The Hellenic Republic – also known as – Greece, is a Balkan Island country sprinkled across the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, offering a wholesome Mediterranean experience for travellers like no other. Referred to as the cradle of western civilization, Greece is home to several acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage sites and historical landmarks belonging to the Bronze age – the age of the Greek gods.
As much as the Capital city of Greece stands out for its awe, there are many islands that regular travellers miss visiting. We visited the beautiful islands of Greece in search of the most phenomenal destinations. Here is our list of the top 10 best Greek Islands to Visit. Enjoy your Read!
The ideal place for any travellers looking to relax in tranquillity amidst the greens, under the southern European Sun, Zakynthos is the place. Known as the greenest Greek Island, Zakynthos is a resort city for the young souls looking to break away from the stereotypes. The sand cove cliffs and the stunning blue Ionian waters are certainly the highlights of this island. We were mesmerized to get a glimpse of Loggerhead turtles hatching during our visit. Most of the south coast beaches are off-limits due to this reason, so always be cautious.
We were also able to set off to Navagio beach on a boat where the famous 80s shipwreck currently stands. You would be required to go on a boat to reach this beach stretch, but we assure you, it’s a must-visit location if you’re on Zakynthos Island.
Symi Island is a chic little resort city located in the South Aegean Sea. The beaches of Symi are undoubtedly breathtaking, and if you happen to visit Symi during Summer, you could participate in the annual music festival, which usually takes place from July to September. Based on our experience, one of the highlights of the city was its neoclassical architectural houses that stand upright along the narrow commuting path that separates the dazzling blue ocean from the colourful city. Due to the limited time at hand, we were not able to visit the famous Byzantine Museum and the Orthodox Church.
You must keep in mind that Symi is only reachable by sea. We got a ferry from Rhodes Town, and Symi was a one-day trip which got us enough daylight to whizz through the key sites.
Located in the Cyclades archipelago, Tinos Island consists of laid-back towns with captivating marble sculptures placed at entrances. Compared to the party island Mykonos which is approximately 15 minutes away, Tinos island has the vibes of a rustic tranquil holiday destination. When we reached Tinos harbour by boat, the island barely had leisure travellers. Many locals arrived to visit Panagia Evangelistria monastery – the holiest site for Greeks. We were able to check out some chapels and religious sites, but what caught our hearts was the delectable cuisine and the gorgeous beaches.
Food is a must-try here in Tinos. The locals have modern fusion delicacies of traditional Greek dishes that are absolutely worth trying.
Click here to check out some other amazing places to visit in Greece
Known as Ithaca and Ithaki, Ithaka Island, located in the Ionian Sea, is the ideal place for solitude-seekers like us who look forward to seclusion after nights of wandering in the bustling streets of Mykonos. This island is undoubtedly underrated, despite its legendary recognition as Odysseus’s hometown (of Homer’s hero). Ithaka is not too vast so the main attractions can be explored within a day. Remember to take the hike up to Anogi and down to Kioni. The experience – although it is tiring – is completely worth it.
We took a ferry from Kefalonia, which took almost 2 hours to reach the Ithaka port, and we spent most of our relaxing days enjoying the sea, learning about Byzantine influence in Greece, and exploring for evidence of Odysseus’s palace.
Kefalonia is located on the Ionian Sea and is a favourite tourist destination. Tourists and locals alike are swarming up to the sunny turquoise beaches year-round. The vibe here in Kefalonia is pretty hyped. Compared to other islands, this is somewhat bigger. In fact, there were Hollywood movies shot on this island, and celebrities like John Bon Jovi have been here on vacation.
The hillside limestone cliffs and coves – along with the breathtaking beaches, instantly caught our attention. Myrtos white beach is absolutely worth visiting, and the pine-fringed Horgota beach should also be added to your list. Although we stayed in Kefalonia for a few days, you’d need at least a week to explore the entire landscape.
Kefalonia is also famous for its vintage wines. We were fortunate enough to taste Robala wine, which is a local hit – as well as a global favourite. Remember to taste some on your vacation.
Located in the Cyclades archipelago, Mykonos – as you may have heard – is one of the most famous islands in Greece. The atmosphere in Mykonos is quite contemporary and fast-paced. Almost everywhere you look, you will see white-washed walls, pebbled alleys, chic restaurants, pubs and instagrammable cafes.
The iconic 17th-century windmills can also be spotted on the ascending hills. The picturesque villages in Mykonos look serene during the day, but parties that begin at sunset usually go up till dawn. Yes, this is the place for all the party people out there. If you’re lucky enough, you may bump into your favourite celebrity or DJ so keep your eyes open.
We must say though, that Mykonos is quite expensive for a budget traveller. Accommodation cost is sky-high. If you’re not a party person, you can avoid Mykonos and instead, visit similarly beautiful destinations like Milos and Athens.
Belonging to the Saronic Islands on the Aegean Sea, Hydra is a one-of-a-kind destination, an experience you’d never expect. We were quite surprised to know that motor vehicles are not allowed on this island. You’ll naturally see horses and donkeys providing transportation like in the olden days. As we arrived from Athens, we got off at Metochi and took a ferry that brought us to the island in 20 minutes. Hydra is the home of art, music and Fine architecture in Greece. Artists from around Europe and the world are said to have created masterpieces while on this island.
The name Hydra has supposedly derived from the Greek word Hydrea – a reference to the many natural springs.
Located in the Aegean Sea of the Cyclades archipelago, Syros – also known as Syra, is a masterpiece of cultural, heritage and scenic beauty. Unlike the stereotypical Greek buildings of white and blue, the marble streets of Syros and its neoclassical architecture speak a different language. Syros has been occupied by Venetians for many years, and the Renaissance remnants still exist. The capital city Ermoupoli has both orthodox and catholic influences. You would find some delicious Pizzas in Ermoupoli, and you can experience classical jazz and rebetiko during the series of festivals in summer.
When it comes to food, the capital city’s Androu Street is the spot where you would find all the finest delicacies of Syros. On our food adventure, we were surprised to see how the Italian and Turkish cultures blended so well here in Syros. Remember to try loukoumi – a Turkish delight – on your visit.
The summer hotspot Corfu gives travellers an experience similar to that of Tuscany in Italy and Ibiza in Spain. Corfu – also known as Kerkyra – is located in the Ionian Sea, home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in Greece. Based on our experience here, the cityscape of Corfu was more idyllic than the beaches.
With its cosmopolitan culture of a relaxed rave, pastel-coloured architectural buildings of French and British colonial influence, and so many natural sites to visit, Corfu is a paradise for any traveller. We were excited to visit Canal de’Amour – a natural rock passage where legends say you would meet your soulmate. It sure was an experience to remember.
On what it has to offer for visitors, Corfu rates number one on our list. It’s large by land space, and it is relatively much cheaper than high-end islands like Mykonos and Santorini. We spent a few days in Corfu, but we surely would come back for more.
Home to the world’s most iconic white-washed cities, breathtaking dusks, luxury resorts and the scenic contemporary Greek ambience, Santorini is a place every traveller must visit someday. Its postcard-worthy captures are not to miss. But most importantly, it’s the origin of the island that intrigues us the most.
Santorini stands for the very definition of coming back stronger. And this is why it topped our list over Corfu. Santorini once faced a devastating volcanic eruption that forever deformed the island’s landscape, but instead, it was remodelled to be a captivating tourist destination.
We began our escapade from Santorini, where we were able to indulge in all the fascinating delicacies, sites and experiences with an unaltered mind. Although we left Santorini soon after as we set off on our island-hopping adventure, our hearts remained there.
Just for your awareness, accommodation in Santorini can be quite expensive, so remember to budget your vacation well.