The 20 beautiful Greek islands you can’t miss
Which Greek island should you choose for your trip to Greece? Here is our selection of the most beautiful and must-see islands in Greece!
Between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea, between the Byzantine East and the Catholic West and between Europe and the Balkans, there is a mountainous and fragmented territory from which stands out an archipelago composed of more than 9,000 islands and islets of which nearly 200 are inhabited: Greece, one of the cradles of European civilisation and today a major tourist destination in Europe.
The Greek islands, full of sunshine all year round, offer a paradisiacal holiday full of colour and flavour. Between Edenic beaches, historical pilgrimages in the footsteps of Aristotle and Plato, nature sports (hiking, horseback riding, etc.) and water sports (diving), culinary discoveries, islands to celebrate or to enjoy a peaceful family stay, the Greek islands have everything to offer. Here is our selection of 20 islands in Greece to do without fail.
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Zakynthos is the typical postcard setting for visiting the Greek islands of the Ionian Sea: Navagio beach is certainly the most photographed in Greece. The caves, between the sea and the cliffs, give the water a bright blue colour. To the north, Tsilivi offers an ideal setting for hiking. You may also see the island’s marine turtles, protected as a threatened species.
Ideal for couples, the Greek island of Santorini is nestled in a caldera and is world renowned for its flamboyant sunsets. Its blue domes overlooking the bright white facades, merging into the azure blue of the Mediterranean, offer an idyllic setting to all its guests.
Mykonos, in the Cyclades, is the island where to celebrate par excellence. Drink and dance until dawn on a fine sandy beach, shop in luxury shops and swim in crystal clear water at Elia or Kalafati beach in the south. In the north, the beaches are relatively quieter and less frequented. Club fans and trendy parties, you’ve come to the right place!
Often forgotten by tourists, Icarus (Ikaria) is 20 kilometres from Samos and is one of the most beautiful but difficult to access Greek islands: a breathtaking wilderness, small bays and splendid coves where turquoise water wet a fine tropical beach type sand, an authentic architecture plunges the visitor into the past of ancient Greece.
Skyros is an island in the northeast of Greece in the Aegean Sea: the calanques of Marseille times a thousand. Described as one of the quietest places to visit the Greek islands, Skyros offers beautiful bike or scooter rides to explore its most magical corners. The north is mountainous and green while the south of the island is rather arid. To swim, go to the beaches of Gyrismata, Atitsa, Palamari and Ahrounes.
South of Crete, the southernmost Greek island in Europe – Gavdos – is almost deserted: you go there to enjoy the charms of a recluse life, far from modernity and civilization. 80% of the beaches are naturist but it is the ideal place to sleep on the sand under the stars. Don’t miss the beaches of Agios, Ioannis and Potamos, famous for being among the most beautiful in Greece.
Milos is a volcanic island in the Cyclades, still not very popular. It is called “the island of colors” and is rather quiet compared to its neighboring islands. The visitor is introduced to a lunar landscape of rocks and white earth plunging into the sea: a visual delight!
Green and native island of Ulysses, Kefalonia will seduce lovers of nature and beaches with deep sapphire blue waters. An unavoidable point of view: the bay of Myrtos. Water sports (in Makrigialos), caves (Drogatari), spots to go kayaking: Greece from another angle.
The equestrian shaped island of Corfou in the west of 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.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the largest in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Aegean Sea. Renting a car or scooter to visit Crete will allow you to be free. What to do on this largest island in Greece? See breathtaking nature, hike in impressive gorges, swim on heavenly beaches, party in Heraklion, visit Knossos…
This is one of the best Greek islands to party on: beaches, bars, discos. Close to Rhodes and Turkey, Kos makes it possible to combine celebrations and cultural visits: to be done for young people. Cavo Paradiso and Agios Stefanos are the most popular beaches.
Naxos, Zeus’ native land, is the largest island in the Cyclades and is home to many Gallo-Roman ruins. Enjoy the beaches, sunsets, visit the archaeological ruins, taste the culinary specialities, swim at the beach of Agios Prokopios are essential.
Pearl of the Aegean Sea, Paros is the place to go shopping before going to Ios or Santorini. Here again, the villages offer a postcard setting. Parikia, Lefkes, Angeria and Marpissa are the most interesting cities and villages to visit.
Located in the Sporades Islands, Alonissos is frequented for its National Marine Park of Alonissos, where 80 different bird species and 300 fish species live. Nature lovers, you have come to the right place!
Long protected from mass tourism, Folegandros is now in fashion: 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 an ideal place to hike in low and mid-season.
Located an hour and a half south of Athens by boat, Hydra is an island where motorization is non-existent: goods are transported by mules. The island is classified as a historical monument and will seduce lovers of unspoilt nature, walking and swimming in peace.
An important place of pilgrimage for Christians, Patmos – in the open Aegean Sea – is an open-air museum: the capital and the ancient city of Chora are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. To see: the beaches of Agriolivado, Kambos, Meloi, Vagia, Ammos, etc., the villages and historical monuments.
Illuminated by 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, Rhodes is the fourth largest of the Greek islands, located in the Aegean Sea. Its old town has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1988 and there are many things to visit: Tsambika Beach, Faliraki Water Park, Anthonu Quinn Bay for snorkeling, among others.
Pythagoras was born there: Samos, protected by UNESCO’s World Heritage, is home to many ancient remains, such as the Temple of Hera. It is also a privileged place for nature, green, and swimming on white sandy beaches. It is a concentration of picturesque villages, numerous archaeological sites and small fishing ports that make it an island to see.
Ios is one of the places to party and sunbathe on the beaches of the Greek islands. Don’t you want to be part of the wild population? Go hiking in this magical setting of greenery and nature and finish a day on an isolated beach, for a guaranteed bucolic stay.
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