Greek islands are some of the most beautiful travel destinations in Europe and depending on what your situation is, a trip to a greek island might be the perfect trip for your wedding, your honeymoon or your family holiday.
The best greek island really depends on your situation and what you are looking for from your vacation in Greece as every island is different.
The best greek islands to visit at least once, are:
But not all greek islands are the same and the best time to visit them actually might differ.
All of them are extremely idyllic locations and a top 10 wouldn’t make any sense as they are all equally beautiful (at least in my greek eyes!)
And I can tell you that because I am actually Greek and I have been to all of them!
(yes…you will find greek island travel guides on the internet from people who have been there once or twice and are not even greeks…).
So, I am explaining here what are the differences and what is the best greek island for you depending on your situation and who are you traveling with.
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Ok….so without further ado, these are the best greek islands :
Santorini is the most famous greek island and there are many good reasons for that.
Believe all the hype and all the instagram pictures you have seen.
This island is amazing and you have to visit it!
When it comes to honeymoons, Santorini is the place to have your ideal honeymoon as the island offers some of the most romantic hotels in Europe.
It is indeed the ideal location for couples but it has lots of things to do for families and solo travellers too.
There is a ton of things to do in Santorini and there is no shortage of activities and amazing restaurants you can visit and enjoy a romantic dinner.
Mykonos is the second most famous greek island with millions of tourists every year.
Mykonos is all about the amazing nightlife, incredible parties, celebrities boats and lovely sandy beaches.
Mykonos though has some of the most amazing beaches and beach bars in the world.
Some of the most famous chefs in the world have established restaurants in Mykonos and some of the most famous DJs play every year in the nightclubs of Mykonos.
But Mykonos is not only about partying.
The island offers amazing opportunities for a relaxing trip as it has some of the best hotels in Greece with incredible 5 star service and amenities.
Also, Mykonos town is one of the most picturesque and cute among the greek islands.
Just to warn you: Mykonos is super expensive so get prepared to pay New York, London and Tokyo prices at the restaurants.
Crete is the biggest greek island and definitely one of the most beautiful in the meditteranean sea.
Crete is a big island.
It’s almost the size of Hawaii ‘s big island, so you definitely need a car to move around
Crete is famous for its unique beaches , the amazing local food and produce, the hospitality of its local people and the thousands of years of history.
Honestly though, Crete beaches are out of this world…
Crete is full of impressive hotels and all-inclusive resorts that make it an ideal destination if you are in the hunt for an islands that has everything.
The biggest cities of Crete are Chania (West), Rethymnon (West), Heraklion (East), Aghios Nikolaos (East).
In fact, Heraklion city (the capital of Crete) is the 4th biggest city in Greece (population wise).
It is not advised to visit Crete for 2-3 days.
You need at least a week in Crete and even during that time you will only be able to see 20-30% of the island.
You definitely need your own means of transportation in Crete (preferably a car) unless you will only be staying in your all inclusive resort and you are not interested to see the rest of the island.
Cretan food is probably the best in Greece and you will be surprised by the large portions and the free stuff you will be offered in every restaurant (free fruits, deserts and local drinks at the end of the meal)
Corfu is one of the bigest islands in Greece and it has a completely different landscape compared to Santorini and Mykonos. The scenery is much greener but the sea water is still incredibly blue and crystal clear.
Corfu is an island at the sea between Italy and Greece (Ioanian sea) and the italian and venetian influence is spread all over the island.
The greek name of Corfu is: Kerkira
Corfu has been a famous tourist destination for the last 70 years and there are many good reasons for that.
The island is full of beautiful beaches and picturesque towns and villages.
You need at least a week in Corfu as it is a pretty big island.
It is nearly impossibel to combine a visit to Corfu along with another greek island like Santorini or Mykonos because these islands are on the other side of Greece and you need to travel through Athens. Doable but not smart…
Zakynthos (or Zante) island is another famous greek ionian island in the sea between Greece and Italy with landscapes similar to Corfu (lots of green pine trees forests) and of course the famous Navagio Beach that you may have seen all over Youtube and Instagram the last years.
Zante is a pretty big island (6 times the size of Santorini) which has become a famous tourist destination for people from all over the world
Zakynthos is also called “Zante” .
You should not combine a visit to Zakynthos with another greek island because it is not easily accessible.
Though the main town of Zakynthos is not as picturesque as Corfu, it is still a beautiful island town and the island has lots of picturesque villages by the sea.
Kefalonia or Cephalonia is one more greek island in the ioanian sea between Greece and Italy that you should really visit if you are looking for green scenery, beautiful fish villages and emerald mediterranean waters.
Kefalonia is the 6th largest island in Greece and it is 10 times larger than Santorini…so have that in mind when you are thinking of renting a car (yes, you definitely need to rent a car in Kefalonia).
Kefalonia cannot be combined with a visit to other greek islands such as Mykonos, Santorini or Crete because it is in the Ionian sea like Corfu or Zante. It is only advisable then to combine it with a visit to Corfu or Zante otherwise you have to travel through Athens which is going to be quite expensive and time wasting if you only have a few days.
Kefalonia has many pretty villages (Fiskardo, Assos and Skala being the most famous ones) and it is one of the greenest islands in Greece.
The island is perfect for family holidays and it has some really good opportunities for boat excursions in the surrounding emerald waters.
Kefalonia is a pretty big island and there is no shortage of amazing family restaurants but also really unique flavours and diverse greek dishes all over the island.
Rhodes is the 4th largest greek island and it really resembles Malta in many ways (the old town, the castle, the beaches…), though Rhodes it’s 5 times the size of Malta.
Just to give you the scale of its size: Rhodes is 20 times bigger than Santorini…!
Rhodes has some of the most impressive and well established hotels and resorts in Greece and all large tour operators in Europe have all inclusive (or not packages) for Rhodes as it has been an extremely popular destination since the 60’s.
Rhodes belongs to the Dodecanese islands group of Greece and it is the furthest of all islands on this list, from Athens (still within 1hr flight though).
Rhodes cannot be combined with a visit to any other island; the island is pretty big and you should better dedicate at least a week to explore it and have a good time without any rush. Apart from that, Rhodes is not well connected with other famous islands in Cyclades (like Santorini or Mykonos) and you will waste to much time and money in transfers as you may have to go back to Athens.
Rhodes has lovely long sandy beaches, a beautiful old town and it is in general very well organised touristically (compared to other islands).
The island is an ideal destination for holidays with kids and if you are looking for an all inclusive in Greece, chances are you will find it in Rhodes or in Crete.
Many people say consider Rhodes the all-inclusive capital of Greece…!
The italian influence is still vivid in Rhodes cuisine but there are so many options and good restaurants to choose from that you won’t be disappointed:
Naxos is one of the largest greek islands and the largest in Cyclades island complex.
It’s one of my personal favourites…
Naxos is 6 times bigger than Santorini…!
Naxos has long and sandy beaches that can be hit by strong winds in times during the summer which has actually made the island a surfers’ paradise the last years.
There are however lots of beautiful beaches and picturesque villages you can visit with the most unique one being the famous Apeiranthos village.
Naxos can easily be combined with a trip to Santorini but it’s an island that you need to spend at least 3 days to appreciate it. The good thing is that the ferries that go to Santorini and Mykonos (especially the Blue Star Ferries)
Naxos is a perfect destination (3hrs ferry from Athens) for families and people who want the simple things in life: good food, simple accommodation and lots of beautiful uninterrupted sunsets away from the tourist crowds…
Greek islands are simply amazing.
They are considered some of the most magical, romantic and stunning places on the earth.
No matter which one you choose for your holidays (or your life) you will have amazing weather, amazing food and be surrounded by people who love life and care about each other in their local communities.
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SantoriniSecrets.com is the largest and most informative travel blog for all things Santorini, Athens, Mykonos and Greece maintained by local travel bloggers who love Greece and its islands more than anything else in this world. Some of us were actually born in Santorini and some others have spent many months not only visiting the greek islands but actually living on it for long periods of time. We are not just visitors. We are from Greece!
We consider ourselves the tipsters of this magical place, called Greece.
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