Welcome to paradise! One of the most beautiful spots on the Mediterranean Sea, Greece is an essential destination for anyone and everyone. You probably already know what a gorgeous country it is, but you might not realize how many diverse places there are to explore.
The nation of Greece is made up of an incredible 6,000 islands dotting the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Of these islands, just over 200 are inhabited.
Yes, you read that right!
While I’d love to see them all someday, there are just a dozen islands that make up the core of the Greek islands that we know and love. I first visited Greece during The Yacht Week and it was love at first sight. The people, the food, the beaches, and the laidback way of life will pull you in and you’ll never want to leave.
But, which are the best Greek Islands to visit?
It all depends on you and what you’re looking for! From party havens to deserted beaches, you will find a bit of everything here.
So, grab your bikini, and let’s run through a quick guide to the best Greek Islands to visit.
And don’t miss more of The Best Summer Destinations in Europe!
While it is technically not an island, Athens is usually the jumping-off point for any Greek adventure. With a history dating back to 5 BC, the capital city of Greece is one of Europe’s great historical centers. There is just SO much for any history buff to take in.
Wander the Acropolis, Parthenon, and other breathtaking archeological sites to soak it all in.
I always recommend checking to see if there is are walking tours of any new city you visit, and Athens is no exception. The tour I took lasted over three hours and took us to all of the archeological sites in Athens. It was definitely the best way to get to know the city.
Three days to explore Athens is perfect and you could even see the key points within 48 hours. It is a gorgeous city but you’ll want ample time to explore the islands.
Before you go, hit up the Monastiraki Flea Market. It’s a perfect spot to grab some cheap souvenirs and stock up on fresh fruit before hopping onboard your islands cruise.
When you are looking for a good party on the Med, Mykonos is the ultimate destination. Dance the night away, wake up at noon, then lounge in the sun until you are ready to go again.
Mykonos is for the party-hearty so come ready. Here is my rundown of the best beaches and party spots on the island.
After partying it up here, I came back later for a romantic getaway with my guy and stayed in the Myconian Collection for a more chill time.
Not that you need any more convincing…but here are 20 gorgeous photos to inspire you to travel to Mykonos!
When you see those Greek postcards of white buildings glowing in front of an endless turquoise sea, you are probably looking at a shot of Santorini.
For a quintessential Greek getaway, this is the perfect spot for first-time visitors.
It is definitely one of the most romantic places in Greece. If you’re going with your special someone, there are a few must-visit places for couples Santorini. If you’re looking for ultimate romance or a dreamy place for a getaway with your honey, definitely check out my reviews of Andronis Boutique Hotel and Andronis Arcardia.
Looking for some inspiration? Check out all the pretty as a postcard views of Santorini in these photos!
Knossos at Crete
Greece’s largest island, Crete is one of the islands farthest from the mainland. For this reason, it tends to get fewer visitors. BUT this place has a lot to offer, especially if you have time to explore the vast terrain of this dynamic island.
Renowned as the birthplace of Zeus, Crete is a top pick for history and Greek mythology lovers.
If you are looking for a luxury getaway, Corfu is the island for you. There are gorgeous resorts and villas dotting the coastline that has everything you’ve ever dreamt of.
For a honeymoon or girlfriend getaway, look no further.
Corfu is a prime choice for culture vultures too. Having been under Venetian, French, and British rule, the island has developed a unique culture. If you love luxe resorts but also like to explore the local scene, this is the Greek island for you.
The group of islands called the Cyclades are home to some of the key Greek archaeological ruins and places of mythological lore. Located in the Aegean Sea, Naxos is the biggest islands of the Cyclades are it’s got some amazing beaches.
If you love water sports, this is an especially good spot. It gets more wind than other Greek islands so windsurfing, kitesurfing, and plain old surfing are popular here. You’ll find a selection of schools that’ll help you get going on the water.
Near Turkey in the southeastern Aegean Sea, you’ll find the stunning Dodecanese islands. Rhodes is the biggest of these islands and it’s one of the top picks for a spring or autumn trip. While much of Europe, most of Greece included, is chilly, Rhodes is warm from early April until well into November so you can enjoy some sun during the continent’s off-season.
Another top pick for history lovers, this island is home to the Colossus of Rhodes. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this is a must-see.
One of the Greek Saronic Islands, Hydra is in the Aegean Sea nestled between the Myrtoan Sea and the Argolic Gulf. You might have seen this island as the backdrop of more than a few movies and it remains a place loved by jetsetters. Celebs from around the world own homes here and it’s a good place for stargazing.
This is no LA though! In fact, cars are banned in Hydra so you’re more likely to see locals getting around by donkey than Ferrari.
I had an amazing time sailing the Saronic Islands in Greece, and I’d highly recommend taking your time getting around.
Another of Greece’s renowned Dodecanese islands, Kos is a tourist fave. Dotted with fascinating Greek and Roman ruins, this island has no shortage of lush sandy beaches.
Of course, there is no shortage of all-inclusive resorts that can offer a little slice of heaven. Kos is definitely a place to consider for a chill beach break.
One of the Cyclades, Ios is the Ibiza of Greece. If you are on a quest for a non-stop party in the Greek Isles, they’ve got you covered. From the start of June until the end of August, Europeans in their 20s descend on Ios looking to live it up.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, here are the ten local foods you have got to try in Greece.
Paro is the hub for visiting the Cyclades and it tends to be pretty touristy in July and August, though still worth checking out. When the island really shines, however, is during the off-season.
While many of the Greek islands shutter up outside of summer, Paros has a thriving year-round population so it’s life, as usual, all year.
The locals (often ex-pats who have adopted Paros as home) create a more traditional vibe in the small villages of the island so it is a good place to experience Greece.
For a look at the whole year, check out the best time to travel to Greece.
One of the hidden gems of the Aegean Sea, Ithaca is your Greek island if you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle that you will find in other spots during the peak seasons.
Visiting Ithaca definitely does require a few connections but it’s worth it in the end. This mountainous isle has flawless and often deserted beaches.
If you’ve seen Mamma Mia, you’ll recognize Skiathos straight away. And this beautiful island is more than just a movie set! Famous for its beaches and party scene, this is another top pick for the younger crowd looking for a wild ride.
Which Greek Islands have you been to and which would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!
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Thank you for your reviews and advice regarding Greece – I just got back from 2 weeks in Greece, followed all of your recommendations and had a great time. The Andronis Boutique Hotel Oia Santorini was exactly as you described including the fabulous service and food at Lauda restaurant. Your blog really helped us make the most of our visit – Thank you!
Hi Susan, I’m sooooo happy to hear that! I absolutely LOVED Andronis Boutique, and Lauda is definitely on my list of places to go back (again and again).