Greece’s Top 5 Island Destinations
One of the most stunning and beautiful countries in the world to travel to is Greece, but it’s not necessarily the mainland that receives a lot of the attention. It’s the Greek islands that are often the true highlight to any Greek holiday, and with hundreds to choose from there are endless possibilities.
Greece is for anyone who enjoys pristine blue seas, beautiful beaches, delectable Mediterranean cuisine, and culture brimming with hospitality and history. Discover charming seaside villages intermixed with centuries-old ruins. Add in wineries and luxurious accommodation options and you couldn’t really ask for more out of a vacation.
To help you better navigate your Greek island-hopping adventure through the Ionian, North Aegean, Cyclades and more, here are some of the top Greek Islands not to miss.
Santorini may be one of the most famous Greek islands to visit and a stunning site to begin your holiday in Greece. Santorini, which was once considerably larger, saw a significant volcanic eruption thousands of years ago that caused the majority of the island to submerge. Many people believe that this is where Atlantis mythology may have actually originated.
Santorini is often referred to as the “island of love” and therefore attracts honeymooners and lovers from all around the world. The island has also seen its fair share of wedding engagements take place here.
Visit the village of Oia and it famous whitewashed buildings, taking in one of the most scenic places to catch the sunset in the world. Visit the magical Red Beach named for the colour of its sand or simply relax in one of the many infinity pools offered by Santorini’s luxurious hotels and villas.
This Aegean Sea gem is also home to hundreds of bird species, making it a top choice for wildlife watchers. Don’t miss the incredible views to be had at Akrotiri Lighthouse and for more impressive views be sure to take the island’s scenic cable car ride.
Crete, the largest island in Greece, essentially meets a great deal of requirements from all types of travellers. It boasts sandy beaches, challenging mountains for hiking, myth-filled archaeological sites, and lodging options ranging from boutique hotels to all-inclusive resorts with recreational amenities for children.
In addition to having one of the warmest winters in all of Europe, it has the longest summer of any major Greek island thanks to its southerly location. There are beaches for every sun seeker, from crowded seafronts to pristine coves, in addition to mountains and gorges for outdoor enthusiasts.
When visiting Crete, it only makes sense to book a five-star waterfront bungalow suite like those found at Aquila Elounda Village, which will allow you to enjoy exceptional sea views 24/7. Some bungalows even come with private pools and the hotel can easily arrange outdoor fun for you such as mountain biking, diving, and sailing adventures or simply a bit of tennis and golf.
Crete will also appeal to history lovers due to its many archaeological sites, the island of course once being the home of the Minoans. Notable sites to visit include the Palace of Knossos and Arkadi Monastery.
Elafonisi Beach is famous for its pink sand and you’ll find Europe’s largest natural palm forest within Samaria Gorge National Park.
Kefalonia’s is one of the top vacation spots in Greece for those who love the outdoors, with stunning natural scenery and exotic beaches in addition to mysterious underground caverns. While Kefalonia may not be as large as Crete, it is one of Greece’s larger islands and the largest of the Ionian Islands.
Notable beaches to include on your itinerary include Myrtos, Antisamos, Skala, and Petani. There is also the magical Melissani Lake and Cave which is accessed by boat tour through an underground tunnel. Another interesting cave offering up stalactites and stalagmites is Drogarati Cave.
Mt. Ainos National Park offers outstanding hiking opportunities and the chance to summit the highest point of the Ionian Islands. Walk through beautiful fir tree forests and maybe even catch a glimpse of some of the semi-wild horses within the park.
The beaches of Andros are a main highlight of the island and include Golden Sand, Batsi, Delavoyas, and Agios Petros. Andros is a natural paradise, abundant with a wide range of trees that include olive, walnut, chestnut, and oaks.
Andros is part of the northern Cyclades archipelago, offering up endless natural beauty. Thanks to its numerous natural springs and rivers, the island presents quite lush vegetation for islands in this region. Trekking along the rivers is a popular activity as is visiting Foros Cave.
You’re sure to fall in love with the beautiful town of Chora and the island also offers the opportunity to see one of the world’s most scenic lighthouses, Faro Tourlitis. Another landmark that is a must-see is the Venetian Faneromeni Castle.
The photogenic and peaceful island of Milos is another strong contender for Greece’s most beautiful islands. Up until recently, only a few individuals were familiar with Milos, the volcanic island where the graceful Ancient Greek Sculpture Venus de Milo which depicts Aphrodite was discovered. The masterpiece is now of course housed within the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The island’s beaches offer some of the most varied and stunning coastline of all the Greek Islands and there are more than 70 beaches to choose from including Alogomandra and Gerontas. Like the majority of the Cyclades, Milos also has a lengthy ancient past and offers a much quieter experience than Santorini.
You can arrange a guided 4WD tour to explore the island’s rugged and wild west coast. You may even be able to catch a theatre or musical performance at the island’s ancient theatre by the sea during summer. Another fascinating experience is a trip to the early Christian catacombs.
While this may be just a small sampling of the many famous Greek Islands that await you on your next Mediterranean holiday, we hope we have been able to narrow down a few important ones to definitely put on your itinerary.