The 42 Best Island in Greece
(For every Type of Traveler)
Are you ready for sandy shores, epic coastlines, and clear blue water? This guide to the best islands in Greece has got you covered.
The Greek Islands are one of the most sought after places in the world to visit. Renowned for their iconic coasts, pristine beaches, picturesque towns, and rocky hills.
I’ve spent months island-hopping around Greece and I am still in awe at their beauty.
There are over 6,000 islands in Greece (over 200 of which have people living on them) and many of them cater to different types of travelers.
In this post, we will cover the best islands in Greece for couples, nightlife, budget travelers, luxury, couples, off-season travelers, and more. So whether you’re backpacking through Greece on a budget or ready to live like a rich and famous there is an island for you.
But there’s more. You will also get estimated budgets, how to get there, where to eat, and the top things to do on each island.
So without further ado, let’s discover the best islands in Greece.
Jump Around the Best Islands in Greece.
The Best Islands
Best Time to Visit the Greek Islands
Picking the best time to visit the Greek Islands changes depending on what you want out of your trip.
If you want the warmest water, best sunbathing, and biggest beach parties then visit the Greek islands during the summer. From June to August the islands are at the top of their game.
But the summer isn’t all good news. Greece is blistering hot at this time of the year. The highs stay around 94°F (10°C). But the one-two punch of the heat and the dry climate make Greek summers feel much hotter than the thermometer reads.
Another downside; the summer months are the peak tourist season, which means larger than normal crowds. And prices that skyrocket; hotels and food cost up to 3X more than in the off-season. Budget travelers beware.
But if you’re looking for the famous parties then their’s no better time to visit. And during the summer the Greek Islands have some of the best parties in Europe.
The parties draw world-class DJs and musicians. But think about the prices, crowds, and money you’ll spend before committing fully.
Yes, the parties rock, but do they justify the high prices? I would consider taking all that money and go to the Thai islands. These islands are just as beautiful, and your money will go ten times as far. Then come back and visit Greece in the off or shoulder season.
Now, I know I’m not doing an excellent job of selling the Greek Islands. But there are advantages to visiting in the summer months. All the archaeological sites and museums are open.
There are more ferries between the islands. And for solo travelers, there are thousands of more locals and travelers to meet. Plus, out of control parties.
The best time to visit the islands in Greece is either the spring or fall (May or September).
This gives you the best of both worlds.
The prices drop, the weather’s still warm, and the islands aren’t overcrowded with tourists. And there’s still a lot of things going on.
Getting Around the Greek Islands
There are two options to get around the Greek Islands – ferries, and planes. There are 21 airports spread around the islands and hundreds of ferries each day.
But which option is right for you? Let’s dive in (pun intended) and see the pros and cons to each mode of traveling to the Greek Islands.
Ferries are my top choice of getting around the best Greek Islands. There are both slow or fast boats. Fast ships cost more but don’t save you that much time.
I like the slow ferries, which give you time to take in the landscape, have a meal at a restaurant, and save some money.
Some of the fast boats will save you a few hours, but it’s not worth the extra cost.
All the ferries say they have WiFi, but they don’t. So download some Netflix movies or bring cards.
Flying to the Greek Islands
Many of the best Greek Islands, like Santorini, Crete, and Mykonos, have airports.
If you’re traveling far and can find a cheap flight, then it is a good option. But in my experience finding good airfare to the islands is rare.
When asked the best way to travel around the Greek Islands, I suggest ferries. Why? Because getting to the airport, checking in, waiting around, and flying means you save little time. Plus, flying cost a lot more.
To prove my point, let’s look at traveling to Crete, one of the furthest islands from Athens.
The ferry to Crete takes 7 – 9 hours and cost as low as 29 Euros ($32).
Flying from Athens takes around 1 hour for over 100 Euro.
Good deal, right? Well, is it? When you take into account the 30 -45 minutes to get to the airport. And the hour and a half you need to be at the airport before your flight. After landing you have to get off the plane, make your way through the airport, collect your luggage, and hail a bus/cab to take to you downtown.
I would guess that in total flying takes around 4 1/2 – 5 hours. Sure, you are saving a few hours. But you’re also paying three times the price of the ferry. And you’re running around like a madman (or woman).
With the boat, you set down your luggage, grab a cup of coffee, and sit on the deck reading a book, watching movies, or enjoying the view. The waters of the Agean are pristine.
Hi! I’m Stephen Schreck (pronounced like SHREK), but don’t worry I’m not green.
I help people discover the world by helping them plan their trips with useful travel tips and guides.
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List of Airports on Greek Islands
- Chios (JKH)
- Chania (CHQ)
- Corfu (CFU)
- Heraklion (HER)
- Ikaria (JIK)
- Ioannina (IOA)
- Kefalonia (EFL)
- Kos (KGS)
- Leros (LRS)
- Lesvos (MJT)
- Milos (MLO)
- Mykonos (JMK)
- Naxos (JNX)
- Paros (PAS)
- Rhodes (RHO)
- Samos (SMI)
- Santorini (JTR)
- Skiathos (JSI)
- Skyros (SKU)
- Syros (JSY)
- Zakynthos (ZTH)
Santorini has become synonymous with the word Greece and needs no introduction. But for fun, let’s give it one.
Santorini’s known world-wide for its stunning sunsets and whitewashed houses that dangle on cliff edges.
The volcanic landscape is gorgeous; and its unusual properties deliver some of the best wine in Greece’s. At night boats sail around the caldera, taking eager tourists on scenic tours around the volcano and to some of the best sunset spots.
Santorini has become a legendary spot for romantic getaways and honeymooners.
Fame means higher prices on food, tours, and hotels. But that’s a small price to pay to have an experience in one of the best Greek Islands for couples.
For budget, travelers don’t let the higher prices scare you away. You can travel Santorini on a budget. In fact, the island has a thriving backpacker culture. Thera, the main city on the island, has a wild nightlife scene. Even some of the best restaurants in Santorini are budget friendly.
The downside of backpacking Santorini; hostels are crazy expensive during the summer months (A hostel dorm room will cost around $50 a night during the peak season.) Travelers on a budget should visit before the end of May or after August.
The two most significant towns on the island are Thera and Oia. Thera’s known for its nightlife while Oia’s known for its windmills and sunsets. Santorini is also small enough that you can dig into Greek culture – it’s around the size of Manhattan. Hordes of travelers rent ATV’s and embark on their own adventure. And within a few days, you can explore the entire island.
Who Else Should Travel to Santroini
Where to Eat
- Metaxi Mas ($$)
- The Good Heart ($$)
- Melitini ($$)
- Argo ($$)
Distance: 125 Miles From Athens
Where: Part of the Cycladic Islands
How Long Should You Stay: 2-3 Days
Airport: Santorini Airport (JTR)
Santorini Ferry Info
Ferry Ports that Go to Santorini: Athens, Amorgos, Astypalea Chalki, Anafi, Crete, Donoussa, Folegandros, Ios, Karpathos, Kasos, Kea, Kimolos, Kos, Koufonissi, Kythnos, Milos, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Skiathos, Symi, Syros, Thirassia, Tinos
Ferry Ride: 6-7 Hours
Ferry Ticket: €30-€50 Euro
Things to do on Santorini
- Santorini Sunset
- Wine Tour
- Santorini Cooking Classes
- Wine Tastings
- Red Beach
- Sunset at Oia
- Santorini Caldera
- ATV around the island
Top Places to Stay on Santorini
Hailed as the island where the rich and famous come to play puts Mykonos on a pedestal.
But when an islands’ famous for celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Mariah Carey, and Gerard Butler gracing its shores, it goes without saying that Mykonos has a higher than normal price tag.
And while it’s one of the most expensive islands in Greece, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel it on a budget. I know because I’ve spent a lot of time on the island and I am far from rich.
Every year the island draws thousands to its romantic resorts, pristine beaches, and iconic sites.
Couples will love the picturesque villages and relaxed neighborhoods. The towns are a maze of stone alleyways. With tall white-walled and blue-roofed houses towering on either side. There are gorgeous beaches, right outside the doorstep of couple resorts.
Trying to earn some brownie points with your partner? Then planning a trip, to Mykonos, when visiting the best islands in Greece with do the trick.
The debaucherous nightlife that the island is known for draws a big backpacking culture to certain parts of the island. Mykonos is a lightning rod for parties during the summer. Famous DJ’s play at beach parties and packed clubs.
And there are all sorts of questionable fun to get into. The island might get its share of backpackers but compare to the rest of Greece; Mykonos is not budget-friendly.
Other Travelers Who Will Love Mykonos
Where to Eat
- Pepper ($)
- Kadena ($$)
- Sakis Grill ( $)
- Funky Kitchen ($$$)
- Nikos Taverna ($)
- Maereio ($$)
Distance: 113 miles from Athens
Where: Part of the Cyclades
How Long to Stay: 4 -5 Days
Airport: Mykonos International Airport (JMK)
Mykonos Ferry Info
Ferry Ports that Serve Mykonos:
Athens, A.G. Eystratios, Andros, Amorgos, Chios, Crete, Donoussa, Foleganros, Fourni, Ikaria, Ios, Iraklia, Kavala, Kimolos, Koufonissi, Kythnos, Lesvos, Limnos, Milos, Naxos, Paros, Patmos, Samos, Santorini, Schinoussa, Sifnos, Siknos, Skiathos, Syros, Tinos
Ferry from Athens: 5 to 6 Hours
Ferry Ticket From Athens: €20 – €40
Things to do on Mykonos
- Day Trip to Delos
- Little Venice
- Windmills in Mykonos Town
- Lia Beach
- Agios Sostis
- Paraga Beach
Where to Stay on Mykonos
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Crete’s the granddaddy of couple hotspots in Greece. Crete’s cheap, convenient, and rich in culture.
The landscape’s another reason the islands so popular with couples. Full of rocky hills, dramatic coastline, and large caves; Crete is a feast for your eyes. And you can explore nature without straying miles from all the luxuries of your hotel.
History runs deep in Crete. And this massive island houses two of the best archaeological sites in the country.
I’m referring to Knossos (home of the Minotaur).
This ruined palace was the center of the Minoan Civilization. A people that lived 5,000 years ago and are the precursors to ancient Greece.
Knossos gets all the attention but it’s far from the old site on Crete. You can also explore the Phaistos Palace and the Fortezza Venetian Castle.
Couples will enjoy exploring the old towns of Chani and Rethymno. To the north, there are the villages of Zaros and Loutro. You can’t miss the sunset at Falassarna Beach. And don’t forget the secluded beach of Agiofarago.
What else is Crete famous for? It would also fit under the best islands in Greece to travel in September. And the in the best Greek Islands for food, and family travel. You could easily spend one week on Crete.
Other Travelers Who Will Love Crete
Where to Eat
- Rustic Garden Tapas & Wine ($$$)
- Mon.ES ($$)
- Theodosi Restaurant ($$)
- Peskesi ($$)
- Merastri ($$)
Distance: 245 Miles from Athens
Where: South Aegean Islands (Cretan Islands)
Airport: Heraklion International Airport (HER)
Crete Ferry Info
Ports that Serve Crete:
Athens, Andros, Chalki, Anafi, Ios Karpathos, Kasos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Santorini, Skiathos, Syros, Tinos
Ferry Length from Athens: 9 – 10 Hours
Ferry Price from Athens: €29 -€33
Things to do on Crete
- Chani Old Town
- Zaros Village
- Rethymnon Old Town
- Falassarna and Agiofarago beaches
- Triopetra Beach
Best Places to Stay on Crete
Corfu’s (popularly called Kerkyra) a stunning island nestled in the Ionian Sea. Corfu’s often called the most beautiful islands in Greece. The island landscape features hidden coves, jagged mountains, azure waters, and soft sandy beaches.
With that type of scenery, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Corfu has become famed among couples.
Corfu’s doesn’t shy away for the fact it caters to couples. It embraces its reputation as a romantic getaway.
Sidari is the major resort area on the island. From here, all the epic sunsets spots and sandy beaches are at your fingertips. Sidari has a booming party scene that wakes up as the sun goes down.
Built between two forts lies Corfu town. A maze of stone buildings, walkways, and small alleys; makes it the most romantic city on the island.
Couples seeking peace and quiet will want to head to Agios Georgios. Or the quiet harbor town of Kassiopi. Couples looking for the best views should head to the picturesque village of Paleokastritsa.
There are endless things for couples to do on Corfu.
Corfu is on the other side of the country from Athens. So getting there is a little harder if you are not flying. There are bus/ferry combos, or you can drive yourself and take the car ferry.
Other Travelers Who Will Love Corfu
Where to Eat
- YogArt ($$$)
- Ristorante Del Sole ($$$)
- Pyramid Restaurant Cafe ($$)
- Three Brothers Fish Tavern ($)
- Ladokolla Traditional Grill ($)
Corfu Ferry Info
Distance: 316 miles from Athens
Where: Part of the Ionian Islands
Airport: Corfu International Airport “Ioannis Kapodistrias”(CFU)
Bus/Ferry from Athens: 8 -10 Hours
Bus/Ferry Ticket: €50 – €90
Things to do on Corfu
- Old Fort
- Mon Repos
- Mt. Pantorkrator
- St. Spryidon Church
Hotels and Hostels on Corfu
The tiny island of Milos lies in the Western Cyclades.
The biggest draw of Milos are the beaches of Sarakiniko, Papafragas, and Firopotamos.
These rocky beaches are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The jagged pale rock lines the coast in insane formations gives these beaches an otherworldly feel. Sarakiniko’s the best out of the three beaches, and it has some awesome cliff jumping if you want to test your metal.
But Milos has more than crazy rock formations. It’s one of the cheapest places to visit in the Cyclades. Milos isn’t super touristy. The islands’ a welcome escape from the typical island-hopping tourist crowds. Plus, the food is incredible. I’ve had some of my best meals in Greece on Milos.
Milos isn’t for everyone, though. If you’re looking for epic nightlife, large cities, or old ruins? Then Milos isn’t a good fit.
But if you’re looking for a nice relaxing island to chill. Then Milos is a great option to add to your Greek bucket list.
Milos is up there for the best Greek islands to visit in September. This island is also loved by foodies and families.
Other Travelers Who Will Love Milos
Where to Stay on Milos
Where to Eat
- Enalion Restaurant ($$)
- Barriello ($$)
- Yankos ($)
- Kinigos Restaurant ($$)
Distance: 116 miles from Athens
Where: Part of the Cyclades Island
How Long to Stay: 3-4 Days
Airport: Milos Island National Airport (MLO)
Milos Ferry Info
Ports the Serve Milos: Athens, Amorgos, Andros, Chalki, Anafi, Crete, Folegandros, Ios, Karpathos, Kosos, Kea, Kimolos, Koufonissi, Kythnos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Santorini, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Syros
Ferry Time from Athens: 5 to 7 hours
Ferry Price: €66 -€120
Best Beaches on Milos
- Telgrado Beach
- Paliochori Beach
Naxos, sitting right beside Paros, known for its charm and as a budget-friendly island with excellent sites, beaches, and food.
As you enter the harbor, you’ll glimpse the Portara. A massive stone doorway, to an unfinished temple of Apollo, that’s become the island’s most iconic site.
The locals, who embody the famous Greek hospitality, are a big draw to the island. Most meals on Naxos end with a smile, wine, or dessert. All free.
And compared to its Cyclades counterparts, like Santorini or Ios, Naxos has a much more relaxing atmosphere.
Throughout history, the island was a major marble producer for the ancient Greek world.
A couple of the best sandy beaches in Greece lie on Naxos coast. (And since Greece has thousands of beaches that is quite an accomplishment.)
Notably, Plaka Beach Naxos; the most famous beach on the island. Plaka Beach personifies the word beauty with calm blue water and soft sandy shores.
Along the coast, there are a few hotels and restaurants. But the beach remains pure and out of the clutches of over-tourism.
Other beaches include Aliko Agios Georgios, Aliko, Orkos; Pyrgaki, and Agios Prokopios beach (which is close to Plaka.)
With over 20 beaches on Naxos, it is easy to find one that fits your needs.
Naxos is one of my favorite islands in the Cyclades.
Naxos is a great island for couples, families, and budget travelers. There isn’t much of a backpacker scene on Naxos. But if you are looking for a laid back island, you can’t beat it.