The Greek islands are a popular choice of destination for millions of people every year, and it’s clear to see why! Greece doesn’t just have gorgeous weather, beautiful beaches and turquoise waters – it’s the land that gave birth to democracy, the land of philosophers and poets, of drama and theatre. Oh, and there’s good wine too. Plenty of it, in fact!
There’s also a whole wealth of interesting sights and plenty of impressive ruins left over from the ages of antiquity. I mean, it’s not often you get to stand before 3,000-year-old remains! Whether you’re looking to mix a beach holiday with a bit of sightseeing, just spending the day relaxing or going on the hunt for some night life, there really is something for everyone. In fact you could even consider a bit of island hopping. There are actually very good connections from island to island, so you essentially kill two birds with one stone, as it were!
With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year Rhodes is one of sunniest regions in Europe – from mid-May until September there’s almost no rain to be had! The main holiday season is from May until October.
Rhodes is the fourth-largest island in Greece and is located in the south-east Aegean Sea. The main town is also called Rhodes and it’s the centre of tourism in the north of the island. Further to the west there are tons of hotels, bars and discos. In 1988 the old town of Rhodes was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – it’s beautiful and well-preserved, and the whole area is enclosed by defensive ramparts.
There are a couple of things worth seeing on Rhodes. Two of them are the Grand Master’s Palace in the old town and the Lindos Acropolis. There’s also Lindos beach and the dreamy St. Paul’s Bay. Tsambika Beach is also stunning, and Faliraki’s water park makes it a popular destination. If you’re one for a bit of snorkelling you should head to Anthony Quinn Bay, and, like on almost all other Greek islands, there’s plenty of boat tours on offer.
Kos is particularly charming, and it’s one of the coolest party islands! There’s no shortage of sights either and you’ll find wonderful beaches that are perfect for relaxing on.
The main city also shares the name Kos – the Greeks are apparently very imaginative with names! Most of the clubs and bars are here – I recommend going to Camel Bar, where you can listen to international DJs while enjoying a good view of the harbour. There’s also some good beach parties to be had!
Because Kos is close to Rhodes and the Turkish west coast there are day trips you can take if you want to go exploring. You could even go on a bike tour to discover all of the tiny villages on the island. There’s also an archaeological museum and lots of fortresses. One of the them is the Asclepeion, where the philosopher Hippocrates supposedly received his medial training. There’s also the ancient city of Kos as well as many churches and monasteries worth seeing. The Asclepeion is definitely my highlight though – not only is it bursting with history, but you’ll also have an amazing view of the Turkish city of Bodrum. The island’s speciality is possa cheese made with wine – definitely worth a try as it’s made exclusively on Kos. Delicious! Maybe you can have a few olives and some pita with it too!
Some popular beaches on Kos are Cavo Paradiso and Agios Stefanos. There’s also many large resorts on Kos where you can book an all-inclusive holiday.
The largest island in Greece is also the largest in the Mediterranean and is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea. Because there’s so much to discover on Crete I think it would be worth your time renting a car or a moped, which you can do for a reasonable price! But above all the nature on Crete is absolutely stunning – there’s lots of sweeping hills to the East and dramatic cliffs to the West. There’s also impressive gorges such as the one in Samaria National Park close to Chania, the longest gorge on the island. The coast towards the south of the island is quite pebbly and rocky, but to the north everything becomes a lot gentler and there’s some fantastic beaches that attract millions of visitors every year. Elafonissi beach and Baloos beach and lagoon are simply dreamy!
The ancient town of Knossos in the north of the island is only one of the many sights on the island. Archaeological excavations there have revealed many parts of the ancient settlement.
Rhetmynon is one of the best preserved Venitian cities on Crete. Before the evening fades away at the habour you should have a look at the waterfalls and rock formations. Chersonissos, once a Roman port, offers plenty of family friendly activities such as a great aquarium! There’s also good 5 star hotels, nightclubs and plenty of restaurants and bars across the entire island.
Santorini is the main island of the Cyclades archipelago, located in the southern Aegean Sea, and it’s by far the prettiest. It’s a craggy island with black and red beaches and it’s opposite a volcano that’s still active, so it makes for a really unique landscape!
The black beaches of Perissa and Kamari are some of the most popular on Santorini, and the red beach near Akrotiri also draws plenty of visitors.
The island offers breathtaking views, good food and a vibrant night life, and the architecture is absolutely divine! Many hotels, cafés, restaurants and even towns have been carved into the cliff side – the windmills and twisting alleyways are a typical feature of the island.
Lots of newly-wed couples are drawn to legendary sunsets that take place here, and in the evening hours tourists flock to the terraces and vantage points. The town of Oia boasts the prettiest sunsets by far. Going on a boat tour is also highly recommended – during the day you can go on a tour around the volcano, and there are sunset tours in the evening.
Fira is the capital of Santorini and is located on the rim of the volcanic crater and lots of cruise ships often stop there. If you want to spend a holiday in the one of the hotels that come with an amazing view in Oia or Imerovigli I’m afraid you’ll have to fork out quite a lot! Luckily you’ll be able to get around that in Kamari, where the situation is quite different. You’ll be able to find some very reasonable accommodation there, and I recommend in particular hotel Alkyon.
You’ll recognise this popular island in the Cyclades straight away with its white houses, golden beaches and pleasant climate – and parties, obviously! If you’re on the lookout for a stylish night out, then this is the place for you. Many insist that even Ibiza is nothing compared to Mykonos, not least because of the film stars, singers and designers who spend their holidays here! There’s also tons of classy boutiques you won’t find on any other Greek island.
During the day the beaches up north are somewhat quieter than the ones in the south, as these are more suited for party-goers. Elia beach is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches in the south. Nightowls will be romping about in Chora, the island capital. If you’re not in the mood to saunter from club to club you could also spend a lovely evening in one of the many restaurants there – the island is known for its delicacies found mainly in the more up-market restaurants, something the island has plenty of!
Other sights that are simply a delight to behold are the churches built in a unique architectural style such as the Panagia Paraportiani church, probably the most photographed landmark on Mykonos!
This island in the Aegean sea, and the largest one in the Cyclades, is the home to none other than Zeus himself, the father of the gods (and yes, its capital is also called Naxos!). The island is separated from Paros by just a narrow strait. As well as the beaches there are also plenty of old ruins, and it’s also famous for the sculptures made here.
The symbol of the island is the stone gate of Portara, probably the most photographed feature on the whole island. There’s also an ancient temple located there. Behind the stone gate you can enjoy breathtaking views of the sunset! A good beach to go to is Agios Prokopios. Like most Greek islands there’s a whole host of water sports on offer, and at the the taverns and habour front you can get some really good food. Be sure to take a look in the small side streets though, because there you’ll find the taverns the locals go to and they’ll more than likely be free from the crowds of tourists.
On Corfu there are long beaches, steep coasts and even dreamy, beautiful bays, and it’s definitely the greenest of the Greek islands. The French, British and Greek influences are reflected in the new town and the narrow streets paved with cobblestones. There are Venetian and Byzantine fortresses here – a mix between the Italian and the Aegean!
Just like every other Greek island you can enjoy wonderful views on Corfu. The following applies too: don’t stay on the beaches, explore as much as possible! Whether it’s on foot, or by bike, moped or rental car, the important thing is that you get out there! You could visit one of the 250 villages nestled in the green forestsand admire the blossom! A great place to go swimming is Kassiopi or Paleokastritsa. The town of Kassiopi is a small harbour town with lots of small shops that are worth having a nose around.
This island is the southernmost one in the Ionian Sea, and….yes, this island’s capital is called Zakynthos! The island has its own airport and there’s plenty of great transport connections.The town of Agrassi is rather quiet, but to make up for that there’s plenty of taverns, bars and clubs in Laganas. One of the most famous sights on the island are the Blue Caves in the north of the island – the water inside these caves really is actually a bright blue colour, and there are boat trips so you can take a closer look around!
On Zakynthos you’ll find the breathtaking beach of Navagio, where you get up close with wreck of an old smuggler’s boat washed up on the shore. There’s plenty of boat tours on Zakynthos that you should definitely go on – one place to check out is the small island of Marathonissi (or Turtle Island), which is very idyllic and is easy to get to from Zakynthos. At the northernmost point of the island is the small village of Tsilivi, which is an excellent place to go if you fancy a good hike with its ruins of an old Venetian observation post – and great for swimming! Zakynthos certainly offers acombination of modern culture and the amazing history of Greece.
The green island of Kefalonia also in the Ionian Sea and is the home of Odysseus – the legendary king from Homer’s Odyssey. Kefalonia is a paradise for nature lovers – the black pine grows here, a species of tree that isn’t found anywhere else in the world!
Millions of people every year are thrilled by the sapphire blue waters. A very popular bay is Myrtos Beach – many visitors say it’s absolutely stunning and a must-see! Two beaches that offer a lot of water sports opportunities are Makrys Gialos and Platys Gialos. The Drogatari caves are also worth seeing as well as the ancient artefacts in the archaeological museum of Argostoli (the capital of Kefalonia). Argostoli is also where you’ll find most of the clubs and bars on the island.
Kefalonia is a great place to go sea kayaking – you’ll be able to experience the island and its bays from a completely different and unique way. You could also do a day excursion to Zakynthos. Excursions to the neighbouring island take place every day.
Skiathos may be a tiny island, but it’s got more than 60 beaches to choose from! Kokounaries is one of the most popular ones, and you’ll find plenty of taverns and bars in the area. Vromolimnus beach is also worth seeing – the waters are crystal clear and the sand is pure white. Water sports are offered in many places. Some boat tours stop at Lalaria beach which is simply beautiful! If you want to go diving, definitely pop by Skiathos Diving Centre on Kokounaries beach.
On Skiathos you can also have a look around the many interesting churches and monasteries – the Evangelistra Monastery for example is just 30 minutes away from the capital, Skiathos City, and you can get there by taking a small bus. There are daily excursions to the neighbouring islands of Skopelos and Alonissos and even further destinations such as Athens and Meteora.
Phew – that was a lot to take in, but now you have an overview of the top 10 prettiest islands in Greece. Maybe you’re interested in going to one or two! Just pop by my Deal Finder and I’ll look for a Greek holiday bargain to suit you!