Greece boasts over 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, so researching where to go, or putting together an island-hopping itinerary, can be a daunting task. We’ve put together a guide of the best Greek islands, each with its own unique charm and character, to help with your holiday planning. See our collection of the best hotels in Greece here.
A volcanic island in the Cyclades famous for dramatic cliffs, blue-domed churches and white-washed buildings. While Santorini has unique black sand beaches, it’s also quite rocky so perhaps not the island for you if you’re looking for a classic beach escape. It also gets incredibly busy during the peak season. The sunsets, however, are too-good-to-be-true!
Party island Mykonos has a buzzy nightlife, beautiful beaches and charming Cycladic architecture. It’s a celebrity favourite, and the island’s chic beach clubs and five-star hotels have a price tag to match. The narrow streets of Mykonos Town (Chora) are lined with designer boutiques with doors draped in fragrant bougainvillea, so if you like a more cosmopolitan vibe, Mykonos could be the island for you.
Crete is the largest Greek island and home of the ancient Minoan civilisation, so excellent if you enjoy history and cultural sightseeing. Crete also boasts beautiful beach-front resorts, charming towns and a rich culinary history. You might want to hire a car to explore the whole island.
Rhodes is known for its medieval Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Aegean island offers a great blend of history, culture and scenery for those wanting a little bit of everything. It’s a perfect spot for water sports and diving, but is one of the furthest-flung islands with a flight time of around four-and-a-half hours.
Oppositely, Corfu is situated in the Ionian Sea, an hour closer to the UK. Corfu has an intriguing mix of Greek, Venetian and British influences, with lush greenery, olive groves and quaint villages. Corfu Town is another a UNESCO World Heritage site where medieval lanes, French-style arcades and Venetian fortresses sit side-by-side. There are sandy beaches, secluded coves and shallow waters with picturesque mountain backdrops.
Zakynthos, or Zante, is another island famous for its nightlife and also the Navagio “Shipwreck” Beach. The beaches offer bright turquoise waters, sandy coves surrounded by steep cliffs and the famous Blue Caves. Zakynthos Town has a vibrant atmosphere with busy squares, traditional tavernas and plenty of late-night drinking spots – if you like a quiet and restful holiday, this might not be the island for you.
Known for its rich mythology, Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades. The island has a lively town, some great boat trips and snorkelling spots on the coast, and many traditional mountain villages to explore inland. Naxos is on a main ferry route, making it a great contender as part of an island-hopping trip.
Kefalonia, also known as Cephalonia, is one of the largest and most picturesque islands in the Ionian Sea. Known for its stunning natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, charming villages and warm hospitality, it recently claimed the title of best Greek island in the Which? Travel survey. A great all-rounder!
We hope this helps you find the best Greek Island for you and your family. If you need any further advice or assistance, or want to find out more about the smaller islands, then please do not hesitate to contact the Black Opal team.
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