Are you after a tropical escape? The European country of Greece is known globally for its paradise islands, from famous Santorini to lesser-visited Kos.
Greece is home to 6,000 islands, of which 227 are inhabited islands. The abundant variety gives visitors a huge array of incredible vacation options. But which are the “best” islands in Greece? It is hard to pick just a few, but after 5 weeks in Greece this summer and multiple visits over the last years, I came up with my personal list of 14 Best Islands in Greece that are perfect each in their own way.
As I just returned from a fantastic 8-day Greek Island Cruise with Celestyal (the ultimate foodie cruise!), I got to experience several of these fantastic Greek Islands and some are still on my Greek Island bucket list.
Deciding which islands in Greece you’ll visit will depend on your tastes. Some may party the night away in Mykonos, while others learn the history of Crete, there’s no wrong choice.
In this article, you’ll find all the best Greek Islands for the perfect retreat.
The Best Islands In Greece
On the southern end of the Aegean Sea lies Greece’s most popular island, the lovely Santorini. Often a hit among honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic escape, this gem has a charm like nowhere else.
Many visitors flock to Santorini during summer months, between June and August. The island is extremely crowded this time of year, and the prices reflect so. Visiting in the off-season, November to March, will be colder but less expensive and quieter.
I liked Santorini a lot more than I thought. I thought the big crowds would ruin it. But I had the perfect day there. Once I got off the ship, I joined a small group winery tour, which was offered as part of the Celestyal Cruise “Authentic Excursions” program. We were 17 people on our tour and visited some lovely wineries. Afterwards, we were dropped off in Fira near the funicular. There were a lot of people, but once the other cruise ships left, it was so stunning and peaceful. Our ship did not leave until 1 AM, so we had plenty of time to explore, eat dinner, watch the sunset and experience a lot less crowded Santorini.
You could easily spend a week on the island without getting bored, it’s quite big. Plus, there are ample opportunities for a day trip to neighboring islands such as Chora or Anafi.
Santorini has plenty of exciting things to do to keep you entertained. Stroll through stunning towns like Akrotiri, dip in turquoise waters at the famous Red Beach, or dine at a top restaurant. You can even venture out to Santorini Volcano or browse the Museum of Prehistoric Thira.
Volcanic Islands Cruise with Hot Springs Visit – Sail out to the volcanic island near Santorini. During this trip you’ll dive into hot springs, and have the chance to discover Oia and Thirassia.
Island Highlights Half-Day Shore Excursion – See Santorni’s main sights in half a day, including Black Beach and Prophet Ilias.
Horseback Riding Experience in Volcanic Landscape – Trot on Eros Beach, through Megalochori Village, and stop at a vineyard on this fantastic 2 hour tour.
Firaxenia Rooms (budget) – Situated in the center of Fira, the Firaxenia Rooms is a gorgeous low cost hotel with clear views of the sea. Expect double rooms with balconies and a range of amenities.
Sunset Hotel (mid-range) – Looking out over the blue sea on the coast, a stay at the sunset hotel includes complimentary breakfast and hot tub access. Choose between double or twin rooms with Caldera views.
Amphitrite Suites Santorini (luxury) – Only 4 kilometers from the Archaeological Museum of Thera, this property has a huge pool, hot tub, and free breakfast. Each unit features a balcony, deluxe double beds, and kitchenette.
The beautiful island of Mykonos is a must-visit for party-goers and couples sitting between Paros, Syros, Naxos, and Tinos.
Rumored to have some of the best nightlife in all the Cyclades Islands, Mykonos is a top choice for those looking to let their hair down.
Five days is a nice amount of time to spend here. During this time, see the likes of Little Venice, Panagia Paraportiani, the windmills, Aegean Maritime Museum, and much more. If you’re not a fan of crowds, try to avoid Mykonos in summer.
I was very weary of the crowds in Mykonos as well, but as our ship left late again (2 AM this time), we got to experience Mykonos without the thousands of cruise ship tourists (other than the Celestyal passengers of course). This time, my niece and I signed up for an Authentic Excursions Food Tour and really enjoyed eating our way through Mykonos. Afterward, we strolled through the small town of Chora, visited the windmills, had dinner, and went people-watching at one of the many bars.
Be sure to check out Top Things To Do In Mykonos In One Day.
Delos Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets – Seek out the archaeological sites and ancient monuments of Delos Island.
Winery Vineyard Experience with Food & Wine Tasting – Sample the best Greek wine, complimented by Mykonian appetizers at a local winery.
Sunset Sailing Cruise with Light Lunch & Drinks – Enjoy sunset with tasty Greek bites and your favorite beverages on a 4 hour cruise.
Villa Varnali Small Boutique (budget) – This property is located in Mykonos Town, 600 meters from Megali Ammos Beach. It offers double bed guest rooms with garden views, coffee, and air conditioning.
Harmony Boutique Hotel (mid-range) – Harmony Boutique Hotel is located next to the Old Port of Mykonos. It showcases stylish guest rooms with private balconies and complimentary breakfast.
Melangal (luxury) – This luxury oasis is steps away from Mykonos Town. The rooms follow a minimalistic design, with double beds, Cocomat mattresses, and kitchenette.
Resting in the Ionian Sea, off the southwest coast of mainland Greece, is Zakynthos. This is another destination with a reputation for being a party animal’s heaven. The reputation is mainly because of Laganas Strip, lined with bustling bars and clubs open all hours and the loggerhead turtle nesting ground on Zakynthos.
Five or six days is a nice amount of time to spend on Zakynthos. This will allow you to explore the island’s main sights. Some of which include Shipwreck Beach, the Venetian Castle, the Cliffs of Keri, and Porto Limnionas.
My husband and I spent a few days here on our road trip around the Peloponnese and really enjoyed our stay. We took it easy and spent one day on a tour around the island, showing us the main sights like Shipwreck Beach, sulfur hot springs, and a winery/olive farm. The rest of our time was spent relaxing, wandering through town, eating and drinking wine, and getting massages. Total bliss.
Navagio Shipwreck Beach & Blue Caves Tour – See the main sights of northern Zakynthos, including Navagio Shipwreck Beach and Blue Caves.
Zakynthos Water Park Entrance Ticket – Hit the island’s waterpark for a day of thrills.
Off-Road Buggy Adventure in Zakynthos with Lunch – Ride around Zakynthos on a Polaris buggy for the day. A Greek lunch is included.
Eora Studios (budget) – Only 2 kilometers from Pure Beach Club is Eora Studios. These standard studios leave nothing to be desired with a terrace, kitchenette, and welcome basket full of goodies.
Horizon Luxury Suite (luxury) – This two bedroom apartment has a pool, a bar, and seaside views. Additionally, it’s only 1.1 km from Agios Nikolaos Beach.
Andros is the northernmost island of the Cyclades, only a 2-hour ferry ride from Athens. Tourists who wish to avoid crowds and have a relaxing getaway will love it here.
I spent five days on Andros and loved it so much. It quickly has become one of my favorite Greek islands.
Andros sees many outdoor enthusiasts looking for natural beauty rather than beach clubs and nightlife. The island is still relatively unknown to foreigners, so you’ll get a very authentic Greek Island experience.
You could spend anywhere from a couple days or weeks on Andros. You won’t be bored, there’s so much to do. From outstanding hiking trails like Menites Village Circular Routes or hiking to the stunning Gerolimni Waterfall, you’ll have no problem filling your time.
For more, head over to Andros Greece: Fall in Love With This Little-Known Greek Island.
Achla River Trekking to Waterfall – Go with a local to see the Gerolimni Waterfall and swim in the nearby streamlets.
Small-Group, Half-Day Guided Tour – Discover some of the island’s sacred sights and secret locations within 4 hours.
5-Hour Andros Monasteries Tour – Head off on an adventure to see three monasteries: Aghia Marina, Aghia Irene, and Aghios Nikolaos.
Anemomiloi Studios (mid-range) – 15 minute stroll from Paraporti Beach, Anemomiloi Studios offers studio-style rooms with kitchenette, LCD TV, and sofa.
Castel Abaso Boutique Apartments (mid-range) – 3 minutes from Paraporti Beach is Castel Abaso Boutique Apartments. Stay in a 60 m² one bedroom apartment with kitchenette and town views.
Aristocratic Suite in the Heart of Andros Town (luxury) – 300 meters from Neimporio Beach, this 2 bedroom king suite apartment is like a palace. It has a kitchenette, bathroom with complimentary toiletries, and large double beds with bespoke linens.
The alluring Paros Island is centrally located in the Aegean Sea. It’s famed for a relaxed atmosphere, golden sandy beaches, chic cocktail bars, and lavish boutique hotels.
Couples in particular love Paros. This is because of the intimate vibe you’ll notice as soon as you disembark the ferry.
Give yourself five nights on Paros. This will allow you to check out sights such as Panagia Ekatontapiliani, picturesque villages like Naousa, and outdoor ventures like the Butterfly Valley. Paros gets extremely busy during the summer months, like many Greek Islands, but it’s still well worth a visit.
Full-Day Sailing Yacht Cruise – Cruise out to the neighboring island’s beaches for snorkeling. All while learning how to sail.
Iraklia & Schinoussa Sailing Cruise with Lunch – Sail to Iraklia and Schinoussa, indulge in a Greek lunch, and swim in crystal clear waters.
Kayak trip with Snorkeling & Snack or Picnic – Grab a kayak and hit the open seas on this tour. After, enjoy a freshly prepared picnic.
Irini Rooms (budget) – Placed in Náousa, only 200 meters from the Venetian Castle and Harbour, is Irini Rooms. Every guest space here has a private bathroom, flatscreen TV, and seascapes.
Apollon Boutique Hotel (mid-range) – This is a 3 star hotel in Parikia Center with free parking and beautifully appointed guest rooms featuring contemporary bathrooms.
Eleana Studios (luxury) – Tucked away in Abelas, you can book a lavish studio here. Rooms include a balcony, coffee machine, wide-screen TV, and garden views.
Sometimes seen as Paro’s little brother, Antiparos resides next to aforementioned island. It attracts those searching for a gem off the beaten path.
This small island is limited to few properties, but features an abundance of exciting things to see. Some top attractions include Antiparos Castle, Sifneiko Beach, and Antiparos Cave.
Since the island is quite small, three to four days is plenty of time here.
Full-Day Sailing Trip with Lunch & Drinks – Sail off the coast of Antiparos to locate mesmerizing sea caves and the Temple of Apollo.
Catamaran Cruise with Swimming, Meal, and Drinks – Cruise to five different locations around the island for 9 hours. Food and drink are included.
Private Helicopter Transfer to Greek Islands – Fly to another Greek Island in style. From Santorini to Mykonos, the options are endless.
Eleni’s Rooms (budget) – Situated in the main center of Antiparos Town, every room at this budget hotel comes with TV, air conditioning, private bathroom, terrace, and washing room. Everything you need for a cozy stay.
Grego’s house (mid-range) – This property is 1.7 kilometers from Psaraliki Beach. It’s a delightful one bedroom holiday home with a kitchenette and living room.
Lagadia Village (luxury) – This is a majestic one bedroom house with seaside views and a huge balcony. Best of all, it’s just 1.1 km from Fragopapades Beach.
Crete sits in the Mediterranean Sea and is the largest of the Greek Islands, not to mention one of the cheapest.
It’s known for rich heritage as home to ancient civilizations, such as the Bronze Age and Minoan at the Palace of Knossos. It’s a history buffs’ playground.
Crete is hugely popular among families, mainly because there’s something for everyone. Outdoorsy people will love the hike to Samaria Gorge, wine lovers can tour a vineyard, and kids will adore the Amazonas Wildlife Park.
Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour – Don’t wait in line with the Skip-the-line guided tour and visit the historic ruins of the Palace of Knossos with this small group tour.
Half-Day Quad Bike Safari – Ride through the mountains of Crete on a high powered ATV for 4 hours.
Full-Day Samaria Gorge Trek Excursion – Take on a demanding hike to see the Samaria Gorge, a 12 hour excursion.
Full-Day Trip to Gramvoussa Island & Balos Lagoon – Head off to see Gramvoussa Island and Balos Lagoon. The tour includes stops for swimming and castle spotting.
Kastro Hotel (budget) – Offering a convenient location, 100 meters from the town center, is Kastro Hotel. The property has freshly planned guest rooms with LCD TVs and mini-fridges.
Samaria By The Sea (mid-range) – On the Chora Sfakion shoreline, Samaria By The Sea provides air-conditioned units with mountain views.
GDM Megaron, Historical Monument Hotel (luxury) – In the center of Heraklion, this hotel showcases 58 extravagant guest spaces. They even have a dreamy rooftop plunge pool.
Positioned in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, Hydra is a tiny island just short ferry ride from Athens. This makes it one of the most visited out of the Saronic Islands and is usually visited as a day-trip from Athens.
This little gem is an ideal getaway if you’re visiting Athens and want to check out an island, but only have a little time.
Enjoy a few days wandering the quaint alleys of Hydra Town, checking out Hydra Harbor, and climbing Mount Eros.
Hydra, Poros and Egina Day Cruise from Athens with Optional VIP Upgrade – Enjoy this great luxury Greek island hopping trip from Athens to Hydra, Poros, and Egina and enjoy a beautiful boat excursion.
Filenia (budget) – Only 150 meters from Hydra Port, this beauty boasts bright rooms and a garden patio.
Kirki Hydra (mid-range) – This is a family run guesthouse 50 meters from Hydra Port, surrounded by colorful flowers. The property provides fancy rooms overlooking town.
Onar Hydra (luxury) – This high end property has rooms with private terraces, free Wifi, and deluxe double beds with sea views. Additionally, it’s only 600 meters from Avlaki Beach.
Thassos is the Aegean Sea’s northmost island, celebrated for glorious beaches, unique tasting wine, and interesting historical sites like Aliki Archaeological Site. Thassos isn’t as well known compared to other islands in the Aegean Sea, which makes it great for a quieter getaway.
There are enough things to do to keep you occupied for a week in Thassos. Use up a day to lounge on Paradise Beach, dive into the Giola Lagoon, or learn something new at Sotirelis Olive Oil Museum.
Island Discovery Tour – Get to know the island by taking a 7 hour tour. Along the way you’ll see sacred villages, churches, landmarks, and more.
Full-Day Cruise with Light BBQ & Wine – See the island from a different perspective with a delicious spread of food, Greek wine included.
Jeep Safari in Thassos Mountain – Venture up to the highest mountain in Thassos in a 4×4. All while stopping at waterfalls, forests, and more.
Endless View Villa (budget) – 100 meters from Limenaria Beach, the studio style rooms at this property feature sea views, double beds, and a kitchenette.
Macedon (mid-range) – Peacefully set in Thassos Town, this hotel has an outdoor pool, garden, playground for kids, and 20 m² guest rooms for four guests.
Olive Garden Villas & Apartments (luxury) – 250 meters from Golden Beach, the property offers magnificent two bedroom villas with sea views.
Kos is a part of the Dodecanese Archipelago, which lies east of the mainland. Adored for ancient attractions like the Castle of the Knights, beaches such as Mastichari Beach, and incredibly fun water parks including Lido.
Kos appeals to all kinds of travelers. Kardamena has a thriving nightlife scene, Tigaki is the place for families, and Lambi lures beach lovers.
No matter your interests, you could easily spend a week enjoying this charming island.
Full-day Boat Cruise to 3 Islands – Sail to three nearby islands with enchanting villages, sample tasty food, and sip crafty cocktails.
Scuba Diving from the Beach with Pickup – Dive deep underwater to spot marine wildlife in the Aegean Sea.
Water Park Entry Ticket & Optional Transfer – Enjoy a full day at Kos’s top water park, transfer included.
SunBeam (budget) – SunBean is a striking seafront property only 1 kilometer from Kardamena Beach. The hotel has an outdoor pool, bar, and patio.
Ta Spitakia (mid-range) – 3 kilometers from Kos Town, this two bedroom house offers breathtaking garden views, a spacious terrace, and a kitchenette.
Blue Wave (luxury) – Placed in Kefalos, 30 meters from the beach, Blue Wave offers a comfortable triple room house with balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Kefalonia is like something you would see on a postcard.
This is the biggest of the Ionian Islands, across the Gulf of Corinth, next to Zakynthos. Sunny summers in Kefalonia draw families and groups from all over the world to see the Melissani Cave, Fiscardo Harbor, Myrtos Beach, and much more.
Kefalonia is pretty big and there’s so much to see and do. It’s not uncommon for people to spend up to two weeks here.
Excursion to Melissani & Drogarati Caves – Take a boat to see ravishing Melissani Lake Cave and Drogarati Cave.
Road Trip to Myrtos Beach, Assos, Fiskardo – Head off on a road trip to see the villages of Fiskardo and Assos. Then go for a plunge at Myrtos Beach.
Island Bus Tour with Wine Tasting – Hit up one of the island’s best wineries for a tasting experience with additional stops at Melissani Cave, Drogarati Cave, and Fiscardo Village.
Tourist Boutique Hotel (budget) – Sitting on the oceanside, the Tourist Boutique Hotel offers budget, single, double, and triple rooms beside Lithostroto.
Sofitaki (mid-range) – Just 2.1 kilometers from Crocodile Beach, Sofitaki offers modernly furnished one bedroom apartments. Each with private balconies and mountain views.
Ionian Plaza Hotel (luxury) – Three minutes from the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli, this property offers chic double rooms with balconies. They even provide guests with a bar and lounge area for relaxing.
The largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes, has been a hit with families and cruisers over the years. Especially so from March through November.
Rhodes sits southeast of Athens, in fact, it’s actually near Turkey. So day trips to coastal cities such as Bodrum are pretty common.
I visited Rhodes on my 3-Continent Cruise with Celestyal a few years ago and loved it.
Sunset Cruise with Greek BBQ & Unlimited Drinks – Watch the sun go down with a scrumptious BBQ, including bottomless drinks, on a huge wooden boat.
Pirates’ Route Sea Kayaking Tour – Grab your paddle and set off on the famous Pirate’s Route through fascinating rock formations.
4×4 Polaris Buggy Off-Road Adventure – Feel the adrenaline as you race up some of the island’s best viewpoints on your own 4×4 Polaris buggy.
George Beach Studios (budget) – Placed nicely in Pefkos Village, enjoy a deluxe suite with sea views, a kitchenette, and free parking.
Lindos Esel Suites (mid-range) – Only 600 meters from Agios Pavlos Beach, the Lindos Esel Suites has a range of room options with complimentary breakfast each morning.
10GR Boutique Hotel & Wine Bar (luxury) – Right in the center of Rhodes Town, this property showcases complete stone styled rooms with ample amenities, including a fancy wine bar.
Naxos is a wonderful family-friendly getaway lying in the midst of the Aegean Sea.
The island is part of the Cycladic Island group, filled with a selection of picture-perfect beaches, including Plaka Beach. Couple that with dreamy restaurants around Chora, and an interesting past — evident through sights such as Portora and the ruins of Apano Kastro — and you’ve got yourself an exciting island destination.
A trip to Naxos is usually combined with a visit to neighboring Paros. It takes around eight to ten days to thoroughly enjoy both destinations.
Catamaran Cruise & Snorkeling with Lunch & Drinks – Sail for 8 hours across the high Aegean Seas with lots of stops throughout for snorkeling and marine life spotting.
Highlight Bus Tour with Swim Stop at Apollonas – Stuck for time? Fit in the island’s main sights on this 8 hour bus tour, including stops at famous landmarks and villages.
Naxos Castle Walking Tour & Sunset at the Portara – Hear the fascinating stories about Naxos Castle from a local guide on this 3 hour walking tour.
3 Wishes (budget) – 1.1 kilometers from Agios Georgios Beach, 3 Wishes presents superior guest rooms for an affordable price. All with plenty of amenities, such as modern private bathrooms and fully stocked kitchenettes.
Hotel Grotta (mid-range) – Looking out over Naxos Town, Hotel Grotta offers guests extravagant guest rooms, a private pool, and a yummy breakfast every morning.
Mariet Naxos Spa & Suites (luxury) – 600 meters from Portara, Mariet Naxos Spa & Suites features deluxe king rooms with access to a Turkish bath and hot tub.
Our last Greek Island is heavenly Milos. It’s located just north of Crete and is the southwesternmost island of the Cyclades.
The volcanic island has a laid-back vibe, but it’s not so sleepy you’ll end up bored after a few days. It is known for the stunning turquoise waters and water based activities.
On our cruise stop, we were a little unlucky with the weather, but we still got to go on our kayaking tour and it was so much fun.
More than likely, you’ll end up staying around the capital, Plaka. Here you’ll be conveniently located near jaw-dropping Panagia Thalassitra, the Archaeological Museum of Milos, and the lovely little village of Tripiti.
It’s easy to understand why this is considered a top island in Greece.
Guided Day Cruise to Kleftiko With Lunch – Venture out to sea to discover the volcanic coast, snorkeling, and lots of eating.
Archaeology & Culture Tour – See the archaeological and cultural sides of Milos on this 4 hour tour. Stops include cute fishing villages and notable monuments.
Guided Kayaking Trip with Snorkelling & Lunch – Embark on your own kayak through sea caves and stop at some of the island’s coolest snorkeling spots. Highly recommend this one!!!
Sarantis Apartments (budget) – Enjoy a night in an elegantly furnished economy double room with mountain views located in Provatas, just 1.4 kilometers from the beach.
Anastasia’s Windmill (mid-range) – Stay in a renovated windmill from the 1860s in Plaka. The property includes a fully stocked kitchen and dining room.
Fani Dream Suite (luxury) – Right on Kapros Beach, Fani Dream Suites offers 53 m² deluxe king studios with fishing access and car rentals onsite.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best islands in Greece.
There are so many to choose from, and you don’t have to stick to one for the whole trip. Island hopping is more accessible than ever, thanks to the country’s huge ferry network connecting all the islands.