Best Greek Islands to visit when planning a trip to Greece!
Greece is one of a kind! Truly and utterly magical, it’s one of those places that you simply have to pay a visit to at least once in your lifetime.
Whilst mainland Greece has its fair share of history, culture and beauty to offer, such as the incredible ancient sights of Athens for instance, many travellers flock to Greece in order to pay a visit to the incredible Greek islands located in the Ionian and Aegean Seas.
Given that there’s over 6000 of these gorgeous Greek islands, of which roughly 227 are inhabited, you may find it difficult to choose which of these Greek Islands are worth visiting.
That’s where this post may come in handy and hopefully inspire you to plan a trip to some of these Greek gems. I’ve asked some of my fellow bloggers to tell me what their absolute favourite Greek island is and why.
So whether you want to plan a romantic Greek honeymoon, laze on some of the most beautiful beaches in Crete, or looking to visit gorgeous Santorini, this list of best Greek Islands worth visiting will help you decide on the best Greek Island hopping destinations to visit!
Andros - Cyclades
By Katerina & Maria of It’s all trip to me
Although not one of the most popular Greek Islands, Andros is certainly among the most laid-back and authentic ones. One of the largest of the Cyclades Islands, Andros stands out for being a unique blend of gorgeous architecture, stunning beaches and spectacular scenery.
It all starts in Chora, the island’s main town, which is definitely among the prettiest ones in the Aegean Sea. Chora abounds in marvellous neoclassical mansions, remnants of the era when Andros was a maritime superpower. Another of Chora’s jewels is the splendid Goulandris Square which is entirely made of marble and enjoys a unique location overlooking the wild sea and the remains of the island’s castle.
Moreover, Andros Island is home to some of the most pristine beaches in Greece. From absolutely remote bays, like Vitali, to super popular beach clubs like Gold Beach, there is definitely a little piece of heaven for every taste in Andros.
However, although beaches alone could be reason enough to visit the island, there’s so much more to Andros rather than just its crystal clear waters. Andros also boasts mountains, many rivers, streams and natural springs. A mini road trip across the island is what it takes to witness some of its best kept secrets. Furthermore, Andros Island is the ideal destination for hikers as it boasts a wide network of ancient paths which offer the opportunity for amazing walks in a breathtaking natural setting.
The weather in Andros is pleasant from May through October yet the optimal time to visit is June or September. That said, even in August, which is peak season on the Greek Islands, Andros hardly ever feels cramped or crowded. The island is large, beaches are plenty so there’s room for everyone.
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that Andros Island is just a 2 hour trip by ferry from Rafina Port near Athens and just a 1 to 2 hour ferry ride from other islands too, such as Tinos or Mykonos. So why not plan a detour to Andros on your way from Athens to Mykonos. What more could one ask for?
Click to search for, and book accommodation in Andros
Folegandros – Cyclades
By Jennifer Dombrowski & Tim Davis from Luxe Adventure Traveler
There are over 6000 Greek Islands and around 200 of those are inhabited. Still, most visitors head to the well-known Greek Isles like Mykonos and Santorini. While still definitely worth a visit and extremely popular for a reason, there are so many other islands to explore beyond the most visited like Santorini. In fact, when visiting Santorini you should take a few days and also head over to Folegandros.
There’s no airport on this Greek Island and the only way to reach it is by boat. It has a population of just 650 residents and there’s only a single ATM. Folegandros is authentic, with many of its residents living their lives as fisherman or farmers without modern conveniences like electricity.
Folegandros is beautiful. It’s one of the smaller islands that make up the Cyclades, which Santorini also belongs to. You find the white washed houses with colorful shutters and bursts of fragrant and colorful bougainvillea. The beaches are also stunning, and with a number only accessible either by boat or by hike, they’re never overcrowded.
Rent a buggy to get around and explore the island, cool off in the crystal blue waters or sit back enjoying the local Greek cuisine over a leisurely meal and Greek wines. No matter how you decide to spend your time in Folegandros, you’ll be happy you took the time to visit one of the best small Greek islands near Santorini.
View accommodation options in Folegandros here.
Milos - Cyclades
By Sophie Nadeau from Solo Sophie
Milos is a charming and tiny Greek island in the heart of the crystal waters of the Aegean Sea. Situated within the Cyclades, a group of islands so-called thanks to the fact that they form a cyclical pattern in the sea, this stunning European destination is slightly off the beaten path but oh so worth it.
For example, even if you’ve never heard of Milos before, you’ll likely have seen or heard about one of the most famous archaeological finds to have been discovered on the island. The world-famous sculpture of the Venus de Milo was created during the 2nd Century BCE and was ‘re-discovered’ by a farmer during the 19th-century and is today located within the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Nowadays, the island of Milos itself is home to a plethora of archaeological sites and museums you can visit. Elsewhere on the island, the capital of Milos is Plaka, a delightful hilltop city with many a tavern and bar serving traditional food (due to its location, much of the fare is a seafood-inspired menu).
For those who wish to discover the beach and the sea, the moon-scape landscape of Sarakiniko is a popular swimming spot, as well as among photographers.
Click here to view rates & availability for Milos accommodation options.
Mykonos - Cyclades
By Marco Santos from Travel-Boo
Upon our very first visit to Greece, we decided to start our journey in Athens, after which we embarked on some island hopping. This included a visit to some of the most popular Cyclades Greek Islands, with our first stop being Mykonos.
As much as Mykonos is often overcrowded by the streams of tourists visiting each year, we were still absolutely blown away. Perhaps it was due to Mykonos being our first Greek Island, or perhaps the gorgeous old town with its white narrow alleyways contrasted with bursts of colours around every corner, or maybe it was the awesome beaches, food or people. Either way, we were not disappointed to have included Mykonos into our travel itinerary.
To get from Athens to Mykonos was fairly simple to do too. Travelling to Mykonos by air is a quick hop over from Athens, lasting only around 45 minutes in actual flight time. Personally, we decided to rather take the high-speed ferry from Athens’s Piraeus port over to Mykonos. Depending on the option booked, the ferry ride can take anywhere between two and a half hours up to around five hours in total.
Thankfully there is no shortage of things to see, do and explore on Mykonos Island. Wander around the charming white-washed old town and be sure to stop off and enjoy a drink on the waters edge in the area known as Little Venice. Head over to one of the many idyllic beaches found in Mykonos including, Paradise Beach, Psarou Beach and Elia Beach to name but a few. Snap an iconic Mykonos shot at the famous Mykonos Windmills (Kato Mili) located on the edge of the old town. Oh, and don’t forget to sample some of the most delicious Greek food!
Click here to view rates and book your Mykonos accommodation.
Naxos – Cyclades
By Marco Santos from Travel-Boo
Located between Mykonos and Santorini you’ll find the largest (and known to be the greenest) of the Cyclades Islands, Naxos. Given this locality, it made perfect sense for us to stop over for a few nights on route to Santorini. And boy, were we glad we did!
Naxos, is in my opinion, one of the most undiscovered and beautiful Greek Islands. It offers some respite from the maddening crowds of tourists you’ll find at the more popular Greek destinations, yet at the same time there is so much to do and discover here.
We visited mid-June, which meant the Island was still fairly quiet and the temperatures were absolutely perfect. Not to mention that prices of food & drinks were considerably lower, than say Athens or Santorini.
Our apartment, Naxian Althea, was situated right on the stunning Agia Anna beach, which was pure heaven. Including private sun-loungers, we would simply roll out of bed, walk a few steps out the apartment and be right on the beach, ready to relax in the gorgeous Greek sun!
Of course, given its size, Naxos has lots more to see and do than just visiting beaches. We spent about half a day exploring the Chora (old town) with its maze of alleyways and streets offering up picture-perfect scenes around every corner. Down by the port and before you head into the old town, you’ll also find Naxos’ most iconic shot, the Portara (meaning door), which is a massive door like column that forms part of the ancient ruins of an unfinished Temple of Apollo.
If you’re feeling adventurous you may also want to hire a car and explore all the island has to offer. Visit some of the many quaint and gorgeous white washed villages including Vivlos, Halki, Apiranthos or Filoti to name a few. Alternatively, consider a day trip from Naxos to neighbouring Paros to discover yet another Cyclades gem.
To get to Naxos you can either opt to travel by air from Athens to Naxos, with a flight time of around 40 minutes. Or, you may catch the ferry from Athens. The fastest ferry takes just over 3 hours to get to Naxos.
If you are planning a trip to the Cyclades Island group, I would absolutely recommend that you include a stop in Naxos along the way. You will not regret it one bit!
Click here for Naxos accommodation availability and rates.
Paros - Cyclades
By Kelsey Frey from Sights Better Seen
Paros is a beautiful island that is often overlooked. I was there for 3 days and wished I could have stayed longer – I swear there’s something so relaxing in the air there!
It’s easy to get to Paros. You can fly into Santorini, Mykonos, or Athens and take a ferry from there. There’s even an airport in Paros now if you really wanted to fly directly, but it’s really small and flights are quite expensive.
Paros is much less crowded than many other heavily visited Greek islands like Santorini, Ios, or Mykonos, but is just as beautiful. It’s quite a large island as well, so there’s lots to do! Because of that, I’d recommend that you rent an ATV, car, bike, or scooter to get around. There are buses on the island, but they can be unreliable.
Parikia is the main port and capital of the island. I stayed there, which was nice as we were close to lots of shops and restaurants. I’d also recommend exploring other nearby towns, like Naoussa and Lefkos.
The beaches in Paros are gorgeous. There are so many to choose from – I’d recommend Kolymbithres, Santa Maria, Molos, or Monastiri.
You can also visit the Marathi Marble Quarry, and can even walk inside it! It’s really cool and equally creepy the further you go into the cave.
Paros can get cold in the winter, and pretty much shuts down tourism-wise. I’d suggest sticking to the shoulder seasons of fall and spring if you want less crowds. July and August will have the warmest weather, but will also be the most crowded. I went in June, however, and it was perfect! I’d imagine September would also be quite nice.
Enjoy your trip to Paros – it’s a beautiful island with so much to do!
Search for Paros hotels & accommodation options.
Santorini - Cyclades
By Marco Santos from Travel-Boo
I have to confess that I was very nervous to add Santorini to our Greece travel plans when we first visited. Without a doubt one of the most loved and well-known Greek Islands has to be Santorini, which also means it’s one of the most visited Greek Islands. And it’s exactly this that I was afraid of.
But needless to say, we were amazed, stunned and floored by this breath-taking island. Not only do you have incredible views, white-washed villages, delicious food and gorgeous sunsets but you also have an endless array of experiences and unique tours and activities to enjoy.
Having based ourselves in the area known as Imerovigli, we decided to complete the Fira to Oia hike which is just shy of 11 kilometres (roughly 7 miles) in total. Depending on your own speed and how often you stop to admire the natural beauty of Santorini, the hike could take anywhere between 3 – 5 hours. It was definitely a highlight for us and I would recommend it for any outdoor lovers wanting a different take on Santorini. A word of warning though, be sure to do this hike early morning or later in the afternoon as the Santorini sun can get quite harsh.
Getting to Santorini should be easy to do by either air or ferry. Since Santorini was our last stop, we couldn’t be bothered having to travel all the way back by ferry, which can take between 5 – 7 hours depending on the ferry booked. Instead we decided to simply fly back from Santorini to Athens on Aegean Airlines, with a flight time of around 45 mins. Visiting both Mykonos and Santorini? You can quite easily travel from Mykonos to Santorini too.
Santorini is a truly magical Greek Island making it one of the best Greek Islands for couples wanting that perfect romantic getaway. But there is so much to see and do for all types of travellers, which is why I believe Santorini should undoubtedly be on your travel bucket list!
Check out my 9 top reasons to visit Santorini post for more inspiration!
View options for Santorini accommodation and hotels here.
Syros – Cyclades
By Teresa Gomez from Brogan Abroad
Syros is part of the most popular group of islands in Greece, the Cyclades Islands. Despite this, not many people have heard of this beautiful island. It seems to be overshadowed by its more famous neighbours such as Mykonos and Santorini. But for me this is what has kept Syros unique and it has helped maintain that authentic Greek island lifestyle feel.
Syros is a relatively small island but it has plenty to offer for a few days of exploring or relaxing. The centre of all the action is Ermoupoli, an elegant neoclassical city with grand old merchant mansions and marbled streets. Walking around you can really appreciate how important this trading port once was from the grandeur of its streets. Head to Asteria Beach in the district of Vaporia, where you will find one the best beach bars in Greece and one of the best photo spots in Syros.
Further up the hill, you will find Ano Syros, a Venetian settlement with houses built one on top of the other creating the appearance of a fortress town. Its narrow and winding alleyways are a joy to explore, and getting lost in this maze will make you feel like you’re a million miles away from the world. If you walk a little bit further up from Ano Syros to where the windmill is you will get the best view on the island.
If relaxing by the beach is more your thing, head to Galissas Beach, a secluded cove in the west of the island with crystal clear waters. There’s an excellent restaurant there called a Ventoura that makes a mean parsley salad, a delicious local speciality.
View Syros hotel & accommodation selections here.
Tinos – Cyclades
By Dave and Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences
Tinos island is one of the lesser known Cycladic islands. We find that very surprising, as it is really amazing. Easily accessible from Piraeus and Rafina ports in Athens, and only a half hour away from Mykonos, Tinos can easily become your new favourite Greek island!
Tinos is a great choice if you are looking to relax on lovely beaches and have delicious Greek food. In addition, the island offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking trails, bouldering and windsurfing. What makes Tinos so unique though are its beautiful, quaint villages and the strange dovecotes that you can see all around the island.
Among Greeks, Tinos is known as a place of pilgrimage. The port town gets particularly busy on the days around the 15th of August. Thousands of Greeks and other Orthodox Christians visit to pay their respects to the massive church dedicated to Virgin Mary.
There are hundreds more churches and chapels all around the island. In fact, Tinos is one of the very few places in Greece where you can visit both Orthodox and Catholic churches and monasteries.
Another unique feature of Tinos is its superb marble crafting. There are several museums all around the island, dedicated to this unique art and the famous Tinian sculptors.
Tinos can be enjoyed at any time of year. Hikers will probably prefer to visit outside the hotter summer months of July and August, as the temperatures can get quite high.
It can take you several days to see all of Tinos. It’s best to rent a car and explore the lovely villages and the most secluded beaches. We suspect that you will fall in love with the island, like we did!
Interested in visiting? Find out more here on the best things to do in Tinos Greece.
Compare Tinos accommodation options & rates here.
By David Angel from Delve Into Europe
Crete is by far the largest of the Greek islands, and has by far the most to see. Crete has breath-taking beaches in abundance, dramatic scenery especially with the White Mountains and one of the most beguiling cities in Greece in Chania, on the north-west coast of the island.
The north of the island is much busier than the south, with all the main towns – Chania,
Rethymno, the capital Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos located there. The mountainous interior dictates that everything is a whole lot slower on the southern coast of the island. Parts of southern Crete don’t even have roads – the only way in and out of the village of Agia Roumeli is by ferry or the amazing Samaria Gorge walk, which finishes there.
Most people come to Crete for the beaches and warm weather. The beaches vary greatly,
from the popular resorts of Hersonissos and Rethymno to remote beauties like Agios Pavlos (near Agia Roumeli) and Kedrodasos.
The gorgeous lagoon beach of Balos is one of Crete’s top draws, as is the pink sand beach at Elafonissi. Both are very isolated but get swamped with visitors in summer. Yet if you visit either of them in October, it’s still very warm and you get a fraction of the crowds.
Crete is also home to ancient civilisations including the Minoans, whose palace complex at
Knossos makes for a fascinating trip back in time. The island has been occupied by many
different powers down the millennia, and Chania, with its layers of ancient, Venetian and
Turkish history is a great place to start uncovering the island’s many secrets.
Compare and book your Crete accommodation here.
Rhodes – Dodecanese
By Stephanie Craig from Sofia Adventures
Rhodes has a reputation of being an island for older tourists, but I absolutely adored my time spent there. And while there are a ton of more mature tourists, there’s pockets of young people too if you know where to look. That being said, Rhodes is a great island to visit if you’re looking for a slower pace than you’ll find on Mykonos or even Crete.
There’s a lot to do on Rhodes. You can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Rhodes Old Town, escape to the white-washed village of Lindos, or explore the island’s more resort towns.
The island is most popular from the beginning of May through the end of September. If you visit during the shoulder season, you’ll find many of the shops and restaurants closed, but there’s still a lot to enjoy during this time while also escaping the crowds. You can opt to visit in winter as well, when the beaches will be empty (though too cold to swim), but the history in Rhodes Town will still be available to appreciate.
There are direct flights available from many parts of Europe to Rhodes, or you can stop in Athens or another Greek island and then take a ferry to Rhodes. I found flights from Crete to Rhodes were inexpensive and easy, making for a great Greek island combination.
Go here for a selection of Rhodes hotels & accommodation options.
Symi – Dodecanese
By Anna & Trevor from Delightful Travellers
We’d never heard of Symi before we started doing our research on Greek Islands close to Turkey. Symi is a part of the Dodecanese Greek Islands and is just a short ferry (about an hour) from Rhodes. There is no airport on the island so you have to come by boat. We actually arrived from Patmos, which is about a four hour ferry ride (north) of Symi, and later went onwards to Rhodes.
Symi is quite small (there are less than 3000 residents), with only a couple of small towns. We spent just three nights there, definitely enough time to explore but not enough time to really relax into island life.
The main town itself is quite small – but stunning – painted bright, pastel colours. It looks completely different from what you’d typically picture when you think of those white-washed Greek villages! The town is built on a hill surrounding the main port with incredible azure water. It really is picture perfect.
Be sure to hike to the top of the town to see the incredible 360 views over almost the entire island. From the bottom it does not look too far up, but it takes about 30 minutes to reach the top. Afterwards catch one of the water taxis in the port for a day trip to the gorgeous island beaches.
We visited in late September. Being shoulder season it really was the perfect time to visit with fewer tourists but warm, sunny weather. April-June and October would also be ideal!
Symi is small and quaint and a bit off the regular beaten path in Greece, making it a bit of a hidden gem, and definitely worth a visit!
Need to book accommodation – click here for Symi hotel rates & availability.
Corfu - Ionian
By Chrisoula Manika from Travel Passionate
When you think of paradise Greek islands it’s likely that images of Corfu spring to mind. This beautiful island features terracotta-roofed houses, pristine beaches with cobalt-blue waters and ancient archaeological sites that will intrigue even the most well-traveled explorer.
The island of Corfu is blessed with over 200km of coastline, so it’s no surprise that it has become one of the most loved beach resort destinations in Europe. Of course, this does tend to attract mass tourism but thankfully there are still areas of Corfu that remain relatively untouched and natural such as Loggas Beach (a great spot for sunset), Porto Timoni and the Canal d’Amour.
When you’re not discovering a picturesque beach, you can spend your time exploring the ruins of Byzantine basilicas, fortresses, castles and palaces of which there are many dotted around the island. Elsewhere you can enjoy the wild nightlife, epic water sports, and chic shopping. Whatever type of traveler you are, Corfu has something for you.
Corfu is best visited during May, June, September and October when crowds are fewer and the weather isn’t too imposing, but if you can only travel during the summer holidays then it is still a wonderful family destination during the months of July and August, with temperatures here being cooler than some of the more southern islands.
Corfu can be easily reached from airports all around Europe, with some fantastic deals from the UK and Germany, or alternatively there are ferries from both Igoumenitsa and Patras on the mainland.
Compare availability and rates for Corfu accommodation here.
Kefalonia – Ioanian
By Steph Edwards from The Mediterranean Traveller
For a large, beautiful island with romantic scenery and plenty of room to spread out it’s worth looking to the west of the mainland to Kefalonia. For a long time it’s been underrated as a tourist destination – despite having an international airport. It’s fairly undeveloped as large islands go thanks to its mountainous (and spectacular) scenery, though you will find a handful of beach resorts with plenty of amenities. Just don’t go expecting a crazy party scene!
Kefalonia is an island of two halves – in the north you’ll find lush green hills and white pebble beaches (as made famous by the Hollywood film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), and in the south there’s miles of sandy beach.
Sadly, much of its historic architecture was destroyed in the major earthquake of 1953, but remnants of the original Venetian buildings at Fiskardo and the sensitively restored Assos are amongst the prettiest villages in Greece. A late afternoon swim in the bay at Assos will linger long in the memory, as will a trip to the cave lake at Melissani with its dazzling blue waters.
Kefalonia is perfect for road tripping but if you don’t have a car you’ll find numerous excursions and boat trips on offer too. It’s best to arrive and depart by air as the ferry connections aren’t great in this part of Greece. If you can manage it though, it’s well worth popping over to the neighbouring island of Ithaca for a day or two – it’s incredibly picturesque.
Book your perfect stay in Kefalonia by comparing hotel options here.
Zakynthos - Ioanian
By Darek from Darek and Gosia
The Greek island of Zakynthos is located in the Ionian Sea and is considered the most beautiful and romantic of all Greek islands. Zakynthos offers a very wide range of attractions that will allow you to enjoy an authentic Greek holiday.
A great sea adventure – this is how Zakynthos can be described. What awaits you here? Rock cliffs, beautiful beaches, blue grottoes, ports, observing the huge Caretta sea turtles. The offer of cruises both around the island and to the neighbouring islets is so rich that it is really difficult not to be tempted by one.
For people who want above all to indulge in bathing in the beautiful, crystalline water of the Ionian Sea, the best will be the west and south coast of Zakynthos. A place worth recommending is the Wreck Bay, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In the south of the island, carriage turtles are a huge attraction. They have their breeding place there and for their safety in Zakynthos a part of the coast was separated and The Marine Park was created.
Are you ready to visit the most beautiful island in Greece? Don’t wait – book a trip to Zakynthos!
For a selection of Zakynthos accommodation options, compare here.
Agistri - Saronic
By Helena from Just For One Summer
Lying only a short ferry ride away from Athens, Agistri is the perfect destination for a day from the Greek capital. But it is not just it’s close proximity to Athens that makes Agistri worth a visit. Despite its small size, Agistri offers a selection of beautiful beaches, amazingly clear sea and plenty of fun things to do while on the island.
The ferry ride from Athens to Agistri with a speed boat takes only one hour and costs 29 euros for a return ticket. There are regular buses connecting the port with Skala seaside town and some of the beaches, making getting around the island super easy.
There are only two main settlements on Agistri, the Megalochori port and Skala. They both offer a choice of accommodation, cafes and taverns even though Skala has more of a “holiday destination” feel. However, none of them is the reason you are here! The main attraction of Agistry is its stunning coast.
The most famous beach of Agistei is Chalikiada near Skala. You’ll need to hike for a couple of kilometers and bring your own refreshment but it is worth it. Chalikiada is a large beach covered by bright white pebbles with crystal clear water and an impressive cliff. It can get quite busy during the main summer season and is popular among free campers and nudists so keep an open mind.
For those who prefer organized beaches with beach bars and umbrellas, Dragonera and Aponisos will be a better choice. They are not as striking as Chalikiada but sport the same crystal-clear sea and lush pine forest all around. You’ll need to take a bus from the port of Skala to get to the beaches but it is a short and pleasant drive.
Agistri offers plenty of adventure activities as well. From hiking or cycling to motorboat rentals, kayaking tours, horse riding or even scuba diving expeditions there is something for everyone.
But no matter how you choose to spend your time in Agistri you are guaranteed to have an amazing time!
For the perfect stay in Agistri, compare accommodation options here.
Whether you’ve already visited or still planning to, I’m sure you’ll agree that 16 islands listed above are absolutely heavenly. Hopefully this post has inspired you to return to Greece to go check out more of these best Greek Islands worth visiting!
Have you visited one of these, or any other Greek Island for that matter, and fallen head over heels in love with Greece?
Then I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to share your Greek travel tales in the comments section down below.