In this Post we discuss the Top Islands to visit in Greece that include Santorini, Rhodes, Corfu, Mykonos.
Santorini is a stunning island located in the Cyclades Archipelago in the Aegean Sea. Its rugged landscape was shaped by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC. It is situated about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of the Greek mainland and is well-known for its beautiful sunsets, whitewashed buildings, blue-domed churches, and breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Santorini is from April to October, when the weather is warm and dry. While the Winters are not bad either, just that it will be much cheaper but would not have everything open. The Winters are ideal for budget tourists or backpackers.
How to Get There: You can reach Santorini by air or sea. Santorini National Airport is located on the east side of the island, and there are also ferry services from Athens, Mykonos, and other nearby islands. Learn more in Santorini Transportation Guide.
Things to Do: Santorini offers a variety of activities for visitors, such as exploring the ancient Akrotiri archaeological site, strolling through the picturesque villages of Oia and Fira, and soaking up the sun on the unique black sand beaches of Perissa and Kamari. In addition, you can book a boat tour to the volcano and hot springs or enjoy a wine tasting experience at one of the island’s numerous wineries, such as Santo Wines or Gaia Wines.
Be sure to catch a sunset in Oia, which boasts breathtaking views of the caldera, and visit the ancient ruins of Akrotiri to glimpse the island’s Minoan civilization. Don’t miss the Red Beach, which features red-hued volcanic sand and is a popular destination for its unique coloration.
Rhodes is among the most beautiful islands in the eastern Aegean Sea and is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in Greece. It is known for its rich history, stunning beaches, and picturesque Old Town. It lies to the northeast of Crete and southeast of Athens and has a population of little over 120000 people as of 2022. The island gained fame for the Colossus of Rhodes, which was once among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. Today, it is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Europe.
Best Time to Visit: If you prefer hot and sunny weather, the ideal time to travel to Rhodes is from June to September. July is the hottest month with an average daily maximum temperature of 30°C and an average low of 24°C. While the Winters are not bad either, January is the coldest month, with an average daily maximum temperature around 15°C. The Winters are ideal for budget tourists or backpackers when the Hotels and Hostels have cheaper rates for the accommodation
How to Get There: You can reach Rhodes by air or sea. Diagoras International Airport is located on the island, and there are also ferry services from Athens, Crete, and other nearby islands. Learn more in Rhodes Transportation Guide.
Things to Do: When visiting Rhodes, there are many top attractions to see, including the famous Old Town, the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights, the ancient ruins of Lindos, the Acropolis of Rhodes, and the beaches of Faliraki and Tsambika. Visitors must explore the medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to discover the medieval architecture and ancient narrow lanes, enjoy the beautiful acropolis and relax on the beaches of Faliraki, Tsambika, and Agios Pavlos.
If you have more time, you can also visit the Ancient Ruins of Lindos (another medieval town reachable by local bus), and visit the Valley of the Butterflies, a nature reserve where thousands of butterflies gather in the summer. Another recommended activity is taking a boat trip to the nearby island of Symi, famous for its colourful houses and stunning views.
Corfu is a beautiful island located in the Ionian Sea, known for its stunning beaches, lush green landscape, charming Old Town, rich history, and Venetian architecture.
Best time to visit: The ideal time to plan a visit to Corfu is between May and September, as the weather is pleasant and sunny. However, if you wish to avoid the tourist crowds, you can consider traveling during the shoulder season, that is, from March to early May or from September to November. It’s important to note that Corfu is known for its vibrant Easter celebrations in April, which can result in significant crowds. However, if you’re interested in experiencing local festivities and traditions, visiting during Easter week is an excellent opportunity to do so, despite the crowds. Due to its elaborate Easter celebrations, Corfu attracts many Greeks from other parts of Greece in April. The festivities culminate in street band parades, musical performances and a spectacular fireworks show in the midnight.
How to get there & getting around: You can reach Corfu by ferry or plane. The island has its own airport, and there are also ferries that connect Corfu with other Greek islands and Athens. The best way to get around Corfu is by car or scooter, as public transportation is limited. You can also take taxis or join guided tours.
What to see and do: Visit the Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history and beautiful architecture. Explore the beautiful beach towns of the island Paleokastritsa and Agios Gordios and Glyfada. Visit the Achilleion Palace, a beautiful palace built for the Empress of Austria. The palace is surrounded by lush gardens and offers stunning views of the sea. For the Museum lovers – you can Visit the Corfu Museum of Asian Art, which houses a rich historical collection of Asian art, including Japanese prints, Chinese ceramics, and Indian sculptures. For the Sailers and Sea lovers – You can take a boat tour to the nearby islands of Paxos and Antipaxos, perfect for a day trip, or explore the explore the beautiful coastline of Corfu.
Mykonos is a stunning island located in the Cyclades, surrounded by Tinos, Syros, Paros, and Naxos. It is famous for its breathtaking beaches, charming windmills, lively nightlife, and diverse geography. The island spans an area of 85.5 square kilometers (33.0 sq mi), and its highest point rises to an elevation of 341 meters (1,119 feet). The local population of Mykonos is just under 13,000, with many preferring to reside on the island’s west coast in the primary town of Chora.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Mykonos is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny, and the island is buzzing with activity. If you’re looking for a quieter vacation, consider visiting in March-April or October-January. Mykonos can be quite expensive, especially during peak season. Plan your budget accordingly and book your accommodations and activities in advance. If you are a budget traveler, then visit during the off season is recommended.
How to get there: You can reach Mykonos by ferry or plane. The island has its own airport, and there are also ferries that connect Mykonos with other Greek islands and Athens.
Transportation: Mykonos is a small island, and it’s easy to get around by foot or by local buses. If you want more flexibility, consider renting a car or a scooter.
What to see and do: Visit the picturesque windmills in Chora, the main town of Mykonos, and take a walk through the narrow streets lined with whitewashed buildings. Visit the iconic Little Venice, a waterfront district with colourful buildings that hang over the sea. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a drink or watch the sunset.
Relax on the beautiful beaches of the island, including Paradise Beach, Super Paradise Beach, and Psarou Beach. Visit the island of Delos, which is an important archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Delos is located just a short boat ride from Mykonos and is known for its ancient temples, mosaics, and statues. Don’t forget to explore the island’s vibrant nightlife, with many bars and nightclubs open until the early hours of the morning.
Naxos is the biggest island in the Cyclades archipelago, located in the Aegean Sea with population of around 20K residents. The island boasts of fertile landscapes, stunning beaches, charming villages, historic sites, and delicious cuisine. Naxos City, also known as Chora, is the primary town and capital of Naxos. It is a port town that is characterised by its houses that are white-washed and cube-shaped and also Medieval Mansions that have the Strong Influence of Venetian architecture.
Located in Chora or Naxos City, the hilltop castle of Kastro is a prominent cultural and historical landmark on the island of Naxos. Built in the 13th century, it currently houses an archaeological museum that displays numerous artifacts and exhibits from both the ancient and medieval eras, making it an essential site for tourists to visit.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Naxos is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny, and the island is bustling with tourists. If you prefer a quieter vacation, consider visiting in April or October.
How to get there: You can reach Naxos by ferry or plane. The island has its own airport, and there are also ferries that connect Naxos with other Greek islands and Athens. Naxos is a relatively large island, and it’s best to rent a car or a scooter to explore the island. You can also take local buses or taxis. For Local Bus Guide and Schedules, Visit NaxosBuses.
What to see and do: Start your trip by exploring the charming village of Chora, where you can visit the Venetian castle and the ancient Apollo Temple. Take a stroll through the picturesque villages of Apiranthos, Filoti, and Apeiranthos, known for their beautiful architecture and local handicrafts. Relax on the island’s beautiful beaches, including Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, and Plaka Beach. For a more active experience, consider hiking to the top of Mount Zas, the highest peak in the Cyclades archipelago.
- Naxos City: The capital of Naxos, Chora or Naxos City, is a beautiful port town with a castle on top of the hill, narrow alleys, and many shops and restaurants.
- Naxos Kastro: It is also known as the Venetian Castle of Naxos, is a historic castle located on the island of Naxos in Greece. It was built by the Venetians in the 13th century, and it served as the island’s administrative center for several centuries.
- Portara: The Portara of Naxos is a stunning ancient monument located on the Greek island of Naxos. It is a massive marble doorway that was once the entrance to a temple dedicated to the god Apollo. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks on the island and is visible from many points in the Chora, the island’s main town.
- Beaches are the top attraction of Naxos. Some of the best beaches on the island include Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Plaka, and Mikri Vigla. Most of these beaches are located on the western coast of the island and are easily accessible. Agios Prokopios Beach is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing, with crystal clear waters and white sand.
- To explore the island’s history and culture, you can visit some of the ancient sites such as the Temple of Apollo, the Demeter Sanctuary, and the Portara, which is the iconic marble gate that remains from an ancient temple.
Naxos is also famous for its gastronomic culture. The island produces some of the best cheeses, meats, and wines in the Cyclades. You can try local specialties such as Naxos potatoes, Kitron (a local liqueur), and seafood at various restaurants and taverns across the island.
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea. It is a popular destination for tourists due to its stunning beaches, rich history, and beautiful landscapes.
Crete is divided into four regions: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi. Each region has its own unique attractions and things to do, making it a popular destination for tourists.
- Chania, located on the western side of the island, is known for its picturesque Venetian Harbor, narrow streets, and old architecture. Visitors can explore the ancient city walls and the many museums, churches, and mosques in the area. The region is also home to stunning beaches such as Balos Beach and Falassarna Beach. Nature lovers can hike through the Samaria Gorge, one of the longest and most popular gorges in Europe.
- Rethymno, situated in the central part of the island, boasts a beautiful old town with a Venetian fortress and a Turkish mosque. The town is also home to the Arkadi Monastery, a historic site from the Ottoman era. Visitors can relax on numerous beaches, including the popular Balos Beach, or explore the scenic countryside dotted with charming villages.
- Heraklion, the largest city on the island, is located on the north coast and is home to the Palace of Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete. Visitors can delve into the rich history and culture of the region at museums such as the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Historical Museum of Crete. The city center is bustling with shops, restaurants, and cafes, offering visitors plenty of opportunities to experience the local cuisine and culture.
- Lassithi, located on the easternmost side of the island, is known for its traditional villages, stunning beaches, and scenic windmills. The famous Vai Beach is surrounded by a palm forest, offering a unique beach experience. Visitors can also explore the island’s history at the Toplou Monastery or take a trip to the uninhabited island of Chrissi for a secluded beach getaway.
When to Visit: The best time to visit Crete is during the months of May to October when the weather is warm and sunny. July and August are the busiest months, so if you prefer a quieter atmosphere, it is better to visit during the shoulder season. To make your trip to Crete cost-effective, it is recommended to visit during the shoulder season which typically falls between April into early June and late September into early November. During this time, the costs are generally lower compared to the peak season. May, in particular, is the ideal month to visit Crete as it offers pleasant weather for both beach activities and sightseeing. Moreover, it is also an excellent month for budget & cost effective island-hopping and exploring different parts of Crete without the large crowds that come during peak season.
Getting There by Flight and Ferry: Crete has two main international airports, Chania Airport and Heraklion Airport, both of which receive flights from various European cities and there is also a third, smaller airport in Lassithi just for domestic flights. The flight time to Athens is approximately 55mins.
Traveling to Crete by ferry is also an alternative, easy and convenient option, with several ports located along the northern coast of the island offering connections to Piraeus and other Greek islands. Daily ferry services run from Piraeus, the port of Athens, to Chania, Heraklion, and Sitia. Additionally, there are ferry connections available to several Cyclades and Dodecanese islands. You can book your ferry tickets at Greeka or FerryHopper.
Best Things to Do in Crete:
- Visit the Venetian Harbour in Chania: The Venetian Harbour is a picturesque harbor located in the city of Chania. It is home to many cafes, bars, and restaurants, and is a popular spot for watching the sunset.
- Visit the Palace of Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island, and learn about the Minoan civilization. The Palace of Knossos is an ancient Minoan palace located near the city of Heraklion. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete and a must-visit for history buffs.
- Relax and Enjoy the Beautiful Beaches : Crete is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Chania is undoubtedly the region of Crete that boasts the finest beaches. Some of the most popular beaches on the Island include Elafonisi, Balos, Vai and Fallasarna. Each one has its own character and natural beauty.
- Explore the Stunning Samaria Gorge: The Samaria Gorge is around 18 Km long canyon located in the White Mountains of Crete. It is a popular hiking destination and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. One of the most recommended experiences for tourists in Crete is to hike down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea. After completing the hike, visitors can take a sailboat to the charming village of Sougia or Hora Sfakion, where they can spend a night or catch a coach back to Chania. The Trek usually takes 5-7 Hours and can be a challenge on a hot sunny day.
- Explore the Easy to Hike Imbros Gorge: The gorge is 11 kilometers long and can be hiked in about around 3.5 hours. It is a great option for those who want a shorter hike making it a more flexible option for visitors as it issuitable for hikers of all levels, and features steep cliffs, rock formations, and a river. Along the way, hikers can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and landscapes.
- Visit Spinalonga : Spinalonga is a small island located near the coast of Crete. What makes Spinalonga special is its rich history and cultural heritage. The island was used as a Venetian fortress in the 16th century, then later as a leper colony in the early 20th century. Today, it is a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a glimpse into the island’s intriguing past through its well-preserved buildings and structures
- Discover the Charm of the Villages : Crete is known for its charming traditional villages, such as the village of Archanes and the mountain village of Anogeia. Archanes is a traditional Cretan village that has preserved its authentic character with its narrow streets, old houses, and charming squares. It is famous for its wineries and archaeological sites, such as the Minoan palace ruins of Anemospilia.
- On the other hand, Anogeia is a mountainous village known for its music tradition and traditional weaving craft. It is also the birthplace of famous musicians and has a tragic history of resistance against German occupation during World War II. Both villages offer a glimpse into the unique culture and history of Crete.
- Explore the Old Town of Rethymnon: Rethymnon is a beautiful coastal town located on the north coast of Crete. This charming town is home to a beautiful old town filled with winding streets, Venetian buildings, and lovely cafes and restaurants. It features a charming old Venetian harbor and fortress. Visitors can explore the town’s history at the Archaeological Museum and the Historical and Folklore Museum, or relax on the town’s stunning beaches. The town is also an excellent base for exploring nearby attractions, such as the Monastery of Arkadi and the Melidoni Cave. With its lively atmosphere, rich history, and stunning natural scenery, Rethymnon is a must-visit destination for travelers to Crete.
- The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion: The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is one of the most important museums in Greece. It houses a vast collection of Minoan artifacts, including pottery, sculptures, and frescoes.
- The Arkadi Monastery: This historic monastery played an important role in the island’s struggle for independence and is now a popular tourist attraction.
- Take a boat trip to Gramvousa Island and Balos Lagoon – These two stunning destinations can only be reached by boat and offer some of the most beautiful scenery in Crete.
- Enjoy the nightlife in the seaside towns of Malia, Hersonissos, and Agios Nikolaos, which are known for their bars, clubs, and restaurants.
- Try Cretan cuisine – Crete has a rich culinary tradition, with delicious dishes like Dakos, Kalitsounia, and fresh seafood.
Some popular areas to stay include Chania, Heraklion, Rethymno, and Agios Nikolaos.
Transportation: Apart from renting a Car option – There are also public buses that connect the major cities and towns on the island. Crete has a well-developed public transportation system, which includes buses operated by the KTEL company. Buses are a popular and affordable way to travel around the island, with regular services running throughout the day. The main bus stations on the island are located in Chania, Heraklion, and Rethymno, with smaller stations and stops in other towns and villages.
Aegina is a charming island located in the Saronic Gulf, just a short ferry ride away from Athens. This picturesque island boasts of breathtaking scenery, ancient ruins, stunning beaches, and a rich history that make it a perfect destination for travelers seeking to explore the Greek islands. Overall, Aegina is a perfect destination for those seeking a mix of history, culture, and relaxation. With its beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and delicious food, Aegina is a hidden gem in the Greek islands.
The easiest way to get to Aegina is by ferry from the port of Piraeus in Athens. Ferries run frequently throughout the day, with the journey taking about an hour. For a quicker trip, hydrofoils are also available and take just 40 minutes.
Aegina has a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. The main town of Aegina offers plenty of hotels, while the seaside village of Agia Marina is a popular spot with plenty of restaurants and bars. For a quieter, more secluded experience, consider the fishing village of Perdika.
Things to Do in Aegina:
- Visit the Temple of Aphaia: This ancient temple dates back to 500 BC and is considered one of the best-preserved ancient temples in Greece. It’s an excellent example of the Doric style of architecture and offers stunning views of the island.
- Explore the Archaeological Site of Kolona: This is an important site that dates back to the 4th millennium BC. Here, you can see the remains of a Mycenaean palace and a 6th-century BC temple.
- Take a Walk around Aegina Town: Aegina Town is a charming place with traditional white-washed houses, narrow streets, and lively squares. You can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Aegina, which showcases a collection of ancient artifacts.
- Relax on the Beach: Aegina has many beautiful beaches to choose from, including the popular Agia Marina Beach, which offers golden sand and crystal-clear waters. Other popular options include the secluded Perdika Beach, the picturesque Vagia Beach, and the family-friendly Marathonas Beach.
- Explore the Agios Nektarios Monastery: This is one of the largest monasteries in Greece and is located on the slopes of Mount Oros. It’s a beautiful place to visit and offers stunning views of the island.
- Try the Local Cuisine: Aegina is known for its fresh seafood, and many of the island’s restaurants serve dishes featuring locally caught fish and seafood. The island is also famous for its pistachios, which are used in many traditional Greek dishes and desserts. Be sure to try the local pistachio ice cream and traditional Aegina spoon sweets.
- Visit the Fish Market: Aegina has a bustling fish market, where you can buy fresh seafood and watch the fishermen unload their catch of the day.
- Go Hiking: Aegina offers many opportunities for hiking and exploring, with scenic trails that take you through olive groves, pine forests, and scenic hills.
- Take a Boat Tour: You can take a boat tour of the island, which offers stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding islands.
Famous Attractions (not to be missed) and Beaches
As detailed above, One of the biggest draws of Aegina is its rich history, and there are many ancient ruins to explore on the island. The Temple of Aphaia, dating back to 500 BC, is one of the best-preserved ancient temples in Greece and offers stunning views of the island. Other archaeological sites include the Temple of Apollo and the Kolona archaeological site. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the Agios Nektarios Monastery.
Aegina boasts a range of beautiful beaches, each with its own unique charm. Agia Marina Beach is a popular option, offering golden sand and crystal-clear waters. For a more secluded experience, Perdika Beach is a hidden gem. Vagia Beach is a picturesque option with clear waters and a tranquil atmosphere, while Marathonas Beach is perfect for families.
Food and Drink
Aegina is renowned for its fresh seafood, and there are plenty of restaurants serving dishes featuring locally caught fish and seafood. The island is also famous for its pistachios, which are used in many traditional Greek dishes and desserts. Be sure to try the local pistachio ice cream and traditional Aegina spoon sweets.
Hydra is a beautiful Greek island located in the Saronic Gulf, just a short ferry ride away from Athens. The island is known for its charming town, beautiful beaches, and tranquil atmosphere. Hydra’s town is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, lined with beautiful houses and quaint shops. One of the best ways to explore the town is on foot, wandering through the streets and taking in the charming architecture.
You can also hike the island’s trails to enjoy breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding islands. Also it is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece that include Vlychos Beach, Mandraki Beach, and Kaminia Beach. All of these beaches offer crystal-clear waters and are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
Getting There: To reach Hydra, you will need to take a ferry from Athens’ port of Piraeus. The ferry journey takes about 2 hours, and there are several departures daily. You can also reach Hydra from other nearby islands like Poros, Spetses, and Aegina.
Accommodation: Hydra has a range of accommodation options, from luxurious hotels to traditional guesthouses. The island’s town is car-free, so most accommodations are located within walking distance of the ferry port.
Here are the Best Things to do in Hydra:
- Explore Hydra’s Town: Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque town of Hydra, where you’ll find narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and charming shops and cafes.
- Visit the Hydra Museum Historical Archives: This museum showcases the rich history of the island, including its naval history and cultural heritage.
- Take a Boat Tour: Discover the beauty of Hydra’s coastline by taking a boat tour around the island or to nearby islands, like Spetses and Poros.
- Hike to the Monastery of Profitis Ilias: This hike takes you to the highest point on the island, where you’ll find the beautiful Monastery of Profitis Ilias and breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding islands.
- Relax at the Beaches: Hydra is known for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful beaches, like Vlychos Beach, Mandraki Beach, and Kaminia Beach. Spend a day swimming and sunbathing, and enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
- Explore the Hydra’s Mansions: Hydra is famous for its beautiful mansions, built by wealthy ship owners during the island’s prosperous years. Some of the most notable mansions include the Kountouriotis Mansion, the Tombazis Mansion, and the Voulgaris Mansion.
- Attend a Festival: Hydra hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the famous Miaoulia Festival in June. These festivals are a great way to experience the island’s culture and traditions.
- Take a Donkey Ride: Donkeys have been used as transportation on the island for centuries and are still a common sight in the town. Rent a donkey to explore the island, or take a ride up to the Monastery of Profitis Ilias.
- Watch the Sunset: End your day by watching the sunset over the sea from one of the island’s many vantage points. More details below in the separate section on Sunset.
- Enjoy the Local Cuisine: Sample some of the delicious local cuisine, like fresh seafood, traditional Greek dishes, and the island’s famous almond sweets.