The 20 most beautiful Greek islands to visit

Îles grecques, Hydra

Which Greek island should you choose for your trip to Greece? Here’s our selection of Greece’s most beautiful must-see islands!

Between the Ionian and Aegean Seas, between the Byzantine East and the Catholic West, and between Europe and the Balkans, stretches a mountainous and fragmented territory from which stands out an archipelago of over 9,000 islands and islets, nearly 200 of which are inhabited: Greece, one of the cradles of European civilization and today a major tourist destination in Europe.

The Greek islands, bursting with sunshine all year round, offer heavenly vacations full of color and flavor. From Edenic beaches to historical pilgrimages in the footsteps of Aristotle and Plato, from nature sports (hiking, horseback riding, etc.) to water sports (diving) and culinary discoveries, from islands for partying to peaceful family getaways, the Greek islands have everything to offer. Here’s our selection of 20 must-see islands in Greece.

Organize your trip to Greece

Find a cheap flight to Greece

Read all our Greece travel guides

Book activities in Greece

Find a cheap hotel in Greece

Find a ferry in Greece

1. Zakynthos

Zakynthos, or Zante, is a typical postcard setting for visiting the Greek islands of the Ionian Sea: Navagio beach is certainly the most photographed in Greece. The caves between the sea and the cliffs give the water a brilliant blue color. To the north, Tsilivi offers the perfect backdrop for hiking. You may also see the island’s sea turtles, protected as an endangered species.

2. Santorini

Îles grecques, Santorin

Photo credit: Flickr – Michel Marie

Ideal for couples, this Greek island is nestled in a caldera and is world-renowned for its flamboyant sunsets. Its blue domes surmount bright white facades, blending into the azure blue of the Mediterranean, offer an idyllic setting for all its guests.

3. Mykonos

Îles grecques, Mykonos

Photo credit: Flickr – Zen Voyager

Mykonos, in the Cyclades, is the ultimate party island. Drink and dance until dawn on a sandy beach, shop in luxury boutiques and swim in crystal-clear waters at Elia beach or Kalafati beach in the south. To the north, the beaches are relatively quieter and less crowded. Aficionados of clubs and trendy evenings, you’ve come to the right place!

4. Ikaria

Îles grecques, Ikaria

Photo credit: Flickr – almekri01

Often forgotten by tourists, Icarus (Ikaria) is located 20 kilometers from Samos and is one of the most beautiful but difficult-to-reach of the Greek islands: breathtaking wilderness, splendid little bays and coves where turquoise water drenches fine tropical beach sand, authentic architecture immersing visitors in the past of ancient Greece.

5. Skyros

Îles grecques, Skyros

Photo credit: Flickr – Jim Makos

Here’s an island in northeastern Greece in the Aegean Sea: the calanques of Marseille times a thousand. Described as one of the quietest of the Greek islands, Skyros is ideal for exploring its most magical corners by bike or scooter. The north is mountainous and green, while the south of the island is rather arid. For swimming, visit the beaches of Gyrismata, Atitsa, Palamari and Ahrounes.

6. Gavdos

In the south of Crete, Europe’s most southerly Greek island – Gavdos – is almost deserted: people go there to appreciate the charms of a reclusive life, far removed from modernity and civilization. 80% of its beaches are naturist, but it’s also the perfect place to sleep on the sand under the stars. Don’t miss the beaches of Agios, Ioannis and Potamos, reputed to be among the most beautiful in Greece.

7. Milos

Îles grecques, Milos

Photo credit: Flickr – T Vass

Milos is a volcanic island in the Cyclades, which is still little visited. Known as the « island of colors », it is rather quiet compared to its neighboring islands. The lunar landscape of white rocks and earth plunging into the sea is a visual delight!

8. Cephalonia

Îles grecques, Céphalonie

Photo credit: Flickr – Darko

The green island of Cephalonia, birthplace of Ulysses, will appeal to lovers of nature and beaches with deep sapphire-blue waters. The Bay of Myrtos is a must-see. Water sports (Makrigialos), caves (Drogatari), kayaking spots: Greece from another angle.

9. Corfu

Îles grecques, Corfou

Photo credit: Flickr – Eric Ponitka

This horseshoe-shaped island to the west of Greece and Albania boasts long beaches and rugged coastlines, rich nature and architecture with multiple influences (French, British, Venetian, Byzantine). Corfu has 250 villages to visit.

10. Crete

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the largest in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Aegean Sea. Renting a car or scooter to visit Crete will give you plenty of freedom. What to do on Greece’s largest island? See breathtaking nature, hike through impressive gorges, swim on heavenly beaches, party in Heraklion, visit Knossos…

11. Kos

Îles grecques, Kos

Photo credit: Flickr – Olli Virtanen

Here’s one of the best Greek islands for partying: beaches, bars, discos. Close to Rhodes and Turkey, Kos combines partying with cultural visits: a must for young people. Cavo Paradiso and Agios Stefanos are the most popular beaches.

12. Naxos

Îles grecques, Naxos

Photo credit: Flickr – trevorklatko

The birthplace of Zeus, Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades and home to numerous Gallo-Roman ruins. Enjoy the beaches and sunsets, visit the archaeological ruins, sample the culinary specialties and swim at Agios Prokopios beach.

13. Paros

The pearl of the Aegean, Paros is the place to go shopping before heading to Ios or Santorini. Here again, the villages offer postcard-perfect scenery. Parikia, Lefkes, Angeria and Marpissa are the most interesting towns and villages to visit.

14. Alonissos

Îles grecques, Alonissos

Photo credit: Flickr – Karen Eliot

Located in the Sporades Islands, Alonissos is famous for its National Marine Park of Alonissos, home to 80 different bird species and 300 species of fish. Nature lovers, you’ve come to the right place!

15. Folegandros

Îles grecques, Folegandros

Photo credit: Flickr – Panos

Long protected from mass tourism, Folegandros is now a fashionable destination: visitors come to admire its Chora, perched on a cliff-edge plateau not far from the port. It’s an ideal stopover between Ios and Milos. The island is also ideal for hiking in low and mid-season.

16. Hydra

Îles grecques, Hydra

Photo credit: Flickr – Daniel Ribeiro

Located an hour and a half south of Athens by boat, Hydra is an island where motorization is non-existent: goods are transported by mule. The island is a listed historic monument and will appeal to lovers of unspoilt nature, walking and quiet bathing.

17. Patmos

Îles grecques, Patmos

Photo credit: Flickr – psyberartist

An important place of pilgrimage for Christians, Patmos – in the middle of the Aegean Sea – is an open-air museum: the capital and the ancient city of Chora are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Don’t miss: the beaches of Agriolivado, Kambos, Meloi, Vagia, Ammos, etc., as well as historic villages and monuments.

18. Rhodes

Illuminated by 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, Rhodes is Greece’s fourth-largest island in the Aegean Sea. Its old town has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1988, and there’s plenty to visit here: Tsambika beach, Faliraki water park, Anthonu Quinn Bay for snorkeling, among others.

19. Samos

Îles grecques, Samos

Photo credit: Flickr – Minna Halonen

Pythagoras was born here: Samos, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to numerous ancient remains, such as the Temple of Hera. It’s also a privileged place for nature, with its lush greenery and white sandy beaches for swimming. Its picturesque villages, numerous archaeological sites and small fishing ports make it a must-see island.

20. Ios

Ios is one of the most popular spots for partying and sunbathing on the beaches of the Greek islands. Don’t feel like mingling with the boisterous locals? Take a hike in this magical setting of greenery and nature and end the day on a secluded beach, for a bucolic holiday guaranteed.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Greece