With 227 inhabited islands, surrounded by crystal clear waters and offering world class beaches and landscapes, it is only natural that Greece was one of the first holiday destinations when mass tourism started a few decades ago.
Although the generalized term “Greek Islands” brings to mind one particular kind of holiday, every single one of them has its own distinct character. Some of them are rocky, while others green. Some are mountainous, others are flat.
Many are famous for their nightlife, while others are perfect for a relaxed vacation. Because of that, we present ten of the most popular islands, a beginner’s list of classic Greek destinations.
The largest Greek island, Crete has a distinct local culture and will satisfy whatever it is you’re looking for. Busy touristy resorts, wonderful old towns like Chania and Rethymno, amazing deserted beaches (especially on the south coast), mountain villages, and the best food by far among all Greek islands.
If Greece has a magical island, Chios is definitely it. This lesser-known isle sits happily in the northeastern area of the Aegean Sea. Chios is most famous for its cultivation and production of a mastic, an aromatic resin that forms in teardrop shapes that comes from trees growing in the fertile Mastihohoria region. Next time you’re planning for a vacation, do not leave Chios off your list, the beaches are pretty awesome, too!
Fine beaches with freezing cold waters on the eastern side attract thousands of visitors every summer and as in every large tourism-orientated Greek island the range of holidays one can enjoy is vast. The old town with the two fortresses is an UNESCO world cultural heritage site and the nature one of the best you can find on any Greek island. Beautiful beaches with amazing blue waters on the eastern side attract thousands of visitors every summer.
Hydra is one of the prettiest Greek islands with a unique architecture that has been preserved due to a strict development policy. To go to one of the sandy beaches of the island, one must hire a sea-taxi, but the deep blue waters just off the harbour are where most people go to swim.
Mykonos definitely has the best beaches in the country and the craziest nightlife in Greece. You can sunbathe your days on a beautiful sunbeds on the beach and enjoy the nights in the narrow streets of the picturesque village, moving between bars and clubs. Don’t forget to bring with you the best pieces of your wardrobe, and all your energy.
Probably the most typical of the Greek islands and a convenient base for island hoping around the Cyclades due to its excellent ferry connections. The beaches, the nightlife and the accommodation choice are all above average and many holiday makers return year after year. Most nightlife is concentrated in picturesque Naousa, and you can easily find quiet and isolated beaches if all you want is to relax and enjoy the blue waters.
Once home to one of the seven wonders of the world the ‘Colossus’, Rhodes is one of the earliest holiday destinations in the country. It is marked by the wonderful Medieval old town. There is plenty of sightseeing to do, and a number of museums to give you that cultural alibi between your long days on the fine beaches and the long nights out.
Samos is an island ruled by legend and beauty. Samos its a home of important monuments and historical tales, mountains and hiking traits, and immaculately organized beaches. If you wish to please your palate, the best opportunity to taste all varieties of wine is the wine festival organized during the first ten days of August at Vathy, where you only buy one glass and refill it as many times as you like – or can handle.
Skiathos and its neighboring Sporades complex are flooded with pine trees that reach the sea and surround its numerous sandy beaches, like Koukounaries, one of the prettiest and busiest in the country. Hora, the capital of the island is an idyllic village with red-roofed white houses built on a hillside surrounding the harbor.
If you’re going to visit only one Greek island in your life then let it be Santorini. Breathtaking volcanic views and one of the best sunsets in the world. Its beaches are very peculiar, due to the black and red volcanic sand. Couples should visit the romantic Oia, whereas those young at heart should choose Fira, the lively capital of the island built on top of the Caldera cliff with equally fantastic views.