It is understandable why so many sun-seeking tourists go to the Greek islands, with their whitewashed churches with blue domes springing from steep cliffs, soft beaches that equal those in the Caribbean, and fresh fish dinners at traditional tavernas. No two Greek islands, from the Cyclades in the southern Aegean to the Ionian and Dodecanese in the west near the Turkish shore, feel the same despite their abundance. We look more closely at what distinguishes some of the standouts. Here are the top Greek islands out of the 227 that are available for vacation.
What time of year is ideal for visiting the Greek islands?
The summer travel season in the Greek islands starts in late spring, in April, and ends in the fall, in October. Between early July and the end of August, the climate is at its warmest (and the crowds are at their densest). Visit in June or September if you prefer the nice weather with less tourists. The southern Dodecanese, the Aegean islands, and Crete are all stunning in the autumn.
Which island has the most natural beauty?
Santorini is perhaps the closest thing you will come to picturing a Greek island with whitewashed homes, blue roofs, rocky landscapes, and glittering sea if you close your eyes and try. There are certain restrictions, however: from a tourism perspective, it is a rather congested site, with guests arriving in flights and cruise ships every day. A little further to the north-east, in Amorgos, you may discover equally stunning scenery and little towns without the tourists for a more untouched beauty.
How many islands in Greece are there?
Greece is home to an astounding 6,000 islands and islets, the most of which are found in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Only 227 of those thousands of islands are populated. There are several smaller, quieter islands in the Cyclades, a well-known collection of islands in the Aegean Sea that also includes Mykonos, Santorini, and Naxos. Rhodes is the main island and the access point to other islands like Patmos and Symi in the Dodecanese, which are situated farther east near Turkey.
The Ionian islands, which are located off the west coast of Greece and contain well-known vacation spots like Corfu, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos, are another well-liked group. The Saronic islands, of which Hydra is a favorite among Greek tourists, are the ones closest to the mainland.
Which Greek island is the quietest?
There are many peaceful islands, but in our opinion, the Cyclades' Antiparos and Amorgos are the nicest. We advise staying away from hotels and renting a property if calm and serenity are important.
The best Greek Islands to visit for your holiday
You will not discover sugar-cube towns and whitewashed roads on Syros, the Cyclades' capital. Ermoupoli, a vibrant city from the 19th century, is situated above twin hills that bear the Orthodox and Catholic religious imprints of the lengthy Venetian occupation, respectively. Ermoupoli's marble piazzas, regal homes, and small La Scala, the centerpiece of an all-year-round cultural life, all retain a distinct Italian flavor. Syros offers festivals for rembetiko, the Greek blues made known by local singer Markos Vamvakaris, as well as animation, perform, digital art, film, traditional music, and jazz. Only a few rembetiko restaurants remain in Ano Syros' upper town.
The industry on Syros is centered on the Neorio shipyard, which was once the hub of shipbuilding in Greece. The manor mansions in Vaporia and Poseidonia, however, are the shipping industry's most beautiful legacies. With the few exceptions of Delfini, Varvarousa, and Aetos in the wild north, the beaches are a little less magnificent. Iliovassilemar on Galissas beach serves samphire and sea urchin salad and rockfish soup, while Allou Yialou in Kini, a charming seaside village, serves lobster with orzo. Fabulous beachfront tavernas are also abundant.
Where to stay:
In the past, Naxiots acquired significant riches by exporting emery, cheese, potatoes, and marble. Locals left their most lazy offspring unsuitable seaside plots that could not be used for farming. These scumbags discovered that they were sitting on gold mines when tourists discovered the island's numerous spectacular beaches. Miles and miles of fine, powdery sands line Naxos' west shore. With their kid-friendly beaches and beach bars, Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna appeal to both young children and teenagers. The beaches get more untamed as you travel south, including Kastraki, which is crystal clear, Mikri Vigla, where you can windsurf and kitesurf, and Plaka, where you can gallop across the sand dunes on horseback.
There is something for every style of traveler on the sizable and easily accessible island of Naxos. The 25 mountain villages on the island are a major attraction and convey a lot about the myths, stories, and spirit of Naxos. Taverns, cafés, restaurants, and galleries are scattered throughout the cobblestoned streets of the city's historic center, Halki, which leads to the bustling central square. The Cretan town of Apiranthos, situated 650 meters above sea level on the slope of Mount Fanari and constructed like an amphitheater, is steadfastly traditional. Zeus, the ruler of the gods and Demeter's brother, is said to have spent his formative years here; his childhood cave is just a 15-minute drive away.
Where to stay:
This Cyclades island, which has a reputation as a top culinary destination, is a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride from Athens, and simple yet delectable feasts are a significant part of its allure. This is due in part to the fact that it was the birthplace of renowned chef Nikolaos Tselementes, who published Greece's first cookbook in the early 20th century (before, recipes were passed down orally). The island's fame is further supported by an abundance of fresh vegetables; wild caper plants grow through the gaps in stone walls along the side of the road, and there are groups of olive trees in parking lots. In addition, any of the modest tavernas is virtually certain to serve up a wonderful dinner.
To Meraki tou Manoli is a well-known local establishment on protected Vathy bay where traditional foods are slow-roasted in a wood-fired oven. (While you are there, get some classic dinnerware from Atsonios Ceramics, which has been around since 1870.) In postcard-pretty Artemonas, all roads lead to Theodorou, purveyors of nougat wafers and almond sweets since 1933. At Omega3, you can dine while wearing a bikini. Locally sourced foods, such as smoked eel in chilled melon soup with wasabi, pine nuts baby calamari tempura, and chickpea sorbet with wild apricot jam, are given an unusual touch.
Where to stay:
Living Like a Local: Anthousa Hotel
The Venus de Milo, which has been on display at the Louvre since the 19th century, is well-known to everyone. Milos, the volcanic island where Aphrodite's graceful likeness was found, was not well known until lately. Knowledgeable people jealously preserve their prized island, particularly its 70 or so beaches, which unquestionably have the most varied and stunning shoreline of any Greek island.
On the other hand, Milos is being found out little by little. The bottle-green swimming hole at Papafragas, the colorful, rickety syrmata, and the undulating white cliffs at Sarakiniko are all popular subjects for unfiltered photos on Instagram. The best photo chances can be found in Klima and Mandrakia. The minerals that have historically been a source of wealth—obsidian, alum, barite, and sulphur, which currently bubbles up in the island's numerous hot springs—have formed this picture-perfect environment. Several upscale hotels have appeared as the 11,000-year-old mining industry progressively gives way to tourism. Go right away when the trickle of tourists becomes a tide.
Where to stay:
Long before rave culture even existed, Mykonos had LGBTQ+ clubs and morning celebrations. Although the once-naked beaches now boast nail bars, personal trainers, and house music playing out all hours, its bohemian attraction has not diminished since the 1960s. Hot new hotels and restaurants have been inspired by the influx of supermodels and superyachts. Scorpios, a sleazy beach bar that puts the best of Ibiza in the shade (rent a cabana to watch the sunset), is the coolest location to flaunt your abs.
If the glittering excess becomes too much, head to Kiki's, an off-grid grill hut overlooks Agios Sostis bay, where also Naomi Campbell must wait in line for a table, or the Fokos Taverna for lamb chops and superfood salads. Or take a boat over to the little island of Delos, which is home to an ancient sanctuary and a temple to Apollo, the Greek god of light, and which once attracted 30,000 sun worshipers.
Where to stay:
The Best Boutique Hotel: She Mykonos Boutique Hotel
Living Like a Local: Villa Varnali Small Boutique
Authenic Feeling: Elena Hotel Mykonos
The largest island in Greece and the birthplace of Zeus, Crete, is home to several beaches, ancient sites, and snow-capped mountains. All year round, there is almost a guarantee of sunshine, although spring is especially great for wandering and sightseeing. Despite the constant stream of coach groups, the Minoan palace of Knossos is magnificent (arrive early; it opens at 8am); yet, there are breathtaking ancient ruins scattered throughout the island, such as Aptera and Malia. There are hundreds more gorges to explore, frequently with only the elusive kri-kri (wild goats) for company. The 16 km long Samaria Gorge is also teeming with pilgrims.
One of the most breathtaking climbs ends at Marmara, a transparent cove on the Libyan Sea, for a refreshing plunge and lunch at one of Crete's best tavernas, Dialiskari, after passing through the Aradena Gorge in the wild and mountainous Sfakia district. The north-east coast is marred by overdevelopment, with the exception of Elounda, a glitzy area beloved by oligarchs. If you are looking for real towns encircled by orange and olive orchards, head west to the Amari valley or Apokoronas. The greatest beaches in Crete are in the south; try Ligres, Sougia, or Kedrodasos. A 16th-century hamlet powered solely by solar energy is Milia Mountain Retreat, where you may take a vacation from civilization and reconnect with nature. The majority of the food on the menu is grown, caught, or raised locally.
Given that Crete produces excellent cheese, honey, and olive oil in addition to mouthwatering goat, rabbit, and smoked-pork meals, it is practically impossible to go hungry there. In the mountain villages, where residents with intimidating whiskers welcome you with a few shots of raki (Cretan grappa) for a meal and mark saints' days with a barrage of gunshots, time slows down practically to a standstill. Even the road signs have numerous bullet holes in them.
Where to stay:
The Best Boutique Hotel: DOM Boutique Hotel
For Fun: Lato Boutique Hotel
Authenic Experience: Pepi Boutique Hotel (Adults Only)
For Families: Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay
Lefkada is a bit of an outlier. It is reachable from the mainland by a causeway on the northern tip, unlike the other Ionian islands. With airplane service to Preveza and a 40-minute drive, it is also conveniently accessible from the UK. The main town of Lefkada, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake in the 1950s, will not likely steal your breath away, but Egremni and Porto Katsiki's renowned cliff-backed beaches most certainly will. No matter which direction the wind is blowing, you can find protected beaches. If you are in Greece for the swell, though, the south coast is great for windsurfing (go to Vassiliki or Sivota, the site of the international windsurfing championships), and Agios Ioannis bay is teeming with kitesurfers.
Ignore the unattractive pubs and watersports facilities at Nidri and board a boat to explore the nearby little isles instead. Near Kalamos, there are sea caves for swimming in; Errikos Taverna on Meganisi, a favorite of reclusive billionaires; and Mylos Bar, a converted windmill on Kastos, where you can watch the sunset while sipping a basil-infused Mastiha and tonic.
Where to stay:
Best Self Catering: Aggelos Apartments & Deluxe Studios
Authenic Experience: San Lazzaro
Any Greek island's village square should serve as your first stop; relax at your preferred café, learn the gossip around town, and get used to the slow pace of life. On Folegandros, this presents a problem because Hora, the dramatic capital, has three squares, each of which is crammed with a variety of cafes, taverns, and tiny raki bars. We suggest Pounta, where the owner is Danish and creates and sells the lopsided bowls and cups used to serve your coffee and Greek yogurt. The only notable landmark in Hora is the Panagia church; make the journey at sunrise (perhaps following an all-night stint at the decrepit Astarti pub).
Folegandros, which in ancient Greek means "iron hard," is exactly as desolate as its name implies. Rings of stones surround fruit trees to shield them from strong winds. There are only clear, pebbly coves like Katergo, Ambeli, and Livadaki; you will not find any sandy beaches with sun loungers. Papalagi, which is perched in the cliffs above Agios Nikolaos Bay, offers large, fat prawns and full, grilled octopuse on a wooden platform that faces the sea. In the summer, certain beaches have water taxi service; otherwise, you will have to descend stony trails to cool yourself. Stop at Mimis or Synantisi in Ano Meria for matsata, an island specialty that includes hand-made noodles and a goat- or rabbit-based stew, on your way home.
Where to stay:
Great with Family: Chora Resort Hotel & Spa
Authenic Experience: Vardia Bay Studios
The medieval Monastery of St. John on the island of Patmos, which is its crowning splendor, exudes an ethereal aspect that is difficult to pin down. This turreted fortification is filled with Byzantine artifacts and is named after John the Divine, who received his end-of-the-world visions in a nearby cave. A-listers and fashion editors stay at the all-white Hora, a World Heritage Site. Rich homes from the 16th century are hidden behind thick walls and hefty doors. The powerful church has controlled the nightlife. If you want to be noticed, visit the discreetly chic Astivi or the Hora bar Stoa Theo's on the tiny island of Agia Lesbia. In general, beach life is laid-back and unassuming; our favorite hideaways are Psili Ammos and Livadi Geranou.
The Patmos in-crowd demands dedication to join. Because there is no airport and it requires a nine-hour ferry ride from Athens, the general public stays away. Serious recluses take a fishing boat from Patmos to Marathi and pretend to be a castaway in Pantelis, an exquisite taverna with inexpensive lodging options. Read the rest of our Patmos, Greece, travel guide.
Astypalea, a throwback to a kinder, slower, and more natural style of life, is surprisingly simple to reach (daily flights take one hour from Athens). From the Venetian castle to the seashore Skala, Hora can be seen in a variety of ways through the gaps in the golden hills. Saffron cookie aroma permeates the whitewashed alleyways. Castro bar has a magnificent terrace that appears to float above the archipelago and is tucked beneath the battlements.
The closest beach is in Livadi, which is also a kind of resort surrounded by citrus groves. The remainder of the island is wild and desolate. To shingle bays like Vatses, which has a rocking beach bar, and Kaminakia, in which Linda's farm-to-table taverna dishes the best roast goat in the Dodecanese, treacherous tracks hurtle down. Take a speedboat from the historic fishing village of Maltezana to the little islands of Koutsomiti and Kounoupes, which are joined by a beach on both sides, if you really want to be by yourself. Galini (Peace) is the name of the only taverna near Vathy, a lagoon where erotic graffiti was carved onto the rocks 2,500 years ago. Which is an excellent summary of Astypalea.
Where to stay:
For the View: Anatoli Luxury Studios & Suites
After World War II, Rhodes was left in ruins by centuries of crusaders and conquerors when author Lawrence Durrell arrived there. It was "a Rhodes dispersed into a million fragments, waiting to be built up again," much like the fallen Colossus. Since that time, Rhodes has transformed into one of the most popular travel destinations in Greece. Byzantine churches, Roman remains, synagogues, and minarets may all be seen while strolling along the battlements of Rhodes Old Town's ancient citadel, which is the main attraction. Find Marco Polo Mansion among the maze of lanes. It is a guest home from the 15th century that has been refurbished to resemble a pasha's harem and has a charming restaurant in the garden.
With its majestic acropolis encircled by slate cliffs and green coves, Lindos is ringed by upscale hotels. Visit Mavrikos for the vistas and the outstanding octopus ragout.
As you travel south, stretches of golden beach like those at Glystra, Tsambika, and Fourni replace high-rise resorts. Mountainous castles (Monolithos), faded frescoes (Saint Nikolaos Fountoukli), alpine forests (Mount Attavyros), and ancient remains (Kamiros) can all be found inland. Prasonisi, a powdery peninsula where the Aegean and the Mediterranean collide, is stranded on the southernmost point. This island's two parts are likened to two opposite seas: one tranquil and the other turbulent.
Where to stay:
For the Family: Esperides Beach Resort
For Adults: Port Royal Villas and Spa - Adults Only
Boutique Hotel: Sperveri Boutique Hotel
Aegina is actually an island for all seasons, which is unusual for Greece. The unassuming harbor, which was once the first capital of modern Greece, is only a short boat trip from Piraeus and has a homey feel. Weekend visitors from Athens travel to the seashore for the outstanding ouzeris; the best is at Skotadis on the harborfront. Classicists travel there to discover Kolona's portside antiquities, the mountain temple of Aphaia (reputedly the model for the Parthenon), and Paleochora's eerie Byzantine chapels. Smart foreigners have purchased homes in Pachia Rachi, a stone town with breathtaking views of the Peloponnese across the straits. Since many years ago, the Dumas family ( Hermès fortune), have secretly spent their summers here.
Aegina has long served as a creative inspiration for Greek writers and painters, including the renowned painter Nikos Nikolaou, whose former residence and atelier is now a charming hotel and museum (open on Saturdays by appointment). Thanks to a tight-knit community of locals, Athenian escapees, and cosmopolitan emigrés, there is always a thing interesting afoot.
Where to stay:
Best Apartments: Pefkides Aegina Boutique Apartments
For the View: Panorama Hotel
Authentic Experience: Perdika Mare Guesthouse
This little island's low-slung hills and shallow bays conceal a surprisingly hip scene. The majority of the action revolves on the small port, where life flows via the waterfront cafés and the busy strip that leads to the square. More upscale restaurants (Yam, Lollo's) and boutiques (More than This, Zali) open seasonally, among legendary dive bars like Doors and Lucky Luke.
Daytime activities include brunch at Margarita's in town or Time Marine on Psaralyki, one of a stretch of shallow, narrow beaches along the southern shore. There are dozens of outstanding villas created by in-demand architects outside the basic, boxy dwellings of the waterfront town. The most luxurious houses are concentrated around Soros and Agios Georgios bays, which also house two of the island's top tavernas, Peramataki and Captain Pipinos.
As the sun sets behind Santorini's caldera, the drowned volcano crater, chattering American and Chinese newlywed line up to take selfies. Although the view is a romantic cliché, it nonetheless takes your breath away. Santorini's heart was blown out 3,500 years ago, leaving behind black-sand beaches, vertiginous cliffs in kaleidoscope hues, and swirling rumors about Atlantis. The eruption also buried the ancient city of Akrotiri beneath layers of ash, providing excellent ground for superb Assyrtiko grapes and Vinsanto wines.
Aside from a boat ride to the smoldering crater of Nea Kameni and the hot springs of Palia Kameni, there isn't much to do save gaze out the window of your accommodation, which dangles on the brink of the caldera. The majority of accommodations are centered around Oia and Imerovigli, while the interior settlement of Pyrgos is growing in popularity. Visit Franco's Cafe for a twilight Bellini and Emporio, which has a sprinkling of old-school coffee shops and Airbnbs. Explore the peaceful south of Santorini before the invasion of cruise ships and Instagrammers.
Where to stay:
For Families: Santorini Kastelli Resort
For the View: Santorini Sky, Luxury Resort
For the Lifestyle: Onar Villas - Onar Hotels Collection
For the Experience: Cocoon Suites
Corfu is the Ionian islands' It Girl. The fascinating blend of Venetian, British, and French colonial influences characterizes the cosmopolitan metropolis. Evenings begin with cocktails on the Liston (a colonnade modeled after Paris's Rue de Rivoli), followed by dinner at Salto, a casual wine bar and café on the outskirts of Old Town.
The rest of the island, with its pastel villages, rolling olive orchards, and great manor houses, is reminiscent of Tuscany, but with some of Europe's best beaches. The fashionable set vacations on Corfu's north-east coast (dubbed Kensington-on-Sea by the Rothschilds). At Agni, a little fishing village with three competing tavernas (Toula's is the best), it's wall-to-wall Sloanes and speedboats. You can rent a boat from here and putter to your preferred cove, such as Nissaki, Agios Stefanos, or Kerasia. These picturesque bays still reflect the 'delectable scenery' that Lawrence Durrell fell for in the 1930s, which has recently come back into fashion owing to the ITV series The Durrells.
Where to stay:
For the Location: Telesilla Hotel
For the View & Service: Angsana Corfu Resort & Spa
Our Top Pick: Arcadion Hotel
It's difficult to imagine Penélope Cruz playing a Greek peasant. Shooting a WWII film on an island that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1953 sounds even weirder. Nonetheless, Captain Corelli's Mandolin thrust Kefalonia (Cephalonia) into the forefront in 2001. The stunning scenery still lives up to the hype: the island's pin-up, milky-white Myrtos beach; pine-fringed Horgota beach; and the dizzying heights of Mount Ainos, a national park where wild horses graze. If you can't handle the hairpin curves, Outdoor Kefalonia organizes four-wheel-drive excursions. Surprisingly, the two most beautiful seaside villages, Assos and Fiskardo, were not included. However, the sailing elite have discovered their picturesque allure.
Everyone from John Galliano to Jon Bon Jovi has been in Fiskardo to sample the seafood pasta at Tassia Restaurant, washed down with local Robola and Muscat wines. Go snorkeling in small Dafnoudi or Emblisi, bordered by slabs of limestone that turn the sea electric blue, on the rugged coastline around Fiskardo.
Where to stay:
Best Boutique Place: Alley Boutique Hotel and Spa
For the Central Location: Mouikis Hotel Kefalonia
When Dakis Joannou, Greece's top art collector, visits Hydra, you know it. Jeff Koons painted his boat, Guilty, in gaudy "camouflage." Every summer, Joannou invites major names like Matthew Barney and David Shrigley to create site-specific installations in the former slaughterhouse on the Greek island. During the summer vacation, even the school gets hijacked for exhibitions. Hydra, the Greek Islands' artists' muse, has long been car-free and protected by a preservation order. Leonard Cohen established the scene in the 1960s, and now Brice Marden, Sadie Coles, and Juergen Teller live here.
The School of Fine Arts, one of the huge, grey stone buildings facing the horseshoe bay, houses Athenian painters. Musicians of different genres rehearse and record at the Old Carpet Factory, an 18th-century mansion with excellent acoustics thanks to its double-height ceilings and subterranean cistern.
Hydra, which is less than two hours from Athens, fills up with fashionable Greeks on weekends. They come to unplug and slow down, but they also come to see and be seen. The back alleys are patrolled by wily cats and tired donkeys, but all the activity takes place around the waterfront. Oh, no! Olivia Palermo can be seen at The Pirate Bar, and Chloe Sevigny can be found swinging her tail feather at Hydronetta Beach Bar. What does it matter if there aren't many beaches? You can always locate a slab of sun-baked granite from which to leap into the purest water on the planet.
Where to stay:
Best Guesthouse: Douskos Guesthouse
For the Location: Douskos Port House
Serifos, the Cycladic sleeper hit, is a summer resort for interior designers and architects who want to keep the sandy beaches to themselves. Even in August, there are coves where you may skinny dive in peace and quiet. This is due to the fact that the nicest beaches (such as Kalo Ambeli and Skala) can only be reached through bone-rattling dirt roads or donkey treks. Even better, hire a motor boat from Livada's laid-back harbor. For freshly caught fish and garden-grown salads, moor outside Anna's taverna on Sikamia beach.
There is little nightlife, trendy stores, or luxurious hotels in the cascading hilltop Hora. But who cares when you can sip raki and eat fennel pie at Stou Stratou, buy Natassa Kalogeropoulou's minimalist pottery at Kerameio, and listen to Greek folk at the open-air amphitheatre? And all within three hours of Athens.
Zakynthos / Zante
Zakynthos, or Zante, has rebranded itself as one of Greece's greenest islands, shedding its reputation as a destination for boys on tour (as long as you avoid Lagana and the built-up south shore). Not only are the emerald hills blending into the electric blue Ionian, but much of the south coast is a wildlife reserve where endangered loggerhead turtles lay their eggs in the sand. There are no turtle beaches, but there are innumerable coves in every shade of green and blue. Favorites include the tiny Xigia, which has bubbling underwater springs, and the rugged Porto Limnionas, which has sunbeds wedged between the rocks and palm-frond umbrellas wedged between the pine trees.
Skinari is the launching point for boat journeys to the Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach, where a rusty liner leans into the chalky rocks. You can sail from Keri to Marathonisi Island, another turtle preserve.
The mountainous interior, with its peaceful stone settlements protruding from pine forests, is ideal for walks and biking. Askos Stone Park is an ecological sanctuary home to deer, chinchillas, and a variety of other animals. After seeing the Venetian fortress high above the harbor, take the youngsters to Alesta on St Mark's Square for thin-crust pizzas (with adults toppings like bresaola, aubergine, and gorgonzola).
Where to stay:
For the Posh Moment: Exensian Villas & Suites
For the Authentic Feeling: Zante Nest Studios & Apartments
For the Location: Palatino Hotel
Paxos, one of the smallest Ionian islands, packs a powerful impact. Not for its five-star hotels (there aren't many) or sandy beaches (there aren't many), but for its electric blue sea and three quaint harbor towns, each one so lovely it's tough to choose a favorite. Star-studded evenings are spent on the waterfront patio of Taxidi tavern in Loggos, on the northeast coast, where the owner, Spiros, frequently jams with local musicians. You could spend days watching lissom sailors climb on and off their yachts at Lakka's seaside cafés.
The principal port of Gaios is characterized by Venetian architecture and a high proportion of fashionable Italians, who own pale stone houses concealed in the wooded interior or on the summit of the limestone walls along the western shoreline. All roads lead to Ben's Bar for many British Paxos fans, a happy-go-lucky hotspot on Monodendri beach where you can lay under the olive trees with French breakfast and Pia Coladas. Rent a motor boat to cruise along the coast to pebble coves like Marmari and Kipiadi, or across to Antipaxos, a smaller island popular with yachters. Paths go past vineyards and orchards, leading to coves with sea so clear it appears photoshopped.
Where to stay:
Live like a local: Margina Residence Hotel
Despite its mythical status, the home of Homer's hero, Odysseus, remains remarkably unknown. The turquoise and green coves of Ithaca are popular with sailors, but few travel into the forested highlands. So you might be the only individual exploring the eighth-century BC ruins of Odysseus' palace, or making the arduous trek to the church of Anogi, which is covered in Byzantine frescoes (ask for the key at the town's coffee shop, where its proprietor will cook you a set menu of whatever is available - perhaps a tomato salad, some local cheese, and braised goat - straight from her garden or neighbours' fields).
It's a fantastic two-hire climb down to Kioni, a little harbor with Spavento, the ideal pier-side café-bar. Go whenever you want for ice cream sundaes, great beverages, and a music that will make your heart sing. The waterside tavernas at Frikes' sleepy fishing port, especially Ageri, are consistently excellent. The deep, sheltering port town of Vathy is hardly livelier, yet the mood at Mylos bar can be pleasantly naughty. The majority of the beaches are modest and pebbly, yet the sea is just as clear and refreshing as champagne. Rugged tiny Ithaca is somewhere you can still vanish because it is authentic, untouched, and infuriatingly (or gratifyingly) difficult to reach.
Where to stay:
Authentic Life: Iris Apartments Ithaca
Tinos boasts over 50 villages, each striving to be the most beautiful. Every doorway of Pyrgos, known for its marble craftsmen, is adorned with sculpted birds and flowers. Basket weavers kneel outside dwellings in Volax, surrounded by massive stones hurled from the skies by Zeus in a fit of rage. There's also a town called Agapi, which means 'love,' where you can have wild-fennel fritters in the only taverna. Tinos celebrates its cuisine culture with artichoke, caper, and honey festivals.
Marathia pioneered the island's farm-to-table movement, upgrading indigenous foods into creative modern meals. For a wonderful supper in a perfect setting, try Thalassaki's cuttlefish risotto and octopus caramelized in grape must, served at the jetty in Isternia bay, then see sunset fade into the horizon from Exomeria bar.
Tinos is barely 20 minutes away from Mykonos, so it's surprising it's not inundated with tourists. On 15 August, however, the dock is overrun with Orthodox pilgrims who come to kiss the Virgin Mary at the Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria, one of Greece's holiest locations. Otherwise, the island has remained remarkably unspoiled. Solitary chapels and fanciful dovecotes dot the thyme-scented hillsides that drop to sandy bays blown by the meltemi wind. On Kolibithra Bay, a VW camper van has been turned into a cute beach bar, there is a burgeoning surfer scene.
Where to stay:
Top Pick: Ursa Major Suites
Little Symi has the most beautiful port in Greece. As you circle the headland, neoclassical homes in apricot and peach hues rise like a mirage from the water. The entire village, built by 19th-century sponge and spice traders, is now a national monument. You'll need powerful legs to explore (the crumbling acropolis is around 500 stairs up), but you won't require a car. The only proper road ends at Panormitis monastery, a popular pilgrimage destination. Agios Giorgos Dysalona (backed by massive cliffs) and Marathounda (where goats will try to steal your picnic) are only reachable by boat or on foot. More than 100 monasteries are buried among the oak and cypress forests in the mountainous hinterland.
Symi is a favorite among French and Italian yachties due to its laid-back charm, sparkling water, and practically tropical environment. They'll be having flash-fried baby shrimp, a local specialty, at Tholos, a magnificent taverna with spectacular harbor views.
Where to stay:
For the Location: Marika's Deluxe Rooms
For the View: Elena
Amorgos is not easily accessible. The rapid ferries are stuck in heavy winds, and the slow boat takes up to eight hours to reach Athens. A sign welcomes you to Amorgos as you disembark at Katapola, a tranquil harbour dotted with lovely tiny fish tavernas (our favorites are Prekas and Mouragio). Nobody will be able to find you here. That is precisely the point. This rocky Cycladic island has always drawn loners, hikers, divers, and pilgrims who make their way up the cliff face to the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, a sliver of white dangling 300 meters above the sea. The water is a million different shades of blue and so pure that you can see every sea urchin lurking along the rocky shore. Because the sea & sky are viewable in all directions, even the sage-scented hiking pathways are dubbed Blue Paths.
With a population of less than 2,000 people, the locals are surpassed by shaggy goats that mix in with the golden terrain and hippie mood. But you don't have to be a loner to be smitten by Amorgos. Summer after summer, Amorgos groupies congregate at Jazzmin in Hora for chess and cocktails; Pergalidi in Langada for infusions of herbs and jazzy songs; and Seladi in Tholaria, which has dizzying vistas and a telescope for astronomy.
Where to stay:
For the View: Lakki Village
Skiathos is the smallest of the Sporades islands, which include peaceful Alonissos and the gorgeous Mamma Mia! locale of Skopelos, but it's by far the most popular, particularly with families who visit for the sandy beaches as well as laid-back feel. The island offers some of the best beaches in Greece, with the tree-lined, turquoise-watered Koukounaries in the south being the most famous and crowded (try obtaining a sun lounger here during peak season).
The beaches in the north of the island, which can only be reached via a steep, winding drive through pine groves, are more rugged and windswept, but no less idyllic. As evening sets, the town begins to come alive, with the majority of the action centered on Papadiamantis Street, the main shopping street. Stroll down it on your way to supper and peruse chic boutiques selling handcrafted jewelry and trinkets, or pick up local specialities from the posh Ergon deli (reopens in May), which also has locations in Athens, Thessaloniki, and Mayfair.
Bourtzi, nestled on a tiny rocky island, is the greatest spot for sundowner cocktails, while The Windmill is a favorite for sophisticated suppers. Head to Sklithri and reserve a table directly on the beach for the most lovely location. Order an ice-cold Mythos beer, baked feta, and a dish of flawlessly chargrilled and out-of-this-world wonderful vegetables, then sit on the beach and watch the sun set over the Aegean.
Where to stay:
For the Experience: Hotel Mato
Great Service: Design Architectonika
Andros - Best Greek Islands to visit for your holiday
Andros is divided between four mountain ranges, making it feel like multiple islands in one. A well-maintained network of hiking paths connects lush valleys, flowing streams, charming villages, and wild, windswept beaches, making this a fantastic off-season getaway. Andros is home to several of Greece's powerful shipping dynasties, who have left the island with huge estates, magnificent museums, and a beautiful neoclassical city.
Chora's marble-paved streets are full of unexpected gems: a tiny open-air cinema showing black-and-white classics, superb pizzas and cocktails in a converted abattoir, gorgeous sundresses and sandals at a Waikiki boutique. Inland, there are walled monasteries, icy waterfalls, and amazing farm-to-table tavernas to visit, such as Kosses in Ano Fellos, Fofo's in Livadia, and Tou Josef in Pitrofos.
Then there are the incredible beaches: from the wonderful sandy bays of Zorkos, Vitali, as well as Vori on the north coast to the mild beach bars of Apothikes and Chryssi Ammos, and the views of the sunset and old-school fish taverna of Agia Marina, there are possibilities for whatever direction the wind or how you're feeling is blowing. You might spend weeks on Andros and yet discover new things.
This are our 26 best Greek Islands to visit for your holiday. Hope you enjoyed it so far! More Hotels can be found on our website.
Where to stay:
For The Experience: Vassiliki Studios
Live like a Local: Karanasos