be nice if not the whole island is closing down already. Do you have a suggestion?

Thanks in advance!

I’d go with Naxos: cheap hotels can be found, great walks and hikes through the mountains, wonderful beaches, and popular enough not to be dead in October. €50/per day is doable but you’ll really have to watch it.

' src=

We are two guys in our early 30s, we have 12 days for the Greek Islands. We like to swim, ride bikes, or drive on the islands to explore villages, culture, local life, love to eat local food, rest and have beers on beach, stroll and walk around in evening, etc. We will go to Santorini for 3 nights and select Fira according your suggestions, we are confused for next island between Crete and Naxos. Crete is huge but if we choose Naxos as it’s easy to reach from Santorini than does 8-9 days will be boredom in Naxos? Please suggest what’s best and on which place we should look for accommodation in either island you suggest..

Thanks Manik Arora

Yes, I would agree that 8 or 9 days is too long for Naxos – unless you’re happy sitting at the beach for several of those days. But if you’re looking to be semi-active and explore then you’d be best to add Paros and spend 4/5 days on each. Crete, on the other hand, would be perfect for an 8/9 day road trip. Start in Heraklion (where the ferry arrives from Santorini) head east and then south and finally ending up in the western town of Chania where you can fly up home from.

' src=

Hi Dave, My husband, another couple, and I are planning a trip to Greece in September. We are staying in Milos for a few nights and were planning on staying at Melian Hotel and Spa….do you know anything about this hotel? I was worried about proximity to things, but it looks like no matter what, we are going to need to rent a car or use the bus system to get around. It seemed though that Melian had 6 or 7 restaurant options within walking distance. Also, any ideas or tips on things to do, see, or go?? We plan to do one of those semi-private sailing tours, but other than that we are an open book. Thanks so much for any input! Laura Carroll

The Melian is great and yes an easy walk to a good range of restaurants in Pollonia. The sailing tours around Milos are the highlight of the island but would also recommend renting a car and exploring the spread out beaches and stunning views. Getting around Milos to see things by bus is doable but definitely easier with a car.

' src=

Hi Dave! Your website is so detailed and helpful! I’m starting to plan a trip for late May-early June. We were interested in visiting Santorini, Naxos (we opted for Naxos instead of party-filled Mykonos) and Milos. Our main airport of arrival is Athens. What order should we visit all three islands (in terms of convenience of ferry/flight availability) and how many nights do you recommend allotting to each? Thanks in advance for your time!

Ferries between Naxos and Milos don’t start until June 7th (one each way, every day after that). Ferries between Santorini and Milos start April 28th and there is one every day in each direction. And there are always ferries between Naxos and Santorini. So if the dates work I would fly to Santorini (the longest leg) then ferry to Milos then Naxos and back to Athens. But if you need to travel between Naxos and Milos before the 7th then ferry Athens to Milos to Santorini to Naxos and back to Athens.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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

Island-hopping in Greece: everything you need to know

Aug 26, 2021 • 8 min read

Aerial of a jetty at Mykonos town.

Explore the Greek islands by hopping on ferries across the seas © proslgn / Shutterstock

Scattered like pearls across the shimmering Aegean and Ionian seas, the Greek islands have lured in many travelers. From Jason and his adventuring Argonauts to Frankish Crusaders and Mamma Mia film crews, myth and enchantment envelop the islands much like their ribbons of sugar-soft sand.

There’s nothing quite like spotting the shoreline from a sun-drenched ferry deck or sailing into a vibrant port. In Greece , getting there is an essential part of the adventure and, thankfully, island hopping is a breeze.

When is the best time to go to the Greek islands?

While the Greek islands are stunning at any time of year, aim to visit between Orthodox Easter (usually April) and the end of May, or from September to mid-October. During these times, services and amenities are up and running, temperatures are balmy and crowds are thinner. From June until the end of August, you will definitely have warm sea water and hot weather, but you’ll be sharing it with the masses, paying top bill, and the meltemi (dry northerly wind) can play havoc with ferry schedules. In the low winter season, many ferry routes cease to operate, and hotels and restaurants shut up shop.

Depending on which Greek islands you're hoping to visit, it's a good idea to also check the local calendars for  panigyria . These Greek summer festivals  are unique cultural experiences that can be a lot of fun, but they also might affect ferry schedules, opening hours at attractions, and produce crowds and parades that can otherwise complicate the logistics of getting around.  Panigyria on Ikaria , for example, occur all summer long on various saints' days, and some of the festivities run from dusk until dawn.

View over a blue dome church on Santorini, Greece

Should you plan your Greek island-hopping trip in advance?

In reality, it’s best to plan a little and leave a little to chance. A bit of planning can definitely take you a long way. Deciding where you want to go and understanding the ferry schedules before you go will take the work out of your vacation. Having said that, Greece is known for its laid-back attitude, and it’s worth emulating this while island-hopping. Ferry schedules are always subject to change, even pre-booked and pre-paid journeys. Anything from windy weather to worker strikes can mean delay or cancellation at short notice. Building a little flexibility into your schedule is wise.

Best time to go to Greece

Two large ferries in the port of Piraeus, Greece

What are the best Greek island-hopping routes?

You can definitely pick a few options from various groups of Greek islands and create your own route; however, many ferry lines service specific island groups, so planning can be easier if you stick to a single area. All flights lead to Athens – or so it seems – and arriving in the capital not only gives you the opportunity to take in its jaw-dropping sights, but it also brings you close to the port of Piraeus for boats to the Cyclades, Saronic Gulf islands  and even more remote island groups like the Dodecanese. Athens also neighbors the port of Rafina for routes to the eastern Cyclades and further afield. To visit the Northeastern Aegean islands, land in Thessaloniki , Greece’s second city.

If you’re planning to spend most of your time in a specific island group, it’s worth catching a domestic flight from Athens to get you started – it will save you both time and money. Practicality aside, there’s nothing quite like descending in a twin engine onto a tiny airstrip in the middle of the bright blue sea.  Some island destinations are also served by international flights in high season.

Finding the right Greek island

Woman wearing a hat looks at the island of Santorini from a ferry

Which Greek islands are best to visit?

The appeal of the Cyclades is undeniable, and it’s here that you’ll find some of the most popular islands. Be prepared to share, especially in high season. From Piraeus, hop a ferry to Mykonos, the most glamorous of the Greek islands . Overlooked by its iconic windmills, you’ll rub shoulders with the famous as you explore the flower-filled lanes and boutique shops and cafes.

From here, day-trip to the tiny island of Delos with its ancient sun-bleached ruins. Carry on to Naxos , the largest of the Cyclades, with a walled seaside capital surrounding a hilltop castle. Even further south, you’ll reach Santorini with its iconic sunsets, black-sand beaches, vineyards and incredible Minoan site . Complete the loop with a stop in laid-back Milos , with dozens of beaches and charming villages to explore. At the end of the day, hop a ferry back to Piraeus.

12 essential places to visit in Greece

Yacht moored in a secluded cove on Kalymnos island, Greece

In the Dodecanese , you’ll see and taste the historical influences of the parade of cultures that have passed through, from Romans and crusading medieval knights to Byzantine and Ottoman rulers. Think plenty of pasta, sugary baklava, stunning minarets, walled cities and crumbling mountaintop castles. The catamaran service that regularly connects the islands makes island-hopping simple. Begin by catching a flight to Rhodes , which abounds in sandy beaches, ancient history and a buzzing city life.

Visit volcanic Nisyros to hike through its verdant forests and into its steaming caldera, and Karpathos for its timeless hilltop village of Olymbos . Kalymnos will call climbers and divers with its undersea wrecks and limestone cliffs, while Patmos has an ethereal quality, where life is in tune with the monastery bells and where St. John experienced his revelations. If you’re visiting around Orthodox Easter, Patmos is the place to be. Loop back to popular Kos for an endless strip of brown-sugar sand, nightlife, easily cyclable roads and an airport with regular flights to Athens.

10 incredible hikes in Greece

View across the rooftops in Corfu, Greece

Ionian Islands

Nestled along the coast of the Peloponnese in the Ionian Sea, the Ionian Islands have a slightly cooler climate, abundantly forested mountains and countless stands of olive and cypress trees. From Athens, you can fly to Corfu where you’ll be wooed by Parisian-style arcades, Venetian alleyways and Italian-inspired delicacies. Corfu is large enough to escape the crowds to cypress-studded hills, lofty villages and sandy coves.

The next island is tiny Paxi, with beautiful harbor villages, rolling hills and ancient olive groves. Visit Lefkada for its sandy beaches and Kefallonia to kayak along the magnificent cobalt-blue bays. Take in time-forgotten Kythira for sugar-cube architecture and unspoiled wilderness. Far flung to the south, you can ferry back to Piraeus from here.

The 12 best beaches in Greece

Travellers board a ferry in the port of Aegina island in the Saronic Gulf, Greece

How to book ferry tickets

With a network covering every inhabited island, the Greek ferry system is vast and varied. The slow rust buckets that once plied the seas are nearly a thing of the past. High-speed ferries are increasingly common and cover most popular routes. Local ferries, excursion boats and tiny private fishing boats (called caiques ) often connect neighboring islands and islets. Meanwhile, plush catamarans can drastically reduce travel time and cope better with poor weather. For long-haul ferry travel, you can travel in serious comfort.

Many ferry companies have online booking services. Not surprisingly, high-speed boats sell out faster than slow chuggers. For overnight ferries, it’s always best to book ahead. These resources are useful for planning and booking:

  • Danae Travel   A good site for booking boat tickets.
  • Greek Travel Pages  Useful search option and links for ferries.
  • Greekferries  Search ferry schedules, including accommodation options and multi-leg journeys.
  • Open Seas  Reliable search engine for ferry routes and schedules.

A fishing boat laden with nets in the harbor in Lesvos, Greece

Tips for traveling the Greek islands

  • When you book a ticket, you'll find that deck-class is just that: access to the deck and interior but no bunks, berths or cabins. Keep in mind that unless you state otherwise, you will automatically be given deck class when purchasing a ticket. For more luxurious or overnight accommodations, prices climb with airplane-style recliner seats right up to private cabins with bathrooms.
  • If you are considering taking a ferry overnight, it's worth remembering that a bed for the night in a cabin from Piraeus to Rhodes can be more expensive than a discounted airline ticket. It’s worth shopping around, depending on where you land in the Venn diagram of considerations like cost, travel time, comfort and a desire to experience of sailing the high seas.
  • If you're traveling around  Greece with kids , children under five years of age travel for free on many ferry services, and tickets for those aged between five and 10 are usually half price.
  • Food on ferries can be overpriced and underwhelming. Bring your own snacks and water, or save your appetite for the famously robust food scenes in destinations like Rhodes and Symi.
  • You might not have much appetite if you veer towards seasickness. The water can be rough, so stare at the horizon, not the sea. Stay on deck for fresh air and don’t be tempted to read or use binoculars.
  • If you're hoping to explore the Greek islands by car, note that bringing a car on the ferries is expensive and generally requires advance booking. Car rental on the islands is relatively cheap and possible on almost every island.
  • If you've got some energy left, or extra room in your itinerary after returning to the mainland, remember that Piraeus is more than just the gateway to the Greek islands. You can easily spend a whole day in Piraeus  itself, or at the very least check out the city's vibrant nightlife at popular clubs like  Beluga  and  M adama after you disembark the ferry.

This article was originally published in September 2019.

You might also like: What you need to know about traveling to Greece right now Unique flavors to savor when in Greece Dreaming of owning a home in the Mediterranean? Here's all you need to know

This article was first published September 2019 and updated August 2021

Explore related stories

greek island visit

Jan 30, 2024 • 19 min read

No shell has been left unturned in our hunt for the world's best beaches.

greek island visit

Jan 19, 2024 • 11 min read

Editorial-Templates-21.png

Oct 25, 2023 • 5 min read

Betancuria village with a church tower on Fuerteventura island.

Oct 25, 2023 • 7 min read

Where-Locals-Go---Bounding-Box-10.png

Sep 25, 2023 • 4 min read

greek island visit

Aug 22, 2023 • 5 min read

Take in lakes and islands in Croatia and Greece.

Jul 6, 2023 • 7 min read

greek island visit

Jul 3, 2023 • 6 min read

18 AUGUST, 2015: Visitors crowd Sveti Stefan Beach and Island area on a sunny summer day.

May 29, 2023 • 9 min read

Rear view of a man walking down to a beach on Fourni Island, Greece.

Mar 8, 2023 • 4 min read

A Solo Woman Traveling

Inspiring Destinations For Solo Female Travel

A Solo Woman Traveling

Expert Greek Islands Travel Guide With Itinerary Routes

' src=

This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info.

So you want to plan a trip to the Greek Islands and have no idea where to start? That was me 14 years ago before making my first trip to Greece. Since my maiden voyage to the Isles in 2010, I have visited some of the most famous and lesser-known Greek islands.

Compiling my decade of experience, I’ve put together all my tips into the ultimate Greek Islands Travel Guide to help you avoid the usual island-hopping mistakes.

Crystal Blue waters on Greek Island with small rowing boat.

This in-depth guide to the Greek Islands will help you understand the different island groups and how to craft your itinerary.

In case you’re still uncertain about your destination, I’ve put together a handy Greek Island Quiz to assist you in making your decision!

Understanding The Main Island Groups

It is so important to understand the island groups when planning a Greek Island hopping itinerary.

And that is because some of these islands are extremely far from one another. For example, you are not going to “hop” from Crete to Corfu, you are going to fly.

Some Greek islands although seemingly close together can still be a little challenging to get to.

See the map below that gives you an overview of the Island Group in Greece.

A drawing map of the Greek Island Groups

When you are researching from island to island, you can get inspired when using the search feature in Ferry Hopper .

You can see below that I selected my departing port, but left the destination blank. Look to the right and there will be a display of direct routes.

A picture of a ferry schedule for Greek Island hopping

You can play around with ferry schedules here to help you find your next island. It is not a perfect system , but it works very well if you understand these island groups.

Planning your Greek island route takes a little time and patience. But don’t worry, I will share my expertise and suggest Greek island hopping routes.

The Best Time To Visit The Greek Islands

Small Greek fishing boats in the water with the Greek Island of Hydra in the background.

Timing your Greek Island getaway is important . Some of the most popular islands are incredibly crowded and overpriced in July in August. And I’m looking at you, Santorini and Mykonos…

If you are deadset on visiting these islands the best time to go would be late September. The crowds will have died down, the weather should still be great, and things will be on sale at the end of the season.

Ideally, you want to visit the Greek Islands between May and October. Many of the small islands are closed altogether during the winter months. Except the bigger islands like Rhodes and Crete that are functional all year round.

Choosing Where to Stay in The Greek Islands

No matter what island you are on, typically I focus on researching two areas, which are the Port and the Chora (the old town). It is especially important if you are traveling solo to the Greek Islands .

In the port and Chora, you will have access to many shops, bars, and restaurants. It is also where you will find the most transit options if you don’t rent a car.

For a more romantic and secluded experience on any island , you will need to rent a car .

Sometimes, off-the-beaten-path hotels will have shuttle buses to and from the old town, but you could be limited to that schedule.

Consider the experience you are looking to have and plan accordingly.

List of Greek Island Groups

Crete (largest greek island).

Chania Harbor

The largest Greek Island, Crete, is in a group all its own. This island has four regions, but two main cities that attract the majority of tourists. Chania “idyllic village” and Heraklion “historic village”.

Chania is much more delightful to visit if you are looking for a more relaxed chill vibe. Heraklion is BUSY , and in my opinion only worth visiting for the day.

Reymotho is another charming area in Crete to stay. You will find a nice seaside village with cute shops, good restaurants and a fortress high on the hill to explore.

Best Way To Get To Crete

When traveling to Greece’s largest island you have a few options. There are 2 major airports on the island. Heraklion and Chania. The major port is in Heraklion , but other ferry ports around the island exist including Chania.

If you are traveling to Crete after exploring Athens, you can take the overnight ferry to Crete , which is the best way since the ride is around 8 hours.

When I visited Crete I found it more convenient to fly , though the ferry is fun.

Best Areas to Stay in Crete

Twilight view of Chania harbor with silhouettes of moored sailboats against a sunset sky, reflecting gently on the calm sea

Where to stay in Crete will depend solely on the type of vacation you are after.

If you are looking to spend a romantic holiday with your partner that would look different than going with a bunch of friends to have a good time.

Since Crete is the biggest Greek Island , you should research where to stay in full.

Read Next: Best Areas to Stay in Crete

Here is a map and mini breakdown of 4 major regions of Crete:

Map drawing of the 4 regions of the Greek Island of Crete

Heraklion (Iraklio):

  • Location : Central-eastern part of Crete .
  • Key Features : Home to the island’s capital city, also named Heraklion, which is the largest city in Crete. The region is famous for the Palace of Knossos , an important Minoan archaeological site, and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum , which houses many artifacts from Knossos and other Minoan ruins.
  • Tourist Attractions : Heraklion offers a blend of urban and historic attractions, with bustling city life, historical sites, and beautiful beaches like Amoudara.
  • Where to Stay : City Lion by Semavi , Casa Al Mare Sea View Heraklion City Center

Chania (Hania):

Sunset view of Chania's old Venetian harbor with the iconic lighthouse against a gradient orange sky, reflecting on the Aegean Sea.

  • Location : Northwestern Crete .
  • Key Features : Known for its charming old town with Venetian-era buildings, narrow streets, and a picturesque harbor. The region has a diverse landscape, including the White Mountains (Lefka Ori), Samaria Gorge , and beautiful beaches like Balos and Elafonissi .
  • Tourist Attractions : Chania’s old town and harbor, exotic beaches, and hiking opportunities in the gorges and mountains make it a popular destination.
  • Where to Stay: Cretan Berry Kondylaki , Nais Apartments & Studios

Rethymno (Rethymnon):

Large brick building with round dome ceiling.

  • Location : Central-western Crete .
  • Key Features : Characterized by its well-preserved Renaissance architecture and the Fortezza, a large fortress overlooking the city. Rethymno’s old town is a mix of Ottoman and Venetian influences, and the region boasts long sandy beaches.
  • Tourist Attractions : The old town of Rethymno , the Fortezza, and beaches like Preveli with its unique palm forest are highlights.
  • Where to Stay: Kapsaliana Village Hotel , SAVUS Boutique Hotel
  • Location : Eastern Crete .
  • Key Features : Known for its quieter, less developed atmosphere compared to the other regions. It is famous for the palm beach of Vai, which has one of Europe’s largest natural palm forests, and the Dikteon Cave believed to be the birthplace of Zeus according to Greek mythology.
  • Tourist Attractions : Lasithi offers a more relaxed and natural setting, with attractions such as the Lasithi Plateau, traditional villages, and archaeological sites.
  • Where to Stay: Aelia Suites , Enorme Santanna Beach

Greek Island Hopping Routes From Crete

As I mentioned before, the major port is in Heraklion , so to easily hop to another island you will have the most options from Heraklion.

Crete – Santorini – Ios – Naxos – Mykonos:

  • Crete : 4 nights.
  • Santorini : 3 nights.
  • Ios : 2 nights.
  • Naxos : 3 nights.
  • Mykonos : 2 nights.

The Cyclades Islands (Most Famous Greek Islands)

Greek Island of Mykonos at sunset. The sea, and small houses line the water.

The Cyclades is an island group home to the most famous Greek Islands, Santorini and Mykonos. Both are worth visiting , but not in the high season for July and August.

Depending on when you visit, Mykonos can be extremely expensive , same with Santorini, and both are largely overcrowded.

While I understand the allure of visiting these islands, I would highly recommend visiting on a day trip and staying on a more affordable nearby island.

List of the Cyclades Islands – Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea (Tzia), Kythnos, Milos , Mykonos , Naxos , Paros, Santorini (Thira), Serifos, Sifnos , Sikinos, Syros, Tinos, Folegandros.

Best Way To Get To The Cyclades

Several of the most popular islands in the Cyclades have airports, such as Naxos, Mykonos, and Santorini.

The smaller islands like Sifnos and Folegandros do not have an airport.

Depending on your travel plans you could fly into one of these islands and ferry your way around, eventually to Athens if you desire.

It will depend on how many days you have to explore altogether. I recommend 2 nights per island minimum for small islands and 4 nights minimum for larger islands.

Expert Tip: Rent a car in Milos . I made the mistake of not having a car and nearly went bankrupt using taxis that were hard to find.

Choosing The Best Island in The Cyclades

Santorini (thira):.

  • Key Features : Famous for its stunning sunsets, white-washed houses with blue domes, and dramatic caldera views. It’s a popular destination for honeymooners and tourists.
  • Tourist Attractions : The towns of Oia and Fira, the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, and the unique black sand beaches.
  • Where to Stay : Santorini Sky, Luxury Resort , Voreina Gallery Suites

Small Greek Island white church on the Greek Island of Mykonos.

  • Key Features : Known for its exciting nightlife, white-washed villages, luxurious resorts, and iconic windmills. It’s a cosmopolitan island popular with the celebrity crowd.
  • Tourist Attractions : The picturesque Mykonos Town , beautiful beaches like Paradise and Super Paradise, and the nearby island of Delos , an important archaeological site.
  • Where to Stay: Alissachni Mykonos , Tropicana Hotel, Suites & Villas Mykonos

Read Next: Is Mykonos REALLY that expensive?

Upclose of a grassy field and small yellow flowers with ancient sites in Naxos

  • Key Features : The largest island in the Cyclades, known for its impressive mountain landscapes, ancient ruins, and long sandy beaches. When visiting Naxos I recommend renting a car to see the whole island.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Portara (an ancient marble gateway), traditional villages, and the Temple of Demeter .
  • Where to Stay: Naxian Althea , Anapollo Boutique Hotel Adults Only

Read Next: Best Bus Tour in Naxos

Woman walking on a stone paved walkway with pink flowers growing on the walls.

  • Key Features : Famous for its traditional villages, beautiful beaches, and active windsurfing community.
  • Tourist Attractions : The port town of Parikia, the charming village of Naoussa, and the Panagia Ekatontapiliani church .
  • Where to Stay: PAREA Paros – Adults Only , Kymo Luxury Suites Paros

Greek Island of Milos and the crystal blue waters with small boats in the water.

  • Key Features : Known for its volcanic landscape and unique beaches. The island is where the famous Venus de Milo statue was discovered.
  • Tourist Attractions : The picturesque fishing village of Klima, the catacombs, and beaches like Sarakiniko and Tsigrado.
  • Where to Stay: Artemis Seaside Resort , Milos Breeze Boutique Hotel

Read Next: 12 Best Boutique Hotels in Milos

Large Greek Church in the background as a woman in a blue dress walks toward the camera.

  • Key Features : The administrative center of the Cyclades, is known for its blend of medieval and neoclassical architecture, especially in the capital, Ermoupoli.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Apollo Theater , Ermoupoli’s town square, and Vaporia district.
  • Where to Stay: SYROS SOUL LUXURY SUITES , Shapes Luxury Suites
  • Key Features : A pilgrimage site for Greek Orthodox Christians, known for its Church of the Annunciation and traditional villages.
  • Tourist Attractions : The church and its icon believed to perform miracles, the marble craft villages, and the sculptors’ workshops.
  • Where to Stay: Avissalou Apartments , La Vista TINOS
  • Key Features : A less touristy island with lush landscapes, numerous springs, and a rich maritime history.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Museum of Contemporary Art Andros , the capital Chora with its medieval castle, and beautiful beaches.
  • Where to Stay: Blue Bay Resort Village , Krinos Suites Andros

Terraced landscape of Sifnos Island with a traditional white Greek chapel nestled amidst golden fields under a clear blue sky.

  • Key Features : Known for its pottery, incredible restaurants , culinary tradition, and charming villages.
  • Tourist Attractions : The picturesque village of Kastro, the church of Seven Martyrs , and traditional pottery workshops. Check out local restaurants such as Omega3 and Cantina.
  • Where to Stay: Nival Boutique Hotel , Apsila Pool Suites

Read Next: Guide to Sifnos, Greece

A close up of catus and a swimming pool with sun rising over the mountain.

  • Key Features : Popular among young tourists, known for its lively nightlife and beautiful beaches.
  • Tourist Attractions : The tomb of Homer , the main village of Chora, and beaches like Mylopotas and Manganari.
  • Where to Stay: White Loft , Liostasi
  • Key Features : A more remote and tranquil island, known for its dramatic cliffs and the impressive Monastery of Hozoviotissa .
  • Tourist Attractions : The monastery, the shipwreck from the film “The Big Blue,” and traditional villages.
  • Where to Stay: Pension The Big Blue , Amorgion Hotel

Sunny day with blue dome church in the background and the Aegean Sea.

  • Key Features: Serifos is a less crowded, peaceful island, famous for its rugged landscape and charming hilltop capital, Chora.
  • Tourist Attractions: The striking white-washed village of Chora and its windmills, hiking, and beautiful beaches.
  • Where to Stay: Rizes Hotel , Coco-Mat Eco Residences Serifos

Folegandros:

A woman walking alone with the background of mountains and small Greek houses.

  • Key Features : A small, serene island with traditional Cycladic architecture and a laid-back atmosphere.
  • Tourist Attractions : The cliffside Chora, Church of Panagia, and secluded beaches.
  • Where to Stay: Blue Sand Boutique Hotel & Suites , Polikandia Hotel

Island Hopping Itinerary Routes- The Cyclades

When planning a Greek Island hopping itinerary route in the Cyclades an easy route is to start from Athen Pireaus Port .

Mykonos – Paros – Naxos – Santorini:

  • Mykonos : 2 nights
  • Paros : 2 nights
  • Naxos : 3 nights
  • Santorini : 3 nights

Santorini – Amorgos – Naxos:

  • Amorgos : 2 nights
  • Naxos : 2 nights

Syros – Mykonos – Milos – Sifnos – Serifos

  • Syros : 2 nights
  • Milos : 3 nights
  • Sifnos : 2 nights
  • Serifos : 1 night

Saronic Gulf Islands (Closest Islands to Athens)

The sea and the Greek Island of Hydra in the background.

If you are visiting Greece on a short trip and want to easily combine a visit to Athens as well as the Greek Islands, you want to visit the Saronic Islands !

These islands include Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, and Dokos. The most popular, and arguably the best, is Hydra.

Hydra is one of the most popular Greek Islands close to Athens. No cars are allowed on the island which I loved.

You will see the locals using donkeys to transport their goods and sometimes themselves to travel from one place to another.

Best Way To Get To The Saronic Gulf

The only way to get to these tiny islands in the Saronic Gulf is by ferry. A popular route is by taking the ferry from Athens to Hydra . Depending on the ferry company, your route may include a stop at Aegina.

One fun way to see three islands in one day from Athens is to book a tour! The full-day tour leaving from Athens leaves early morning and takes you to all 3 islands with short stops for a couple of hours at each.

If you are short on time it’s a terrific way to see the Greek Islands .

Choosing the Best Islands in The Saronic Gulf

  • Key Features : Famous for its pistachio orchards, Aegina is a popular destination for day trips from Athens . It has a rich history, evident in its ancient ruins.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Temple of Aphaia , one of the most important Doric temples in Greece, the picturesque town of Aegina, and the church of Saint Nectarios.
  • Where to Stay: The Beachhouse Apartments , Cruise on Land

Up close of the rocks and sea with the houses in Hydra on the mountain.

  • Key Features : Known for its well-preserved architecture, absence of motor vehicles, and art scene. The island has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and is a favorite among artists and celebrities.
  • Tourist Attractions : Hydra’s port town with its stone mansions, art galleries, and the historic monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
  • Where to Stay: FOS Hydra Residence , Villa Maria- Hydra Dream House

Read Next: Athens to Hydra Ferry

  • Key Features : A small, lush island separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow waterway. It’s known for its scenic beauty, historic clock tower, and serene beaches.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Sanctuary of Poseidon , the picturesque Poros Town, and beautiful beaches like Love Bay.
  • Where to Stay: Dimitra Boutique Hotel , Sea view house on Poros
  • Key Features : This island has a rich nautical history and is famous for its significant role in the Greek War of Independence. It’s known for its elegant mansions and car-free policy .
  • Tourist Attractions : The Museum of Bouboulina , the old harbor, and the annual Armata Festival, which commemorates a naval battle during the War of Independence.
  • Where to Stay: Villa Kalomira , Armata Boutique Hotel
  • Key Features : A small, pine-covered island known for its crystal-clear waters and tranquil atmosphere. It’s less crowded compared to its neighbors, making it an ideal spot for relaxation.
  • Tourist Attractions : Quiet beaches like Skala and Aponisos, and the opportunity for hiking and biking in a serene environment.
  • Where to Stay: Oasis Beach Hotel , Koukounari Apartments
  • Key Features : The largest island in the Saronic Gulf, Salamis is historically significant as the site of the famous naval battle in 480 BC. It’s a residential and holiday spot with a mix of sandy beaches and pine forests.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Cave of Euripides , where the famous playwright is said to have written some of his plays, and the Monastery of Faneromeni.
  • Where to Stay: Salamina’s Apartments
  • Key Features : A small, mostly uninhabited island between Hydra and the Peloponnese, known for its archaeological significance, particularly for underwater archaeology.
  • Tourist Attractions : The island is mainly a destination for yachting and anchoring in its protected bays, offering a secluded and natural environment.

Island Hopping Itinerary Routes-The Saronic Gulf

A great Island hopping itinerary includes a 3 day stay in Hydra with a day trip to and then 2 nights in Aegina.

The Dodecanese Islands (Most Southern Islands)

Up close of the rocks in Rhodes with the sea and castle walls in the background.

The island group that is the most southern closest to Turkey is the Dodecanese group of islands. Here you will find that Rhodes is the largest Greek island.

Other islands in this group include Astypalaia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastellorizo, Kos, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, and Chalki.

Best Way to Get to The Dodecanese Islands

If your first destination is an island in the Dodecanese, the most logical way to get there is to fly. Unless you want to burn a lot of time on ferries.

I recommend flying into Rhodes and beginning your ferry-hopping journey from there.

Other Dodecanese islands that have airports are Kos, Karpthos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kastellorizo, and Astypalaia. Rhodes and Kos likely have the most daily flights .

Choosing the Best of The Dodecanese Islands

A woman walking along the old windmills in Rhodes, Greece

  • Key Features : The largest of the Dodecanese islands, Rhodes is famous for its ancient ruins, medieval Old Town, and beaches. It’s a blend of historical sites and a bustling tourist resort. When visiting Rhodes, it is ideal to rent a car .
  • Tourist Attractions : The medieval Old Town of Rhodes , the Palace of the Grand Master, and the Acropolis of Lindos .
  • Where to Stay: Sperveri Boutique Hotel , Evdokia Hotel

Read Next: Rhodes to Symi Island on a Fast Boat

  • Key Features : Known for its sandy beaches, ancient ruins, and the Asklepion, an ancient healing center. Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates , the father of medicine.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Asklepion, the Castle of the Knights, and the ancient Agora.
  • Where to Stay: Maritina Hotel , OKU Kos
  • Key Features : A significant Christian pilgrimage site, Patmos is where St. John is said to have written the Book of Revelation . It has a fortified monastery and a charming old town.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse.
  • Where to Stay: 9 Muses Exclusive Apartments , En Patmo Holiday Home
  • Key Features : Known for preserving traditional customs and dress, Karpathos offers dramatic landscapes, with rugged mountains and pristine beaches.
  • Tourist Attractions : The villages of Olympos and Diafani, known for their traditional architecture and customs, and beautiful beaches like Apella.
  • Where to Stay: Alisachni Villas , Aeolia Suites
  • Key Features : Leros has a relaxed atmosphere with a rich naval history. It features a blend of architectural styles and has a scenic indented coastline.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Castle of Leros , the War Museum, and the scenic port of Agia Marina.
  • Where to Stay: Alidian Bay Suites Leros
  • Key Features : Best known for its sponge diving heritage, Kalymnos is also a world-renowned destination for rock climbing.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Sponge Divers Museum in Pothia, climbing spots, and beautiful beaches like Masouri.
  • Where to Stay: Petra Boutique Villas , Petra Boutique Homes

Astypalaia:

  • Key Features : Astypalaia, shaped like a butterfly, is known for its Venetian castle, traditional white windmills, and tranquil beaches.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Venetian Castle, Chora with its windmills, and the beaches of Livadi and Vatses.
  • Where to Stay: 5 Traditional Suites
  • Key Features : A volcanic island famous for its still-active volcano and lunar-like craters. Nisyros offers a unique landscape and tranquil villages.
  • Tourist Attractions : The volcano and its accessible crater, the traditional village of Mandraki, and the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani .
  • Key Features : A small and serene island known for its unspoiled nature, wildlife, and medieval ruins.
  • Tourist Attractions : The abandoned medieval village of Mikro Chorio, the Monastery of Agios Panteleimon , and tranquil beaches.
  • Where to Stay: Uno Apartment 1st Floor

The fishing boats upclose with the colorful houses of Symi Greece in the background

  • Key Features : Famous for its neoclassical architecture with colorful houses, Symi is a picturesque and charming island.
  • Tourist Attractions : The port of Gialos, the Monastery of Panormitis , and the scenic bay of Pedi.
  • Where to Stay: Odyssia

Kastellorizo (Megisti):

  • Key Features : The easternmost Greek island, is known for its rich history, colorful houses, and crystal-clear waters.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Blue Cave, the Castle of the Knights, and the Archaeological Museum.
  • Key Features : A less-visited island with a strong maritime tradition, Kasos is known for its traditional music and customs.
  • Tourist Attractions : The traditional villages, the Church of Agios Spiridon , and the maritime museum.

Island Hopping Itinerary Routes- The Dodecanese Islands

Kos – nisyros – tilos – rhodes:.

  • Kos : 2 nights.
  • Nisyros : 1 night.
  • Tilos : 2 nights.
  • Rhodes : 3 nights.

Patmos – Leros – Kalymnos – Kos:

  • Patmos : 2 nights.
  • Leros : 1 night.
  • Kalymnos : 2 nights.

The Ionian Greek Islands (The Seven Islands)

Up close of the ocean floor in Corfu with the fortress high on the hill in the background.

The Ionian Greek island group has been referred to as the  Heptanese , which means “Seven Islands”.

These Islands are located in the Ionian Sea on the Eastern side of Greece closer to Italy and Albania.

Best Way To Get To The Ionian Islands

From Athens, the easiest way to get to the Ionian Islands is to fly. Ferries leaving out of Port of Piraeus don’t have a direct link that go there .

In the Ionian Islands, several have international airports which facilitate both domestic and international travel. Corfu, known as Kerkyra in Greek, is served by the Corfu International Airport , also referred to as Ioannis Kapodistrias Airport .

This airport is well-equipped for international flights, making Corfu a convenient destination for travelers from abroad.

Kefalonia, or Cephalonia, also hosts an international airport, known as Kefalonia International Airport or Anna Pollatou Airport. This facility connects the island with various international locations.

Similarly, Zakynthos, or Zante, has an international airport named Zakynthos International Airport, also known as Dionysios Solomos Airport, which caters to international passengers, particularly during the tourist season.

Lefkada, or Lefkas, does not have its own airport; however, it is conveniently served by the nearby Aktion National Airport located on the mainland near Preveza.

This airport, which handles international flights, is within a short driving distance from Lefkada, making it relatively easy for visitors to reach the island.

Choosing the Best of The Ionian Islands

Corfu (kerkyra):.

Colorful crystal blue water and large house in the background in Corfu, Greece.

  • Key Features : Known for its lush greenery, Venetian-style architecture, and rich cultural heritage. Corfu has a cosmopolitan atmosphere with a blend of Greek, Venetian, French, and British influences.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Old Town of Corfu (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Achilleion Palace, the Venetian Fort, and the Paleokastritsa Monastery .
  • Where to Stay: Archontiko Petrettini Boutique Hotel

Kefalonia (Cephalonia):

  • Key Features : Famous for its dramatic landscapes, including mountains, caves, and stunning beaches. The island gained fame through the novel and movie “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.”
  • Tourist Attractions : The Melissani Cave , Myrtos Beach, and the picturesque village of Fiscardo.
  • Where to Stay: Skala Hotel

Zakynthos (Zante):

  • Key Features : Known for its swinging nightlife and beautiful beaches, including the iconic Shipwreck Beach (Navagio) , one of Greece’s most famous photographic spots.
  • Tourist Attractions : Navagio Beach, the Blue Caves, and the endangered loggerhead sea turtles in Laganas Bay.
  • Where to Stay: Tsamis Zante Suites

Lefkada (Lefkas):

  • Key Features : Connected to the mainland by a causeway, Lefkada is known for its impressive beaches with turquoise waters and its charming mountain villages.
  • Tourist Attractions : The beaches of Porto Katsiki and Egremni, and the windsurfing center at Vassiliki.
  • Where to Stay: KN Ionian Suites

Ithaca (Ithaki):

  • Key Features : Famed as the homeland of Odysseus in Homer’s epic, Ithaca is a tranquil island with lush landscapes and quaint villages.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Cave of the Nymphs , the ruins of the ancient city of Alalcomenae , and the picturesque village of Kioni .

Paxos (Paxi) :

  • Key Features : A small and unspoiled island, Paxos is known for its olive groves, crystal-clear waters, and pebble beaches. It has a peaceful and exclusive atmosphere.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Blue Caves, the charming port villages of Gaios, Lakka, and Loggos.

Kythira (Cythera):

  • Key Features : Although geographically closer to the Peloponnese, Kythira is culturally and administratively part of the Ionian Islands. It’s known for its wild beauty, waterfalls, and traditional villages.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Venetian castle of Chora, the picturesque village of Avlemonas, and the Mylopotamos waterfalls.

Island Hopping Itinerary Routes- The Ionian Islands

Corfu – paxos – lefkada:.

  • Corfu: 3 nights
  • Paxos: 2 nights
  • Lefkada: 3 nights

Kefalonia – Ithaca – Zakynthos:

  • Kefalonia: 3 nights
  • Ithaca: 2 nights
  • Zakynthos: 3 nights

The Northern Aegean Islands

The Northern Aegean Islands, a beautiful group of islands, are located in the northeastern Aegean Sea, between Turkey and Greece.

These islands are known for their interesting history, varied landscapes, and unique culture.

They are less visited than other more popular Greek islands, which makes them a quieter but still very charming place to visit.

Best Way To Get To The Northern Aegean Islands

Reaching the Northern Aegean Islands typically involves a combination of air and sea travel, depending on your starting point.

From Athens, the most efficient way to reach these islands is usually by flying.

Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria have airports with domestic connections to Athens and, in some cases, direct international flights, particularly during the tourist season.

Lesbos is served by Mytilene International Airport “Odysseas Elytis,” offering both domestic and international flights.

Chios Island National Airport “Omiros” and Samos International Airport “Aristarchos of Samos” also connect these islands to various destinations.

For Ikaria, the Ikaria Island National Airport caters mostly to domestic flights but may have some international charters.

Alternatively, ferry services from the mainland and other Greek islands provide a scenic route to the Northern Aegean Islands.

These ferries frequently depart from ports such as Piraeus in Athens, offering a more leisurely but equally enjoyable journey to these storied isles.

Whether by air or sea, the journey to the Northern Aegean Islands promises a gateway to an array of experiences, from exploring ancient ruins and enjoying unspoiled natural beauty to immersing oneself in the rich cultural traditions of this distinctive Greek island group.

Choosing the Best Northern Aegean Island

Lesbos (mytilene):.

  • Key Features : Lesbos, also known by the name of its capital, Mytilene, is the third-largest Greek island. It is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, Petrified Forest, and production of ouzo, a famous Greek liquor.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Petrified Forest , a UNESCO Global Geopark ; the historic Castle of Mytilene; and beautiful beach towns like Molyvos and Skala Eressou.
  • Where to Stay: Luxury Apartment with balcony, The Beehive

greek island visit

  • Key Features : Famous for its medieval villages and mastic production, Chios has a unique identity. The island is dotted with distinctive stone houses and has a rich medieval history.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Nea Moni , an 11th-century monastery and UNESCO World Heritage site; the mastic villages like Pyrgi and Mesta; and beautiful beaches such as Vroulidia and Mavra Volia.
  • Where to Stay: Ostria Seaside Studios and Apartments, Almiriki Hotel
  • Key Features : Known for its wine production and rich ancient history, Samos is an island with lush greenery, mountainous landscapes, and significant archaeological sites.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Temple of Hera , a UNESCO World Heritage site; the Tunnel of Eupalinos, an ancient engineering marvel; and beaches like Tsamadou and Kokkari.
  • Where to Stay: SeaView Apartment & Studios, Casa Cook Samos – Adults only
  • Key Features : Famous for its longevity among inhabitants, Ikaria is a mountainous island with a relaxed pace of life. It’s known for its thermal springs and wild, untamed nature.
  • Tourist Attractions : The Radioactive Thermal Springs of Ikaria, the scenic village of Armenistis, and the Seychelles beach.
  • Where to Stay: Archipelagos Hotel, Patras Apartments

Limnos (Lemnos):

  • Key Features : An island with volcanic origins, Limnos offers vast sandy beaches, ancient ruins, and a tranquil environment. It’s known for its traditional villages and local wine.
  • Tourist Attractions : The ancient city of Hephaestia, the Castle of Myrina , and the unique landscapes of the Aliki wetland.
  • Where to Stay: Arxontiko Hotel, Grand Patelli

Island Hopping Itinerary Routes- The Northern Aegean Islands

Lesbos – chios – samos:.

  • Lesbos: 3 nights
  • Chios: 2 nights
  • Samos: 3 nights

Thassos – Lemnos – Samothraki:

  • Thassos: 3 nights
  • Lemnos: 2 nights
  • Samothraki: 2 nights

The Sporades Island Group

The Sporades Islands, an enchanting archipelago, are nestled in the northwest Aegean Sea, off the coast of mainland Greece.

This cluster of islands is celebrated for insane greenery, stunning beaches, and crystal-clear waters.

They offer a more tranquil and unspoiled alternative to the busier Greek islands, providing an idyllic retreat for those seeking a serene yet captivating Greek island experience.

The Best Way to Get The Sporades Islands

The most common entry point to visit Sporades is via the city of Volos on the Greek mainland , which is well-connected by road and rail to major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki.

From Volos, you have the option to take a ferry or a high-speed catamaran to reach the islands.

The ferry service is more frequent during the summer months, catering to both passengers and vehicles.

Skiathos, the closest and most popular among the Sporades , serves as a gateway to the other islands in the archipelago, including Skopelos and Alonissos.

Alternatively, for those seeking a quicker route, Skiathos also has an airport that accommodates domestic flights, primarily from Athens.

The flight from Athens to Skiathos is short , taking about 30 to 45 minutes, and from there, visitors can easily hop onto a ferry to explore the neighboring islands.

Choosing the Best Sporades Island

  • Key Features: Skiathos, the most accessible of the Sporades islands, is known for its nightlife and stunning beaches. It boasts over 60 sandy beaches, including the famous Koukounaries , and has a bustling town filled with charming shops and restaurants.
  • Tourist Attractions: The Lalaria Beach , accessible only by boat, with its striking blue waters; the medieval ruins of Kastro; and the Skiathos Town with its lively harborside and nightlife.
  • Where to Stay: Skopelos Village Hotel
  • Key Features: Skopelos is celebrated for its lush green landscapes, traditional architecture, and being a filming location for the movie “Mamma Mia!” It’s a quieter, more authentic experience compared to Skiathos, with beautiful monasteries and churches.
  • Tourist Attractions: The iconic cliffside Agios Ioannis Chapel , made famous by “ Mamma Mia !” ; the scenic Skopelos Town with its winding streets and charming buildings; and serene beaches like Stafilos and Panormos.
  • Where to Stay: ELIVI Skiathos
  • Key Features: Known for its natural beauty and marine park, Alonissos is the most remote of the inhabited Sporades islands. It’s a haven for nature lovers, with rich biodiversity both on land and in the surrounding waters.
  • Tourist Attractions: The National Marine Park of Alonissos , a protected area offering superb opportunities for snorkeling and seeing marine life; the charming Old Town of Alonissos ; and secluded beaches like Chrisi Milia and Agios Dimitrios.

Island Hopping Itinerary Routes- The Sporades

Skiathos- skopelos-alonissos.

  • Skiathos: 2 Nights
  • Skopelos: 2 Nights
  • Alonissos: 2 Nights

Greek Island Cheatsheet

If you’re familiar with the unique vibes of Greek islands and seeking the perfect one to match your interests, here’s a guide to some of the most common island themes:

Best Greek Islands for a Party

Glass of Greek beer held up in the sunset set sky.

If you are looking for the Greek Islands known for a good time check out:

Best Greek Islands for Families

Traveling to the Greek Islands with the whole family? You want to check out these islands:

Best Greek Islands for Solo Travelers

A woman sitting alone on the dock with the sea filled with small boats.

When going to the Greek Islands alone you should consider these to be ideal:

Best Greek Islands for Foodies

close up of classic bean dish with smoked fish on the island of Naxos.

Fancier yourself a foodie? These Greek Islands are KNOWN for their incredible cuisine:

Read Next: Best Greek Islands for Food Lovers

Which Greek Island Should You Visit? Take The Quiz!

Still not sure where to go? Take the quiz and find out what Greek Island is right for you based on your personality!

greek island visit

Ready to Explore

More of greece.

🫶 Did you enjoy this article? Help fellow travelers and share this guide with the buttons below!

' src=

Melissa Byron, a seasoned solo traveler since 2009, is the founder & visionary behind A Solo Woman Traveling. Drawing from her extensive personal experience globetrotting solo to over 40 countries, she has dedicated herself to a mission: crafting invaluable guides and itineraries for women who embark on solo adventures.

Related Posts

Are Solo Trips to Greece Safe For Women? The Truth From Female Travelers

Are Solo Trips to Greece Safe For Women? The Truth From Female Travelers

This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info. If you are wondering “is Greece safe for solo female travellers” you’ve come to the right place. I have been taking solo trips…

Foolproof Copenhagen 3 Day Itinerary + Map

Foolproof Copenhagen 3 Day Itinerary + Map

This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info. After multiple trips, I crafted a truly foolproof Copenhagen 3-day itinerary, ideal for first-timers! Embarking on a journey to Copenhagen for three days…

Amsterdam Solo Travel Guide For Women + Map

Amsterdam Solo Travel Guide For Women + Map

This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info. Planning a solo trip to Amsterdam and concerned about safety? One of the biggest questions I had before my journey was: Is Amsterdam…

Solo Travel Day Trip to Verona Itinerary + Map

Solo Travel Day Trip to Verona Itinerary + Map

This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info. If you are looking for a solo day trip to Verona itinerary, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve been to this picturesque…

How To Spend 3 Days in Belfast Solo + Map

How To Spend 3 Days in Belfast Solo + Map

This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info. Looking for ways to spend 3 days in Belfast solo? More and more women are traveling to Belfast solo, and I was one…

10 Most Magical Things To Do in Lake Bled in the Winter

10 Most Magical Things To Do in Lake Bled in the Winter

This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info. Looking for the best things to do in Lake Bled in the winter? Though my visit was short, I was pleasantly surprised by…

What are you looking for?

Reader's Digest

Reader's Digest

The Best Time to Visit Greece, According to a Local

Posted: November 10, 2023 | Last updated: November 10, 2023

Think of a Mediterranean vacation, and Greece is sure to make your list of must-visit destinations. Its blend of seaside escapes, history, culture and mouthwatering cuisine make it one of the best places to travel for all types of tourists. And let's not forget its islands! They're prime honeymoon hot spots, consistently serving up some of the most romantic getaways . I can fully appreciate the draw—I loved it so much that I moved here, after all. And I'll tell you this: It pays to know the best time to visit Greece before booking your trip.

Greek vacations are more popular than ever. In fact, a recent report from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, found that Greece was one of only six member countries to receive more flights in September 2023 than it did in September 2019. In other words, Greece is bouncing back to pre-COVID-19 levels. And that means you'll have to contend with other tourists if you take a trip here.

As a local who's lived in and written about this eclectic country for more than a decade, I know from experience that it's impossible to avoid tourists entirely. It's all about timing. Whether you want to beat the crowds, bask in the best weather imaginable or travel on the cheap , here's the best time to visit Greece for the ultimate European vacation.

Get  Reader’s Digest ’s  Read Up newsletter for more travel, humor, cleaning, tech and fun facts all week long.

What is the best time of year to visit Greece?

It's hard to pinpoint a single best time to visit Greece, and that's because it all depends on your priorities and how you weigh crowdedness, cost and climate. To spend the least amount of money, you may need to visit when temps are on the cooler side. For peak sunbathing weather, you'll shell out more cash and contend with greater crowds.

If you want to avoid a Greece overrun by tourists, skip the summer months. In June, July and August, beaches are typically crowded, though it's possible to find hidden coves even during this peak season—especially if you take a small boat tour from or around some of the islands or the Athens coastline.

No matter when you land on Greek soil, you'll have to deal with some tourists. According to Bank of Greece data, 5.76 million international travelers visited the country in the first five months of 2023, proof of Greece's ever-growing popularity. Still, there are quieter times to explore the country, such as during the shoulder-season months of September and October, early November and late March through May. Whether you're discovering ancient ruins, exploring mainland destinations or bopping around little-known islands, you'll find fewer crowds, mild temps and cheaper-than-high-season prices.

For me, the best time to visit Greece is from September until the end of October. The weather on a lot of the southern islands, such as Rhodes and Crete, is still warm enough to swim, with average daytime temperatures of 75 and 73 degrees respectively. Plus, the crowds are gone, as children have headed back to school.

Springtime is also a great option, and I recommend timing your visit so you can experience Greek Orthodox Easter. It usually falls in April or May (in 2024, it occurs on May 5), and it's the most important holiday on the Greek calendar—more so than Christmas even. Expect to eat plenty of delicious lamb and join in neighborhood celebrations and street processions to the local church.

What time of year is the cheapest to visit Greece?

While a Greek getaway isn't necessarily cheap, there are ways to save money when traveling to the country. For starters, avoid the high-season summer months of June, July and August. The winter off-season sees prices drop considerably, and this tends to be the best time to find hotel deals. On Tripadvisor, for instance, the same Athens hotel costs about $52 more in April than in January—and though summer rates aren't available yet, it's safe to bet that the price will rise in June, July and August.

Traveling during the winter will serve you well when booking your flight too. The cheapest airfare from the United States tends to occur during the winter months. When I searched Expedia for flights for a two-week vacation, I found a round-trip ticket from Newark, New Jersey, to Athens in early December going for $473. A round-trip ticket from Newark to Athens in June comes in at $992.

When is the weather the best in Greece?

Best weather is subjective, depending on where you're traveling from and if you like your vacation to be hot. Without a doubt, the summer of 2023 set records. As the Guardian reported, the country had the hottest July in 50 years, with temperatures in Athens repeatedly exceeding 104 degrees. So if you're here for the Mediterranean island sunbathing, you'll need to account for these levels of heat (and maybe plan some indoor activities, just in case).

As a local, I think the best time to travel to Greece for great weather is September, when daytime temperatures are a balmy 82 degrees and sea temperatures 77 degrees, making swimming still possible. The fall months of October and early November average 64 to 72 degrees, so it's pleasant to sit outside at a cafe, sipping the staple drink of a Greek frappe (cold coffee milkshake).

December through February are the country's coldest months, with daytime temperatures averaging 54 to 57 degrees. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, winters can be mild—but they're also wet. You may even see snow on the mainland in the mountainous areas to the north and on some of the islands, such as Crete. It creates good skiing opportunities, and while they can't compete with some of the world's more famous ski resorts, there are a handful of ski resorts in the country that locals (and in-the-know tourists) use yearly.

When packing your suitcase , think layers for all seasons. And be prepared for high humidity, which makes it feel sticky in the summer and chilly in the winter.

What is the best time of year to go to Athens?

The best time to visit Greece if you're planning to stop in the capital city is during the fall or spring shoulder seasons. In April, May, September and October, daytime and nighttime temperatures aren't uncomfortably hot or too cold. The spring and fall months offer plenty of opportunity to wander the Athenian streets, discovering the small neighborhoods. Plus, the cooler weather makes climbing up to the Acropolis a much more pleasurable experience.

It's also worth mentioning that crowds in the shoulder season and off-season are considerably smaller, so lines to enter the Acropolis are shorter. In fact, the wait to view this ancient monument gets so long in the summer that Greece had to set a cap of 20,000 visitors daily to shorten lines during the dangerous heat. By visiting in the off-season, you won't be waiting in line in the sweltering heat, and there won't be a mad rush to buy a ticket before the cap is reached.

If you're looking for even more things to do in Greece , visit on Ohi Day. The national holiday occurs on Oct. 28 and commemorates the day in 1940 when Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected Mussolini's ultimatum to have free passage through Greece for his Italian troops. You'll find street parades all over the country on this holiday, but the one in central Athens is particularly impressive, with its added military parade and marching band.

What is the best time to visit Santorini and the other Greek islands?

Greece is famous for its islands, especially Santorini, with its blue-domed churches and sugar cube houses, so atypical for the Cycladic island chain it's located within, and Mykonos, with its cosmopolitan atmosphere, cobbled alleyways and hidden coves. They tend to attract visitors during the summer months, but that may not be the ideal time to vacation here.

If you're looking for a beach vacation away from the crowds, my advice would be to book a trip for September. It'll still be warm enough to swim and get a nice tan, but you won't have to deal with a ton of tourists.

Don't rule out wintertime for your trip to the Greek islands. Admittedly, much shuts down in the off season, but you'll get to experience the real Greece, have frequent sunny days and still find places to eat traditional Greek food, such as souvlaki (the locals need to eat too!). The lack of crowds allows you to roam the islands at your own pace.

Besides, temps aren't too bad even in the winter. Santorini's caldera entices with morning mists floating over its surface. And with average winter temperatures of 55 degrees, it's not too chilly.

There are several flights from mainland Greece to the islands that are cheaper during the spring and fall, but my favorite way to travel is by ferry. The lack of competition on ferry routes means this method of transportation isn't cheap at any time of the year, but Greek ferries resemble mini cruise ships and offer lovely cabins on longer routes. Make it a part of the whole experience: Take a weekend break in Athens followed by a journey by ferry to the islands. Note that ferries have a reduced schedule in the spring and fall months, with more connections in the summer.

How many days in Greece is enough?

Just as you would when planning a trip to destinations like London and Hawaii , start by considering where you'll be flying out of. The ideal number of days to spend in Greece depends on where you're traveling from. If you're flying from the United States, you probably want to spend longer in the country than if you're adding a stop in Greece after visiting nearby Italy.

Also consider how much of the country you want to see and the type of tourism you're interested in. Do you want to stick to a few days in Athens exploring the ancient sites, then head to an island for some fun in the sun? Do you want to just connect in Athens before flying immediately to a Greek island, or would you rather make the city your home base for the entire trip? Or are you interested in heading to the Greek countryside to experience traditional villages?

Most trips start and end in Athens, where you can experience the city in at least three full days. Visitors then tend to hop on a ferry or fly to a popular Greek island like Santorini or Mykonos, either basing themselves there or ferry-hopping between two or three others. You can reach mainland destinations by train or by hiring a car—factor in travel times between destinations when planning your vacation.

For a decent taster of the country, plan for a 10-day trip: Athens, plus one or two islands. Two weeks can provide a lovely combination of a city break and countryside getaways, plus swimming and sunbathing around the Greek coast.

One thing's for sure: Don't try to see it all in one trip. Greece is a country to savor and explore at leisure, with time to wander the charming cobbled streets and sip a frappe in a local cafe, watching local life unfold around you. Greece and its monuments have been around for centuries—they're not going anywhere.

Places to stay in Greece

Most vacations in Greece will commence in Athens, and there are many neighborhoods to choose from when booking a stay. While not a sprawling city by U.S. standards, it is one of the bigger European cities.

If you've never visited Athens before, a hotel located smack dab in the center, near the Acropolis and its accompanying museum, is a great choice. The upscale Herodion Hotel attracts visitors with its rooftop-bar views of the famous monument. Plus, it offers airport transfers.

Boutique hotels such as Asomaton (don't miss its relaxing plunge pool) and Altar Suites have cozy vibes in lovingly renovated centuries-old buildings. They're within walking distance of all Athens's main sites, as well as the contemporary old gasworks district of Gazi, where you'll find nightlife, tavernas and the industrial museum.

Heading to Santorini, base yourself at either Voreina Gallery Suites or Zannos Melathron Hotel . Both properties were renovated to their former splendor in the less-busy village of Pyrgos. You still get the magnificent Caldera sunset views without the crowds.

In Mykonos, Mykonos Town makes the best base if you don't mind being in the thick of it all. Hotels such as Semeli and Myconian Korali Relais & Chateaux have sleek Grecian lines and unfussy furnishings. Both have pools and airport transfers.

Book your visit

  • Eurostat : "Commercial flights in the summer still below 2019 level"
  • Enterprise Greece : "Greek tourism on track for record-setting year"
  • Schengen Visa News : "Greece to Introduce Caps on Daily Visitors to Acropolis"
  • The Guardian : "Heatwave set to be Greece's longest as extreme weather continues in Europe"
  • World Bank Group : "Climate Change Knowledge Portal–Climatology; Greece"
  • Greek National Tourism Organisation : "Athens"

The post The Best Time to Visit Greece, According to a Local appeared first on Reader's Digest .

The Best Time to Visit Greece, According to a Local

More for You

Jack Smith and Donald Trump

Jack Smith's Trump Case Removed From Court Docket Raises Eyebrows

CNN anchors momentarily silent after learning why migrant gangs don’t stay in Florida: ‘There you go to jail'

CNN anchors momentarily silent after learning why migrant gangs don’t stay in Florida: ‘There you go to jail'

Gen X'ers Are Sharing The Historically Inaccurate Things Know-It-All Gen Z’ers Have Said To Them

Gen X'ers Are Sharing The Historically Inaccurate Things Know-It-All Gen Z’ers Have Said To Them

Jack Ohman/Tribune Content Agency

Opinion: The latest political cartoons

NEWS: [Subcat: US] Map shows the best place to buy a house in US to survive nuclear war (SEO) METRO GRAPHICS Credit FEMA / Getty / metro.co.uk

Map reveals best places to live in the US if nuclear war breaks out

Chris Shula.

Rams hire grandson of NFL legend as defensive coordinator

Why Jack Smith's Trial Date For Donald Trump Case Has Been Delayed

Ex-Trump Aide Issues Warning About Donald's Campaign Funds

All Store-Bought Salsas Are Gross—Except For These 5 Brands

All Store-Bought Salsas Are Gross—Except For These 5 Brands

Meet the tuba player who attended Trump's trial

Meet the tuba player who attended Trump's trial

This composite file photo shows judges Eom Sang-phil (L) and Shin Sook-hee, recommended by the Supreme Court for nomination as the top court's justices on Feb. 2, 2024. (Yonhap)

2 veteran judges nominated as Supreme Court justices

Excavating an 8-meter deep pit at Ranis cave was a logistical challenge and required elaborate scaffolding to support the trench, the researchers said. - Marcel Weiss

Bones found in 8-meter-deep pit may ‘fundamentally change’ history of humans in Europe

Jerry Jones

Eagles legend rips Cowboys' Jerry Jones for Bill Belichick, Dak Prescott comments

Susan Collins learned her lesson on Donald Trump — kind of

Susan Collins learned her lesson on Donald Trump — kind of

Gerasimov Sokolov

Putin's Top Generals Have Gone Missing

Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller

Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller

This Is the Average 401(k) Balance for Retirees Aged 65 and Older

This Is the Average 401(k) Balance for Retirees Aged 65 and Older

Hundreds of media industry staffers were laid off this week during a brutal period that saw Warner Bros. Discovery, Gannett and others slash headcount as economic uncertainty plagues news organizations.

Layoffs skyrocketing in 2024: Here are the companies axing jobs

Las Vegas Strip Changed Forever by Closure of Historic and Beloved Hotel

Las Vegas Strip Changed Forever by Closure of Historic and Beloved Hotel

18 Things You’re Far Too Old To Be Doing Anymore

18 Things You’re Far Too Old To Be Doing Anymore

State confirms 1st known outbreak of possibly deadly fungus, officials say

State confirms 1st known outbreak of potentially deadly fungus

Which Greek Island Should You Visit in 2024?

By Rachel Howard and Condé Nast Traveller

The Best Greek Islands to Visit in 2024

Lord Byron was on to something when he waxed lyrical about the Greek islands. But with more than 200 inhabited to choose from, which ones are the very best Greek islands? Here regular isle-hopper Rachel Howard reveals the ones to get in a speedboat for in 2024, with recommendations on where to stay chosen by the editors of Condé Nast Traveler .

Here, we've also ranked the best Greek islands, from 1 to 29. While we love and highly recommend every island on this list—and advocate visiting all of them throughout your lifetime, if you can—we've also edited the list in order so if it's your first time planning a visit to this magical corner of the world, or you just want to branch out from your usual summer isle trip, we can help you choose where to go next. The order below reflects our well-traveled team's personal opinions, the landscapes, food, beaches, hotel options, and more.

For more recommendations, see our round up of the best Greek Islands hotels .

All listings featured on  Condé Nast Traveler  are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

View from Plaka town Milos

Best of the Greek islands for: A photogenic and dramatic coastline

Everyone knows the  Venus de Milo (which has stood in the Louvre since the 19th century). Until recently, very few had heard of Milos, the volcanic island where Aphrodite’s graceful likeness was discovered. Those in the know jealously guard their treasured island, and especially its 70 (or more) beaches — surely the most diverse and dramatic coastline of all the Greek Islands.

Little by little, though, Milos is being discovered. Instagram is saturated with no-filter shots of the undulating white cliffs at Sarakiniko, the bottle-green swimming hole at Papafragas, and colorful, rickety syrmata, tiny boat houses wedged between rock and sea. (You’ll find the best photo opportunities at Klima and Mandrakia). This painterly landscape was shaped by the minerals that have long been a source of wealth–obsidian, alum, barite and sulphur, which still bubbles up in the island’s many hot springs. As the 11,000-year-old mining industry is gradually giving way to tourism, several chic hotels have made an appearance. Go now, before the trickle of visitors turns into a tide.

Where to stay on Milos:

  • For romance: Milos Cove
  • For families: Captain Zeppos
  • For an eco-retreat: Skinopi Lodge
  • For an authentic stay: Achinos By The Sea

Best of the Greek islands for A long weekend with the art crowd  You know whennbspDakis Joannou Greece's foremost art...

Best of the Greek islands for: A long weekend with the art crowd

You know when Dakis Joannou, Greece's foremost art collector, is on Hydra. His yacht,  Guilty , is painted in gaudy 'camouflage' by Jeff Koons. Every summer, Joannou invites big hitters such as Matthew Barney and David Shrigley to create site-specific installations in the Greek island's old slaughterhouse. Even the school is commandeered for exhibitions in the summer holidays. Car-free and protected by a preservation order, Hydra has always been the artists' muse of the Greek Islands. Leonard Cohen set the scene in the 60s; now Brice Marden, Sadie Coles and Juergen Teller have homes here. Athenian artists take up residence at the School of Fine Arts, one of the vast, grey, stone mansions overlooking the horseshoe harbour. Musicians of all stripes rehearse and record at the  Old Carpet Factory , an 18th-century residence whose double-height ceilings and underground cistern have incredible acoustics.

Less than two hours from Athens , Hydra fills up with chic Greeks at weekends. They come to disconnect and slow down, but also to see and be seen. Wily cats and weary donkeys patrol the back alleys, but all the action happens along the waterfront. Oh look! There's Olivia Palermo at The Pirate Bar and Chloë Sevigny shaking her tail feather at Hydronetta beach bar. Who cares if there are barely any beaches? You can always find a slab of sun-baked rock from which to leap rock from which to dive into the clearest water in the world. See our full guide to  Hydra, Greece .

Where to stay in Hydra:

  • For a boutique stay: Orloff Boutique Hotel
  • For a beachfront stay: Onos Residence
  • For a group: Mirkella sleeps 12 people

Chapel on Sifnos island Greece

Best of the Greek islands for: Big, fat Greek feasts

Sifnos owes its foodie reputation to its most famous descendant, Nicholas Tselementes, who wrote the first Greek cookbook in 1910. Forget souvlaki and moussaka: here, chickpea croquettes and stewed capers are taverna staples. The island is peppered with potteries that produce the earthenware casseroles used for revitháda (baked chickpeas) and mastelo (lamb with red wine and dill). Traditional dishes are slow-roasted in a wood-fired oven at To Meraki tou Manoli, a local institution on sheltered Vathy bay. (While you’re there, invest in some timeless tableware from Atsonios Ceramics, in business since 1870.) In postcard-pretty Artemonas, all roads lead to Theodorou, purveyors of nougat wafers and almond sweets since 1933. You can eat in your bikini at Omega3 , where locally foraged and fished ingredients are given an exotic twist: baby-calamari tempura, smoked eel in chilled melon soup with wasabi, and chickpea sorbet with wild apricot jam and pine nuts. In 2021, Omega3’s previous energetic head chef Giorgos Samoilis opened Cantina , an equally experimental restaurant in Seralia, a pretty little bay below the beautiful medieval village of Kastro. Lobsters are plucked straight from the sea at Heronissos, then served with spaghetti on the jetty. It's just the right balance of low-key luxury and unspoiled authenticity. Rather like Sifnos itself.

Where to stay in Sifnos:

  • For romance:  NÓS
  • For a boutique stay:  Verina Astra
  • For families:  Verina Terra
  • For a laidback stay: Sifnos House
  • For something unique:  This windmill Airbnb

Oia Santorini Greek Islands

4. Santorini

Best of the Greek islands for: Honeymooners and first-timers

Cooing American and Chinese honeymooners line up to take selfies as the sun sinks behind Santorini's caldera, the flooded volcanic crater. That view may be a romantic cliché, but it still takes your breath away. A volcanic explosion blew out Santorini's heart 3,500 years ago, leaving black-sand beaches, vertiginous cliffs in psychedelic hues, and swirling rumors about Atlantis in its wake. The eruption also preserved the ancient city of Akrotiri under layers of ash, and created fertile ground for exceptional Assyrtiko grapes and Vinsanto wines. (Sample them at Domaine Sigalas and Vassaltis wineries, paired with delicate dishes that let the grapes sing.)

Apart from a boat trip to the smoldering crater of Nea Kameni and hot springs at Palia Kameni, there's not much to do but gaze at the mesmerizing views from your suite, dangling on the edge of the caldera. Most places to stay are concentrated in Oia and Imerovigli, but the inland village of Pyrgos is up-and-coming. Go for a twilight Bellini at Franco's Cafe and visit Emporio, with its smattering of old-school coffee shops and Airbnbs. For a glimpse of Santorini before the onslaught of cruise ships and Instagrammers, explore the quieter south (but keep your discoveries to yourself).

Where to stay in Santorini:

  • For laidback luxury: Perivolas
  • For glamour: Nobu Hotel
  • For romance: Andronis Boutique Hotel
  • For families: The Vasilicos
  • For groups: Elilia Superior Villa sleeps 8 people
  • For something unique: this cave house

These Are the World's Most Powerful Passport in 2024

Todd Plummer

The Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in 2024

Brian Major

The Best Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Isabelle Kliger

Syros Greece

Best of the Greek islands for: Culture and off-season cachet

On Syros, capital of the Cyclades, you won’t find sugar-cube villages and whitewashed lanes. The colorful 19th-century city of Ermoupoli is built on twin peaks–one Orthodox, the other Catholic, the heritage of a long Venetian occupation. There’s still a strong Italian flavour in Ermoupoli’s marble piazzas, princely mansions, and miniature replica of La Scala, the showpiece of a year-round cultural scene. Syros hosts festivals of animation, dance, digital art, film, classical music, jazz and rembetiko, the Greek blues popularised by local musician Markos Vamvakaris. A few rembetiko joints have survived in the upper town, Ano Syros.

Once Greece’s ship-building centre, Syros' industry centres around the yard in Neorio. But the most splendid legacy of the shipping industry are the manor houses in Vaporia and Poseidonia. The beaches are slightly less splendid—with the exception of Delfini, Varvarousa, and Aetos in the wild north. But fabulous seaside tavernas abound:  Iliovassilemar on Galissas beach for samphire and sea-urchin salad and rockfish soup;  Allou Yialou in the pretty seaside village of Kini for lobster with orzo. In Ermoupoli, the finest places to eat and drink are around Androu Street: Ousyra , where the chef plates up Greek-ified pasta and beautifully balanced salads, and  Django Gelato , where the pistachio gelato reigns supreme, and the fig sorbet made in August can sell out in less than half an hour. Perhaps the prettiest restaurant of all is  Mazi , a vine-covered courtyard festooned with bougainvillea. Before you leave, stock up on loukoumi (rose-tinted Turkish delight) and San Michali cheese from  Prekas delicatessen , and visit Zeyelo for hand-made wooden sunglasses. For more recommendations, see our insider  guide to Syros .

Where to stay on Syros:

  • For a boutique stay: Xenon Apollonos
  • For glamour: Hotel Ploes
  • For romance: Aristide Hotel
  • For groups: Villa Syros sleeps 12 people

Folegrandos in Greece

6. Folegandros

Best of the Greek islands for: Authenticity with a bohemian buzz

The village square should be your first port of call on any Greek island: settle into your favorite café, pick up local gossip, and adjust to the languid pace of life. On Folegandros, this presents a challenge: the cliff-hanger capital, Hora, has not one but three squares, each brimming with a jumble of cafés, tavernas and dinky raki bars. We recommend  Pounta , where the Danish owner makes and sells the lopsided cups and bowls in which your coffee and Greek yogurt are served. From Hora, zigzagging steps lead up, up and away to the only real landmark, Panagia church; make the pilgrimage at sunrise (perhaps after an all-nighter at diminutive Astarti bar).

Folegandros–which means ‘iron hard’ in ancient Greek–is as barren as its name suggests. Fruit trees are protected from fierce winds by rings of stones. You won’t find sandy beaches lined with sunbeds; only limpid, pebbly coves, such as Katergo, Ambeli and Livadaki. Set in the rocks above Agios Nikolaos bay, Papalagi serves big fat prawns and whole grilled octopus on a wooden deck aligned with the horizon. Water taxis service some beaches in high season; otherwise you’ll have to scramble down rocky footpaths to cool off. On your way home, stop at Mimis or Synantisi in Ano Meria for the island speciality of  matsata (goat or rabbit stew with hand-made pasta).

Where to stay on Folegandros:

  • For views: Anemomilos
  • For families: Anemi
  • For beach access: Blue Sand Hotel
  • For a private stay: Maistros

Best of the Greek islands for Antiquities active adventures and sunshine all year round  Greece's largest island the...

Best of the Greek islands for: Antiquities, active adventures and sunshine all year round

Greece's largest island, the birthplace of Zeus,  Crete has ancient ruins, snow-capped peaks and beaches galore. Sunshine is pretty much guaranteed year round, but spring is especially lovely for rambling and sightseeing. The Minoan palace of Knossos is glorious, despite the steady stream of coach parties (go early: it opens at 8 ); but there are stunning ancient sites, such as Aptera and Malia, peppered all over the island. The 16km-long Samaria Gorge also teems with pilgrims, but there are hundreds more canyons to explore, often with only the elusive kri-kri (wild goats) for company. One of the most staggeringly beautiful hikes is through the Aradena Gorge in the wild and rugged Sfakia region, ending at Marmara, a translucent cove on the Libyan Sea, for a cooling dip and lunch at one of Crete’s finest tavernas, Dialiskari.

With the exception of Elounda–a pocket of bling popular with oligarchs–the north-east coast is scarred by over-development. Head west to the Amari valley or Apokoronas for authentic villages surrounded by olive and orange groves. Or go south, where you'll find the best beaches in Crete–try Ligres, Sougia, or Kedrodasos. Alternatively, take a back-to-nature break at Milia Mountain Retreat , a 16th-century hamlet powered entirely by solar energy. Everything on the mostly organic menu is grown, caught or reared locally. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to eat well on Crete, which produces superb cheese, honey and olive oil, as well as delicious goat, rabbit and smoked-pork dishes. Time slows almost to a standstill in the mountain villages, where locals with formidable whiskers welcome you with shots of raki (Cretan grappa) for breakfast and celebrate saints' days with a volley of gunshots. Even the road signs are peppered with bullet holes.

Where to stay in Crete:

  • For families: Domes Zeen Chania and Cretan Malia Park
  • For romance: Acros Wellness Suites
  • For a great location: Blue Palace Resort & Spa
  • For a village stay: Kapsaliana Village
  • For a private stay: Azure Awe
  • For a group: Cien sleeps 16 people

Best of the Greek islands for Character and lush landscapes  Corfu is the It Girl of the Ionian islands. The...

Best of the Greek islands for: Character and lush landscapes

Corfu is the It Girl of the Ionian islands. The cosmopolitan capital is a charming clash of Venetian, British, and French colonial influences. Evenings kick off with cocktails on the Liston (a colonnade modelled on Paris's Rue de Rivoli), followed by dinner at  Salto , an unpretentious wine bar and bistro on the edge of the Old Town.

With its pastel villages, rolling olive groves and grand manor houses, the rest of the island recalls Tuscany—but with some of the  best beaches in Europe . The smart set stay on Corfu's north-east coast (nicknamed Kensington-on-Sea) where the Rothschilds like to unwind. It's wall-to-wall Sloanes and speedboats at Agni, a tiny fishing village with three rival tavernas (Toula's is the best). From here, you can rent a boat and putter to your own cove: perhaps Nissaki, Agios Stefanos or Kerasia. These idyllic bays still resemble the 'delectable landscape' that Lawrence Durrell fell for in the 1930s–now back in vogue thanks to the ITV series, The Durrells . Or venture inland to  Ambelonas , an enchanting winery, restaurant and cooking school that specializes in unusual local dishes, such as roast pork with quince and crème brûlée with Corfiot kumquats. Steer clear of the south, especially Kavos–unless you happen to like wet T-shirt contests.

Where to stay in Corfu:

  • For a standout spa: Angsana Corfu Resort & Spa
  • For all-inclusive: Ikos Dassia
  • For romance: Domes Miramare
  • For families: Domes of Corfu
  • For groups: Emerald Oasis sleeps 10 people

Naxos old town Greek Islands

Best of the Greek islands for: Endless sandy beaches

Naxiots once made considerable fortunes exporting potatoes, cheese, marble and emery. Locals bequeathed undesirable seaside plots–useless for farming–to their laziest offspring. When tourists cottoned on to the island's scores of fabulous beaches, these wastrels found themselves sitting on gold mines. The west coast of Naxos is fringed with mile upon mile of powdery sands. Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna delight toddlers and teenagers alike with their shallow waters and beach bars. As you head south, the beaches get wilder: Plaka, where you can gallop across the dunes on horseback, Mikri Vigla for windsurfing and kitesurfing, and crystal-clear Kastraki.

Should you tire of frolicking on the shore, three supersized kouros statues are hidden in the hills and there are dozens of drowsy villages to explore. Try kitron, the local citron liqueur, at the Vallindras distillery in Halki or sample homemade wine and arseniko cheese under the plane trees in Ano Potamia village. No wonder Herodotus described Naxos as “the happiest of islands."

Where to stay in Naxos:

  • For romance:  Naxian on the Beach
  • For laidback luxury:  Kavos
  • For a private stay:  Eye of Naxos Sky
  • For families: Hidden Hill

Best of the Greek islands for Laidback family holidays  CastingnbspPenlope Cruz as a Greek peasant is improbable....

10. Cephalonia / Kefalonia

Best of the Greek islands for: Laidback family holidays

Casting Penélope Cruz as a Greek peasant is improbable. Shooting a World War II film on an island flattened by an earthquake in 1953 sounds even crazier. And yet  Captain Corelli's Mandolin put under-the-radar Kefalonia (Cephalonia) in the spotlight in 2001. The dramatic scenery still lives up to the hype: milky-white Myrtos beach, the island's pin-up; pine-fringed Horgota beach; and the giddying heights of Mount Ainos, a national park where wild horses roam. Outdoor Kefalonia organises four-wheel-drive safaris, if you can't face the hairpin bends. Surprisingly, the two prettiest seaside villages–Assos and Fiskardo–didn't make the cut. But the yachting set has discovered their photogenic charm. Everyone from John Galliano to Jon Bon Jovi has jumped ashore to taste the seafood pasta at  Tassia Restaurant in Fiskardo, washed down with local Robola and Muscat wines. (We recommend the organic muscat from the 19th century  Haritatos Vineyard in Lixouri, also an enchanting setting for wine tasting.) The rocky coastline around Fiskardo is deliciously pristine: go snorkeling at tiny Dafnoudi or Emblisi, flanked by slabs of limestone that turn the water electric blue.

Where to stay in Kefalonia:

  • For an adult-only retreat:  F Zeen
  • For families:  Emelisse Nature Resort
  • For groups:  Odyssea sleeps 12 people
  • For a private stay:  Wilderness Whisperings house
  • For something unique:  This sky high villa

Chora of Andros island early in the morning.

Best of the Greek islands for: Walking trails and wild beaches

Divided by four mountain ranges, Andros is like several islands in one. Lush valleys, rushing streams, handsome villages, and wild, windswept beaches are connected by a well-maintained network of hiking trails, making this an excellent off-season destination. Many of Greece’s powerful shipping dynasties hail from Andros; they have bequeathed the island with grand estates, splendid museums, and an elegant neoclassical capital. The marble-paved streets of Chora are full of unexpected treasures: a tiny, open-air cinema showing black-and-white classics, great pizzas and cocktails in a  converted slaughterhouse , sublime sundresses and sandals at  Waikiki boutique. Inland, there are fortified monasteries, ice-cold waterfalls, and fantastic farm-to-table tavernas like Kosses in Ano Fellos, Fofo’s in Livadia, and Tou Josef in Pitrofos to explore. And then there are the mind-blowing beaches: from the spectacular sandy bays of Zorkos, Vitali, and Vori on the north coast to the mellow beach bars at Apothikes and Chryssi Ammos, or the sunset views and old-school fish taverna at Agia Marina, there are options for whichever way the wind or your mood is blowing. You could spend weeks on Andros and still have more to discover.

Where to stay on Andros:

  • For a guesthouse stay: Melisses
  • For privacy: Onar
  • For a village stay: Touchstone House
  • For groups: Five Star Greece

Best of the Greek islands for Naturists and purists  The sleeper hit of the Cyclades Serifos is the summer retreat of...

12. Serifos

Best of the Greek islands for: Naturists and purists

The sleeper hit of the Cyclades, Serifos is the summer retreat of interior designers and architects who prefer to keep the sandy beaches to themselves. (One French home-owner is so protective of her hideaway that she tells all her friends she summers on nearby Sifnos.) Even in August, you’ll find coves where you can skinny dip in blissful solitude. That’s because the best beaches (such as Kalo Ambeli and Skala) are only accessible via bone-rattling dirt roads or donkey tracks. Better still, rent a motor boat from the laidback harbor, Livada. Make sure to moor outside Anna’s taverna on Sikamia beach for freshly caught fish and garden-grown salads.

In the cascading hilltop Hora, there’s barely any nightlife, no smart boutiques or fancy hotels. But who cares when you can kick back with fennel pie and raki at  Stou Stratou , pick up Natassa Kalogeropoulou’s minimalist ceramics at  Kerameio , and listen to Greek folk in the open-air amphitheatre? And all less than three hours from Athens.

Where to stay on Serifos:

  • For a boutique stay: Verina Astra
  • For romance: Chill & Co.
  • For groups: Lenia sleeps 12 people
  • For something unique: This 19th century captain’s house

Best of the Greek islands for Decadent parties and fivestar hotels  Mykonos had LGBTQ clubs and sunrise parties long...

13. Mykonos

Best of the Greek islands for: Decadent parties and five-star hotels

Mykonos had LGBTQ+ clubs and sunrise parties long before rave culture was even invented. Its bohemian allure hasn’t faded since the 1960s, although the once naked beaches now have nail bars, personal trainers and house music pumping out all hours. The influx of supermodels and superyachts has inspired hot new hotels and restaurants. The hippest place to show off your abs is  Scorpios , a louche beach bar that puts Ibiza's finest in the shade (book a cabana to watch the sunset). After hours, it's always Astra, where you might find Keith Richards chatting up Karolina Kurkova. The LGBTQ+ crowd has dwindled, but drag queens and oiled bodybuilders make a splash at Jackie O' , overlooking Super Paradise beach.

If the glitzy excess gets too much, escape to Fokos taverna for superfood salads and lamb chops, or Kiki's, an off-grid grill-shack overlooking Agios Sostis bay, where even Naomi Campbell has to queue for a table. Or cruise over to the tiny island of Delos, an archaeological sanctuary that once thronged with 30,000 sun worshippers (the temple is dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god of light).

Where to stay in Mykonos:

  • For romance: Cali Mykonos
  • For the party scene: Soho Roc House
  • For a laidback stay: Once in Mykonos
  • For families: Santa Marina resort
  • For groups: Bluewave XL sleeps 36 people

Zakynthos Greek Islands

14. Zakynthos / Zante

Best of the Greek islands for: Seaside holidays with toddlers or teens

Zakynthos, or Zante, has shrugged off its reputation as a destination for lads on tour (as long as you avoid Lagana and the built-up south coast) by rebranding itself as one of Greece's greenest islands. It's not just the emerald hills sliding into the electric blue Ionian: much of the south coast is a nature reserve where endangered loggerhead turtles hatch in the sand. The turtle beaches are off limits, but there are countless coves in every hue of green and blue. Favourites are tiny Xigia, with its bubbling underwater springs, and craggy Porto Limnionas, with sunbeds wedged between the rocks and palm-frond umbrellas positioned between the pine trees. Skinari is the starting point for boat trips to the most famous landmarks, the Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach, where a rusting liner leans into the chalky cliffs. From Keri, you can cast away for Marathonisi island, another turtle sanctuary.

The mountainous interior, all sleepy stone villages poking out of pine forests, is great for hikes and bikes. ( Eco Zante can arrange outdoor activities guided by insiders.)  Askos Stone Park is a wildlife sanctuary inhabited by deer, chinchilla, and dozens of other species. After exploring the Venetian castle high above the harbour, treat the kids to thin-crust pizzas (with grown-up toppings like bresaola, aubergine, and gorgonzola) at  Alesta on cute St Mark's Square.

Where to stay in Zante:

  • For families: Porto Zante
  • For romance: Zante Maris Suites and Olea All Suite Hotel
  • For a private stay: Halcyon Seas
  • For a group: Ble Kyma sleeps 12 people

Best of the Greek islands for Deepblue seas and wideopen spaces  Its not easy to get tonbspAmorgos. In high winds the...

15. Amorgos

Best of the Greek islands for : Deep-blue seas and wide-open spaces

It’s not easy to get to Amorgos. In high winds, the fast ferries stay grounded and the slow boat takes upwards of eight hours from Athens. When you disembark at Katapola, a sleepy harbor lined with great little fish tavernas (our favorites are Prekas and Mouragio), a sign announces: 'Welcome to Amorgos. Nobody will find you here.'

That’s just the point. This craggy Cycladic island has always attracted loners, hikers, divers, and pilgrims, who shuffle up the cliff face to the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, a sliver of white dangling 300 metres above the sea. The water here is a million shades of blue and so startlingly clear you can see every sea urchin lurking on the rocky shore. Even the sage-scented hiking trails are called Blue Paths, because the sea and sky are visible in all directions.

With a population of under 2,000, the locals are outnumbered by shaggy goats that blend in perfectly with the burnished landscape and hippie vibe. But you don't have to be a recluse to fall for Amorgos. There are plenty of all-day spots and a few late-night bars where Amorgos groupies meet, summer after summer: Jazzmin, in Hora, for backgammon and cocktails; Pergalidi in Langada for herbal infusions and jazzy tunes; Seladi in Tholaria, with giddying views and a telescope for stargazing.

Where to stay on Amorgos: There are very few hotels on Amorgos, beyond basic rooms to let.  Vorina Ktismata is the exception, with seven smart apartments looking out across Hora’s white-washed rooftops.

The harbour in Paxos Greece

Best of the Greek islands for: The perfect balance of seclusion and sophistication

One of the tiniest Ionian islands, Paxos packs a big punch. Not for its five-star hotels (there are hardly any) or its sandy beaches (practically none), but for its electric blue sea and three dinky harbor towns, each one so pretty it’s impossible to pick a favorite. In laid-back Loggos, on the northeast coast, star-spangled evenings are spent on the waterfront terrace of Taxidi bar, where the owner, Spiros, often jams with local musicians. You could while away days in the waterfront cafés of Lakka, watching lissom sailors hop on and off their yachts. Protected from the wind but with a lively social scene, the main port of Gaios is characterized by Venetian architecture and a high quota of stylish Italians, who own pale stone villas hidden in the wooded interior or on the crest of the limestone cliffs along the western shoreline. For the many British Paxos aficionados, all roads lead to  Ben’s Bar , a happy-go-lucky hangout on Monodendri beach, where you can laze under the olive trees with French toast and Piña Coladas. Make sure to rent a motor boat to putter along the coast to pebble coves such as Marmari and Kipiadi, or across to Antipaxos, an even smaller island that’s a hit with the yachting set. Paths through vineyards and orchards trickle down to bays with sea so clear it looks retouched.

Where to stay in Paxos:

  • For an authentic stay: Paxos Villa
  • For a great location: Oneiro
  • For groups: Panayia View sleeps 14 people

A beach on Lefkada Greek Islands

17. Lefkada

Best of the Greek islands for: Sailors, surfers, and superstar beaches

Lefkada is something of an anomaly. Unlike the other Ionian islands, it’s accessible from the mainland via a causeway on the northern tip. Lefkada’s main town, flattened by an earthquake in the 1950s, certainly won’t take your breath away, but those famous cliff-backed beaches, Egremni and Porto Katsiki, sure will. You’ll find sheltered beaches no matter which way the wind is blowing; but if you’re here for the swell, the south coast is fantastic for windsurfing (head to Vassiliki or Sivota, home to the world windsurfing championships) and Agios Ioannis bay billows with kite-surfers. At Nidri, ignore the unlovely bars and watersports centres, and hop on a boat to explore the little isles nearby. You can swim through sea caves near Kalamos; eat seared tuna with tarama at Errikos taverna on Meganisi, a favorite of reclusive billionaires; and watch the sunset with a basil-infused Mastiha and tonic at Mylos bar, a converted windmill on Kastos.

Want to cool down or escape the summer crowds? Drive through forests of chestnut and pine into Lefkada’s mountainous interior to the somnolent villages of Karya (home to an enchanting textile museum), Eglouvi (to play backgammon under plane trees) and Exanthia (to watch the setting sun from up in the clouds at Rachi restaurant). You might even see paragliders leaping off the mountain.

Where to stay in Lefkada:

  • For romance: Ibid
  • For views:  New Morning villa

Ithaca Greece

Best of the Greek islands for: A mythical retreat for lovers and loners

Despite its legendary stature, the homeland of Homer's hero, Odysseus, remains surprisingly under the radar. Ithaca’s turquoise and emerald coves are popular with the sailing set, but few visitors venture into the forested hills. So you might be the only person exploring the eighth-century BC ruins of Odysseus’ palace, or making the heady trek to the church of Anogi, covered in Byzantine frescoes (ask for the key at the village coffee shop, where the owner will cook you a set menu of whatever is available–maybe a tomato salad, some local cheese and braised goat—straight from her garden or neighbours’ fields).

From Anogi, it’s an exhilarating two-hire hike down to Kioni, a miniature port where you’ll find  Spavento , the perfect pier-side café-bar. Go any time of day or night for ice-cream sundaes, excellent cocktails, and a soundtrack to make your heart sing. The waterside tavernas at the drowsy fishing port of Frikes are unfailingly delightful, especially  Ageri . The deep, sheltered harbor town of Vathy is barely livelier, but the mood can be deliciously mischievous at Mylos bar. Beaches are mostly small and pebbly, but the sea is as clear and refreshing as gin. Authentic, unspoiled and infuriatingly (or gratifyingly) hard to reach, rugged little Ithaca is somewhere you can still disappear.

Where to stay on Ithaca:

  • For a private stay: Ithaca Airbnb house
  • For families:  Levendis Estate

Best for Traditional villages and knockout tavernas  Tinos has more than 50 villages each vying to be fairest of them...

Best for: Traditional villages and knockout tavernas

Tinos has more than 50 villages, each vying to be fairest of them all. In Pyrgos, famous for its marble craftsmen, sculpted birds and flowers decorate every doorway. In Volax, basket weavers squat outside cottages surrounded by giant boulders, seemingly flung from the heavens by Zeus in a fit of pique. There's even a village called 'love’, Agapi, where you can tuck into wild-fennel fritters at the only taverna. Tinos takes its food culture seriously: there are artichoke, caper and honey festivals.  Marathia launched the island’s farm- (or fishing-boat-) to-table scene, elevating local ingredients into complex modern dishes. For a perfect meal in perfect surroundings, go for cuttlefish risotto and octopus caramelized in grape must at Thalassaki, served on the jetty in Isternia bay, then watch dusk bleed into the horizon from Exomeria bar.

Tinos is only 20 minutes from Mykonos, so it's a wonder it isn't overrun with tourists. The harbor is swarmed on 15 August, however, when Orthodox pilgrims flock here to kiss the Virgin Mary at the Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria, one of the holiest sites in Greece. Otherwise, the island is miraculously untouched. Solitary chapels and whimsical dovecotes stud thyme-scented hills, dropping to sandy bays whipped by the meltemi wind. There's a nascent surfer scene on Kolibithra bay, where a VW camper van has been converted into a cute beach bar.

Where to stay in Tinos:

  • For a guest house stay: Xinara House
  • For a private stay:  The Detailor

Best of the Greek islands for Stark mystique and showstopping villas  Patmos has an indefinablenbspje ne sais quoian...

Best of the Greek islands for: Stark mystique and show-stopping villas

Patmos has an indefinable je ne sais quoi–an otherworldly quality that radiates from its crowning glory, the medieval Monastery of St John. This turreted fortress, bursting with Byzantine relics, is named after John the Divine, who conjured up his apocalyptic revelations in a cave nearby. Pure-white Hora, a World Heritage Site, is where A-listers and fashion editors stay. High walls and heavy doors conceal magnificent mansions dating back to the 16th century. The almighty church has kept nightlife in check. If you must see and be seen, head to quietly glamorous Astivi or Stoa Theo's bar, on miniature Agia Lesbia, in Hora. Beach life is generally languid and low-key; Psili Ammos and Livadi Geranou are our favorite hideouts. Dinner reservations are essential at Benetos, for Med-Asian fusion on an organic farm, and Lambi for grilled fish on a purple pebble beach.

Joining the Patmos in-crowd requires commitment. There's no airport and it's a nine-hour ferry journey from Athens, which keeps the hoi polloi at bay. Seriously reclusive types hop on a fishing boat from Patmos to Marathi and play castaway at Pantelis, a divine taverna with modest rooms to let.

Where to stay in Patmos:

  • For a guest house stay: Pagostas
  • For a private stay: Patmos 360
  • For a village stay: Eirini

Rhodes windmills and lighthouse fort Greek Islands

Best of the Greek islands for: Traveling back in time

When the writer Lawrence Durrell arrived in Rhodes after World War II, he found an island devastated by centuries of crusaders and invaders. Like the fallen Colossus, it was 'a Rhodes dispersed into a million fragments, waiting to be built up again.' Since then, Rhodes has reinvented itself as one of Greece's top travel destinations. The big draw is the medieval citadel in Rhodes Old Town: stroll along the battlements and you'll spy Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, synagogues, and minarets. In the maze of alleys, seek out Marco Polo Mansion, a 15th-century guest-house decorated like a pasha's harem, with an enchanting restaurant in the garden.

Upmarket hotels are clustered around Lindos, its magnificent acropolis surrounded by slate cliffs and emerald coves. Go for the views–and the sublime octopus ragout at Mavrikos restaurant.

As you head south, high-rise resorts give way to stretches of golden sand, such as Glystra, Tsambika, and Fourni. Inland, you'll find alpine forests (Mount Attavyros), hilltop castles (Monolithos), faded frescoes (Saint Nikolaos Fountoukli) and ancient ruins (Kamiros). Marooned on the southern tip, Prasonisi is a powdery peninsula where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean. One side is calm, the other choppy–a metaphor for this island of two halves.

Where to stay in Rhodes:

  • For romance: Casa Cook
  • For history: Kókkini Porta Rossa
  • For a boutique stay:  Melenos Art Boutique Hotel

Symi Greek Islands

Best for: Castaway coves and a picture-perfect port

Little Symi has the prettiest port in Greece. As you round the headland, neoclassical mansions in every shade of apricot and peach rise like a mirage from the sea. Built by 19th-century sponge and spice merchants, the whole town is now a national monument. You need strong legs to explore–it's about 500 steps up to the crumbling acropolis–but you won't need a car. The only proper road peters out at Panormitis monastery, a major pilgrimage site. Ravishing beaches such as Agios Giorgos Dysalona (backed by monumental cliffs) and Marathounda (where goats will try to filch your picnic) are only accessible by boat or on foot. In the rugged hinterland, more than 100 monasteries are hidden among the pine and cypress forests.

With its laid-back glamor, luminous sea and almost tropical microclimate, Symi is a hit with French and Italian yachties. You'll find them eating flash-fried baby shrimp, a local specialty, at Tholos, a sensational taverna where the harbor views almost steal the show.

Where to stay in Symi:

  • For a hotel stay: The Old Markets
  • For a private stay: On The Rocks

Chora village Astypalea Greek Islands

23. Astypalea

Best of the Greek islands for: Escaping the crowds

A throwback to a gentler, slower, more elemental way of life, Astypalea is surprisingly easy to get to (daily one-hour flights from Athens). Every gap in the burnished hills frames a different view of Hora, cascading from the Venetian castle to seaside Skala. The scent of saffron biscuits wafts through the whitewashed lanes. Tucked beneath the battlements, Castro bar has a magical terrace that seems to float above the archipelago.

The nearest beach is Livadi, a sort-of-resort surrounded by citrus orchards. The rest of the island is stark and wild. Treacherous tracks hurtle down to shingle bays such as Vatses, with a rocking beach bar, and Kaminakia, where Linda's farm-to-table taverna serves the best roast goat in the Dodecanese. If you really want to be alone, rent a motorboat from Maltezana, an old-time fishing village, and putter to Koutsomiti and Kounoupes, tiny islands connected by a double-sided beach. At Vathy, a lagoon where erotic graffiti was etched into the rocks 2,500 years ago, the only taverna is called Galini (Peace). Which sums up Astypalea perfectly.

Where to stay in Astypalea: Saluti da Stampalia Suites , with seven subdued but very stylish sea-view rooms, has upped the ante on an island where most accommodation is uninspired.

Elia beach Skiathos in Greece

24. Skiathos

Best of the Greek islands for: Flopping onto a sandy beach with a good book

Skiathos may be the smallest of the Sporades islands, which counts among its number sleepy Alonissos and the pretty  Mamma Mia! location of Skopelos, but it’s by far the most popular, especially with families, who come for the baby powder-soft sandy beaches and laid-back vibe. The island has some of the finest beaches in Greece, with the tree-lined, turquoise-watered Koukounaries in the south the most celebrated and the busiest (forget about getting a sun lounger here in peak season). Those in the north of the island, which can only be accessed by a steep, winding drive through pine groves, are more rugged and windswept but no less idyllic–emerging onto Elia beach on the west coast, with its crystal-clear sea and rickety wooden taverna, is like stepping into a little slice of paradise.

As dusk falls the town starts to liven up, with most of the action centered around Papadiamantis Street, the main shopping drag. Stroll down it on the way to dinner and browse smart boutiques selling handcrafted jewelery and knick-knacks, or pick up local delicacies from the upmarket Ergon deli (reopens in May), which also has outposts in Athens, Thessaloniki and Mayfair. The buzziest restaurants are clustered around the harbour, with Bourtzi, perched atop a tiny rocky island, the best spot for sundowner cocktails and The Windmill a favorite for elegant suppers. For the most charming setting, head to Sklithri and book one of the taverna’s tables right on the beach. Order an ice-cold Mythos beer, baked feta and a platter of perfectly-chargrilled and out-of-this-world delicious vegetables then watch the sun set over the Aegean, with your toes in the sand.

Where to stay in Skiathos:

  • For a hotels stay: Elivi Skiathos
  • For a private stay: Villa Azalea

Best of the Greek islands fornbspLowkey authenticity all year round  Unusually for Greece Aegina is truly an island for...

Best of the Greek islands for:  Low-key authenticity all year round

Unusually for Greece, Aegina is truly an island for all seasons. Only about an hour’s ferry ride from Piraeus, the unpretentious port (briefly the first capital of modern Greece) has a lived-in charm. Athenian weekenders come for the excellent seaside ouzeris; Skotadis, on the harborfront is the standout. Classicists come to explore the portside antiquities of Kolona, the hilltop temple of Aphaia (allegedly the template for the Parthenon) and the ghostly Byzantine chapels at Paleochora. Canny ex-pats have snapped up properties in Pachia Rachi, a stone village with sensational views across the straits to the Peloponnese. The Dumas family, heirs to the Hermès fortune, have been discreetly spending their summers here for decades. With its soft light and gentle landscapes, Aegina has always been a muse for Greek artists and writers, including the prolific painter Nikos Nikolaou, whose former home and atelier is now an  enchanting guesthouse and museum (open on Saturdays by appointment). Thanks to a tight-knit community of locals, Athenian escapees, and cosmopolitan emigrés, there’s always something interesting afoot: live music at Proka bar or  Il Posto , a cosy Italian restaurant in Kypseli village, an exhibition in the 17th century Markellos Tower, or a travel writing and ceramics retreat at  Oikia Karapanou , one of many stately homes in various states of ruin and repair that dot this incredibly diverse island. The only thing Aegina doesn’t have is great beaches—perhaps that’s what has spared this accessible island from over-development. This is an island that doesn’t depend on foreign tourists and is all the better for it.

Where to stay on Aegina:

  • For a hotel stay: Nikolaou Residence
  • For something unique: this bohemian artist's house
  • For a group: Villa Calypso sleeps 11 people

Best of the Greek islands fornbspCastaway dreams and swimming through caves  Michael Anastassiades Lynda Benglis Savvas...

26. Kastellorizo

Best of the Greek islands for:  Castaway dreams and swimming through caves

Michael Anastassiades, Lynda Benglis, Savvas Laz, Silvia and Nicoletta Fiorucci…the number of artists, designers, and their patrons who summer on tiny Kastellorizo is remarkable. Covering less than five square miles, with fewer than 500 inhabitants, this sun-blistered fleck lies just over one nautical mile from Turkey’s Anatolian coast. You can sail across to the town of Kaş for kofte and a trawl though the flea market and be back in time for a sundowner at Faros, a day-to-night hangout in the old lighthouse beside the mosque. A confluence of Levantine influences draws a culturally curious crowd to this remote Aegean outpost. Once a thriving maritime economy, Kastellorizo was bombed during World War II and then virtually abandoned. Gradually, the handsome sponge and spice merchants’ houses in vibrant shades of turquoise and terracotta are being revived as artists’ residences (such as Fiorucci’s 4Rooms), or enchanting guesthouses like  Mediterraneo . You can dive straight from Mediterraneo’s sundeck into the port, where sea turtles bob alongside colorful fishing boats. There’s not much action beyond the waterfront strip known as the  kordoni , or shoelace: a little snorkeling, cave swimming, or boat-watching, a ramble along goat tracks, a slow supper of stuffed onions under the fairy-lit plane trees at Ta Platania, or perhaps some yoga in the wild on the even tinier islet of Ro. This is a pure and simple Greece.

Where to stay on Kastellorizo:

  • For a boutique stay:  Casa Mediterraneo
  • For romance:  Mediterraneo
  • For groups:  The Admiral’s House

Antiparos Church Cyclades Greece

27. Antiparos

Best of the Greek islands for:  Relaxed cool

This tiny island packs a surprisingly hip scene into its low-slung hills and shallow coves. Most of the action centres around the dinky port, where life drifts by in the waterfront cafés and the lively strip that leads to the square. Every season, more upmarket restaurants ( Yam ,  Lollo’s ) and boutiques ( More than This ,  Zali ) spring up alongside classic dive bars like  Doors and Lucky Luke. At dusk, all roads predictably lead to  Sunset bar for a spritz; after hours, everyone stumbles to cult disco La Luna, where both the décor and music are stuck in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

By day, the scene is way more mellow: brunch at  Margarita’s in town or  Time Marine  on Psaralyki, one of a string of shallow, narrow beaches along the southern coastline. Beyond the modest, boxy houses of the harbour town are dozens of sensational villas designed by in-demand architects. The fanciest properties are scattered around Soros and Agios Georgios bays, where you’ll also find two of the island’s best tavernas,  Peramataki and  Captain Pipinos . The latter is a short boat or kayak ride from Despotiko island, where goats roam around the semi-excavated sanctuary of Apollo. The beauty of Antiparos is that nothing is more than ten minutes away, and after a couple of days, you’ll feel like a regular, bumping into the same good-looking faces wherever you go. If you get cabin fever, you can hop on the 7-minute ferry to Paros for kite surfing, windsurfing, fine dining, or village hopping.

Where to stay on Antiparos:

  • For a hotel stay: The Rooster
  • For a private stay: Antiparos Escape Villas  and Oliaros

Best of the Greek islands fornbspDistinctive architecture and good vibes  Long overlooked because of its checkered...

Best of the Greek islands for:  Distinctive architecture and good vibes

Long overlooked because of its checkered history—this Dodecanese Island was an Italian naval base from 1912–1943, and later became the site of a notorious insane asylum—Leros is all the better for flying under the radar. The vast natural harbor of Lakki (an excellent marina for sailboats) still bears the surreal hallmarks of Fascist rationalism, an Art Deco mirage that’s like a faded version of Miami on the Med. The colorful neoclassical houses of Agia Marina and Platanos have a more lived-in feel, peppered with appealing patisseries, antique shops, and B&Bs. Italian cognoscenti and Turkish yachties have discovered Leros for one very good reason:  Mylos by the Sea , arguably the best seafood restaurant in Greece, with a hopelessly romantic setting overlooking a windmill jutting out to sea. Sunset watchers converge on  Harris Bar , another windmill poised between the medieval castle of Panagia and Panteli’s pebbly beach. Most beaches on Leros may be small and scrappy, but the water is luminous and there are just enough low-key beach bars like  Zephyros  and  Lime . Since restaurants cater mainly to Greeks, the food scene is authentic and affordable: Thea Artemis taverna on gentle Blefouti bay, Lychnari in Lakki, and the cult souvlaki joint Yparxo in Platanos are local favorites. Although there’s a tiny domestic airport, there are no international flights or big, branded resorts on Leros. Instead, there are family-run guesthouses brimming with character, where you feel more like a friend than a room number.

Where to stay on Leros:

  • For glamour:  Villa Clara
  • For (vegan) romance:  Archondiko Angelou
  • For a private stay:  Lakki Old Farmhouse

Best of the Greek islands fornbspFamily holidays with the smart society set  If it werent for Sotirios Anargyros Spetses...

29. Spetses

Best of the Greek islands for:  Family holidays with the smart society set

If it weren’t for Sotirios Anargyros, Spetses might be as barren as its more bohemian neighbor, Hydra. In the early 20th century, after making a killing in tobacco, Anargyros bought up huge swathes of the island and planted thousands of pine trees. Anargyos also founded the famous boarding school (whose grounds are a lovely spot for an evening stroll) that inspired a certain English teacher to write The Magus , and built the Poseidonion, a grand harbor-front hotel that has been gloriously restored (there’s no finer place for an aperitivo). From the heirloom-filled mansions built on shipping fortunes to the horse-drawn carriages and tasteful yachts, the whole place reeks of old money. But there’s plenty of new-fangled fun too: late-night bars ( Bikini  or retro-cool  Bar Spetsa ), two open-air cinemas, stylish boutiques ( The Closet , whose resident cats are an attraction), and expensive restaurants ( Patralis  and  Tarsanas  vie for the best fish soup). In the summer, Spetses is a sociable place to see and be seen. But it’s also lovely off-season, when you can hike the gentle green hills or cycle the coastal road that circles the island (there’s even a Tweed Run in October). Compact, well-kept, and easily accessible from Athens (2-3 hours by catamaran), Spetses is a people-pleaser for all ages and seasons.

Where to stay on Spetses:

  • For glamour:  Poseidonion Grand Hotel
  • For families:  Orloff Resort
  • For a private stay:  Magus House

This article was originally published on Condé Nast Traveller U.K.

IMAGES

  1. The best Greek islands to visit in 2020

    greek island visit

  2. 5 Greek Islands You Need To Visit That Are Not Mykonos And Santorini

    greek island visit

  3. 19 Beautiful Islands In Greece You Have To Visit

    greek island visit

  4. 20 Very Best Greek Islands To Visit

    greek island visit

  5. 10 Best Greek Islands you need to visit this 2020

    greek island visit

  6. The 10 Best Greek Islands To Visit

    greek island visit

VIDEO

  1. 24 Hours Exploring The Greek Island of Naxos

  2. most underrated Greek island award goes to #greece #greeceinspo

COMMENTS

  1. The 25 best Greek islands to visit in 2023

    3. Spetses. Island-hopping. For the perfect getaway from busy Athens, head to Spetses. It's a two-and-a-half-hour cruise away, meaning it tends to avoid the bulk of the day-tripping crowds.

  2. 25 Best Greek Islands

    Paros, one of the most central Cycladic islands, is a mecca for water sports activities. At the island's sun-drenched beaches, travelers can windsurf, kitesurf, scuba dive and go boating, among ...

  3. Best Greek islands to visit in 2024

    Best for: Big, fat Greek feasts Sifnos owes its foodie reputation to its most famous descendant, Nicholas Tselementes, who wrote the first Greek cookbook in 1910. Forget souvlaki and moussaka: here, chickpea croquettes and stewed capers are taverna staples. The island is peppered with potteries that produce the earthenware casseroles used for revitháda (baked chickpeas) and mastelo (lamb with ...

  4. Which Greek islands should I visit?

    Take your pick of Greek island jewels. Most first-timers choose the Cyclades, homing in on Santorini for its cliffs dripping with whitewashed cubic buildings, and Mykonos for its charismatic appeal. Once you've had your fill of Mykonos, take the ferry to nearby Tinos. This low-key island has quietly earned itself a reputation for exceptional ...

  5. The Best Greek Islands to Visit, and Where to Stay on Them

    Westend61/Getty Images. Overall, Greece has six main island groups, plus a significant stand-alone: Crete. It's generally easiest to travel between islands within one group than to archipelago-hop.

  6. Find the right Greek island that's right for you- Lonely Planet

    Rhodes - Delos - Corfu - Patmos. Gape at Rhodes' magnificent, walled Old Town, where the Knights of St John ruled from 1309 to 1523, and explore their quarter before visiting the 14th-century Palace of the Grand Masters. Tiny Delos, accessed via Mykonos, was the mythical birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis - see ruins of shrines to ...

  7. 15 of the best Greek islands to visit

    4. Evia. Best for hiking and history. Greece's largest island, Crete, is very well known, but Evia, the next in line, flies rather more under the radar. Though popular with weekending Athenians ...

  8. The Perfect 7 to 10 Days in the Greek Islands Itinerary

    Day 2 - Mykonos. Start early and head to the port of Piraeus, before boarding a high-speed ferry destined for the Island of the Winds, Mykonos. Your first stop should be to explore the beautiful main town of Chora. A maze of winding alleyways filled with shops, churches and whitewashed houses with painted shutters.

  9. 20 of Best Greek Islands to Visit in 2024

    Visit these iconic Greek islands on our Cyclades Highlights 8 Day Private Tour > Naxos. Naxos is becoming an increasingly popular food destination with its wide range of local products from Naxian potatoes and cheeses to honey, olives, olive oil, fruits, wine and its famous liqueur, kitron. Toss in fine dining and farm-to-table experiences with ...

  10. Your Master Guide To All Greek Islands And How To Pick One

    6.SARONIC GULF. The Saronic Gulf islands are the ones located closest to Athens. They are Aegina, Salamina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, Agistri, and Dokos. These islands are ideally located very close to the mainland and can be reached from Athens with high speed ferries, that often take less than 1 hour of travel.

  11. 22 BEST Greek Islands To Visit In 2024

    Naxos is one of the best Greek islands for families to visit. Just a short ferry ride from Paros is the beautiful island of Naxos, which is the picturesque version of Greece. Cycladic white and blue houses, fantastic history, ancient Greek architecture, great food, beautiful European beaches, amazing sunsets, friendly Greek people?Check, Check, Check!

  12. 21 Best Greek Islands to Visit In 2024

    12. Mykonos. If you want flashy, outgoing nightlife, Mykonos is one of the best Greek islands to visit. Mykonos is known for its dance clubs and world-renowned DJ appearances. Unlike party hotspots like Magaluf and Kavos though, Mykonos also retains a luxury, upscale side to its hospitality.

  13. How to choose which Greek islands to visit

    Kithnos (Kythnos) Kithnos island, Greece. Located: in the western Cyclades, between Kea and Serifos. Best known for: stunning beaches, snorkelling and remote traditional villages. If Kithnos was a person: she'd be quiet and traditional, keen to stay off any tourist trail and find secluded beaches. Ideal for: sun seekers and beach bums.

  14. Islands

    The islands are the main characteristic of Greece's morphology and an integral part of the country's culture across the ages. The country includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Greek Seas, of which only 227 islands are inhabited.The Greek coastline offers a diverse landscape: beaches stretching over many kilometres, sheltered bays and coves, sandy beaches, sand-dunes, pebble ...

  15. 20 Beautiful Greek Islands to Visit in 2023

    Quick Look: Top 5 Greek Islands to Visit in 2023. Crete: Best Overall Island in Greece. Santorini: Most Romanic Greek Island. Mykonos: Best Island in Greece for Parties. Corfu: For a Cosmopolitan Stay. Kefalonia: Best Island in Greece for Beaches.

  16. 12 Best Greek Islands To Visit In Your Lifetime

    8. Zákynthos: best of Greek Islands to visit with family; 9. Sérifos: one of the best Greek islands for a calm stay; 10. Náxos: the happiest of Greek islands; 11. Rhodes: one of the best Greek islands for exploring the Mediterranean Sea; 12. Corfu: an island with a beautiful, lush landscape

  17. Greek Islands travel

    Beaches. Crete, Corfu or Kefallonia: find the perfect Greek island for you. Sep 16, 2021 • 5 min read. The Greek islands offer deserted beaches, active volcanoes and everything in between. Let us help you decide on the perfect island paradise for you. Beaches. Island-hopping in Greece: everything you need to know.

  18. The Best Greek Islands to Visit in 2024

    26. Kastellorizo. Best of the Greek islands for: Castaway dreams and swimming through caves. Michael Anastassiades, Lynda Benglis, Savvas Laz, Silvia and Nicoletta Fiorucci…the number of artists ...

  19. The best Greek islands to visit and what you can do on each

    1. Corfu. Image: Chris Unger / Unsplash. Best for: Lush greenery and history. Surrounded by crystal-clear waters and luscious greenery, Corfu is one of the most beloved destinations among both locals and travelers. Corfu offers plenty of nature, hiking trails, and opportunities to rest and relax.

  20. 6 Best Greek Islands

    Best Greek Islands To Visit in March, April, October, and November. This is shoulder season. The busiest islands and those with a local population are quieter but still humming with plenty of hotels and restaurants open. Santorini, Crete, and Rhodes are the best Greek islands to visit in the spring and autumn period.

  21. Island-hopping in Greece: everything you need to know

    From Piraeus, hop a ferry to Mykonos, the most glamorous of the Greek islands. Overlooked by its iconic windmills, you'll rub shoulders with the famous as you explore the flower-filled lanes and boutique shops and cafes. From here, day-trip to the tiny island of Delos with its ancient sun-bleached ruins.

  22. Expert Greek Islands Travel Guide With Itinerary Routes

    The Cyclades is an island group home to the most famous Greek Islands, Santorini and Mykonos. Both are worth visiting, but not in the high season for July and August. Depending on when you visit, Mykonos can be extremely expensive, same with Santorini, and both are largely overcrowded.

  23. The Best Time to Visit Greece, According to a Local

    MSN. Feedback. From ancient sites to awe-inspiring islands, there's a lot to love about this Mediterranean country. A local explains the best time to visit Greece for your dream vacation. The post ...

  24. Which Greek Island Should You Visit in 2023?

    Syros. Best Greek island for: Culture and off-season cachet. On Syros, capital of the Cyclades, you won't find sugar-cube villages and whitewashed lanes. The colorful 19th-century city of ...

  25. Greece Travel Advice 2024: Island Bliss and Mainland Charm

    Land of sun-kissed beaches, ancient wonders, and vibrant culture, Greece beckons with open arms (and delicious feta). Whether you're seeking remote idylls or bustling party havens, this diverse country offers something for everyone. Here's what you need to know for your 2024 Greek adventure: Islands Paradise: Island Hopping: With 227 inhabited ...