Whether you’re a traveller after relaxation, adventure, history or stunning landscapes, Greece’s 6000 islands have it all — each offering a distinct experience. Some of the most popular island groups for island hopping are Cyclades, Dodecanese, Ionian and Saronic Islands. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and can be visited on a solo trip itself.
The best way to get around the islands is to take a ferry or catamaran, with a handful of companies to choose from — though, during high season, it’s best you book tickets well in advance. Some islands also have airports, which will save you in travel time, so could allow you to see more.
Officially known as Thira, Santorini is one of the most famous Greek islands, located in the southern Aegean Sea. It’s known for its stunning sunsets, dramatic cliffside landscapes and charming towns, all of which create an ultra-romantic setting.
For sunset views, head to Oia. The town’s clifftop location offers an unobstructed view of the sun sinking into the Aegean Sea. Many visitors gather at the Oia Castle and along the narrow streets to witness this daily spectacle. You might also want to book a sailing excursion with dinner and drinks at sunset so you can see it again the Aegean.
The island is also known for its wineries, with it having unique volcanic soil and indigenous grape varieties. Take a wine tour and tasting at local wineries to sample wines such as Assyrtiko and Vinsanto.
Fira is the capital town of Santorini and offers a range of restaurants, bars, shops, and cultural attractions.
Also in the Cyclades island group is Paros, which offers blends old and new. On the island, the village of Naoussa features narrow alleys, a harbour and heaving nightlife. Spend an afternoon strolling through Naoussa’s quaint streets and picking a seaside spot for lunch.
Paros’ Golden Beach is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, with ideal conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Though, its sandy shores are great to just relax on, too.
Visit the Byzantine church, Panagia Ekatontapiliani, known as the Church of 100 Doors. It’s a testament to Paros’ historical and architectural significance. Day trip to Antiparos, a tiny, luminous Greek island in the South Aegean.
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, offering history, nature and authentic Greek culture. Its main town is Chora, where you can walk its winding streets, and admire its Venetian architecture and the imposing Portara, a massive marble gateway that stands as a remnant of an ancient temple.
Immerse yourself in Naxos’ mythological history by visiting the Temple of Apollo and the intriguing kouros statues at the archaeological museum. Naxos is also known for its delicious local cuisine, which blends traditional Greek flavours with unique island specialties.
Beach-wise, Agios Prokopios beckons with its azure waters and soft sands, while Plaka Beach is much quieter.
On Milos, you’ll find unique geological formations, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque villages. If you’re getting here by ferry, you’ll arrive at Adamas, the island’s main port, with restaurants, shops and a waterfront promenade.
Sarakiniko Beach has a moon-like landscape, characterised by white volcanic rock formations that contrast beautifully with the deep blue sea. It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing and cliff jumping.
Accessible only by boat, Kleftiko is a series of sea caves and rock formations. Explore its caves, snorkel in its waters and marvel at its geological features.
Plaka is the island’s capital, a hilltop town with traditional Cycladic architecture. Stroll its narrow streets, visit the Folklore Museum and soak in the sea views.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in Greece. Its Old Town, a marvel of medieval architecture, is UNESCO World Heritage-listed.
Explore the Street of the Knights, the Palace of the Grand Master and the impressive fortifications. Then visit the village of Lindos, crowned by the Acropolis. Climb up to the ancient site for panoramic views and explore the charming village streets.
When you’re keen to just relax, choose from beaches, including Tsambika Beach, Faliraki Beach and Anthony Quinn Bay. Or the Valley of the Butterflies, a nature reserve, home to thousands of butterflies.
Kos is another island in the Dodecanese archipelago. Visit its historically significant archaeological site, Asclepeion, an ancient healing sanctuary where Hippocrates taught medicine.
Wander through Kos town’s historic streets, visit the Castle of the Knights and drop by its town square for an afternoon coffee or to shop. The island also has many natural thermal springs, such as Embros Therma. Soak in their warm waters, which are said to have therapeutic benefits.
Some of Kos’ most popular and picturesque beaches are Tigaki Beach, Paradise Beach, and Mastichari Beach.
Patmos is a small, but history-filled Greek island in the Dodecanese archipelago. Visit the Cave of the Apocalypse, the sacred cave where St. John is said to have received his revelations that led to the Book of Revelation. The site holds deep religious significance.
You might also want to explore the village of Chora, with its traditional architecture, narrow streets and lively tavernas. The Monastery of Saint John dominates the island’s skyline and is also worth a visit. A medieval monastery, it houses priceless religious artefacts and offers views of the entire island.
When you’re ready to chill out, relax on your choice of a handful of beaches, including Psili Ammos and Grikos Beach.
Symi is yet another Dodecanese island, best known for its colorful architecture. Its main harbour Gialos is home to neoclassical mansions painted in pastel hues. Stroll around this waterfront area, admiring the houses.
Also, be sure to visit the Panormitis Monastery, with its intricate architecture and religious relics. It’s a revered pilgrimage site for both locals and visitors. The island also has many secluded beaches and coves, accessible only by boat. Visit Nanou Beach and Marathounda Beach.
Corfu, also known as Kerkyra in Greek, is an island in the Ioanian Sea. Spend an afternoon wandering through Corfu Town’s narrow streets, influenced by Venetian, French, and British architecture. The Liston, a row of cafes, is a must-visit.
Visit the Achilleion Palace, an opulent palace built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Admire the neoclassical architecture and gardens. The coastal area of Paleokastritsa has coves and a medieval monastery.
Corfu also has all kinds of beaches, catering to different preferences. Two popular picks are Kavos and Glyfada.
Zakynthos, often called Zante, is located in the Ionian Sea, best known for its Navagio Beach. The beach features a shipwreck, set against turquoise waters and towering cliffs. The beach was closed to visitors in 2023, as there was a possibility of landslides, though you can still see it from above.
Take a boat tour of the Blue Caves, where sunlight creates a mesmerising play on the colours of the sea. Swing by Keri Village, a traditional village on a hill with a lighthouse that looks out at the Ionian Sea.
Zakynthos is also a great place to spot turtles, as it’s home to hundreds of loggerhead sea turtles. Join guided tours to observe these gentle creatures in their natural habitat.
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece. Its Myrtos Beach is one of the world’s most stunning, characterised by its dramatic cliffs and sparkling waters.
Assos is a village with pastel-coloured houses nestled beneath a Venetian fortress. Stroll along its waterfront and savor fresh seafood. Melissani Cave, meanwhile, is an underground lake that you can take a boat to. The sunlight creates enchanting reflections on the water. If you’re into hiking, tackle the trails of Mount Ainos National Park.
Ithaki, also known as Ithaca, is on the smaller side of islands in the Ioanian Sea. According to legend, Ithaki was the home of Odysseus. Visit the Cave of the Nymphs and the School of Homer, believed to be the poet’s supposed school.
The island’s main town of Vathi has a great waterfront you can walk along, as well as an Arheological Museum that Greek mythology buffs will get a kick out of. Relax at Afales Bay in north of Ithaca with many pebbled beaches.
Lefkada is another island among the Ionian island group. The island’s capital, Lefkada Town, blends modern amenities with history. Visit its archaeological museum and explore its Venetian fortress.
In the village of Agios Nikitas, meander through narrow streets, pop into traditional tavernas and relax on the small Agios Nikitas Beach. Another beach to visit is Porto Katsiki. Descend steep stairs to get down its cliff.
Aegina is an island in the Saronic Gulf of Greece. Explore its well-preserved ancient temple, Temple of Aphaia, dedicated to the goddess of Aphaia. Its hilltop location offers stunning views of the island.
Then, wander Aegina Town’s streets, visit its Archeological Museum and head to a market stall to try the island’s famous pistachios. Relax on popular beach Agia Marina, with its golden sands and shallow waters. Lunch on fresh seafood at one of its many beachside tavernas.
Another place to eat is at Perdika, a traditional fishing villages with waterfront tavernas. Enjoy fresh catches while watching the sunset.
Hydra is another island in the Saronic Gulf of Greece, with not a single car in sight. Because of this, you’ll have to get around on foot, by donkey or with a water taxi.
Wander along Hydra Town’s waterfront promenade, lined with cafes, boutiques and art galleries. The Historical Archive Museum gives a good glimpse into the island’s past. Hydra has many rocky beaches. Vlychos Beach and Kamini Beach are popular spots for swimming.
Hiking enthusiasts should tackle the trail to the summit of Mount Eros for views of Hydra and the surrounding sea.
Poros is another island in the Saronic Gulf of Greece. Its lush landscapes feature olive groves and pine forests. Explore the neoclassical architecture and a clock tower overlooking the harbour in Poros Town.
Russian Bay was named after the Russian naval base established in the 19th century. Discover the remnants of this historical presence. The island has plenty of beaches, too, with the most frequented being Love Bay and Askeli Beach.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, with main cities being Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion.
In Chania, visit its Venetian Harbour where you’ll find Venetian, Ottoman, and Greek architecture. Stroll along its waterfront, admire its lighthouse and shop in its old town. Then, learn about Crete’s ancient past at Chania Archeological Museum, which showcases artefacts spanning different periods, including the Minoan civilisation.
Finally, pick up some souvenirs, sample traditional Cretan goods and purchase fresh produce at Chania’s Agora Market.
In Rethymno, Fortezza Fortress is an imposing fortress overlooking Rethymno. Its views and historical significance make it a must-see attraction. Similar to Chania, Rethymno has a Venetian harbour lined with cafes and tavernas. At Archaeological Museum of Rethymno, see a collection of artefacts, from the Minoans to the Byzantine era, that give you a good idea of the island’s history,
In Heraklion, delve into the legendary Minoan civilisation by exploring the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, with its intricate frescoes and architectural marvels.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum houses an extensive collection of Minoan artifacts, including the famous Snake Goddess figurine. Heraklion is also home to several historical sites, including the Venetian Fortress Koules and the ancient city walls.