Greece is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From its rich history and culture to the endless beaches and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder that Greece is a top destination for travellers. One of the best ways to experience Greece is through island hopping. With over 6,000 islands and islets to choose from, island hopping in Greece is a unique experience that should not be missed. Here are the top 10 Greek islands to visit on your next adventure.
When I travelled to Greece after exploring so many places in Europe, I was awestruck, because it was different. And I am pretty sure you will feel the same when you are travelling. I started with Athens first and then visited Santorini. But you can try doing all the Island hopping tours or plan personally on the go.
But you have to visit the Islands. There is no denying that.
So without further adieu let us start with exploring the Islands of Greece
Why Choose Greece for Island Hopping?
The Beauty of Greek Islands
Greece is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world. Each island has its own unique charm and character, whether it’s the white-washed buildings of Santorini or the traditional Tavernas of Crete. With so many islands to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your next adventure.
Greece is known for its stunning beaches with crystal-clear waters and fine golden sand. Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot to relax or a lively beach with water sports and activities, you can easily find it on one of the Greek islands.
Rich History and Culture
Greece has a rich history and culture that is evident in its architecture, food, and traditions. Visiting the islands allows you to learn about the ancient Greek civilization and mythology, as well as the modern culture that has developed over the centuries.
Is Island Hopping in Greece Safe?
If you’re seeking breathtaking beauty, unique culture, and a relaxing escape, look no further than Greece and its enchanting islands. But you may wonder, is island hopping in Greece safe?
Rest assured, as safety is of utmost importance in this magnificent Mediterranean paradise. Greece boasts a strong tourism infrastructure, ensuring your welfare every step of the way. From well-maintained ferries to reliable transportation options, the Greek government takes pride in providing a safe and enjoyable experience for its visitors.
Moreover, locals are known for their warm hospitality, always welcoming tourists with open arms. So pack your swimsuit, get ready to explore picturesque beaches and savour delicious Greek cuisine, knowing that island hopping in Greece is not only an unforgettable adventure but also a safe one.
How to Plan Your Island-Hopping Adventure
Deciding on Your Route
When planning your island-hopping adventure, it’s important to decide on your route. You can start from Athens and explore the nearby islands in the Saronic Gulf, or head to the Cyclades or Ionian islands for a more remote experience. Make sure to research the transportation options available to you.
Choosing Your Islands
With over 6,000 islands to choose from, deciding on which islands to visit can be overwhelming. It’s important to research each island and pick the ones that best fit your interests and needs. Whether you’re looking for secluded beaches or bustling nightlife, there’s an island for everyone.
Getting around the Greek islands can be a bit tricky, but there are several transportation options available. You can take ferries or speedboats between the islands, or even fly to some of the larger islands. Make sure to research the best way to get around based on your itinerary and budget.
Read More: Does it Snow in Greece
You can use the below Island Hopping tool in order to plan this thing out at a discount or you can also go for Island Hopping in Greece package deals if you are not in the mood to plan on your own.
Top 10 Greek Islands to Visit: Best Greek Islands for Beaches
Santorini is undoubtedly one of the most famous Greek islands and for good reason. This stunning island boasts breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and is known for its picturesque white-washed houses and blue-domed churches. Be sure to visit the traditional village of Oia and watch the sunset over the sea.
Aside from its stunning scenery, Santorini is home to archaeological sites such as the ancient city of Akrotiri and the ruins of Thera. The island is also famous for its beaches, including Red Beach and White Beach, which offer unique and colorful shorelines. And of course, Santorini is known for its delicious cuisine and local wines, so be sure to indulge in some traditional Greek dishes and wine tasting while you’re there.
For adventurous travelers, Santorini offers plenty of activities such as hiking, sailing, and water sports. You can also take a day trip to the nearby island of Thirassia for a peaceful getaway from the crowds, or explore the nearby hot springs and volcanic beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing holiday or an action-packed adventure, Santorini has something to offer every type of traveler. With its stunning scenery, rich history, and delicious food and wine, it’s no wonder Santorini is one of the best islands in Greece and also for some the main island to visit during their trip.
Mykonos is a popular island known for its beaches, nightlife, and vibrant culture. The island is home to some of the best beaches in Greece, including Psarou and Paradise Beach. Mykonos Town, the island’s capital, is a charming maze of narrow streets and alleys that are perfect for exploring.
The town is filled with fantastic restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it an excellent destination for foodies and nightlife enthusiasts. One of the most famous landmarks in Mykonos Town is the picturesque windmills that line the seafront.
Mykonos is also known for its prestigious summer party scene, attracting international DJs and celebrities. The island has a vast array of clubs and bars that cater to all musical tastes, from techno to traditional Greek music. During the day, visitors can take part in various water sports or enjoy the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea.
Apart from the stunning beaches, another popular attraction on Mykonos is the island’s iconic whitewashed architecture with blue roofs. The architecture is a reflection of the island’s Cycladic lineage and is a true joy to see.
For those interested in history and archaeology, Mykonos has some fascinating archaeological sites and museums. The island is also home to quaint villages worth exploring, such as Ano Mera, which is located in the heart of the island.
Mykonos is accessible by ferry or plane, with many daily connections to Athens and other Greek Islands. Its size, picture-perfect views, warm climate, and thriving nightlife make islands in the Cyclades a must-visit destination for travellers to Greece.
Crete is the largest Greek island and is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and rich history. The island is home to some of the best beaches in Greece, including Balos and Elafonissi Beach. Be sure to visit the old town of Chania to experience the island’s traditional culture and cuisine.
Rhodes is located in the southeastern part of Greece and is known for its beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and medieval town. The island is home to some of the most well-preserved medieval architecture in Europe and has a rich history dating back to ancient times. Visit the Palace of the Grand Master and the Acropolis of Lindos for a glimpse into the island’s ancient past.
From Crete, you can also take the Spinalonga Island Cruise if you are interested in exploring another island and it also doesn’t cost much to squeeze in your itinerary.
Spinalonga is a small island located in the Gulf of Elounda in Crete, Greece. It was originally part of the Venetian fortifications of Crete and was later used as a leper colony from 1903 until 1957. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction and a reminder of the tragic past. The island is accessible by boat from the nearby towns of Elounda and Plaka. Visitors can explore the ruins of the Venetian fortress and the leper colony, and learn about the history of the island through informative displays.
In addition to its historical significance, Spinalonga boasts stunning views of the surrounding blue waters and the nearby mountains. Its location also makes it a popular stop for boat tours in the area. For those visiting the Greek islands, Spinalonga is a must-see destination that offers a unique glimpse into the island’s past and its beautiful natural surroundings.
Corfu is a picturesque island located in the Ionian Sea. Known for its lush greenery and crystal-clear waters, the island is a popular destination for nature lovers and beachgoers alike. Be sure to visit the charming old town of Corfu and take a stroll along the promenade at Liston. The island is also known for its delicious cuisine, so be sure to taste some local dishes like sofrito and pastitsada.
Corfu is also rich in history, with influences from various civilizations throughout the centuries. The island was ruled by the Venetians, the French, the British, and even the Italians at various points in its history, and these cultural influences are still visible in the architecture and cuisine. The Achilleion Palace, built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (also known as Sisi), is a popular tourist attraction, as is the 16th century Old Fortress of Corfu.
For those looking for outdoor adventures, Corfu offers plenty of options. Hiking and cycling are popular activities, with trails winding through the island’s rugged terrain and forests. And for water sports enthusiasts, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and even scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters.
One of the best things to do from Corfu is to take the Paxos and Antipaxos Blue Cave Tours.
Rhodes is one of the islands in the Dodecanese that is filled with history and is famous for being the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes. The island is home to impressive historical sites including the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes and the medieval town of Rhodes, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition to its impressive historical sites, Rhodes is also known for its beautiful beaches. The island has a long coastline with crystal clear waters and soft sandy beaches, making it a popular destination for beach lovers. Some of the best beaches on the island include Faliraki Beach, Tsambika Beach, and Lindos Beach.
Visitors to Rhodes can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and water sports. The island has several nature reserves and parks, including the Valley of the Butterflies, where visitors can see thousands of colorful butterflies, and the Seven Springs, a beautiful natural park with seven natural springs.
One of the most popular activities on the island is exploring its charming villages. Rhodes has several picturesque villages, including Lindos, a beautiful hillside village with white-washed houses and a stunning acropolis, and Archangelos, a traditional village known for its ceramics and handicrafts.
Rhodes is also famous for its delicious cuisine. Visitors can enjoy traditional Greek dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, and spanakopita, as well as local specialties like stuffed grape leaves and fresh seafood.
Zakynthos is a beautiful Greek island located in the Ionian Sea. It is part of the Ionian Islands and is known for its enchanting landscapes and crystal-clear waters. One of the main tourist attractions on the island is Navagio Beach, also known as Shipwreck Beach or Smuggler’s Cove. This picturesque beach is famous for its turquoise waters, steep cliffs, and the remains of a shipwreck that ran aground in the 1980s.
Aside from Navagio Beach, Zakynthos is home to several other stunning beaches such as Gerakas Beach, Porto Limnionas, and Xigia Beach, all offering unique experiences and breathtaking views. The island also features several beautiful coves and grottos like the Blue Caves, which are known for their mesmerizing azure waters that reflect off the cave walls.
Nature lovers visiting Zakynthos can explore the island’s lush greenery and abundant wildlife. The island has a national marine park, the Zakynthos National Marine Park, which serves as a nesting ground for endangered loggerhead sea turtles known as Caretta Caretta. In addition, the park is home to diverse birdlife, rare plants, and the Mediterranean monk seal.
Another natural wonder on Zakynthos is the Keri Caves, a series of caves and rock formations along the island’s western coast. They offer opportunities for snorkelling, swimming, and boat tours to marvel at the caves’ geological formations.
Zakynthos is also rich in history and culture, with several churches, monasteries, and museums to explore. The Saint Dionysios Church, the patron saint of the island, boasts impressive architecture and is an important religious site for locals and visitors alike. The Byzantine Museum and the Solomos Museum offer insights into the history and art of Zakynthos.
For those who enjoy leisure and nightlife, the island boasts numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants to enjoy local cuisine, traditional music, and dance. The seaside town of Laganas is particularly popular among party-goers, with its vibrant nightlife, while other towns like Alykes and Vasilikos offer more laid-back atmospheres to relax and enjoy the spectacular surroundings.
Home to the famous Navagio Beach, also known as Shipwreck Beach, as well as plenty of other stunning beaches and natural wonders.
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands in Greece and offers a perfect balance of stunning natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant local culture. It is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, Mykonos and Santorini, but this means it remains relatively unspoiled by mass tourism, making it a great option for those looking to immerse themselves in authentic Greek island life.
One of the main reasons travelers are drawn to Naxos is its stunning beaches. There are numerous sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters that cater to all tastes, from popular spots like Agios Prokopios and Plaka, to more secluded options like Mikri Vigla and Panormos. Some beaches are great for water sports like windsurfing, while others are perfect for families or simply relaxing.
The main town on the island, Naxos Town or Chora, is a charming and lively place, featuring the iconic Portara – a marble doorway that is all that remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. The winding streets of the old town are filled with whitewashed houses, Venetian mansions, traditional tavernas, and boutique shops. The waterfront area offers a great selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars where you can sample local cuisine and enjoy the sunset over the sea.
Naxos is also an island steeped in history, with many important archaeological sites to explore such as the Ancient Temple of Demeter, the ruins of the Kastro, and the Archaeological Museum. There are also several picturesque traditional villages scattered across the island, like Apiranthos, Koronos, and Filoti, where you can discover the unique local customs and crafts.
For nature lovers, Naxos offers a stunning countryside with lush valleys, olive groves, and Mount Zas – the highest point in the Cyclades, providing excellent opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Naxos also has a rich cultural scene, with numerous religious festivals, music events, and traditional celebrations taking place throughout the year, allowing visitors to experience local life and traditions firsthand.
Milos, part of the Cyclades island group, is a stunning Greek island known for its captivating beauty, diverse landscapes, and rich history. It’s often overshadowed by more popular islands, like Mykonos and Santorini, but those who visit Milos are in for an unforgettable experience.
Here are some of the top attractions and things to do in Milos:
1. Sarakiniko Beach: This beach is unlike any other in Greece. Its distinctive landscape features white volcanic rocks sculpted by wind and waves, giving it an otherworldly appearance. The turquoise waters contrast beautifully with the white rocks, making it a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.
2. Kleftiko: Accessible only by boat, Kleftiko is a stunning geological formation on the southern coast of Milos. It is a popular destination for boat tours and features sea caves, snorkelling spots, and a unique landscape formed by volcanic activity.
3. Fishing Villages: Visit the traditional fishing village of Klima with its colourful boat houses, or head to Mandrakia, a picturesque village with white houses and traditional boat docks. Both give you a glimpse into the authentic island life of Milos.
4. Catacombs of Milos: Explore the ancient Christian catacombs that date back to the 1st century AD. This historical site is considered one of the most important early Christian monuments in Greece.
5. Plaka: Wander the narrow streets of Plaka, the charming capital of Milos. It is home to the Venetian Castle, built in the 13th century, and offers a spectacular panoramic view of the island.
6. Mining Museum: Learn about the island’s rich mining history at the Milos Mining Museum, including minerals such as obsidian, sulfur, and kaolin.
7. Papafragas Beach: This hidden gem is surrounded by impressive rock formations and features a small pebble beach and crystal-clear waters.
8. Try local cuisine: Sample traditional Greek dishes and enjoy fresh seafood caught by local fishermen in the island’s taverns and restaurants.
9. Boat tours: Take a boat tour around the island to explore its beautiful coastline, hidden coves, and striking rock formations.
10. Ancient city of Phylakopi: Visit the archaeological site of Phylakopi, an ancient Minoan settlement that dates back to 3000 BC.
Overall, Milos offers a fantastic mix of stunning beaches, unique scenery, authentic island life, and historical attractions, making it an excellent destination for travelers looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience in Greece.
A great destination for water sports enthusiasts, with excellent windsurfing and kitesurfing conditions, as well as charming towns, lovely beaches, and plenty of great food. Paros is a beautiful island in the heart of the Aegean Sea, belonging to the Cyclades islands group in Greece. Known for its stunning beaches, picturesque villages, and vibrant nightlife, Paros has become a popular destination for visitors looking to experience the best of Greek island life.
One of Paros’ main attractions, especially for water sports enthusiasts, is its reputation as a windsurfing and kitesurfing paradise. The island’s consistent Meltemi winds, which usually blow from mid-May to mid-September, create perfect conditions for these exciting sports. Some of the best spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing in Paros include the beaches of Golden Beach (Chrysi Akti), New Golden Beach (Tserdakia), and Santa Maria.
Aside from water sports, Paros offers plenty of other activities for visitors to enjoy. The island is home to numerous charming towns, each with its own unique character and attractions. The main town, Parikia, boasts traditional white-washed houses, a beautiful waterfront promenade, and a lively nightlife scene. The picturesque fishing village of Naoussa is also worth exploring for its charming streets, the ancient Venetian castle, and numerous seafood restaurants.
For those looking for a more peaceful experience, the small village of Lefkes, set in the island’s hills, offers a tranquil escape from the busier coastal towns. With its cobblestone streets, traditional architecture, and stunning views, Lefkes is a great place to wander and enjoy a leisurely coffee at a local café.
Paros is known for its fantastic beaches, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly spot or a more secluded hideaway. The island’s beaches vary from long stretches of golden sand to more intimate coves and bays. Some of the most popular beaches include Kolymbithres, with its unique rock formations, and the sheltered Monastiri Beach, located within an environmental park.
The island’s culinary scene is not to be missed! Paros offers a wide variety of dining options, from traditional Greek tavernas to upscale seafood restaurants. One local speciality worth trying is karavoli – a delicious appetizer made from land snails cooked with rosemary and garlic. The island is also known for producing high-quality local wines, so be sure to sample some during your stay.
Skiathos is a popular holiday destination for those seeking sun, sea, and relaxation. The island’s main town, also called Skiathos, is a charming mix of whitewashed houses and traditional tavernas, while the surrounding countryside is characterised by lush green hills and pine forests.
One of the main attractions of Skiathos is its beaches, which are some of the best in the Mediterranean. Koukounaries beach, in particular, is a stunning stretch of sand that is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Other popular beaches include Banana, Lalaria, and Vromolimnos beach.
In addition to its natural beauty, Skiathos is also known for its vibrant nightlife. The town has a wide range of bars, clubs, and pubs, which come alive after dark with live music and dancing. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing holiday by the sea or a lively party atmosphere, Skiathos has something for everyone.
A car-free island just a short ferry ride from Athens, Hydra features charming harbour towns, cobblestone streets, and traditional stone houses. The island is also home to beautiful beaches and clear waters, making it a great destination for swimming and snorkelling.
However, what makes Hydra truly unique is its ban on motorized vehicles. This means that transportation on the island is limited to walking, donkeys, and water taxis. As a result, the atmosphere on Hydra is peaceful and serene, free from the noise and pollution of cars and motorcycles.
One of the main towns on the island is Hydra Town, which is known for its picturesque architecture and lively waterfront. Visitors can explore the town’s narrow alleys, discover quaint shops and cafes, and watch the boats come and go in the harbour. Other notable attractions on the island include the historic mansions of the sea captains, the Hydra Museum of History and Archives, and the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Best Time to Visit Greek Islands
Weather and Crowds
The best time to visit the Greek islands is during the summer months from June to September. The weather is warm and sunny, perfect for spending time on the beach. However, this is also peak tourist season, so the crowds can be overwhelming.
Events and Festivals
The Greek islands are home to several events and festivals throughout the year. If you’re interested in experiencing the local culture, try to plan your trip around these events. Some of the most popular festivals include the Santorini Wine Festival and the Crete Carnival.
Island Hopping Itineraries for Greece
The Cyclades Islands
The Cyclades Islands are some of the most popular islands to visit in Greece. This group of islands includes Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros. You can easily spend a week exploring these islands and taking in the stunning beaches and local culture.
The Ionian Islands
If you’re looking for a more remote island-hopping adventure, the Ionian Islands are a great option. These islands are located in the northwest part of Greece and include Zakynthos, Corfu, and Kefalonia. The islands are known for their stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters.
The Dodecanese Islands
The Dodecanese Islands are located in the southeastern part of Greece and include Rhodes, Kos, and Patmos. These islands are known for their rich history and stunning architecture. You can easily spend a week exploring the islands and taking in the local culture.
Greek Island Hopping
The “Greek Island Hopping” trip is an 11-day guided beach trip that starts and ends in Athens, Greece. It offers an opportunity to explore some of Greece’s major islands, including Ios, Mykonos, and Santorini. The trip promises a mix of beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, stunning architecture, and a taste of Greek culture.
The itinerary includes private transfers between the port and the hotel in Athens, ensuring convenient transportation for the participants. From Athens, the journey begins with a sail to Mykonos, where travellers can enjoy reserved seating and take in the breathtaking sea views.
Next, the trip takes you from Mykonos to Paros, another picturesque island in Greece, with reserved seating included during the ferry ride. From Paros, you’ll set sail for the alluring island of Santorini, known for its stunning landscapes and sunsets. Once again, reserved seating is provided for the ferry journey.
Throughout the trip, accommodation is carefully chosen to ensure comfort and cosiness for the participants. The itinerary allows ample time for exploring the islands during the day, giving you the opportunity to discover charming villages, indulge in delicious local cuisine like tzatziki, and soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches.
Additionally, the trip may include exciting activities such as speedboat safaris, where you can explore hidden coves and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea. You may also witness breathtaking sunsets, which are particularly famous in Santorini, often referred to as “Star Wars sunsets” due to their otherworldly beauty.
In conclusion, Greece is a beautiful country that boasts many islands, each with its own unique character and charm. Therefore, when planning your next vacation, it’s worth considering one (or more!) of the best islands to visit in Greece. Whether you’re looking for sandy beaches, ancient ruins, or vibrant nightlife, Greece has something to offer everyone.
It’s always a good idea to take out travel insurance before embarking on any trip, including visiting the Greek islands. Whether you need protection against lost or stolen luggage, flight cancellations or medical emergencies, travel insurance can provide peace of mind and financial protection. So be sure to research your options and take out a policy that suits your needs before you set off on your island adventure!