The Greek islands are one of the world’s most popular destinations to vacation. There are around 6,000 islands in Greece, but only 227 are inhabited. You can visit some of the uninhabited islands on day trips, which are fantastic for pristine beaches or archeological sites, like Delos (The “Athens of the Greek islands”). Idyllic villages hanging above the sea, mouth watering gastronomy and breathtaking sunsets over sun kissed beached make this a popular vacation destination for celebrities too.
Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes are three of the most popular islands. Especially in summer, they draw huge throngs of tourists, also because many of the large cruise ships dock there. There’s good news for those that want to avoid the crowds – there’s plenty of other islands! And you can also plan a trip to the most popular islands outside summer, when crowds drop off significantly and prices are cheaper.
Visitors can book a cruise, tour, or plan your own trip to the Greek islands by searching sites like Ferry Scanner. Greece is a popular tourist destination so English is widely spoken, especially on well visited islands. That means you shouldn’t have a problem putting together your own itinerary. Visitors are spoiled for choice on which Greek island to visit. Here are highlights on 25 popular and hidden gems!
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. Its sandy beaches, delicious gastronomy, unique history and culture makes it a popular destination. The Samaria Gorge, on the western end of the island, is the longest gorge in Europe. Elafonisi Beach is famous for its colorful pink sand.
Crete was home to the Minoan civilization, the oldest advanced European civilization. Visit the Palace of Knossos to get a glimpse of what life looked like 3,700 years ago. The archeological site is just outside Crete’s capital of Heraklion. Flights from around Europe, with frequent flights from Athens, serve Heraklion Airport. You can also reach the city by ferry from Athens’ port of Piraeus, but it’s a long trip.
Lato Boutique Hotel is one of the best hotels to stay in Heraklion. Located across from the old city harbor, it has a rooftop restaurant and bar overlooking Heraklion’s Venetian Fortress, Koules Fortress.
Chania is one of my favorite towns in Greece. The pastel colored Venetian harbor is lined with wonderful restaurants and cafes. Chania is a great base to explore Samaria Gorge and Elafoni Beach with a rental car or tour. If you pick up the car in Heraklion, stop in the picturesque walled town of Rethymnon, located along the sea between Heraklion and Chania.
Casa Delfino Hotel and Spa is a great place to stay in Chania. Located in Chania’s charming old town, the authentic 17th-century Venetian mansion has a rooftop terrace overlooking the Venetian harbor.
Crete is a large island, so you won’t see everything even if you spend a week. I recommend choosing the western half of the island to explore.
By Alex Kallimanis here at Wanderlust Marriage Travel.
As you’ve probably already read in this guide, Crete is one of the top islands to visit in Greece for a relaxing holiday. There are plenty of things to do and it’s a fantastic destination for unique gastronomy, breathtaking landscapes, and some of the most pristine beaches in the Mediterranean.
And if you’re all about beaches, then you cannot miss one of the most heavenly Greek islands of all… the fantastic Chrissi. Also known by the name of Gaidorounisi (meaning island of the donkeys), Chrissi island is about 15 kilometers off the southern coast of Crete, surrounded by the spectacular waters of the Libyan sea.
Chrissi features a collection of beautiful beaches with the most clear emerald waters you can experience in Greece. The island, uninhabited and only perfect for a day trip, is home to one of the largest cedar tree forests outside Africa, and it’s also the southernmost Natural Park in Europe.
There are several beaches to explore. The main one is Golden Beach, also known as Belegrina. Located close to the pier where your boat docks, it can be reached walking a short path, towards the northern coast of the small island.
This is the only organized beach in Chrissi, and it’s possible to rent an umbrella and a sun bed for the day. The white sand mixed with small shells and pebbles produces a striking contrast with the spectacular waters of the sea. The area is ideal for snorkeling, swimming or simply exploring.
On the small island, which covers an area of 7 by 2 kilometers, there several other unique beaches, completely wild and unexplored, where it’s possible to completely disconnect and spend a day in total solitude. The best way to reach Chrissi is by boat. There are daily cruises departing from the nearby town of Ierapetra, the most convenient place to stay if you want to put Chrissi in your Crete island itinerary.
By Gabi Ancarola from The Tiny Book. She talks about Crete in her Facebook Group and hosts gastronomic tours in Chania, Crete, where she has lived for the past 5 years.
The island of Anafi is part of the Cyclades archipelago and, despite the proximity to Santorini (just an hour and a half away), it has always been significantly less touristy than the other islands. From the 70’s (when it was a favorite destination of hippies) to today, tourism has increased.
However, Anafi is still off the radar of most itineraries. The rare ferry connections (and consider that they’re often planned at truly uncomfortable times) discourage the average tourist and they are probably one of the causes of Anafi’s low notoriety. But once you land here you will realize that authenticity is one of its most beautiful features and will be one of the features you will love most about this island.
In addition to the beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, a small Chora of white streets awaits you. It goes up through the main square, and then up to the church. From here you can enjoy a beautiful panorama, overcome only by the one you can admire from the monastery of Panagia Kalamiotissa (in the picture). The monastery, impressive and white, stands on the opposite side of the island and can be reached by trekking for a couple of hours (avoid the central ones).
In the Chora you will find a few bars, restaurants, a bakery, a minimarket and little else. In a few days you will get to know them all (and as for restaurants, try them too!). The most beautiful beaches follow one another on the south coast, to name a few: Klissidi, Katsouni, Roukounas and Agios Anargyri, probably the most beautiful. A bus service is active and efficient, but renting a vehicle will make you experience the island with more freedom. Anafi is not for everyone. But if this description charms you, go there: you will fall in love with it.
Apollon Village Hotel is a great choice to stay in Anafi.
By Martina Benedetto at As far as you can.
One of the best islands to spend an unforgettable vacation in Greece is Andros, a laid-back island with authentic vibes and outstanding natural beauty.
Enjoying the island’s beaches, which are abundant and for all tastes, is probably the top reason to visit Andros. Popular options with beach-bars and water-sports include Gold Beach and Kypri. Or visit pristine pieces of Earth with crystal clear waters like Zorkos and Vitali.
Andros is a hiker’s heaven. The island boasts more than 160km of ancient paths, all signposted and well-maintained. Hiking in Andros is an unmissable experience accessible to all as there are walking routes for beginner and advanced hikers alike.
Another thing you must do in Andros is walk around beautiful Chora, the island’s main settlement. Chora is dotted with gorgeous mansions built along picturesque narrow alleys. In Chora, you can see the ruins of an old castle built on a rock in the sea as well as the imposing statue of the Unknown Sailor.
Chora is the prettiest town in Andros. This is why you should consider staying there during your trip. It’s one of few places where you’ll have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay at a hotel which is housed in a century-old mansion, such as the gorgeous Egli Boutique Hotel.
The food in Andros is as authentic and amazing as the island itself. One local dish you have to try is fourtalia, a scrumptious omelet made with potatoes, sausage and spearmint. The best places to try fourtalia and other traditional Greek dishes is Platanos in Chora and Giannoulis in Agios Petros.
It is not an overstatement to say that Andros is the definition of authenticity and relaxation. This makes it the ultimate destination for the perfect vacation on the Greek Islands.
By Maria & Katerina of It’s All Trip To Me.
Antiparos, a Cycladic island in the Aegean Sea is located just one nautical mile southwest of Paros, Greece. The pace of life is a bit slower in Antiparos, but the whitewashed homes and blue windows which are so characteristic of the Cyclades are aplenty. I would be remiss not to mention that Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson own a home on Antiparos; for whatever reason, it seems to be a prerequisite to mention that in any write up on Antiparos.
Antiparos does not have an airport or direct ferries to and from other islands besides Paros. That is why you will need to arrive first in Paros before heading over to Antiparos. Luckily, transportation between the two islands is very straightforward. Ferries leave every 30 minutes or so during high season from Pounda on Paros to the port of Antiparos. The majority of visitors choose to take a day trip from Paros to visit Antiparos.
If you are spending the day there, I recommend you check out one of the many beautiful beaches on the island for some sunbathing and swimming. You can walk just a few minutes from the port to Psaraliki beach or head to the south end of the island to explore Soros Beach or Agios Georgios Beach.
Architecture lovers must stop at the Cave of Antiparos, where you will walk down 411 stairs and step back into the Stone Age. Fragments of ancient vases that were discovered as well as etchings on the stalagmites and stalactites confirm this. Grab lunch at a local taverna on one of the picturesque streets in the center and cool down in the afternoon with my favorite Greek iced coffee beverage, the cappuccino freddo.
If you decide that the more quiet pace of life is exactly what you are looking for, stay awhile at the beautiful Artemis Hotel.
By Jennifer Aspinwall at World on a Whim.
Delos is quite different from other Greek islands, in that virtually the entire island is an ancient archaeological site. If Greek mythology is to be believed, it’s the birthplace of the twin gods Artemis and Apollo. And due to this religious significance, Delos was the most important Panhellenic sanctuary in ancient times.
In order to protect the ruins, modern development of any kind is forbidden here. This means that there are no hotels on Delos, and visitors are allowed only on day trips. Luckily, the beautiful island of Mykonos is just 30 minutes away by boat and offers plenty of great restaurants and accommodation options. Bill and Coo Coast Suites is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a luxurious getaway. You’ll even be able to look across the water at Delos island as part of the stunning views at this five-star hotel.
Delos does have one restaurant and bar inside a small tourist center, but it’s a good idea to bring snacks and plenty of water with you. You’ll need a few hours to thoroughly explore the ruins, and there’s little shade from the often intense sun. Some of the most important ruins include the theater, the Lion Terrace with a row of lion statues, and the mosaics inside the House of the Masks, the House of the Dolphins and the House of Dionysos.
Contributed by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan.
Folegandros Island is undoubtedly one of the most attractive islands to visit in Greece, which holds a whole piece of beauty and relaxing atmosphere, filled with aromatic bliss. The island is famous for its wine culture and has a unique landscape in itself. It includes many scenic attractions like dry hills and stone walls, deep blue beaches, and so on.
One of the best things to do in Folegandros is having fun in and around the beaches. The island has three villages, namely Karavostasi, Ano, and Meria, with several beaches like Livadaki Beach, Katergo Beach and Agali Beach. There you can explore the underwater world through scuba diving and snorkeling sessions!
You can also tour the island by boat, rent an ATV, and shop some unique ceramics too. Likewise, eat local cheese, plates of pasta at restaurants, like Pounta, which offers delicious local traditional foods, cooked with herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, and wildflowers.
Folegandros offers more than great beaches and restaurants. Visit the Pounta Square and the Church of Panagia, to witness a gorgeous sunset. Ano Meria is great for hiking. The Chryssospilia cave is another highlight. Learn about the island’s Folkloreto while touring the Ecological and Folklore Museum of Folegandros. Take it all in and explore the dramatic views, comprising rocky cliffs, striking waves, and countless rows of yards from ancient farms.
Staying in Chora is preferable because that is where you’ll find all your desired amenities. The idyllic Chora Resort Hotel and Spa, located in the heart of Chora, is the best hotel recommendation. They have options varying from mid-range to luxury. It is budget-friendly and offers the best facilities as well.
By Paulina from Paulina on the Road.
Ios is a great option to visit especially if you’re already going to Mykonos or Santorini. It’s part of the same Cyclades group of Greek islands and it’s easy to travel between them on a short ferry ride.
For years, Ios was known only as a party island usually full of backpackers. Though the island still has a fair share of beach side bars and clubs, the vibe has changed a bit over the years. Ios also has not been overdeveloped like some Greek islands so the atmosphere remains relaxed and the prices are lower than more touristic destinations like Mykonos or Santorini.
The island has also seen growth in accommodation options beyond backpacker hostels and budget rooms. High-end properties like Agalia Luxury Suites or Liostasi Hotel give visitors luxury options if you have the budget to splurge. Both properties offer amazing views, excellent food, plus transfers to and from the port.
Must-visit places on Ios include the old town of Chora, which is a 20-minute walk up the hill from the port. Down the hill in the opposite direction is Mylopotas Beach, which offers a variety of water sports, sunbathing, dining and beachside bars. One of the highlights of Ios is making an evening visit to Pathos – a sunset bar which is built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the bay below. The design is incredibly unique, full of metalwork, artistic tiles and bright colors. Grab a cocktail or two before heading out to dinner to enjoy one of the most stunning sunsets you’ll ever see.
For a nice dinner, check out Katogi, a local Greek taverna in the old town. The restaurant is popular with limited seating so advanced reservations are recommended.
By Auston at Two Bad Tourists.
The Cycladic island of Kythnos is located in the beautiful Aegean Sea. While this island is lesser-known, it means it is less popular, which can be a refreshing break from the more crowded popular islands.
Kythnos is sparsely populated with a year-round population of fewer than 2000 people. This makes the few villages on the island tranquil and makes Kythnos a wonderful destination for a relaxing vacation.
The main village or Chora of Kythnos is located in the center of the island. It is one of those stunning white and blue Greek villages. In Chora, you can find great places to eat, like Messaria, another name of the Chora. It is also a great spot to base yourself while you explore. There are not many hotels on the island, but the Chora Kythnos Suites is a beautiful luxury option.
If you like beautiful beaches, head to Kolona Bay, where two bays meet to form a cool double beach. Another great option is the village of Loutra, where the village meets the sea. You can also relax in the natural hot springs here.
For more adventure, you can visit one of the largest caves in Greece. The Katafiki Cave is located near the village of Dryopida and was discovered in 1841.
Kythnos can only be reached by ferry. The ferry ride from Pireaus port is about 3 hours. It takes less time if you leave from Lavrio.
By Tiffany Schureman at A Girl and Her Passport.
Milos is one of the islands in the Cyclades, north of the Sea of Crete. There are some 5000 permanent residents living on the island, and in recent years it has attracted tourists from all over the world.
Some of the most famous findings from Milos include Venus de Milo and the Asclepius of Milos. From a tourist perspective, one of the most
famous places is called Sarakiniko, which is a moon-like stone landscape with crystal clear water. It has become a popular bathing spot.
Historically, the island was famous for obsidian, a glass-like volcanic rock. Obsidian was used in various places to make razor-sharp stone tools, some 15,000 years ago and onwards.
There are seven main villages on Milos – Adamas, Triovassalos, Tripiti, Plakes, Plaka, Zefiria and Pollonia. Adamas is the port city and Plaka is the main city, known as Chora. There are also some beautiful fishing villages that shouldn’t be missed as well. These are Klima, Fyropotamos, and Mandrakia.
The island can be reached by plane from Athens and Thessaloniki as well as various international destinations. It’s also popular to come here via ferry from other Greek islands or Piraeus.
Hotel Milos Resort is a lovely hotel in the Achivolimni area, where you can also visit one of the best beaches on the islands.
By Christine Wedberg at Christine Abroad.
If you’re looking for a lively island that fulfills you and your spouse’s secret dreams of living and feeling like a pair of celebrities – look no further than Mykonos. During the day, book a privately chartered cruise on a rustic sailboat, or an elegant yacht depending on your style and budget. There is no shortage of companies that offer this type of romantic and exclusive opportunity.
Some options for itineraries include allowing you to be transported back in time through history with a visit to the ancient island of Delos. Walk hand in hand among the ruins from thousands of years ago, and marvel at the nearly perfectly preserved Lions of Delos. Other itineraries offer a more relaxing alternative which includes copious amounts of wine and homemade lunch being served on board, with the opportunity to dive into the velvet blue sea right off of your private boat.
For mischievous revelry, visit one of Mykonos’ many beach bars and dance clubs – either through your sailing company or on your own. The options range from raunchy and rowdy to elegant and posh. No judgment either way! Enjoy frozen and mixed drinks that truly pack a punch while dancing and holding each other on the sand among fellow party-goers.
In the evening, make your way to Little Venice for a delicious dinner with an unforgettable ambiance. Be sure to snag a table overlooking the small crashing waves of the sea. Outdoor dining spots in Little Venice are the ideal place to people-watch or marvel at the stars in the sky and the boats buoying in the water. Order a bottle of champagne or wine to accompany your fresh seafood supper. At the end of dinner, get lost in the intimate and rustic alleyways looking for hidden wine bars and live music.
After dinner and drinks, retire to the luxurious, but affordable Mykonos Pantheon hotel. Enjoy their infinity pool, with views that will make you feel rich and famous, as well as a beach across the road from the hotel with the clearest blue water imaginable.
By Stephanie N Ambarsumyan at Wandering Why Traveler.
Naxos is one of the best all-around Greek islands. It is a fantastic place to visit for sandy beaches, great gastronomy, history and charming villages in the mountains. This Greek island has it all, and Anthony Bourdain highlighted a few of the reasons on a Parts Unknown episode dedicated to Naxos.
Some Greek islands have largely abandoned local agriculture for tourism, but this is not the case in Naxos. Local agriculture is still alive and well, meaning much of what you eat in restaurants comes from farms on the island. A true farm-to-table industry makes the culinary scene on Naxos fantastic.
Naxos Chora is a strikingly picturesque town. Stroll its picturesque pedestrian only laneways, lined with white washed buildings. Be sure to visit the Temple of Apollo at sunset. The huge marble gate dates to 530 BCE and offers magnificent views of Naxos and the nearby island of Paros.
Naxos Resort Beach Hotel is one of the best places to stay in Naxos. Just off the sandy beach of St. George, the hotel’s architecture incorporates local Cycladic and Venetian styles. Its 88 luxurious rooms include balconies with a view of either the gardens or the sea and mountains. Amenities include a pool, steam room, sauna and hot tub facilities.
Rent a car and explore idyllic villages in the mountains and along the sea. Small fishing villages like Agia Anna and Apollonia are great for sun kisses beaches. The mountain villages of Chalkio and Filoti are lovely for taking in the laid back pace of local life. Enjoy a delicious lunch on a terrace and pick up mouth watering sweets from a delicious bakery. Read in-depth tips for visiting Naxos in the article I wrote after we took a family trip there.
By Alex Kallimanis here at Wanderlust Marriage Travel.
Want all the beauty of Santorini without the cruise crowds? While Paros isn’t exactly off-the-beaten-path among seasoned travelers, it’s a great alternative for those who want to soak up some of the Grecian sun. You can take a ferry from Athens’ port of Pireaus or from many of the other Greek islands to get there.
Paros has some amazing beaches like Piso Livadi and Aliki, and many of them are pretty private since it takes some effort to get there. You might want to rent a moped to get from each locale to another. Though Paros does have a bus system connecting its villages that you can utilize.
One of my favorite reasons to visit Paros is the food. Not only is the seafood amazing and the recipes authentic, but it is also much cheaper than many of the other islands to eat. Check out Parea Local Cuisine for a chance to try some of the local fare.
After you’ve checked out all of the beaches, head back to one of the many hotel options available like Hotel Senia. Offering an infinity pool with views of the Aegean Sea and on-site restaurants. It is a surprisingly affordable luxury option that offers the best of Paros.
By Alex Schnee at Alex on the map.
Santorini is one of the most famous Greek islands. It is easy to understand why Santorini is such a popular holiday destination; From its breathtaking views to its beautiful white sandy beaches and unique architecture- Santorini embodies a perfectly romantic island.
The island is best accessed via a flight from Athens or a ferry from a nearby Cyclades island. The island has a range of accommodation options from cheap to mid-range and luxurious five-star hotels. If you’re already visiting Santorini the best is to indulge in an upscale hotel with a view for an enhanced experience. Oia is the most touristic place on the island. A great hotel to stay in Oia is Charisma Suites.
Don’t miss watching the sunset in Amoudi Bay in Oia. Be sure to get there early at around 5pm to get a nice spot as it is busy during warmer months. Another great city to hangout in Santorini is Thira. Filled with trendy restaurants, bars and amazing hotels, Thira is the perfect hangout place in Santorini.
With around 14 wineries on the island, Santorini wines are gaining an international reputation for quality. Visit wineries like Santos and Venetsanos, which offer fantastic views of the cliffs and caldera. Plan to book a Santorini winery tour that includes hotel pickup and drop-off!
What is unique about Santorini is its impressive white structures and breathtaking views. But Santorini has a lot more than just views, it also has a lot of things to do such as a cable car ride or a boat ride to a volcano. With its magical atmosphere and beauty, Santorini offers the best romantic island getaway.
By Hadas Lesnick at Luxury Voyager.
Sifnos is one of the less-visited islands in the Cyclades. It’s a picturesque island with wild nature and beautiful hiking trails that the locals have been using for thousands of years.
During ancient times, Kastro was the main town on Sifnos, built on top of a cliff on the east coast. Still today, there are some medieval elements to explore as well as the island’s archeological museum. Nowadays, Apollonia is the main town with a population of less than 1000 permanent residents. There is also a port settlement known as Kamares on the west coast. Sifnos is an ancient island that has been inhabited for at least 6000 years, and during ancient times, it was one of the wealthier islands with gold, silver, and lead being mined on Sifnos.
Sifnos is also famous for having a large number of churches. In fact, it has more than any other Cycladic island, with a total of 360 churches. Throughout the year, lots of festivals are held as well.
Verina Astra is probably the best hotel in Sifnos. It has an amazing infinity pool and a serene location with views of the ocean and the old town of Kastro. It’s a boutique hotel with a bohemian design, delicious Greek food and modern amenities.
By Alex Waltner at the Swedish Nomad.
Syros is a hidden gem in the Cyclades Islands, despite being the capital. Overshadowed by its more famous neighbors Mykonos and Santorini, it has managed to escape mainstream international attention. This has allowed it to maintain that Greek island life character so unique to this part of the world. But don’t be fooled, there are plenty of things to do in Syros.
Syros’ largest town, Ermoupoli, was more important than Athen’s port of Piraeus in the 19th century. So it’s packed with large squares and neoclassical buildings. Ano Syros, the Old Town, is home to winding streets and wonderful cafes. The history of Ano Syros dates to the 13th century when the Venetians built a walled town, to protect it from pirate attacks. Perched atop the hill, it offers picturesque views overlooking Ermoupoli and the Aegean Sea. On a clear day, you can see the nearby Cycladic islands of Mykonos and Tinos.
Syros also has some great beaches where you can relax. One of the best sandy beaches is Galissas, in the west of the island. This secluded cove is sheltered by hills and cliffs, and its crystalline waters invite you to dip your toes in. There’s an excellent restaurant here called aVentoura that makes an incredible parsley salad, a Syros specialty.
For a different kind of beach, Asteria Beach in Ermoupoli is not a traditional sandy beach, but rather a concrete deck over the sea where you can sunbathe and take a refreshing dip. This is a great spot to meet locals, and right next to it is Asteria Beach Bar, one of the best beach bars in Greece according to The Guardian. It’s the perfect spot to grab a drink and enjoy the sunset.
Nearby Cyclades islands like Mykonos are busy in summer but virtually shut down in winter. This is not the case in Syros, as administrative jobs keep more residents on the island year round. So if you happen to visit the Greek islands in winter (albeit not the best time), Syros is a good choice. You will find more delightful tavernas (Traditional Greek restaurants), bars and cafes open compared to Mykonos in the colder months.
A great hotel to stay in Syros is Syrou Melathron. Housed in a carefully restored 19th-century neoclassical mansion, Syrou Melathron is located near Asteria Bay. The rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of the Aegean Sea and the picturesque port of Syros.
By Teresa Gomez at Brogan Abroad.
Kos is a popular destination in the lovely chain of Dodecanese Greek islands. A few of the things that make Kos island such a visited island is its blend of history and sandy beaches. It is actually the 3rd largest island in the chain. There are various activities to do in and around Kos town.
The town itself has the 15th century Neratzia Castle to explore plus an array of ancient Greek and Roman sites. Make sure to take a trip to Therma Beach. Therma Beach is a Hot Spring right on the beach. You can actually relax in the warm hot spring water as colder waves from the ocean flow into the cove to cool you off. If you just want a pretty beach to relax on, head to Paradise Beach, which is at the Southernmost tip of the island.
The marina in Kos Town is a popular jumping off point for Greek Sailing cruises on Turkish Gulets. These can range from day trips to multi-week excursions. They are luxurious and I highly recommend one if you have the time. You will also find your typical Greek island culture of winding streets with various outdoor dining options and late-night music and dancing.
Foodies should plan to feast at Elia for an authentic Greek dining experience. Or head to Lofaki Cafe if romance, delicious food and great views are on your mind. If you are looking for a nice place to stay, close to town, try the Albergo Gelsomino Hotel.
By Nathan Sado at Fit Living Lifestyle. If you will be visiting Kos, read his article on Sailing in Kos.
While Rhodes is popular with many UK tourists, it often gets overlooked by other travelers headed to Greece. This is a shame since it has fabulous beaches, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and interesting Christian and Greek historic sites.
The Old Town of Rhodes is the first stop for history lovers. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of medieval ruins from the era when the island was controlled by the Knights of St. John. There is also Italian Fascist architecture here from the time when the island was controlled by the Axis Powers during World War II.
If you’ve heard of the Colossus of Rhodes (or if you’ve seen the statue in the Braavos Harbor on Game of Thrones which was inspired by it), then you will be excited to see the spot on Rhodes where the original stood.
If you want to enjoy some time at the beach, head to the town of Lindos. This white-washed village perched on a hilltop meets deep turquoise-hued waters. The Acropolis of Lindos will remind you of the Acropolis of Athens. Wear comfy shoes and leave early in the morning to avoid the heat if you want to climb the two hundred and thirty steps to the top on foot.
For a luxurious stay, check into the five-star Olympic Palace Resort Hotel in the resort town of Ixia.
By Stephanie Craig at Sofia Adventures.
The island of Corfu, Greece offers attractions for those who like active holidays, but also for those that want just a relaxing week at the beach. Corfu is called the Emerald island due to its green forests and it was the favorite island of Sissi, the Empress of Austria. She built a palace there that you can visit for its incredible views!
Corfu has sandy and pebble beaches, picturesque villages, breathtaking landscapes and a capital with a unique history. The capital of Corfu town (or Kerkyra) as the Greeks call it, is a lovely port town. Its old city center displays narrow streets, colorful boutiques, and delicious restaurants and it is a UNESCO heritage site.
Another famous attraction in Corfu is Canal d’amour, a lovely beach in the Northern part of the island. Legend says that if two lovers are bathing together there, their love will last forever. Unfortunately, the canal is so narrow and crowded that few have the chance to test the legend. Visitors come here either to lay on rocks or just to take some pictures, admire the view and leave after.
Other places one cannot miss on the island is Paleokastritsa, the green resort with great beach and emerald green waters, with an aquarium and many activities to choose from – like boat trips and water sports.
The combination of beaches, towns and other attractions in Corfu will charm you. A lovely hotel to stay is the 4-star Art Hotel Debono in Gouvia.
By Corina Preda at Another Milestone.
In Greek mythology, the island of Kythira is the birthplace of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. It is located just south of the Peloponnese region of mainland Greece. The island’s population is less than 3,500 and there aren’t many international flights bringing in tourists from abroad. So it is certainly a quieter option among the Greek islands, great for those looking to avoid big crowds in summer.
Kythira still has one of the best beaches in Greece, however. Fyri Ammos received a Blue Flag because the water is unbelievably clean. On top of that, you can find several small and hidden beaches where you might be completely alone. For those who get restless on the beach there are other ways to spend your time on Kythira. Due to several gorges and waterfalls, the island is a great destination for hikers who want to explore its natural beauty. If you want to see the windmills and waterfalls in the vicinity of the village of Mylopotamos there’s a perfect 2-hour hike in the area.
If you’re more into history why not find out more about Kythira’s past? As a former possession of Venice, Kythira is home to beautiful fortresses in the capital (Chora) and the village of Avlemonas. From there, you have lovely views of the island.
Stella’s Houses in Agia Pelagia are fantastic for your stay on Kythira. Rooms include a kitchen if you want to prepare some of your own meals. If you prefer not to do your own cooking there are small taverns all over Kythira where you can eat traditional Greek food. If you’re vegan check this vegan guide to Greece first so you can familiarize yourself with vegan-friendly Greek dishes.
Kythira is gorgeous and a great choice for a quiet vacation in the Greek islands.
By Nina at Lemons and Luggage.
We visited Lefkada during a road trip around Greece. It is one of the two Greek islands, out of 6000, connected to the mainland by bridge (one fun Fact about Greece). So you can drive there! Lefkada is known for its beautiful beaches and quite often referred to as the Caribbean of Greece.
Lefkada’s crystal light blue waters are lovely for a swim, especially on the soft sand beaches of Porto Katsiki and Egremni. During the summer these beaches are great for surfing and diving too.
Lefkada offers visitors more than just beaches. Its various small mountain villages and towns offer contrasting differences from their seaside counterparts. Among the highlights of Lefkada are Nydri waterfalls, which are mostly dry in summer, but very impressive in winter. You should also visit the monastery of Panagia Faneromeni located on the hill just above Lefkada Town. If you are visiting Lefkada with children, you should go to the monastery as it has a small rescue zoo (free to enter) with a selection of birds and other animals.
If you stay on Lefkada, Royal Nidri Hotel & Apartments has an excellent location and great swimming pools. It is just 3 minutes to the beach and the same to the town.
Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins.
With 19th-century manor houses tucked amongst olive groves, and cozy tavernas dotting the village ports, Paxos is a wild, rocky, remote, island, full of pebbly beaches, and turquoise water. Situated slightly off the beaten track in the Ionian sea, Paxos will make you feel as though you have stepped back into a Greece of the past as soon as you step out of the boat.
This family-friendly island is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and beach lovers. During the high season, which runs from May to September, the island is a beloved getaway for couples, and families with children of all ages sailing into the harbor from Italy, Great Britain, and some other places. If hiking is your thing, be prepared to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, especially if you are visiting in the summer where the temperatures can really soar.
Paxos is popular for swimming and sunbathing, so if you’re looking for some great beaches, Lakka, a harbor town on the north coast, is mostly sheltered from the sea so is perfect for swimming and water sports. In addition, Lakka town is very photogenic.
To get to the Paxos, you can hop on a ferry from Corfu Town to Gaios, the capital city of Paxos. The voyage takes 1 hour and costs around 20 euros each way. The regular ferries take longer. Alternatively, you can hire a sea taxi. While the nearest airport for Paxos is Corfu, you need to time your ferry and your flights carefully.
As the main city, Gaios, on the east side of the island, has a number of Airbnb options to choose from, however, the island is definitely a villa kind of place. If you’re looking for a luxury stay experience, Villa Glaros offers all the facilities of a 5-star hotel with a pool, seven bedrooms, hammock hideaway, and open-air gym, as well as a French chef and concierge service. They also have a speedboat to take you to the nearby jewel, Antipaxos.
By Ivan at Greece Travel Guide.
North Aegean Islands
Thassos is one of the few Greek islands covered in lush green forests. They call it the Emerald of the Aegean for this reason. Besides the green and the charming villages inland, Thassos has a string of beaches all around. They vary from sandy to marble-pebbled and from deserted to crowded. Two of the most popular beaches you should visit are Golden Beach and Paradise Beach. However, if you fancy some quiet time, jump in your car or rent a scooter and drive around the island. You’ll have many opportunities to stop and discover some hidden beaches and small gulfs.
You can also rent a small boat in Skala Potamia and make your way around Thassos to discover remote beaches, swim or snorkel, and have a great day. Another place you should visit is Giola Lagoon, a natural pool in the southern part of Thassos island.
There are great taverns by the sea virtually anywhere but you should also try at least one restaurant in the mountain villages, Taverna Iatrou in Theologos. Be sure to order the lamb with gigante beans.
A good place to stay is Akti Belvedere Color & Essence in the northern part of the island, about 7 km from Limenas, the main port.
Thassos is also relatively easy to access by ferry from either Keramoti or Kavala in northern Greece.
By Anda from Travel for a while.
When I was based in Athens for a summer placement, I loved exploring the Saronic Islands on weekends. These are a group of islands that lie within a few hours distance from Piraeus Port – a metro ride away from downtown Athens. One of my favourite island getaways from Athens was to Aegina.
Aegina is super close to Athens, only 40 minutes via the high-speed ferry or 1 hr 15 minutes on one of the slower regular ferries. The island is named after one of Zeus’ mistresses – Aegina, the daughter of the river god Asopus and nymph Metope. To woo her, Zeus transformed into an eagle, abducted Aegina then brought her to this island where she gave birth to their son Aeacus, who later became the island’s king.
In terms of things to do in Aegina, the most famous landmark on the island is The Temple of Aphaea. It’s a 2500-year old temple, dedicated to the Ancient Greek Goddess Aphaea who is associated with fertility and the agricultural cycle. It’s a short 15-minute taxi ride from Aegina Town, perched up on a hill.
Aegina is also packed with really beautiful beaches, in particular Souvala, Marathon, Agia Marina and Perdika. It has pretty cutesy picturesque villages to explore like Aegina Town, Paleohora and Mesagros. Aegina Town is also the main entry point where the port is. It is where some of the island’s best beachfront tavernas can be found – fish mezedes is a must here!
One of the most luxurious hotels on the island is the Lalibay Resort & Spa, perched on the western tip of the island. So at this resort, you are guaranteed the best sunsets every evening.
By Stefan Arestis of Nomadic Boys. To discover more about LGBT life in the Greek islands check out the Nomadic Boys’ blog about Mykonos island.
Hydra is one of the most unique Greek islands because no motorized vehicles are allowed. The island offers a picturesque landscape that is home to fewer than 2,000 residents. It is especially popular with Athenian tourists. High-speed catamarans and hydrofoils connect it with Athens’ port of Pireaus in under two hours. You can also visit Hydra, along with Aegina and Poros on an Athens One Day Cruise.
The marina is lined with great restaurants and cafes where you can sip a tasty frappe (iced Greek coffee) or enjoy a delicious meal. And you can do this while relaxing to the sounds of the sea, without vehicular traffic.
The most popular beaches in Hydra are Agios Nikolaos, Vlichos, Kaminia and Bisti. Kaminia Beach, just 1 KM west of Hydra Town is lined with great fish restaurants. Bitsi Beach is a tiny cove popular for diving and other water sports.
The Four Seasons Hydra Luxury Suites offers a romantic getaway for couples. The hotel is located on a private beach in Plakes Vlichos. Its spacious rooms have a furnished balcony or veranda with Argo-Saronic Gulf or mountain views.
By Alex Kallimanis here at Wanderlust Marriage Travel.
Spetses is an island situated close to Athens, just two hours by ferry. It is a popular destination for both Greek and international travelers. Its sophisticated style and atmosphere are major draws for visitors.
The island’s capital, Spetses Town, offers everything you need for a great Greek getaway, with stunning Venetian mansions creating a colorful backdrop for photographs and an array of nearby beaches providing plenty of places to relax.
Spetses has gorgeous beaches – Agia Marina, Agia Paraskevi, Kaiki and Xilokeriza are some of the best. The island also features a number of picturesque churches, a handful of monuments and museums, a lighthouse and an old harbor. There is also the Cave of Bekiris to explore.
When you’re not out discovering the island’s sights, you’ll want to indulge in some traditional drinks and dining. Some of the best restaurants include Patralis, Mourayo, and The CLOCK Eatery. And, there are some decent bars and clubs on the island if that’s what you’re looking for.
Whether you’re staying in Spetses for a couple of days or a longer sojourn, you’ll want an elegant place to stay. The 5-star Poseidonian Grand Hotel fits that bill. This iconic building is one of the most beautiful on the island. The hotel boasts a swimming pool and spa, an award-winning restaurant, and stylish rooms that will have you wanting to stay all summer long!
Once you visit Spetses you’ll wonder why it took you so long. You will then understand why so many choose this spectacular place as their vacation destination in the Greek islands.
By Chrysoula at Athens and Beyond.
Greek Islands Recap
One of the hardest parts of a visit to the Greek islands is leaving. Greek residents are spoiled for vacation spots, so many of them don’t travel abroad often. While it can be difficult to decide which Greek islands you should visit, I hope this article helps narrow down your choice.
Thanks to all the other great writers who contributed to this guide! If you have comments or questions, leave a comment below or contact me via email at alex(at)wanderlustmarriage.com. And if you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on social media! You can use the images below to pin it on Pinterest. Happy travels!
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