The 20 Best Greek Islands to Visit

The Greek Islands remain some of the world’s most loved and most popular islands. There are 6000 Greek Islands, and each one has its own history, beauty, and culture. Famous islands in Greece include Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, and Rhodes.

But there are so many islands with beautiful beaches, incredible hikes, and stunning mountain ranges, and it is very tough to pick the best ones. However, in this article, we have chosen the best Greek islands to visit and the best things to do on those islands!

20 Best Islands to Visit in Greece

1. Milos

Milos - Best islands to visit in Greece
Klima Village in Milos – one of the best Greek Islands to visit

Milos is one of Greece’s volcanic islands. It is known for its relaxed vibe, excellent beaches, fishing villages, fabulous food, and classic Greek history. Visitors love beaches like Tsigrardo Beach, Sarakiniko Beach, Firiplaka Beach, and Kleftiko – all perfect for a fun day in the sun.

Milos has a small, domestic airport making it possible to fly to Milos from Athens by means of regular flights. Another great way to get to Milos, however, is via ferry. You can catch the ferry from the port of Piraeus in Athens, Greece. There are daily trips, and the ferry takes between three and seven hours, depending on which one you catch. Another option is to fly to Santorini and catch the Milos Ferry, which runs daily.

2. Santorini

Oia, Santorini - beautiful Greek Villages
Oia, Santorini

Santorini is one of the leading Greek tourist islands. Visitors love the island for the incredible sunset viewpoints, active volcanoes, churches, and excellent hiking trails. The volcanoes still provide much entertainment, and the beautiful domed churches that are all over the island are also well worth a visit.

There are many options to get to Santorini. The most popular choice is via plane – fly directly from Athens in less than 40 minutes. Your other alternative is to catch the ferry. You can get the ferry from Piraeus Port, which takes between five and eight hours. The high-speed ferry is only a five-hour journey, a better option for sure.

3. Naxos

Naxos - Best islands to visit in Greece
Portara Gate in Naxos

Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades and one of the most underrated. The island has some of the best beaches in the region as well as superb hikes, food, and history. It really is a grand island from which to escape the tourists. Better still, it’s a short ferry ride to tourist hotspots like Santorini and Mykonos. The most popular attraction is the Apollo Temple, ancient ruins that look over the ocean.

The best way to get to Naxos is to fly from Athens. Naxos has a small airport, but it only accepts domestic flights. Another alternative is to take the ferry directly to Naxos from Athens which takes four hours. Alternatively, if you’re on nearby islands such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros, you can get the ferry to Naxos which takes two to three hours.

Check out: The best things to do in Naxos.

4. Paros

Greek island of Paros in Greece
Naousa in Paros

Paros is one of the most popular islands in Greece. Visitors love the 120km of coastline, endless beaches, cliff-top views, and stunning hikes. Popular attractions include the Panagia Ekatontapiliani which dates back to the 4th century. Another great spot is Lefkes, an enchanting village in the mountains at the height of 300m.

Paros has a small airport with flights from Athens. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry from Athens which will take around 3 hours and 50 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch the ferry from neighboring Greek islands such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Naxos. This will only take a couple of hours.

Check out: Best things to do in Paros.

5. Mykonos

Mykonos - Greek Islands with airports
Little Venice in Mykonos, Cyclades

Mykonos is a top-rated tourist destination in the heart of Greece. Visitors know the island for the incredible food, breathtaking viewpoints, and majestic architecture. One of the most popular attractions is the Mykonos Windmills, and you can see these windmills when you first arrive on the island – they are one of Greece’s most famous landmarks.

The most popular way to get to Mykonos is via the Mykonos International Airport, easily accessible from Athens or Thessaloniki airport. Because of the popularity of Mykonos, you can fly there from all over Europe. Alternatively, you can catch one of the island’s regular ferries that rung between Athens and Mykonos. The journey takes between three to five hours depending on the ferry speed you choose.

6. Ios

Ios Island - Best Greek Islands
Ios

Ios attracts thousands of visitors every year, and the island has epic beaches, hotels, and scenic Chora. Perhaps the most common attraction of the island is the vibrant nightlife. It is one of Greece’s top party islands, ideal for young tourists. Famous beaches include Manganari Beach, Mylopotas Beach, Tzamaria Beach – all beautiful relaxing spots.

Unfortunately, Ios doesn’t have an airport, but there are other options to get there, including flying to Thira Airport in Santorini and getting a ferry or private boat to the island. The fast ferry takes as little as 40 minutes, and the slow ferry takes one hour 30 minutes. Other ferry options include an effortless ferry journey from Piraeus Port in Athens to Ios – this ferry runs regularly.

7. Sifnos

Sifnos is one of the less frequently visited islands in Greece, but it is definitely still worth visiting. Visitors love seeing the beautiful beaches, untouched beauty, quaint villages, and superb hiking spots. A popular attraction is the Chrisopigi Monastery – a historical monastery with excellent views. One of the best things is that there aren’t many tourists there.

Sifnos doesn’t have an airport. However, it is possible to get to Sifnos via ferry – the best ferry is from Piraeus, Athens. It takes up to four hours and is the most practical way to get to the island. Alternatively, you can fly from Athens to the nearby island Milos and take the one-hour ferry to Sifnos.

8. Syros

Syros Island in Greece
Syros Island in Greece

Syros is one of the lesser-known islands in the Cyclades. It is far less popular than its bustling neighbors, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great things to do! Visitors adore the gorgeous Venetian mansions, catholic churches, and narrow alleyways. Popular attractions include the Agios Stefanos, Miaouli Square, and Agathopes Beach.

The island has a domestic airport named “Demetrius Vikelas” from where you can quickly fly to and from Athens international airport. It is undoubtedly the best way to get here during the summer. However, you can catch a ferry from Athens’s Piraeus ports, they depart daily. The fast ferry takes two hours, but the slow ferry only three hours and 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch the ferry from Mykonos or Santorini, which takes around two hours and 30 minutes.

9. Koufonisia

Paradise Beach in Koufonisi
Paradise Beach in Koufonisi

Koufonisia is not one of Greece’s main touristic islands, and not many people have heard about it. That is great if you want to discover unspoiled, traditional Greek isles. There are two main islands, Ano Koufonissi and Kato Koufonissi, and both are beautiful. Popular attractions include the beaches Italida, Pori, and Foinikas. Furthermore, the island of Ano Koufonissi is the hub of restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

There are no airports on either of these two islands, and the only way to get to the island is via ferry. It is tricker to get to this island than others because there are no international airports nearby. Your best option is to get a flight from Athens to Naxos, and then catch the 1-hour ferry to Koufonisia. Alternatively, you can get the direct ferry from Piraeus Port in Athens which will take between five and eight hours depending on the ferry speed.

10. Crete

Chania Crete
Chania Crete

Crete is the biggest island in Greece, and it’s also one of the country’s centers of Greek history, scenery, and culture. Visitors also love the island for its excellent hiking spots. Crete is also famous for its beaches named one of the best in the world, Elafonisi Beach and Balos Beach. Another popular attraction on the islands is the Palace of Knossos near Heraklion.

Crete has an excellent international airport with numerous daily flights from around Europe. As well as from Africa or the Middle East. But if there aren’t any direct flights to any of Crete’s airports, a popular transfer is via Athens International Airport. You can arrive by ferry with regular trips from Athens and other Greek Isles, but you’re better off flying there and saving time.

11. Rhodes

Rhodes, Greece. Lindos small whitewashed village and the Acropolis, scenery of Rhodos Island at Aegean Sea.
Rhodes, Greece. Lindos small whitewashed village and the Acropolis

Rhodes is a fantastic island that attracts millions of visitors yearly. The island is notorious for outstanding architecture, quaint villages, superb beaches, and some of the best Greek food. Visitors love the Palace of the Grand Master of Knights of Rhodes, the Acropolis of Lindos, and Mandraki Port, all of which are superb attractions.

Unlike many Greek islands, Rhodes does have an international airport allowing you to fly directly to Rhodes from many different parts of Europe. Another popular alternative is via ferry, but it does take 16-18 hours from Athens. If you’re in the nearby islands of Kos, Patmos, Leros, you can catch a ferry to Rhodes – it’s only a couple of hours from these nearby islands.

12. Symi

symi - best greek islands to visit
Symi island is one of the best greek islands to visit

Symi island is in the Dodecanese and is one of Greece’s underrated yet beautiful paradise islands. The island has numerous colorful houses, loads of stunning architecture, and relaxed villages. Popular attractions include Marathounda Beach, Nanou Beach, and St Nicholas Beach, all pristine and picturesque. The quaint Panormitis monastery remains a focal point of the island. The 18th-century structure is a stunning building and includes a small chapel that’s still open today.

Symi does not have an airport, and the only way to get to the island is via ferry. Firstly, you could get a ferry from Athens, but it is a 10-15 hour journey, so probably not really worth all that time. The best option is to fly to Rhodes and then catch the ferry to Symi. It only takes 45 minutes, and you’ll love the stunning views.

13. Corfu

Corfu - Great Greek islands to visit
Corfu Town

Corfu remains on the best Greek islands for tourists. The island is well-known for being the greenest island in Greece, and it is home to thousands of olive trees. Visitors love the Cape Drastis viewpoint which is one of the most stunning views in the whole of the Greek isles. The Corfu City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to incredible history and architecture.

Crete has an international airport also known as “Ioannis Kapodistrias.” It receives millions of visitors yearly, and it is an excellent airport for getting in and out of the island. Alternatively, you can catch the ferry from Igoumenitsa and Patra. The ferry runs daily and takes around one to two hours. You can also catch a ferry from Italy, departing from Venice, Bari, and Ancona regularly.

Check out: Things to do in Corfu.

14. Paxos

Lakka Paxos island - Best Greek islands to visit
Lakka Paxos island

Paxos is one of the lesser commercialized islands in Greece, making it the ideal destination for those who want to get away from the crowds of tourists. Visitors love the island’s relaxed vibration, the beautiful quaint villages, and its history. Popular scenic points include the Tripitos Arch, Erimitis Bay Beach, the gorgeous Antipaxos island.

There is no airport on Paxos, but the most popular way of getting to the country is through Corfu. There is an international airport in Corfu, and during the summer months, you can fly there directly and catch the ferry from Corfu to Gaios. It is the most popular way to access this beautiful island, and the ferry takes around 90 minutes.

15. Ithaca

Ithaki island - best greek islands to visit
Ithaki island

Ithaca is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea’s heart, off the coast of Kefalonia known as the island of Odysseus. It is one of Greece’s less frequently visited islands, but it remains a stunning Greek paradise nonetheless. Visitors love the beaches, including Filiatro Beach, Gidaki Beach, and Sarakiniko Beach. Another popular spot is the Kathara Monastery, a beautiful monastery with paintings, lovely smells, and great views from the tower.

There is no airport in Ithaca. But you can fly to Kefalonia International Airport which receives domestic flights all year. During the summer flights, it also receives flights from all over Europe. Otherwise, there are daily flights from Athens. From there, you can catch the ferry two hours and 45 minutes ferry to Ithaca and enjoy the incredible views on the way.

16. Kefalonia

Assos, Kefalonia - Greek islands to visit
Assos, Kefalonia

Kefalonia remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole of Greece, and for good reason – it is absolutely beautiful. The island is famous for its rich cultural history, stunning mountainous terrain, and incredible beaches. Popular Kefalonia attractions include Melissani Cave, Mount Ainos, and the Drogarati Cave. The primary tourist beach is the stunning, world-class Myrtos Beach.

Kefalonia has an international airport, and it’s very well-connected to other parts of Greece. You can catch daily flights from Athens, Thessaloniki, and Crete. Furthermore, the airport links to major European cities such as London, Berlin, and Paris. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry from other ports in Greece such as Poros, Sami, and Lixouri. The ferry journey takes one to two hours. Or if you’re in Italy, catch the ferry from Brindisi port.

17. Lemnos

Lemnos. Northern Aegean Islands - Island hopping in Greece
Lemnos Island

Lemnos is a large island in the Aegean Sea, and it remains one of Greece’s hidden gems – less popular than the neighboring islands. Visitors love the island for the volcanic landscape, hidden beaches, and pristine seclusion. Furthermore, popular attractions include The Medieval Castle of Myrina, Philoctetes’s cave, and Ancient Kavirio.

Lemnos does have an international airport named “Hephaestus.” Throughout the majority of the year, the airport receives domestic flights from Greece. But in the summer, flights run to and from across Europe. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry from Lavrion, Athens, which takes around 9 hours. 

18. Skopelos

Skopelos - best Greek islands to visit
Panormos Beach in Skopelos

Skopelos is a stunning island located near Skiathos and Alonissos. It remains an unspoiled, infrequently visited island with an array of spectacular scenery. The island is notorious for being the filming location of the Hollywood Movie “Mamma Mia”. Visitors adore beaches like Kastani Beach, Hovolo Beach, and Agios Ioannis Beach.

There is no airport on the island of Skopelos. However, you can fly to Skiathos International Airport which has regular flights throughout the summer months. You can then catch a ferry to Skopelos, which takes around an hour. While you can get from Athens to Skopelos without flying, it’s a long journey of buses and ferries, because, unfortunately, there are no direct ferries from Athens.

19. Alonissos

Alonissos Island
Alonissos Island

Alonissos Island is a beautiful island in the Sporades, and it is well-known for being one of the most scenic islands in the Sporades. Although tourists do visit the island, it isn’t as popular as many other Greek islands, so you’ll get a natural feeling about the place. Popular attractions include the villages of Patitri, Votsi, and Steni Vala. You should visit beaches like Agios Dimitrios and Chrisi Milia beach – both equally stunning.

There is no airport on the island of Alonissos. However, you can fly to Skiathos International Airport and get the ferry directly from Alonissos with an average ferry time of two hours. There are many flights from Europe straight to Skiathos during the summer, making it a relatively easy journey. In the winter, you’ll have to transfer to Athens, fly to Skiathos and catch the ferry to Alonissos.

20. Hydra

Hydra Island Greece in 5 days
Hydra Island Greece

Hydra Island is widely known as one of Greece’s most beautiful islands, and it is popular among tourists. Visitors love the incredible villages, hiking trails, food, history, and natural beauty of this island.

The movies “A Girl In Black” and “Boy On A Dolphin” put this island on the map as a sought-after Greek vacation. Visitors love the relaxed charm of the island, and there are no cars – all the locals use bikes, donkeys, or boats to get around making it a truly unspoiled paradise. It is also just two hours away from Athens and is easily accessible.

There is no airport on the island of Hydra which shouldn’t surprise you in light of the aforementioned absence of cars. Consequently, the best way to get here is via ferry. You can get her directly via a ferry from Athens which will take around two hours. Furthermore, you can get the ferry from the neighboring Saronic islands, or even from the Peloponnese.

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