The islands of Greece are popular tourist destinations for their sun-drenched beaches and cultural heritage. In total, this country has more than 2,000 islands, but only 170 are inhabited. Each island has its own unique character, but a few stand out, offering a truly wonderful holiday experience.
So whether you’re looking for a quiet getaway or an action-packed adventure, the Greek Islands have something for everyone. Below I will list the 16 Top-Rated Greek Islands to Visit that are amazing. No matter which one you choose, you’re sure to have a fantastic time.
Best Greek Islands To Visit
1. Santorini Island
A popular island in the Cyclades group of Greek Islands, Santorini is considered by many to be one of the most scenic Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea. The sun-bleached volcanic caldera of Santorini attracts thousands of visitors every year. The island is famous for its unique architecture, which blends traditional white domed roofs with black lava rocks. It’s a wonderful place for hiking, swimming, or leisurely cliff-side dinners.
The picturesque capital Fira has a spectacular location on the caldera’s rim. Some great restaurants in this city offer stunning views over the coastline. This town is also known for its lovely beaches and natural harbor. There are a few nice swimming areas where tourists can splash around or relax on a boat with an excellent view of the caldera that once was the island’s volcano. On the outskirts of Fira, there are several wineries whose produce is locally famous.
Another popular sight in Santorini is probably the ancient settlement of Akrotiri, which is the only ancient town in the world that has been preserved right to its original state. You can also check the volcanic rock formation at Thera, which is also an impressive sight. Here, you will find an iconic view of this island with its explosive volcano that has formed cliffs all around it. There is the ancient volcanic crater of Nea Kameni, which now serves as a hot spring.
To get a great view of Santorini’s caldera and lovely coastline, I recommend visiting the Oia hill section, which offers wide panoramic views of the landscape. This breathtaking spot can be reached by cable car or walking up the street to reach the main square. Other attractions are the fishing villages of Imerovigli, Perissa, and Pyrgos.
Santorini is one of the best islands in Greece that is easy to traverse by bus or car. The ferry connections are great too. I recommend staying overnight in Oia to enjoy the spectacular sunsets. Make sure to stay at least three nights because this island offers so much to explore.
Read More: 12 Best Things to Do on Santorini
2. Naxos Island
The largest island of the Aegean archipelago, Naxos, is known for its stunning beaches and picturesque villages. There are many things that make this island one of the best Greek Islands. The island is very beautiful, endowed with striking green landscapes. Additionally, Naxos is known for its lovely beaches, ancient sites, and local cuisine.
The capital, Hora, is a charming place with interesting shopping and historical attractions to discover. The town has an impressive castle, which surveys the fishing port and picturesque coastlines from its hilltop perch. In addition to old Venetian churches and other ancient sites, visitors can also enjoy beautiful views of the island’s coastline while walking around.
The town of Naxos is also very lively, with many restaurants, bars, and cafes lining its streets. You can have a nice meal at one of the rooftop terraces, or visit the Archeological Museum, which displays some interesting exhibits about this region’s history.
The island also has some great beaches, with the best ones being in the town of Apiranthos. Locals and tourists alike flock to these wonderful golden strips for sunbathing and snorkeling marathons. There are many restaurants nearby where you can enjoy a nice meal and an excellent view of the sea right under your feet.
Naxos is the best island in Greece for those looking for outdoor activities. There are many hiking trails that will take you to stunning vistas of this wonderful island, its beaches, towns, and surrounding islands. The local scenery is indeed very beautiful here, especially during the springtime when everything starts blooming.
3. Rhodes Island
Rhodes is one of the most popular Greek Islands and a well-known tourist destination in Europe.This island is full of historic attractions and splendid beaches. It is one of the largest, located in the Aegean Sea. It also has a nice climate all year round, so it’s perfect for visiting any time of the year.
The ancient city of Rhodes has many well-preserved structures from the old days. The most impressive are the ancient walls of the acropolis, which surround the whole city. And within these old walls, there are many other historical sites to visit, such as The Palace of the Grandmaster, which was built in the 16th century. Another attraction is the Street of the Knights, which is a paved street full of Gothic and Romanesque buildings. Other attractions are the Archaeological Museum, Knights’ Hospital, and the Catacombs.
There are also several stunning beaches on Rhodes Island, which makes it the perfect destination for swimming and sunbathing. The most famous is Faliraki Beach, which is crowded with thousands of tourists every season. It happens to be the most developed beach in Rhodes and serves as a clubbing hub. If you are looking for more solace, check out the beaches of Kiotari or Stegna.
Another must-visit town is the pretty city of Lindos, which is a charming town with whitewashed houses and winding alleys. There are also pristine beaches in Lindos, along with ancient structures such as the Acropolis of Lindos. This city is best to explore by walking around. Not only because it is rather small, but also its picturesque scene. You can also visit the Kolymbia area, known for its nice taverns and restaurants lined by the sea.
The island is easily accessible by ferry from other towns in Greece, so you can explore more of the country when you get here. The city has a well-connected airport that also receives flights from other areas. With its many historical sites and attractive beaches, I think Rhodes is one of the best Greek Islands you should visit.
Read More: 10 Best Things to Do in Rhodes Town
4. Mykonos Island
Mykonos is one of the most famous Cyclades Islands in Greece for its vibrant nightlife scene and beautiful beaches. This island is popular with party-lovers, culture vultures, and nature explorers alike. In addition, there are also many interesting places to discover, including shopping areas, ancient ruins, and various festivals.
Many of the iconic Mykonos attractions are located in the town of Chora. Here, there are many bars along the cobbled streets that offer great views over the Aegean Sea. For coffees or cocktails, I recommend the rooftop cafes of the Old Port, which also offer great views. The Little Venice neighborhood is another cute section of town that has a village vibe.
Mykonos is known for its old windmills and colorful churches, such as Panagia Paraportiani Church. Other must-see spots are the famous Mykonos beaches. Some of the best beaches include Super Paradise Beach, Paradise Beach, and Elia Beach. These are wonderful spots for sunbathing or spending an active day at the beach club.
The Mykonos nightlife scene is famous around the world. The town has so many bars and clubs that visitors can stay up all night partying to their heart’s content. The beaches are also great spots for partying at night, under the moonlight.
No trip to Mykonos is complete without exploring the island by ATV or quad bike. You can rent one in Chora and basically drive around this place. There are many spectacular views of the coastline in every direction that are perfect for taking memorable photos. The island is also great for biking tours because it has amazing roads that are well-maintained throughout the year.
Read More: 14 Best Beaches on Mykonos Island
5. Folegandros Island
Folegandros is a small island in the Cyclades group, considered by many to be one of the best Greek Islands for its quiet environment and traditional lifestyle. It’s very quiet, and there are no big hotels, but the beautiful beaches and natural environment make it worth visiting.
The main town of Chora is a good option for experiencing traditional life on the island. It has lovely little winding streets where you can wander around to discover churches, taverns, galleries, and cafes. There are also incredible panoramic views of the island and the surrounding oceanic environment.
Another interesting site is the monastery of Panagia, which is thought to have been built on an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. It’s also known for its beautiful Byzantine paintings that are still intact today. I recommend walking down the stone steps towards the sea after visiting this site to enjoy a picturesque view of Chora town and Folegandros bay.
Nearby, you can visit the ancient settlement of Kastro. This medieval castle was a major trading center back in the day when people used to sail in trading ships from here. Chora is also a great place for enjoying traditional Greek cuisine and tasty local wines in restaurants with spectacular views over the sea.
Overall, Folegandros is a quiet, peaceful island that’s great for those who don’t want to be bothered by crowds or loud music. It’s also a great option for those who want an outdoor experience. The hiking trails are fun, the beaches are clean and quiet, and the taverns are great for enjoying traditional Greek food. It’s one of the best islands in Greece if you are looking to enjoy a relaxing getaway near the sea.
Read More: 14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Greece
6. Crete Island
Crete is the largest of all Greek islands and contains a rich, 3000-year history. It’s also home to some of Greece’s best beaches and remarkable ancient sites. The island has a lot to offer tourists, including the glorious Palace of Knossos, the site of the first advanced civilization in Crete.
The village of Omalos provides spectacular views and some quiet hiking opportunities. Outside this small town, visitors can find the Samaria Gorge, which is one of Europe’s deepest canyons. The city of Chania also has a number of interesting sites, including its large fortress that dominates the surrounding towns. Other attractions are the Akrotiri Peninsula and the nearby beaches, which offer crystal clear waters.
Crete is known as having one of the best climates in Greece, making it an all-year destination for tourists. There are a number of great beaches on this island, including the popular Elafonisi Beach. Public transportation is also good on Crete, and travelers can easily find rental cars or hire taxis to see all the sights.
Crete Island is a great place for tourists because it offers something special for everyone. It’s an ideal destination for visitors who like history, art, or museums in particular. The island is also very well-connected, so it’s easy to reach by public transportation.
Read More: 14 Best Things to Do in Crete
7. Delos Island
Delos is a tiny island in the Aegean Sea that served as the religious center of ancient Greece. According to legend, this is where Apollo and Artemis were born. Thus, many ancient Greeks made pilgrimages to Delos in order to worship their gods. The island is considered one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece. This is because it tells an important part of humanity’s story by preserving its ancient ruins.
Today, the Terrace of the Lions is one of the popular spots on Delos. It has five white marble lion statues that once guarded its sacred shrine until they were removed. Tourists can also enjoy the ruins of this ancient city. This includes a stadium, theater, amphitheater, temples for Apollo and Artemis, public buildings with columns lining the streets, and more.
I recommend stopping by the Delos archeological museum in order to gain a better understanding of this historic site. It has many artifacts excavated by archaeologists on the island. Some of the items are Greek pottery and fragments of statues.
The small island of Delos is extremely popular for its easy access and gorgeous view. The stunning white marble ruins are very well preserved, and the lack of vegetation gives it an enchanting appearance. If you plan on visiting Delos, I recommend using the services of a travel agency because there are no public buses or restaurants currently available at the site.
I guess Delos is one of the best Greek Islands for history lovers. The beautiful ancient ruins are truly fascinating, and Delos offers great connectivity to nearby islands. I recommend visiting Delos during the day to appreciate its historical background.
Read More: 8 Best Things to Do in Delos
8. Corfu Island
A lot of people would agree that the island of Corfu is one of the most beautiful and paradisiacal places to visit in Greece. The green landscape, white-washed houses, and cobblestone streets make the town of Corfu one of the best Greek Islands you must visit.
Corfu Town makes for an enjoyable exploration with its charming buildings and narrow streets. There are tons of cafes, shops, bars, and art galleries. The town also offers great beaches, such as the Glyfada beach with its shallow waters and fine sand. There are also the Benitses and Paleokastritsa bays that are excellent for swimming, sunbathing, and diving.
The Palace of Achilleion is perhaps the most famous landmark in Corfu. This beautiful castle was built in 1891 by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who became enchanted by the island’s beauty and decided to build a structure in her own image. It is now open to the public for tours and contains great paintings, furniture, and sculptures.
There are several picturesque villages on Corfu, including the small settlement of Arillas with its beautiful old mansions. For those who wish to enjoy some culture, there’s Lefkimmi, an ancient settlement with imposing Venetian architecture.
As you can see, Corfu is one of the best Islands in Greece because it has something for everyone. There are beautiful beaches, charming towns, and historical sites for those who are into culture. It is also a great place for those who are into sports as there are options for hiking, water sports, and even golfing.
9. Karpathos Island
One of the largest islands in the Aegean Sea, Karpathos is also one of the most beautiful Greek Islands. This dramatic island is rough and untamed, which complements its natural beauty. This island is a great place to visit for those who wish to experience Greece’s natural beauty as well as its rich history.
The capital city of Karpathos Island is Pigadia, which is located on the island’s northern side. It has a pleasant small-town atmosphere, and there are great views of the seafront from around the city. Here, you’ll find plenty of nice seaside taverns, cafes, shops, and bars for relaxing during the day. The nightlife here is also great, with many discos that are open late into the night.
The capital has some nice beaches, but if you’re looking for more crowded beaches, then I recommend visiting Achata. This is where many tourists go for their vacations because it offers plenty of restaurants, cafes, and taverns to choose from. Other popular attractions are the beautiful beaches of Lefkos, Makris Gialos, and Kyra. And if you seek to escape the crowds, Karpathos offers secluded beaches like Kastelia and Lakki. They are typically frequented by the locals and a handful of tourists.
Another popular attraction in Karpathos is the church of Panagia, which is considered one of the oldest churches in Greece. You can also visit the Byzantine Castle and cave dwellings from ancient times. The village of Olympos offers a great view of a traditional village with its rustic houses on a hillside. It is also great for hiking.
Overall, Karpathos is one of the best islands in Greek because it offers its visitors a chance to experience the best of what Greece has to offer. It’s the perfect place for nature lovers, history buffs, and party fanatics. It’s an island that shouldn’t be missed on any trip to Greece.
10. Skiathos Island
The gorgeous island of Skiathos lies just off the coast of mainland Greece. Lush, green hills, and a smattering of beautiful beaches make this rocky island a destination for travelers in search of exploring ancient ruins or simply chillaxing on the beach. Skiathos has always been an important destination in Greece and remains popular today, receiving thousands of visitors each year who come to enjoy its beautiful landscapes and sandy beaches.
The capital of Skiathos is the city of Skiathos, where most tourists base themselves. This quaint town has great cobbled streets, harbor views, and seafood taverns. The beaches on the outskirts of the city are some of the best beaches in the country, with picturesque white sand and clear, calm waters. In addition to its beaches, Skiathos is known for its many beautiful churches.
One of the island’s most popular beaches is Koukounaries beach, which has beautiful soft sand and clear waters. The green hillsides around it offer a great view, especially at sunset or sunrise. You can also enjoy the beautiful coastline at popular beaches like Vromolimnos, Banana, and Lalaria.
Another great place to visit is the Monastery of Panagia Kehrias, a stunning place to admire the beauty of Skiathos. It has an impressive icon that dates back to the 16th century, and there are other great works of art inside this church’s walls.
This island is one of Greece’s top islands because it offers something for everyone, young or old. Skiathos is great for travelers who want to spend their time relaxing on the beach or visiting archaeological sites. This island is also a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, who can enjoy diving, kayaking, fishing, and windsurfing.
11. Samos Island
Samos is one of the larger Greek Islands, located in the Aegean Sea. The island is considered by many to be one of the best islands in Greece that hasn’t yet been over-developed. It offers an authentic Greek experience with lovely beaches, towns, and scenery.
The main town of Pythagorio is a popular destination for visitors who want to explore the beautiful beaches, vineyards, and monuments. The town features an old Venetian port with a medieval castle and picturesque waterfront cafes. There is also a museum and archaeological site at the Pythagorio monastery and restaurants serving traditional Greek cuisine.
Another popular destination on Samos is Karlovassi, which also has a picturesque landscape with charming coastal towns such as Marathokampos and Zia. This area is well-known for its wineries that produce some excellent wines that can be enjoyed during a lovely dinner on the beach. The vineyards are also famous for producing Retsina, a traditional type of Greek wine.
The island also offers many ruins and monuments to explore, like the Heraion of Samos or the Temple of Hera. This is one of the oldest Greek temples in the country. The town of Kokkari serves as a nice place to eat while enjoying the sea view. Other points of interest include the Samos Archaeological Museum and the Aqueduct of Eupalinos, constructed in 6th-century-BC and considered an outstanding feat of ancient engineering.
Samos is a great place for travelers who want to explore both natural and cultural attractions in Greece. There is a lot to do, and it’s easy to get around, so I recommend visiting either in the spring or summer when it is not cold and wet outside.
12. Zakynthos Island
Another popular Greek island is Zakynthos, which is also known as Zante. This enchanting green island has a lot of history and natural beauty. It’s a favorite among scuba divers and those who enjoy the quiet ambiance. There are many shopping opportunities as well as a variety of cafes and restaurants with authentic Greek cuisine.
The town of Zakynthos is the capital of this island and a good place to enjoy its multicultural flavor. The old part of Zakynthos is a lovely area for walking around with winding alleys, pastel-painted houses, and charming churches. You can visit the Monastery of Anafonitria, Monastery Panagia Skopiotissa, and many more sites. There are also wonderful restaurants and taverns there that offer excellent local dishes.
One of the most popular beaches here is the Navagio beach. This white sand beach is a heaven for swimmers, as it has a very calm coastline, which makes it suitable for families. In addition, there is a rusting shipwreck that crashed into the rocks long ago. This wreck has become a popular tourist attraction, and many people arrive by boat to see it. The remote location of this beach means that absolutely no other tourist will disturb your peace and quiet.
Zakynthos is a great place for those who love relaxing on white sandy beaches. From its pristine beaches, gorges, caves, castles, and even shipwreck sites, this island has got it all. If you’re planning a trip to Greece, I recommend visiting Zakynthos Island first and enjoying its natural beauty and serenity.
Read More: 9 Best Things to Do on Zákynthos
13. Paros Island
One of the most beautiful Greek Islands in the Cyclades is Paros, which is also the third-largest Greek island in the Cyclades archipelago. It’s a tranquil place with traditional villages and breathtaking beaches.
The island’s capital Parikia has an abundance of historical attractions, such as old Venetian mansions, cobbled streets, and picturesque churches. Owing to its long history, this town has numerous shops with lovely local wares. A walk around town is certainly interesting, as there are many beautiful old buildings with the original architecture. Make sure to visit the old quarter for its narrow stone streets lined with small local shops.
Another popular sight is the archaeological museum, which exhibits artifacts from Paros and the whole region. There is also the Byzantine Museum which has fascinating exhibitions from prehistoric times until the Byzantine era. If you have time, I recommend visiting the Monastery of Zoodohos Pigi with its beautiful architecture and lovely gardens.
There are some nice beaches close to the main town of Paros. However, I recommend renting a car or scooter to discover all the attractions this island has to offer. The most popular resorts are found in Naoussa and Lefkes. This is where you can find several galleries, cafes, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, and shops. For a different experience, visit the windmills of Paros, where you can see how they operated in the past for milling grain and crushing olives.
The main towns in Paros have great nightlife with cafes and bars that offer live music in the evening. The cuisine here is amazing, with fresh fish and seafood being a specialty in this region. The beaches are well-organized and clean, making them perfect for summer vacations or romantic getaways.
14. Kefalonia Island
Located in the Ionian Sea, Kefalonia is a quiet and laid-back island that offers great beaches and lovely towns. This impressive island is renowned for its natural environment, vibrant towns, and rich history.
Kefalonia’s capital town, Argostoli, is a picturesque seaside settlement with an impressive harbor and medieval-style architecture. Popular attractions include the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli and the Folklore Museum of Fiscardo.
There are a few beaches that I recommend checking out. The beach of Fiskardo is a small, secluded spot with rewarding views. Myrtos Beach is another good choice for travelers wanting to relax in a picturesque setting with lovely scenery. A great place for some underwater exploration is Lagadakia Beach which features impressive rich flora and fauna.
One of the most famous sights in Kefalonia is Melissani Lake, which is known for its surreal color and impressive stalagmites. This mystical site can be reached by taking a boat trip to cross over the lake’s body of water. Other attractions include the ancient town of Sami, which is known for its traditional cobblestone streets and old stone houses. Also, the vivid blue-green coastal waters are stunning to see.
Traveling around Kefalonia Island, you can spot other attractions like small towns with lovely churches. There are also many festivals held here throughout the year that attract visitors from all over Greece and the world. The island is popular with adventure-seeking tourists who enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and cliff diving off the west coast. This is one of the best Greek islands that is hassle-free for tourists who want to relax in a quiet environment.
15. Symi Island
Another picturesque Greek island to visit in the Dodecanese group is Symi. This is a lovely holiday destination for those who want to spend their vacation away from busy city life. The green hills and groves of pine trees offer a natural break from the noise and pollution of big cities. This island is also good for those who want to enjoy local seafood at affordable prices.
The capital of the island is also called Ano Symi. It has a large yachting harbor where boating tours to other nearby islands depart. The old part of town is a great place to walk around and get a feel for what this island used to be like in the past. There are some beautiful churches, museums, and lovely taverns around there too.
The capital also offers lots of shopping opportunities, nightlife, and dining options. The town has an extensive waterfront promenade with quaint bars and cafes that offer beautiful views of the sea.
The island’s landmarks are its idyllic beaches, which are great to visit during the summer months. One of its popular beaches is the Nos beach which has crystal-clear waters and gentle waves. Other beaches to visit are Emporios, Pedi, and Gialos.
Symi is a lovely Greek island to visit, especially for those who want to experience local culture with a touch of luxury. The island offers peace and serenity, which is perfect for those who want to have a relaxing vacation away from the hustle and bustle of big cities.
16. Patmos Island
Patmos is a small island in the Aegean Sea. It has a lot of historical attractions, and it’s also a very popular tourist destination among travelers.
The island’s historical riches can be found in the village of Chora, where you can admire numerous Byzantine churches and monasteries. Patmos is home to the Cave of the Apocalypse, where Saint John supposedly wrote his book about Revelations during exile. You can also visit the Monastery of Saint John, which overlooks the harbor.
Patmos is also known for its fine beaches with clean, crystal waters. To relax after a day on the beach, try some of the local seafood in one of Patmos’ charming little fishing villages or bars that serve up some refreshing drinks on the waterfront. The island is quite small, so it can be easily traversed using public transport, by taxi or car.
Patmos is definitely one of the best Greek Islands that will get you hooked on Greece and its beauty. With its rich historical past dating back to the Roman, Byzantine, and post-Byzantine periods, it’s a place that will leave you wanting more.
There you have it. While there are many great Greek Islands, these can be considered the best in Greece. Indeed, each of these islands has its own special attractions that make them worth visiting. To discover which island would be best for you, I recommend doing lots of research first on what excites you or interests you the most.