Located on the west coast of Greece, the Ionian Islands form an archipelago capable of summarizing very well what tourists can find in the thousands of islands in the country.
Paradise beaches and the sea colored by stunning shades of blue, breathtaking natural landscapes, historical and cultural wealth and mouth-watering cuisine are undeniable reasons to include some of them in the itinerary.
Got a taste of want more? So, come find out all about this set of islands and essential tips when planning your trip!
Ionian Islands: complete tour of the most beautiful
When talking about Greek islands, which ones come to your mind as possible destinations for that dream vacation trip?
Possibly, Mykonos or Santorini are among the most remembered. But anyone who has heard about the Ionian Islands knows that they deserve a special look when thinking about any trip through Greek territory.
Zakynthos, Corfu and Kefalonia are some of the islands in Greece that form this set in the Ionian Sea.
Also known as “Seven Islands”, they draw attention for mountainous scenery, cliffs and green landscapes that combine for wonderful postcards.
And as the subject is Greece, rest assured that the cinematographic beaches will not be lacking, from the hottest to the wild.
What are the Ionian Islands?
The fact that the Ionian Islands are known as the “Seven Islands” may lead many people to think that they are restricted to that number.
However, the archipelago is made up of about 30 islands, the seven largest of which are the “honored” ones and make their name count. Besides Corfu, Kefalonia and Zakynthos, the others are: Ithaca, Kythira, Lefkada and Paxos.
All, including the smaller islets, are part of a universe of approximately 6,000 islands that are part of the territory of Greece.
Which is the largest of the Ionian Islands?
Kefalonia, or Kefalonia, Greece, is the largest of the islands that make up the archipelago located in the Ionian Sea.
Considered the sixth largest Greek island, it has more than 780 km² and a population of over 35 thousand inhabitants. For many travelers, it is one of the favorite destinations in the Ionian Islands, as it is a region of wilder nature and has an enchanting capital (Argostoli).
Map of the Ionian Islands
The Ionian Sea, where this set of islands is located, is located on the west coast of Greece, in a region considered to be less developed.
They are scattered from the north, near the Albanian border, south of the Greek coast. See the map we have prepared with the main islands to facilitate your itinerary!
When to go to the Ionian Islands?
Due to the idyllic beaches that exist on many Greek islands, it is almost a consensus that summer is the right time to make this trip.
For those who make such an option, one more positive aspect: the temperatures in the Ionian Islands are milder than in other islands in the country, great for those who have certain reservations about the heat.
But take into account that from the end of June to September, in the European summer, tourism in Greece is at its peak. In addition to more crowded beaches and islands, prices, from accommodation to restaurants, will be a little more expensive.
Traveling in October, early November, April or May becomes an interesting alternative, as these are low season months, with less traffic and more affordable prices.
How to get to the Ionian Islands?
The islands of Corfu and Zakynthos are the main access routes for tourists, since both have international airports.
Corfu, for example, even receives flights from other European capitals, such as London. But the main air routes to the two islands do leave from Athens, the Greek capital.
And did you know that you can get from Athens to Corfu by car? The route cuts through the country’s territory to Igoumenitsa, from where you take a ferry to cross the sea to the island.
Which islands to visit?
Time to learn a little more about the best Ionian islands, those that cannot be missed on your tourist trip in Greece.
Discover the attractions that the seven largest islands in the region have and find out why they are worth the visit!
Described in Homer’s Odyssey as “a rich and beautiful land,” Corfu lives up to the mentions of one of the most important names in ancient Greek literature.
The beauties of Corfu are visible in every landscape: the mountainous coast, the stunning beaches, the scenery taken by the green of olive trees and cypresses.
The translation of wealth is very visible in the ancient city of Corfu (Kerkyra). It retains the influence of the different peoples that controlled it, such as the Italians’ Venetian alleys and the British neoclassical buildings.
By car in Corfu, drive to the northwest of the island to see the Canal D’Amour, surrounded by caves, cliffs and smaller beaches, and livelier beaches like Sunset Beach and its unmissable sunset.
The island of Zakynthos is undoubtedly among the best Greek islands for summer holidays.
Those who like beautiful beaches, those difficult to describe, need to know this place. From Agios Nikolaos to Tsilivi, from Gerakas to Alykanas, the scenery will surprise you.
But none of these beaches have the reputation of Navagio Beach, the main attraction on the island. In addition to the crystal blue sea surrounded by huge rocks, the ship wrecked since 1980 gives the place an extra charm.
To the south, you can visit Estrófades, a small island that is part of the Marine Park of Zakynthos.
The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia or the island of Kefalonia, is ideal for tourists who feel at home in nature.
The look of much of the island is wild and untouched by mass tourism — although some places are high on visitors’ wish lists, such as the gorgeous beaches of Myrtos Bay, with its towering cliffs, and Petani Bay.
In Kefalonia is also Mount Ainos, the highest point in the Ionian Islands, with 1,628 meters of altitude, and a different alternative for a walk.
In towns and villages you can see traces of Italian influence on the island, as in Assos, decorated with colorful houses and a Venetian fortress.
Lefkada has an interesting differential for tourists traveling through mainland Greece to think about getting to know it.
Of all the islands in the archipelago, it is the only one connected to the mainland by a bridge, meaning that the flow of cars to the island is smooth.
Once there, it’s hard to regret it, mainly because of the view of the beaches. Some of them are surrounded by white cliffs, in contrast to the sea worthy of the nickname “Greek Caribbean”.
Egremni Beach and Porto Katsiki are among its most popular beaches. Tourists who don’t want to swim in the sea can cool off in Nidri’s waterfalls.
Paxos and Antipaxos
Just south of Corfu, Paxos may hold the title of best Greek holiday island if your goal is to find tranquility.
The island is inhabited by about 3,000 people and is very calm, without the hustle and bustle of other neighbors.
Apart from the beautiful beaches surrounded by nature, such as Mongonissi Beach, cultural programs are great attractions for those who visit, such as visiting local museums.
As the island is small and easily explored, head for Antipaxos — even smaller and further south, but with enthralling beaches like Voutoumi and Vrika.
Another pleasant destination for those who like peace is Ithaca, almost right next to Kefalonia.
There, it is possible to see and breathe the culture in an intense way. Villages such as Vathý, full of Venetian houses, and Perachori hide small treasures to be discovered on attentive walks by visitors.
Ithaca is also present in Homer’s Odyssey, which recounts Odysseus’ epic paths to his homeland and the Cave of Nymphs.
As you can’t talk about a Greek island without a beach, note the must-sees of Ithaca: Sarakiniko and Filiatro are the right places to enjoy sea, sand and sun.
Of the seven main islands in the Ionian Sea, the last of them, Kythira, is the only one located south of the Peloponnese.
Also known as Citera, a heritage of the Venetian domain, it can be pointed out as a “cemetery” of ancient castles, as it houses ruins of fortresses such as Mylopotamos and the Castle of Citera (Fortetsa).
In terms of beaches, Kaladi Beach and Kapsali are owners of the typical beauties of the beaches that are seen on the islands of Greece. Still talking about natural beauty, waterfalls and caves are part of the attractions that Kythira has to offer.
Other Ionian Islands
It is not because the smaller islands have not been honored with the same intensity as the “Seven Islands” that they should be ignored by tourists.
Departing from the main bases of the archipelago, several tours lead to smaller and equally enchanting destinations on the Ionian Sea.
Elafonisos, near Kythira, is one of the most intriguing, with the right to a submerged city in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Sapienza and Schiza are two islands also south of the Peloponnese, famous for their rocky shores and deep water.
Going up a bit, Sfacteria became famous for having been the scene of the Battle of the Peloponnese.
Kalamos has pebble beaches with clear waters, ideal for diving, while Meganisi maintains a peaceful environment for those who want to rest away from the hustle and bustle.
How to make a tour of the Ionian Islands?
Discovering several incredible islands, with unforgettable landscapes and rich in history, is that your vibe? So here’s the country you can’t miss on your itinerary: Greece.
No wonder that the country’s archipelagos are world famous and attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.
And how to visit Greek islands that are in the Ionian Sea? There are two interesting ways, from a logistical point of view, for tourists.
The first of these, and perhaps the most indicated, is to leave Corfu and head south, exploring the main islands in the region. The other option is to take the opposite route and “climb” from Zakynthos, which would leave Citera out of the itinerary.
How to get around the islands?
Ferries, the popular ferry boats. This is the means of transport for those who want to travel between the islands and get to know as many of them as possible.
Passenger-only boats are a recent novelty, considering that the islands are one of the best attractions in Greece.
But, pay close attention to the schedule: often departures are very early, so it is necessary to plan not to “miss” a day away from the desired paradise.
Where to go: Ionian islands or Cyclades?
Didn’t sit on what are the Cyclades? Remember the beginning of this post: Mykonos and Santorini are some of the islands that occupy the northern Aegean Sea.
When it comes to pointing out which are the most beautiful Greek islands, it is common to remember them. But after learning about the Jônicas, that question may arise about where to go.
The best tiebreaker is the style of travel the tourist is looking for. The Cyclades are almost synonymous with hype, while the Ionian Islands, although strong in tourism, receive a public interested in less activity.
Is it still difficult? If you have time, schedule a trip through both regions and decide which is the best — and don’t forget to tell us!