Greece has thousands of islands, with approximately 200 of them being inhabited. That makes it a top summer destination for Europeans but also for people from all around the world. Here is Helinika’s list with the top 10 Greek islands to visit this year. These are some of the most popular and breathtaking islands in the country.
Top 10 Greek Islands | Breathtaking Islands in Greece
Milos Island, Greece
If you want a trip to the moon, you can simply visit the Cycladic island of Milos with its “lunar landscapes”. Sarakiniko Bay in Milos is a coastline of smooth chalk-white rocks that contrast with the deep blue waters. The scenery is breathtaking. The volcanic island has a long history that takes us back to 15.000 years ago, when the local Obsidian was Milos’ main commodity. In modern times, Milos was one of the first Greek islands to join the Greek War of Independence.
Rhodes Island, Greece
If you love Medieval history, castles, knights, and the Mediterranean, then Rhodes is an island you should add to your list. The Greek island in the southeastern Aegean Sea was widely known for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Visitors can go see the Memorial of the Colossus. Other sights are the palace of the Medieval castle of the Grand Master of the Knights, the Castle of the Old Town, the Medieval Clock Tower, the countless medieval churches, and the Valley of the Butterflies – a beautiful biotope with millions of multicolor butterflies. Of course, the island has countless swimming spots with crystal clear waters.
Serifos Island, Greece
Close to Milos island there is also Serifos island. Serifos has some of the most beautiful coastlines in Greece. If you want to spend your vacation relaxing by the sea, Serifos should be on your list. It is also an affordable option in comparison to some other neighboring islands. Serifos is known for its traditional white and blue houses, picturesque churches, its old mines, the castle of Gria (The Old Woman), and the cave of Koutalas – where, according to ancient Greek mythology, the legendary Cyclops resided. The Cycladic island will give you a taste of authentic Greece; it has the typical blue-white houses you find in other Cycladic islands, without being packed with groups of tourists.
Mykonos Island, Greece
If you love partying, Mykonos, “the island of the winds”, is a Greek destination you should visit. The Cycladic island is one of the busiest summer destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors every year. The island is very sunny, which comes as no surprise; according to Greek mythology, the founder of the island was the grandson of god Apollo – god of music and light. Its famous windmills, archaeological Museum, identical wells, and secret party beach known as Paradise Beach, are some of the island’s most important landmarks.
Naxos Island, Greece
Naxos Island is the largest Cycladic island. It was the center of the archaic Cycladic civilization and the birthplace of many important figures, such as the playwright Iakovos Kambanelis. Today, the island is the perfect summer destination for families. The ancient Portara, its 13th century castle, its countless picturesque churches, impressive ancient ruins, and breathtaking coastline, attract many –but not too many– tourists every year. Since it can get quite windy in Naxos, it’s the perfect location for wind and kite surfers.
Paros Island, Greece
Paros is located in close proximity to Naxos. Contrary to Naxos, Paros is an island that attracts mostly young single people. Its picturesque windmills, white-blue houses, and Medieval churches, including the legendary Panagia Ekatontapiliani, are some of the island’s landmarks. It goes without saying that the island of Paros has also some of the most magnificent swimming spots in Greece.
Zakynthos Island, Greece
Zakynthos island is located in the Ionian Sea in western Greece. Although the island is full of picturesque Mediterranean houses, the typical Cycladic white-blue houses are rare on this side of Greece. Zakynthos attracts both families and people who love partying. If you are not a fan of dry landscapes, the green island of Zakynthos should be on your list. The island is known worldwide for the breathtaking “Navagio” – the shipwreck cove that can only be accessible by boat.
Corfu Island, Greece
Corfu or Kerkyra is also located in the Ionian Sea. It is an island with rich history and strong Venetian influences in its architecture and overall local culture. It is a very unique Greek island; instead of roofless white-blue houses you will find impressive arches and clusters of colorful buildings from the Venetian period and eclectic mansions with the austere Greek-revival style. The island has a picturesque old town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), countless medieval castles and ancient temples, and crystal-clear green-blue waters. The Spianada square is the biggest square in the Balkan peninsula. Kerkyra will take your breath away with its elegance and natural beauty.
Crete Island, Greece
Crete is the largest Greek island and a destination with the most unique landscapes. Its coastlines vary – many of its beautiful beaches have an exotic look. These include Balos, Istro, Elafonisi, and Falassarna. Many people can’t imagine that all of these unique locations can be found in one Greek island. Moreover, Crete has a rich history and culture that spans for thousands of years. Visiting the ancient Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaistos is a must! The same goes with tasting the local cuisine and attending a traditional music feast. Hikers can also explore the breathtaking National Park of Faraggi tis Samarias – a World’s Biosphere Reserve.
Santorini Island, Greece
Thanks to its breathtaking sunset views and unique volcanic landscapes, Santorini or Thera is by far the most popular Greek destination. In 2019, Santorini had over 500.000 international air arrivals. It is a couples’ island due to its romantic atmosphere. The Cycladic island has a long history, just like most of the previously mentioned destinations. It got its unique landscape after the Thera volcanic eruption around 1600 BC – which resulted in the destruction of the Minoan Civilization. Santorini is known for its typical white-blue houses and churches and magnificent views. One thing to keep in mind is that its swimming spots have a striking appearance, since the coastline is composed of volcanic sand and pebbles. Moreover, most villages are built amphitheatrically, so be prepared for some stair climbing. The quick exercise will totally worth it once you stare at the breathtaking sunset from the Caldera!
Are you planning on visiting Greece in the future? Comment down below which destinations are on your list!