Greek Islands: The Best Islands To Visit


GREEK ISLANDS

THE BEST GREEK ISLANDS TO VISIT

 

Discover the allure of Greece with our ultimate travel guide, “The Best of Greece.” Journey through sun-kissed islands, ancient ruins, and vibrant cities. From the breathtaking views of Santorini to the historic wonders of Athens, experience the rich culture, exquisite cuisine, and warm hospitality that define this Mediterranean paradise. Whether you’re an adventurer, history buff, or beach lover, Greece offers something magical for everyone. Let us take you on an unforgettable adventure through this enchanting land.

 

 

Top Greek Islands to Visit

The Greek islands are a mosaic of stunning beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, making them some of the world’s most coveted travel destinations. From the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean to the lush landscapes of the Ionian, each island offers a unique experience. Here are the top Greek islands you should consider visiting, with detailed descriptions, historical backgrounds, highlights, and travel tips.

Santorini

Description

Santorini, part of the Cyclades group, is renowned for its dramatic caldera views, striking sunsets, and iconic white-washed buildings topped with blue domes. Formed by a massive volcanic eruption, the island’s unique landscape is both stunning and surreal. Visitors can explore its rugged cliffs, black sand beaches, and charming villages perched atop steep slopes.

History

Santorini, also known as Thera in ancient times, boasts a history that stretches back to the Minoan civilization. The catastrophic volcanic eruption around 1600 BC not only shaped the island’s physical form but also played a role in the decline of the Minoan civilization. The preserved ruins of Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan city, offer a glimpse into this past, often referred to as the “Pompeii of the Aegean.”

Highlights

  • Oia: Famous for its stunning sunsets, Oia’s narrow streets are lined with boutiques, cafes, and art galleries. The view from the castle ruins is particularly spectacular at dusk.
  • Fira: The bustling capital of Santorini offers a blend of traditional charm and modern amenities. Its cliffside location provides panoramic views of the caldera.
  • Akrotiri Archaeological Site: This well-preserved Minoan settlement, buried under volcanic ash, is a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
  • Red Beach: Known for its red volcanic sand and dramatic cliffs, Red Beach is a unique spot for sunbathing and swimming.

When to Go

The ideal time to visit Santorini is from late April to early November, when the weather is warm and sunny. July and August are peak tourist months, with bustling crowds and lively atmosphere.

Getting There

Santorini’s international airport receives flights from major European cities and Athens. Alternatively, ferries from Athens (Piraeus port) and other islands provide a scenic route to the island.

Getting Around

To explore Santorini, you can use buses, taxis, or rental cars. For a more adventurous experience, consider renting an ATV or scooter. Walking is also a great way to discover the narrow, winding streets of the island’s villages.

Mykonos

Description

Mykonos, part of the Cyclades group, is synonymous with vibrant nightlife, luxury, and picturesque villages. This cosmopolitan island attracts a diverse crowd, from partygoers to families seeking a relaxed beach holiday. Mykonos is also known for its sandy beaches, charming streets, and upscale resorts.

History

Mykonos has been a significant center for trade and culture since ancient times, and is associated with the myth of Hercules. Its proximity to Delos, an important archaeological site and sacred island, has greatly influenced its historical and cultural heritage.

Highlights

  • Mykonos Town (Chora): Known for its charming narrow streets, whitewashed buildings, and vibrant nightlife, Chora is the heart of Mykonos. The town offers a mix of high-end boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
  • Little Venice:This picturesque area where buildings are right on the water’s edge is perfect for a romantic evening stroll or a sunset cocktail.
  • Paradise Beach: Famous for its beach parties, clear waters, and lively atmosphere, Paradise Beach is a hub of activity both day and night.
  • Windmills: These iconic landmarks, especially the row of windmills in Chora, provide fantastic photo opportunities and a glimpse into the island’s past.

When to Go

The best time to visit Mykonos is from May to October. July and August are the peak months, ideal for those seeking vibrant nightlife and bustling beach parties.

Getting There

Mykonos has an international airport with regular flights from Athens and major European cities. Ferries from Piraeus and Rafina ports in Athens, as well as other islands, are also available.

Getting Around

Buses, taxis, and rental vehicles are common ways to explore Mykonos. For beach hopping, water taxis provide convenient access to various coastal spots. Renting a scooter or ATV can also be a fun and flexible way to navigate the island.

Crete

Description

Crete, the largest Greek island, is known for its diverse landscapes ranging from sandy beaches to rugged mountains. The island offers a perfect blend of ancient ruins, vibrant cities, and quaint villages. Crete’s rich culture, excellent cuisine, and friendly locals make it an inviting destination for all types of travelers.

History

Crete is the cradle of the Minoan civilization, Europe’s earliest recorded civilization. The island is dotted with archaeological sites, including the famous Knossos Palace, which highlight its historical significance. Crete has been a crossroads of civilizations, influenced by the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans.

Highlights

  • Knossos Palace: The largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, Knossos is associated with the myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinth.
  • Heraklion: The island’s capital, home to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Minoan artifacts.
  • Samaria Gorge: A spectacular 16-kilometer-long gorge, perfect for hiking and experiencing Crete’s natural beauty.
  • Elafonissi Beach: Known for its pink sand and turquoise waters, Elafonissi is one of Crete’s most famous and picturesque beaches.

When to Go

The best time to visit Crete is from May to October, when the weather is warm and the sea is perfect for swimming. July and August are the hottest months, ideal for beach activities.

Getting There

Crete has two international airports in Heraklion and Chania, with flights from Athens and major European cities. Ferries from Piraeus port in Athens provide a scenic and enjoyable journey to the island.

Getting Around

Due to Crete’s size, renting a car is the best way to explore the island thoroughly. Buses are available for major routes, and taxis can be used for shorter trips. For exploring remote areas and rugged terrain, a 4×4 vehicle is recommended.

Rhodes

Description

Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, offers a blend of beautiful beaches, archaeological sites, and medieval architecture. The island is known for its well-preserved medieval Old Town, lively resorts, and charming villages.

History

Rhodes has a rich history, having been a major trading port and the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The medieval Old Town of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage site, reflecting its historical importance during the Crusades.

Highlights

  • Rhodes Old Town: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this medieval city is surrounded by ancient walls and filled with historical landmarks, shops, and cafes.
  • Lindos: A picturesque village with narrow streets and whitewashed houses. The ancient acropolis of Lindos offers stunning views and significant historical ruins.
  • Faliraki Beach: Known for its vibrant nightlife and water sports, Faliraki Beach is a popular destination for both relaxation and adventure.
  • Butterfly Valley: A natural reserve home to thousands of butterflies during the summer months, offering a serene escape into nature.

When to Go

The best time to visit Rhodes is from April to November, when the weather is warm and sunny. July and August are peak tourist months, with lively crowds and bustling activities.

Getting There

Rhodes has an international airport with flights from Athens and major European cities. Ferries from Piraeus port in Athens and other islands provide an alternative and scenic route to the island.

Getting Around

To explore Rhodes, you can use buses, taxis, or rental cars. Scooters and bicycles are also popular for navigating the island’s more scenic and less accessible areas.

Corfu

Description

Corfu, part of the Ionian Islands, is known for its lush greenery, stunning beaches, and Venetian architecture. The island combines natural beauty with a rich cultural heritage, offering visitors a range of activities from beach lounging to historical exploration.

History

Corfu has a rich history influenced by various civilizations, including the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and British. The Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, reflects this diverse cultural heritage with its narrow streets, historical buildings, and fortifications.

Highlights

  • Corfu Town: Known for its Venetian architecture and historical sites, Corfu Town offers a charming blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. Highlights include the Old Fortress and Spianada Square.
  • Achilleion Palace: A neoclassical palace built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, featuring beautiful gardens and stunning views.
  • Paleokastritsa: Famous for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the Monastery of Theotokos, which offers panoramic views of the coastline.
  • Canal d’Amour: A natural passageway with unique rock formations, said to bring good luck to couples who swim through it together.

When to Go

The best time to visit Corfu is from May to October, when the weather is warm and the sea is perfect for swimming. The island is busiest in July and August, with lively crowds and numerous festivals.

Getting There

Corfu has an international airport with flights from Athens and major European cities. Ferries from Igoumenitsa on the mainland and other Ionian islands provide an alternative route to the island.

Getting Around

Buses

  • Green Buses (KTEL): These buses connect Corfu Town with other major towns and villages across the island, including Sidari, Kavos, and Paleokastritsa.
  • Blue Buses: These operate within Corfu Town and its suburbs, serving shorter routes.