greece

Greek islands

Discover the islands of Greece

The Greek Islands are a popular destination for travellers looking to experience the perfect combination of stunning beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture. With over 200 inhabited islands scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, there is no shortage of breathtaking destinations to explore.

Known for their crystal clear waters, white-washed buildings, and delicious cuisine, the Greek Islands offer something for every one. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing beach vacation or an adventure-filled trip filled with ancient ruins and picturesque villages, these islands have it all.

The best time to visit the Greek Islands is during the summer months from June to August when temperatures are warmest and days are longer. However, if you prefer fewer crowds and milder weather, consider visiting during shoulder season from April to May or September to October.

Getting around the islands can be done by ferry or plane. Ferries are a popular mode of transportation between islands as they offer scenic views along with more affordable prices compared to flights. However, if you’re short on time or want a more convenient option between long-distance islands like Crete or Rhodes, flying might be your best bet.

Each island has its own unique character influenced by its history and geographical location. Some are known for their party scene like Mykonos while others boast tranquil beaches such as Corfu. We will provide an overview of each island’s key highlights and attractions to help you plan your ultimate Greek Island adventure. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to explore the wonders of the Greek Islands!

A Must-Visit Destination

The Greek islands have long been a popular destination for people seeking stunning scenery, delicious food, and rich history. From the vibrant nightlife of Mykonos to the secluded beaches of Santorini, each island offers its own unique charm and attractions. But what makes the Greek islands a must-visit destination? In this section, we will delve into the reasons why these beautiful islands should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

One of the main draws of visiting the islands is their breath taking natural beauty. With crystal clear waters in shades of blue and turquoise, pristine sandy beaches, and picturesque white-washed buildings perched on cliffs overlooking the sea, it’s no wonder that these islands are often referred to as paradise. Each island has its own distinct landscape and features, making every visit a new and exciting experience.

The islands of Greece are steeped in ancient history and mythology, making them an ideal destination for those interested in culture and heritage. You can explore archaeological sites like Delos or Akrotiri on Santorini to learn about Greece’s rich past, or visit traditional villages where you can witness customs that have been passed down through generations.

Greek cuisine is renowned for its fresh ingredients, simple yet flavourful dishes, and healthy Mediterranean influence. The islands are no exception when it comes to food – from freshly caught seafood to local cheeses and olive oil, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to try some traditional dishes like moussaka or souvlaki while sipping on a glass of ouzo or local wine.

With over 6,000 islands scattered across Greece’s Aegean Sea and Ionian Sea regions, there is no shortage of opportunities for island-hopping adventures in this part of the world. Whether you choose to travel by ferry or private boat, hopping from one island to another allows you to experience the unique character and beauty of each destination.

Charming Villages and Towns

The islands are home to charming villages and towns that offer a glimpse into traditional island life. Wander through narrow cobblestone streets, shop at local markets, or sit down at a taverna and soak in the laid-back atmosphere while sipping on a frappé. From the famous blue-domed churches of Oia to the quaint fishing village of Lindos, these picturesque settlements are not to be missed.

They are a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable vacation experience. With their stunning scenery, rich history and culture, delicious cuisine, endless opportunities for adventure, and charming villages and towns – there is truly something for everyone on these beautiful islands. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey through this enchanting part of the world!

Dodecanese

The Dodecanese is a group of 12 major islands and over 150 smaller islets located in the southeastern part of Greece. These islands are known for their picturesque landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. Each island has its own unique charm and character, making it a must-visit destination for holiday makers looking to experience the beauty of Greece.

One of the most popular islands in the Dodecanese is Rhodes, which is also the largest among the group. It boasts a mix of ancient ruins, medieval architecture, and stunning beaches. The Old Town of Rhodes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will transport you back in time with its cobblestone streets and impressive fortifications. The island also offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking through lush forests or diving into crystal clear waters.

Another must-visit island in the Dodecanese is Kos, known for its sandy beaches and lively nightlife. It also has an interesting historical background as it was once home to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Visitors can explore ancient ruins such as Asklepieion and Castle Neratzia while enjoying delicious local cuisine at one of the many seaside restaurants.

For those seeking a more tranquil atmosphere, Symi is the perfect destination. This small island exudes charm with its colorful neoclassical houses lining the harbor and serene beaches tucked away from tourist crowds. Take a stroll through Ano Symi (Upper Town) to soak up breathtaking views or indulge in fresh seafood dishes at one of its waterfront tavernas.

Karpathos is another hidden gem in the Dodecanese that should not be missed. Its rugged landscape offers endless opportunities for adventure seekers – from windsurfing to hiking along scenic trails overlooking turquoise blue waters. The capital city Pigadia has maintained its traditional way of life with local shops selling handmade goods and authentic Greek restaurants serving up delicious meals.

Other notable islands in this archipelago include Patmos, Leros, and Kalymnos, each with its own unique charm and attractions. The Dodecanese also has a rich history, evident in the numerous ancient sites and ruins scattered throughout the islands. From Byzantine churches to medieval castles, there is no shortage of historical landmarks to explore.

The Dodecanese offers a diverse range of experiences for tourists seeking to explore the Greek Islands. With its stunning natural beauty, fascinating history, and warm hospitality of its people, this group of islands is truly a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Greece.

Cyclades

The Cyclades, a group of islands located in the Aegean Sea, are undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations for travelers visiting Greece. With their picturesque landscapes, rich history and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder why these islands have captured the hearts of tourists from all around the world.

Comprised of over 200 islands, only 24 of which are inhabited, the Cyclades offer a diverse range of experiences for visitors. The most famous and largest island in this archipelago is Santorini – known for its iconic blue-domed churches perched on cliff tops overlooking stunning views of the caldera. This island is a must-visit for any traveler to Greece and offers an array of activities such as visiting ancient ruins, enjoying local cuisine at seaside restaurants and indulging in wine tastings at some of its renowned vineyards.

Another gem in the Cyclades is Mykonos – often referred to as the party capital of Greece. With its cosmopolitan vibe, picturesque windmills and chic beach clubs, this island attracts tourists looking to soak up some sun during the day and dance until dawn at night. However, Mykonos also has a quieter side with charming villages like Ano Mera where you can experience traditional Greek village life.

For those seeking a more authentic Greek island experience, Naxos is an ideal destination. This island boasts beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters perfect for swimming or water sports. Naxos Town also offers plenty of opportunities for cultural immersion with its Venetian architecture and lively squares lined with tavernas serving delicious local dishes.

Paros is another popular spot in the Cyclades that offers both stunning natural beauty and historical sites. The main town on this island features narrow alleys filled with boutiques selling handmade goods as well as quaint cafes perfect for people watching. Parikia Beach is also a must-visit with its golden sands and turquoise waters creating a postcard-worthy scene.

Last but not least, the island of Milos is a hidden gem in the Cyclades. With its unique lunar landscape and stunning beaches, this island is a paradise for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts. Visitors can also explore the ancient catacombs and amphitheatre, adding a touch of history to their trip.

The Cyclades offer something for every type of visitor– from breathtaking views to cultural experiences to idyllic beaches. So if you’re planning a trip to Greece, make sure to include these enchanting islands in your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

Sporades

The Sporades is a group of islands located in the Aegean Sea, off the eastern coast of Greece. Consisting of 24 islands, only four are inhabited – Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, and Skyros. Each island boasts its own unique charm and character, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Greek islands.

Skiathos is the most popular island in the Sporades, known for its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife. The main town of Skiathos offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops to explore. But it’s the beaches that truly steal the show here. From secluded coves to bustling beach clubs, there is something for every type of traveler. For those looking for a more tranquil experience, head to Koukounaries Beach or Lalaria Beach with its crystal clear waters and white pebbles.

Skopelos is often referred to as the greenest island in Greece due to its lush forests and pine-covered hillsides. This picturesque island served as the filming location for the hit movie Mamma Mia! Its charming villages offer a glimpse into traditional Greek life with whitewashed houses adorned with colorful bougainvillea flowers. Don’t miss out on exploring Skopelos Town with its narrow streets lined with quaint shops selling handmade crafts and local delicacies.

Alonissos is known for being one of Greece’s most unspoiled islands with an abundance of natural beauty. It’s home to Greece’s first national marine park where visitors can spot rare species such as monk seals and dolphins while snorkeling or scuba diving in its crystal clear waters. The island also has several hiking trails leading you through olive groves and pine forests offering breathtaking views along the way.

Last but not least is Skyros – a hidden gem in the Sporades that remains largely untouched by mass tourism. This island is perfect for those seeking an authentic Greek experience. Its main town, Chora, is a maze of traditional houses, winding streets, and quaint tavernas serving up delicious local cuisine. Don’t miss out on visiting the Skyros Horse Centre, where you can see the famous Skyrian horses – a rare breed found only on this island.

The Sporades offers a diverse range of experiences for travellers looking to explore the Greek islands. From bustling beaches to tranquil villages and untouched nature reserves, these islands are sure to captivate and leave you wanting more. So be sure to add the Sporades to your must-visit list when planning your next trip to Greece.

Ionian islands

The Ionian Islands, also known as the Heptanese, are a group of seven main islands located in the Ionian Sea on the western coast of Greece. This beautiful archipelago is known for its crystal clear turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and lush green landscapes. Each island has its own unique charm and character that makes it a must-visit destination for any visitor.

Corfu, also known as Kerkyra, is the second largest island in the Ionian Sea and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. It boasts stunning beaches such as Paleokastritsa and Sidari, as well as historical landmarks like the Old Fortress and Achilleion Palace. Visitors can also explore picturesque villages like Pelekas and enjoy delicious local cuisine in tavernas by the sea.

Zakynthos, or Zante, is famous for its stunning Navagio Beach with its iconic shipwreck surrounded by towering cliffs. The island is also home to beautiful blue caves that can be explored by boat and traditional mountain villages like Volimes. Don’t miss out on trying some local specialties such as “mandolato” (nougat) and “pasteli” (sesame seed bars).

Kefalonia is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty with highlights including Myrtos Beach, Melissani Cave Lake, and Assos village perched on a hilltop overlooking a picturesque harbor. The island is also famous for being featured in Louis de Bernières’ novel “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” which was later adapted into a movie.

Connected to mainland Greece by a floating bridge, Lefkada offers visitors a mix of mountainous landscapes and stunning beaches such as Porto Katsiki and Egremni Beach (recently reopened after damage from an earthquake). This island is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, windsurfing, and kiteboarding.

Paxi and Antipaxi are two small but charming islands located south of Corfu. Visitors can take a day trip from Corfu or stay on the islands to enjoy their relaxed atmosphere, pebble beaches, and scenic villages. Don’t forget to sample some local wine on Antipaxi, known for its vineyards.

Known as the mythical home of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, Ithaca is a tranquil island with beautiful landscapes and traditional villages like Vathy. Explore hidden coves and secluded beaches or visit the Archaeological Museum in Stavros village to learn more about the island’s history.

Kythira is an off-the-beaten-path destination that offers visitors a peaceful escape from the crowds. Discover picturesque villages like Kapsali and Chora, visit stunning waterfalls at Mylopotamos Beach, or take part in

North Aegean islands

The North Aegean islands of Greece offer a unique and diverse experience for travelers looking to explore the Greek Islands. These islands are located in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea, close to the coast of Turkey. With a total of nine inhabited islands and numerous smaller islets, each with its own distinct character and charm, the North Aegean islands are a must-visit destination for any avid traveler.

One of the most popular islands in this region is Lesvos, also known as Mytilene. This island is famous for its picturesque villages, olive groves, and thermal springs. It is also home to one of the largest petrified forests in the world, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can hike through this unique landscape or relax on its beautiful beaches.

Another must-visit island in the North Aegean group is Samos, known for its lush green landscapes and crystal-clear waters. The island boasts some impressive archaeological sites such as the ancient city of Pythagoreion and Heraion temple complex. Samos is also renowned for its production of sweet Muscat wine, which visitors can sample at one of its many local wineries.

For those seeking a more tranquil escape, Ikaria is an ideal choice. This off-the-beaten-track island offers stunning natural beauty with rugged cliffs overlooking deep blue seas and hidden coves waiting to be discovered. Known as “the island where people forget to die,” Ikaria has gained fame for its residents’ longevity due to their healthy lifestyle and slow-paced way of life.

Limnos Island may not be as well-known as other Greek Islands but should not be overlooked by travelers seeking an authentic Greek experience. Its unspoiled nature provides opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and diving while still offering charming villages with traditional tavernas serving delicious local cuisine.

Other notable North Aegean destinations include Chios with its medieval villages and Mastic production, Thassos with its rich history and stunning beaches, and the small but charming island of Agios Efstratios, which is perfect for a peaceful retreat.

The North Aegean islands of Greece offer an array of diverse experiences for travellers seeking to explore the Greek Islands. Whether it’s relaxing on pristine beaches, hiking through unique landscapes, or immersing oneself in local culture and cuisine, there is something for everyone on these beautiful islands. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the hidden gems of the North Aegean.

Saronic islands

The Saronic Islands, located in the Aegean Sea just off the coast of mainland Greece, are a group of small yet charming islands that make for a perfect island-hopping adventure. Consisting of Aegina, Agkistri, Hydra, Poros, and Spetses, each island has its own unique charm and offers visitors a different glimpse into Greek culture.

Aegina is the largest of the Saronic Islands and is known for its beautiful beaches and rich history. The island was once an important trading centre in ancient Greece and evidence of this can still be seen in the well-preserved ruins such as the Temple of Apollo. One of the top attractions on Aegina is the Monastery of Saint Nektarios, a stunning Byzantine monastery built in honour of Saint Nektarios who is considered to be a protector against evil spirits.

Agkistri, also known as “Little Island,” is often overlooked by tourists but offers a peaceful retreat away from the crowds. It is home to some of the most pristine beaches in all of Greece with crystal clear waters perfect for swimming or snorkeling. The island also boasts quaint villages and hiking trails for those looking to explore more of its natural beauty.

Hydra is perhaps one of the most picturesque islands in all of Greece with its colorful houses cascading down towards the harbor. This car-free island allows visitors to truly disconnect from reality and soak up its relaxed atmosphere. Take a stroll along its cobblestone streets lined with boutique shops and art galleries or relax at one of its many seaside cafes.

Poros may be small but it packs a punch when it comes to history and natural beauty. The island’s main town features neoclassical buildings that exude traditional Greek architecture while its coastline offers secluded coves ideal for swimming or sunbathing. History buffs will also enjoy visiting Poros’ archaeological site which includes ancient temples and a theatre.

Last but not least, Spetses is known for its upscale resorts and glamorous lifestyle. Its picturesque port town is lined with luxury yachts and high-end restaurants, making it a popular destination for the rich and famous. However, there are also plenty of opportunities to experience the island’s natural beauty, such as hiking or biking through its lush pine forests.

The Saronic Islands offer an ideal mix of history, culture, and natural beauty that makes them a must-visit destination for any traveler exploring the Greek islands. With each island offering something unique and special, it’s no wonder why these charming gems have become a favorite among tourists seeking an authentic Greek experience.

Crete

Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. Known for its rich history, stunning beaches, and diverse landscapes, Crete is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Greek islands.

The island has a long and fascinating history, with evidence of human settlement dating back to 130,000 years ago. It was also home to one of Europe’s earliest civilizations – the Minoans – who flourished from around 2700 BC to 1450 BC. Today, visitors can explore ancient ruins such as Knossos Palace and Phaistos Palace to get a glimpse into this ancient civilization.

Aside from its historical significance, Crete offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. The island boasts an impressive mountain range – the White Mountains or Lefka Ori – which offers fantastic hiking trails and breathtaking views. The Samaria Gorge in Chania is also a popular spot for hikers, with its 10-mile long trail through stunning natural scenery.

One of Crete’s biggest draws is its beautiful beaches. With over 650 miles of coastline, there are countless options for sunbathing and swimming. Some must-visit beaches include Elafonisi Beach with pink sand and crystal clear waters, Balos Lagoon known for its turquoise waters and unique rock formations, and Vai Beach with its palm tree forest backdrop.

For those interested in food and drink, Crete has much to offer as well. The Cretan diet is known to be one of the healthiest in the world, with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables along with locally sourced meats and seafood. Olive oil production is also significant on this island; visitors can take tours at olive groves or stop by local markets to sample different varieties.

In terms of accommodation options in Crete, there is something for every budget and preference. Luxury resorts line some of the island’s most famous beaches, while smaller boutique hotels and guesthouses offer a more authentic experience. For budget travelers, there are also plenty of affordable hostels and rental apartments available.

Crete is a diverse and captivating destination that should not be missed when exploring the Greek islands. From its ancient history to its stunning natural landscapes and delicious cuisine, this island has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey in Crete.

How to get there

Getting to the Greek Islands can be both exciting and daunting, as there are numerous options available. Whether you prefer traveling by air, sea, or land, there is a mode of transportation that will suit your preferences and budget. In this section, we will discuss the different ways of getting to the Greek Islands.

By Air:
The most convenient way to reach the Greek Islands is by flying into one of Greece’s major airports such as Athens International Airport or Thessaloniki International Airport. From there, you can take a domestic flight to one of the islands’ airports such as Santorini, Mykonos, or Crete. There are also smaller regional airports on some of the islands that offer direct flights from other European cities.

It is important to note that during peak tourist season (June-August), flights tend to be more expensive and booking in advance is recommended. However, if you have a flexible schedule and are willing to take a risk, last-minute deals may be available.

By Sea:
Another popular option for reaching the Greek Islands is by taking a ferry from mainland Greece or neighbouring countries such as Italy or Turkey. The main port cities in Greece are Piraeus (near Athens), Thessaloniki, and Patras. Ferries run regularly from these ports to various islands.

Ferries come in different classes – high-speed ferries that can get you to your destination quickly but at a higher cost and regular ferries that may take longer but are more affordable. It is important to research schedules beforehand as they may vary depending on the season.

Some travellers opt for island-hopping via ferries – this allows them to visit multiple islands during their trip without having to go back to mainland Greece each time.

By Land:
For those who enjoy road trips and exploring at their own pace, driving through mainland Greece and taking car ferries between islands can be an adventurous option. You can rent a car or bring your own vehicle on the ferry.

It is important to note that driving in Greece can be challenging, especially in larger cities. It is recommended to research road rules and regulations beforehand and be cautious while driving.

Best Time to Visit

The islands of Greece are a top tourist destination, known for their stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. With over 6,000 islands to choose from, planning a trip to the Greek islands can be overwhelming. One of the most common questions among travelers is – when is the best time to visit the Greek islands?

The answer to this question largely depends on your preferences and what you want to experience during your trip. Each season in Greece has its own charm and offers a unique experience for visitors. However, there are some factors that you should consider before deciding on the best time to visit the Greek islands.

High Season (June-August)
The summer months of June-August are considered peak season in Greece. This is when tourists flock to the islands for warm weather and clear skies. The high season also means higher prices for accommodation and activities. If you plan on visiting during this time, it’s recommended to book your accommodations well in advance as they tend to sell out quickly.

This is also prime beach weather with temperatures reaching up to 30°C (86°F). The sea is warm and perfect for swimming, making it an ideal time for water sports enthusiasts. However, keep in mind that popular beaches can get crowded during this time.

Shoulder Season (April-May & September-October)

If you prefer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, then visiting during shoulder season may be the best option for you. April-May brings blooming flowers and lush greenery while September-October offers cooler temperatures perfect for outdoor activities like hiking. Moreover, prices tend to be lower during shoulder season compared to peak season which means more affordable accommodations and deals on tours/activities.

Low Season (November-March)

The winter months of November-March constitute low season in Greece. The weather during this time can be unpredictable with some days being cold and rainy while others offer mild sunny days.

However, visiting during low season has its advantages. You can experience a more authentic side of Greece with fewer tourists and the opportunity to interact with locals. Prices are also significantly lower during this time, making it ideal for budget travellers.

The best time to visit the Greek islands ultimately depends on your preferences and budget. Whether you want to soak up the sun in peak season or explore the off-season charm, there is no wrong time to visit Greece – each season has something unique and special to offer.