Greece is known for its beautiful and photogenic islands which are at the top of many travel bucket lists. But with over 200 inhabited islands, it can tough to decide which Greek islands to visit. While I have visited about a dozen Greek islands and have my favorites, there are many more islands I have yet to visit, so I decided to ask my fellow travel bloggers to nominate their favorite island in Greece. In addition to the more popular Greek Islands, several less well known and more off the beaten path islands made the list. If you are planning a trip to Greece or are just looking for travel inspiration, read on for the best and most beautiful Greek islands that you need to visit.
Most Beautiful Greek Islands
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You can’t put together a list of the most beautiful Greek islands and not include Santorini. Santorini is one of the most photogenic islands in Greece. Make sure to visit Oia village for stunning views of the sunset over the caldera. Santorini is one of the most well known Greek islands so it can be busy in the summer – if you want to enjoy the island with fewer crowds visit in the shoulder season. While it is a popular honeymoon destination, Santorini is also family friendly. Here are 7 things not to miss in Santorini.
Contributed by Rosie from Trips with Rosie
Kefalonia might not be as famous as Zakynthos or Mykonos, but it definitely ranks as one of the most beautiful islands in Greece! While you can explore most Greek islands in a day or two, it’s worth spending at least a week in Kefalonia. You can rent a car and explore the island’s hidden gems!
Two of the most memorable sights in Kefalonia are the Melissani lake (a stunning lake inside a cave whose roof fell a few thousand years ago!) and Myrtos beach (some of the bluest waters in the Ionian). You can also explore small gorgeous cities like Asos, Agia Effimia, Fiscardo and many hidden beaches. All of these will certainly convince you why Kefalonia is one of the most beautiful islands in Greece.
Island hopping is pretty hard in the Ionian seas, as the ferries only run twice a day. From Kefalonia, you can easily make a day trip to Zakynthos and to Ithaca, which would be a lot harder to do if you’re on one of the other islands.
Contributed by Sabine from The Travelling Chilli
Lefkada or Lefkas is one of the Ionian islands located on the western side of Greece. This beautiful island consists of steep cliffs, interspersed by white sandy beaches, small bays, picturesque fishing villages and mediterranean vegetation like cypresses, pine and olive trees. Lefkada is known to have some of the best beaches in Greece. Due to the prevailing wind, Lefkada is popular for watersport lovers, like windsurfing and sailing. Furthermore, the island is not as popular as some other Greek islands, which makes Lefkada still very unspoilt by large groups of tourists. We visited Lefkada to start our sailing trip around the Ionian islands in order to discover the little bays, fishing villages and pristine beaches.
Contributed by Nancy from MapandFamily.com
Pretty Paxos is just an hour or so by boat from Corfu town but a world away in attitude. Peaceful and low-key, dotted with ancient olive trees and encircled by glistening turquoise sea, Paxos is a place to kick back and re-calibrate. There are few hotels and even fewer boutiques or nightclubs, but that is part of its charm. Paxos is one of a sprinkling of islands in the Ionian sea to the west of mainland Greece. It doesn’t have an airport and the majority of its visitors stay in villas or apartments or sail to one of its three little harbour villages.
Days are spent exploring its coastline, following dusty tracks through olive terraces to swim in hidden coves, or puttering along from bay to bay in little hire boats. Beaches are fringed with smooth white pebbles and the water is crystal clear. In the evenings there are plenty of tavernas to choose from in the villages which still show a centuries old Venetian influence in their elegant harbourside buildings. Paxos is for slow living and simple pleasures.
Contributed by Pascale from Slow Travel Guide
How do you determine which is the most beautiful Greek island? By how it makes you feel when exploring it! Kastellorizo is a remote, serene, authentic, untouched and scenic island located in the easternmost part of the Dodecanese. It lies just off the Turkish coast near Kaş from where you can spot the colorful neoclassical mansions. Wandering along Kastellorizo’s cobblestone roads or around the harbor, you are left speechless by its distinct Greek character and mesmerizing views. Discover the rich history of the island at the castle, the archaeological museum, the mosque and several churches or the fortified monastery. After your dose of culture, take a boat trip to the famous Blue Cave or Galazio Spilaio to be wowed by nature. This cave is the largest sea cave in Greece and has beautiful stalactites lit by the reflections of the sun on the water. Upon return, foodies will love the local cuisine at one of the many cafes and restaurants along the quay.
Contributed by Lavina from Continent Hop
Greece has numerous islands you could head to, but if you’re looking to beach-hop and possibly even party, then Mykonos is the island for you! It’s beautiful as any other Greek island is, however, the windmills and Little Venice are the highlights of the island. Paraportiani Church is quite famous and is located right next to the windmills in Chora. The island has lots of colorful alleys that you could explore and lovely restaurants where you could have Greek specialties while you gaze at the sea!
The island is the ideal spot if you want to explore the island of Delos, prominent in Greek mythology, as it was here that Apollo was born. You could also island hop as islands like Santorini are just 40 minutes away by ferry. Here is a Mykonos travel guide to get you started.
Contributed by Janiel from Culture Trekking
Delos is an isolated island about thirty minutes from the mainland. It is well worth the visit as the Lions of Delos are located here along with being the fabled birthplace of Apollo. You will walk among ruins where the Delian League Greece lived, the heroes of Greece, and were trained to protect their nation. It is full of wild flowers, a museum and stories of ages past. Be sure to bring water, wear tennis shoes for hiking, and book your ferry ride prior to your visit to Delos & check ferry times to ensure you can get both on and off the island. If you would like more information on this island and what to know before you go, read Things to know before visiting the Island of Delos.
Contributed by Sandy from Tray Tables Away
We’ve been to Greece many times and have explored so many of the magical islands but on our last 3 visits we kept returning to Paros. Not far from Mykonos and next door to Naxos, Paros is the perfect Greek Island for us. Not too small, not too big and with plenty of things to do and see for everyone. There are ancient Greek villages such as Lefkas, beautiful beaches such as Kolombithres and the fabulous lively fishing village of Naoussa which has an abundance of wonderful tavernas, cafes, bars and boutiques. You can do a day trip to Antiparos where celebrities like Tom Hanks have their holiday homes and Paros is world renowned for its windsurfing and watersports. They say it is much like Mykonos was 10 years ago and lets hope it stays that way for some time to come!
Contributed by Lena from Travel Monkey
Antiparos island is one of the hidden gems in the group of the Cyclades that are spread in the Aegean Sea. It is tiny, it is scarcely populated, it is a paradise for those looking for some private and quiet time even in the highest peak of tourism season in Greece. It might seem as there is not much to do, but with a perfect villa and a close proximity to the beach, which might as well turn out to be private, what else is needed? Relax, bathe and enjoy the vast landscapes that the Aegean Sea has to offer. Once the heat of the day comes down, take a walk to a local café (there might not be a lot to choose from) and taste some of the finest fresh seafood coupled with the local wine.
Contributed by Natalia from Mytriphack
Rhodes is one of the southern islands in Greece surrounded by the two seas – warm Mediterranean from the east and cool Aegean from the west. That’s why the eastern part of the island is famous for beautiful open beaches and the west is popular for surfing and other extreme sports. Beyond fascinating beaches and bays, Rhodes has many cultural and heritage places to visit. Take a walk through Rhodes Old Town with its narrow streets and medieval architecture, visit the port with white yachts, explore authentic village Embonas in the hills famous for handicrafts or visit the natural wonder in Prasonisi where the two seas meet. Rhodes has enough activities to diversify your holiday and make it culturally rich!
Contributed by Helena from Just for one Summer
If you are looking for a Greek island that’s utterly charming and romantic, Folegandros is a perfect choice. It has the classic look of Cyclades with its whitewashed houses adorned by pink Bougainvillea, narrow cobbled alleys and golden beaches lining the coast. What it doesn’t have are the crowds, cheap character-less souvenirs and tourist traps on every corner so typical for some of its more famous neighbours. Even during the busy Greek summer, it keeps its calm, upscale character making it a popular destination for couples looking for a romantic getaway. But visit outside of the main season and you’ll be met with traditional island life where donkeys are still a mean of transportation and cats the only creatures roaming the streets after dark. This is also the perfect time to put on your hiking boots and explore the old paths of the island leading through rolling, oregano-clad hills to secluded beaches or pretty little churches overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Contributed by Cristina from LooknWalk Greece
Located about half an hour by ferry from Santorini (and 5 hours from Athens), Ios is known as a party island. But, fear not, it’s not just that. Yes, if you show up here in the middle of the high season (July and August) you will feel that vibe. Look closely and you can escape it. Or just show up before the crowds do: early May or early June is just perfect.
Be prepared for some magical sunsets whether you go Agia Irini Church in the port, to the Church with the Palm Tree in Chora, or at Gaitis Museum. Put on your walking shoes and hike between Mylopotas and Klima beaches. Just make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat. The sun is brutal. The views are amazing. Reward yourself with a picnic on Klima beach. And if you are into history, check out the Bronze Age settlement of Skarkos or the ruins of Paleokastro. Here is a 5 day itinerary of Ios to help you plan your trip.
Contributed by Emily from Henry and Andrew’s Guide
Aegina is a quiet island close to Athens and has all the charm of the more famous further islands like Santorini and Hydra. Amazing seafood restaurants line the ocean side, there are sandy beaches with beach bars, umbrellas, or beaches where you can jump straight into deep waters for a quick dip. The colors of this island are what you imagine Greek islands to have – pristine white, blue, and pink from the bougainvilleas. You will find this all over the place while you walk around this island which also has lots of historical sites to see like Agios Nektarios (Church) and Aphaia (archaeological monument). This island is a perfect place to visit when you want a good taste of a Greek Island while you are in Athens – you can reach it by ferry in anywhere from 40 minutes to 90 minutes!
Contributed by Rebecca from Life Beyond Borders
For me – the Greek island of Hydra holds a special resonance. Everybody says their Greek island is special, but Hydra really is. It wouldn’t be amis to say there is an ‘energy’ there.
And it attracts artistic types: writers, actors, painters, poets. That’s why it attracted me so much – as a writer, with uninterrupted sea views and blue hues to rival the Caribbean, it’s a stunning place.
It goes beyond being an island with no motor vehicles and just donkeys and mules. Do come to Hydra to see for yourself – a mere hour’s ferry ride from Athens.
Contributed by Susanna from Wandering Cocobo
Samos is a relatively unknown Greek island, compared to other insta-famous islands, but its beauty can compete with the best of them. Samos Is a popular destination for outdoor lovers and avid hikers. With rolling lush green mountains ripe for hiking and hidden beaches along the coastline, it is truly unlike another other Greek island. Much of the island is untouched, so you can get out into nature and enjoy some quiet solitude with a killer view. Outside of the natural beauty, the towns in Samos have a charming and authentic fee with the adorable harbors and lovely locals. The best way to enjoy Samos, one of the most beautiful Greek islands, is to pack your hiking gear to get out to some exclusive hidden beaches or rent a car for the day, to see the island in all its glory.
Contributed by Adrienn Takács from CityoftheWeek.net
Part of the Northern Sporades Islands, Skiathos can be found in the north-western part of the Aegean Sea. It is quite a popular day trip destination among travellers visiting the mainland beaches south of Thessaloniki.
The gorgeous Skiathos Town is one of the island’s main attractions, boasting charming white houses with red-tiled roofs, buzzing taverns serving fresh seafood and cobbled streets dotted by colorful souvenir shops. Don’t hesitate to steer clear of the tourist area and get lost between the narrow streets to get an intimate glimpse of Skiathos life.
At the northern tip of the island, accessible only by boat, the picturesque Lalaria Beach offers its visitors memorable rock formations, natural arches and crystal-clear waters. On the southern part of Skiathos you’ll find Koukounaries, a wide, sandy beach with shallow waters, ideal for families with small children. Located on the western side of Skiathos Island, Banana Beach is another beloved sandy stretch and a frequented naturist resort. Read this guide for more things to do in Skiathos.
Contributed by Nathan Aguilera from Foodie Flashpacker
Syros is the perfect Greek island to plan a visit to. It is not (yet) as known as some of the other islands so it’s a great alternative to busier islands. It’s still possible to find a stretch of beach to yourself. The locals are genuinely happy when tourists visit their island and they will open their shops and restaurants to you. I spent three weeks on Syros last summer, mostly full of lazy beach days, long naps, late dinners and I finished more than one book while I was there. Like the rest of Greece, there is amazing food to be found, friendly locals, interesting history and as a bonus- some of the best sunsets Greece has to offer.
Contributed by Janet from Your Irish Adventure
Corfu is by far one my favourite Greek islands to visit. It’s one the larger islands in Greece which means there are endless miles of beautiful coastline and stunning beaches to explore. It’s also the only island in Greece than can be reached by ferry from both the Greek mainland and from neighbouring Albania. You definitely need to rent a car to get around, as there are many spectacular view points and coastal roads to follow. One of the best places to visit on the island is Palaiokastritsa, a small village with a main beach, a hidden beach and an ancient monastery. If you keep driving past the village you’ll also come to a spectacular castle up on a hill. Angelókastro, the name in Greek, comes with some of the best views in the island and is a fun place to hike up to explore. You’ll find amazing Greek food and the smallest of restaurants, dotted in the tiny villages you drive through on the island. Corfu really is the perfect Greek getaway!
Contributed by Iulia from the traveling tulip
Thassos Island is the nearest island from the mainland. It is easily reachable by ferry and it is a true marvel. There is something to do for everybody on the island: beaches for sea lovers, mountain trails for hiking aficionados, old villages for those interested in history and an Orthodox monastery for those interested to know more about this religion. Spending a vacation in Thasos is one of the best choices!
Contributed by Dave from Dave’s Travel Pages
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and one of the most diverse. From the outstanding archaeological sites of Knossos and Gortnya, to the wild, remote feeling beaches of the south of the island, there is something here for everyone.
Crete isn’t really an island to add to your Greek island hopping itinerary though – It’s too big for that. Instead, spend a week or two here. This way, you’ll be able to visit places such as the pretty port town of Chania, go hiking in the great outdoors through the Samaria Gorge, visit the Dikteon Cave where Zeus was said to have lived, and of course spend time on all those gorgeous beaches! Take a look at Dave’s Travel Pages for more things to do in Crete.
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands and my favorite Greek island so far. Even though I visited in the middle of the busy summer season, it was not as crowded as the more well known nearby islands of Mykonos and Santorini. There are many things to do in Naxos including visiting sandy beaches, mountain villages, ancient ruins and a historic castle. Be sure to check out Portara, a marble gate and the symbol of Naxos. Naxos is easily reached by ferry but there is also an airport for those that prefer to fly. Naxos is perfect for visitors of all ages and it is also family friendly.
Looking for more amazing places to visit in Greece? Here are 40 things to do in Greece before you die.
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