Greek Island Hopping is a bucket list trip for many travellers around the world. What could better than spend a week, a month or if you’re lucky, a few months hopping between Greek Islands?
But with over 200 islands how do you know which ones to visit? Below are 20 of the best Greek Islands you should visit in 2021.
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The 13 Best Greek Islands for Greek Island Hopping
Krisztina, She Wanders Abroad
Santorini is undoubtedly one of the most famous islands in Greece and for a good reason! The picture-perfect views of the Aegean Sea, the coastline dotted with whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches make Santorini a true dream destination. Not to mention the friendly locals and the heavenly local food!
If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Santorini, you need to take a look at the caldera towns, especially Oia, Fira, or Imerovigli. This is where you’ll find those typical views you see on postcards, along with many luxury resorts and high-end restaurants. If you’d rather stay on the budget side and prefer to stay close to the beaches, Kamari and Perissa can also be a good choice for you.
Since Santorini is a pretty small island, spending 3 days in Santorini is enough to discover the main highlights and see the different parts of the island but if you’re looking for a laid-back vacation, plan to stay longer. The sunsets in Greece are simply magical, so you can’t miss watching the sunset from Oia Castle or one of the restaurants/bars in Fira. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even hike between the two towns. It will take around 2-3 hours and you will be treated to the most beautiful views along the road.
It’s also worth going on a boat tour around the island to see Santorini from a different perspective. If you have more time, you can visit the archeological site and lighthouse in Akrotiri in the southwest corner of the island, or drive up to Mount Profitis Ilias from where you can get an amazing panoramic view over the island.
One of the best Greek islands is Paros. The island of Paros is part of the Cyclades and you can easily get there from other islands in Greece, such as Santorini and Mykonos.
There are direct ferries from many Greek islands, which is very convenient. The island is lesser known than other islands, which is one of the reasons it is unique. You can get here a more authentic experience than at many other islands.
Furthermore, what’s great about the island is the number of idyllic villages. Many of these villages feature beautiful picturesque Greek houses. When you are on the island, you should definitely go to the village of Lefkes. It is a very small town with lots of beautiful things to see.
For example, there are lots of houses that feature the colors white and blue. Furthermore, there are many pink flowers that look amazing! Also, there is a huge amount of churches in this town.
Lefkes is a great place for photography and you find here many of the Instagrammable places in Paros.
Another great place to visit is Naoussa. This is a very pretty village and it includes a picturesque port with lots of great places for dinner.
What’s great is that there is good public transportation on the island, so you should have no problem moving! One of the best hotels in Paros is Sunset View Hotel Paros.
Katie, You Me Under the Palm Tree
Kefalonia island is such a unique and beautiful island in the Ionian sea. It is the only Greek island to have its own National Park. It has some world-famous beaches that are so stunning, there is also beautifully preserved Venetian architecture. For these reasons, Kefalonia island has so much to offer! Whether you choose to hike around the National park, hunt waterfalls or relax on one of the many incredible beaches, you are never short of things to do in Kefalonia.
For the best beach, head to Myrtos beach. It is also an excellent place for photography due to its dramatic landscape. Myrtos beach sits at the feet of two mountains, creating the most beautiful beach full of drama. The towns of Fiskardo and Assos are also so picturesque. Both are full of Venetian architecture and pastel-coloured houses that sit on the waterfront. They are perfect for exploring and catching dinner or cocktails at sunset.
We would recommend staying in Fiskardo bay itself. It is pretty pricey compared to other parts of the island, but it is so worth it.
The best resort in the Fiskardo is Emelisse Nature Resort.
This incredible place is enclosed with cypress and cedar trees. It also has panoramic views of the mountains and sea; this resort is stunning. Perfect for couples and only a 10-minute walk to Fiskardo bay.
Kefalonia has its airport, making it easy to travel to. Although from here, there is no public transport from the airport, so we would recommend hiring a car from here.
Stéphanie, Bey Of Travel
Zakynthos is world famous due to the island’s must-see shipwreck landmark on Navagio beach. The relatively small island Zakynthos (410 km²) is a magical destination for a sunny couple or family vacation that should be high on your Greece bucket list.
Rent a boat and get amazed by the crystal blue waters, visit the blue caves, and take the time to go out snorkeling among sea turtles. Snap the most beautiful pictures at Navagio viewpoint.
To fully enjoy your stay, book a room in St John Villas & Spa. The hotel is like a dream coming true, with several swimming pools and the most luxury rooms.
On the hunt for some local Greek dishes? Make sure to stop at Porto Limnionas Tavern. From the terrace, you can enjoy a beautiful view over the sea. Or enjoy a delicious dinner in a romantic setting at Nobelos Sea Side restaurant, they serve all kinds of fresh fish dishes.
Looking for a more adventurous activity, enjoy a horse ride on the beach or rent a quad to discover the island.
Zakynthos is one of the best Greek islands to visit, it has the most beautiful shops, the best restaurants and a vibrant nightlife, you won’t be bored for a second.
Annabel, Smudged Postcard
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and one of the most southerly making it ideal for early or late summer sun visits.
Crete lends itself well to all types of traveller. History buffs will enjoy exploring the ancient ruins – Knossos being the most well known. If you’re visiting Crete with kids, there are plenty of child-friendly attractions including water parks, zoos and farms to visit.
Those looking for beaches are also in for a treat as some of Greece’s best beaches are found in Crete. The pink tinged sandy beach of Elafonisi on the island’s west coast is one of the most photographed in Europe.
There are some lovely towns to explore in Crete. Chania in the north of the island is particularly attractive with its Venetian buildings hugging the harbour with views of the lighthouse beyond. Behind the harbourfront is a warren of streets packed with inviting cafes and restaurants.
Also on the north coast is Rethymno which has an attractive old town and the island’s capital Heraklion which is an enjoyable city to explore.
As Crete is so large, the best way to do the island justice is to take to the road and explore by car. That way, you’ll see the incredible range of scenery – from long sandy beaches to rocky mountain ranges in the island’s interior.
Spring is a particularly rewarding time of year to visit as the hillsides and olive groves are awash with colour from the wild flowers which bloom all across the countryside.
There is a great range of accommodation to choose from in Crete from family friendly villas to five star hotels. If you’d like an authentic slice of Cretan hospitality, try Milia Mountain Retreat – an eco-conscience enterprise hidden away on the edge of the White Mountains in the west of the island.
Raluca, Travel With A Spin
Thasos is the northernmost of the Greek islands. Due to its proximity to the mainland, it can be easily reached by ferry from both Kavala and Keramoti. The island is a great holiday spot for families and couples looking to relax, hike, enjoy the sun and water or enrich their historic culture.
Thasos has many wonderful beaches. Swimmers will be enchanted by Golden Beach, a 4km long sandy beach with shallow waters. Saliara Beach, made out of small rounded marble pieces from a nearby excavation, offers the best snorkeling opportunities and the most turquoise waters. Paradise Beach, with high waves almost anytime, is perfect for sports lovers. At the same time, a jump in La Giola, a natural pool carved in rocks, is a challenge even for the most adventurous ones.
People interested in Greek history and culture shouldn’t miss the ancient Roman Amphitheater in Limenas, the capital of the island, or the 1000 years-old marble quarry in Aliki. But no visit to Greece would be complete without a traditional evening with music and dance. Theologus, the oldest village in Thasos, is perfect for this.
But this isn’t everything. Also known as the Emerald Island, Thasos is a great destination for hikers and nature lovers. One can follow paths on Mt. Ypsarion to lakes, springs, caves and uninhabited villages in the mountains. Another option to visit these places is to enroll in a jeep safari tour or a horse riding tour. Overlooking both the Aegean Sea and Mt. Ypsarion, Elektra Hotel in Skala Prinos is a great choice for enjoying everything the island has to offer.
Marjut, The Smooth Escape
Located in the Aegean Sea, Milos is a small volcanic island that boasts unique beaches, mesmerizing turquoise waters and spectacular rugged scenery.
It is much less visited than its famous neighbors Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos, so you can expect far fewer crowds and a more relaxed authentic vibe.
One of the top things to do in Milos is to explore the dazzling white landscape of Sarakiniko beach. This place is truly one of nature’s masterpieces where you’ll find impressive volcanic rock formations, arches and pools full of crystal clear water.
Since Sarakiniko is one of the most popular spots in Milos, I recommend arriving early.
Another must-do activity in Milos is sailing around the island. This allows you to see the more remote parts of Milos that are home to gorgeous pristine beaches, snorkeling spots full of fish and sea caves that you can swim in. If you have an underwater camera, make sure to bring it with you to this tour!
To see the typical Greek whitewashed houses, head to Plaka which is the capital of Milos. With its charming white streets, blue doors and bougainvillea trees, every corner in this town looks photo-worthy.
Plaka also has many beautiful outdoor restaurants where you can enjoy a romantic dinner with a sunset view.
If you’d like to spend the night here, consider staying at Halara Studios that offer gorgeous Cycladic-style apartments with breathtaking views of the coast.
The best time to visit Milos is from May to October. In this period, the weather is sunny and hot, the rainfall is low and all the tour operators, restaurants and bars are open.
The most common way to get to Milos is by taking a ferry but it is also possible to fly there from Athens. The ferry takes 3-4 hours whereas the flight takes 45 minutes.
Lavina, Continent Hop
The island of Delos is a quaint little island located about 15 kilometres from Mykonos, which takes about an hour to get here.
If you’re trying to get here from Santorini, it’s a longer route that takes about 6 hours, and you can pick one of the three options Ios – Thira, Ios – Naxos and Mikonos – Naxos, to pass by before you get here.
Delos may not come across as something one must visit; however, what makes this island unique and worth a stop is its significance as one of Greece’s most important archaeological and historical sites.
Excavations continue here on a regular basis as there’s always something new to discover and uncover!
The artefacts found through the excavations are displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Delos, located on the island itself.
It is quite an ancient island with some of the investigations of the artefacts found here believed to be dated to as far back as the third millennium BC. In Greek Mythology, Delos is also thought to be the birthplace of the Greek Gods Apollo and Artemis.
The terrace of the Lions is on the most intact excavated sites here. In addition to this, one can visit the numerous temples, the sacred lake and the theatre, to name a few attractions on the island. There aren’t any accommodations on the island, so it is best visited as a day trip; however, since Mykonos is an hour away, it is good to get lodging there after a tiring day!
Rai, Rai of Light
The island of Naxos, renowned for its archeological ruins, golden beaches, and turquoise waters, lies in the heart of the Aegean Sea.
The largest of the Cyclades (and greenest) it offers a unique mix of ancient ruins and beach culture. It is easily reached by direct flight from Athens or by ferry from the port of Piraeus or any of the neighbouring islands.
Naxos is large, with a host of things to do, and it is recommended to spend at least a couple days here to really experience it all. Don’t miss a close up view of the Apollo Temple, standing formidably overlooking the sea. Then wander the streets of the Old Town.
Other top sights on the island include Ano Koufonisi, Mikro Vigla, the Temple of Demeter, and the Archeological Museum of Naxos.
The island is known for its long sandy beaches and beach lovers will enjoy the variety of choice that include Plaka Beach, Agios Prokopios, and Cedar Forest of Alyko just to name a few.
The best areas to stay on the island would be Chora, Agios Prokopios Beach, or Agia Anna Beach. Whether you choose to lounge on the beach, hike Mount Zeus, discover ancient temples, or inviting villages, Naxos has it all and is one of the best islands to visit.
Nichola, Family Hotel Expert
Rhodes is one of the real gems when it comes to the Greek Islands, full of character and with plenty going on. Fly in to the island direct and there are buses than run through the island but it’s easier to hire a car and travel around under your own steam.
Rhodes has some of the great historic sites, including Lindos Acropolis which was first settled around 3000 years ago. The island has a lovely mix of forest, mountain and beach meaning that whatever you’re looking to get out of a Greek Island holiday you should find it here on Rhodes.
Spend time in Rhodes Old Town which is like stepping back in time through winding, cobbled Medieval streets. There are plenty of beautiful beaches here too so if relaxation is your thing you’ll find it in the bucketload.
If you’re planning a Rhodes family holiday there are some fantastic resorts that everyone will love, such as Levante Resort. If you’re looking for something quieter, for couples or solo travel then Island Boutique Hotel could suit with modern rooms and on the edge of Rhodes Town.
Rhodes has much less of the party vibe that some of the large islands can attract, it’s got a cool, chilled out atmosphere but with enough going on that everyone will find something to love.
Dani, No Hurry To Get Home
Corfu is undoubtedly one of the best Greek islands if what you’re looking for is a mixture of beaches and breath-taking nature. Not only is Corfu home to some of the best beaches in Greece, but it also boasts lush mountains where you can get yourself lost in before ending up at yet another crystal-blue beach.
Another thing that makes Corfu so special as a destination is just how much there is to do on the island. A must-do is spending a day at Porto Timoni, which is easily the most beautiful beach on the entire island and provides great snorkeling opportunities. Another bucket list item is checking out Canal D’Amour (Love Channel) and spending a few hours exploring the historical goodness of Corfu Town.
The best way to get to Corfu is by plane. There’s an airport right on the island that provides direct flights to most major airports throughout Europe. Pro tip: there’s a spot in front of Hotel Aegli where you can get the best views of the planes landing! As for where to stay in Corfu, Porto Demo Boutique Hotel is a wonderful choice if you’re looking for a luxurious vacation. If you’re on a budget, San Georgio Hotel is another great option.
Noel, This Hawaii Life
One of the best Greek Islands to visit now is Mykonos located in the Cyclades with the largest town called Mykonos or Chora. Mykonos is named the “Island of the Winds” because of the strong winds that blow throughout the island.
There are iconic windmills located on the island that were built to harness the power of the winds to grind grain on the island.
The major industry of Mykonos is tourism which attracts visitors from around the world and mostly alternative, gay and those looking for fun nightlight, dining and outdoor adventure experiences around the island.
Top places to explore around the island include: checking out the fabulous beaches like Paradise beach and Agrari beach, Little Venice area, Delos with its historic treasures, the archaeological museum and folklore museum, the Windmills or Kato Milli, the monastery of Panayia Tourliani and a variety of historic churches like Paraportiani Church.
You can visit the other large town inland at Ano Mera which has the Panagia Tourliani a gorgeous monastery with ornate marble carvings and a massive baroque altar in the church.
There are a lot of cool and fun things to do around Mykonos or you can just relax and enjoy many of the wonderful beaches and then hang out in the fabulous bars or restaurants around the various venues around the island to experience.
Alice, Adventures of Alice
Kos is the third-largest island in the Dodecanese that you don’t hear much about. Quiet and low key, this makes for a perfect place to go with your other half or with the whole family.
There are many wonderful things to do in Kos and it’s easily one of the prettiest islands in Greece. With its stunning beaches, picturesque mountain views, and ancient theatre dating back as far as the 2nd century AD, you can see why this is an island has been attracting visitors since antiquity times.
With its rich history and beautiful sights, Kos should be on your list of new places to explore. Explore the ancient ruins at Ancient Pefkos or try dining on traditional delicacies from all over Greece at Agkyra Fish Restaurant. If culture is more up your alley, then make sure not to miss out some time exploring the fascinating archaeological finds found in Kos Town Museum – they’re truly one-of-a-kind.
Kos is a maze of winding streets and picturesque plazas. There are restaurants to markets, museums, churches (with incredible ancient architecture), beautiful beaches with stunning views over Greece’s most idyllic coastline- there are endless ways to spend your time here
Which is your favourite Greek Island? Let me in the comments below about your travel experiences in the Greek Islands
My BEST Travel Resources
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Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.
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