Wondering where to go to in Greece and what are the best Greek islands for you? From quiet Greek islands to the most beautiful Greek islands we have you covered.
Don’t worry – you honestly can’t go wrong with any Greek island, especially if it’s your first time to Greece. Each one has amazing food, wine, and beaches, but each island also has something totally unique about it too.
Let’s dig in!
The Best Greek Islands to Visit
The Best Greek Island to Just Chill
We knew Paros was one of the quieter Cycladic islands to visit, which is always my choice over more popular well known islands. Now I can without a doubt say that Paros ranks up there as one of our favorite Greek islands to visit, especially in September, when we went!
Paros has everything you could want out of a trip to the Greek islands. Friendly Greek locals, delicious seaside food, unique beaches, fun towns, stunning sunsets and so much more. Wondering what to do in Paros? Exploring the mountain town of Lefkes brings you right back into olden day Greece, rent a boat and cruise the blue lagoon for some fun in the sun, and end the day enjoying sunset at the hip restaurants in Naousa. See all the things to do in Paros here!
The Best Greek Island for Beach Hopping
The Greek island of Milos had been on our list of places to visit in Greece for years. We had seen photos of the moonscape beaches and heard about how quiet the island was in comparison to others, so it was only a matter of time before we ventured to Milos ourselves.
It was everything we could have hoped for. It has gorgeous beaches, including Sarakiniko, the one in the photo above that literally looks like another planet. The towns are like something out of a movie, and there are even cliff jumps for the adventurous souls. Get here soon before it turns into another Mykonos. See all the things to do in Milos here.
The Best Greek Island for Families
Just a short ferry ride away from Paros is the beautiful island of Naxos. Naxos is the picturesque version of Greece. Cycladic white and blue houses, amazing history, ancient Greek architecture, great food, beautiful European beaches, amazing sunsets, friendly Greek people? Check, Check, Check!
We loved venturing around Naxos whether it be sitting on one of the best beaches in Europe, strolling around the small village of Halki, or seeing the island’s landmark, Portara. It’s a great Greek island to visit for families as it’s quiet and not a huge party place. See all the things to do in Naxos here.
The Best Greek Island for All Around Outdoor Activity
We’ve ventured back to Crete twice and seriously want to go a third and fourth time! We traveled all over, from Stefanou Beach to the famous Pink Sand Beach and were never disappointed. The Wikitravel page for Crete states that “If there was a beauty contest for Greek islands, Crete would surely be among the favorites.”
After visiting Crete, with its secluded bays, empty villages, deep valleys, and pink sand beaches we can attest that Wikitravel is right. The island is vast, stunning, rugged, and filled with friendly Cretans that may even be more hospitable than their mainland counterparts. It’s no wonder that the island is a top destination for European holiday goers. It may even win the award for most beautiful Greek island. The island is big you’ll need at least a week or two to hit everything there is to do. See the fun things you can get up to in Crete here.
The Best Greek Island for Romance
One of the best places to visit in Greece is Santorini. Due to the beautiful white and blue buildings of Oia, a few popular movies, and then, of course, Instagram, Santorini is one of the most popular islands in the Greek isles.
Mix that in with a few cheap flight options, friendly Greeks, neverending sunshine, and delicious Mediterranean food and you have yourself the grand slam of holidays.
Santorini has taken off in popularity over the last 10 years, but for good reason – it is stunning. Amoudi Bay is what dreams are made of, and then you have all the Greek wine, sunset cruises, and black sand beaches to enjoy. It truly is one of the best Greek islands to visit. See all the things to do in Santorini here.
The Best Greek Island for Partying and Clubbing
Mykonos is one of Greece’s most well-known Aegean islands. Set in the central archipelago of the Cyclades, this island has just about everything going for it – and we mean everything. There’s nightlife by the gallon, some delicious food, charming Cycladic architecture, beaches, water sports, boutiques, and nightlife. Yeah, did we mention the hedonistic, sometimes pricey nightlife?
Mykonos is a Greek party island, best for the young holiday goers after some drinking and clubbing. However, there are still other fun things to do and see on Mykonos that all can enjoy!
The Best Greek Island for Adventures
Samos is one of the popular East Aegean Islands and is a busy place come summer. It’s a great island to soak up the delicious Greek food, wine, and beaches. As well as your typical Greek goodness, Samos is also an exciting place to go hiking, climbing, and mountain biking.
Make sure to try the famous muscat wine that is exported from Samos all over the globe. Samos Vin Doux, is the main muscat dessert wine, and you should definitely try some before leaving!
The Best Greek Island for a Day Trip from Turkey
We ventured to Chios from the Turkish Coast. That’s because the island is only one hour by ferry from Cesme. It’s one of the larger Greek islands and takes some time to explore.
Chios is famous for its mastic trees, which is an evergreen shrub you can really only find on this island. Besides the trees there’s plenty to do on this mountainous island. Try strolling around the Medieval villages of Olympi and Pyrgi or see one of the many monasteries.
If you don’t mind going underground hit up the Olympi Cave, a cave gorge, that is 60m wide and a humidity of 95%!
The Best Greek Island for History
Rhodes is one of the most popular islands in the Greek isles due to its cheap flights from mainland Europe. Of course, it’s Greece, so it’s sure to give you sun and a great time.
Rhodes is known for being one of the most diverse Greek Isles and packed with history due to its geographical significance. Old Town Rhodes for one, has a fascinating history dating back to antiquity. While exploring you can walk down the Street of Knights, a medieval street that was once the home to the famed Knights of Hospitaller who ruled over Rhodes.
When you’re done with the history and ancient ruins head to one of the many beaches for sunbathing and kitesurfing. See all the things to do in Rhodes here!
The Best Greek Island for Peace and Quiet
Antiparos is the small neighboring island next to Paros. It’s not well known on the Greek island radar, but is well worth a day trip from Paros! Only a five minute ferry ride will bring you to the small island. Once here you can explore the cute town of Chora, venture to the many beaches, or check out the Antiparos cave.
If you want to stay on Antiparos the only town to do that at is Chora. The other option is to rent a car and venture to some of the small villas and guesthouses around the island.
Also, this island is where Tom Hanks has a holiday home. Maybe you’ll spot him and his wife, Rita Wilson, if you’re there at the right time. Although he is well loved and protected by locals so don’t think you’ll find out where he lives.
How to Get Around the Greek Islands?
There are a few main options for getting around the Greek islands. Rental Car, moped, public bus, or 4×4. A moped is the cheapest option, but in Greece, you need a motorcycle license in order to rent one. Many rental agencies in Greece will let you slide and rent a moped without this, but we couldn’t find anyone on a few of these Greek islands to rent us a moped on just a standard license.
A 4×4 is the most fun option to get around the Greek islands on. However at around €40 a day it’s an expensive one. Also during the high season, you’ll need an advanced reservation to rent one of these bad boys. I prefer not to rent mopeds or 4x4s as I appreciate my shade and AC while getting around the Greek islands.
If you don’t want to drive yourself around the Greek islands the public bus will get you to the main sites around the islands. However, you will be limited to their schedule.
The last option (and our favorite) is a rental car. To rent a car in Greece you need a standard International drivers license (A valid US license works). If your license is not in English or Greek, have a translation just in case. You also should be prepared to hand over your passport. Also depending on where you trying to rent an International Drivers Permit may be mandatory for if you get pulled over. It may be tough to find a rental agency to rent to you without an IDP, we rented with Avis and they were great and didn’t need any additional paperwork.
We’ve rented a car in Greece without an IDP and had places in Greece require that we have an IDP. If you are from North America, Australia, or outside the EU it’s best that you arrive to Greece with an IDP just to be safe. You can get one here if you’re in a hurry. If you get in an accident or our fulled over without an IDP you may be subject to a steep fine in the EU.
Most car rental companies in Greece will require you to be 21 and to have held a license in your home country for a year. If you are under 25 you may face additional charges.
- RentalCars.com: Provides comparisons for car rentals in Greece.
- AutoEurope: I can often find deals here for car rentals in Europe.
- Discover Car Hire: Searches rental car prices around the globe.
How to Get to Greece?
Most visitors to the Greek islands will have to get to Athens first. There are great flight connections from around the world that fly into Athens. From Athens you can fly right to many Greek islands which might be a quicker option than taking a ferry.
If you are coming from elsewhere in Europe you have budget flight options that go to Santorini, Crete, Mykonos, and other Greek Islands.
From Athens, the best way to travel the Greek islands is by water. There are tons of ferries and highspeed catamarans running daily to the other Greek islands. I like to check schedules on Ferry Hopper.
When is the Best Time to Visit Greece?
High season (June-September)
Like most places in Europe, Greece’s high season runs from June to mid-September. This is when you will find the best sunny weather, but also larger crowds. Days are longer, the weather is HOT, so you’ll want to be close to a pool or ocean. Hotel and car rental prices are at their highest.
Shoulder Season (April – May or October -November)
The weather in Greece is cooler during these months, some would consider it much more comfortable than prime summertime weather. It’s not as busy as the summertime, but you’ll still see lots of travelers lingering about. Prices on accommodation and car rentals will drop during this time. The shoulder season is typically a fantastic time to visit Greece.
Low Season (Late November – April)
The temperatures are cooler during the low season in Greece. You’ll still see plenty of sunny days but also overcast days and little to no sunbathing on the Greek beaches. It’s too cold to take a dip in the water, but you can still enjoy the Greek beaches with some clothes on to keep warm in the breeze. The upside is you’ll find low prices and low numbers of tourists. See the month by month breakdown here.
Where to Stay in Greece?
We stay in so many Airbnb’s around the world. They let us live in someone’s home and experience a more local way of life. They are great for those that want their own kitchen too! Check out a few of our Airbnb tips before booking.
Should You Rent a Car in Crete?
You have two options to get around Crete. A moped or a rental car. Public transport is not great on the island and you’ll need something to get to all the awesome beaches and towns. Although people drove a bit crazy, a rental car is the best way to get around. We were able to make the most out of our time in Crete and see so much! I highly recommend having one!
What to Pack for Greece?
Spending a summer on one of the many Greek islands? Lucky you. You may be wondering just what to pack for Greece. The islands are beautiful, swarming with history, and are populated with some of the friendliest people in the world.
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps here is perfectly safe to drink. We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well.
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about our favorite water bottles for travel in our post.
We love to take a guidebook with us on trips as it’s not nice to always be attached to a screen.
These were great to have! Greece has a plethora of hiking trails to secluded beaches so we like to pack a pair of hiking sandals. They offer underfoot protection but can take an impromptu dip in the ocean.
You will absolutely need sunscreen for your trip to the Mediterranean. You can purchase it when you get there, but then you’ll be searching around for it and may pay a premium for a generic brand. Please consider spending a few extra dollars for reef-safe sunscreen.
We highly recommend getting an eco-friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. It’s one of our favorite eco-friendly products for everyday use!
Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.
Remember that Greece uses the Europlug. Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land.
Thanks For Reading
Travel in Greece
- What to Wear in Greece • The Ultimate Greek Packing List
- 14 Best Honeymoon Destinations When You’re on a Budget
- Hiking in Greece • The 15 Best Hikes in Greece (2020)
- How Much Does a Trip to Greece Cost?
- The 10 Best Greek Islands To Visit in 2020
- 19 Best Things to do in Paros, Greece • Paros Island Travel Guide
- Traveling to Greece? Here are 20 Greece Travel Tips to Know
- 11 Best Things to do in Naxos, Greece • Naxos Island Travel Guide
- 17 Best Things to do in Milos, Greece • Milos Island Travel Guide
- 18 Epic Things to do in Crete, Greece
- 30 Facts About Greece That Will Blow Your Mind
- 20 AMAZING Things to do in Mykonos, Greece
- 20 Amazing Things to Do in Rhodes
- Renting a Car in Greece? Here are 16 MUST READ Tips
- Best Time To Visit Greece (2020) • Month By Month Breakdown
- Renting a Car in Crete? Here are 17 MUST READ Tips