Greece is famous for having some of the world’s most stunning islands and after seeing those below, you will no doubt be adding many of these beautiful islands in Greece to your bucket list.
Whether you are looking for a romantic slice of heaven, a lively island full of party beaches or those perfect for sitting back and letting the time pass you by, Greece is just full of it! Yes, full of magical islands surrounded by lush clear crystal waters that will want to spend the day in. Whether you are diving, swimming or sailing across, with thousands of islands, there is an island for everyone! Any of these islands would be perfect on a Greece itinerary.
Top 15 Best Holiday Islands In Greece
Below are just a few Greek islands to add to your bucket list. Many of these are close to each other that you can island-hop or can have it as part of a Greece itinerary exploring some of the very best of the country.
Hopefully, the list below won’t send your wanderlust into overdrive. I shall take you on a journey exploring the Ionian Islands and Cycladic Islands. Magical beaches, hidden coves, cute towns and villages, did I mention crystal blue waters?! Many of which you can take to by ferry from Piraeus Attica port in Athens. So, what is the best island in Greece? Wonder no more!
Ionian Islands: These are a cluster of 12 islands both small and large covering an area of 2200 sq km. The 6 largest islands are Zakynthos(Zante), Ithaki(Ithaca), Kerkyra(Corfu), Kefalonia(Cephallonia), Lefkada(Leucas), Paxi(Paxoi). The small ones are Antipaxoi, Ereikoussa, Mathraki, Othonoi, Meganisi, Kalamos, Kastos and Strofades isle group. Then you have Epatanesa which is formed of 7 small islands. The Ionian islands were formed when part of terrain sank due to seismic activity along the Ionian Sea’s coastline.
Cyclades Island: This is the most famous group of islands and lies on the Aegean Sea. Known for its white and blue Cycladic architecture, and where Ionian islands are full of mountains and vegetation, the Cycladic islands lack vegetation. The islands have a total area of 2528sq km, with at least 2200 islands and inlets, while only 25 are in inhabited. The name Cyclades means “islands that form a circle” around the sacred island of Delos.
A Greek island that needs no introductions. Instagrammable blue domes backdropped by even more stunning sunsets across the Aegean Sea. Show me a person that hasn’t dreamed of visiting Santorini and I will show you a liar. Santorini is an active volcano and with that, beaches full of volcano minerals that are sent from beauty therapy gods. Black, white, red, pink hue sands, you have plenty to choose from. Cute towns and villages to explore like Fira, Oia, Perissa.
Things to do in Santorini: I have covered a full Santorini guide, on the blog in addition to 3 day itinerary, restaurants to check out, beaches, things to do at night in addition to the coolest places to stay in Santorini.
Getting To Santorini: I have documented tips on how to get from Athens to Santorini, covering ferries, catamarans and flights.
Steeped in ancient history, promising plenty of sun throughout the year, Rhodes is one of the most popular islands for holidays in Greece and counted among best islands in Greece for families. Plenty of beaches and beautiful villages to explore, castles and ancient ruins to admire, boat trips to explore hidden corners of the island and come back in the evenings and chill in the town squares with a cocktail. For those that love the nightlife be sure to stay in Faliraki, if you want a more chilled out holiday, head to Ialyssos for a laid back feel and stay are many of the hotels that line the coastline.
If you want a balanced combination, nothing beats a stay in Rhodes Town, the island’s capital. A beautiful medieval town, holiday resorts, plenty of cafes, upscale restaurants, tavernas and lined with designer boutiques for a little retail therapy.
Getting to Rhodes: You can fly into Rhodes International Airport “Diagoras” or arrive by ferry by direct ferry from many islands like Symi, Chalki, Tilos, Kos, and more, and these then connect you to the mainland.
If you are dreaming of island resorts then this is the perfect Greek island for a beach vacation. Known as the Emerald Isle, Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian islands. Covered in olive groves, cypress trees and wildflowers. Its proximity to Albania means that you can catch a boat and land on Albanian soil for a day trip in 70 minutes. Many of the towns and villages lie on the egdes of the island as to many of the holiday results. As many come here for relaxation so many of the hotels will cater to residents needs so that they really need not go too far from the hotel. Other than checking out the village town centres, you can find boat excursions to nearby islands like Paros and Parga, you can also explore the island’s Koum-Kouat distillery, Paleokastritsa Monastery, Achilion museum, palaces and many small sights and for perfect views head to Makrades. You can also try your hand at scuba diving.
Getting to Corfu: You can fly in directly into Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport or take a ferry from mainland and Greece into the north of Corfu with Lefkimmi Lines as well as into Corfu Port in the centre of the island.
Popular and among the best island in Greece to visit. Also known as the windy city and another island that needs no introduction. Made famous by celebrities who used to flock here during the 1960’s and continues to the perfect summer destination. Beautiful beaches, great food, vibrant nightlife and hotels that are made for R&R.
Things to do in Mykonos: explore stunning beaches, visit the Archaeological Museum, Maritime museum, Patagia Paraportiani church to name a view. Those that like to party, know some of the world’s best DJs play host to parties on the island so be sure not to miss some those events. For tips on where to stay in Mykonos check out my post.
Getting To Mykonos: I have provided details of how to get to Mykonos from Athens or Santorini on the blog.
Famously known as the island of sin by Greeks and popular with teens. This another island among the best party islands in Greece. Popular with Brits, Scandinavians, Irish and those up for a ‘good time without complications’. If you want a beach holiday with a balanced combination of beaches in the day and nightlife when sun goes down this is it.
Getting to Ios: There is no airport on Ios but you can fly into Santorini and then on of the regular ferries from Port of Athinios on Santorini. You can also take many ferry services from Pireaus Port in Athens to Ios island.
Want an island perfect for nightlife and cool beaches to recover from. Skiathos is made up of a cluster of 4 islands, Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos and Skiros, for those not familiar, this is also where the movie Mama Mia was filmed. Come July and August the islands are populated with package holidaymakers flooding the beaches and streets. There isn’t a lot in terms of cultural attractions but when it comes to nightlife, cheap food and drinks, nothing beats it. Bars and clubs here are open into the early mornings, typically 6am. Yep, among the best party islands in Greece.
Getting to Skiathos: You can fly directly into Skiathos Airport with flights from London, Dusseldorf, Milan, Verona, Copenhagen, Vienna, Larnaca, Belgrade and many cities in Italy. Many run by TUI, Olympic Air, Jet 2, Condor and others. Find flights here. You also have plenty of options when it comes to ferries running from mainland and neighbouring islands.
If you are looking for an island for pure relaxation then it has to be Paxoi! Legend has it that Poseidon broke of part of Corfu with his trident so that he could have a secluded place to enjoy the company of his beloved Amfitriti, resulting in the island now know as Paxoi. Beautiful beaches, small coves, green hills, imposing cliffs and invites visitors to explore the whole island on foot. While tipped for relaxation, you can still find tavernas, cafes, bars and nightclubs.
Things to do on Paxoi: sailing in the island inlets, hiking and mountaineering, swimming as well as explore the city centre’s church of Agios, Charalampos, main museum, Agios Nikolaos and Panagia inlets.
Scenic beaches, cultural heritage, mountains, castles, monasteries, another Greek island oozing with charm. Kefelonia, aside from a beach lover’s magnet, is also great for those with an affinity to religious tourism as it has many monasteries, which also have guest quarters for pilgrims and visitors. Other activities available, include scuba diving, hunting, mountaineering, water sports, mini-golf and swimming at many of the beautiful beaches like Ammes, Ai Chelis, Avythos and more. Towns and villages to check out include Argostoli, Lakithra, Valsamata, Agia Effimia, Skala, Asos, Poros and many more. Kefalonia is also among the best islands in Greece for families and quiet holidays.
Getting to Kefalonia: You can fly into Kefalonia Airport “Anna Pollatou” directly or take one of the many ferries coming into the island from Brindisi Italy as well as mainland Greece and nearby islands.
I am sure you have seen pictures of the famous Zakynthos beach, this beautiful island is another of of the beautiful Greek islands to add to your bucket list. Also known as Zante and is the third largest of the Ionian islands after Corfu and Kefalonia. Besides beautiful beaches on Zante, you can enjoy exploring the cool churches from 15th, 17th and 18th century, museums take to the seas and enjoying swimming, windsurfing, parasailing, water skiiing and scuba diving. You can also take excursions around the island. Unmissable attractions include the caves of Porto Vromi and Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Beach.
Getting To Zante: There are plenty of direct flights into Zakynthos Airport “Dionysios Solomos” or you can take a ferry from Italy’s Brindisi, as well as neighbouring islands like Kefalonia and the Port of Kyllini.
The third larges of Cyclades islands and famous for its marble that is extracted from Paros mines. Beautiful white buildings with a boho vibe feel to the island combined with gorgeous beaches are what make this island the perfect place for a beach holiday in Greece. The main centre of the island has plenty of cafes, stylish boutiques and shops, bars and other amenities to keep your entertained when not lounging on the beaches.
Things to do on Paros: Explore the Archeological museum which holds thousands of years worth of artefacts like the Parian Chronicle, an ancient stone inscription recounting events from 1581 BC till 264. Check out the Venetian fortification, the monastery as well as the beaches of course. You can also take a 7 minute boat ride for day trip to a nearby island of Antiparos. Other nearby islands include Despotiko and Koufonisia.
Getting To Paros: There are ferries and catamaran services from nearby islands and mainland.
Located on the southwest of Paros is another beautifull with a touch of glamour. Antiparos lying right in the heart of the Cyclades. While the 70’s saw rebels, nudists and campers, in more recent time, this island has attracted many a celebrity to the luxurious hotels and villas that have popped up. Fear not though, plenty of affordable options for us mere mortals. Antiparos is another great island for beach bumming. Many of the bars, cafes and amenities in the centre of the town will be empty during the day while everyone is on the beaches and get busier in the evenings when tourists head in for drink or two after sunset. If you are looking for a Greek Island with a touch of calm and tranquillity, this is perfect for that. For a bit of culture, you also have the castle of Antiparos in the square of Agios Nikolaos, Folkloric Museum, cool churches, caves and many beaches among please to spend your time on the island.
Getting to Antiparos: There are currently no direct ferries to Antiparos from Athens. This means you have to take the ferry to Paros and then from there take a short boat ride to Anti Paros.
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands and meth has it that this is where Zeus, the ancient king of Greek gods was raised. Exploring the island is best done with a rental car. Explore the historic centre and medieval town of Hora, Venetian building, walk the narrow alley, also check out the villages of Filoti, Halki, Apollonas and many others. On the west coast lies a little surprise in the form of cool sand dunes at Plaka Beach, if you are a keen windsurfer then Naxos is the places to go and this is thanks to the summer meltemia winds. While boat tours and ferries may be cancelled without warming surfers can take to the waters.
Getting to Naxos: There are plenty of ferry and catamaran services from Piraeus Port and Rafina Port. You can also fly onto Naxos via Olympic Airlines. Both airlines and ferries operate daily services.
While many islands in Cyclades may be mostly white buildings, Syros buildings are colourful oranges, pinks,, blues, and yellows. This is a busy island with plenty of historical charm. It’s fortune is linked to Venetians who took control in 1207 and were there until defeat by the Ottomans. You can also find plenty of Italian influences in the gelaterias and Italian restaurants around the island. There are beaches, nightlife, museums to keep you busy. For something a little different you can also check out the Pallas Cinema which screens mainstream Greek films with subtitles.
Getting To Syros: You can access direct ferry services between Piraeus and Lavarios to Syros.
Distinctive as an island because there is little to no vegetation as you approach the island. Once on land on the island, it is highly recommend to rent a car and explore the cute villages and beaches around Serifos. One of few beaches in Greece for nudists is located on Seriofos, head to Karavi beach. Other popular beaches include Lia, Psili Ammos and Livadkia beach. Aside from beaches, you can take to exploring the quiet villages, Folk Art Museum, Archeological Museum, Town Hall and the deserted settlement of Pyrgos to name a few.
Getting to Seriofos: There are plenty of ferries leaving Piraeus port in Athens daily.
Located in the soutwestern side of the Cyclades, Milos is the fifth largest island. Explore the island’s capital Plaka, visit the villages of Trypiti, Klima, Adamantas, Zefyria. Many are drawn to Milos for Kleftiko, the now famous huge white rocks rising in the middle of the sea that create a rather imposing landscape. For other activities, you have kite surfing, canoeing, water sports, diving and more when you have run out of beaches and coves to explore.
Getting to Milos: You can fly directly into Milos or take one of the ferries from nearby Islands and directly from Athens Piraeus Port.
Top Travel Tips And Things To Know
- Make sure you pack your favourite essentials like walking shoes, sunblocks, lotions, beauty items as many of the islands are small so you may find it difficult to get the same or equivalent to what you normally use. Also check out my guide on essential items to pack for a trip to Europe.
- While nudism is not illegal in Greece, there are still laws against “breaching public morality”. Basically you cannot be naked in public too for all that like to let it all hang out, coverup!
- Pack suitable clothing, similar to the above rule, when visiting the beautiful churches and monasteries make sure you wear suitable clothing. Clothing needs to cover your thighs and for the men you need to ensure your legs and upper body are covered. So that means long trousers and T-shire. No vests!
- With all the lash and scenic places in Greece that doesn’t mean you can set up and camp where ever you want. Free camping is forbidden in Greece.
- Note that while the weather on many of the islands might be great and will look great, trips may be cancelled without warning because of meltemia. These are northern winds that frequently occur in the summer and may be too strong for small boats to navigate around rocky peninsulas. Explore the villages and reschedule your boat trip for the next day. Just don’t leave any must-do boat trip to the last day, because you just never know with these winds sometimes.
Planning Your Visit To Greece
- Once you have decided which islands to visit, check for flights on Expedia or package deals for Greece island hopping with Contiki.
- Book your villa or hotels on Booking.com
- Check out cool tours on Viator or Get Your Guide
Heading To Greece? Also See:
- Cheap Hotels In Santorini With Caldera Views
- How To Get From Mykonos To Santorini
- How To Get Around In Santorini
- What To Pack For Greece
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