Are you wondering where to go in Greece and what the best Greek islands to visit are? We have you covered, from quiet Greek islands to the most beautiful ones. Greece has become an annual trip for us and it’s even where we got married. We have spent over five months traveling around the best Greek islands and know that each one has something different to offer visitors.
We feel confident to share what each island in Greece offers and what visitors can expect from a visit. That is, until next summer when we visit again and add more Greek islands to this list!
Don’t worry – you can’t go wrong with any Greek island, especially if it’s your first time in Greece. Every island in Greece has a unique cultural identity with a vibrant food scene, charming villages, and dazzling beaches to enjoy. Here are our favorite Greek Islands and what exactly we loved about them. And yes, unlike many other best Greek island articles, we have actually traveled to every single one of these islands so that we can provide you with the very best information.
The Best Greek Islands to Visit – Quick Answers
- How many Greek Islands are there? Greece has a whopping 6,000 islands and islets, with 227 islands being inhabited.
- Where is the most beautiful Greek Island? This is a subjective question of course, but out of all the islands we have visited, Corfu takes the list as the most beautiful Greek island.
- What Greek Island is the cheapest? Crete is often thought of to be one of the cheapest Greek islands to visit.
- What Greek Island is the most expensive? Mykonos and Santorini are tied for the most expensive Greek islands overall.
- What is the famous white town in Greece? While there are white-washed homes throughout the Cyclades, the famous white town that has become a picture-perfect postcard of Greece is Oia on the island of Santorini.
- Which island has the clearest water in Greece? You’ll find crystal clear blue water all over, but the clearest, milkiest, and bluest water we have seen in Greece is around the Ionian Islands. (Lefkada, Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos)
The Best Greek Islands to Visit
The Best Greek Island to Chill
When we first traveled to Paros years ago we knew Paros was one of the quieter Cycladic islands to visit. Always my choice over more popular, well-known islands. However, in recent years as travelers look for ways to escape the Mykonos and Santorini crowds Paros has picked up in popularity. That’s not to say that it’s lost its charm though.
I can confidently say Paros ranks up there as one of our favorite and best Greek islands to visit ever, especially in September when we typically visit.
Paros has everything you could want from a trip to the Greek islands. Friendly Greek locals, delicious seaside food, unique beaches, fun Cycladic white washed towns, stunning sunsets, and much more. Paros has everything you could want out of a Greek vacation.
Exploring the mountain town of Lefkes brings you right back into historic Greece. While renting a boat and cruising the blue lagoon is one of the best way to spend a day in the Mediterranean. And ending a day enjoying the sunset at one of the hip restaurants in Naousa, followed by a drink at Linardos proves Paros still has fantastic nightlife to enjoy at any age.
Things to do in Paros
- Visit the Venetian Castle of Parikia, which dates back to the 13th century and offers great views of the town and the sea.
- Explore the traditional village of Naoussa, known for its charming streets, boutique shops, delicious restaurants, white-washed houses, and lively nightlife.
- Take the short ferry to the nearby island of Antiparos, for a day at the beach.
- Go windsurfing or kitesurfing at one of the many beaches on the island, such as Santa Maria or Golden Beach.
The Best Greek Island to Visit 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 compared to others, so it was only a matter of time before we ventured to Milos ourselves.
It was everything we could have hoped for and is one of the best Greek islands to visit for any type of traveler. Milos has downright gorgeous and unique beaches, including Sarakiniko, which looks like another planet in the photo above.
Towns like Plaka and Klima are like something out of a movie, and there are even cliff jumps and steep ladder descents to beaches for the adventurous souls. Get here soon before it turns into another Mykonos.
Things to do in Milos
- Visit the Catacombs of Milos, an underground complex of tombs that date back to the early Christian era.
- Take a boat tour of the island and see the famous Sarakiniko Beach, from the water known for its white moon-like rocks and excellent cliff jumping opportunities.
- Explore the village of Plaka, the capital of Milos, which is known for its traditional Cycladic architecture and vibrant nightlife.
- Enjoy the local cuisine by visiting one of the many tavernas on the island. The best ones are Medusa in Mandrakia, and O! Hamos! Tavern in Adamantas.
- Take a boat tour to Kleftiko Cove And Beach.
The Lushest Greek Island
The northernmost of the Ionian islands differs significantly from many of the most famous Greek islands. It is much greener, and has a strong Italian influence. There’s no white washed houses like in the Cyclades, but instead unique history as it various foreign powers, including the Venetians, French, and British, have held control over Corfu.
Corfu is filled with dramatic green mountains that will lure any hiking fan. While at the same time, hundreds of stunning Corfu beaches are scattered around the island.
While far from the most beautiful, historic, or charming town in Greece, Corfu Old Town still provides visitors with plenty to ooh and ahh about. We spent two weeks on Corfu and couldn’t even scratch the surface of what the island offers. From visiting The Achilleion to renting a boat and diving into the hidden bays around Paleokastritsa, there is never a dull moment here.
Things to do on Corfu
- Visit the Old Town of Corfu, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its Venetian, French and British architectural influences.
- Enjoy the beautiful beaches of Paleokastritsa. This is where some of the best beaches on all of Corfu are located.
- Spend a day at La Grotta Beach Bar diving into the sea from their diving board!
The Best Greek Island to Visit for Families
Naxos is one of the best Greek Islands to visit for families. Just a short ferry ride from Paros is the beautiful island of Naxos, which is the picturesque version of Greece.
Cycladic white and blue houses, fantastic history, ancient Greek architecture, great food, beautiful European beaches, amazing sunsets, friendly Greek people? Check, Check, Check!
We loved venturing around Naxos. Whether spending the days sitting on one of the best European beaches, strolling around the small village of Halki, or seeing the island’s landmark, Portara, Naxos is far from boring.
It’s a remarkable Greek island for families as it’s quiet and not a huge party place. It’s also reasonably easy to get to from other nearby islands in the Cyclades, so it makes for a grand day trip island if you don’t have much time.
Things to do in Naxos
- Visit the Portara, a large marble gate that is the only remaining part of the ancient temple of Apollo.
- Explore Chora, the main town of Naxos, which is known for its Venetian and Cycladic architecture, as well as its lively nightlife and where you can find many fantastic restaurants.
- Go swimming and sunbathing at one of the many beautiful beaches on the island, such as Agios Georgios or Plaka.
The Best Greek Island to Visit for All Around Outdoor Activity
Crete, Greece’s largest island and the birthplace of Zeus, offers everything from ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, to snow-capped peaks. The island is known for its year-round sunshine, and it doesn’t shut down in the winter like many other of the best Greek islands.
We’ve ventured back to Crete twice and seriously want to go a third and fourth time! From Stefanou Beach to Elafonisi Beach, the famous Pink Sand Beach, we traveled all over and were never disappointed. The Wikitravel page for Crete states that “If there were 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 stunning beaches, we can attest that Wikitravel is right. The island is vast, stunning, rugged, and filled with friendly Cretans that may 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 the most beautiful Greek island. Crete is big though – and you’ll need at least a week or two to rent a car and to hit all the main highlights.
Things to do in Crete
- Visit the Palace of Knossos, one of the most important archaeological sites on the island, which was the center of the Minoan civilization.
- Hike Around the Samaria Gorge, one of the longest gorges in Europe, which offers beautiful hiking trails and stunning views.
- Visit Elafonissi Beach, known for its pink sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters.
- Visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses a Minoan art and artifacts collection.
One of the Best Greek Islands for Stunning Beaches
Kefalonia is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque villages. The island is also home to Myrtos Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and all of Europe. Known for its crystal-clear waters, white sand, and dramatic cliffs. The beach is situated on the island’s northwest coast, surrounded by lush vegetation and pine forests.
Besides the stunning natural beaches, Kefalonia is known for its wine, specifically the Robola variety. The island also has a rich history, with several ancient ruins, including the Roman Villa at Skala and the Byzantine castle at Assos.
Things to do in Kefalonia
- Visit Myrtos Beach, considered one of Greece’s most beautiful beaches.
- Take a tour of the island’s ancient ruins, such as the Roman Villa at Skala and the Byzantine castle at Assos.
- Go wine tasting and sample the local Robola variety.
- Explore the national park on Mount Ainos and see the wild horses and deer.
- Visit one of the many picturesque villages on the island, such as Fiscardo and Assos.
The Best Greek Island for Romance and Honeymooners
One of the best places to visit in Greece is Santorini, and no list is complete without it. 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 ten years, but for a 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.
Things to do in Santorini
- Visit the town of Oia, likely the most photographed place in Greece, and top locations to take a selfie. Still it’s breathtaking and known for its beautiful sunsets and traditional blue-domed churches.
- Take a boat trip to the nearby volcano of Nea Kameni and the hot springs of Palia Kameni.
- Visit the wineries on the island, which are famous for their Vinsanto wine, a sweet dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes.
- Take a sunset cruise of the caldera and admire the beautiful views of the island.
Best Car Free Greek Island
Located just a short distance from Athens, the island of Hydra Island (or Ydra or Idra) attracts many fashionable Greeks on weekends. They come to relax and unwind, as well as to socialize and be seen. While hundreds of cats and donkeys can be found in the back streets, the main activity takes place along the waterfront.
Hydra is small in size but packs many things to do for all visitors. It’s a popular island choice for day-trippers from Athens and is an artists’ haven. The Greek island of Hydra has long served as inspiration for artists. In the 1960s, Leonard Cohen was drawn to the island. The School of Fine Arts, located in one of the grand stone mansions overlooking the horseshoe harbor, attracts Athenian artists looking for a place to reside. Just strolling around the main port, the contemporary artist vibe is everywhere.
However, Hydra isn’t just for those with a paintbrush or guitar with plenty of travelers visiting from around the world every year. What makes Hydra so unique is that it’s an entirely motor-free island. There are no cars, no mopeds, and no four-wheelers. Everyone must walk, take a sea taxi, or hire a donkey to get around. Because of this, it truly feels as though you are stepping back to simpler times.
There aren’t many picturesque beaches, but the bays around Hydra are something like a movie scene, and the beautiful blue water surrounding the island will tease you until you take the plunge.
Things to do in Hydra
- Explore the town of Hydra, known for its traditional architecture, boutique shopping, beautiful views, and car free streets.
- Take a boat trip to the nearby island of Dokos, which is known for its natural beauty and secluded beaches.
- Visit the Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin, which offers great views of the town and the sea.
- Visit the Hydra Port, which is a lively area with many restaurants and shops.
- Admire The Captains’ Mansions Of Hydra.
- Kick Back At Hydronetta Beach Cafe and take a jump into the water.
One of the Best Day Trip Islands In Greece (from Athens)
Spetses is a small island located in the Saronic Gulf in Greece. It is known for its picturesque town, with narrow streets and traditional houses, as well as its beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. Spetses has a rich history, including its role in the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire in the 1820s, and for its annual Armata festival, which celebrates the island’s naval history.
The island of Spetses is another popular island for Athenians as its close proximity to the Peloponnese mainland makes it easy for day trips. Spetses feels like another island that got left in time and is relatively quiet.
Like Hydra, private cards are banned here, but taxis, garbage trucks, and mopeds are allowed. Still a fun way to explore the town is via horse and buggy.
Things to do in Spetses
- A walk around Old Harbor is one of the best things to do on Spetses, while Zogeria Beach is one of the best beaches on the island to visit!
- Visit the Bouboulina Museum, dedicated to the island’s famous revolutionary heroine Laskarina Bouboulina.
- Take a boat tour around the island to see the beautiful coastline and crystal clear waters.
- Explore the old town of Spetses and visit the island’s many churches, including the Church of Agios Nikolaos.
- Go for a horse ride on the island’s beautiful trails.
Travel Back in Time Island
You may have heard of the Greek Island, Ithaca, once or twice. It’s generally thought of to be Homer’s Ithaca. Yes, that would be the home of Odysseus, where the classical Greek tale, The Odyssey, takes place.
As far as best Greek Islands to visit go, this one is far from the most popular. Heading here to explore all the best things to do in Ithaca, will undoubtedly be a different experience if you have been to some larger and busier Greek Islands on this list.
In Ithaca, you can have all the beautiful bays and beaches, scenic drives, and amazing cuisine without any of the crowds. Getting here takes a bit of work, as visitors will have to arrive via ferry, but it’s well worth the endeavor.
Some of the best things to do are soak up the sun at Afales Bay and stroll through the beautiful village of Kioni.
Things to do in Ithaca
- Visit the charming capital of Ithaca, Vathy, known for its traditional white-washed houses, narrow streets, and picturesque harbor.
- Take a stroll through the traditional villages of Anogi, Kioni and Frikes, known for their charming Cycladic architecture, picturesque squares and panoramic views.
- Visit the Homer’s School, a cultural center dedicated to the study of the works of Homer, specifically the Odyssey and Ithaca’s place in it.
Greek Island with the Most Beautiful Beaches
Lefkada is a stunning Greek island in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece. It is a very mountainous and lush island, like most of the other Ionian Greek Islands (but unlike the Cycladic islands).
It’s a popular island to visit as it is connected to the mainland by a causeway, meaning you don’t have to hop on a ferry to get here if you don’t want to. We didn’t know what to think of Lefkada before we arrived, but after we visited we are sure that Lefkada has some of the best beaches and clear baby blue water I have ever seen in Greece. Porto Katsiki is not just one of the best beaches in Europe, but the entire world and Egremni will tempt you back day after day.
The only thing not stunning on Lefkada? Lefkada’s main town, which was flattened by an earthquake in the 1950s. Come here for the beaches and natural setting, not the gorgeous towns.
Things to do in Lefkada
- Explore the island’s beautiful beaches, such as Porto Katsiki, Egremni, and Kathisma.
- Hike to the top of the island’s highest peak, Skaros, for panoramic views of the surrounding islands.
- Visit the Monastery of Faneromeni, which is located on a hilltop overlooking Lefkada Town.
- Visit the Lefkada Folklore Museum to learn more about the island’s history and culture.
- Go windsurfing or kitesurfing in Vassiliki, one of the top spots for these sports in Greece.
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, pricey nightlife?
Mykonos has been renowned for its gay clubs and sunrise parties since well before the advent of rave culture. Despite the passing of decades, the island’s bohemian charm remains, although its beaches have evolved to include amenities such as nail bars, personal trainers, and 24-hour thumping house music.
Mykonos is a Greek party island, best for the young holiday goers after some drinking and clubbing. In recent years, the arrival of high-profile supermodels, influencers, and yacht enthusiasts has spurred the development of stylish new 5* hotels and award winning restaurants on the island.
Because of this, Mykonos is easily known as the most expensive “Greek” island to visit. “Greek” is in quotations, as there is very little that feels Greek about Mykonos. That being said, if you want a party head to Mykonos.
Things to do in Mykonos
- Visit Little Venice: This charming neighborhood is known for its picturesque white-washed houses with colorful doors and balconies that hang over the sea.
- Mykonos is home to several iconic windmills that have become a symbol of the island. They are walkable from the core town area and remain one of the best things to do.
- Mykonos is famous for its lively nightlife scene, so spend a night enjoying the bars and clubs. This is best to do before you hit 30 and hangovers affect the following three days after drinking.
- Take a day trip to Delos, a small island is located just a short boat ride from Mykonos. Home to the ruins of an ancient city that was once a major religious and cultural center in Greece.
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 in Greece, 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!
Things to do on Samos
- Visit the ancient city of Pythagoreion: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the ruins of an ancient city that was once an important center of learning and culture. Visitors can explore the remains of the city, including the Temple of Hera and the Tunnel of Eupalinos.
- Take a hike to the top of Mount Kerkis: This mountain is the highest peak on the island and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- Samos has several beautiful beaches, including Tsamadou Beach, Potokaki Beach and Lemonakia Beach, all of which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
Most Beautiful Natural Greek Island
Zakynthos (also called “Zante”) is the third-largest Ionian Island and a popular destination in Greece. It’s most well known for the Instafamous view of Shipwreck Beach and for being somewhat of a party island for European holiday goers. However, it’s not as party-going as Ios, Kos, or Rhodes, and there is much more to Zakynthos than meets the eye.
The island of Zakynthos blesses travelers with jaw-dropping coastlines, beautiful white sand beaches, and small, picturesque villages. Beyond Shipwreck Beach, there are plenty of fun things to do in Zakynthos, like hiring a boat to get to the Blue Caves or relax on Porto Limnionas Beach.
Things to do on Zakynthos
- Visit Navagio Beach, also known as “Shipwreck Beach,” this picturesque cove is home to the remains of a shipwreck and is surrounded by high cliffs, crystal clear waters and white sand.
- Explore the Blue Caves: These natural sea caves are located on the northeastern coast of the island and are known for their striking blue waters. Visitors can take a boat tour to explore the caves.
- Visit the Keri Caves: Located on the island’s southwestern coast and are known for their crystal clear waters and beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
- Take a hike to the top of Mount Skopos for spectacular mountain views over the Ionian Sea.
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, an evergreen shrub you can 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 60m wide and has a humidity of 95%!
Things to do in Chios
- Visit the medieval villages of Mesta and Anavatos, which are known for their unique architecture and history.
- Explore the Chios Byzantine Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts and manuscripts from the island’s rich cultural heritage.
- Take a tour of the Mastiha Museum, which is dedicated to the history and production of the island’s famous mastiha resin.
- Visit the Nea Moni Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 11th century.
The Best Greek Island to Visit 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. For one, Old Town Rhodes has a fascinating history dating back to antiquity. Visitors can walk along the fortifications and take in the sights of Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, synagogues, and minarets. The town’s maze of alleys offers further discovery, including Marco Polo, a 15th-century guesthouse, decorated in the style of a pasha’s harem, and featuring a charming restaurant in the garden.
While exploring, you can walk down the Street of Knights, a medieval street 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. Lindos, in particular, is one of the most beautiful locations on Rhodes, and the boutique shopping and upscale dining here is one of the best things to do on vacation here.
Things to do in Rhodes
- Visit the Old Town of Rhodes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with medieval buildings and fortifications.
- Explore the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, a 14th-century fortress that serves as a museum today.
- Take a day trip to the Valley of the Butterflies, a natural reserve that is home to thousands of butterfly species during the summer months.
- Relax on one of the many beaches on the island, such as Anthony Quinn Bay or Tsambika Beach.
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 it is well worth a day trip from Paros! Only a five-minute ferry ride will bring you to the small island. Once there, you can explore the cute town of Chora, venture to the many beaches, or check out the Antiparos cave.
If you want to stay in Antiparos, the only town to do that at is Chora. The other option is to rent a car and venture to some 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.
Things to do on Antiparos
- Visit the Cave of Antiparos, a limestone cave with impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
- Relax on one of the island’s many beaches such as Psaralyki Beach, Agios Georgios Beach, or Soros Beach.
- Take a boat tour to explore the nearby islands and beaches such as Despotiko and Glifa.
- Visit the Venetian Castle of Antiparos, a medieval fortress built by the Venetians in the 14th century.
- Take a walk through the charming village of Antiparos, with its traditional Cycladic houses, narrow streets and the picturesque church of Agios Ioannis.
Best Low Key Greek Island
Symi is a great alternative to busier islands in the Dodecanese, like Kos and Rhodes. We visited Symi on a Turkish gulet cruise that sailed from Turkey and Greece and fell in love with this fairy tale island.
The town of Symi, also known as Chorio, is built on the slopes of a hill and is characterized by its neoclassical houses and narrow streets, as well as its many churches and monasteries.
Here you can find grand colorful buildings, breathtaking beaches, narrow cobbled streets, small churches. One of the best things to do here is venture to Panormiti Monastery and see the views.
Wondering what Symi is known for? Well, they are known for their unique shrimp called “Symis shrimps” which are small shrimps that are pan fried and eaten whole within the shell. Symi is also known for its boat-building tradition, and for its production of sponges, which were historically an important part of the island’s economy.
Things to do in Symi
- Visit the picturesque town of Symi, known for its brightly colored houses, narrow streets, and neoclassical architecture.
- Take a boat tour to explore the nearby islands of Nisyros and Tilos.
- Relax on one of the island’s many beaches such as Marathounda Beach, Agios Emilianos Beach, or Pedi Beach.
- Visit the Monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis, a 17th-century monastery on the south coast of the island.
The Best Greek Island to Explore Villages
Traveling to the Cycladic island of Tinos is another Greek island that feels like traveling back in time. It’s an island known for its devout religion, tiny villages, pigeon houses, and unique cuisine. There are plenty of things to do in Tinos, from relaxing on the beach to hiking among ancient landscapes.
Tourists to Tinos will find stunning beaches that are far from the madding crowd, one can easily enjoy a beach day here without fighting for towel space. Tinos is also known for its marble quarries and is famous for its marble crafts, which you will find around the island. The town of Pyrgos is evidence of this, where marble is everywhere – the streets, buildings, churches, and archways are shaped from it,
Beyond marble, Tinos is also for its local cuisine and wine production. Every year, many Greek Orthodox Christians make the pilgrimage from the port to the church on their hands and knees to the Church of Panagia Megalochari.
Things to do in Tinos
- Visit the Panagia Evangelistria, the most important pilgrimage site in Greece, a majestic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
- Visit the Tinos Folklore Museum, to learn about the island’s history and culture.
- Relax on one of the island’s many beaches such as Kionia Beach, Agios Fokas Beach, or Agios Sostis Beach.
- Visit the Tinos Agricultural Cooperative, where you can taste and buy local products such as olive oil, honey and wine.
The Best Greek Island to Visit Year Round
Syros is known for its architecture, particularly its 19th-century mansions and public buildings around the island’s capital, Ermoupolis. Ermoupolis is the administrative and cultural center of the Cyclades.
Unlike many other Greek islands, Syros stays busy all year round because of this. The capital isn’t just great for administrative tasks though; it’s a charming area to stroll if you are looking for something other than the traditional white-washed homes of the Cyclades.
Ermoupolis underwent a period of renewal in the late 18th and early 19th century. European architects were instrumental in building the beautiful. marble streets and structures still standing to admire today.
Syros isn’t just fantastic for its lively capital, though. Like all the other best Greek islands to visit, Syros has splendid beaches and some fantastic tavernas.
Since Syros is at the heart of the Cyclades, it is easily accessible via ferry and plane from Athens and other Cycladic islands. If you a budget traveler, Syros also might be the island for you. Being less of a tourist destination and more of a working island, prices for food and accommodation are more suited to Greeks.
Things to do in Syros
- Take a stroll through the charming village of Ano Syros, with its traditional Cycladic houses, narrow streets and the picturesque church of Agios Georgios.
- Relax on one of the island’s many beaches such as Galissas Beach, Azolimnos Beach, or Vari Beach.
- Take a hike to the top of the hill of Saint George, for panoramic views of the island.
The Best Greek Island To Get Away From the Crowds
Serifos is an island of true raw beauty, made of iron and granite, this island is the rockiest in all the Cyclades. Like most of the Cyclades, it’s an arid place, but boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the Aegean.
It’s far from the typical Cycladic tourist trail, and has some pretty off-the-beaten-track destinations. There are no cruise ship stops here and no airport. The island mainly sees those that are ferry hopping and those sailing the Mediterranean on their private boats. You’ll notice how quiet Serifos is as soon as you dock in Chora Village. There are no fancy restaurants or clubs, and you’ll notice how undeveloped it is just by walking in to one of the only grocery stores on the island and searching for food.
Serifos is an island that maintains its authentic Greek island charm and is ideal for those wanting to step away from the places with traditional tourist facilities and get back to basics on the beaches and hiking around the landscape.
Serifos is nicely situated near other islands like Sifnos, Kithnos, and Milos, making it an ideal stop for a multi-island trip.
Things to do in Serifos
- Visit the ancient iron mines of Serifos: The island has a long history of mining, and the ancient iron mines are a fascinating glimpse into that past.
- Explore the charming villages of Serifos: The island is home to several picturesque villages, each with its own unique character and charm. Chora is the island’s main village and is particularly worth a visit, particularly around sunset when everyone gathers around the Monastery of Taxiarchon to watch the colors change.
- Enjoy the beaches of Serifos: The island is known for its beautiful beaches, many of which are accessible only by foot. Our favorite beaches are Livadi beach, Kalo Ambeli beach, and Psili Ammos beach.
The Best Greek Island for Foodies
Just a one-hour ferry ride away from Serifos is the stunning island of Sifnos. Sifnos is known for its picturesque villages, beautiful beaches, traditional architecture, and of course its ceramics, particularly the “Sifnian pottery,” which has been a traditional craft for centuries.
Sifnos is well known in the Cyclades for its culinary traditions, with many scruptious local tavernas. Sifnos is actually thought to have some of the best cuisine throughout all the Greek islands, and they even have an annual festival here to celebrate it, called the Cycladic Gastronomy Festival Nikolaos Tselemedes. We attended last year, and were stuffed off delicious food and wine for days!
It’s impossible to have a bad meal on Sifnos, as most Sifnians have a real love for all things gastronomy. You’ll find farm-to-table fare and unique dishes that use ingredients right from the island at almost every taverna. One of the best things to do is enjoy a cooking class!
That’s not to say that only foodies should visit Sifnos. The beaches around Sifnos are gorgeous, and unlike many Greek beaches, they are made of soft golden sand.
Sifnos is still a somewhat under-the-radar tourist destination compared to Naxos, Paros, and Milos. You won’t find many first-time visitors to Greece here, but instead it’s an island you visit when you have traveled some of the more “classic” islands mentioned above. That doesn’t mean Sifnos is quiet and without visitors as many Greeks and other Europeans have been traveling here for years. The island’s capital, Apollonia, has quite a lively nightlife scene with bars staying open well into the morning hours.
Sifnos is a fantastic island that combines well with Milos and Serifos, which are just an easily connected ferry ride away.
Things to do in Sifnos
- Visit the charming capital of Sifnos, Apollonia, known for its traditional white-washed houses, narrow streets, and picturesque squares such as Platys Gialos. A fantastic place to do some boutique shopping during the day, and enjoy a meal and drinks at night.
- Relax on one of the island’s many beaches such as Platys Gialos, Vathi Beach, or Faros Beach.
- Visit the Sifnos Folklore Museum, to learn about the island’s history and culture.
- Take a hike to the top of the hill of Profitis Ilias, for panoramic views of the island and the surrounding sea.
- Visit the Monastery of Chrysopigi, a beautiful 17th-century monastery located on a rocky outcrop above the sea.
How to Get Around the Best 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 typically you need a motorcycle license to rent one in Greece. Many rental agencies in Greece will let you slide and rent a moped without this, depending on the company and location.
A 4×4, or quad, is the most fun option to get around the Greek islands on. However, at €50+ a day, it’s an expensive one so it may not be for you if you are concerned about Greek travel costs. You’ll need an advanced reservation to rent one of these bad boys during the high season. I prefer not to rent mopeds or 4x4s as I appreciate my shade, clearnliness, 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 and destinations, and it will probably require a lot of walking on your part to get to where you want to go.
The last option (and our favorite) is a rental car. To rent a car in Greece, you need a standard International driver’s license (A valid US license works). If your license is not in English or Greek, have a translation just in case. It would help if you also were prepared to hand over your passport. Also, depending on where you are trying to rent, an International Drivers Permit may be mandatory if you get pulled over.
It may be tough to find a rental agency to rent to you without an IDP, we’ve rented over 10 cars in Greece, and sometimes they rent to us without problems, but we have also been asked for one before.
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 to arrive in Greece with an IDP to be safe. You can get one here if you’re in a hurry. If you get in an accident or are pulled 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?
If you are arriving from outside of Europe, 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. You can fly right to many Greek islands from Athens, which might be a quicker option than taking a ferry.
If you are coming from some of the main European hubs, you have budget flight options that go to Santorini, Crete, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos and other Greek Islands. Aegean, Olympic, and Sky Express are the main Greek carriers.
From Athens, the best way to travel to 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, and 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 during the summer.
Shoulder Season (April, May, 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, overcast days, and little to no sunbathing on 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. The bad side? Many of the best Greek islands are very quiet (almost closed down) for the season. See the Greece weather month by month breakdown here.
What to Pack for Greece?
Thinking about which of the best Greek islands to visit and also wondering what exactly to pack for a trip to Greece? We have you covered!
Greek Travel Planning Resources
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Greek: “Yasou” and “Efharisto”
- Currency: Euro – (EUR) – €
- Visa: Schengen visa. Which is 90 days in the European Union out of 180. Many nationalities are granted this on arrival for free. Check with your embassy to see if that is you.
- Weather: The weather in Greece is a Mediterranean climate. This means winters are mild and rainy, while summers are warm and dry with plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
- What to Pack: Warm weather clothes and a swimsuit, don’t forget a good pair of clothes to go and a jacket for cool nights. Read about what to wear in Greece.
- Budget: If you’re in the initial stages of planning, check out our awesome post that breaks down how much a trip to Greece costs.
- Rent a Car: We suggest most visitors consider renting a car for the best trip possible. Try Discover Cars to compare quotes from different rental agencies. Check Price Here!
- Protect Your Trip: Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance! We always carry travel insurance to protect us from injury, theft, or a canceled trip. We use HeyMondo for our insurance needs.
- Tours in Greece: Check out our list of the best tours you can enjoy in Greece!
- Travel Adapter: 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. Purchase one here.