The 20 most beautiful Greek islands to do absolutely
Which Greek island to choose for your trip to Greece? Here is our selection of the most beautiful must-see islands in Greece!
There is a mountainous and fragmented territory between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea, between the Byzantine East and the Catholic West, and between Europe and the Balkans. Including an archipelago made up of more than 9,000 islands and islets, of which about 200. They are inhabited: Greece, one of the cradles of European civilization and today an important tourist destination in Europe.
Bathed in sunshine all year round, the Greek islands offer a holiday paradise full of colours and flavours. Between Edenic beaches, historical pilgrimages in the footsteps of Aristotle and Plato, sports in nature (hiking, horseback riding, etc.) and water sports (diving), culinary discoveries, islands for a party, or to enjoy a quiet vacation as a family, the Greek The islands have it all. Here is our selection of 20 islands in Greece to do without fail.
Do you need help choosing which are the best Greek islands to go to as a couple, spend a family vacation, take a weekend getaway or enjoy the serenity of the beach? We have you covered! Here is a guide to the most beautiful Greek islands and how you can access them.
Although Greece is a paradise for lovers of history and architecture, it is no less so for those looking for islands away from everything. The few inhabitants have tiny country houses next to waters that seem from another world. We will discover the 20 most beautiful Greek islands, one of the most spectacular treasures of this magnificent country, so that you dream of knowing them as soon as we can travel again.
Zakynthos, or Zante, is the typical postcard setting for visiting the Greek islands of the Ionian Sea: Navagio beach is undoubtedly the most photographed in Greece. The caves between the sea and cliffs give the water a dazzling blue colour. To the north, Tsilivi offers a dream setting for hiking. You may also see the island’s sea turtles, protected as an endangered species.
Zante, or Zakynthos, is a trendy Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is a true natural paradise within a marine park, where white cliffs, beaches, and lush mountains alternate. In addition to the natural beauty, you will find a vibrant nightlife geared towards young people.
It is a reasonably inexpensive destination and highly frequented by tourists, especially in the high season.
When planning a visit to Zakynthos, it is best to avoid the rainiest four months, from October to January. The best time is between the beginning of April and the end of September.
Among the unique things that Zakynthos, the famous Navagio beach, and the Relitto are the Blue Caves and the Marine Park. Organized excursions allow you to see Caretta turtles.
Perfect for couples, this Greek island is nestled in a caldera and is world-famous for its blazing sunsets. Its blue domes surmounting the dazzling white facades, blending into the azure blue of the Mediterranean, offer an idyllic setting to all its guests.
Anyone planning a trip to the Cyclades cannot help but be seduced by the overwhelming beauty of Santorini, the quintessential romantic destination. Although it is a trendy island, its beauty lasts all year round. It is always delicious to wander the charming streets of this magical place.
The sight of the white houses clustered around the blue-domed churches takes your breath away. In Santorini, there is never a shortage of things to do or see. Caldera is the island’s heart, where the sea is intensely blue, and the islets are encrusted with a pumice stone. The first thing to do when you get here is to find a bar to have a snack while the sun goes down. The sunsets here are spectacular. The island’s archaeological sites are also worth visiting, including the one in the Akrotiri area, which is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
In addition, you cannot miss the natural spa baths in the centre of the Caldera area. Here the tiny islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni offer tourists many volcanic hot springs and therapeutic hot salt water sources. But be careful because the water can stain your bathing suit. One of the places to visit in Santorini is Red Beach, the most famous beach on the island with a stretch of red and black sand. Being able to live and breathe in the presence of a volcano makes this place simply unique.
Also worth visiting are the towns of Fira, ideal for shopping and nightlife, and Oia, which is more traditional and picturesque. If you are a lover of luxury destinations, Imerovigli is unmatched, with its infinity pools and impressive resorts ready to welcome you.
The best time to visit this fascinating island and avoid the crowds is in late spring or early fall. The weather is mild, but the water is still warm enough for swimming. All the beauty Santorini has to offer means it comes at a price. It is one of the most expensive tourist destinations on the Greek islands.
Mykonos, in the Cyclades, is the ultimate party island. Drink and dance until dawn on a sandy beach, shop in luxury boutiques and swim in crystal clear water at Elia beach or Kalafati beach to the south. To the north, the beaches are relatively quieter and less crowded. Aficionados of clubs and trendy parties, you have come to the right place!
The island of windmills and fun: Mykonos is one of the most popular destinations in Greece, and it is no coincidence. Sun-drenched white villages, paradisiacal beaches and bars where you can dance until dawn make Mykonos one of the most popular tourist islands in the Cyclades. The deepest blue sea embellishes its relatively arid landscape on the entire island.
Any visit to Mykonos begins in Chora, the main town on the island. Get lost in its maze of narrow streets with dazzling white houses, the blue railings everywhere covered in flowers. Near the port is the ancient church of Paraportiani, with its complex of five other old buildings and the Manto Mavrogenous square, named after the Greek heroine. Choose from many types of cocktails while you wait for the sun to set.
One of Mykonos ‘ premier seaside resorts is Platys Gialos, where fish restaurants, street food shops selling pita bread and gyros, and charming beaches await for an unprecedented epicurean experience between one dip.
However, to get to the point: Mykonos is primarily famous for its nightlife, with its nightclubs and bars open until dawn. There is music every night, with DJs playing against the backdrop of the hypnotic sound of the waves crashing along the shore. Who can resist the clubs, cocktail bars and venues that offer some of the trendiest entertainment in Greece?
However, not all of Mykonos is full of tourists, and in some places, you can still find solitude and tranquillity. Agios Sostis beach comes to mind . It is the perfect place to watch the sunrise, and Panormos, with its dunes and shallow waters, is ideal for children and families.
A few kilometres from the city is also Houlakia Beach, which is located in a nature reserve and is one of the few non-sandy beaches in the area. Lovers of bustling places should go to the south of the island, where the most famous beaches of Mykonos are located, such as Delos, Super Paradise Beach and Kalo Livadi.
Let’s not forget the Apollo sanctuary, one of the city’s main cultural attractions, while hiking enthusiasts with bottles of water and comfortable boots can reach some of the most beautiful places on the island, such as Monte Cinto. From the top, you can enjoy incredible views of Delos and Mykonos.
Often forgotten by tourists, Icarus (Ikaria) is located 20 kilometres from Samos and is one of the most beautiful but difficult to access the Greek islands. A breathtaking wild nature, small bays and splendid coves where the water turquoise wets fine sand-like tropical beach, authentic architecture plunging visitors into the past of ancient Greece.
Here is an island in the northeast of Greece in the Aegean Sea: the creeks of Marseille times a thousand. Described as one of the quietest places to visit the Greek Islands, Skyros allows beautiful bike rides or scooters to explore its most magical corners. The north is mountainous and green, while the south of the island is relatively arid. For swimming, go to Gyrismata, Atitsa, Palamari and Ahrounes beaches.
Skiathos is a small island with an excellent reputation for its lively nightlife and the 60 beaches that line its coastline. It is more expensive than Alónnisos, but certainly cheaper than Skopelos, mainly due to the variety of accommodation on offer. It is an island with a strong tourist predisposition and every summer it attracts many visitors.
Located in the northwest of the Aegean Sea, Skiathos is the smallest island in the Sporades archipelago, with an area of only 48 km². The only months to avoid for the holidays are those of December and January, the coldest. The best time is from May to October.
There is a wide variety of beaches, for all tastes, some rocky, others with fine white sand. Among those you should not miss is the elegant golden sand Vromolimnos and Megas Gialos, which is never very crowded as it is challenging to get to. Among other attractions on the island and the capital, Skiathos City, are the mysterious Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria and Kastro, with its ruined fortifications.
In the south of Crete, the southernmost Greek island in Europe – Gavdos – is almost deserted: you go there to appreciate the charms of secluded life, far from modernity and civilization. 80% of the beaches there is natural, but it is the perfect place to sleep on the sand under the stars. Do not miss the beaches of Agios, Ioannis and Potamos, reputed to be among the most beautiful in Greece.
Milos is a volcanic island in the Cyclades, still little frequented. It is called “the island of colours” and is relatively quiet compared to its neighbouring islands. A lunar landscape of rocks and white earth plunging into the sea is revealed to the visitor: a visual delight!
Milos is a volcanic island with a great variety of beaches (around 70 in total), and the atmosphere is one of total relaxation. This island is very green thanks to the volcanic soils and has a vast protected area.
Compared to Santorini and Mykonos, Milos is less expensive, although (due to its “beautiful” reputation) it certainly isn’t cheap. Compared to its “sisters”, it is no less crowded by tourists.
Milos has an area of 150.6 km² and is one of the “smaller” islands of the Cyclades archipelago. The summer months are the best time to visit, although it is very windy due to the Meltemi gusts from the north.
The main attraction of Milos is undoubtedly its virgin and wild beaches, such as Sarakiniko with its almost lunar landscape or Firiplaka framed between cliffs. But there are also many places of interest to visit: in addition to the Venetian castle, in the oldest part of the Plaka, among the things to see we recommend the remains of the Roman amphitheatre and, not far away, the place where the statue of the Venus de Milo.
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Green island and birthplace of Ulysses, Kefalonia, will appeal to lovers of nature and beaches with deep sapphire blue waters. An unmissable point of view: the bay of Myrtos. Water sports (in Makrigialos), caves (Drogatari), spots for kayaking: Greece from another angle.
Kefalonia is the best island for anyone looking for peace and an unspoiled environment. The main characteristics of this island are the great variety of natural habitats, both on the coast and inland. There are many different types of beaches: from long stretches of white sand to rocky or pebble beaches.
It is a reasonably cheap island to visit, where the competition between hoteliers means that prices are restricted. Until a few years ago, it was still a little off the main routes, but now, given the wonders that this island holds, it has become a must-see for Costa Cruises.
Cephalonia measures 780 km² and is the largest in the archipelago of the Ionian Islands. The best months to visit are May and June. September and early October can also be good options, although the weather is generally more humid.
In Kefalonia, the landscape, the sea and the beaches are the main attractions. You cannot miss Myrtos, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean: the difficulty of reaching it by land has contributed to keeping this crescent of fine white sand intact.
At Argostoli, the port and main centre of the island, some evidence of past Venetian rule is visible. At the same time, exciting attractions include the Church of Agios Spyridonas, the Melissani cave and the Lighthouse of San Teodoro.
This horse leg shaped island in western Greece and Albania has long beaches and steep coastlines, rich nature and architecture with multiple influences (French, British, Venetian, Byzantine). Corfu has 250 villages to visit.
Corfu is the meeting point between classical culture, Venetian rule and British rule. This island is a melting pot of different cultures and, at the same time, it dialogues perfectly with history and modernity. It makes it one of the most exciting destinations for those tourists who want to experience the beauty of the Greek islands to the fullest.
Be part of the historic centre of Corfu, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. Here the legacy of Venetian culture is very present. Be sure to visit the Cambiello district, where tall historic buildings flank the maze of narrow streets. The main square, Spianada, is located in front of the Old Fortress, the old fortified citadel on the island, and the New Fortress.
Inside the Old Fortress, San Giorgio is also the church built by the English but noted for its Doric architectural style. Within walking distance is the Royal Palace, the largest and most impressive building in Corfu. Don’t miss the bell tower of San Spiridione, with its unmistakable red dome; the Paleopolis on the Kanoni peninsula, an interesting perspective on the island’s antiquity; or the Monastery of Vlachérna, from the 18th century, which stands out for having been built on such a small island. Nearby, the Island of the Mice, or Pontikonissi, has an interesting Byzantine chapel.
Anyone coming to Corfu has to see Lake Korission, on the south shore. This coastal lagoon is surrounded by a sandy wetland, where bird-watching is one of the most popular tourist activities. Even more impressive are the sunsets, which are not to be missed by the world!
Crete is the largest Greek islands and the largest in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Aegean Sea. Renting a car or a scooter to visit Crete will allow you to be free. What to do on this largest of the islands in Greece? See breathtaking nature, hike in impressive gorges, swim on paradisiacal beaches, party in Heraklion, visit Knossos.
The largest island in Greece, Crete, is a magical place that seduces with its pearly beaches and picturesque villages amid extraordinary landscapes. Crete is the island of the myth of Theseus and Ariana, but also that of Daedalus and Icarus. In this place, halfway between reality and myth, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, numerous archaeological sites, and lovely walks through the impressive landscape.
Whoever comes to Crete should make a stop at the Palace of Knossos, famous for being the scene of the myth of the Labyrinth of the Minotaur. Knossos was the capital of the ancient Cretan civilization. This site, built-in 1900 BC, has suffered repeated damage over the centuries and has been rebuilt several times by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans.
Another place to visit is the Palace of Festus, located on a plateau in the Messara plain. It consists of the remains of three different buildings. You cannot miss the Phaistos disc, engraved with symbols that resemble Egyptian hieroglyphs but whose meaning remains a mystery to this day. It is also worth visiting the Heraclius Archaeological Museum, housed in an elegant Bauhaus-style building.
Sun lovers will want to immerse themselves in the waters of the Balos Lagoon, from where you can admire the beautiful peninsula of Capo Tigani, which can reach on foot at low tide.
Vai is another impressive beach, surrounded by a palm grove with dates that only grow in Crete. Those seeking adventure will find it in the Quebrada de Samaria National Park, with its 16 km canyon carved by a river along the western flank of the White Mountains.
Here is one of the best Greek islands to party: beaches, bars, nightclubs. Close to Rhodes and Turkey, Kos allows combining celebration and cultural visits: something to do for young people. Cavo Paradiso and Agios Stefanos are the most popular beaches.
Kos is an island with a lively atmosphere, offering stunning and wild beaches and various Greek and Roman archaeological ruins. A holiday in Kos can be very cheap, especially if you plan it. The local prices and the diverse nightlife make this island very touristy and especially appreciated by young people.
About 4 km off the Turkish coast of Bodrum, Kos is part of the Dodecanese archipelago. This island has a predominantly Mediterranean climate, with plenty of sunshine since spring (in May, however, the sea is still a bit cold). The ideal time to visit is at the end of spring and summer (from June to mid-September).
Among the main attractions of Kos, in addition to the many clubs in the centre, are the beaches, in particular, Kardamena and the famous Paradise Beach.
There is much evidence of the various eras that have impacted the history of Kos, such as the archaeological site of Asklepieion or the Castle of the Knights, which was the seat of the Knights of the Order of Saint John.
The birthplace of Zeus, Naxos, is the largest island in the Cyclades and is home to many Gallo-Roman ruins. Enjoying the beaches, the sunsets, archaeological ruins, tasting the culinary specialties, swimming at Agios Prokopios beach are the essentials.
Pearl of the Aegean Sea, Paros is the place to shop before heading to Ios or Santorini. Here again, the villages offer postcard decor. Parikia, Lefkes, Nigeria and Marpissa are the most exciting towns and villages to visit.
Located in the Sporades Islands, Alonissos frequents its National Marine Park of Alonissos, home to 80 different species of birds and 300 species of fish. Nature lovers, you’ve come to the right place!
Alónnisos is a tranquil island within a protected marine park. These factors and the fact that it is not easy to get there have helped preserve the island’s ecosystem. Alónnisos isn’t particularly expensive, but it has limited capacity, so it’s best to book in advance. Another reason it is ideal for those seeking peace is that it is not a tourist destination.
This island is part of the Sporades archipelago and the ideal time to visit it is between the end of June and September. Even though spring and early fall have warm and sunny weather, the sea is still cold.
Long preserved from mass tourism, Folegandros is now fashionable: people come here to admire its Chora, perched on a plateau on the edge of a cliff not far from the port. It is an ideal stopover between Ios and Milos. This island is also a perfect place to hike in the low and midseason.
Folegandros is a small arid island of only 42 km2 in the Aegean. Here, with wild beaches and where nature reigns supreme, you can disconnect and relax.
Folegandros is a snobbish and expensive island, especially since it is small and therefore has limited accommodation. The island has no airport and can only be reached by sea from Piraeus, which keeps tourists low.
Equidistant from the Turkish coast and the Peloponnese, Folegandros is part of the Cyclades archipelago. The recommended times to go to Folegandros are at the beginning and end of summer (June and September).
The first thing on the list of things to see is the beaches. However, not all of them are easily accessible by land. One of the easiest to access on foot is Katergo, while the beaches of Agios Georgios and Ligaria are beautiful but remote.
Located an hour and a half south of Athens by boat, Hydra is an island where motorization is non-existent: goods transported on the back of mules. The island is classified as a historical monument and will appeal to lovers of unspoiled nature, walking and swimming in peace.
Hydra is a small island in the Aegean Sea of only 52 km2, prohibited by cars and motorcycles. You can go on foot or by mule. Here you can enjoy real Greece, made up of beaches, fishing villages and taverns, where sirtaki is played late into the night. The limited amount of accommodation means that it is not among the cheapest islands in Greece, although it is one of the least touristy.
Hydra is part of the archipelago of islands in the Saronic Sea and can only reach by hydrofoil from Piraeus or by taxi boat from Metochi. The months in which the temperature and the water are warmest are July and August.
There are no particularly significant architectural or historical attractions in Hydra. Still, all the activity on the island is concentrated in the city of the same name, where many old houses that once belonged to the Greek nobility have been converted into hotels.
From here, you can walk to the two inland Orthodox monasteries: Profitis Ilias and Agios Nikolaos. Among the many beautiful beaches, the pebble beaches of Agios Nikolaos and Bisti stand out, which can be reached by boat.
An important pilgrimage site for Christians, Patmos – in the middle of the Aegean Sea – is an open-air museum: the capital and the ancient city of Chora are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. See Agriolivado, Kambos, Meloni, Vagia, Ammos beaches, etc., villages and historical monuments.
Patmos is predominantly a mountainous island, relatively small and quiet, and an ideal destination for couples and families. It has a unique atmosphere with its mix of sandy beaches, old towns and mystical sites. It is one of the most expensive islands near the Turkish border, but it has the advantage of not being too touristy.
Patmos is in the Aegean and is one of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese group of islands. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate with a mild winter and hot but not torrid summers. The recommended time to visit is from May to early November, as in early spring and late autumn, the water temperature is too cold for swimming.
Those who go to Patmos enjoy the crystal clear sea and the tranquillity and the 365 tiny white chapels scattered throughout the island. The most picturesque destination is undoubtedly the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, a stone castle internally divided into many different courtyards and cloisters.
Illuminated by 3000 hours of sunshine a year, Rhodes is the fourth largest of Greece’s islands, located in the Aegean Sea. Its old town has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988, and there are many things to visit there: Tsambika beach, Faliraki water park, Anthony Quinn Bay for snorkelling, etc.
Although known for its sea and beaches, Rhodes is predominantly a mountainous island with inland freshwater resources that have made it one of the lushest environments in the Aegean Sea. In addition to its crystalline sea, it has a fascinating historical and artistic heritage, rich in myths and legends.
Although not among the cheapest destinations, Rhodes suits all budgets. It offers all kinds of accommodation solutions, from luxury hotels to low-cost Airbnb. It is a trendy tourist destination, especially among families.
With its 1,401 km², Rhodes is the largest island in the Dodecanese. The best months to visit, escaping both the scorching heat and the crowds, are April, May and early June or the second half of September.
This island offers several attractions. Don’t miss the fascinating acropolis of Lindos, located at the top of the town of the same name. On this cliff, 116 m above sea level, is the ruined temple of Athena Lindia, dating from the 4th century BC.
Among the things you can see, we also recommend the Old City of Rhodes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its vast walls, the Palace of the Grand Master (former fortress of the Knights of Saint John) and the picturesque Path of the Knights. In the direction of the port of Madraki, two impressive stone columns marked the entrance to the port, topped by statues of deer. Legend has it that it was here that erected the mythical Colossus of Rhodes.
Pythagoras was born there: Samos, protected by the UNESCO world heritage, shelters many ancient remains, like the temple of Hera. It is also a privileged place for nature, green, and swimming on white-sand beaches. It concentrates on picturesque villages, many archaeological sites and small fishing ports that make it an island to see absolutely.
Samos is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, separated from Turkey by the mile-wide Mycale Strait. It was the birthplace of mathematician Pythagoras and philosopher Epicurus and is known for producing sweet Muscat wine. On the southeast coast, the remains of the ancient port of Pythagoreion include the underground Eupalinian aqueduct, built in the 6th century B.C.
Ios is one of the haunts for partying and sunbathing on the beaches of the Greek islands. Do you not want to mingle with the wild population? Go for a hike in this magical setting of greenery and nature and end a day on a secluded beach for a guaranteed bucolic stay.
Among the Cyclades islands, Ios is perhaps one of the favourite destinations for young tourists, especially for the quality of the nightlife. The great poet Homer is said to be buried here, and his grave is one of the most visited places. Don’t miss the ancient temple of Apollo and the church of Agia Ekaterini. Among the most beautiful beaches, we recommend those of Mylopotas, Kalamos and Kolitsani.
Ios is a happy but unspoiled island. It has many different facets and, in addition to being a great place to have fun, it also has beautiful scenery and architecture. It is a cheap holiday destination, which attracts young people, why many visitors come every year.
Located in the Aegean Sea, the island of Ios is part of the Cyclades archipelago, south of Naxos. The best time for a sun and sea vacation is in the summer months (June to September). But if you prefer to explore the island, the ideal is spring and early autumn.
Of the things that can see in Ios, in addition to the beaches, the town of Chora is essential, considered one of the most beautiful in the Cyclades. Among this group of new white houses is the island’s largest church, the Panagia Gremniotissa, which stands proud with its shimmering turquoise domes.
The 20 most beautiful Greek islands to do absolutely