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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 .

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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

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Which greek island should you visit our 2024 top picks.

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 islands best ones to 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. Also budget time for visiting Paleokastritsa, a tranquil seaside village home to a 13th-century monastery and top-notch scuba diving sites.

greek islands best ones to 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 day trip 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 islands best ones to 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 islands best ones to 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 southern 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 day trip via boat to Saria or Sokastro, uninhabited and undisturbed islets that were once connected to Karpathos.

greek islands best ones to 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 (barley rusk topped with tomato, oregano and olive oil) – at the island's tavernas.

greek islands best ones to 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 islands best ones to visit

Head to Zakynthos for its breathtaking yet rugged coastline full of hidden cove beaches, some of which are home to the endangered caretta caretta sea turtle species. Popular spots include Navagio (or Shipwreck) Beach – which can only be admired from a distance during a boat tour  – and the magical Blue Caves, where the reflection of the sky and the white limestone turns the water an ethereal shade of blue. Check out the Venetian Castle that overlooks Zakynthos' main town, then visit the Post-Byzantine Art Museum of Zakynthos to peruse art exhibits.

greek islands best ones to 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 islands best ones to 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 120-plus 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 islands best ones to visit

Spend your next vacation in 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 islands best ones to visit

Gorgeous scenery is available everywhere you turn on the Cycladic island of Milos. This volcanic island boasts more than 40 beaches surrounded by jaw-dropping rock formations (check out the lunar landscape at Sarakiniko), as well as houses sporting a variety of vibrant 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 islands best ones to 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 Kaminakia, which is worth the extra effort it takes to get there. Visitors can spend time hiking between beaches while 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 islands best ones to 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 many mules and horses that reside 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 islands best ones to 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 islands best ones to 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 day trip 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 islands best ones to 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 13th-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 islands best ones to 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 scenic Agios Prokopios, and lots of water sports activities. Due to the Meltemi wind that blows from the north, 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.

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greek islands best ones to visit

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

From choosing the right hotel to getting around, here's how to plan the ultimate island-hopping adventure in Greece.

Planning a trip to the Greek islands can be intimidating, even for the most seasoned travelers. With more than 200 inhabited isles (and about 6,000 islands and islets in total), the magnitude of the archipelagos is astounding. Each has its own character and aesthetic, from Cyclades islands dotted with white-and-blue houses to the lush and green Ionian Islands to the castle-lined Dodecanese.

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 hop between archipelagos. 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 have international terminals. Many 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 (including Crete and Santorini) have international airports, where you can fly directly from cities in Europe or the Middle East.

Traveling by ferry simplifies island hopping, especially if you're just exploring one archipelago. In the Cyclades, 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 easy to rent a car on the islands, too, provided you have an international driver's license with you.

When to Visit the Greek Isles

May, June, and late September are great times to travel 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, flight options, and open restaurants and beach bars, but it also means more tourists 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 Greek 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 about two dozen 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 designed to confuse 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 sea caves, Tinos is the site of a famous Church of 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 want to start by visiting Mykonos or Santorini. On 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 Beach Club . When exploring some of the smaller islands, like Ios, Folegandros, and Milos, swim, snorkel, and wander the fortress-like capital of each island. The 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 around 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 amid the iconic white-and-blue cliffside houses of Oia at Andronis Luxury Suites . Next, move along the caldera to the village of 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 a private beach for guests. For an ideal honeymoon in Greece , 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, are 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 its own country. Because there's so much to explore, many travelers 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 you're on the island, it's a good idea to rent a car; it takes about six hours to drive from one end of Crete to the other.

The island boasts some of the best beaches in Greece , including Elafonissi, with its unparalleled pink sand, and Elounda, 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 Knossos Palace, home of the Minoan empire (and the dreaded Minotaur monster), and the Boutari Winery if you're 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 home to a colony of people affected by leprosy until 1957.

Where to Stay on Crete

With picturesque olive groves sloping down to sandy beaches, Elounda has become something of a Cretan Riviera. This stretch along the island's northeast coast is lined with swanky resorts including Crete's only Relais & Chateaux property, the Elounda Mare , and the contemporary Cayo Exclusive Resort & Spa .

Outside the island's capital city of Heraklion is the 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 Rethymno, and more historic boutique hotel options like Kapsaliana Village Hotel , built around an 18th-century olive oil mill, and Casa Delfino , a renovated 17th-century mansion inside the walled old town 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, yachts parked in the harbor, and traditional horse-drawn carriages along its waterfronts. Family-friendly Poros, with tree-shaded beaches and a charming town dominated by a clock tower, is popular among sailing aficionados. Aegina, the closest island to Athens, has a large port town, sandy beaches, and the ancient Temple of Aphaia dedicated to the goddess of Athena. 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 Luxury Beach Resort offers plush suites and villas with access to swimming pools and a private beach. Renting a villa through Five Star Greece is also an option, especially on Aegina where weekend homes outshine the hotels. The crown jewel of the Saronic Gulf is Spetses' harborfront Poseidonion Grand Hotel, established in 1914, which is just as lavish as its name suggests.

The Ionian Islands

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

Lush and green, the Ionian Islands (also known as "Eptanissia" or the "seven islands") 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 the island's UNESCO-protected Old Town . Near Corfu, tiny Paxos is covered in olive trees, with three charming bays and a satellite island, Antipaxos, known for its translucent waters. The largest of the Ionian Islands in size, Kefalonia is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Greece and has semi-wild horses running around Mount Ainos in its center. Zakynthos is home to Navagio Beach (also known as 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 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 stylish seaside resorts like the Grecotel Corfu Imperial to historic 18th-century estates in the Tuscan-like interior such as the Pelecas Country Club . Near the Old Town, the first Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts property in Europe, Angsana Corfu , offers a gorgeous seaside enclave with 159 rooms and lavish pool villas.

On Kefalonia, the ultra-modern Tesoro Blu is an adults-only oasis just outside the village of Skala, and the Emelisse Nature Resort 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 Agali Hotel Paxos 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 of Alonissos and Northern Sporades . 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, you can fly directly 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. You can travel between the islands by ferry or private 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. Above all, do not miss sailing, swimming, or scuba diving in the marine 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 & Spa on the beach in Skopelos.

The Northeast Aegean Islands

This collection of more than a dozen islands (the five most notable being Ikaria, Samos, Lemnos, Lesvos, and Chios) is 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

Lemnos, 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 Lemnos, and the magnificent castle atop Lesvos. While these islands are famous for their history, they're also known for their water sports. Keros Beach on Lemnos 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 — a dozen 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 among travelers who fly in 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. Highlights on adjacent islands include the mansions of Kasos, the brightly painted houses of Kastellorizo, and the hilltop Chora (historic center) 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 Boutique Hotel & Spa , 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), The Petra offers luxurious suites equally convenient for the beach and the Monastery of St. John the Theologian .

greek islands best ones to visit

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The 31 best Greek islands to visit in 2024

From the gastronomic specialties of Sifnos to the enigmatic ruins of the Dodecanese, each Greek island has its own distinct character. Choose your own adventure and discover them yourself.

The Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes, in the Dodecanese

From the gastronomic isles of the Cyclades to the enigmatic ruins of the Dodecanese, each of the six main Greek island groups has its own distinct character. Yet, look closely and you’ll find that more unites than sets them apart: there are secluded towns loved by local gourmands, hidden coves brimming with mythical associations and, above all, a natural splendour that’s captured the minds of artists and adventurers through the ages.  

1. Nisyros: Walk on a volcano

According to Greek mythology, it was Poseidon who seized a chunk of Kos and hurled it on top of a fiery Titan called Polyvotis — creating the volcanic island of Nisyros, with its enormous, sulphurous caldera. The volcano is active, but travellers can still walk across its warm crust — it last erupted in 1888 and is carefully monitored. It can be visited on a day trip from nearby Kos, but it’s worth sticking around to explore the island’s little capital, Mandraki, with its colourful houses and Byzantine churches; the nearby thermal spring at Loutra; and the lofty village of Emporios, with its ruined Byzantine castle, natural cave sauna and mesmerising views over the caldera.

2. Kalymnos: Reach new heights

For a long time, the island of Kalymnos was famous for one thing: sponge-diving. But in 1996, a new focus emerged, when Italian rock climber Andrea di Bari, on holiday with his family, observed the island’s towering limestone cliffs. Before long, this isle emerged as a capital for climbing. Kalymnos now has over 4,000 routes for all abilities, and companies such as Climb in Kalymnos offer dedicated beginners’ courses. But it’s not all about sports here, as the island has retained its old-world charm. Wander the ruins of the Byzantine town of Kastro, high on the mountainside, or head east to Vathys and its fjord-like valley, flanked by fragrant citrus groves.

person rock climbing

3. Kos: Pedal the ‘bicycle island’

Greece’s ‘bicycle island’, Kos has over 6,500 bikes to hire and is also crisscrossed with cycling trails, including a new eight-mile path that takes in the coast. When Kos’s Italian colonisers departed in 1943, they left their bikes behind, which were swiftly adopted by the locals. One of the best sights to explore by bike are the ruins of Asklepion, two miles outside Kos Town and easy to reach on two wheels. In 430BC, Kos native Hippocrates, the ‘Founder of Medicine’, created this healing sanctuary, which is arranged in terraces along the hillside. But you don’t have to be a keen cyclist to enjoy Kos — the island is also generously endowed with sandy beaches, and Kos Town is known for its crusader, Ottoman and Italian architecture set beneath clouds of fuchsia bougainvillea.

4. Tilos: Wander a ghost village

For centuries, the residents of Tilos built their homes inland, safe from marauders. But in the 1950s, when the villagers of Mikro Chorio found their wells running dry, they decided to relocate to the island’s port area — taking their roofs, doors and windows with them. Until recently, the only signs that Mikro Chorio ever existed were the whitewashed church and fawn-coloured stone walls, which snake over the hillside and act as a playground for goats. Now, though, one ruined home has been renovated and turned into an atmospheric summer bar. From 11pm when it opens, a shuttle bus runs here from nearby Livadia — and the sound of chatter and clinking glasses once again fills this ghostly village.  

5. Rhodes: Explore a woodland oasis

The island of Rhodes is best known for two historic sites — walled Old Rhodes Town, built by the crusading Knights of St John; and Lindos, a pretty 15th-century sea captains’ town set beneath an ancient, vertigo-inducing acropolis. But it’s also popular for its broad, sandy beaches, and the fact it receives over 300 days of sunshine each year. If you can tear yourself away from the sea, visit Seven Springs , a refreshing woodland oasis in the north east of the island, reached by wading through a dark, 180m-long irrigation tunnel. The effort is worth it: refreshing swims, a tall waterfall and pine-shaded hiking trails await, and there’s a taverna frequented by roaming peacocks.

6. Symi: Hike through old donkey trails

Pint-sized, little-known Symi beckons day-trippers from nearby Rhodes with its neoclassical, colourful main town and the revered, frescoed Panormitis Monastery, set in a small settlement on the opposite corner of the island. Linking the two through the forested interior are some near-forgotten mule paths, which fell into disuse after a road running the length of the island was paved in the 1960s. Choose to spend a few days in Dodecanese destination and walk these storied dirt roads — at times, hardly more than a suggestion of a trail — to get to viewpoints rarely reached by foreign visitors, opening up to views of secluded coves and a promontory where the only man-made structure in sight is a solitary white church.

( Why you should go hiking in Symi, Greece . )

boats in harbour with houses on a hill in the background

7. Karpathos: Travel through time

One of the Dodecanese’s highest mountains effectively divides Karpathos in two. At the island’s northern end, the remote hamlet of Olympos was isolated until 1979, when a road was built through the wild terrain. Local women still wear flowery scarves and long skirts — plus enormous necklaces of gold coins on special occasions — and they keep to many traditional ways, baking bread in communal ovens and embroidering textiles. Stay overnight here, in a cosy apartment at Irene’s House or Olympos Archipelagos , with its sea views, to get a feel for Olympos’s old-world magic, and don’t miss a traditional laouto (lute) performance in the taverna.  

8. Lefkada: Set sail for the islets

Mountainous, wooded Lefkada, with its craggy coast, was a late-comer to tourism, so it can feel more authentically Greek than some of the most popular isles. And for those dreaming of sailing the islands, its port of Nydri is the best place to start: sheltered from winds, its bay is scalloped with secluded coves and its own archipelago of emerald islets. You can hire anything from a licence-free dinghy up to a large sailing yacht here, with which you can explore the secret inlets.  

9. Paxos: Jump into the blue

Renting boats, whether solo or with a skipper, is something you can do on stretches of most Greek islands. But the size of Pazos, a seven-mile by two-and-a-half-mile blot off the south coast of Corfu, means it can be circled in its entirety in just a few hours. This makes it perfect for beach-hopping and the chance to discover a number of Greece’s most secluded coves — some lined with olive and cypress trees, others barely wide enough for a couple of towels, all lapped by inviting, crystal-clear water. Summer days in this corner of the Ionian are mostly spent dropping anchor at whichever one takes your fancy, stretching out beneath the sun on the deck, then cooling off by diving straight into the water.

( Why you should try beach-hopping by boat around Paxos, Greece .)

a boat anchored in front of an old mansion in Paxos

10. Corfu: Head for the hills  

With its Venetian-style capital and sandy beaches, Corfu is one of Greece’s most-visited islands. It’s worth heading for the hills here. Old Perithia , the island’s highest village, was founded in the 14th century, but by the 1950s its inhabitants had left, leaving only a taverna for hikers. In 2010, a couple from the UK fell in love with the village, buying a property (now a boutique B & B ) and kicking off its slow restoration. Today, it’s a riot of wildflowers in spring.    

11. Zakynthos: See the blue caves  

This is an island of white-sand beaches, but its north coast, with sheer cliffs rising out of the sea, is truly spectacular. The best-known precipices surround ‘Shipwreck Beach’, where a rusting cargo ship rests, slowly sinking into sands — though it’s currently only accessible to view from afar due to the risk of landslides. Other cliffs help form the Blue Caves, a labyrinth of pale rock that reflects the shimmering electric blue of the waters. Boats can enter the largest cave, where you can dive in for full immersion.

12. Kefalonia: Kayak secret coves

The biggest Ionian island, mountainous and green like a vast turtle’s shell, is surrounded by cliffs and coves — including the deep blue Melissani Cave on the east coast — and many of them are only accessible from the sea. In a kayak , you can paddle between the beaches at leisure, or embark on a longer guided trip, staying in inns on the way. For a challenge of a different kind, drive 1,628m up Mount Ainos, the highest peak in the area, for an eagle’s-eye view of the Ionians.  

aerial view of boats near a cave

13. Samothraki: Meet the Great Gods

Samothraki, in the far northeast Aegean, is a small island with a mythical past. The Greek sea god Poseidon is said to have sat on Mount Fengari here — at 1,664m, the second highest in the Aegean — to watch the Trojan War, while in ancient times, numerous pilgrims would make the difficult voyage here to worship at the Sanctuary of the Cabeiri, or Great Gods. Now in ruins, this temple complex was home to a mystery religion, and very little is known about its secret rites. Anyone, from kings to slaves, could be initiated, and historical figures are thought to have been members — among them Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. After, head to the village of Therma, a 10-minute drive along the coast to the east, for its hot springs and nearby waterfalls so bucolic, you’d almost expect to come across a nymph.  

14. Lemnos: Explore a Greek desert  

It can be difficult to believe that, in among the pretty harbour towns, the Greek islands are also home to one of Europe’s only deserts. Pachies Ammoudies, on Lemnos, one of the largest islands, resembles the Sahara on a smaller scale, its soft dunes constantly shifting with the wind. The best way to explore it is by hiring a 4WD in the capital, Myrina, and heading out at dawn or dusk, when the sand takes on an orange glow. Myrina itself was named after the Queen of the Amazons — the   island is believed to have once been the home of the warrior women visited by the Argonauts — and you can spend hours exploring its traditional coffeeshops and colourful harbour. Also don’t miss the ruins of Poliochni, a settlement thought to be older than nearby Troy on the Turkish mainland.

harbour and houses in Greece

15. Ikaria: Dance until dawn  

Ikaria, in the far east of the Aegean, is closer to Izmir in Turkey than Athens. It is known for lying in a Blue Zone — an area where people have a longer, healthier life expectancy — with about one in three living into their 90s. The list of potential reasons is long, ranging from the healthy local diet to the lack of stress, but visit this island between May and September, and it’s likely you’ll discover one more — nobody wants to miss the next paniyiri. The island’s saint’s day festivals happen almost daily in different villages. Fuelled by the island’s heady natural wine, they involve all ages dancing in unison together — placing their hands on each other’s shoulders and spiralling in time to traditional violins. When you’re partying until dawn, it can be easy to lose all track of time.

16. Lesbos: Discover the ouzo effect  

Ouzo, Greece’s favourite anise-flavoured spirit, is largely produced on Lesbos, with its traditional villages and gnarled olive groves, where 16 dedicated distilleries work to make over half of the national supply. And for fans of the spirit, Plomari, on the south coast, shines like the North Star — it’s here that travellers can find the Ouzo Museum , and learn about the drink’s history and the variety of Greek herbs that go into making it, alongside tours of the copper stills. Each brand is different, and some are difficult to find beyond the island, so it’s also where you’ll find the best opportunities for tastings. Order with water on the side to observe the famous ‘ouzo effect’ — despite both liquids being clear, when combined the result turns milky-white.  

17. Santorini: Sip volcanic wines

This island may be best known for its vertiginous villages on the edge of the caldera, but it’s also one of Greece’s top wine producers. Because of its volcanic soil, Santorini was spared from the lice epidemic that decimated Europe’s vineyards in the 19th century, and its indigenous white grapes, Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani, flourish, their vines pruned to resemble baskets to protect them from the wind. The resulting wine is bone dry and mineral rich — but you can also find the naturally sweet Vinsanto here, made from sun-dried grapes to produce a tipple that was popular in the Middle Ages. Try both kinds at the Santo , the island’s largest cooperative in Pyrgos. Or visit the organic Hatzidakis estate, located inside a cave.    

narrow cobbled street with white houses on each side in Greece

18. Syros: Listen to Greek blues

Rebetiko, known as the Greek blues and often featuring soulful lyrics on migration, poverty, misfortune and unrequited love, has roots in the years of mass unemployment following the Greece-Turkey Population Exchange in 1923. One of the genre’s greatest composers, Markos Vamvakaris, came from Ermoupoli on Syros, and live performances still ring out from bars on balmy nights here, especially during the summer Rebetiko Festival. Visit Ermoupoli itself, the neo-classical capital of the Cyclades, with its Catholic and Orthodox hilltop neighbourhoods, marble-paved Miaoulis Square and opera house. Don’t miss its speciality loukoumia (Turkish delight), introduced to the island by refugees from the then-Ottoman ruled islands of Chios and Psara.

19. Sifnos: Cook like a Greek

Sifnos is where the father of modern Greek cuisine, Nikolaos Tselementes, was born in 1878. The island’s specialities are worth looking out for, with chickpea stews and braised lamb mastelo still slow cooked in the traditional way in stoneware pots. Learn some of the island’s recipes by helping to prepare a typical meal at Narlis Farm , just outside Apollonia, where farmers have produced organic fruit and vegetables for generations according to traditional Cycladic methods, using very little water. Sifnos is exceptionally pretty, with the whitewashed villages Apollonia, Artemonas and Kastro, sandy beaches with seaside churches, and landscapes dotted with chapels, crisscrossed by miles of trails.

man walking on a path on a farm in Greece

20. Tinos: Embark on a food weekend

In recent years, Cycladic Tinos has become famous among Greeks as an island of gastronomy. Blessed with fertile land and a resulting bounty of locally grown produce, it’s a magnet for chefs from nearby Athens, who’ll often leave their city restaurants in the warmer months to head here. Tinos Food Paths, a festival of gastronomy celebrated each year in the second week of May, marks the beginning of the season of indulgence. Come to join in the summer feast: start the morning sipping silty Greek coffee with a crispy filo pastry; recharge mid-afternoon with an acai bowl of wild strawberries; and round the day up trying local specialities, from fourtalia — a fluffy omelette made with potatoes — to louza , the island’s spice-cured pork.

( How to plan a food weekend on the Greek island of Tinos . )

21. Milos: Stay in a syrmata  

Volcanic Milos is an island of colour, with rock formations in shades of red, yellow and blinding white. Similarly bright doors and windows adorn its traditional syrmata — the huts found only around Milos and neighbouring Kimolos, carved into the soft volcanic cliffs by fishermen sheltering their boats for the winter. Some have been converted into quirky places to stay — a bit cramped, with just a bed and bathroom, but right on the water’s edge. On land, seek out the catacombs (the only ones on a Greek island), the ancient theatre and the replica of the Venus de Milo, marking the spot where the original was found.

aerial view of crystal clear ocean, with white rocky shore

22. Naxos: Find the marbles

Fine, white marble has been quarried and sculpted on Naxos since prehistoric times; the archaeology museum , in the Venetian castle on top of Naxos Town, is packed with remarkably well-preserved marble Cycladic idols from 3200-2300 BCE, smoothed with the island’s native emery. Elsewhere on the island, giant kouros (naked male youth) statues, carved in the 6th century BCE, were abandoned when flaws in the marble were discovered: today, two lie near the quarries in Apollonas. Naxos has a relaxed and family-friendly vibe, with walking trails and swathes of sand south of Naxos Town.

23. Agistri: Snorkel in clear coves

Less than an hour from Athens’ port city of Piraeus, Agistri is the smallest of the inhabited Saronics. Surrounded by twinkling waters, its pine trees cling to the cliffs that curl around its mainly pebbly beaches. Aim for the little peninsula of Aponisos, with its turquoise coves perfect for snorkelling, just a short bus ride from Skala and Megalochori, Agistri’s main towns. Or head out with Interdive and sail in its traditional wooden ship to the uninhabited islet of Dorousa, whose fish-rich waters and shipwrecks are exciting terrain for experienced divers.

24. Poros: Wander in a lemon forest  

Poros is so close to the Peloponnese that the 400-metre-wide channel separating the two is nicknamed Greece’s Grand Canal. A favourite past time in pretty Poros Town is lingering in a waterfront taverna and watching all the ships pass by, including ferries zipping across to Galatas, a port town on the mainland. Near there is a lemon forest that becomes intoxicating in May, when the trees are in bloom and the citrusy scent drifts across the channel on the breeze. For a perfect day out, hike up to the pretty blue-and-white clocktower in Poros Town for views over the lemon forests.  

25. Spetses: Get to know Bouboulina

Thought to be the world’s first female admiral, Laskarina Bouboulina, who grew up in Spetses, raised a small fleet during the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s and won Greece’s first naval battle aboard her flagship, Agamemnon. Her bronze statue stands near the harbour, and now her descendants run the charming Bouboulina Museum in her former mansion — where she was assassinated in a family dispute. Pine-clad Spetses later became the summer retreat of wealthy Athenians and, in 1914, was the first Greek island to get a hotel, the luxurious Poseidonion Grand Hotel , which still dominates the harbour today. The rest of the waterfront, still bristling with cannons, is filled with neoclassical former captains’ mansions, villas, black-and-white pebble mosaics and horse-drawn carriages. Visitors can cycle to the beaches — many sandy — and later dine in the bars and restaurants in the Old Harbour.

Spetses in Greece

26. Aegina: Trace ancient Greece

Outside of Athens, surviving ancient peristyle temples are rare in Greece, but you can find a beautiful one just an hour from Piraeus by ferry — the Temple of Aphaia, on Aegina. Isolated on a pine-covered hill overlooking the island’s biggest beach resort, Agia Marina, the temple was built around 500 BCE — decades before the Parthenon. Sadly, like the Parthenon, it was stripped of its marble friezes by antiquarians, inspired by Elgin, who shipped them to Munich. Aegina has many other feathers in its cap: pretty Aegina Town, the first capital of Greece, where the scent of roasting pistachios fills the air. A remnant of this can be explored at the Archaeological Site of Kolona nearby, which contains the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, and a neighbouring archaeology museum. The ruins of another former capital, Byzantine Paleochora, can be found to the east above Agios Nektarios, one of the biggest churches in Greece, built for the most recent Greek Orthodox saint, who died in 1920.  

temple of Aphaia

At first sight, looming into view as the ferry approaches its harbour, Hydra might seem like any other Greek island: fluttering white-and-azure flags, whitewashed houses, busy tavernas. Except the B & B owners who gather beside its dock, ready to pick up visitors and whisk them to their premises, don’t wait in their cars, like they would elsewhere. This mountainous island, off the east coast of the Peloponnese, is entirely pedestrian. Even bicycles are banned, thanks to a 1950s law that sought to keep it as it’s always been — a labyrinth of alleys to be explored on foot, by boat or, better yet, in the saddle. As you discover hilltop monasteries, cliffs paths and sandy beaches, you’ll find it’s a destination where the journey really does make the experience.

( How to explore the car-free island of Hydra, Greece . )

28. Skopelos: Hike wildflower trails

The emerald sea reflects the pine trees covering Skopelos, a serene island of pebble-strewn coves that’s great for walks and views. Near the town of Skopelos, piled high in the shadow of a Venetian castle, wildflower-dotted trails lead to six Byzantine monasteries on Mount Palouki. You can also hike to the Sedoukia, a collection of Neolithic tombs, or to the wedding chapel of Agios Ioannis — of Mamma Mia! film fame — perched high on a rock overlooking the sea near the island’s second town, Glossa.

small rocky island in the sea

29. Skyros: Meet Skyrian horses

Isolated from its sisters, Skyros has a whitewashed capital, Chora, that curls around a castle-crowned crag overlooking a vast beach. The northern half of the island is wooded, while the wild, rocky south is where a few of the last little Skyrian horses roam. Introduced in the fifth century BCE by Athenian colonists and isolated ever since, they’re the descendants of the horses depicted in the Parthenon Marbles. With only around 200 left, they’re one of the rarest breeds in the world.

30. Skiathos: Hit the beach

Cosmopolitan Skiathos, beside Skopelos, owes its popularity to its 62 beaches, which offer a stretch of sand for every taste. Koukounaries and Vromolimnos are best for watersports, while Aselinos is ideal for those after a quieter time, with just a few places to eat. Lalaria, meanwhile, is spectacular and silvery, and Kechria, with its sunbeds amid the olive trees, is perfect for a lazy afternoon punctuated by lunch in the taverna. As the sun sets, pretty, fun-loving Skiathos Town buzzes into life.

aeriel view of house on a small island

31. Alonnisos: Enjoy aquatic adventures

From May to October, boats head out on day trips to explore the waters off Alonnisos, which is part of Europe’s largest marine park. Here, endangered monk seals are protected along with dolphins and over 80 species of bird. Experienced divers can tour the ‘Parthenon of shipwrecks’, a fifth-century BCE vessel laden with amphoras that sunk off the coast of nearby islet Peristera and now forms the core of Greece’s first underwater museum .  

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Travel Lingual

16 Best Greek Islands to Visit | 2024 (with Photos)

Nataša Obradovic

Nataša Obradovic - Travel Writer

Last Updated: March 25, 2024

Hey there! I'm Natasha, a travel enthusiast who loves exploring the beauty and culture of different Greek islands. Join me as I share my favorite experiences and hidden gems from my recent adventures in these stunning destinations.

Parga, Greece

Greece is known for its stunning islands and sandy beaches, each with their own unique charm and character.

From the quintessential Greek island of Santorini to the gorgeous beaches of Zakynthos, there is an island to suit every traveler's taste.

In this article, the Travel-Lingual team will explore 16 of the best Greek islands to visit, each with its own highlights and attractions.

Get ready to visit many beaches of the Aegean and Ionian Seas, and discover the magic of all the Greek islands.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

Domes Noruz Chania.

Our Top Choice Restaurant

To Kati Allo

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Ideal climate: Spring and autumn, avoid tourist peak.

Average Temperature

Mild summers, cool winters, pleasant climate overall.

Transportation Options

Taxis, buses, ferries, trams, trains, rental cars

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)

My Top Recommendation

My recommendation for spending time in Athens, Greece would be to visit the iconic Acropolis, where you can immerse yourself in ancient history and marvel at the magnificent Parthenon.

For a more laid-back experience, head to the charming island of Santorini, where you can soak up the breathtaking views of the caldera while indulging in delicious local cuisine and exploring the picturesque white-washed villages.

What You'll Need to Bring

  • Travel Insurance
  • Comfortable walking shoes

What Not to Miss

  • Acropolis and Parthenon
  • Santorini's breathtaking sunsets
  • Exploring the historic streets of Athens
  • Delphi's ancient ruins
  • Relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Mykonos

What to Avoid

  • Overcrowded tourist areas
  • Scams and pickpocketing
  • Drinking tap water

Table of Contents

Santorini, Greece

1. Santorini - One of the Most Romantic Cycladic Islands

Santorini, Greece

Santorini , one of the most stunning Cycladic islands in Greece, is a crescent-shaped volcanic island located in the southern Aegean Sea. Furthermore, it is one of the best Greek islands to visit.

Nature lovers can take a day trip to explore the nearby islands and the sea caves by boat, scuba diving, or sea kayaking.

This Greek island is also an ideal destination for history buffs, with ancient ruins and a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Visitors can also choose from many beach bars and a boat tour or boat trip for a complete island experience.

Santorini is just one of the many great islands in Greece to visit, but with its stunning sandy beaches and traditional villages.

Lastly, this Greek Island, in its peak season, is one of the busiest Greek islands to visit.

2. Mykonos - A Glamorous Cycladic Island

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos is a glamorous and cosmopolitan ancient city island known for its beautiful sandy beaches, luxury resorts, and lively nightlife.

It is located in the heart of the Aegean Sea and it is one of the best Greek islands to visit.

Visitors to Mykonos can explore its beautiful beaches, including Paradise Beach, Super Paradise Beach, and Psarou Beach, all of which offer crystal-clear waters and sandy shores.

It is among the Greek islands that allow visitors the opportunity to explore its beautiful whitewashed villages, including Mykonos Town, which is home to many shops, cafes, and restaurants.

3. Crete - The Largest Greek Island

Crete, Greece

Crete, the largest island in Greece located in the southern Aegean Sea, is a diverse destination that boasts stunning beaches like Elafonisi, Balos, and Falassarna, with crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches.

The island's capital city of Heraklion is a historical treasure trove with ancient ruins and museums waiting to be explored.

In addition to its beaches and cities, Crete also offers visitors a glimpse of traditional village life and the opportunity to experience sea kayaking, scuba diving, and boat tours to nearby islands. Consequently, making Crete one of the best Greek Islands to visit .

4. Corfu - A Party Island with a Venetian Past

Corfu, Greece

Corfu , an Ionian island located off the northwest coast of Greece, is a beautiful destination to explore. This Greek island is arguably the cheapest Greek island to visit.

Its stunning beaches, including Paleokastritsa, Glyfada, and Agios Georgios, offer clear waters and golden sands.

Visitors can also enjoy the island's charming villages, such as Corfu Town, which boasts numerous museums, shops, and restaurants.

However, you will also find some of the best bars in Greece on this Greek island.

While there are many other Greek islands to visit, the natural beauty, pristine beaches, and historical landmarks of Corfu (Town) make it one of the best Greek Islands to visit for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

5. Zakynthos - An Ionian Island with Pristine Beaches

Zakynthos, Greece

Zakynthos , a famous Island situated in the Ionian Sea, is famous for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich marine life.

Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Beach, with its stunning scenery, is a must-visit location for beach lovers.

Zakynthos is a great destination for nature lovers, with its vast array of flora and fauna.

The Blue Caves, a network of sea caves, and Navagio Beach can be explored by a boat tour and offer a unique opportunity to witness Zakynthos' beauty from a different perspective.

6. Rhodes - A Dodecanese Island with Ancient History

Rhodes, Greece

Rhodes is a paradisiacal Dodecanese Island nestled in the idyllic southeastern Aegean Sea.

This picturesque island is a treasure trove of ancient ruins, historical landmarks, and natural beauty that offer tourists a perfect blend of history and nature.

Rhodes is home to a well-preserved medieval Old Town and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Additionally, it is one of the best Greek Islands to visit.

Visitors to Rhodes can enjoy exploring the Acropolis of Lindos, the Temple of Apollo, and the Ancient Stadium, which provide a fascinating glimpse into the island's ancient past, through a boat tour on a day trip.

7. Skiathos - One of The Remote Ionian Islands on the Ionian Sea

Skiathos, Greece

Skiathos , a Sporades Island situated in the northwestern Aegean Sea, is known for its picturesque beaches and stunning natural beauty.

Koukounaries, one of the most famous beaches in Skiathos Old Town, has clear waters and golden sand, making it a great destination for sunbathing and swimming.

Visitors can also explore the island's natural beauty by hiking through the lush green forested areas or taking a boat trip.

8. Naxos - One of the Cheapest Greek Islands With Picturesque Villages

Naxos, Greece

Naxos is a national park situated in the Aegean Sea. This national park is the largest and greenest island in the Cyclades.

The island boasts a unique combination of many beaches and picturesque villages.

Naxos is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Cyclades, such as Agios Prokopios and Plaka, which offer shipwreck beaches and golden sand.

For those interested in history, a day trip to Portara, an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo, is a must-visit site.

9. Paros - A Famous Island with Traditional Charm

Paros, Greece

Paros is a picturesque island that offers visitors a traditional Greek island experience.

Paros is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, such as Golden Beach and Santa Maria Beach. You can take a day trip on a boat tour for a great island experience, alongside water sports activities and much more on the island's northwest coast.

The island is also famous for its marble quarries, which have been producing high-quality marble since ancient times.

10. Milos - A Great Island with Volcanic Landscapes

Milos, Greece

Milos is a volcanic island in the Cyclades. This Greek Island offers a unique landscape shaped by its volcanic history.

This Greek island boasts some of the best beaches and hot springs, such as Sarakiniko and Firiplaka, known for their unique rock formations and turquoise waters, of all the Greek isles.

On this picturesque island, visitors can also explore the Fishing Village of Klima. Additionally, visitors can take a day trip to the Venetian Castle of Milos, and the Arkoudes, natural rock formations that resemble bears.

The island's hot springs offer ideal opportunities for rejuvenation and relaxation, while it's fantastic scuba diving sites are perfect for adventure seekers.

11. Hydra - A Nearby Island with Timeless Beauty

Hydra, Greece

Hydra is a charming and traditional Greek island located in the Saronic Gulf, close to Athens.

It's one of the best Greek islands to visit if you want to experience the authentic beauty of Greece without the crowds of mass tourism.

Hydra's beaches are some of the most beautiful in the Aegean Sea, with crystal-clear waters and peaceful surroundings. Thus, among the best Greek islands to visit.

Bisti Beach and Vlychos Beach are just two spectacular beaches on the island. You will find many more on this remote island.

12. Symi - A Dodecanese Island with a Quaint Harbor

Symi, Greece

Symi is a tiny island situated in the southeastern Aegean Sea, is a destination that offers a perfect combination of history and relaxation.

Visitors can explore the island's many secluded beaches and coves by boat or on foot, taking in the spectacular beaches and picturesque landscapes.

Symi is also home to the Monastery of the Archangel Michael, a historical and religious landmark that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

With its unique charm and peaceful atmosphere, Symi is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Greek islands.

13. Ios - A Quiet Greek Island with a Party Vibe

Ios, Greece

Ios is one of the best Greek islands for young travelers seeking vibrant nightlife and an unforgettable party experience.

This small island offers a plethora of bars and clubs that cater to all tastes, making it the ultimate party island in Greece.

During the day, visitors can relax on the island's beautiful beaches, such as Mylopotas Beach and Manganari Beach , which boast sandy beaches and clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere.

Ios is also famous for the Tomb of Homer, which is believed to be the final resting place of the renowned ancient Greek poet.

Despite its small size, Ios offers a diverse range of activities and attractions, making it one of the most stunning and exciting Greek islands to visit.

14. Samos - A Dodecanese Remote Island

Samos, Greece

Samos is one of the best Greek islands to visit, located in the eastern Aegean Sea and part of the Dodecanese islands.

This stunning Greek island is covered in lush forests and features a rugged coastline with some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, including Tsamadou Beach and Potami Beach.

Samos is also famous for its wine production, with vineyards for visitors to explore and local varieties to taste.

For history buffs, the island is home to the Heraion, one of the largest ancient temples in Greece dedicated to the goddess Hera.

Samos is an ideal destination for people who are looking for gorgeous beaches and offers a perfect blend of history and beauty.

15. Lefkada - An Ionian Island with Secluded Beaches

Lefkada, Greece

Lefkada is a stunning island in the Ionian Sea known for its crystal-clear waters and secluded beaches.

With its rugged coastline and dramatic cliffs, the island is a paradise for adventure seekers and people who love beach bars.

Porto Katsiki and Egremni Beach are two of the most popular beaches on the island, with their white sands and turquoise waters attracting visitors from all over the world.

The island is also known for its traditional villages, such as Sivota and Agios Nikitas, where people who come on vacation can experience the authentic Greek way of life and sample local cuisine.

16. Folegandros - A Cycladic Island with a Slow-Paced Lifestyle

Folegandros, Greece

Folegandros, a charming small island in the Cyclades, offers visitors a slow-paced, laid-back lifestyle.

With stunning views of mainland Greece, visitors can also explore the medieval castle in town.

Folegandros is an excellent option for a relaxing getaway with a taste of traditional Greek island life and has one of the best beaches. You can take a boat trip to other Cyclades islands.

Below are some frequently asked questions about the best Greek islands to visit.

What is the nicest Greek island to visit?

The nicest Greek island to visit is subjective and depends on personal preferences. Santorini is often considered the most romantic Greek island, with its iconic white-washed buildings and stunning caldera views. Mykonos is known for its glamorous nightlife and luxurious atmosphere, while Crete is the largest Greek island with diverse activities and sights. Other popular islands include Corfu with its Venetian past, Venetian Castle, and Ionian beauty, Zakynthos for its pristine beaches, and Rhodes for its ancient history.

What is the prettiest Greek island?

Many people consider Santorini to be the prettiest Greek island due to its unique architecture. However, other Greek islands such as Milos with its volcanic landscapes, Hydra with its timeless beauty, and Skiathos Old Town with its gorgeous beaches are also considered to be some of the prettiest Greek islands.

How do I choose which Greek island to visit?

Choosing the best Greek island can be tough. Consider your preferences, time of year, accessibility, and cost. Look for all the Greek islands with historical sites and activities like scuba diving, boat tours, and sea kayaking; check out fantastic beaches like Navagio Beach and Paradise Beach, as well as UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Venetian Castle; there are many Greek islands to visit include the Ionian Islands, Cyclades Islands, and Dodecanese Islands; and Avoid mass tourism and high prices by checking out smaller, remote islands like those in the Sporades Islands.

What are the 5 famous Greek islands?

The best Greek islands to visit include Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu. Each island offers unique attractions such as gorgeous beaches, ancient ruins, traditional villages, and more.

Summing Up: 16 Best Greek Islands to Visit

The Greek Islands offer stunning scenery, rich history, and vibrant culture from the central east coast to the west coast.

From romantic Santorini to glamorous Mykonos Town, from Crete to Corfu with a Venetian past, and from the fantastic beaches of Lefkada to the slow-paced lifestyle of Folegandros, Greek islands have something for everyone.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Greece today and experience the beauty and charm of these amazing islands for yourself.

Santorini - One of the Most Romantic Cycladic Islands

Santorini - One of the Most Romantic Cycladic Islands

Mykonos - A Glamorous Cycladic Island

Mykonos - A Glamorous Cycladic Island

Crete - The Largest Greek Island

Crete - The Largest Greek Island

Corfu - A Party Island with a Venetian Past

Corfu - A Party Island with a Venetian Past

Zakynthos - An Ionian Island with Pristine Beaches

Zakynthos - An Ionian Island with Pristine Beaches

Rhodes - A Dodecanese Island with Ancient History

Rhodes - A Dodecanese Island with Ancient History

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15 of the best Greek islands to visit

The choice and variety of greek islands is staggering. not sure where to start these are the isles you need to know about.

greek islands best ones to visit

M ykonos 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.

• Best hotels in Skiathos

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Skiathos Town (Getty Images)

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 (Getty Images)

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 .

A Superior Suite at Hideout in Ios (Expedia)

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, Evia (Alamy)

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

• 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 in Corfu (Getty Images)

• 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

• 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 in Mykonos (Getty Images)

• 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.

Lefkada’s Porto Katsiki beach (Getty Images)

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

• 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 (Getty Images)

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 in Skopelos (Getty Images)

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 in Cephalonia (Alamy)

• 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.

Symi harbour (Alamy)

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 Zakynthos shipwreck (Getty Images)

• Best villas in Zakynthos • Best hotels in Zakynthos

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Enjoy a hike past cycladic Santorini houses in Oia village

Enjoy a hike past cycladic Santorini houses in Oia village © Ihor_Tailwind / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Every Greek island has its own personal rhythm and delight – it's why they are such a thrilling destination to explore no matter what type of vacation you desire.

Though that trademark Greek warm welcome is present everywhere, the variety of terrain, culture and natural wonders mean that hikers, bikers, culture vultures, families and every other type of sun-seeker will find their perfect island paradise here. Our guide to the best Greek island for you will take all the stress out of booking your next trip.

The long stretch of sand next to the clear sea at Koukounaries beach, Skiathos, Greece.

Best Greek islands for sun, sea and sand

Crete – Lipsi – Kefallonia – Skiathos – Mykonos

Almost every Greek isle has great beaches, but few come with a Venetian castle, like laid-back Frangokastello Beach in southern Crete . For lapping turquoise waters, try Platys Gialos on quiet Lipsi – its gradual slope into the water makes it very child friendly. And there are few beaches more stunning than the cove at Myrtos Beach in Kefallonia  – it's renowned amongst locals and visitors alike. 

To see and be seen, take your pick from one of Skiathos’  65 beaches. Find your own perfect spot amidst the crowds at 1200m-long Koukounaries Beach or get an all-over tan on nudist-friendly Big Banana and Little Banana Beaches – both are hugely popular with the LGBTIQ+ community. If your favorite beach party is the one that never stops, then you can't leave without visiting Paradise and Super Paradise beaches on decadent Mykonos .

A woman dives into the clear blue sea in the Cyclades islands

Best Greek islands for diving and snorkeling

Crete – Milos – Paros – Santorini

Much of Crete's coastline is a paradise for snorkeling and diving, but the sunken city of Olous near Elounda is a spectacular and relatively easy dive.  Milos has phenomenal diving face-to-face with deep-sea fish, dolphins and even monk seals.

Snorkeling is great on Paros and picturesque Santorini is renowned for the high visibility in its waters, as well as reefs teeming with life and several old shipwrecks to explore.

The ancient city walls in Rhodes' Old Town

Best Greek islands for ancient ruins, myths and legends

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 the gods and explore mosaic-rich ancient dwellings. Overnight stays are forbidden, so keep a tight eye on the weather-dependent boat schedules.

After the peace and quiet of Delos, throw yourself into the bustle of  Corfu’s  Old Town and its warren of narrow streets full of lively bars, shops and restaurants. The Old Town is bookended by two fortresses that were originally built to protect the islanders from Ottoman sieges. On ethereal Patmos, visit the Monastery of St John the Theologian, and see the grotto where the saint received his apocalyptic visions and wrote the Book of Revelations .

Tourists hike through Samaria Gorge in central Crete

Best Greek islands for hiking and cycling

Crete – Naxos – Evia – Thasos

The varied terrain on Greece’s biggest island, Crete, ranges from gentle plateaus dotted with windmills to canyons and mountains. Hiking the Samaria Gorge , Europe’s longest at 16km (10miles), takes you through the homeland of Crete’s famed wild goat, the kri-kri. 

Fertile Naxos boasts numerous hikes along the old paths connecting the villages of the central plain – these traverse ancient temples, Hellenistic towers and Byzantine churches and are a great option for those in search of a gentler outdoor adventure. Maps detailing a variety of walks and hikes are available to buy in local shops.

The quiet meandering roads of  Evia make for blissfully stress-free cycling and you can stretch out at a local vineyard after a day of graft. Excellent forested trails (and a popular international race) bring mountain biking aficionados to Thasos . Both islands are under the radar of most visitors and you can look forward to having beautiful beaches all to yourself when you need a rest from the road.

Entrance to Kerkyra fortress, Corfu town, Greece

Best Greek islands for families with kids

Naxos – Corfu  – Crete

Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and packs a lot of bang for its buck. The beaches are often quiet and have lots of activities like kite-surfing and paddle-boarding on offer. Restaurants are incredibly child friendly – you'll be welcomed to the table like long-lost family.

The old town of Corfu is a beautiful place to explore with kids and even has a miniature wooden train that runs hourly sightseeing trips – perfect for when little legs get tired. Aqualand Corfu Water Park is one of the biggest attractions in Greece for kids and is definitely worth making time to visit.

The size of Crete means you'll never run out of activities for the kids. The pink sand on Elafonissi beach in Chania will charm everyone and the shallow water in the lagoon on the western side of the beach is perfect for toddlers and young swimmers. East along the coast lies the spectacular Palace of Knossos , an unmissable historical attraction that envelopes visitors in ancient Minoan culture. Get there early to avoid the crowds.

Lobster and vegetables in typical greek taverna, Crete

Best Greek island for food and drink

Lesvos – Samos – Folegandros – Crete – Corfu

Lesvos is renowned for its olive oil and ouzo (it produces some 70% of all Greek ouzo). The national aperitif is served with mixed mezedhes (appetizers) at traditional ouzeries (ouzo restaurants), which blend the island’s old Turkish influences with Greek seafood specialities. Lesvos produces fine wine, as does Samos , famed for its sweet muscat dessert wine. 

The Cycladic specialities of  Folegandros  include matsata (pasta with rabbit/chicken in red sauce), astakomakaronada (lobster with spaghetti) and liokafto (sun-dried fish). Crete is famous for its olive oil and dishes like dakos (rusks topped with tomato, olive oil and cheese) and myzithra (sweet cheese, used in pastries). Horta (wild greens) provide seasoning for fish or roast lamb. Like other Ionian islands, Corfu was never successfully invaded by the Ottoman empire, and its cuisine remains Italian-flavored.

This article was first published in June 2011.

You may also like: Everything you need to know about island-hopping in Greece Unique flavors to savor when in Greece How to get around in Greece

This article was first published September 2015 and updated September 2021

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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

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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

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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!

Tailor-made trips for   Greece

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

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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

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

21 Best Greek Islands to Visit In 2024

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

Updated On: March 14, 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.

Best Greek Islands Corfu

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

Best Greek Islands Corfu city

  • 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.

Best Greek Islands Crete

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.

Greek Islands Knossos Crete

  • 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

Top Greek Islands Naxos

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)

Best Greek Islands Zakynthos

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.

Best Greek Islands Zante Shipwreck

  • 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

Best Greek Islands 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.

Greek Islands Skopelos Streets

  • 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

Best Greek Islands 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.

Best Greek Islands Santorini Sunset Oia

  • 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.

Best Greek Islands to Visit Lefkada

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.

Best Greek Islands Thassos

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

Top Greek Islands 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

Best Greek Islands 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.

Greek Islands Skiathos Old Town

  • 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

Best Greek Islands 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

Best Greek Islands 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.

Greek islands Mykonos Little Venice

  • 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.

Best Greek Islands Rhodes

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.

Islands in Greece 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.

Best Islands in Greece Evia

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

Best Islands in Greece 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.

Best Greek Islands Milos

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.

Best Greek Islands Syros

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.

Best Greek Islands Symi

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

Best Greek Islands 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

Best Islands in Greece 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.

Best Greek Islands Paxos

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

Top Greek Islands

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.

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The Best Greek Islands to visit this Summer

Updated: January 5, 2023

Greece , Europe

written by: Steph Kloeckener

The Greek islands are a dream combination of turquoise waters, picturesque villages and amazing food. Discover the best Greek islands and plan your island dream.

It is no secret, that the Greek Islands are amazing. After all, they are perfect combinations of natural beauty with sand and pebble beaches and crystal-clear water in dreamlike shades of blue and green. And of course, there is also the stunning architecture that ranges from picturesque white villages to old monasteries and ruins with a rich history like the Minoan palace of Knossos. And let’s not forget the stunning sunsets you get to see while exploring the islands of Greece or the opportunity to indulge in Greek food.

Exploring the Greek islands is a unique experience that makes you feel like you somehow stumbled into ‘Mamma Mia’. And every single island has its own charm, so you should add island hopping in Greece to your bucket list. Be sure to rent a small motorboat and explore the waters just off the coast or go on a catamaran cruise to explore more remote locations. You are bound to stumble upon beaches that are more amazing than your wildest imagination. After all, there are around 7500 kilometers of coastline on the Greek islands, so you are bound to find the beach of your dreams.

My own love story with the Greek islands had a rather unexpected start. While the country had been on my top 10 travel list for more than a decade, I did not make it there until I somehow ended up planning a girls trip with strangers.

I flew to Corfu and was blown away by the nature, the architecture, the people, and of course the amazing Greek food. I fell in love with the country, and it should not surprise you, that I cannot wait to explore all islands and islets on this list that I have yet to explore and many more.

Map of the Best Greek Islands to visit

Table of Contents

The Amazing Greek Islands

It is hard to say how many Greek islands there are, as estimates vary a lot. However, there are at least 1200 bigger islands and according to some estimates even five times as many if you choose to include the smallest islets. Of these, only 227 are inhabited.

Based on their location, the islands are split into groups. Hereby, the most popular island group is the Cyclades which include Mykonos and Santorini. Other Greek island groups are the Argo-Saronic Islands, the North Aegean Islands, the Dodecanese Islands, the Sporades, and the Ionian Islands. Only the biggest Greek island, Crete, and Evia are not part of an island group.

With their Mediterranean climate, the Greek islands have hot and dry summers. And while mainland Greece tends to have cold winters that cover the landscape in snow, the islands typically have mild winters.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through a link. Please see the full disclosure for further information.

The Cyclades

Everyone knows the popular Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos, or Crete, but hardly anyone has ever heard of Tinos. Tinos is an underrated yet beautiful island between the two Cycladic islands Andros and Mykonos. Even though it offers stunning landscapes, picturesque villages, and serene beaches, it is a non-touristy and quiet island.

The best & easiest way to get there is by ferry from Athens which is a 3-hour ride. Optionally, you can also fly to the popular neighbor island Mykonos and take the ferry from there.

Numerous rocky or sandy beaches are perfect if you want to have a relaxing day. If you prefer to experience the local life, head to some of the many villages on the island.

One of the largest and definitely one of the most beautiful ones is Pyrgos, also called Panormos, in the northern part of the island. The village is a real arts center, being the home place of many famous Greek artists. Marble workshops, galleries, and the School of Fine Arts are only a few of the many activities Pyrgos has to offer.

Another very typical thing of Tinos is the great number of dovecotes located all over the island. These white buildings with geometrical patterns can be found on a few other Cyclades islands but neither of them has as many as Tinos.

If you visit Tinos Town, make your way to the restaurant called To Koutouki tis Elenis that offers typical Greek cuisine. The grilled aubergines are seriously to die for!

White houses in Tinos

Where to stay

Just a short 5-minute drive from Tinos Town is the hotel called Big Blue Tinos which is – thanks to its great location, amazing pool, and fantastic service – the perfect place to stay on the island. Plus you’ll have the chance to experience an epic sunset every day!

Explored by Lina from World of Lina

There are numerous islands in Greece, making it the perfect spot if you’re looking to hop islands and spend a while doing this. One of the best Greek islands where you can have a good time and spend a few days in  Mykonos . 

Located about 45 minutes away by ferry from Santorini, Mykonos is the perfect island if you’re into partying; however, that does not imply it isn’t for families or couples. You could also directly fly to Mykonos as there are numerous direct flights here from most European cities , especially in summer. 

Windmills of Mykonos

There is a lot to do here for all types of travelers. The Chora windmills are very picturesque and instagrammable. Paraportiani Church is located a quick 2-minute walk away and has been seen in many movies too. 

The streets here make for a great walk around, and the shops sell many souvenirs and light clothing. Restaurants here have some of the best local food, and the Greek salads are worth trying.

Little Venice is the most popular spot here and is one of the best for sunsets. Ornos beach is great for multi-generational families. 

For those who also like history, architecture, and culture, the island of Delos, considered the location where the Greek God Apollo was born, is an hour away or so by ferry and can be visited while here too. Alternatively, you can book a yacht cruise to Delos .

Where to stay in Mykonos

Petasos Beach Resort and Spa and Cavo Tagoo are two hotels worth a stay in Mykonos. 

Recommended by Lavina from Continent Hop

3. Santorini

When you think of Greek islands, Santorini is sure to come to mind – and rightfully so, Santorini has earned its spot as one of the best Greek islands to visit! With its whitewashed villages, the caldera located against the incredibly beautiful sea, and amazing Greek food, Santorini does not disappoint.

The best way to explore the island is to rent a car and take in the charming towns and villages, the beaches, and the historical sites. The towns of Fira & Oia are the quintessential Greek villages that you see on postcards & travel brochures. Cobblestoned streets lined with whitewashed buildings and lovely small shops will entice you to spend entire days here.

Enjoy the gorgeous Aegean sea around this Greek island & the majestic Caldera through boat tours or take a dip at one of its beaches. Red Beach and Amoudi Bay are perfect to enjoy the crystal clear waters.

One of the best things to do in Santorini is to hike the caldera path from Fira to Oia – an absolutely incredible walk with spectacular views of the island and the sea – and then enjoy the sunset at Oia.

Cliff of Santorini

Santorini is one of those Greek islands which is the easiest to visit – it has an international airport with good connectivity to most European cities. You could also take a ferry from Athens.

Where to stay in Santorini

During your visit to Santorini, base yourself at the towns of Fira, Firostefani, or Imerovigli – these are quite centrally located and have bus connections to other parts of the island.  Santorini Princess Spa Hotel in Imerovigli and Galini Hotel in Firostefani are both excellent choices – these are cave hotels with incredible views over the sea and wonderful service.

Island explored by Smita from My Faulty Compass

One of the best Greek islands to visit this summer is Milos. Milos is an island that is part of the Cyclades island group. This means that there are many other great islands near the island as well, such as Santorini and Paros, which makes it possible to combine a visit to several of them!

A visit to the island of Milos is a great experience. Going here allows you to better experience local life on a Greek island, in comparison to many other Greek islands, such as Santorini. That’s because fewer tourists visit the island and thus it is much more authentic! There are many things to do on the island of Milos. You can see the highlights during  one day in Milos , but more time on the island is great as well!

One of these is going to the fishing village of Klima. This is a very small village where you can find a lot of colorful houses next to the sea. Another one of the best things to do on the island is to visit Sarakiniko Beach. This is an incredible beach that is very unique. At the beach, you find a lot of volcanic stone that has a white color. Moreover, this stone has a shape that is very lunar-like! It got its shape from the wind and water, and you should definitely see it when going to Milos.

Furthermore, exploring Plaka is another thing you can do on the island. This is the capital of Milos! You find here lots of small Greek houses that look very picturesque. This makes it a wonderful place to go for a stroll!

Getting to the island of Milos is very easy and you can do so by ferry or by airplane from several places in Greece.

Milos

Panorama Hotel

Island explored by Dymphe from Dymabroad

There’s something magical about going off the beaten path, which is why Paros is one of the best islands to visit in Greece!  Paros is a small island in the Aegean Sea. It’s known for its beaches, traditional villages, and one of the oldest churches in the country. It’s also a great place to party the night away. Spending 3-4 days in Paros will allow you to explore the island’s beauty at a leisurely pace with enough time to chill on the beaches as well!

September is probably one of the best times to visit. The weather is still hot and the tourist crowds have left Paros (and Greece). The prices will also be lower than during the high-season. Getting around the island is easy if you’re using public transportation – You have the bus and  water taxis that hop around the beaches, attractions and ports.

While on the island, there are a ton of different beaches where you can either chill or party. Take a stroll through Naoussa, a port village, with tons of amazing restaurants to choose from, cute shops, and alleys to get lost in.

Beach of Paros

Also, be sure to check out Lefkes, a traditional village on top of the hill, at the center of Paros. And make sure you end each day with a sunset. The show the sky puts on in Paros is one of the best we’ve seen in the world! A great spot to view one is right by Piperi beach. 

The best way to get to the island is by taking a ferry from Athens, Naxos, or Santorini, which are the closest ports. The ferry will drop you off in Parikia. If you’re looking to party, pick accommodations in Parikia, where you just landed with the ferry. If you want a more relaxing stay, we recommend the Naoussa area. Either way, you will find something for every budget. 

Suggested by Carine from We did it our way

Andros Island lies close to Athens and as it has no airport, visitors need to catch the ferry from Rafina, which takes just two hours.  Andros is the most northern of the Cyclades Islands and unlike the others, it is fertile with lush vegetation. It is well known for its spectacular sunsets best seen on its western coast.

The island is a wonderful mixture of mountains, beaches, and charming villages and is ideal for hikers with 18 hiking trails – 100 km of paths.  There is the Dipotama Gorge and the monasteries of Agios Nikolaos and Agios Panachrantos to explore and Aghia Marina contains a famous icon of the Virgin Mary. Additionally, there are numerous little villages including Sireti with its windmills and Apikia with the Sariza spring, which provides the island’s famous mineral water.

House on rock on Andros Island in Greece

Chora is the charming main town which is located on a narrow inlet with neoclassical mansions with red-tiled roofs. The mansions were once owned by wealthy Greek Shipowners. There is the Maritime Museum tracing the island’s rich maritime heritage and Kairis Library with its impressive collection of manuscripts and rare publications. There are the ruins of the Venetian castle and numerous winding streets for wandering.

Andros has many beautiful sandy beaches  with crystal clear waters including some with tavernas. Korthi beach is well known for its windsurfing competitions. There are the island foods to try which include Doppio – the local cheese, Froutalia omelet, and kaltsounia and amygdalota – two irresistible sweets made with crushed nuts.  

Where to stay in Andros

A great place to stay is Blue Era Apartments at the seaside resort of Batsi.

Explored by Chrysoula from Greece Travel Ideas

The island of Naxos, found in the heart of the Aegean Sea, is sought-after for its striking beaches, warm waters, interesting history, and archeological ruins. It is the largest of the Cyclades and offers a host of things to do and sights to see.

Naxos

Top attractions include Mikro Vigla, Ano Koufonisi, the Temple of Demeter, and the Archeological Museum of Naxos. Don’t miss a chance to explore the Apollo Temple and the streets of the Old Town.

Blessed with good weather and beaches to match, beach hopping is a popular activity. The best ones to visit are Agios Prokopios, Plaka Beach, and Cedar Forest of Alyko. Must-try meals include kokoras me makaronia, melachrino, and kouneli riganato.

Because the island is so large, it is recommended to spend at least a couple of days here to really experience it all. Fortunately, this cheap island to visit is easily reached by direct flight from Athens by ferry from the port of Piraeus. It is also well connected to the adjacent islands. Offering a unique mix of island life, beach culture, and ancient ruins, Naxos has it all and should not be missed. 

Explored by Rai from A Rai of Light

Ionian Islands

Corfu is located in the Ionian Sea and is one of the best Greek islands. It offers a large variety of amazing things to see and do. There are monasteries and the old Town of Corfu which is a UNESCO world heritage site and stunning natural sights. And if you want to party, the south of the island is perfect for you. All in all, Corfu is a great destination for a girls trip as this island has it all. Surprisingly, the daily costs in Corfu are lower than on other Greek Islands, so you can get a luxurious vacation for less.

This amazing island in Greece has turquoise water and a lot of beaches and coves. Hereby, the best beaches of Corfu are Bararia Beach in Kassiopi, Canal d’Amour Beach in Sidari, Loggas Beach in Peroulades, Porto Timoni Beach, Agios Spiridon Beach in Palaiokastritsa and Rovina Beach in Liapades.

If you want a break from the beaches, you can explore the mountainous area in the center of the island. Alternatively, you can also explore Corfu Old Town with its historic buildings like the Old and the New Venetian Fortress or the Achilleion.

If you want amazing food in Corfu, Thymari in Corfu Old Town is amazing. The outside sitting area of the restaurant is situated on the stairs of a plaza and the atmosphere there only enhances the already amazing food. And if you dream of sipping cocktails while enjoying an incredible view, you should head to Paleokastrites where you will find the Golden Fox and the Bellavista restaurants.

The best time to visit Corfu is from June to September. You can fly into Corfu International Airport or take the ferry from the mainland. There are several ferries per day.

Where to stay in Corfu

It is best to split your trip between two accommodations in different parts of the island if you want to make the most of your trip. Spend a few days in Corfu Old Town in a studio, like the beautiful  Kâmara Old Town Studios , and then head towards the northern beaches. The best hotels for a beachside stay are in Sidari , Kassiopi and Paleokastritsa .

Cape Drastis in Corfu, which happens to be one of the best islands in Greece

9. Zakynthos

Zakynthos is a Greek Island within the stunning turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea. Also known as Zante, this island is most famous for its iconic Shipwreck Beach (Navagio) and the surrounding white cliffs and blue lagoons. A trip to Zakynthos would not be complete without a boat trip to this beautiful beach. White sands and the crystal-clear bright blue ocean are enough to draw you in on their own. However, the humongous shipwreck certainly makes a unique photo opportunity.

As Zakynthos is an Island, there are several different beaches you can explore. Banana beach is a must as it has soft sand and various beach bars and facilities to enjoy while you relax.

However, if you’re looking for a beautiful sunset, then head to the top of the mountains. The Garden, Argassi is a brilliant location to see the sunset from. The décor is absolutely fabulous, and the view is just as spectacular. Drink a glass of wine and enjoy tapas as you watch the sunset over the beach and ocean below.  

Sunset over Zakynthos

If you’re looking to  explore Zante Zakynthos  then it would be best to rent a car. You can pick one up easily at the international airport and be on your way in no time. Laganas is the most popular area of ‘Zante’ and this district is known for its nightlife and party scene.

If you choose to stay in the area of Laganas but don’t want to be too close to the strip, you should stay at Litore Luxury Living hotel. It is clean, modern, and within walking distance. You feel as though you could easily be somewhere else.

Otherwise, consider staying near Dafni beach. If you are lucky enough, you might see sea turtles lay their eggs!

Recommended by Kerry Hanson from VeggTravel  

Other Greek Islands

If you are open to visiting the islands around Greece then consider one of the largest in the Cyclades at Crete. Crete has so much history, gorgeous beaches, old cities, and stunning landscape to visit around the island that it is worth a relatively short flight from the international airport at Athens to get to Crete.

Crete

For outdoor lovers, there are plenty of beach scenes, outdoor hiking and visiting Unesco sites around the island and even taking some wonderful road trips around the island to discover.

You should consider basing yourself around Unesco town of Chania with so many options for inns, hotels, and Air Bnb accommodations, and walking around the historic district is easy enough to enjoy the harbor and old town city without a car. 

Outside of visiting historic Chania you can visit so many amazing places that are historic, gorgeous landscapes and road trips and other unique only in Crete venues including:

Knossos – the historic Minoan palace with amazing ruins that have been partially restored

Heraklion – explore the bustling port city and unique architecture, food, and attractions in the city

The old town of  Rethymno – explore the cool alleyways, streets, and markets in the historic old district

Imbrose Gorge – beautiful hiking trail, gorgeous vistas, and a sleepy village to explore in this fun outdoor hiking venue You’ll find so many unique and wonderful things to do and explore around the island and Crete shines with so much history, amazing local foods, and wines and beautiful landscapes and beaches that really are special and unique to experience.

Suggested by Noel Morata from Oahu Travel Now

Dodecanese Islands

Rhodes is one of the great Greek islands to visit. One of its particular strengths is its wonderfully diverse landscape. You can go here from deep forests to spectacular mountains and with a really beautiful coastline.

There is so much history in Rhodes too and one of the great places to visit is Lindos Acropolis which sits high on top of the clifftops. It’s a great place for a wander with inscribed tablets and fallen pillars dotted across the site.

It is worth visiting the town of Lindos, far below too, which is full of the sweetest whitewashed houses.

cat in front of ruins in Rhodes

Don’t miss a chance to visit Rhodes Town too which exudes Medieval charm. Stroll through the cobbled streets with buildings that look like they’re out of a film set. Rhodes is ideal for outdoor pursuits too with kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and surfing being perfect activities on this island.

The best way to get to Rhodes is to fly in. You can get a combination of ferries across from Athens but it’s a fairly long trek. Ladiko, while fairly small is a lovely beach as is Fourni Beach which is a great spot to watch the sunset from.

Where to stay in Rhodes

There are some fantastic places to stay in Rhodes. If you’re taking a Rhodes family holiday then Levante Beach Resort is perfect. Otherwise, Mitsis La Vita Beach Hotel is a great choice.

Explored by Nicola from Family Hotel Expert

Kos is one of the Greek islands within the Aegean Sea. It is well known because it is settled just in front of Turkey, which makes it possible to also visit the gorgeous Turkish town of Bodrum. On the other hand, you’ll be able to additionally spend a day or two on Kos if are spending some time in Bodrum. The ferry presently costs about 20€.

Kos isn’t a small island which is why you can relax on the beach or hike through the beautiful mountains with no problems. If you would like to travel directly to Kos, you can use the island’s own airport. Make sure to check out this  Greece packing list  for additional helpful info and tips before leaving. After you arrive on Kos, these are our top three suggestions:

Kos

Visit the sunset in Zia and eat at a very special restaurant – One of the highlights is a visit to the mountain village of Zia. The village itself is incredibly popular with several souvenir stores and restaurants. However, all are very charming!

One among the upper restaurants includes a breathtakingly stunning terrace from where you will be able to admire one of the foremost beautiful sunsets in Greece.

Do some water activities at Marmari Beach – If you had to decide on one beach, you should go to Marmari Beach, but hopefully you’ll never be forced to decide on only 1 beach in Kos. The reason: Marmari Beach includes a attractive white sandy beach with beautiful blue water. The various activities there make it the perfect beach to spend the entire day.

Taste the Greek hospitality – If at all possible, eat outside of your hotel and you may even get lucky and be invited to a Greek family’s home. Keep in mind that a little gift is common in Greece. It is best to not eat beforehand. This is not solely because you will get a lot of food, but also because it is unbelievably delicious and you will certainly want to try as much as possible.

Kos Aktis Art Hotel – Here you’ll find rooms directly on the beachfront with a stunning view!

Recommended by x from x

Aegean Islands

13. Thassos

Thassos is one of the lesser-known Greek islands, somewhat of a hidden gem in the Northern Aegean Sea. However, it is very easy to access on a short ferry ride, from either Kavala or Keramoti on the mainland. 

As opposed to most Greek islands, Thassos is a green one, with lush vegetation. The best about  Thassos island  is that it is very diverse. You can spend your time relaxing on the best beaches, but also hiking in the forests to find a waterfall, exploring the traditional villages or the ancient ruins in Limenas or Aliki for example.

Rent a scooter or a bike and start exploring. Theologos and Panagia are two beautiful villages, where time stood still. Stop in Theologos for lunch and try the famous roasted lamb, a local specialty.

You can rent your equipment and try kayaking or other watersports at Golden Beach, Skala Rachoni Beach in the north, or Pefkari or Potos Beach in the southern part of the island. Some other beautiful beaches are Paradise Beach or Marble Beach. And if you’re looking for a spectacular place to take a dip in, go to Giola lagoon, a gorgeous natural pool in southern Thassos.

coast of Thasos in Greece

You can also spend a perfect day if you rent a small boat and explore the coastline in search of the most beautiful bay on the island. From the southern part of Thassos, you will see beautiful sunsets with Mount Athos in the background.

Where to stay on Thassos

Villa Teresa Luxury Suites and Akti Belvedere Color & Essence are amazing accommodations.

Suggested by Anda from Travel for a while

Saronic Islands

Aegina belongs to the Argo-Saronic group of Greek islands. Ferries and speed boats to Aegina depart multiple times a day from Piraeus and reach the island within one hour, more or less. It is an island that is famous for its pistachios. They are considered among the best in the world and late August or early September is the right time to visit Aegina if you want to taste fresh pistachios.

Among the must-see  highlights of Aegina Island  there are the Temple of Aphaia, the Archeological Site of Kolona, the Agios Nektarios Monastery, and the Tower of Markellos. As the island is small, one or two days are enough to cover all these.

Cliffs of Aegina in Greece

Aegina isn’t one of those Greek islands that are famous for their beaches. Nevertheless, it has some good ones. Marathonas beach is probably the best. Also, the beach on Moni, an islet you can reach by water taxi, is perfect for spending one day in nature, sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and even hiking.

The best sunset spot on Aegina is the coastline between Aegina Town and Souvala. Marathonas Beach is another great spot to enjoy some amazing sunsets.

Where to stay on Aegina

Danae Hotel   is one of the best mid-price accommodation options on Aegina. Conveniently located on the coastal road at about 10 minutes walk from the center of Aegina Town, this hotel is the ideal place to stay if you want to enjoy the promenade and the restaurants in the city center without the need for hiring a car.

Those who prefer luxury accommodation may be better off at  Lalibay Resort and Spa , the newest resort on the island, with a private beach area and a very beautiful garden. 

Explored by Violeta from Offbeat Greece

Planning a trip?

Check out these useful websites and resources I use to plan my own adventures.

Wanderlust edited

Which Greek Island will you visit this summer?

Every single island is great, but which one is the best Greek island for you? Has it already been on your travel bucket list for a while or did you add further islands to the list after reading this list?

More about Greek Islands

If you are making plans for your next Greece trip, these travel guides might be useful to you: Corfu Travel Budget Corfu Images

Which Greek island is your Favorite One?

Let me know in the comments down below!

Still not sure which island in Greece is your next destination? Pin this post for later!

4 images of Greek Islands that show white houses with flowers, a cliff and a harbor.

I am the founder of A Nomad's Passport and a solo traveling digital nomad, photographer, and writer. Originally from Germany, I have lived in several countries including Australia & Mexico.

As an outdoor lover and culture enthusiast, I love writing about all forms of adventure travel ranging from outdoor activities like scuba diving and hiking to cultural experiences, alongside road trips and itineraries that combine these elements.

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Search your next destination..., ☞ 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.

Canal-d’-Amour-what-to-do-in-corfu

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 throughout recent years.

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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

Kastro-castle-naxos

Saronic: All of them

Cyclades: Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Syros

Eptanisa: Corfu, Kefalonia

  • 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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

naoussa-paros-evening

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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

Ikaria-Armenistis-village

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 .

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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!

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

greece women fresco Crete

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.

Agios-prokopios-beach-naxos

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.

greek islands best ones to visit

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.

mandrakia-milos

Cyclades: Santorini, Mykonos, Milos

Eptanisa: Kefalonia, 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.

*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 islands best ones to visit

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greek islands best ones to visit

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 islands best ones to 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 islands best ones to 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 islands best ones to 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.

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The Best Greek Islands To Visit: An Honest Guide to Help Find Your Dream Destination!

G reece is one of our favourite places in the world and no wonder. This country is packed with culture, history, stunning scenery, incredible cuisine and some of Europe’s best beaches.

So if you’re thinking about choosing Greece as your next vacation destination, all we can say is good choice!

We know this country well, and can help you choose which is the best island in Greece for you.Whether you’re wanting t o kn ow what is the best Greek island for beaches, couple-time, nightlife and more, we’ve got the best choices below.

So read on to begin your Greek island adventure!

Stunning views of Kalyves bay and beach. Beautiful Crete island, Creece

The Best Islands In Greece For Your Dream Vacation

After enjoying the is lands in Greece for years, we’ve decided t o share our th oughts on the best Greek islands with y ou!

First we look at the best is lands in Greece f or beaches, f o l l owed by the best is lands f or c oup les, then night life, and fina l ly f or scuba diving and sn orke ling.

Recommended: The Beaches In Greece With The Bluest & Clearest Water

The 4 Best Greek Islands For Beaches

Greece is frequently ranked inside the world’s top five most beautiful destinations and one of the reasons are the wonderful beaches here.

It’s the islands in Greece that have the most mesmerizing beaches, and it’s the beaches that are one of the main reasons tourists keep returning t o here again and again.

So, what are the best Greek islands for beaches? Here’s our top four choices!

Mykonos is a Greek masterpiece of nature, and there’s no doubt in our mind that it’s up there as one of the best Greek island for beaches.

The beaches here are pristine and the water is warm, clear and perfect for swimming. But Mykonos is a ls o a fun island where there’s plenty of beach bars and restaurants to enjoy too.

In fact that’s what we like most about this island. You can still find beaches in Mykonos that are hidden away and private, but if you want to have some beach fun at night or sunbathe with a few cocktails, then you can a ls o find beaches here that cater to that too.

Paradise Beach and Super Paradise Beach are lovely stretches of sand that are energetic thanks to the many beach bars and nightclubs here. In fact Paradise Beach Club is regularly voted as one of the best nightclubs in the world!

Away from the bright lights and beer y ou can find much calmer beaches – like Elia Beach . This is the longest beach in Mykonos and the stunning stretch of sand is pristine, the water a striking crystal turquoise colour, and the backdrop of cliffs picture perfect. It’s romantic and perfect for sunset strolls. (Related: Hiking in Mykonos ).

Some must-visit beaches on Mykonos:

  • Agio Stefanos
  • Paradise Beach
  • Super Paradise Beach

Aerial view to the famous celebrity beach of Psarou on the island of Mykonos, Cyclades, Greece

2. Zante (Zakynthos)

Zante has been a summer holiday destination for decades, and while its popularity has waned in recent years as tourists head elsewhere, the beaches here are some of the best in Greece.

One of the most famous and prettiest beaches in Greece is on this island. That’s Shipwreck Bay (Navagio Bay) which is an astounding inlet with pristine white sand and gorgeous turquoise water, all of which is hemmed in by huge dramatic white cliffs.

The beach has its name due to a shipwreck on the shore, and is now one of the most photographed beaches in the world.

Off the coast of Zante and you’ll find the tiny island of Marathon . This islet has a beach that juts out into the sea and is surrounded on all sides by spectacular hues of blue. It’s a fantastic swimming and diving spot.

For nature lovers spend a day at Paralia Laganas – a popular beach for spotting loggerhead turtles.

Because Zante has many resorts you’ll also find several beaches with all the facilities you’d need. From classy beachside bars to cheap takeaway joints, as well as sun loungers and umbrellas to rent. Head to Planos for resort-like beaches and nearby activities like a waterpark.

For us, Zante is easily one of the best islands in Greece.

Some must-visit beaches on Zante:

  • Shipwreck Bay
  • Paralia Laganas
  • Agios Sostis
  • Agios Nikolaos

Zante beach

Pretty Naxos and Paros sit right beside each other in the Aegean Sea and are considered twin islands. Both are well worth visiting, but we believe the beaches in Naxos are some of the best throughout Greece.

This small island has 15 beaches and so many long stretches of sand, and as one of the lesser known Greek islands, many of those beaches are much quieter than other islands in the Aegean.

If visiting Nax os expect crystal clear water, white sand beaches, warm shallow water perfect for swimming, and some stunning backdrops. Head to Mikri Vigla for one of the best swimming beaches and a laid-back vibe.

Agios Prokopios is the most famous and popular beach on Nax os, but for a reason. This award-winning stretch of sand is regarded by many as the beach beach in Greece. It has plenty of restaurants and bars nearby, as well as sunbeds and umbrellas to rent.

Some must-visit beaches on Naxos:

  • Mikri Vigla
  • Agios Prokopios

Beautiful coastline on greek island Naxos

If you’re happy with the idea of 15 beaches on Naxos, you’ll be over the moon with the 57 that exist on Corfu !

That number is enormous, and as a result the beaches here are varied and diverse. Which is exactly why Corfu is one of the best Greek islands for beaches.

Expect busy beaches packed with restaurants and bars, as well beaches set against g orge ous mountain backdrops.

In the west coast you will find sandy beaches that stretch for miles, whilst the east coast has pebble beaches that are exceptionally pretty. The village of Paleokastritsa on the northwest coast is a must visit for the quaint feel, family-owned tavernas, and six sandy beaches set against ancient olive groves.

Head to Rovina Beach with its pretty white pebbles for seclusion surrounded by olive groves and sea cliffs, as we l l as some of the best water for swimming in Corfu.

Corfu’s Limni Beach Glyko may be one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece – this double beach is flanked on either side by a bay with a sea colour palette of different blues.

Some must-visit beaches on Corfu:

  • Paleokastritsa
  • Limni Beach Glyko
  • Agios Gordis
  • Mirtiotissa
  • Agios Stephanos

Corfu sea view

The 3 Best Greek Islands For Couples

Simply put Greece is a romantic place. The islands are romantic, beautiful, and each has its own unique quirks.

If you’re looking for a perfect honeymoon, or just a romantic escape with the love of your life, then you won’t be disappointed. (Related: The Best Greek Islands for Couples ).

Here’s our t op three Greek islands f or c oup les.

You might not have heard of Milos, but this little Cycladic paradise is definitely one of the best Greek islands for c oup les and romantic escapes.

As it’s a small island, Milos feels intimate and remote, but it’s also easy to explore in just a few days. It’s definitely one of the most underrated and unknown Greek islands but the beauty of Milos will make you want to come back again and again.

One of the most famous remnants of Ancient Greece, the Venus de Milo (now in the Louvre) was found here in Milos t o o. The statue depicts Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

The island remains fit for a goddess of love, with the villages and towns feeling cozy, intimate and picture postcard perfect.

As for the beaches, they feel secluded and many have several small coves and bays. That means there’s plenty of places where you can relax in the turquoise water but in your own private seaside pool or bay. Sarakiniko Beach is a perfect example.

If you’re traveling to Milos, here’s some of the best activities for couples:

  • Sarakiniko Beach : The incredible white volcanic rock here has made natural private swimming pools where you can bathe in crystal clear turquoise water.
  • Take a boat tour to Kleftiko and swim in the pretty caves.
  • Tour the quaint fishing village of Mantarkia .
  • Grab an ouzo and watch the world go by.
  • Take in the sunset from Kastro – the highest spot in Milos’ capital of Plaka. It’s the most romantic view you could ask for.
  • Enjoy a night of live music and cocktails at Akri Bar.

Scenic Klima village (traditional Greek village by the sea, the Cycladic-style) with sirmata - traditional fishermen's houses, Milos island, Cyclades, Greece.

Crete is one of Greece’s best honeymoon destinations thanks to a fantastic array of luxury hotels, long stretches of soft sand, and the opportunity to stroll hand-in-hand down cobblestone streets in ancient towns.

There are three main towns in Crete . The first one is Heraklion , which has more of a city feel. The other two are Chania and Rethymnon .

All have their own unique charm, but Chania with its 14th-century Venetian harbor, waterside bars and cafes, and views out towards the Mediterranean, always catches our attention.

The Chania region also has some of the best beaches in Crete so it’s a good place to be based.

However what we really love about Crete is not only does it have that romantic feel, but it also has so much of offer for couples that are looking for more than just sunbathing and swimming.

This island has some breathtaking hiking routes, some of the oldest and best preserved ancient buildings throughout Greece, and plenty of vineyards to explore and wine tasting t ours. (Related: Hiking in Crete ).

Simply put, this island has become one of the best honeymoon spots in the world because of its breathtaking landscapes, clear water, stunning architecture, hiking trails and beautiful beaches with secret coves and caves.

If you decide to stay in Crete, here are a few of our favourite romantic things to do:

  • Watch a movie under the sky at Asteria Open Air Cinema .
  • Discover the magical Balos Beach and Balos Lagoon . In our opinion the water colours here are the best in Greece.
  • Spend a romantic evening at Elafonisi Beach which is one of the world’s best pink sand beaches.
  •  Join a wine tasting tour and get tipsy with the one you love!

Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque town in the eastern part of the island Crete built on northwest side of the peaceful bay of Mirabello. Lake Vouliagmeni, Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece

3. Santorini

We just had to include Santorini? There’s a reason why this Greek island is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in Europe.

This famous volcanic island with its stunning caldera is picture perfect. The white-washed buildings that are perched on the steep volcanic cliffs of Santorini are one-of-a-kind. And they seem to glow softly when bathed in the tangerine sunsets that light up the sky and ocean here.

It’s a one-of-a-kind place, and one that you want to share with someone special.

Couple that incredible scenery with the wine tours you can do at Santorini vineyards, the luxurious resorts you can stay at with their romantic rooms and private swimming pools that look out towards the sea, and the exceptional food and restaurants where memorable dinners are the norm, and you have a recipe for romance. Sant orini easily makes our list of best Greek islands.

If you do decide to stay in Santorini, here’s a few of our favourite things for couples to do on the island:

  • Book a catamaran cruise or a private yacht.
  • Enjoy a cocktail at PK Bar while admiring the landscape of Fira .
  • Enjoy the sunset from Oia village while having dinner in the intimate Ambrosia Restaurant which has some of the best views on Santorini.
  • Go for an early morning walk on Red Beach .
  • Rent an ATV and have a fun island adventure with your partner.
  • Stay in one of the romantic cliffside cave houses.

A woman in a white dress stands by the swimming pool and enjoys the view over the illuminated village of Oia, Santorini island, Greece, during summer sunset time

The 2 Best Greek Islands For Nightlife

Greece has also become something of a nightlife destination in recent years, and it’s the islands that are leading the way!

If you’re looking for fun when the sun goes down then here are the best Greek islands for nightlife!

Greece’s most famous party destination is also breathtakingly beautiful, giving you the opportunity to dance the night away and then wallow in turquoise waters the next day.

Paradise Beach and Super Paradise Beach in Mykonos is the place to be, and home to nightclubs with huge dancefloors that host some of the world’s best DJs.

The atmosphere here in summer is electric and the party inside the clubs and on the beach continues well into the night and past sunrise.

This is Greece’s answer to Ibiza and you’ll find a similar crowd. Twenty-somethings looking to have some fun, party with friends and find a holiday romance. Expect bronzed bodies, the rich and famous, and one hell of a party vibe.

Some of the best nightlife spots in Mykonos

  • Scandinavian Bar
  • Queen of Mykonos
  • 180 Sunset Bar
  • Paradise Beach Club

Mykonos port with boats and windmills at evening, Cyclades islands, Greece

With Mykonos taking all the plaudits, Rhodes is often forgotten about when it comes to the Greek island party scene.

However Rhodes starts rockin’ the later in the evening it gets, and the popular bars and nightclubs don’t close until the sun begins to rise.

Rhodes Town is the main nightlife draw and its epicenter is Orfanidou Stree t in the Old Town, which is colloquially known by locals as ‘Bar Street’.

This narrow street is packed with over 40 pubs, bars and nightclubs and is the best place to party late, meet other revelers and make decisions you’ll later regret!

The pretty Rhodes seaside resort of Faliraki also has a lively evening scene with its own ‘Bar Street’ and ‘Club Street.’ These two streets tend to attract the 18-30 crowd who are looking to let loose! There’s many bars, live music joints, nightclubs and more.

However while Faliraki used to have a reputation as being quite wild, there’s a tamer side these days and you can find some classy cocktail bars and beachside restaurants here t o o.

Some of the best nightlife spots in Rhodes

  • Legends Rock Bar
  • Soho Rhodes
  • Big Brother Bar

Happy woman travels in Greece. Having fun at the stunning view on sea resort and old town of Lindos on the mountain

The 2 Best Greek Islands For Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

Are you a scuba diving or snorkeling enthusiast? Then a trip to Greece can also involve your favourite hobby too!

There’s some great spots to see marine life around the Greek islands. But here’s our top two Greek islands for diving and snorkeling!

1. Santorini

Santorini isn’t known as being a scuba diving spot, but this popular Greek island has an array of volcanic underwater sites and caves that have created a unique ecosystem that play host to rich and varied sealife.

The waters of Santorini are home to a variety of beautiful marine animals, including sea turtles, dolphins, whales and many monk seals.

There are over 30 dive sites around Santorini, but Nea Kameni, the small uninhabited volcanic island that sits off the coast of Santorini, is one of the best.

Expect to see Mediterranean red sea star, European perch, sea urchin, seahorse, scorpionfish, octopus, nudibranch and more while diving and snorkeling around Santorini and Nea Kameni.

Some other great scuba and snorkeling spots include House Reef, Kamari, Perissa Rock and White Islands.

Turtle looking to the camera, followed by some silver fish

Best for first-timers to scuba diving, the island of Lesvos has several spots to try diving. One of the best is Mirmigi Reef as the waters here are crystal clear so visibility is very good.

The depths at the reef range from 5 ft. to 118 ft. and diving here will give you the chance to spot fish such as octopus, moray eels, kalloni sardines, murmurer, and common pandora.

What time of the year is best for scuba diving in Greece islands?

The temperature in the Greek islands tends t o be warm, with summers around 21-27°C, while winter in the islands can range from around 7-15 °C depending on where you are.

However the fact remains that throughout the year temperatures are mild, making scuba diving and snorkeling possible in any month. The summer months – due to the slightly warmer sea temperatures – may be preferable though.

girl in snorkeling mask dive underwater with tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool.

The Final Word!

Pack your bags and get yourself prepared for a vacation of a lifetime!

Greece is one of the most beautiful nations in the world, and a country we find ourselves returning to again and again. The islands here are unique, beautiful and have so much on offer.

So whether you want to enjoy a moment of seclusion with your better half or you want to party the night away, there’s a Greek island that’s perfect for you.

And as we know for ourselves, once you find it, you’ll keep coming back for more.

Recommended For Your Trip To The Best Islands In Greece

greek islands best ones to visit

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April 23, 2019

The greek islands: how to choose which ones to visit.

One of the best greek islands to visit - Milos via @finduslost

Over the past few years we’ve traveled to a number of the islands. The white-washed facades and sunsets of Santorini and beaches reminiscent of the moon’s surface in Milos are two standouts. The best part about the Greek Islands is that there really is something for everyone — whether you’re after incredible Greek food, turquoise blue water and sandy beaches, picturesque towns, family-friendly activities or nightlife, or a combination of all of the above. Read on for my tips on how to choose the best Greek Island to visit and a breakdown of each one!

PRESET COLLECTION USED IN THIS BLOG POST: GREEK ISLANDS COLLECTION

Quick Tips for Visiting the Greek Islands — May and September is shoulder season – less crowds, cheaper hotels. We prefer September because the water is warmest and the winds have died down. Flights and ferries are best to get to the islands – book everything in advance, but know that weather can also delay and cancel transport. Car, motorbike and ATV is the preferred mode of transport – you’ll have the freedom to explore more with an ATV or motorbike rental. Book in advance. — Resources Search Ferries in Greece   |  Search Flights in Greece

One of the best greek islands to visit - Santorini via @finduslost

Left: Our Airbnb in Oia, Santorini (listing here ); Right: postcard perfect views near the Byzantine Castle Ruins. This photo is available as a print here .

The most quintessential, romantic Greek Island of Santorini is known for picturesque views of white-washed facades and blue domes; perfect for those who want good food, unique hotels, cobblestone streets, shopping, and plenty to explore.

Best for: romance, trendy hotels, picture-perfect views.

Not good for: beaches and crowds. Santorini may have crystal-clear water, but most of the beaches on the island are rocky or overcrowded. Consider Milos if you’re after amazing Greek beaches.

Where I’ve stayed: My stay in a Greek cave house in Santorini is still one of my favorite experiences to date. Oia is the most popular part of the island, for good reason. If you have a picture in mind of Santorini, it’s likely of the white cave houses and blue domes in Oia, perched on cliffs over the ocean.

If you’re able to splurge on one stay, make it a hotel or Airbnb on Santorini. The accommodations are incredible here. In the right spot, you won’t want to trade the views from your balcony for the crowds outside your door.

Read: The Complete Santorini Travel Guide   |    View Santorini Hotels and Homes

Houses in Santorini

Olea Cave House – $$ – hilltop views in Imerovigli, with a rooftop terrace that overlooks the blue waters of the Caldera. The Nook Agate – $$$ – clean and modern Greek architecture with sunset views of Oia in Imerovigli. Artia Mansion – $$$ – a beautiful cave house centrally located in Oia with a terrace. Oia Spirit – $$$ – beautiful, white-washed Greek residences with arguably the best view (and location) in all of Oia. Kastro Oia Houses – $$$$ – picture perfect suites in one of the most desirable spots on the island, with a terrace and hot tub.

Hotels in Santorini

Finikia Memories Hotel – $$ – family-run, traditional white-washed style with spacious rooms just outside of Oia. ( Similar in price: Hotel Sunshine , farther from Oia but beachfront) Caldera Villas – $$$ – the terrace at the Caldera Villas has stunning ocean views, and they often run deals on their rooms and suites. ( Charisma Suites ) Canaves Oia Boutique Hotel – $$$$ – built on the side of a cliff overlooking the Caldera, with Cycladic-style architectural elements just outside the town of Fira. ( Kapari Resort and San Antonio in Imervogli, Pezoules and Andronis Suites highest rated in Oia)

How To Choose The Best Greek Islands To Visit - Mykonos via @finduslost

Left: winding alleyways downtown Mykonos; Right: sunset on the south side of the island.

Often referred to as the party island, Mykonos has an upbeat vibe and attracts crowds throughout the summer with dance clubs and beach music. The picturesque downtown of Mykonos and the windmills are some of the most famous attractions on the island.

Best for: nightlife, sandy beaches, luxury hotels.

Not good for: restaurants. We’ve found the food on Mykonos to be catered to tourists and lacking in diversity. For an island with great cuisine and seaside dining, consider Paros.

Where I’ve stayed: Boheme Hotel . It’s a beautiful property close to Mykonos downtown. Breakfasts are amazing, as well as the views. Definitely on the pricier side, but great if you’re traveling as a couple and want to splurge.

Read: The Complete Mykonos Travel Guide   |    View Mykonos Hotels and Homes

Houses in Mykonos

Mooi Skylight – $ – a cute and cozy loft right in the middle of town. Great location, not great for light sleepers. Biatriza’s Summer Shelter – $$ – modern apartment with spacious terrace decorated in soft greys and muted earth tones. ( Little House , right in town, is similar) Villa Mykonis Praha – $$$ – a beautiful and spacious stone property with a pool. Cloud Blue – $$$ – traditional cycladic stones with modern amenities in this 2 house property with a pool, perfect for couples and large groups. Silvernoses Little Venice – $$$$ – cozy, boho inspired home in the heart of Little Venice.

Hotels in Mykonos

Esperides – $ – spacious apartments & studios with minimal design in traditional island architecture. Island Mykonos Suites – $$ – perfect, minimalistic suites in the heart of Mykonos island. Vencia Boutique Hotel – $$$ – light-colored rooms with balconies and an infinity pool overlooking the Aegean sea. ( Similar in price: Rochari , close to the famous Mykonos windmills) Boheme Mykonos – $$$$ – boho-chic vibe, and breakfast each morning consists of over 20+ Greek inspired dishes — plus, you can order as many as you want! ( Livin Mykonos Hotel , My Mykonos Hotel )

One of the best greek islands to visit - Milos via @finduslost

Left: Sarakiniko Beach in Milos; Right: Tsigrado Beach.

Our favorite island, Milos has gained popularity in the past few years for its unique beaches, quaint towns, local food, and general laid-back atmosphere. It’s the perfect size with enough to explore on a week-long trip, but small enough to get around by ATV.

Best for: unique beaches, restaurants, boutique hotels, small towns.

Not good for: nightlife. Milos has some bars and and small clubs, but if you’re after the party scene you’ll want to head to Mykonos or Ios.

Where we’ve stayed: Asterias Boutique Hotel , a family-run property near the famous Sarakiniko Beach. Basic and affordable, but really all we needed since we spent all our time at the beaches!

Read: The Complete Milos Travel Guide & Moonscapes of Sarakiniko Beach in Milos   |  View Milos Hotels and Homes

Houses in Milos

Venia’s Guesthouse – $ – a comfortable apartment-style building with a sea-view patio in the quaint town of Pollonia. ( Similar in price: Seaview House Mandrakia ) Sirma Klima – $$ – the most traditional beach house stay on popular Klima beach. ( Blue Mare , Apollon by Akropolon ) Captain Zeppos – $$ – the perfect set of whitewashed suites with a pool, steps from the beach in Pollonia. Aigeis-Milos Suites – $$$ – a traditional Cycladic-style space with a brick fireplace and sea views. On the south side of Milos, but between two beautiful beaches. Manolis and Filio Home by the Sea – $$$$ – Cycladic house in a traditional fishing village right in front of the sea, where you can swim and enjoy sunsets from the balcony.

Hotels in Milos

Asterias Boutique Hotel – $ – we loved this family-run boutique hotel. It was affordable, comfortable, and in a perfect location for exploring the best beaches in Milos! Milia Gi Suites – $$ – a new boutique hotel nearby the beach and town center of Pollonia. The rooms are spacious, some with private jacuzzis. ( Similar in price: Delmar Suites ) Cave Suites Milos – $$$ – all suites provide a balcony with private pool and panoramic sea views, right next to famous Sarakiniko beach. ( Captain Zeppos ) Melian Boutique Hotel & Spa – $$$$ – one of the few luxury boutique hotels on the island – snap it up if it’s available during your trip! ( Milos Breeze , Miland Suites )

One of the best greek islands to visit - Ios via @haylsa

Left: Turquoise bays in Ios; Right: sunset near Teatro Odysseas Elytis. Images credit + blog on Ios: Haylsa

Ios features a number of beautiful beaches, amidst classic Greek towns and a nightlife scene that attracts younger crowds. It’s a great option for a trip with friends, and conveniently located between Santorini and Naxos.

Best for: bars and restaurants, beach options, accessibility.

Not good for: honeymooners. If you’re after a romantic getaway, consider the sweeping views and luxurious offerings of Santorini. Or the more relaxed vibes of Milos.

View Ios Hotels and Homes

Houses in Ios

Mazi Stin Io – $ – a small 2 bedroom hideaway with a balcony. Wabi Luxury Suites – $$ – minimalistic design suite located in the picturesque, historic neighborhood of the windmills in Ios town. ( Similar in price: Magganari Moments ) Theros Apartments – $$ – a modern apartment with private pool, overlooking the bay of Mylopota. Villa Baya – $$$ – beautiful, modern villa with views of the sea from an expansive terrace close to the Chora village. ( Athina Ios Villa also great for small groups)

Hotels in Ios

Avra Pension – $ – simple rooms with private balconies and homemade breakfast. Yialos Ios Hotel – $$ – close to shopping and dining in Chora with a warm atmosphere and functional accommodations, steps from the beach. ( Similar in price: White Loft , Hotel Katerina ) Levantes Ios Boutique Hotel – $$$ – a Mediterranean-inspired boutique hotel a short walk from Mylopotas beach. ( Liostasi Hotel ) Hide Out Suites – $$$$ – set on a dramatic hillside right above Mylopotas beach with eye-catching views. ( Similar in price: On The Rocks )

One of the best greek islands to visit - Paros via @finduslost

Left: Our group house rental in Paros (listing here ); Right: a cliff jumping spot in Antiparos (more about it in this post ).

Known for having amazing food and beaches, Paros is a crowdpleaser for couples, groups, and families. Long sandy beaches coupled with plenty of restaurant options and close proximity to its neighboring island, Antiparos, allow for lots of activities and nearby villages no matter where you choose to stay.

Best for: lots of beaches, day trips, diverse accommodations, restaurants.

Not good for: your only destination. While Paros has something for everyone, it’s not the most unique of the Greek Islands. Coupling it with somewhere like Santorini will provide the best of both worlds (uniqueness and accessibility).

Where we’ve stayed: this rental house in Paros with a group of friends – one of the most fun trips! Highly recommend Paros for group trips. We also stayed at the Cleopatra Seaside Homes – a series of local apartments converted into rentals just steps from one of my favorite beaches on the island.

Read: Greek Island Hopping in Milos, Paros and Naxos   |  View Paros Hotels and Homes

Houses in Paros

Niriides Studios – $ – charming studios on the beach, nearby Paros port. Aegis Luxe – $$ – cozy home and well-designed with lovely touches right in the center of Naousa. The View – $$$ – beautifully landscaped property with an expansive outdoor space steps from a popular beach. Potami Phos – $$$$ – gorgeous home located in northeast Paros with an outdoor space great for gatherings.

Hotels in Paros

Apartments Tarsa – $ – clean and spacious apartments with a kitchen and private balcony and beautifully landscaped grounds. Argonauta – $$ – charming hotel with a lovely courtyard minutes from the port of Paros. ( Similar in price: Cleopatra Suites , private apartment-style stay steps from the beach) Blue Waves Suites – $$$ – located on the beautiful beach of Drios, each room opens up to a private balcony where you can relax and take in the tranquil atmosphere. ( White Blossom , Parian Boutique Hotel ) Yria Hotel & Spa – $$$$ – top-rated luxury boutique hotel close to Paros main town and 100m from the beach.

One of the best greek islands to visit - Naxos via @finduslost

Left: winding streets in Apiranthos; Right: views from Apollo Temple.

A short ferry ride from Paros, Naxos offers a beautiful seafront town on arrival, trendy hotels, laid-back beaches, and great opportunities to experience local culture. A drive around the island is a must, you’ll find picture-perfect mountain towns and remnants of medieval architecture and history.

Best for: landscapes, local culture, hotel options, beaches.

Not good for: diversity. We loved the authentic, easy-going feel of Naxos but it is best when combined with another Greek Island, like Milos for unique beaches or Ios for bars and restaurants.

Where we’ve stayed: Naxian Collection , one of the dreamiest hilltop properties with our own suite in front of the pool. If I went back, I would definitely stay at their sister property too, Naxian on the Beach .

Read: Greek Island Hopping in Milos, Paros and Naxos   |  View Naxos Hotels and Homes

Houses in Naxos

Perivoli – $ – quaint traditional house with a garden, a short drive from town. En Lefko Boutique House – $$ – a beautiful whitewashed home with a balcony on the outskirts of the Old Town. ( Similar in price: Smirida House ) Naxos Infinity Villa Pool Suite – $$$ – built and designed in an authentic cycladic with breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding cliffs. ( Naxian Castillo ) Beachfront Cycladic Villa – $$$$ – beautiful beachfront home situated on the west coast of Naxos, great for groups. ( Naxos Luxury Villa )

Hotels in Naxos

Anatoli Hotel – $ – budget-friendly, modern rooms with balconies near Naxos town. ( Similar in price: Petrino ) Medusa Beach Resort – $$ – traditional cycladic accommodations surrounded by lush gardens and a swimming pool overlooking Plaka beach. ( Emery Hotel , Galini Hotel ) Santana Beach Hotel – $$$ – breezy, bright hotel located on top of one of the most desirable beaches on the island. Naxian on the Beach – $$$$ – sister hotel to the Naxian Collection , with boho chic decor and a prime location right on Plaka beach.

Navagio shipwreck beach viewpoint in Zakynthos Greece

Left: Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos. Right: Nobelos Restaurant.

This lesser-known Greek Island features one of the most incredible beach views, perched thousands of feet overlooking an old shipwreck. Zakynthos has beautiful beaches, cliffside views, local cuisine, and plenty of options for fun activities all over the island.

Best for: unique beaches, boat trips, nightlife, activities.

Not good for: families. Though there are parts of the island that allow for more family-friendly options, I’d recommend checking out Paros instead.

Read: The Complete Zakynthos, Greece Travel Guide   |   View Zakynthos Hotels and Homes

Houses in Zakynthos

Fexulis Studios – $$ – simple yet beautiful studios with a kitchenette and terrace located steps from the beach in one of the most desirable spots on Zakynthos. ( Similar in price: Oceanis Suites ) Villa Verde – $$$ – a modern three-bedroom villa situated amongst olive trees, with a private pool and bbq set up. ( Orfos Villa ) Tramonto Villa – $$$ – a traditional stone house with a pool in a small town near Shipwreck Beach. Sleeps 8 people. Villa Harmonia – $$$$ – a luxurious waterfront property with a pool, complete with traditional stone walls and in the middle of Agios Nikolaos in the north. ( Vais Luxury Villas )

Hotels in Zakynthos

Ionian Hill Hotel – $$ – bright and airy studios with views of the entire coastline, a 5 minute walk from the beach. Nobelos Seaside Lodge – $$$ – seafront rooms in a boutique hotel on the north shore (known for being quieter and more local). ( Similar in price: Aliv Stone Suites , also close to Shipwreck Beach; Contessina Hotel in Tsilivi) Olea All Suite Hotel – $$$$ – a unique property set on a hill surrounded by olive trees. ( Zante Maris Suites )

Folegandros

One of the best greek islands to visit - Folegandros via Andy Jam

Left: Galifos beach in Folegandros; Right: sunset over the island. Images credit + blog on Folegandros: Andyjam

The small, charming island of Folegandros is quiet yet romantic. It’s fairly untouched — with local bakeries and tavernas, dramatic seaside views, and picture-perfect beaches that are perfect relaxing and taking in the Aeagean sun.

Best for: pristine beaches, relaxation, local culture.

Not good for: activities. Folegandros is very small and if you’re going for anything other than relaxation, you might get stir-crazy. Consider Milos or Paros if you want beautiful beaches and more things to do.

Where we’ve stayed: we ran into a bout of really bad weather late summer last year and our ferry to Folegandros was cancelled. We were planning to stay at Blue Sand Hotel in Folegandros. Fingers crossed we make it over there one day!

View Folegandros Hotels and Homes

Houses in Folegandros

Folegandros Apartments – $ – studios located in Folegandros town, with a pool. Kymanemi Folegandros – $$ – a quaint white-washed studio perched right above the beach. Villa Levanda – $$$ – a spacious home with two balconies and daily fresh bread delivery, great for groups. Villa Mikros – $$$$ – cycladic houses with white and blue interiors set in lush greenery with a view. Walking distance to local beaches and taverns.

Hotels in Folegandros

Pasithea Folegandros – $ – guest rooms have a sun terrace and gorgeous views of the sea and a short walk to the beach. Blue Sand Boutique Hotel – $$ – built on a hillside next to Agali beach, each room has picturesque views of the Aegean Sea. ( Similar in price: Aegeo Hotel , Vrahos Boutique Hotel beachfront) Makarios Villa – $$$ – actually a beautiful villa designed by local hotel owners; featuring a terrace, outdoor dining area, pool and sea views. ( Onar Suites , top rated in Folegandros) Anemi Hotel – $$$$ – modern design, white tones with colorful details and an expansive pool close to Karavostasis Port.

→ Other lesser-known Greek Islands worth checking out: Patmos, Kefalonia, Kímolos, Paxoi.

If you’re planning a trip to Greece, I highly recommend visiting more than one island. Combine a popular island like Santorini or Mykonos with a more unique one like Milos or Paros if it’s your first time. Don’t forget to venture out and get lost, no matter where you end up! That’s half the fun…

How To Choose The Best Greek Islands FindUsLost

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87 Comments

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Krista Grayson Says

Hello Selena- So happy I found your blog! Your content is quite awesome! Thorough with lovely photos. My family is heading to Greece for the first time this summer. We will be there in early- mid July. We have two teens, 14 and 16 and will be landing in Santorini from Italy and staying there for 2 nights and then heading to another island for 6 nights. We are really struggling between Milos and Paros. I see that Milos is your favorite due to the unique beaches, however you also speak very highly of Paros and the ability to skip over to Anitparos. We would are active, but are also looking to enjoy some relaxing beach time. We plan to take some boat excursions and my husband and son like to kiteboard. Given this, I would love to get your thoughts on which of the two islands you would nudge us toward. Many thanks!

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Selena Says

Both are great options so you can’t go wrong! I would lean more towards Paros because there is a bit more to explore in terms of towns, and the ability to hop over to Antiparos is a fun adventure. It is known as being a family friendly island (and it will likely be less crowded than Milos, which has gotten very popular in recent years). We loved our time in Paros and felt like there were tons of beaches and delicious restaurants to enjoy. I can’t speak for kiteboarding personally but I think it will check your other boxes!

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Toni Perez Says

My husband and I are traveling to Athens to visit my daughter who is doing a semester abroad. We will arrive on April 27 and depart May 5th. We would like to visit some greek islands while there. What would you suggest? Any islands to spend a couple of days at or day trip islands from Athens?

How wonderful! I would recommend checking out Folegandros – we absolutely loved our time there and it is still relatively unknown. Check out Blue Sand hotel. The island is small but charming and beautiful.

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Darnesha Says

Hi Selena I will be traveling to Greece from September 17th to October 5th total of (18 days)with my husband .

I have decided upon arrival to immediately taking a flight to Crete where we would like to stay for at least 5 days in Chania.

My husband I have made it for clear Crete is a must. My advise .. I am having a hard time narrowing down islands it’s soooo hard lol. But I reached a top list of islands

Ios Naxos Paros Milo’s Back to Athens

I need help on deciding on which to pick from and the order to visit. I would truly like to visit all but if I can’t here is a little about my husband and myself . We are not partying people, we love good food, nice scenery, nice lounge bars, beautiful beaches , and site seeing( the wow moments). Please any advise or suggestions we are open.

Thank you 😊

I would personally not miss Milos! Ios is known more for nightlife so I would try to narrow down to max 3 islands, perhaps starting with Milos and then hitting Naxos and Paros after. Naxos and Paros are a short ferry from one another (30 minutes) so very easy to go from one to another. I hope that helps!

My apologies with the name

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Sally Clarke Fox Says

Hi! So happy I stumbled upon you. I’m traveling to Greece in September or October as a 55th birthday present to myself. If I go for a week, would I have enough time to see islands and visit Athens? Or should I just focus on one or the other? Also, what islands would you recommend for me? I’m young at heart, and I like a lively, social scene at night but a relaxing daytime vibe.

I would focus on visiting one island and perhaps spending 1-2 days in Athens on your stopover!

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Morgan Says

I am in the process of planning our honeymoon to Greece this upcoming October. I understand it’s “Shoulder season” so I want to get your take on things. We will be going for 10-12 days and we want to stay busy while still “relaxing” some days.

We for sure want to do Santorini for maybe 3 days. I have two friends who recently went to Greece – one did Santorini and Milos, one did Santorini and Paros – and I can’t decide which to do!

We are a social couple and want to do some exploring, and enjoy some cocktails and good food at night and meet new people. We aren’t interested in “clubs” but more so good music, food, and talkative/interactive environments or bars. With this being said, would you recommend doing Santorini, Milos and Paros? Or choosing between Milos and Paros – and doing Santorini, (either Milos or Paros), and Mykonos?

We have never had a big trip like this before so any information / your expertise is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your knowledge and time!

If you are going for 12 days I’d say you could fit three islands in (i.e. Santorini, Milos and Paros). If you are going for 10 I’d try and stick to two islands. It’s nice to be able to spend at least 4 days on an island so you aren’t moving around too much.

Personally I loved both Milos and Paros, Milos a bit more because I found the beaches to be more unique. The downside is that Milos has gotten more popular (and therefore more crowded) in recent years.

If you are looking to be social than Mykonos might be a fit for you. I personally enjoyed the low key feel more of Paros and Milos, as Mykonos is more of a party destination.

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daniela perez Says

Hi! Me and my boyfriend are going to Greece in Late august and we are choosing between a couple options. We are going to Santorini first (for sure). But we want to choose 2 islands between these 3: Milos, Mykonos, and Paros. What would you recommend? (and order as well) We have not been to Greece yet!

I personally love Milos and Paros so that would be my recommendation! Santorini and Mykonos both tend to be more crowded, busier islands.

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Best island to visit mid October for honeymooners? (in terms of warmth/good weather for swimming …we are deff doing Santorini, we want another island besides that)

All the islands near Santorini will be similar in terms of climate in October. Milos / Naxos are both great to explore and would be special to visit this time of year (less crowds).

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Editha I Arceo Says

Hi Selena. Enjoyed browsing through your site. In 2018 my family went to Greece – we stayed several nights in Athens and then explored Santorini and Mykonos. In September we are going back as my eldest son is getting married in Athens. After the wedding we would like to relax and spend several days in the islands. we are thinking of Crete. How many days do you suggest? But Paros seems to be nice too.

I haven’t been to Crete but it is much larger than Santorini and Mykonos! You could easily spend a week there and only scratch the surface.

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Hi Selena! Wow – your site is amazing and photos. It’s so inspiring! I’ve booked my trip to Greece, I have 11 days with my wife. We are flying into Athens and have 11 nights in total. I was thinking one night in Athens to see the ruins then onto the Greek islands..

I’m a bit confused about which islands to go and see. My wife is pregnant so we are more looking to relax on some beautiful beaches, do some walks but not really partying. Santorini is a definite and I was thinking Milos from your recommendation. Should we see any other islands? I’m keen to sample some great seafood and restaurants.. We also want to make sure we have time to relax and not being moving from island to island too much.

Any advice would be appreciated! Cheers, Kate

11 days is amazing! I think your itinerary sounds perfect. We spent 6 nights on Milos and honestly could’ve spent more, but it felt like a great amount of time for the island’s size. I think if you tried to move around to another island in addition to Santorini + Milos, you’d just be sad you were leaving. 😉

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Jessica Says

Hi! First off, thank you so much for all your amazing Greece content…I am planning my first Greece trip, and so excited (both to visit somewhere I’ve been obsessed with for forever, and to be able to share content on my travel blog later). Your Greek island posts have been super helpful…I know how much time and effort goes into creating these posts, and really appreciate all your work! I’m doing a few days in Santorini (I think 3 nights but really 2 1/2 days) and then have been debating between Naxos and Paros as a base for the remaining 4 nights/5 days. I think I’m leaning toward Naxos but super bummed I can’t somehow fit a day trip in to Milos as it looks amazing and your photos in particular have burrowed their way into my brain. Would a 1 day/night trip to Milos specifically to do the sailing trip make sense? I have a tendency to move fast when I travel but don’t want to overextend/plan myself either as I know moving around the islands isn’t always simple.

Also, a total side note question but I’d love to know who you fulfill your photo prints (printing/framing/shipping) through? They’re beautiful and I couldn’t figure out who was doing the back-end there.

Thank you again for all your content!

Thanks Jessica for the kinds words! Hmm.. personally I’m not sure I would do 1 night on any Greek Island, as it would be so hard to leave the next day! With the exception of Paros / 1 night in Antiparos, as the ferry over is less than half an hour and leaves frequently. If you’re after some unique beaches that combo might be an option for you (know that you said you were leaning towards Naxos so don’t want to throw a wrench in that plan, but it depends on what your priorities are!).

I work with a local printer in NYC who I found while living there, so it’s not fulfilled by a large printing company. Was a bit particular about quality and color and after vetting quite a few options I was happiest with his work. : )

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Kelsey Says

Hi! Your site is amazing – beautiful photos and helpful information! I am planning my honeymoon for the end of September this year, and having such a hard time deciding between cyclades and ionian islands. Is there an easy way to do Milos and Zakynthos where it’s not 11+ hours of travel time? Which grouping of islands would you recommend for 2 weeks and newbies to Greece? Thank you in advance. Kelsey

Hi Kelsey! Congrats on your wedding. Greece is just the most perfect place for a honeymoon. I would personally recommend the Cyclades islands if you are new to traveling here. You’ll find a great variety of islands, and it’s convenient to travel from Milos to Paros, or Milos to Naxos, even Milos to Santorini. I personally loved the laid-back feel of Paros and the option to also day trip to Antiparos to explore as well (a 15 minute ferry from Paros!).

I enjoyed Zakynthos a lot but it’s not as ‘local’ as the other islands and I think you’ll be happier with the charm you’ll find in the Cyclades. I hope that helps!

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Your airbnb in Oia looks fantastic but the link doesn’t seem to be working – would you mind sharing it?

Hi Niall, try this: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9222197

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Thank you for a great post about the Greek islands. Could you tell me where we could go cliff jumping? It’s on the bucket list. Thank you!

Your best bet is probably somewhere around Kleftiko, if you take a boat out for the afternoon or for the day there are spots around here to climb up and jump in the water. Enjoy!

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Dr, Tassos Koussis Says

It was so great reading about your experiences. I was born and raised in the mainland of Greece and have been to Milos 5 times and are taking my 3 children and their four sons for 6 days this September Every time we go back, we discover something new and certainly your input will add to the pleasant experiences this September.

Thank you for your description of your journeys through Greece. Perhaps, one of these days you may want to explore some parts of northern Greece. They have their own unique flavor.

Thank you again for all your invaluable and unbiased stories. Have fun exploring our world. There is nothing better than traveling and experiencing various cultures.

Thanks for taking the time to leave this comment! Milos is wonderful, have a great time returning with the family. I have been to Meteora in Northern Greece and absolutely loved the surrounding area, would be very happy to return.

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Hannah Says

Hi Selena, My fiance and I decided to ditch the traditional wedding plan and elope in Greece for 2022. Our original plan was to stay in santorini, ceremony the 2nd day, then spend 4 or 5 more days as a honeymoon. We want to relax, experience traditional foods and fun night life. Do you have any recommendations for example Santorini for the ceremony (first two days) then go to Mykonos or Milo’s for the remaining days? Love your website and recommendations!

That sounds like such a beautiful way to celebrate! Santorini is incredibly romantic and you could easily spend all your time there. One downside is that the beaches tend to be more rocky – so if you want to be laying out on the beach during the day, a good option would be to visit nearby Milos. I personally loved the restaurants and towns in Milos, and it would be my pick. Paros may have a bit more of a nightlife scene for you (and plenty of beautiful beaches). And Mykonos will certainly have nightlife, but isn’t my pick for traditional/authentic food. It all depends on what’s most important to you, but it’s tough to go wrong with any of those options! Have a wonderful time x

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Mariana Says

Love your blog! Planning our honeymoon to Mykonos, Santorini and then torn between Milos and Zakynthos. Since the first two islands we think are going to be more classic ‘touristy’ we want the last to be romantic with great food and plenty of beaches to relax. Do you have a recommendation if we are picking between Milos and Zakynthos? Want something less populated. thank you!

I’d go with Milos! It’s definitely romantic, has a beautiful downtown, and is filled with unique beaches. Zakynthos is larger and more built up, particularly in the southern part of the island. Congrats & have a wonderful honeymoon!

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Kristen Crinella Says

Hi Selena, I love all of your tips! My 18 year old daughter and I are traveling to arriving in Athens Tuesday 6/22 returning to LA Saturday 7/3. This leaves us with 10 days in Greece. We were going to explore Athens for 2 days and leave 8 days for islands. Is it crazy to visit Santorini, Paros & Milos in those 8 days? Thank you for your help!

Hi Kristen – your question is so similar to the one I just received below, so check it out as well : ) It’s not impossible, but you might be moving around more than is necessary! You will have more time to see Santorini’s pretty towns and coastline, plus time to explore all the unique beaches that Milos has to offer, by sticking with two islands. Paros is amazing but quite large, so it’s likely you’ll only scratch the surface by visiting for 2-3 days. I would personally stick with two islands, and plan a future trip to see Paros (and neighboring Antiparos)! Enjoy!

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Ashley Says

Hi Selena, This post is so helpful! My Fiancé and I are starting to plan our honeymoon and this got me very excited, after a pretty stressful COVID wedding planning year. This will be the first time for both of us in Greece, and we will be flying into Athens, so we will probably spend a day or two there. We definitely want to visit Santorini. Then I was thinking Milos, and maybe Zakynthos if we have time. We will only be in Greece for 8-10 days depending how much time we can get off. So I’m not sure if we have time for 3 islands.

Hi Ashley! I can only imagine all the wedding stress you’ve gone through – sounds like exciting plans on the horizon to make up for it though : )

In terms of ferry routes, Zakynthos is more out of the way from Santorini and Milos. If those two islands are set, I’d suggest Paros or Naxos instead (both more accessible from Santorini/Milos). That said, you might be better off sticking to two islands. There’s SO much to explore on Milos. I spent 6 days there but could have easily spent more! I think your itinerary of Athens – Santorini – Milos for 8-10 days is absolutely perfect.

Hope that helps x

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Hello! I like this post. The tips are very helpful, and the photos are just amazing! Thank you for sharing that.

You’re welcome x

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Hi Selena! My husband and I are planning our honeymoon in Greece. Do you think 14 days is enough to do Naxos, Paros, Santorini, and Milos? Where do you recommend we arrive/depart from, as well as the order of the islands to visit that makes sense with the ferry routes? Thank you!

You could fit in all 4, but you will be moving around a decent amount! Getting to Santorini is typically easiest, so you could start in Santorini (let’s say 3-4 days), take a ferry to Milos and spend 4-5 days, then ferry to Paros and spend 4+ days. Naxos is VERY close to Paros (1 hour ferry away) and the ferries run more frequently, so if I were you, I would leave Naxos until the end of the trip and only add it on if you want to move around again. You might find that there’s so much to explore in Paros (it’s the largest of the 4) that you don’t need the additional island. Naxos is beautiful, so this is purely a suggestion to give yourself some flexibility if it does end up being more ferries than you feel like!

I hope that helps. Congrats!

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Kristin Says

Hi Selena, we are planning holiday in Greece this year in august. We will fly to Athens and fly back from Santorini and we have eight full days. I can´t decide if we should visit Milos & Santorini or Paros & Santorini. It´s our first time in Greece. Thank you!

Depends on your priorities! Paros is bigger and you can also hop over for a day trip to Antiparos, which is always fun. Downtowns are great. Milos is a bit smaller but has more diversity in beaches I’d say. Both have wonderful restaurants, charm, and lots to explore… you can’t go wrong! Enjoy x

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My husband and I are traveling to Greece at the beginning of October for 12 nights. We are planning to travel to three islands total with our definite go-to’s being Santorini and Milos. We are having trouble deciding between Mykonos and Paros for the third island. Just curious, how would you suggest to travel to and from these islands and where should we start our trip?

I’ve always traveled by ferry, but both Santorini and Mykonos have direct flights from Athens. Between Mykonos and Paros, I preferred Paros personally – I loved the downtown areas, the restaurants, and the variety of beaches. It’s more laid back. Mykonos is on the pricier side (both for stays and eating out) and was more crowded when we visited in September. That said, I have a number of friends who return to Mykonos and love the vibe. It’s all about what your’e looking for! Enjoy the trip, it will be wonderful no matter what you choose!

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Elizabeth Says

Such an amazing blog – so well written and some incredible photos! My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Greece in July: 5 days in Milos and 5 days in Paros. Would you recommend spending longer in one over the other and did you find it easy to travel between the two? We love beaches, good food and exploring new places. Thank you!

I think that’s a perfect itinerary! Both have so much to offer and their own unique vibes. It’s not difficult to travel between the two and you should have plenty of time to get a feel for each. x

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Trisha Says

What are your thoughts on Crete? We are wanting to go to Greece for about 10 days, thinking of skipping Athens entirely and heading straight to santorini and then Crete. We want a mix of beach time and exploring the city. Thank you!

I haven’t personally been to Crete! I have friends that have gone and loved it. As it’s much larger in size, there are real downtowns, more options for hotels/restaurants/transport, and more ease of getting around. But that also means more crowds and busy areas. Really up to you in terms of what you’re looking for.

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Heather J Says

Wow! What a gorgeous and helpful article! Your photos are amazing! Im hoping to spend 8-10 days next Sept with my BF in the cyclades. We want to fly into one island and spend first 4 nights there and then spend next 4 nights in our departure town/island. We plan to use the ferry to day trip to neighboring islands. Our main focus is: scenic beauty (both natural & architecture), swimming, food, and relaxation. We would be so very grateful if you would give us your recommendation if which 2 islands we should pick as our homebases. Thank you!!

So hard to choose! If you’re really keen on visiting other islands from a base, I’d say Paros is a great option because of its proximity to other islands. It has a bit of everything: great food, pristine beaches, nightlife, hotels, etc. And it’s so easy to hop on a boat and visit Antiparos for the day. You could also pop over to the nearby island of Naxos, which is much more mountainous and has a beautiful downtown area on the water.

As for the other island, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’ve never been to the Greek Islands, Santorini is of course incredibly unique and beautiful. The town of Oia overlooking the water is unlike anything else. However, it’s not known for beaches (they’re mostly rocky) and can get quite crowded and expensive. Milos on the other hand is another great option, as it has really unique beaches and is more affordable and easy to get around. Both are great options, and I would personally go back to both Santorini and Milos. You really can’t go wrong with what you pick! Good luck x

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AlaskasWorld Says

Wow… that’s really impressive. Very detailed information and description of all local places. I am planning to visit somewhere on next Christmas, and after reading this article, I have added this to my bucket list. I must tell you that your photography skills are amazing. The way you have captured photographs make this article even more eye-catching. Keep posting such amazing work and keep inspiring thousands like me. Thanks…

Thank you x

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Max Axline Says

Ah I miss Greece! I love your article and all your photos. We will definitely be adding some of your recommendations on to our next trip!

Glad to hear it, thanks Max!

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Great article! I love Greece and plan to go back next summer. I love Jumping off of cliffs into the ocean especially! any suggestions for islands that have spots for this? Also, could you tell me the island where you took the main picture for this post? I’d love to jump off there! 😄

The main picture featured is of Sarakiniko Beach in Milos. More info in these posts:

Milos, Greece Travel Guide: https://finduslost.com/milos-greece-travel-guide/ Sarakiniko Beach, Milos Post: https://finduslost.com/moonscapes-of-sarakiniko-beach-in-milos-greece/

Hope that helps!

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Nick @ GreekBoston.com Says

There are so many Greek islands that are worth visiting, it can be hard to choose! This is a great guide that can help people find their best island, or islands, depending on the trip.

Thanks Nick!

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Hi! I love your posts and your pictures are so pretty! I’m planning a trip to Greece with 3 of my friends to celebrate graduating college. We are hoping to visit 2 islands, and want to mix culture and cute towns with beautiful nature and beaches. Any recommendations? A huge party scene like Mykonos or Ios isn’t necessary, but also don’t want something super dead. Thinking of Santorini and Milos, but completely open to changes and recommendations.

Paros is great with friends! Lots of accommodation options, plenty of beaches, and you can day trip to Antiparos. Enjoy!

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Ann Bookman Says

Hi! My husband and I are going to Greece for the first time this April. We have two weeks. We will spend a couple of nights in Athens, and then want to spend most of our time on two islands. We are pretty sure we want to go to Crete. But it’s so big that we would like advice on where to stay and what part of the island to focus on. We will have 5 nights, six days. Then we want to go to one other island – where should we go? We would love your recommendations. We are into nature, archeological finds, relaxing and good local food. I think it will be too early to swim, butt we like to walk. Look forward to your expert advice!

Hey Ann – Milos is one of my favorite islands, but you can’t really go wrong with any of the Greek Islands featured in this guide. xx

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My husband and I are also going to Greece in April for 2 weeks and were thinking Crete for 5 nights, Santorini for 3 nights, Milos for 3 nights, and Athens for3 nights. Was hoping for advice and/or recommendations on this itinerary/timeline (e.g., the islands we selected, durations for each)

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Emily K. Says

Hi! My husband and I are going on our honeymoon and on somewhat of a budget (we like nice things but need to make the money go as far as possible). We are going to splurge and spend 2-3 nights in Santorini, and are thinging about crete for our other spot but keep finding other islands to consider! We love food and wine, but really are looking to relax, enjoy nature, snorkel, and be away from crowds/off the beaten path. Are there any islands you would recommend, or do you think crete is a solid choice?

Sounds like an amazing honeymoon! It’s pretty easy to get to Paros, Naxos or Milos from Santorini – all three of which we loved (but Milos wins for my favorite, the beaches are insane). You might want to check out this post for help deciding:

How To Choose Which Greek Island To Visit: https://finduslost.com/greek-islands-how-to-choose-which-to-visit/

Haven’t been to Crete personally, but it’s on my list for the future!

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Ross Robinson Says

Chios is one of the most beautiful islands and only 40 minutes ferry ride to Cesme in Turkey if yo want a change of day out. Chios has some of the most beautiful scenery and quaint villages like Pygri and Mosta. Pygri is known for its painted houses and also it’s mastic museum. The people are friendly and welcoming. The island of Chios is the 3rd largest island in Greece and there is plenty to see and do while spending a few weeks or longer exploring.

Thanks for the recommendations Ross! I’d love to see Chios.

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Justine A Foster Says

Hi – If you were to pick one island in addition to Milos and Sanorini, which would it be? Also, if you only had 1 -2 days in each, in your opinion what are must do/see? Thank you!

I’d probably pick Paros since it’s more laid back and has less tourists! My favorite things to do in each are in the full guides below, but for Santorini I’d definitely make sure to visit Oia, have lunch on the water in Ammoudi Bay (below Oia) and watch the sunset in Santorini. For Milos, I’d focus on beaches and hit Sarakiniko Beach and Tsigrado and Firiplaka (both unique beaches that are next to each other). I also loved Firapotomos beach. Have a great time!

Santorini guide: https://finduslost.com/complete-santorini-greece-travel-guide/

Milos guide: https://finduslost.com/milos-greece-travel-guide/

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Emily Esposito Says

Hi! Your guides are amazing and I’m obsessed with all your pictures, content and reviews so thank you! I am planning a trip with my boyfriend to the greeks islands this September (yes last minute planning) and we have 10-11 days. Is it too much to try to do 3 islands in that time frame? Milos looks amazing, and then I wanted to do Santorini for romance and Mykonos for a nightlife. Forgandros has been highly recommended too by friends but I can’t pick! Wanted to get your thoughts! Thanks!

Hi Emily! Nah, we’ve had way more last minute planning than that ;). I definitely think you could fit 3 islands in!

If it were me, I’d plan for 4 nights in Milos, 3 in Santorini, and 3 in Mykonos. In my opinion Milos has the best beaches of the three so you’ll want the extra day to explore there. The main part of Santorini you won’t want to miss is Oia (the part of the island you most likely know from photos), and it’s small. If you stay in Oia specifically, 3 nights is enough. You can also spend one afternoon in Fira, which is another main town. Then you can hop over to Mykonos (or vice versa).

I wish I could give you my opinion on Folegandros, but we actually tried to visit last September and our ferry got cancelled twice due to high winds! We never actually made it there and ended up in Naxos instead (also a beautiful island). Folegandros is much harder to get to and the ferries become more sporadic in late September and early October (I believe they switched to only twice a week), so it might be easier to focus on Milos / Santorini / Mykonos instead.

I hope that helps! Have the best time. xx

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Noelle Says

Thank you for the great content! This was so informative.

My fiance and I have been trying to pick which islands to scout for a potential destination wedding. There are so many websites, but this has been my favorite because the quantity of islands covered and your pros and cons of each.

Will be there for 3 weeks in September so want see at least 4. So far our top picks are Milos, Naxos, Paros, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos. Ideally, we are looking for an island where our guests can generally get by on foot if they didn’t want to rent a car. Your feedback would be very much appreciated!!!

Hi Noelle – congrats on the upcoming wedding! As far as getting by on foot…unless everything for the wedding is within one town on the island (venue, accommodation, any events leading up to the wedding), that might be a bit tough. You could consider Pollonia in Milos – there’s a ton of hotels and a beautiful beach there. But it might be hard to limit your guests to one area?

If I were you, I’d present a few options to guests – if they don’t want to rent a car while visiting the islands, getting around by ATV or motorbike is also an option (and preferred in many cases, since it’s easier access to different beaches and the small side streets in each town). In terms of flexibility, I’ve found Paros to have lots of accommodation options (including larger guest houses), all within walking distance of the beach.

Hope this helps!

Thank you so much!!

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Mckenzi Says

Thank you for all of this amazing content! So helpful and so beautiful!

My husband and I are headed back to Greece and are wondering what island you recommend if we are doing Santorini already, we only get 3 days on each island so decided to just do two. We are thinking Milos for the second island, but thought I’d ask you if you would recommend Paros or Naxos instead?

Thanks so much! Kenzi

Nice call on Milos, it’s my favorite! Oooh, that’s tough. I’d say if you’re after beaches and food, head to Paros. If you want something a little different (i.e. ancient towns and the perfect island for a road trip through the mountains), go with Naxos. Hope that helps!

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Another beautiful island is Skopelos..the greenest island in Greece

Ooh I love the sound of that! Thanks for the tip xx

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Hi there, I leave for Italy and Greece next week and have 10 days in Greece. I was thinking Crete (3d), Santorini (2d), Milos (2d), Paros (2d) and Athens (2d) but I’m worried it’s going to be too rushed and too much travelling rather than relaxing. I was thinking about dropping one but don’t know how to choose and your list makes them all sound amazing! I am a solo female in my 20s and not into the party scene – any advice would be greatly appreciated! xxx

Hi Sarah – I’d suggest starting off with the three islands you mentioned (Crete, Santorini, Milos). If you end up loving Milos, just skip Paros! Then you’ll have 4 days in one place, as that itinerary involves a lot of moving around. There is plenty to see and do in Milos, so you certainly won’t be bored. 😉 enjoy!

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Lilla Semperger Says

Thank you for this great summary, Selena! I visited only Santorini about 2 years ago and I fell in love with it. It was so beautiful, there were plenty things to do and riding an ATV was so much fun. I’m definitely planning to visit other Greek Islands soon. Your pictures make me want to go right now.

That’s how our addiction to the Greek Islands started as well! Hope you make it back there soon 🙂 xx

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This is very helpful while I plan out trip this year, thank you!! A question for you if you can answer: I know you mentioned Setember to be the best month for swimming, but would you say that’s still the case for the last week of September and first week of October? These are the dates that seem to be working out with our schedule but we really don’t want to compromise on beaches and swimming!

Yes definitely! We were there that time last year and it was PERFECT. One thing to be mindful of — at the end of September the tourist season is effectively over, so ferry schedules will shift dramatically. We ended up on one island thinking we could take a ferry that Friday (per the summer schedule) and it had switched to once a week. So check beforehand! Not the worst thing to be stranded on a Greek Island though… 😉

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Léonor Says

Such a great article! Greek Islands are what (my) dreams are made of and your article just makes me want to hop on a boat and discover them all (or almost because there’s too many of them ahah)! I will definitely plan a trip around some of these islands :).

So glad it inspired you! It’s one of the handful of places in the world I can’t seem to get enough of xx

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greek islands best ones to visit

Which Greek Island Should You Visit in 2024?

By Rachel Howard and Condé Nast Traveller

Beautiful sunset of Hydra island Greece  top view of city center and yaht marina.

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 the wine: The Vasilicos
  • For groups: Elilia Superior Villa sleeps 8 people
  • For something unique: this cave house

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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.

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The Island Voyager

The Best Greek Islands to Visit

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Greece has well over 200 islands spread across the Aegean and Ionian seas. The country, as a whole, is one of the most visited vacation destinations in Europe. These are the best Greek islands to visit. They encapsulate the history, culture and natural beauty of Greece, and retain their own unique character.

With so many islands, how do you choose which one to visit? Whether you are planning a short vacation, a resort holiday or an island-hopping adventure, these are the top 10 Greek islands you must visit.

1. Kefalonia

Kefalonia is the biggest of the Ionian islands, with a unique green and diverse landscape. It has some of the most impressive beaches in Greece. It’s waters and seas, typical of the Ionian group of islands, contain shades of deep cyan blue. Set against the green mountains and white beaches, the natural colours of Kefalonia give it a distinct character and appeal. People may recognise that the movie “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” was set on Kefalonia.

The island is filled with  picturesque seaside villages , fishing towns (such as Asos and Fiskardo) and a lively capital, Argostoli. Kefalonia has something for every type of traveller, as well as a host of things to explore. It easily makes the list of the Greek islands to visit!

Kefalonia is the sixth best greek island to visit

The coastline of Milos is 120km long and has a unique horseshoe shape. It has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the Cyclades. One of the most popular things to do on Milos is to go on one of the boat trips that sail around the island. You will have the chance to swim at jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches that are otherwise inaccessible or hard to get to, such as Kleftiko and Sarakiniko.

Milos is still relatively low key relative to its neighbouring and more renowned Cycladic islands. It is easily a top choice – especially if you are looking to avoid some of the more crowded places. If you’re wondering about where to potentially stay on Milos, then make sure you check out this post on the  best areas to stay in Milos  to help you plan your vacation.

Milos Sarakiniko beach one of the best

Paros is my favourite island and has a perfect combination of beauty, tradition and entertainment. It has amazing beaches, seafront tavernas, pretty mountain villages and a lively Chora. Though not on the same level as Mykonos, it does have a reputation for being a bit of a party island, with many beach bars, trendy restaurants and international DJ’s playing at its clubs.

If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds of Santorini and Mykonos but still want to experience the beauty of the white-washed Cycladic architecture, then Paros is a great choice. Naoussa is one of the prettiest and most charming towns in the whole of the Cyclades and is a great place to stay, eat and enjoy the island life.

Paros Naoussa town is the second best greek island to visit

A popular tourist destination with long stretches of beaches, buzzing holiday resorts, and a one-of-a-kind Medieval town. Explore the old town with its bustling cobbled alleyways, 13th century palaces, museums or the town of Lindos with its own acropolis looking out onto the open ocean. Sunbathe at one of Rhodes many and  beautiful sandy beaches , including the picturesque St. Paul’s bay and Tsambika.

Due to its location, Rhodes is blessed with plenty of sunshine hours and perfect sea temperatures for a considerable portion of the holiday season. Check out what  Rhodes is like in October  if you are looking for a late summer getaway to Greece.

Kallithea beach in Rhodes island

5. Santorini

Santorini is the iconic Greek island – the one everyone automatically thinks of when it comes to the white and blue of Greece. Great for couples and honeymooners as well as first-timers to Greece and an indefinite staple of any  island-hopping vacation . 

The white-washed houses and bright blue-domed church roofs are the epitome of the Cyclades. The towns of Oia and Fira, which are built on the sides of Santorini’s steep hills offer immense views across the caldera . It’s difficult not to admire the beauty of this island and it’s unique volcanic formation. No wonder why Santorini is one of those bucket-list destinations and one of the most pictured landscapes in the world. It makes the list of best Greek islands to visit from many guides . If you only have the chance to visit one island in Greece, choose Santorini – you will not regret it!

greek islands best ones to visit

As picturesque as any of the Cyclades, including Santorini in my opinion, affording similarly stunning views across the main Chora town and Aegean Sea. Ios is often overlooked as a young person’s party playground. However, not to be missed as there is much more to this island than that label. Add to the fact that you can find accommodation significantly more affordable, compared to the likes of Santorini and Mykonos.  Places to eat, entertainment options, stunning sunsets  and luxury hotels There would be no problem choosing Ios if these are what you are after.

Mylopotas beach is one of the best in Greece – clear turquoise waters and clean fine sand. Lining the back of the beach there is a plethora of bars and restaurants serving food and drink day and night. The main Chora is buzzing in the evenings with smart and modern bars and restaurants as well as traditional tavernas. Far Out beach club and Pathos for the younger crowd.

The main town in Ios a really popular island for partying

7. Zakynthos

On the western side of Greece in the Ionian sea, lined with pine trees and a natural green landscape, with aquamarine seas. There are none more famous or pictured beaches than that of Navagio, with its shipwrecked vessel making it unique.

It’s seaside resorts and buzzing towns provides another reason for it being a popular tourist destination. The formerly quiet villages of Alykanas and Laganas are now famed party areas for tourists, with many bars, restaurants and nightcubs. A hotspot for 18-30 year olds. The island is the third biggest in the Ionian and provides much more than just an all-night party.

Zakynthos is the ninth best greek Island to visit

Naxos is the biggest of the Cycladic island group and sits right at the heart of the Aegean Sea. It is an island which, along with having typically nice beaches and Greek flair, has a list of  things to do  that will more than keep you from ever getting bored.

Naxos has impressive ancient history, well preserved historic sites – including a Venetian old town – a number of traditional villages and great local produce. The monumental Portara gate is a unique welcome to visitors sailing into the port of Naxos. A huge marble gate, still standing, as if untouched as the rest of the temple of Apollo in ruins. The wide array of things to see, its long sandy beaches and resorts and Venetian Kastro draws visitors from all over looking to explore more than views and beaches.

naxos greek island

The largest and most populous of the islands with over a thousand kilometres of coastline and a rich history and culture. The archaeological site of Knossos is thought to be the centre of Europe’s first advanced civilisation.

Easily spend your days exploring the main cities of Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion or relaxing on the  best beaches in Crete  – some of the most famous in the world – such as; Elafonissi, Balos and Falassarna.

Crete is a must visit island for those looking for the most magnificent and picture worthy natural landscapes and also the striking charm of the historic old towns. For foodies, not to be overlooked, Cretan cuisine is some of the best in Greece. Lastly, add the hospitality and Raki, and you can’t go wrong.

Balos beach in Crete fourth best Greek Island to visit

10. Mykonos

Where famous faces go to get seen on their holidays. Mykonos is by far the most cosmopolitan of the islands. Most well known for its vibrant nightlife, epic beach parties and VIP hotels and villas.

You’ll find an abundance of boutique hotels, sleek bars and trendy restaurants to keep those A-listers and fancy yacht owners happy. And as expected, the prices that come with entertaining that type of crowd, means that the island is expensive. And especially so when you compare to the rest of Greece and most of the Greek islands. However, the old iconic windmills, picturesque and colourful streets and alleys of the Chora and beautiful beaches are only some of the reasons why you’d want to visit this incredibly popular island – one of the best Greek islands to visit.

greek islands best ones to visit

  • Post published: June 24, 2020
  • Post category: Islands
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The Best Greek Islands

Greece › Best Islands Updated: February 11, 2023 By Santorini Dave

• 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.
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About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio.

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ;-)

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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.)

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Santorini, Greece.

The 10 Best Greek Islands To Visit

Depending how one counts, there are more or less some 1,500 islands in Greece , including loners, inhabited, and epicenters. The following are the best islands to visit, most of which come with unforgettable beaches and captivating Greek mythology behind their origin. 

Corfu, Greece

Corfu or Kerkira in Greek, the best of the country's islands for its character, lush landscapes, olive oil, figs, oranges, lemons, and wine, covers an area of 229 sq. miles (593 sq. km) and contains some of the best beaches in Europe. Settled by the Corinthians 734 BC, 70 years later, the first naval battle in the history of Greece was fought between Corfu and Corinth just off of its naval cost. With the aid from Athens 435 BC it was able to wage the war against the Corinth a few years later, known as the Peloponnesian War. Prior to being ceded to Greece in 1864, Corfu was under British administration from 1815, but would switch hands between Germans and Italians in the Second World War.

Reminiscent of Tuscany, the pastel villages, including the atmospheric Agni with three rivalling taverns, the endless countryside of rolling olive groves and grand manor houses, all contribute to the island's charm. Even the famous British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer, Lawrence Durell, fell for its idyllic bays in the 1930s. The inland, the enchanting Ambelonas, is complemented with a winery and a world famous, for its roast pork with quince and crème brûlée with Corfiot kumquats, restaurant. One can also forego participating in the wet T-shirt contests in Kavos to sip on drinks on the Liston colonnade upon dining at a bistro wine bar at the edge of the Old Town.

Beach in Crete

The largest island, Crete is best known for its ancient ruins, antiquities, active adventures and, with the sunshine all year round, the beaches. As a rugged, long and narrow at 160 miles (260 kilometers) by 7.5 to 37 miles (12 to 60 kilometers), Crete, one of the country’s 13 administrative regions sits in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The snow-crested mountains form its backbone, with Mount Ídi (8,058 feet or 2,456 meters), as the bearing place of Zeus, according to Greek mythology. It was among the first places in Europe to experience the arts and sciences of ancient Egypt and Asia, while Sir Arthur Evans, an English archaeologist, uncovered ruins of a great palace in the early 1900s, left from the thriving and highly developed civilization 5,000 years ago. 

Sightseeing and other forms of rambling about is best reserved for mellow springtime, including the Minoan palace of Knossos, and ancient sites such as Aptera and Malia. Samariá, a popular 16km-long gorge for explorations, is just one of the 50 canyons on the island to explore, including the Aradena Gorge in the wild and rugged Sfakia region, known for offering an unforgetful hike to Marmara, which is a translucent cove on the Libyan Sea. There, one can round-out the hot day with for a cooling dip complete with a meal at Dialiskari Taverna, of Crete's finest goat, rabbit and smoked-pork dishes. As Greece’s leading producers of olives and olive oil, grapes, vegetables, oranges, and carob beans, the island also produces first class cheeses, honey, and olive oil.

Folegandros

Folegandros island

Sitting between Sikinos and Milos, this small, long and narrow island on the southern side of Cyclades, with a hill-top capital, Hora (Chora) and Ano Meria, the second largest village, Folegadros is a non-pretentious island, best for an authentic bohemian vibe, offering what it's got with no shame. Meaning "iron hard" in ancient Greek, instead of the sandy beaches, one gets a foot and back massage on the pebbly ones, known for their exceptionally clean waters all year-round. Exploring the coves such as Georgitsi, and Chrissospilia (Golden Cave) full of precious stalactites and stalagmites connected to the island's history, tasting a whole grilled octopus on a horizon-aligned deck in the rocks above Agios Nikolaos bay, or a matsata, a  goat or rabbit stew with hand-made pasta, the island's specialty in Ano Meria, are all experiences to cherish.  

Hora, floundering not one, but three main squares, all with brimming cafes, taverns and raki bars, Folegandros promises to be an unforgetful visit from the breath of its atmosphere. A must stop for a unique coffee or yogurt experience that leaves one with a souvenir to take with, is at Pounta, a Danish-owned cafe where one's choice of drink is served in a lopsided cup, made by the owner himself. Another must-do, is to follow the steps up and away from Hora, which will bring one to a beautiful vantage point with the church of Virgin Mary, The Panagia, a cliff-hanging spectacle most mesmerizing at sunset. 

Hydra Greece

Under two hours from Athens, Hydra sits just off the eastern tip of the Argolís peninsula, with a maximum, northeast-southwest length of 13 miles (21 km) and Mount Ere at 1,936 feet (590 metres) as its highest peak. Although there is almost no arable land and barely any beaches, with water being shipped from the mainland, when in Greece and looking for a long weekend with the art crowd, Hydra, the home to Dakis Joannou, Greece's foremost art collector with a camouflage-painted yacht, and the author of the ever-changing designs of the local slaughterhouse, is the destination island. Completely void of cars, as a preservation order, and with even the school being reserved for exhibitions during summer, the art scene of the island began with Leonard Cohen in the 60s and alongside Joannou, Brice Marden, Sadie Coles and Juergen Teller also reside there. 

Known for its naval power throughout history, it was a deciding factor in winning many feats against the Turks during the War of Greek Independence in 1821. With the invention of steamships, only a handful of small ports remain from this naval empire, including the north coast Mandrákion, Mólos, and Panayía, while, the chief town, Ídhra with narrow, rock-cut streets that surround a sheltered harbour, is the center of international tourism, a residence of a metropolitan bishop, as well the year-round hibernation spot of artists and writers. The vast, grey, stone mansion of The School of Fine Arts overlooking the horseshoe harbour, is a must-visit, while the consistent rehearsals and recordings at the 18th-century residence, known as the Old Carpet Factory, are a must-hear. 

Ithaca Island

The two connected land masses by a thin peninsula, Ithaca, or Itháki in Modern Greek, is the second smallest island of the seven main Ionian Islands in western Greece. The birthplace of Odyssey, hero of the ingenious Homer, Ithaca is known for its mythical vibe. Ithaca was ruined but rebuilt after the 1953 earthquake. Barely arable, it imports grain from the mainland, although it produces some of its own olive oil, wine, and currants for world-wide export. Popular among the dreamers, it is the place where the loners and the lovers find their sanctuary, complete with turquoise and emerald coves to sail into and forested hills to wander about.

For the history and mystery fanatics there are the ruins of Odysseus’ palace from the 8 th century BC, or paying a visit to the Byzantine frescoes-covered church of Anogi inclusive with asking for its key from the village's coffee shop. Spavento offers scrumptious ice-cream sundaes and excellent cocktails with the soundtrack to set the mood. Frikes, a atmospheric fishing port with drowsy sea-side taverns and the small pebbly beaches surrounded by refreshingly clean waters, make Ithaca as bare and unspoiled and as it gets. Another place to forget the world is Vathy, a sheltered harbour town with a mischievous vibe, sitting protected at the head of a deep and narrow horseshoe-shaped inlet of a gulf, as if also seeking solitude. 

Lesbos Island

Lésbos, Lésvos, or Mitilíni is a triangular and second largest island on the Aegean Sea , with Mytilene (Mitilíni) as its chief town and seat of the Greek Orthodox bishop. As one of the earliest Aegean settlement, it has a historically geological relation to the Asia minor's coast, from which, it is separated by two shallow channels 6 to 14 miles (10 to 23 km) wide, forming the entrance to the Turkish Gulf of Edremit upon joining together at the apex of Lésbos. With most people living in Mytilene, a port town connected to Lésbos by a causeway, the region west of Kalloní is well preserved with original vegetation of the area. The mountain Lepethymnus (Áyios Ilías) peaks at 3,176 feet (968 metres), while the many thermal springs in the west of the island signal high volcanic activity

Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor and the philosopher of the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE was born in Eresus on the southwest coast.  Fascinatingly, Sappho, who was born on the island and her ventures have contributed to erecting the island with the name, so close to the word for female homosexuality. Many earthquakes have taken place in the island's past, even destroying Mytilene in 1867, and leaving little of the original ancient ruins on the island to explore. Although these facts only scratch the bottom of the island's historical barrel, today it is the island of fertile plains and valleys that yield juicy grapes, golden cereals, and its, most proud export, olives. 

Mykonos windmills

Sitting next to Delos (Dílos) between Tínos, Náxos (Náchos) and Páros, with its north coast Gulf of Pánormos forming a deep dent, Mykonos offers beaches of the South Aegean Sea, as one of the smaller islands of the eastern Cyclades, but with one of the biggest personalities. Mythology states that Mykonos, a rugged granite mass some 33 square miles (85 square km) in area, is a small rock thrown by Hercules to destroy the Giants. Dionysus-worshipping Ionians were the first settlers on the island, followed by Athenian influence, Frankish period, and the rule by the dukes of Naxos, before it got attached to Venice. Affected by the Greek War of Independence, the islanders with Manto Maroghenious in lead were able to resist the Turkish forces.

The capital, Mýkonos town on its west side thrives with tourism and renowned nightlife, while local specialties include colourful hand-woven garments, napkins, and rugs, as well as the amygdalota  delicacy, an almond cookie known all over Greece. The bohemian vibe of the 60s on the Mykonos island is complete with the world-recognized decadent sunrise parties and raves on famed beaches, while the influx of celebrities and supermodels, has led to the expansion of five-star hotels, restaurants, gay clubs, and personal trainers. For seclusion, there are tavernas overlooking Agios Sostis bay, or Delos, a tiny island and archaeological sanctuary that still carries the essence of the 30,000 sun worshippers from the past. A must see is the main, four-chapeled Rococo church of Paraportiani on the seashore, with curved vaults and coloured cupolas.

Paxos Island greece

Just south of Corfu, the exquisite Paxos, one of the smallest Ionian Islands, is a known cultural hub and the best place to get a taste of sophistication in a secluded environment, home to only 2,500 people. With three atmospheric harbor towns, Loggos, Lakka, and the main port Gaios, the latter one is favored by the stylish Italians who stroll along the streets among the complementing Venetian architecture and own the pale stone villas on the limestone cliffs along the western shoreline. It is part of a European network “Cultural Villages of Europe", with Italian dialect on the streets, and the red-tiled roofs and glowing peach-painted buildings. When in Paxos, one can enjoy calm strolls on the paths through vineyards and orchards descending into bays with electric blue sea.

The mythology states that Paxos was created by Poseidon, who, upon wanting to enjoy some alone time with his wife, Amphitrite, stroke Corfu with his strident to split it into these numerous shells. Famous for wines throughout its ancient history, this gathering of tiny islands that comprise Paxos, were fought over in the First Illyrian War, 229 BC, and until the chafing between the inhabitants and the British led to an independence movement, ending in successfully joining the new nation of Greece, in 1864. Aside from intriguing history, Paxos offers a vibrant art scene, including classical music, best known for putting on concerts in a spectacular natural setting and under the patronage of The Guildhall. The active can explore Marmari and Kipiadi, the enchanting pebble coves.

Santorini grrece

The largest of the Dodecanese of south-eastern Greece, Rhodes or Ródos in Modern Greek is separated by the Strait of Marmara from Turkey as the most easterly island in the Aegean Sea. Following the devastation of the Second World War fragmenting Rhodes into countless pieces, it rebuilt itself in less than half a century to become one of the world's top tourist destinations. One of the main attractions, the medieval citadel in Rhodes Town is composed of Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, synagogues and minarets, while the maze of alleys will eventually lead one to the famous 15th-century harem-styled guest-house, Marco Polo, inclusive with an enchanting garden restaurant. The chief town, Lindos, sits within magnificent cliffs among enchanting emerald coves, while the south beachfront contains golden stretches of Glystra, Tsambika, and Fourni sands.

The island is traversed by hills, the tallest of which is the summit of Atáviros at 3,986 feet (1,215 metres), while the capital and the namesake of the island sits on the northern tip, as the largest South Aegean city. Upon hiking Atáviros, one can marvel at the coast of Asia Minor and the Dodecanese archipelago. Historically infested with snakes, against which the farmers to this day wear tall boots, the island's name may have derived from this phenomenon with “ erod” being Phoenician for “snake.” The hilly geography inland offers Mount Attavyros with alpine forests, hilltop castles in the village of Monolithos, and the ancient ruins of Kamiros. The valleys serve as rich pasture, while the plains are highly yielding of many grains. 

Santorini Greece

Although most know this famous Greek island as Santorini, just as many know it by its former name, which is Thera. It was also called Calliste (“Most Beautiful”) in its ancient history, having been occupied even before 2000 BCE. Chosen by honeymooners and first-time visitors in Greece, they all pose to get a picture in front of Santorini's volcano at sunset. A romantic cliché on one hand, the volcano destroyed the island 3,500 years ago, causing many to believe that doomsday has arrived. In reality, the layers of ash perfectly preserved the ancient city of Akrotiri and added fertility to the ground to produce finest Assyrtiko grapes and Vinsanto wines. The black sands and head-spinning cliffs remind people of that electrifyingly tragic time that can be reminisced about during a boat trip to the Nea Kameni smouldering crater or the Palia Kameni hot springs. 

Thera is in essence, the remaining eastern half of the once-exploded volcano, inclusive with a bow-shaped rim and remnants of Thirasía and Aspronísi isles forming a lagoon with two active volcanic islets in the middle, Néa Kaméni (“New Burnt Island”) and Palaía Kaméni (“Old Burnt Island”). The striped red, white or black volcanic cliffs reach almost1,000 feet (300 metres) in height hugging the lagoon, while the summit made of limestone, Mount Profítis Ilías, sits at 1,857-foot (566-metre) in the southeast of Thera. The south of the island has preserved some of its natural charm, a perfect getaway for solitude-seekers for discoveries and self-reflection. 

One can't go wrong about choosing any of the above islands, as there is never a lack of activities, bars, and natural wonders. Island-hopping, on the other hand, will allow one to taste every side of the true Greek atmosphere, which is present on all of them. 

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How to island hop in Greece with Virgin Voyages.

Saying you’re going to the “Greek islands” is kind of like saying you’re going to “the Caribbean.” While the generalization certainly paints a vague picture in people’s minds, it doesn’t really do much else. There are over 100 inhabited islands in Greece, each of which has a distinct character, aesthetic, and culture.

The best Greek island to visit no matter what kind of traveler you are

From the whitewashed walls of Santorini to the glitzy club scene of Mykonos and the relaxing beaches of Corfu, there’s something for every kind of traveler in the Greek islands. The best part? You don’t have to choose just one. When you cruise the Greek islands , you get a taste of everything the Aegean has to offer on one voyage. These are the best islands to visit in Greece.

Corfu - Best island for beaches

Corfu’s unique geography lends itself to having some of the best beaches in the Greek islands. The cove-lined coastline is defined by a tranquil sheltered bay and narrow strips of land full of trees and plants. This means you can bask in the sun while also enjoying the shade. Beaches vary in character, too, from pebbled strands like Paleokastritsa Beach to sandy stretches of coastline like Canal d’Amour, famous for its hidden coves and caves.

Santorini - Best island for photo-ops

Santorini is an island that needs no introduction, because it’s probably already all over your Instagram feed. Famous for its whitewashed Cycladian architecture, this island was built to be in front of a camera. From the blue-domed churches and white rooftops of Oia, to cliffside views of the caldera islands from Imerovigli Village, it’s tough to find a place in Santorini that doesn’t make for an epic photo-op .

Crete - Best island for food

While you can find great traditional Greek food all over the country, Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, has one of the richest and most distinct culinary scenes. It all starts with raki , the traditional welcome drink that accompanies most meals on Crete. After a shot (or three) to tickle your palate, try a plate of dakos , Crete’s popular appetizer made with a twice-baked barley rusk and topped with olive oil and local cheese. Then indulge in kleftiko (baked lamb) or ahinosalata (sea urchin), a Cretan specialty.

Rhodes - Best island for culture

The Colossus of Rhodes might not have stood on the island for many centuries, but Rhodes is still one of the best Greek islands to visit for culture. The center of it all is the medieval citadel in Rhodes Old Town, where you can walk along the battlements with a view of Byzantine churches, synagogues, minarets, and Roman ruins. Check out the Archaeological Museum for a crash course in the island’s ancient history, or visit the Modern Greek Art Museum to get a sense of how the Greek artistic tradition is still going strong today.

Mykonos - Best island for nightlife

Mykonos could be semi-accurately called the Ibiza of the Greek islands. Sure, it has beautiful beaches and plenty of photo-worthy architecture, but where the island really shines is its nightlife and party scene. The heart of the action is in Mykonos Town, home to the island’s most popping bars and nightclubs, and beaches like Elia Beach, Psarou Beach, and Super Paradise Beach, are home to lively outdoor parties both day and night.

Walk in Odysseus’ footsteps…but with Virgin Voyages

The best part about visiting the Greek islands via cruise is that you don’t need to pick and choose which ones to visit, which to skip, and figure out how to get between them. Our 7-night Greek Island Glow voyage is the best Greek islands tour on the Aegean, starting in Piraeus (Athens) and visiting picturesque Santorini, the historic hub of Rhodes, Bodrum in Turkey, and overnighting on lively Mykonos before heading back to Athens. From the Byzantine ruins of Rhodes to the bucolic hills of Santorini and the epic nightlife of Mykonos, you’ll see more of Greece in a week than you ever thought possible. To visit Crete, Greece’s largest island, check out our Modern Med to Ancient Aegean trip. This 11-night odyssey sails from Barcelona to Cannes, Ajaccio, Cagliari, Sardinia, Sicily, Valletta, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, and ends in Athens. If you think it sounds like a whirlwind journey, you’re right. If you think it sounds like the island-hopping trip of a lifetime, you’re also right. 

Go island-hopping in Greece on our Greek island voyage .

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The Best Greek Islands to Visit for Wine Lovers

With a bounty of vines and great local produce, the Cyclades have more to offer than just sun and sea.

MICK ROCK/CEPHAS PICTURE LIBRARY

The island of Santorini has had vines for nearly as long as it has had sunsets, and the best of the wines it produces are equally spectacular: stony whites that bathe the taste buds in a bright mineral glow. When evening falls, crowds gaze out across the caldera as the sea ahead of them and the white buildings behind turn a luminous orange, unaware that the volcanic eruption in about 1600 B.C. that left only this west-facing crescent jutting above the waves also layered the island with volcanic debris that today gives rise to unique and wonderful wines.

Santorini is the most famous vine-growing island in the Cyclades region, just southeast of the Greek mainland. Even Mykonos , which no longer makes much wine, had vineyards (and fig, olive, and apple trees) supplying the Temple of Apollo back in the third century B.C. Surely, I figured, a region that could keep the gods well fed would have a few treats for me, too. So I asked winemakers where to eat and restaurateurs what to drink, and I consulted travel experts for their tips. They all talked about the amazing vegetables and pungent herbs, the freshest fish, and exceptional cheeses. And once I got there, I also talked to hoteliers, which turned out to be risky: None of them could bear to hold a conversation without feeding me.

I found two styles of cooking on the islands, one rustic, the other sophisticated — but both plucked ingredients from the surrounding fields, and both drew on ideas from the past. Traces of the old ways were faintly visible even on smart, modern menus, like the sunken second curve of Santorini’s caldera beneath the surface of the Mediterranean.

COURTESY OF KATIKIES GARDEN SANTORINI

On a sun-dappled terrace on Naxos, a group of us gathered to learn the ancient art of cooking over a wood fire. Appropriately for an island referred to by first-century B.C. Roman poet Virgil as “famed for vintage,” our day had begun with wine, when Maria Polikreti greeted us with tiny glasses of rosy red wine — very refreshing, even if it was 10:30 a.m. Her mother, Juliana, then showed us how to hollow out giant tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchini from the vast tiered kitchen garden and to pack them with rice and herbs for a dish called gemista (which means “stuffed”), Maria offering encouragement and Juliana making effective use of her three words of English: “Bravo, very good!”

This dish went into the humpbacked oven, along with hunks of lamb thrown into an earthenware pot with rosemary, bay leaves, wild oregano, chunks of potato, cut oranges, and a half-jug (“the Greek version of a teaspoon”) of olive oil. The potatoes were sprinkled with dried mint so pungent it smelled like licorice. From a makeshift roof hung the biggest bunch of onions I have ever seen. Loukoumades , doughnuts drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, concluded the huge meal.

I was offered a lift back to my hotel by Maria’s husband, Ioannis Margaritis, the governor of Naxos and owner of Naxian on the Beach hotel, a trip that included a detour for a glass of wine on the hotel terrace facing the water. That glass came accompanied by a parade of dishes including smoky chargrilled prawns over Naxian grains, and local tuna topped with colorful slivers of pepper and strawberry. My reminders that I’d just eaten half a lamb did no good. I was here to explore the culinary delights of the Cyclades, and Margaritis was making sure I did just that.

The day before, on Tinos’ windy heights, I had admired orderly rows of vines improbably located among tumbled granite boulders called volakes, which reappeared in the wines as minerality and finesse, over-laid with saltiness from those sea breezes. I was surprised at the wines’ elegance in this wild, almost waterless environment, where millennia of wine-making ended because of wars, pirates, and disease: “This is a very austere place,” said Eleni Blouchou of T-Oinos winery. T-Oinos is another blend of old and new, a 21st-century collaboration between Alexandros Avatangelos, Alain Ducasse’s head sommelier Gérard Margeon, and renowned wine consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt that has brought back the vines.

COURTESY OF VEDEMA RESORT

T-Oinos’ reds and rosés are made from Mavrotragano grapes, the whites from Assyrtiko. Both varieties come from Santorini, where vines grow in nests, close to the volcanic soil. The leaves shelter the grapes like a mother hen with her chicks. There are vines here said to be 200 years old, but at his new winery in his family’s old cellar on the island’s northern tip, Paris Sigalas goes back still further, vinifying his superb Assyrtikos in amphorae, the terracotta vessels the ancients used before barrels were invented. Now in his 70s, he has swapped the thriving Sigalas winery for this tiny project he has named Oeno P. He says winemaking is “like jazz: First there’s dissolution, then synthesis.” He was referring to his Tria Ampelia, from three single vineyards of old Assyrtiko vines, which was as clear and pure as a ringing bell.

There were more great wines in Selene, a restaurant in the tranquil cloistered courtyard of the Katikies Garden hotel that has been overseen by chef Ettore Botrini, of Michelin-starred Botrini’s, and Master of Wine Yiannis Karakasis since 2021. The hotel was once part of the monastery next door. (“There are still nuns there. We have never seen them, but we see their tomato plants,” a server told me.) And those wines accompanied magnificent food, again inspired by traditional Cyclades gastronomy: bread made with a broth of fava beans and carrots rather than water; smoked eel with capers and pollen; tomatoes, grown with very little water, in forms from tartare to tart.

Everywhere I went, from vineyards and farms to restaurants, I found this same symbiosis: elegance in the wine and traces of rusticity in the restaurant. On Sifnos at Narlis Farm, George Narlis showed his guests how to grind fava flour using a giant millstone and make delicious dishes including beans with artichokes, mizithra (a creamy cheese), and lamb (although Sifnian cuisine, he said, is “mostly vegetarian”). At Cantina, a waterside restaurant on a rocky ledge below the town of Kastro, the food was a brilliant blend of local and international inspiration: We could opt for dry-aged fish collarbone or fish ribs cooked over charcoal — even allowing for rough translations from the Greek, both sounded intriguing. We ate calamari, grilled on an open fire with fresh beans and herbs, a gorgeous sequel to raw amberjack fish with seashore plants and crispy fried skin. Chickpea panisses, like giant french fries, were accessorized with a tangy sauce made from pumpkin. And at the elegant Kalesma hotel on Mykonos, the taramasalata, a traditional cod-roe dip, was pepped up with salty sea urchin, and thick pipes of sun-dried octopus were roasted with capers, wild sea greens, and Mykonian sausage “dust.” All these sophisticated dishes drew on traditions that were ancient even in Virgil’s time.

On our way to the Santorini airport, I squeezed in a last treat. At Gaia Wines, a few steps from the ocean, Leto Paraskevopoulou makes a wonderfully herbaceous Wild Ferment Assyrtiko and another called Ammonite, rich yet minerally and so good I’ve been searching for it ever since. The Cyclades may, these days, be famed for attractions other than vintage, but winemaking is deeply rooted in their soils. And some traditions are well worth traveling for.

COURTESY MIKRO KARAVI

Getting there

There are no direct flights from the U.S. to the Cyclades; travelers can connect in transit through Athens for a short domestic flight or fly directly to Santorini or Mykonos via European hubs such as London, Milan, Frankfurt, or Paris. If you prefer the scenic route, various ferries shuttle between Athens and the islands, the fastest connecting Athens to Mykonos in 2.5 hours and Athens to Santorini in 4.5 hours.

Guided tours

Nina Caplan was the guest of Scott Dunn , whose experts can customize gastronomy-focused trips to the Cyclades with a 12-night stay throughout Mykonos, Naxos, Sifnos, and Santorini, including flights, ferries, and accommodation.

Where to eat, drink, and cook in the Greek islands

COURTESY OF KALESMA MYKONOS

Tinos Town (Tinos)

At Tinos Town , a lovely restaurant in a peaceful courtyard near the ferry terminal, every check comes with a sweetener: a complimentary snifter of sweet red wine with spices.

Cantina (Kastro, Sifnos)

A zero-waste restaurant right on the water, Cantina is creatively reimagining traditional dishes and working hard to be sustainable as well as delicious.

Metaxi Mas (Exogonia, Santorini)

With a terrace overlooking the ocean, Metaxi Mas blends Cretan influence with local produce, plus the kind of wine list you’d expect from a place surrounded by wineries — especially when the winemakers all eat here.

Naxian Experiences (Naxos)

Anthony Bourdain was captivated by Juliana Polikreti’s cooking in a wood-burning oven and over an open fire between two rocks, and so was I. Naxian Experiences offers organic wood-fire cooking classes.

Rizes Folklore Farmstead (Mykonos)

This ancestral farm owned by the Zouganeli family and decorated with their heirlooms is near AnoMera. There are geese and horses (they offer horse riding with beach picnics), good food- and bread-making classes, and now simple accommodation, too.

Narlis Farms (Sifnos)

George Narlis farms without water and welcomes tourists into his homestead for cooking lessons, great food, and a good many stories.

Where to stay in the Cyclades

Kalesma (mykonos).

Designed as a luxurious riff on a Mykonian village, Kalesma opened in 2021 with 28 suites and villas and a superb restaurant. Rooms from $1,103

Vedema Resort (Santorini)

In the wine village of Megalochori, the sprawling Vedema Resort (which evolved from a historic winery) has two pools, dramatic views of Santorini’s nestlike vines, and a 400-year-old wine cellar. Rooms from $393

Katikies Garden (Santorini)

A former monastery in Fira, Katikies Garden is now a luxury hotel with a rooftop pool and a superb restaurant, Selene, which focuses on local fare, in the former cloisters. Rooms from $413

Verina Astra (Sifnos)

Verina Astra is a lovely hotel with coastal walks into the town of Kastro and views out toward Paros from individual patios, the pool, or their restaurant, Bostani, which blends fine-dining techniques with local ingredients and has an excellent wine list. Rooms from $237

18 Grapes (Naxos)

Minutes from the beach on the west coast of Naxos, this small hotel is named for its 18 rows of grapevines. To top it off, 18 Grapes has a stunning poolside restaurant on the rooftop and a small, luxurious spa. Rooms from $253

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14 of the best Greek island hotels

I t’s not hard to understand the enduring appeal of a Greek island getaway — powdery soft sands, picturesque white and blue villages, translucent seas and incredible food.

And with so many atolls to choose from (some 277), the good news is that there’s a sanctuary to suit everyone. Whether you prefer a hillside retreat or a beachier aesthetic, we’ve got all the inspiration you need for your very own Greek odyssey.

Santa Marina, Mykonos

With an infinity pool complete with sunken cabanas, the only private beach in Mykonos and curved white stone suites, the Santa Marina is akin to a Greek legend. It’s what keeps guests coming back year after year. A perfect fly and flop destination, days can be punctuated by rubbing shoulders with the chic set at the Buddha-Bar Beach and sampling authentic Greek dishes and fine wines at Elais restaurant (named after Apollo’s granddaughter, who had the magic ability to make olive bushes grow and trees bear fruit). Or if you can tear yourself away, you’ll be rewarded with what’s beyond the stunning peninsula. Hire a boat and explore the surrounding ancient island of Delos or the turquoise coves of uninhabited Rhenia. For more R&R, the Ginkgo spa is a beautiful space, with mosaic tiles mingling with contemporary touches. Treatments by ESPA and 111SKIN promise to balance body and mind, in keeping with the Greek Harmonia ethos.

Details: rooms from £400 a night; santa-marina.gr

The Rooster, Antiparos

With its breathtaking beaches, tranquil Antiparos long remained one of Greece ’s best-kept secrets. But word is out, thanks to The Rooster, a slow-living retreat comprised of 16 villas that blend seamlessly into a landscape of olive-trees, lavender and wild grasses, each with its own private pool. With no televisions in the rooms, this is a place to fully disconnect – there’s daily yoga at the House of Healing spa included in the room price to help you do just that. The rugged landscape slopes down to the crescent beach of Livadia, where you can enjoy a picnic basket packed by the affable staff, and the best sunset views on the island.

Details: rooms from about £730 a night; theroosterantiparos.com

Istoria, Santorini

Santorini has come to epitomise the ultimate Greek island paradise, and the beautiful boutique hotel Istoria is proof that it deserves such a reputation. Nestled on the south coast, on the shore of the Perivolos soft black sand beach, the 12 rustic suites are decorated in a seductive mix of terracotta, wood and concrete, with marble-topped console tables and ceramic pendant lights. There’s a restaurant led by acclaimed chef Yiannis Kioroglou, and the Elios spa offering a range of holistic treatments; not to mention the longest pool on the island, with super comfy loungers and a sunken pool for those daily Aperol spritz.

Details: rooms from about £410 a night; istoriahotel.gr

The Wild Hotel, Mykonos

From the team behind Mykonos’ beloved Interni restaurant, comes The Wild Hotel, set dramatically in a natural amphitheatre on cliffs overlooking Kalafati Beach. Each of the 40 white-walled suites and villas has been designed with the shapes and colours of traditional Greek architecture in mind. From the blonde-wood ceiling beams to the wicker chairs, and private pools with views across the Aegean Sea, these chic havens offer total tranquillity. Naturally, the food is delicious – enjoy classic Mediterranean dishes, including moussaka and stuffed vine leaves, with a contemporary twist.

The details: rooms from about £375 a night; thewildhotel.com

It’s easy to fall in love with OKU Hotel’s adults-only sanctuary in Kos (they also have a dreamy outpost in Ibiza). This is laidback luxury at its best — minimalist bohemian interiors, a glossy pool to float in, a private sandy beach, and a farm-to-fork menu of delights including homemade tzatziki and Aegean seabass with coriander and black olives. Junior swim-up suites are seriously spacious and decorated in neutral tones, with powerful waterfall showers in the bathroom, direct access to a pool (shared between one or two other rooms) and hammocks on the shady terrace — the perfect spot to curl up with a holiday read in the midday heat.

Details: rooms from about £191 a night; okuhotels.com

Verina Astra, Sifnos

Sifnos is one of the lesser-known destinations in the Cyclades but it’s certainly worthy of your attention. Stay at clifftop hideaway Verina Astra, where daily life is simple: wake to a glorious orange sunrise before making your way down to breakfast (think poached eggs with brioche and pancakes with walnuts and thyme honey). In the afternoons, some guests choose to laze by the saltwater infinity pool — Pantone-matched to just the right shade of Aegean blue — while more active visitors will enjoy the hotel’s access to some of the most scenic walking trails in Greece. If you find your muscles need soothing afterwards then book into the recently opened Bostani Spa where treatments use a blend of ELEMIS products with local aromatic herbs and plants, loved by locals for centuries.

Details: rooms from about £171 a night; verinahotelsifnos.com

Naxian on the Beach, Naxos

A stone’s throw from the golden sands of Naxos, Naxian on the Beach is a breezy, laid-back lair that invites you to kick off your shoes and forget about them for the entirety of your stay. The ten guest rooms are curated with local, natural materials and each one has an indoor or outdoor Jacuzzi, plus a terrace overlooking the sparkling water of the Aegean. Foodies will be extremely happy here — the Tortuga restaurant quite rightly focusses on fresh seafood, from perfectly grilled lobster to zingy ceviche, with dishes so good you’ll want to eat them twice over.

Details: rooms from about £180 a night; naxianonthebeach.com

Domes Zeen Chania, Crete

Part of The Luxury Collection’s excellent roster of hotels, Domes Zeen Chania is one of the most picturesque hotels in Crete, set in a tropical estate dotted with banana and palm trees. Although it’s tempting to stay cocooned in your room or bungalow, surrounded by light grey drapes, rattan furnishings and marble floors, don’t miss the chance to swim a few lengths in the sleek pool, or dine at Enino Gastronomy Restaurant, where there’s an excellent local wine list to match the Cretan-inspired food. If you want to venture further afield, the characterful old port town of Chania, one of the oldest settlements in the world, is within walking distance and well worth a visit.

Details: rooms from about £213 a night; domesresorts.com

Elounda Peninsula, Crete

If Crete is the island in your sights, it doesn’t get much better than Elounda Peninsula. Boasting its own smooth sand beach, the suite-only hotel has boutique vibes and unbeatable views across the Aegean Sea and Sitia mountains. Last year it had a sleek, modern makeover, with all suites and villas rebuilt, and a new beachfront villa with a pool was added. It also boasts the largest waterfront accommodation in Crete, the six-bedroom Diamond Residence — in case you and your crew are feeling flush. Add a Six Senses spa, a multi-award-winning Japanese restaurant, Sumosan, water sports and a nine-hole golf course and you’ll be hard pushed to explore everything the hotel has to offer during your stay. Visitors with little ones will be delighted by the kids’ club (which is complimentary for ages five and up) and includes a basketball court, arts and crafts activities, football and baking sessions. Plus there’s an all-important water slide. Thrills for all ages.

Details: rooms from about £420 a night (breakfast included); eloundapeninsula.com

The Olivar Suites, Corfu

If your holiday vibe is a home away from home, you’ll love Olivar Suites for its village vibe, located near the island’s Old Town. Its low rise suites all come with a private pool, garden or sundeck and are arranged around a gorgeous late 18th century olive oil mill, amid the beautiful scenery of the Corfiot south east coast with its perpetually blue Ionian Sea and sky. Committed to wellbeing and with a focus on low environmental impact, the hotel’s beach restaurant uses local produce to curate a Mediterranean menu inspired by Nonas (Greek grandmas). It is also plastic-free zone and was built with natural local materials such as plenty of olive wood. Don’t visit without trying the Aegeo spa, with ancient Greek influences on the treatment menu including Olympic-inspired and olive oil massages. A bonus for pet owners: small furry friends are welcome to stay in your suite for an additional 10 euro a day.

Details: rooms from £163, olivarsuites.gr

Olea All Suite Hotel, Zakynthos

As the name suggests, all the 93 rooms at the Olea All Suite Hotel max out on space without compromising on style. The property marks a new era for hospitality on Zakynthos, Greece’s greenest island, with a modernist design led by the Athens and Stockholm-based practice Block722architects+ that nods to the area’s lush landscape. Alongside three restaurants and three bars, you’ll find a 4000 sqm swimming pool, a yoga pavilion, a fully equipped gym and the fantastic Royal Spa offering relaxing treatments with the help of German brand Babor.

Details: rooms from about £371 a night; oleaallsuitehotel.com

Andronis Arcadia, Santorini

The newest addition to the Andronis family of hotels, Andronis Arcadia is an idyllic escape named after the mythical home of the god Pan, a place of natural harmony and enchantment. You’ll certainly feel more relaxed and balanced after a stay here, away from the crowded caldera-side of Santorini, with just the island’s unforgettable sunsets for company. At the heart of the hotel is a sizeable pool, lined with low-slung loungers and white, crocheted umbrellas, where DJs spin mellow beats and you can order tasty snacks including traditional mezze and sushi.

Details: rooms from £560 a night; andronis.com

Cali Mykonos

Privacy is key at the just opened Cali Mykonos, an ultraluxe Cycladic escape six years in the making, whose 40 minimalist villas overlook the deep, blue Aegean. By day, take a dip in the serene infinity pool or head to the hotel’s own secluded stretch of beach where you can lounge in peace from dusk till dawn. Nothing is too much to ask – they even offer a fleet of yachts and speed boats for rides into the Old Town or to explore remote atolls – and there’s gourmet cuisine to match from Greece’s first Michelin-starred chef, Lefteris Lazarou.

Details: rooms from about £1,000 a night; calimykonos.com

MarBella, Corfu

If you plan to do the Greek Isles with kids, this contemporary outpost from the Marbella Group on the south east coast of Corfu has something to offer the whole family. 67 rooms and suites have been recently renovated or extended in sleek style and a fifth restaurant, the beach-side Kuzina serving Meditteranean fare, added to its offering of pan Asian, Italian and classic Greek. When you’re not flopping by the infinity pool, a gym, sauna and hammam will help you work up an appetite aided by the team from London wellness agency OYOGO. As for the little ones they’ll be awe-struck by the sight of the hotel’s own mini water park, while older kids can enjoy free watersports, from snorkelling to kayaking.

Details: rooms from 235 euros a night on premium all inclusive; marbella.gr

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My family’s from the Greek island of longevity, where people often live to 100: The 12 foods we always eat

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On Ikaria, the Greek island where people "forget to die," as one centenarian told longevity expert Dan Buettner , is one of a handful of Blue Zones around the globe where people live an inordinately long time. 

In 2009, Greek physicians and researchers found that 13% of Ikarians in their study were over 80, compared to about 1.5% of the global population and about 4% in North America and Europe. People on the island were 10 times more likely to live to 100 than Americans .

I have deep family roots on Ikaria, and for almost two decades, I've been running a cooking school out of the kitchen and garden of my village home. My pantry is culled from the traditions of the Mediterranean: chock-full of all the things that have long given food its flavor in this part of the world.

Here's what's in an Ikaria-inspired pantry:

Beans and legumes

These are among the seminal ingredients of the Ikarian way of eating. Adding them to your everyday meal plan is proven to increase longevity and can help you phase meat out of your diet. Try:

  • Broad beans (aka, fava beans)
  • Gigantes (giant beans)

I couldn't imagine my life or kitchen without garlic! It's the ultimate flavor-packing, health - providing natural ingredient. There's a virtual pharmacopeia of goodness in every clove.

Modern-day Ikarians swear by it. My daughter makes a preventive infusion of raw garlic, mountain or sage tea, ginger, and honey, which she consumes when the temperature drops or she feels a cold coming on — advice taken from our friend, Yiorgos Stenos, 91.

Garlic makes almost everything taste better. It sweetens up as it softens and cooks, lending an almost caramelized flavor to so many different foods.

Whole grains are an integral part of the Ikaria diet. Here are a few different types to keep on hand:

  • Pasta, especially whole wheat pasta and gluten-free, high-protein, bean-based pastas, such as chickpea and lentil pastas

On Ikaria, myriad herbs grow wild and most of us can grow a few pots of fresh herbs at home, even if it's just on the windowsill. I use herbs with abandon in many of my recipes.

Most families have a cupboard packed with dried herbs, the therapeutic qualities of which are contained in the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Basic dried herbs include: 

Nuts are an important ingredient in many of my plant-based recipes and traditionally are an important ingredient in Greek regional cooking. They grow abundantly throughout the country.

Here are a few of the most popular — and healthiest:

  • Sesame seeds and tahini

Olives have been a staple in the Greek diet since prehistoric times, and they're one of the many preserves I always keep stocked.

In Greece, they're traditionally eaten on their own or in salads. I love to pair them with pantry staples like beans or pasta and other grains.

Olive oil is the defining food of the Mediterranean diet and an absolute must in the pantry. 

Many of the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, and, by extension, the Ikaria diet, are attributed to the health properties of olive oil . I only use extra virgin oil, which simply means the oil is unrefined.

On Ikaria, many people, myself included, use sea salt that collects in the small natural salt basins that have formed along the island's rocky coastline over eons. It tastes better than regular table salt, which comes from mines and is heavily processed.  

This is one of my personal favorites. Consuming honey daily is one of the longevity secrets of the islanders. Honey is antibacterial , rich in antioxidants including flavonoids , and — unlike white sugar or artificial sweeteners — helps the body to regulate blood sugar levels . Many people here eat a spoonful every morning . 

You can add a liberal drizzle to your tea or a breakfast smoothie bowl, or whisk it into dressings.

Dried fruits

Figs and raisins are two dried fruits I always have on hand to use in all sorts of savory dishes, especially in salads and rice dishes.

Yogurt is a fermented food that has been part of the culinary tapestry of the Eastern Mediterranean for thousands of years. The traditional yogurt on Ikaria is produced with goat's milk and has a delicious sour flavor and creamy texture.

If goat's milk yogurt isn't to your liking, you might prefer the Greek yogurt commonly found in American supermarkets, which is similarly rich in probiotics.

Feta and similar cheeses

Almost all the cheese Ikarians make and eat is produced with goat's milk or sheep's milk, like feta. Much of it is naturally fermented.

Over the years of teaching mostly Americans who come to my classes, I've had many guests who are lactose intolerant but are able to enjoy the island's traditional goat's milk cheeses and even a glass or two of fresh goat's milk without a problem.

Diane Kochilas is the host and co-executive producer of " My Greek Table ," runs the Glorious Greek Cooking School on her native island Ikaria, and is the author of 18 books on Greek cuisine, including most recently, " The Ikaria Way: 100 Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Inspired by My Homeland, the Greek Island of Longevity ."

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What a brain expert eats in a day to boost memory and stay sharp

From " The Ikaria Way: 100 Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Inspired By My Homeland, the Greek Island of Longevity ," by Diane Kochilas, Copyright © 2024 by the author, and reprinted with permission of St. Martin's Publishing Group.

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