These Are the Best Greek Islands to Visit

Last updated April 16, 2024

Although Santorini and Mykonos typically steal the spotlight, Greece’s archipelago plays host to a spectacular mosaic of over 6,000 islands and islets, of which only 227 are inhabited. Below, our curated selection of the best Greek islands to visit!

Located in the azure waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas, each and every island possesses its own distinct character, history and charm — making it a microcosm of Greek culture and natural beauty. 

Best known for their crystal-clear waters, golden sandy beaches, rugged mountains and verdant valleys. the islands also boast ancient ruins, medieval castles and Byzantine monasteries dotting the landscape. The local cuisine, a blend of Mediterranean flavors, fresh seafood and traditional Greek dishes, adds to the islands’ flavor.

With a myriad of islands to choose from, the excitement of choosing where to stay often rivals the adventure itself. So, whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family vacation or a solo retreat, these eight Greek islands are sure to weave their spell over you.

Eight Postcard-Worthy Greek Islands to Visit

From the iconic whitewashed buildings of Santorini to the cultural diversity of Corfu, the buzzy nightlife of Mykonos to the tranquil beaches of Naxos, the Greek islands offer a diverse range of experiences. Here is our curated pick of the eight best Greek islands to visit.

1. Corfu

Praised for its stunning Venetian architecture, Corfu’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcasing a fascinating mix of historical influences. The island’s beaches range from serene, hidden coves to lively, sandy stretches, offering a variety of experiences for beach lovers. Corfu’s interior is a tapestry of olive groves and cypress trees, leading to quanit villages and panoramic views. 

How to Get There: Corfu International Airport welcomes flights from Europe; ferries connect the island with Italy and mainland Greece. 

Where to Stay: Luxurious resorts like Angsana Corfu Resort & Spa or traditional villas in the countryside. 


  • Venetian Architecture: Explore the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site with unique Venetian flair.
  • Achilleion Palace: The neoclassical palace offers insights into European history and stunning gardens.
  • Paleokastritsa Monastery: Overlooking Agios Spiridon Bay, the monastery is a place of serenity and beauty.

2. Crete

Crete, the largest among the Greek islands, is home to the majestic Palace of Knossos and the imposing White Mountains. Delve into the remnants of ancient civilizations, wander along sandy beaches, traverse steep gorges and immerse yourself in the island’s dynamic culinary scene.

Cities like Heraklion, Chania and Rethymno blend historical appeal with modern vitality, while the coastline offers secret coves and wild swimming spots acclaimed for their pristine waters.

How to Get There: Crete has two main airports, Heraklion and Chania and is accessible by ferries from Athens. 

Where to Stay: Luxury resorts like Domes Aulus Elounda or the boutique NEMA Design Hotel & Spa


  • Palace of Knossos: Visit the ancient Minoan palace, a centerpiece of Greek mythology.
  • Samaria Gorge: A must-visit for hikers, offering spectacular natural scenery.
  • Cretan Cuisine: Explore local tavernas for authentic Greek food, especially in rural villages.

3. Hydra

Distinguished from other Greek islands, Hydra is entirely free of motor vehicles, preserving its authenticity and peaceful atmosphere. The island’s architecture is a blend of traditional stone mansions and narrow, cobblestone streets, which lead to its bustling harbor lined with cafés, boutiques and galleries.

Hydra has long been a haven for artists and intellectuals, celebrated for its inspiring landscapes and vibrant cultural scene. The island’s art galleries, exhibitions and festivals make it a hub for creative minds. For nature enthusiasts, Hydra offers scenic walks and hikes to monasteries, secluded beaches and stunning viewpoints overlooking the Aegean Sea.

How to Get There: Hydra is accessible by ferry or hydrofoil from Piraeus, the port of Athens. The journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. 

Where to Stay: Hydra offers a range of accommodations, from boutique hotels like Bratsera Hotel to guesthouses and private villas. 


  • Car-Free Calm: Hydra is unique because no cars or motor vehicles are allowed, making it a peaceful retreat.
  • Historical Architecture: The island is famous for its well-preserved stone mansions and narrow cobblestone streets.
  • Artistic Hub: Hydra has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries and an annual arts festival.
  • Scenic Walks and Hiking: The island’s natural terrain offers beautiful paths leading to monasteries, secluded beaches and stunning viewpoints.
  • Waterfront Dining: Enjoy fresh seafood and traditional Greek cuisine at tavernas along the harbor.

4. Kefalonia

As the largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia stands out with its stunning natural beauty, from dramatic mountain landscapes to unspoiled bays. This island dazzles visitors with its adorable villages, mysterious caves and breathtaking beaches like Myrtos, thanks to its white pebbles and turquoise waters.

Kefalonia’s history and culture are palpable, with well-preserved Venetian architecture in Assos and Fiskardo, and ancient ruins scattered across the island. Nature lovers will find solace in the island’s national parks, while the Melissani and Drogarati caves offer a glimpse into the underground wonders of Kefalonia.

How to Get There: Kefalonia is accessible by air with its own airport, or by ferry from Patras and other Ionian islands.

Where to Stay: Options range from quaint guesthouses in quiet villages to luxurious resorts along the coastline, like F Zeen Retreat, an adults-only oasis.


  • Myrtos Beach: Considered one of Greece’s most famous beaches, perfect for sunbathing and photography.
  • Assos and Fiskardo: Wander through villages with colorful houses and waterfront cafés.
  • Melissani Cave: Take a boat ride through this magical underground lake, illuminated by natural skylights.
  • Mount Ainos: Explore Kefalonia’s highest peak, offering hiking trails and endemic flora and fauna.
  • Local Cuisine: Savor the flavors of Kefalonia with dishes like Kefalonian meat pie, fresh seafood and Robola wine.

5. Mykonos

Celebrated for its signature windmills and colorful Little Venice, Mykonos fascinates visitors with its whitewashed houses and labyrinthine streets.

This infamous island attracts a diverse crowd seeking to enjoy its world-class clubs and non-stop beach parties. By day, though, the island transforms into a tranquil haven with stunning beaches like Ornos and Psarou, perfect for relaxation and water sports.

Getting to Mykonos is convenient, with regular flights from Athens and other major cities, as well as ferries and high-speed boats connecting it to Athens and neighboring islands. This accessibility makes Mykonos a favorite for both short getaways and extended vacations.

How to Get There: Mykonos can be reached by air or via ferry from Piraeus and Rafina in Athens. 

Where to Stay: Choose from luxury beachfront resorts like Mykonos Riviera Hotel & Spa or boutique hotels in Mykonos Town. 


  • Beaches and Clubs: Lauded for its party scene with famous beaches like Paradise and Super Paradise.
  • Mykonos Town: Wander the labyrinthine streets of Chora, lined with chic boutiques and cafés.
  • Windmills and Little Venice: Iconic landmarks offering stunning views and photo opportunities.

6. Naxos

Naxos delights visitors with its rich archaeological heritage, notably marked by the imposing Portara, serving as the entrance to an incomplete temple dedicated to Apollo.

The island’s interior is marked by fertile valleys and mountainous landscapes, making it a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Along its coastline, Naxos boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, such as Agios Prokopios and Plaka, offering crystal-clear waters and golden sands.

The picturesque villages, like Halki and Apiranthos, exude traditional Greek island life with their narrow, winding streets and white-washed houses. The local gastronomy, highlighted by the island’s cheeses and Kitron liqueur, adds to the pull. 

How to Get There: Accessible by air and regular ferries from Athens and neighboring islands. 

Where to Stay: Choose from beach resorts or cozy inns in Naxos Town (Chora). 


  • Ancient Temples: Visit the Temple of Apollo and other ancient sites.
  • Traditional Villages: Explore villages like Apiranthos, nestled in the mountains.
  • Local Gastronomy: Taste the island’s rich culinary offerings, including cheeses and Kitron liqueur.

7. Paros

Famed for its fishing villages like Naoussa and Parikia, the island emanates classic Greek island ambiance with its whitewashed houses, narrow cobblestoned streets and blue-domed churches.

The beaches of Paros, including the famous Kolymbithres and Santa Maria, are renowned for their golden sands and crystal-clear waters, offering perfect spots for swimming and a range of water sports.

The island’s interior is dotted with villages and ancient Byzantine footpaths, ideal for exploring the authentic Cycladic culture and landscape. 

How to Get There: Paros is reachable by ferry from Piraeus, Rafina and other Cycladic islands. 

Where to Stay: Boutique hotels in Parikia or Naoussa, offering a blend of traditional Greek hospitality and modern amenities. 


  • Naoussa Village: A picturesque fishing village with vibrant nightlife.
  • Beaches: Golden sand beaches like Kolymbithres and Santa Maria are ideal for relaxation and water sports.
  • Byzantine Footpaths: Trek along these ancient paths connecting traditional villages.

8. Santorini

No trip to Greece is complete without a visit to Santorini. This crescent-shaped island, born from an ancient volcanic eruption, is famous for its dramatic cliffs, whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches, which create a striking setting against the backdrop of the Aegean Sea.

Santorini’s sunsets are legendary, drawing visitors to Oia’s narrow paths each evening to witness the spectacular display of light and color.

The ancient city of Akrotiri, preserved under volcanic ash, provides a fascinating glimpse into the advanced Minoan civilization. The island is also celebrated for its unique viticulture, shaped by the volcanic soil, producing distinctive wines that are a must-try for visitors.

How to Get There: Fly into Santorini (Thira) National Airport or take a ferry from Piraeus or Crete. 

Where to Stay: Opt for cliffside hotels in Oia or Fira for breathtaking caldera views. Santorini Princess and Mystique Hotel are luxurious choices. 


  • Caldera Views: The island is famous for its stunning sunsets and white-washed buildings with blue domes.
  • Ancient Akrotiri: Explore the well-preserved ruins of this Minoan Bronze Age settlement.
  • Wine Tours: Santorini’s unique volcanic soil produces distinctive wines, with many vineyards offering tastings.

Island Hopping at Its Finest

Exploring the Greek islands is like stepping into a vivid tapestry of history, culture and natural beauty. Each island offers a unique slice of Greek life, promising unforgettable experiences.

From the cosmopolitan vibe of Corfu to the whitewashed houses of Santorini, the Greek islands are a testament to the enduring allure of Greece. Whether seeking adventure, relaxation or cultural immersion, these eight Greek islands promise a journey that captivates and enchants.

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