With more than 227 Greek islands, it’s not difficult for you to be in doubt when choosing your destination on a tour of Greece. In addition to the quantity, you can say that each one has its special touch, making the choice even more complicated. Hidden beaches, villages, cliffs, mythical stories, agitated or tranquil. There are many features to consider when choosing where to go.
But to help you on this mission, we have separated the 11 best Greek islands for you to discover. All with stunning beaches and breathtaking landscapes.
Mykonos is the right choice for those looking for parties and excitement. Known as ‘Ibiza of Greece’ there you will also find the best gay clubs, models and super yachts coming and going on the beach. Getting there is easy – there are daily speedboats from Athens to Mykonos or half-hour flights that only make the island more agitated. Although the festivals are the highlight of Mykonos, the island also has other interesting attractions. It’s worth checking out Chora’s beautiful windmills, Elias’ beach and the mysterious monasteries of Ano Mera – all contributing to the island’s stunning scenery.
If you choose a unique postcard of the Greek islands, without a doubt Santorini is the one that best represents it. You may have seen several photos around those little white cubist houses forming a dream village – they are Oia and Fira. It is from these villages that you can enjoy breathtaking views of the most famous sunset in the world. But Santorini is history too, and you can see that in the fascinating Museum of Thera Prehistory and the archaeological site of Minoan Akrotiri. If you’re looking for the ‘must see’ on your Greece itinerary, you can include Santorini.
In Crete you will find a more rustic and historic environment. The island is filled with ruined port towns that make the environment more charming. It is also in Crete that you will see the greenest olive plantations in Greece and find great food wherever you go. And as you don’t live only on beaches in Greece, on this island you’ll find a great place to go hiking – the Garganta de Samariá. Other important points to visit are the snowy summits of Lefka Ori and the mythical Mount Ida. But is there a beach in Crete? Have. They are wilder like Falasarna in the west of the island, Elafonisi in the Libyan Sea and bustling Heraklion.
In your tour of the Greek islands, you might consider Zakynthos as a good candidate. Nobody can resist the famous Shipwreck Bay landscape where cliffs of white stone hide a crystalline Greek beach as you always imagined. And you may have heard of the famous Navagio beach. It is the most popular on the island and considered a “must visit” point. That’s why you can find it a little more crowded than the others and with boats that come and go full of tourists. Another enchanting place for nature lovers is Vassilikos Peninsula with its stone caves and rustic taverns.
But there is also a party in Zakhynthos – for that, look for the streets of Laganas and Kalamaki.
Milos has a special touch among the Greek islands – a landscape formed by the region’s volcanic activity that makes you feel like you’re on the moon. It is so unique that it attracts many photographers to this place. The beaches around here are also special with their crystal clear waters amidst such “lunar” rocks. The natural beauty is complemented by the colorful little houses by the sea known as assýrmata, which are used to house fishermen’s boats during the winter.
You can’t travel to the Greek islands without thinking about the country’s mythical stories. The island of Corfu will make you feel it more intensely. After all, this is the home of Poseidon and the ancient Phaeacians. The island’s villages carved by the hands of the Byzantine, Venetian and British Empires have been recognized by Unesco as a historical heritage site and for that reason alone are worth your visit. But Corfu is not just history. The beach at Cape Drastis is breathtaking because of its blue and beautiful surroundings. And the most famous beach is Porto Timoni with that Greek sea just the way you dreamed. The island also has a charming marina, the Mandraki and a special spot for those looking for romance – the Canal d’Amour. It is there, on this canal facing the blue sea and between white walls, that some couples take the opportunity to propose their marriage.
The importance of the island of Delos is indisputable if you want to explore the ancestors of Greece. In addition to the fact that a large part of its land is recognized as a UNESCO heritage site, of all the Greek islands, this is the one with the most archaeological excavations and ancient ruins. Among them are the 600 BC Naxian Terrace of the Lions and the mighty Theater of Delos. And to learn more about the mythical history of the island, which claims to be a supposed birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, it’s worth visiting the local archaeological museum.
Little Symi is just a speck in the Aegean Sea, but considered to be one of the most beautiful Greek islands. It is impossible not to be enchanted by the colorful houses in shades of yellow, pink and red in the city of Symi and Ano Symi. A marina full of boats is also part of this landscape – more charm. As if that wasn’t enough, the city is formed by mountain walls and the sea doesn’t disappoint – it’s that typical blue of the Greek sea. There are many hidden beaches in Symi, almost all of which have that fresh shrimp aroma that goes straight to your plate.
This Greek island might not get all the attention from Santorini or Corfu. Or take the sandy beaches of Crete. But it is still a special place. It is a large island in the Aegean Sea, very close to Turkey and filled with medieval villages in its hills. The island’s interior is beautiful, but if you get tired of so much beauty, you can change a little by visiting the mosaics from the monastery of Nea Moni, which are UNESCO world heritage sites and have existed since the time of Constantine IX.
Despite being the largest of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, Kefalonia is more for those looking for peace and a bucolic climate. The island offers quiet fishing towns like Argostoli and Fiskardo and huge swaths of olive groves. But, without a doubt, the biggest attractions of this island are its beaches with white walls and crystal clear waters. The beaches that draw the most attention are Skala and Myrtos, which are close to rock formations with beautiful vegetation.
Of the Greek islands, it is one of the least touristy, which is good news for those looking for tranquility. The villages of the island are on top of white walls and below you can see that deserted beach with very blue water. The most famous beaches are Porto Katsiki and Kalamitsi – also great for enjoying a portion of squid accompanied by a glass of wine. Vegetation abounds throughout Lefkada, giving the island an almost rural feel. The villages are all surrounded by dense forests of olive, juniper and cypress trees. Good for resting in paradise.