The best Greek islands to visit embody the timeless beauty of nature and effortless preservation of culture.
Each can ignite your imagination or settle you into the comforts of a luxurious view, connect you to an ancient myth or uncover the essential flavors of the land and sea. Greece’s islands can satisfy the appetites of any traveler by giving you access to active exploration, stunning beaches, or a legacy of Mediterranean cuisine with a distinctive Greek twist.
You can embrace the past, enjoy island life, and embrace the splendor of simple pleasures on any island that you choose.
As the largest Greek Island, Crete celebrates its history and culture from the depths of the inland gorge to the heights of the rugged mountains, the preserved ambiance of mythological palaces to the gorgeous waters lapping at the coastline. The island can feel like a mosaic that weaves together the past and present life of the island that can take you from contemporary, vibrant cities with touches of the past to dreamy villages that embody a generous spirit. From museums to beaches, hiking to Venetian harbors, you can travel Crete at your leisure and enjoy the leisurely pace.
Naxos captures the Mediterranean as a paradise of sun-kissed beaches, azure waters, fishing ports, and antique villages. Cubic houses with colorful shutters glow against hilly backdrops, and cobbled lanes wind between elegant Venetian mansions. Whether looking for an isolated beach or a view from the mountains, you can sample ripe olives and juicy grapes, visit Byzantine churches, or travel across the layers of time in a museum gallery at a pace all your own.
Paros is a living representation of the millennia of Mediterranean civilizations. From Cretans to Minoans, Romans to Byzantines, the island can feel ancient, lively, and rural. Actively explore the coastline with windsurfing or scuba diving, lounge on a quiet gold-sand beach, or enjoy the sunny glare of whitewashed cubic houses that contrast former Venetian mansions. With the preserved glamour of Byzantine artifacts and the protected wonder of ancient life, and with the charisma of authentic little towns decorated with bougainvillea, Paros is the most atmospheric of Greece’s islands.
Santorini is beauty incarnate, an island famous for romance and discovery, for breathtaking panoramic views over the caldera and charming whitewashed homes clinging to the volcanic cliffs. With millennia of heritage woven into contemporary lifestyles, the villages reveal a spellbinding combination of natural wonder and local culture. Colorful beaches, celebrated wines, enticing hiking trails, ancient cities, and timeless luxury display Santorini’s glamour and reputation for enchantment.
Rhodes may have once been famous for its colossus but has become a monumental destination of its own with endless beaches, wooded valleys, and a vibrant lifestyle that connects to the ancient streets. Rhodes can feel like a breath of fresh air from the maze of cobbled lanes that connect the Classical with the Byzantine to picturesque towns overlooking the turquoise waters. The Temple of Athena, colorful boutique shops, labyrinths of historic walls, and capturing past myths make Rhodes a legendary island destination.
Folegandros has a quiet, spoken beauty that feels like the undiscovered treasure of the Cyclades. Amplified by the main town that crowns the cliffs, Folegandros connects the verdant countryside to the dramatic seaside slopes. Its remote splendor winds along the cobblestones and narrow alleyways, bougainvillea draped across whitewashed houses to sun-soaked beaches perfect for a relaxing moment. Look for romance or a simple, secluded island getaway as you indulge in the captivating beauty of Folegandros.
The dramatic coastline creates a ring around the volcanic caldera as colorful landscapes create surreal beauty. Picturesque villages and remote beaches only reachable by boat create compelling layers that peel back history from the Minoan world to the production of the Venus de Milo. Crystal-clear waters that turn from sapphire to turquoise, strings of rocky caves and cliffs, and inspiring views from antique churches and ancient fishing ports reflect the multitude of colors that you can capture and embrace across Milos.
Tinos is the idea of enchantment, an atmosphere unique to its shores as a spiritual center of the Cyclades for thousands of years. Timeless surprises unearth stone-made houses, quiet plazas, and classic churches crafted out of ornamented marble. Terraces texture hillsides, mountains glisten with morning mist, and the crystal-clear waters become a serene connection to a remaining Venetian legacy. No longer just a destination for Greek Orthodox pilgrimages, Tinos has become an exciting destination for island life and culture.
Symi evokes a powerful allure before reaching the island, where neoclassical architecture overlooks pastel-colored houses. Historic villages and sparse landscape, a secluded monastery to unparalleled blue coves, Symi is a pleasant surprise that captures the distinctive charisma of the islands within a seductive relaxed atmosphere. Romantic walks along the coastline, burning sunsets across the horizon, and tempting beauty along the barren interior create a charm unlike any other island in the Greek archipelago.
Paxos embodies the idea of an island off the beaten path that shines like a gem undiscovered by American travelers. Gorgeous beaches fade into clear turquoise waters. Ancient ruins glint with preserved marble foundations. White stucco architecture reflects the golden sunlight. With charming villages and mouthwatering cafes, colorful houses, and quiet marinas, you can spend your time lounging on a boat, lingering in the white sands of neighboring Antipaxos, or diving deep into the water in search of lobster and marine life to absorb the essential spirit of Paxos.
With its ancient history, lively culture, and welcoming traditions scattered across the thousands of islands, Greece can suit the taste of every kind of traveler. Whether learning about island wines or tracing unforgettable myths, you can find inspiration for your trip with our sample Greece itineraries. You can find more information for your trip with our Greece Travel Guide, and a travel specialist can customize your trip with experiences tailored to how you wish to explore. Planning a trip? Speak with a Greece travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling 1-888-265-9707.