Located in the southernmost part of Europe, with the longest coastline, Greece is an incredibly exciting country to visit. With around 200 inhabited islands, each beaming with a brilliant sunset. From the white and blue house Cyclades to the lush Ionian Islands to the castle-lined Dodecanese, each island has its own story to tell. Greece is definitely a perfect place for a holiday getaway, and no wonder people worldwide flock to be part of this magnificent haven.
With the sumptuous cuisine and perfect scenery, who would dare say no to a vacation in Greece? However, if you still need guidance on where to stay, here are the top islands you should consider for your grandiose expedition.
Santorini, perhaps the most iconic and arguably the best Greek island, is a great place to start your trip to Greece. Once a much larger island, Santorini was hit by a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago in Thira, which sank much of the island into the sea. Due to its volcanic history, you’ll find beautiful black and red sand beaches and well-preserved ruins for archeological sites.
The island has a touch of Cycladic architecture, making it more stunning for visitors and tourists. Also, visit Santorini’s wineries, as they are well-acclaimed worldwide. So, if you are looking for an idyllic island sunset, add Santorini to your bucket list.
If you are a sun seeker, lounging on Crete’s sandy beaches is a good choice. Also, if you like to witness nature’s best, you can add hiking to your activity list in Samaria Gorge in White Mountains National Park. Since Crete is the largest island to visit, you may need more than a few days to explore the beaches and coves.
History enthusiasts can explore ancient sites such as the Venetian Fortezza of Rethymnon, visit Heraklion to see the Palace of Knossos (where the mythical Minotaur is said to have roamed) or visit the revered Heraklion Archaeological Museum. If you want an urban setting with a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, consider staying on the north coast of Chania or Heraklion.
If you’ve ever had an experience traveling with kids or teenagers, you know the secret to success. Provide as many options as possible and ensure that everyone has ample opportunity to use all of their infinite energies.
Almost all Greek islands are known to be child-friendly, but if you’re looking for somewhere less crowded with smaller to less-explored isles and plenty of water activities for outdoor fun, Naxos is your best option. Also, try kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Corfu offers a picturesque paradise where you can show off your swimwear in calm water, with snorkeling as one of the offered activities. With several sheltered bays from the Mediterranean winds, you can get up close to schools of fish, marine plants, and an abundance of colorful seashells. Many resorts overlook the Ionian Sea, and Corfu’s UNESCO-listed Old Town streets are lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. To keep you busier, visit the museums, palaces, and historic estates.
Located in the Ionian Sea, Zakynthos is one of Greece’s most famous islands. Just be careful of the cliffs. Please avoid the edges as they are crumbling and can easily collapse. Zakynthos has a long stretch of white-and-gold sand beach surrounded by cliffs and dense forests. Popular spots include Shipwreck Beach and the magical Blue Grotto, where sky reflections and white limestone cast the water in a magical shade of blue. While you are there, check out the Venetian Castle overlooking the capital of Zakynthos, then visit the Post-Byzantine Museum in Zante to see art exhibits.
During the warmer months, tourists flock to Ios to enjoy its fantastic nightlife. Almost every major island has its own “strip.” The streets are lined with cocktail bars and neon-lit nightclubs, with new islands popping up every year and becoming known as new club hotspots.
But there’s more to this island north of Santorini than nightclubs and beach parties. Vacationers can also enjoy a quieter side of Ios by strolling the winding streets of Chora, a village of stucco buildings and quaint windmills. If you prefer more outdoor activities during vacation, try hiking to Pyrgos Monastery, the highest point on Ios.
A relatively small island on the east coast of the mainland, Skiathos is an idyllic little Greek island to visit. While most Greek islands are known for their beaches, Skiathos features some of the best beaches in the region. There are over 60 attractive options, including secluded Lalaria Beach and Banana Beach.
Skiathos’ bright blue waters are also a great place for sailing and taking in picturesque views from above while hiking the island’s 122 miles of hiking trails. Also, make sure to have fun with the turquoise waters of Paralia Lalaria, have a trip to the Agios Nikolaos Church, and witness the historic monastery of Panagia Evangelistria.
Mykonos needs a little introduction regarding the best Greek islands to visit. It may be as popular as Santorini or Crete. It is also a hotspot for party-goers and those who want a more relaxing atmosphere with a cocktail while admiring the Aegean Sea. Further, Mykonos features delicious seafood and whitewashed architecture, or wander to the Delos islands and see the ruins and the iconic windmills of Kato Mili.
Lying south of mainland Greece, Kythira delights visitors with its natural beauty and isolation from the hustle and bustle of the other Ionian islands. After enjoying the beautiful scenery, explore Chalkos Beach, see the Venetian Castle, and discover the caves of Agia Sophia. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful beaches and waterfalls. Relaxation takes precedence over sightseeing here, but visitors can learn about history through relics from Kythira’s past, including medieval and Venetian castles.
Paros is a small island in Greece, so close to the mainland that you can swim there. Don’t try! It is one of the central islands for water sports. On the island’s sunny beaches, travelers can enjoy windsurfing, kitesurfing, diving, and boating. Away from the water’s edge, visit bustling Parikia with its many boutique shops, restaurants, and bars.
With sun-drenched beaches, picturesque cobbled beaches, the finest fresh food, and an interesting history dating back 2,500 years, there’s no place on Earth like Greece when it comes to luxury getaways. As it is made up of archipelagos of islands, each island has a story to unravel, waiting to be discovered by tourists and visitors.