Panorama of Navagio beach with shipwreck in Zakynthos island in Greece

Greek Islands 101: Plan Your Perfect Adventure

“It takes a lifetime to discover Greece, but it only takes an instant to fall in love with her.” – American author Henry Miller

Ready to explore the wonders of an ancient world, bask in the sunshine on a dreamy island surrounded by brilliant blue water, and feast on fresh, flavorful food? A Greek Island vacation is just what you need. But with so many amazing islands to choose from, where do you start with your trip planning? Don’t worry, we have you covered! In this guide, we’ve listed the best Greek Islands to visit (and why) so you can plan your perfect adventure.

Plan your perfect adventure to the beautiful town of Oia on Santorini island, Greece. You won't be disappointed!
Santorini’s beautiful blue domes and white alleys will amaze you | © Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

Santorini

  • Best known for: Magical sunsets, volcanic beaches, and blue domes
  • How to reach the island: You can travel to Santorini by plane, ferry, or speedboat.

Part of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea, Santorini is famous for its stunning sunsets, sea-filled volcanic caldera, black-sand beaches, and red cliffs. Oh, and did we mention the dazzling white-washed villages adorned with blue-domed churches? Make sure you have your camera ready!

Although you could surely spend a week or more in Santorini, we recommend four to five days. This will give you ample time to explore the island on foot or sail around it, go on a volcano tour, visit the colorful sand beaches, enjoy the spectacular sunsets in Oia, and savor a delicious seafood meal followed by a glass of the world-famous Vinsanto dessert wine. Finally, don’t forget to try fun water activities like riding jet skis, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and sea kayaking.


Travel to: Santorini


Plan your perfect adventure to the picturesque village of Naousa, on Paros island, Greece.
Discover Naousa, a picturesque village on the island of Paros, Greece  | © Kite_rin/Shutterstock

Paros

  • Best known for: Kolymbithres Beach and its moon-like granite rock formations
  • How to reach the island: You can travel to Paros either by plane or boat (there are daily ferry connections from the mainland and many other islands).

Another popular island in the Cyclades, Paros is particularly special because it has retained its charming character. Curious to see for yourself? Well, in order to truly appreciate this little slice of paradise, we recommend spending at least three days here.

Relax on the sandy beaches (and don’t forget to visit Kolymbithres Beach with its impressive, yet oddly shaped, boulders); stroll through the captivating, colorful villages; eat at one of the many tavernas serving delicious Greek dishes; and go windsurfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding.

Mykonos port with boats, Cyclades islands, Greece.
Get the party started in Mykonos, Greece | © Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock

Mykonos

  • Best known for: Its vibrant nightlife and shimmering shores
  • How to reach the island: You can travel to Mykonos either by plane or boat (there are regular ferry connections from the mainland and other islands).

Stunning sunsets. Sandy beaches. The sparkling sea. All this and more await you in Mykonos, one of the most popular islands in the Cyclades.  Our recommendation is to stay at least three days so you can fully enjoy its legendary shops, restaurants, beach bars, and clubs.

However, if partying isn’t your cup of tea, then you may prefer another side of Mykonos, the romantic neighborhood of Little Venice. Sip a cocktail at one of the old, charming restaurants and watch as the sun sets over the beautiful, quaint houses with traditional balconies – the experience will leave you spellbound! 


Travel to: Mykonos


View of Naxos town and breaking waves, Cyclades archipelago, Greece.
View of Naxos town in the Cyclades archipelago, Greece | © Aetherial Images/Shutterstock

Naxos

  • Best known for: Long stretches of white sandy beaches
  • How to reach the island: You can travel to Naxos either by plane, ferry, or high-speed catamaran.

As the largest of the Cyclades Islands, you can easily spend five days exploring Naxos. What will you see? Striking, unspoiled nature. Laid-back, traditional mountain villages. And some of the most beautiful beaches in the world – watch out Santorini!

In fact, discover miles upon miles of powdery white sand along the west coast or venture south for wilder beaches that offer windsurfing and kitesurfing as well as the opportunity to race across the sand dunes on horseback.

Ready to plan your perfect adventure. It doesn't get much better than this awesome landscape of Balos Bay on the island of Crete.
It’s hard to beat views like this at Balos Bay, Crete | © leoks/Shutterstock

Crete

  • Best known for: Its antiquities and sun-drenched beaches
  • How to reach the island: You can travel to Crete either by plane or boat (one of the most popular ferry ports on the mainland is Piraeus). 

From awe-inspiring archeological sites to endless active adventures, there’s no better place to celebrate your zeal for life than on the island of Crete. Since it’s also the largest Greek Island, you’ll need at least five days in order to see most of the highlights.

Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime as you visit traditional villages surrounded by olive and orange groves, explore ancient Minoan sites like Knossos and Malia, and discover natural wonders like the Samaria Gorge National Park (get your hiking boots ready!) or Elafonisi Beach (the sand actually looks pink!).


Travel to: Crete


The Greek island of Rhodes is famous for its historic landmarks and beautiful beaches.
Discover the charming and historic island of Rhodes | © leoks/Shutterstock

Rhodes

  • Best known for: Its medieval architecture 
  • How to reach the island: You can travel to Rhodes either by plane or ferry (if you choose the latter, you can even take your own car).

The largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes is ideal for history buffs and culture lovers. If you have the time, we recommend spending four or five days here so you can explore the ancient ruins and really delve into the fascinating history.

Did you know that you can still see the remnants of the island’s occupation by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades? Imagine what life was like in medieval times as you visit the Palace of the Grand Master and the Street of Knights, to name just a few. Be sure to also visit the New Town, which was established during the Ottoman period.

Enjoy the beautiful views of Corfu beach, Pelion, Mylopotamos, Greece.
Enjoy breathtakingly beautiful views on the island of Corfu | © Cristian Mircea Balate/Shutterstock

Corfu

  • Best known for: Its charming character and lush landscapes
  • How to reach the island: You can travel to Corfu either by plane or ferry (a popular route is from the port of Igoumenitsa located in northwestern Greece).

Arguably the most popular of the Ionian Islands, Corfu has something for everyone. Enjoy an exciting evening out in the capital (known as Corfu Town or Kerkyra in Greek) with cocktails followed by dinner at a lovely wine bar and bistro. Be sure to also notice how the British, Venetian, and French colonial influences have transformed Corfu Town into the glamorous blend of magnificent mansions, pretty palaces, and fantastic fortresses that it is today.

Then, head outside the capital to discover the rest of the island. Decide for yourself if you think it resembles Tuscany with its beautiful manor houses, colorful villages, and rolling olive groves. Last but not least, visit some of Corfu’s idyllic bays and sun-kissed beaches.

If time allows, we recommend spending at least four days on this beautiful island – you won’t be disappointed!


Travel to: Corfu


A tourist woman dressed in white enjoys the beautiful beach of Petani, Kefalonia island, Greece on her summer vacation.
Walk along the beautiful beach of Petani on Kefalonia island, Greece  | © Sven Hansche/Shutterstock

Plan Your Greek Island Adventure

Now that you know what each of these gorgeous Greek islands has to offer, it’s time to plan your own perfect adventure! Take a look at our amazing Greece Deals of the Week and save big on the ultimate trip.

Stephanie is a Content Specialist at TourRadar. You can find her cooking, playing tennis, or exploring the world as she strives to reach her goal of visiting 100 countries before 2025.

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