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Did you know that there are over 6,000 islands in Greece? However, only 227 of them are inhabited. Here are 21 of the most beautiful Greek islands for your bucket list.
21 Beautiful Greek Islands
Dotted around the Aegean and Ionian Seas, there are some stunning Greek islets and islands. Whether you choose to stay in one place or to go island hopping in Greece, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
There are several Greek island groups, including the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Ionian Islands, the Argo-Saronic , the Sporades and the North Aegean islands. A few Greek islands such as Crete, Evia and Gavdos don’t fall into any of these groups.
Also known as Eubopea, Evia is the second largest island in Greece. Evia island is easily reached by road or by ferry. Hikers will enjoy a walk to Dimosari Gorge or Drimona Waterfall.
Evia produces some high quality white wine, particularly on Lilantio Plain near Halkida. Avantis Estate is an award-winning winery in the village of Mytikas.
Thermae Sylla Spa and Wellness Hotel is a five star hotel that has welcomed celebrities, royalty and politicians such as Winston Churchill since opening in 1896.
Guests are drawn to the hot thermal pool and hydrotherapy treatments. This is considered to be one of the best thermal spas in the world.
There are 80 hot springs in the town of Loutra Edipsou, which has attracted visitors since ancient times. The water is rich in calcium, iron and magnesium.
Famous for the number of churches on the island – 37 in total, Corfu is one of the greenest islands in Greece. Sometimes nicknamed the Emerald Island, Corfu is where the first Greek university was founded.
The northernmost Ionian island, Corfu is known for its Blue Flag beaches. These include the stunning Canal d’Amour, Sidari and 8 other beaches.
The Old Town of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has a 15th century fortress and attractive Venetian architecture. Some of the best places to stay in Corfu for peace and quiet include Kassiopi, Paleokastritsa, Gouvia and Agios Georgios.
Located in the Cyclades islands, Tinos boasts charming tavernas, sandy beaches and marble villages. Tinos is one of the rare places in Greece where the villages have alleyways made from marble.
The village of Pyrgos is the center of marble art in Tinos. It’s worth visiting the Marble Art Museum here if you have time.
This is also the most important Orthodox centre of worship in Greece. Pilgrims visit the Church of Panagia Megalochari on March 25 and August 15.
One of the Dodecanese islands, Kos has many ancient Greek and Roman landmarks, including the Ancient Agora and Casa Romana villa mosaics. Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine taught under the Hippocrates Plane Tree, which you can still visit today.
Kos is also known for its lush vegetation and beaches overlooking the Aegean Sea. Popular with cyclists, there are 19 cycle routes with 8 for mountain bikes.
The capital is Kos Town, a charming place with some interesting sights such as Neratzia Castle. Built in the 14th century by the Knights of St-John of Jerusalem, the castle has panoramic views of Kos harbor.
Nestled in the Cyclades archipelago, Paros is easy to reach from Athens. The nightlife in Paros is vibrant and there are some very pretty villages such as Lefkes, Marpissa and Naoussa.
Paros is also known for its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) wine. There’s red, white and Malvasia, a dessert wine.
For beaches in Paros, there’s plenty of choice. Kolymbithres Beach has some impressive granite rock formations, while Molos is a hidden gem with some good beachside tavernas.
If Kefalonia looks familiar, that’s because it features prominently in the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The largest Ionian island, Kefalonia is characterized by colorful houses and Greek fir trees.
These trees only grow on the island of Kefalonia. When you’re not sunning yourself on the beaches such as Antisamos, Platis Gialos and Myrtos, there’s plenty to do.
One of the best Greek islands for nature lovers, Kefalonia has some spectacular walks. Go hiking along The Cypress Trail or explore spectacular Melissani Lake Cave. Known for its turquoise water, the cave can be visited by boat.
One of the Sporades islands in the North West Aegean Sea, Skiathos has a fun nightlife scene. There are many open air tavernas and clubs.
Skiathos is also a popular Greek sailing destination. There are many catamarans and yachts available for charter from Skiathos Old Harbour Port.
With over 60 beaches on Skiathos island, you could visit a new one every day of your stay. Divers will appreciate the visibility of 30 meters or more and crystal clear sea.
Also known as Carpathos, this is the second largest island in the Dodecanese. Untouched by mass tourism, Karpathos is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a quiet Greek island.
In the capital, Pigadia, you’ll see the ruins of the Acropolis of Ancient Potideon. This ancient city was founded in the 14th century BC by the Mycenaean people.
There are several picturesque villages including Olympos, where an ancient dialect is still spoken, and Volada, with its bougainvillea decorated houses. Mesochori is another charming village overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Head to sandy Apella or Kyra Panagia Beach for some rest and relaxation. From Diafani Beach you can take a boat to explore the islet of Saria.
This volcanic Greek island is part of the Cyclades. The iconic Venus de Milo statue that is now displayed in the Louvre, Paris was discovered here.
Milos has some incredible rock formations, nicknamed the Sea Meteora. That’s because they’re as spectacular as those renowned Central Greek landmarks.
Kleftiko Beach is one of the best places on Milos to admire this lunar landscape. This hidden gem can only be reached by boat.
One of the most charming islands in the Dodecanese, Symi is less well known than its neighbors Kos and Rhodes. There are many colorful Neoclassical style houses lining Gialos harbour.
Symi is an easy day trip from Rhodes, with boat trips only taking 1 hour. This small island is a good place from which to bring back souvenirs such as natural sponges or handmade leather items.
If you have time, visit Panormitis Monastery. Rebuilt in 1783, this Greek Orthodox monastery has a fabulous setting on the Southern coast in the village of Panormitis. Alternatively, head to Marathounda beach where goats roam free!
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This North Aegean island is extremely unspoiled and well worth a visit. Thassos is nicknamed the Green Island, due to the abundance of olive trees, pines and cypresses.
Thassos has previously been colonised by the Phoenicians, Persians, the Macedonian Empire and the Ottomans. There are quite a few vestiges of this past in Limenas, the capital of Thassos.
The Acropolis of Thasos is an important Greek landmark and the Archaeological Museum of Thassos is also interesting. Of course, there are many great beaches on Thassos too, including Psili Ammos, Paradise Beach and La Scala.
Also spelt as Siros or Syra, this Cyclades island is a great alternative to Santorini. There are many beautiful white-stucco buildings and cobbled alleyways.
Ermoupoli is the capital of Syros and has some impressive landmarks such as the Apollon Theater. Galissas is one of the best beaches on Syros. This is one of 6 Blue Flag beaches on Syros.
This Ionian Sea island is blessed with stunning beaches such as Porto Katsiki, Agiofylli, Pefkoulia and Eggremoi. Ai Iannis is a popular beach with surfers.
Lefkada, which is also known as Lefkas, has some fantastic restaurants and local produce. Try ladopita, a traditional Lefkada dessert made with olive oil and almonds.
Lefkas wines are another must try. There are two grape varieties that are only grown on the island: Vardea and Vertzami.
This quiet Greek island in the Western Cyclades is a hidden gem. The picturesque windmills of Serifos may remind you of Mykonos but the atmosphere is a lot more sedate!
Divers will enjoy exploring the shipwreck lying on the seabed at Kalogeros Beach. In all, there are 72 beaches on Serifos.
The island used to be an important mining hub and you can see remnants of the old mines in Megalo Horio, Koutalas and Μegalo Livadi.
The largest of the Dodecanese islands, Rhodes is a great destination for archaeology lovers. There are many important landmarks on Rhodes, including the Acropolis of Lindos and the ancient city of Kamiros.
The medieval city of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander around the Street of Knights in the Upper Town and stop for a drink at a Rhodes taverna.
The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes is an unusual example of Greek Gothic architecture. There are many sandy beaches in Rhodes, with Tsambika Beach being one of the best.
Anthony Quinn Bay was originally called Vagies, but renamed after the movie The Guns of Navarone was filmed here.
This picturesque island in the Cyclades is a great place to get off the beaten path in Greece. You can reach Kimolos by taking the ferry from Piraeus port in Athens or from the neighboring island of Milos.
Like Milos, Kimolos has several volcanic rock formations. One of the most unusual sights on Kimolos is Skiadi.
This geological formation was formed by erosion and looks a bit like a mushroom. Another fun thing to do on Kimolos is to explore the sea caves near Prassa Beach.
If you’re a fan of the movie Mamma Mia!, you’ll recognize Skopelos island where it was filmed. Agios Ioannis chapel is where Donna and Sam get married, while Glysteri beach and Agnontas village also feature.
Skopelos is part of the Northern Sporades island group. You can reach it by ferry from Agios Konstantinos or Volos.
The main town of Chora, also known as Skopelos Town, has some charming houses with white-washed facades. There are also 360 churches and chapels.
One of the most popular Greek islands for nightlife, Mykonos also has some incredible beaches. Head to Elia to spot a few celebrities or to Super Paradise Beach Club for the party atmosphere.
In high season, Mykonos can be extremely busy. The best way to see this island is to avoid the Summer months and to visit in September or October.
The famous windmills of Mykonos can be found on a hill near the picturesque Little Venice area. They’re no longer used to grind flour and some are now private homes.
There are some great restaurants on Mykonos. It’s worth trying Myconian specialties such as louza, made from pork loin and seasoned with spices.
The largest island in Greece, Crete boasts 600 miles of coastline. There are several picturesque towns such as Chania and Rethymno.
Crete has some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Soak up the sun on Balos Beach, with its crystal clear water. Crete is also a great destination for hikers.
Samaria Gorge is the longest trekking gorge in Europe, at 11 miles. In this famous Greek National Park you can spot animals like the Cretan goat.
There are also some fascinating historical sites and ancient ruins on Crete. Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island.
Also known as Zakynthos, the island of Zante is one of the most popular destinations in the Ionian Sea. Navagio beach is reached by boat, and is famous for the shipwreck which ran aground in 1980.
The Blue Caves are another fascinating Zante attraction. You can take a glass-bottom boat tour from Agios Nikolaos, Porto Vromi or Zakynthos Town.
Go snorkeling in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos to spot the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Alternatively, chill out on Alkyes or Gerakas Beach.
No list of the most beautiful Greek islands would be complete without Santorini. This famous Cyclades destination is known for its whitewashed houses and blue windows.
What most people don’t realize is that Santorini is actually a collection of islands. These include Aspronissi, Palea, Thira, Nea Kameni and Thirassia islets. Thira is the island that most people know as Santorini, with the beautiful villages of Oia and Fira.
Santorini is a volcanic island and although it is classed as active, it’s currently dormant. You can take a volcanic hiking tour to see Santorini caldera up close.
There are many great places to stay on Santorini, particularly the cave hotels such as Alisaris Cave Suites, built into the rocks. The beaches in Santorini are black, as they are composed of volcanic sand and pebbles.
Here’s a recap of the 20 prettiest Greek islands:
- 1. Santorini
- 2. Zante
- 3. Crete
- 4. Mykonos
- 5. Skopelos
- 6. Kimolos
- 7. Rhodes
- 8. Serifos
- 9. Lefkada
- 10. Siros
- 11. Thassos
- 12. Symi
- 13. Milos
- 14. Karpathos
- 15. Skiathos
- 16. Kefalonia
- 17. Paros
- 18. Kos
- 19. Tinos
- 20. Corfu
- 21. Evia
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