Introduction and Orientation
Greek islanders have a strong sense of tradition, and despite the considerable development of tourist infrastructure, they retain the unique cultural character of each individual island.
So, in the Greek islands you will experience not only the beaches and the sun. You will also enjoy the unique food, music, architecture, history, and customs of each individual one.
You are probably familiar with the quintessential picture of the rocky island with white cubist homes and quaint harbors is a delight.
Given the beautiful weather and the amount of sunshine that bathes the Greek islands in the summer, they have become the favorite destination of millions of vacationers every year.
Needless to say, several of the most popular Greek islands are overrun by tourists in the summer, but that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes being among so many people who are there just to have fun together is not a bad place to be.
The major industry these days for the popular islands is tourism, but the remnants of the yesteryear activities of fishing, diving, commerce, and small-scale agriculture are still driving life in the smaller, lesser-known islands.
Among many, Santorini, Mykonos, Kos, Paros, and Naxos, are the traditional magnets for sea and sun lovers. Their only drawback, is their own popularity.
Larger islands like Corfu, Rhodes, and Crete offer spectacular topography, mature hospitality attitude, beautiful beaches, exciting tourist resorts, fascinating history, unique culture, quiet villages, and party-till-you drop towns.
Best Greek Islands
Best Quiet Island Destinations
Alongside the most touristy Greek islands are the quiet holiday spots with sleepy villages, picturesque promenades, endless sunny days, and crystal cool waters.
With a little research you can find little islands that have been forgotten by time.There you can be lost in solitude, and also there are islands where one can be absorbed in the crowds.
But there are even smaller, more quiet islands. Koufonisia, Simi, Lipsi, Othonoi, Kastelorizo, or Gavdos, that would make you feel as if you are relaxing at the end of the world.
This does not mean you will be deprived of any modern conveniences. It means you will be relaxing in the company of very small towns and crowds.
We consider, Folegandros, Sikinos, Anafi, Antiparos, Astipalea, Amorgos, Samothrace, Ithaca, Nisiros, Simi, Psara, Ano Koufonisi, Iraklia, Othoni, Paxos, Tinos (Panormos, and Ormos Panormou), and Patmos to be among the best quiet destinations in Greece.
Best for Island Hopping
The idea of island hopping is to visit several islands in one or two weeks. It’s best to choose islands that are close together so your travel time from one to the next will not take up too much time.
The best destinations for island hopping are in the Aegean, mainly because they have frequent ferry connections between them.
The central Cyclades have excellent ferry connections, and they are all huddled together, so you can plan your island-hopping without much hustle.
The best island hopping groupings are:
Island-hopping the popular islands: Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Santorini
Island-hopping the quiet islands: Serifos, Sifnos, Milos, Kimolos
Island-hopping in the southern Cyclades: Santorini, Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Anafi
Island hopping the tiny islands: Paros, Antiparos, Iraklia, Ano Koufonisi, Donousa
Island-hopping for families: Rhodes, Simi, Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos
Island-hopping near Athens: Aegina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses
Island-hopping in the northern Aegean: Samos, Ikaria, Chios, Lesvos
Island-hopping in the Ionian sea: Corfu, Paxos/Antipaxos, Othonoi, Ereikousa
See our suggested island hopping itinerary
Best Islands for Families
Best islands for a family vacation offer foremost a quiet and safe setting. Second, enough family-appropriate activities like swimming, theme parks, easy nature walks, and cultural venues.
If you are planning a Greek family vacation, these islands are worth considering:
Andros, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Naxos, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Samos, Crete (Lasithi, Chania, and Agios Nikolaos)
Best Greek Islands for Couples
Amorgos, Folegandros, Koufonisia, Iraklia, Donousa, Antiparos, Sifnos, Serifos, Hydra, Santorini, Crete (Heraklion, Rethimno), Rhodes, Lesvos, Thassos, Corfu.
Best Greek Islands for Singles
If you travel solo, you will probably choose an island where there are plenty of things to do alone, and where you will have the opportunity to meet others.
These are the best islands to visit if you are single and traveling alone:
Mykonos, Santorini, Ios, Paros, Crete (Heraklion, Rethymno), Rhodes, Lesvos, Samothrace.
Best Party Islands
From our list, only Mykonos and Ios can be really considered “party islands” as a whole.
Greek islands usually have a town, or an area within a town that is known as a party destination. So it is possible to find a party spot even on an island that’s not known for its parties.
For example, Rhodes and Crete are islands where you can find places for families, nice places for couples, and a few wild party spots.
In Crete, Chersonissos is a well-known destination for sea, sun, and alcohol consumption. Faliraki in Rhodes has a similar reputation.
While you can find a good party spot in most Greek islands, these are the best-known “party islands:
Mykonos, Ios, Rhodes (Faliraki), Crete (Chersonissos), Corfu (Dasia, Benitses, Kavos), Zakynthos (Laganas).