Which Greek island to choose for your vacation?

© Laure M.

Having trouble deciding which Greek island to spend your next vacation on? There’s plenty to choose from: Greece boasts some 6,000 islands (200 of which are inhabited). Depending on your style, your desires, your budget and your constraints, here are a few guidelines to help you make your choice, along with some practical advice. And a 100% subjective selection of islands!

Practical tips for your stay on a Greek island

Hotels, accommodation, lodging on the Greek islands

To book your accommodation, we advise you to do your research about 4 to 6 months in advance if you are planning a stay in July-August.


  • Booking
    is a must for small hotels and B&Bs.
    Airbnb
    for private accommodations.
  • And don’t hesitate to go directly to thetourist information sites for the island you’re interested in. They generally list all accommodation.
  • We also have a
    small selection of accommodations
    that we love because we’ve stayed there and for which we’ve dedicated an article.

How to get around?

If you want to get around the Greek islands, a car is often essential to reach the most remote beaches. We recommend the Rental cars website, which compares several local and international rental companies to get the best price. There are also a number of scooter, quad bike and bicycle rental companies on site. Electric bikes are also slowly coming on stream.

How to get to the Greek islands

  • Ferries and ports from Athens

Rafina? Lavrio? Piraeus ? For all you need to know about Athens ports (which one to choose, how to get there, practical information), see our article on Athens ports.

Booking your ferry is always a tricky business: not too early and not too late. Reservations usually open 3 to 4 months before the departure date. For your summer vacations, start looking in March. We like the site
Ferry Hopper
which allows online payment and booking. What’s more, it guarantees the same price as if you’d picked it up at the port. For more information, please see our
article on ferries
.

  • By plane

As you’ll see below, some islands can be reached by plane, which is faster but also more expensive, and more crowded. Don’t hesitate to do a search on Ulysse to compare prices! For our part, we usually travel via
Aegean
(the Greek national airline), which generally offers a very good level of service.

Let an agency help you plan your vacation in Greece


  • Leonidakos Agency
    A tailor-made trip to the Greek islands

  • VoiliVoilou
    a French-speaking agency (run by a Franco-Greek) that charters sailboats and catamarans, with or without skipper.

The stars

Mykonos, Santorini, Hydra, Corfu and Crete

Santorini best of greek islands. The most beautiful Greek islands
Santorini © Pixabay

Unquestionably one of the most beautiful islands in Greece! But they are also undoubtedly the most touristy.

Mykonos, Santorini, Hydra and Corfu are absolutely stunning, and it’s hard not to fall under the spell of the white villages, small shopping streets and breathtaking views. But this reputation comes at a price: hotels and restaurants are much more expensive than elsewhere. Unfortunately overcrowded in summer, the charm is sometimes broken. But these islands are still top destinations in spring and autumn.

As for Crete, some parts are very touristy (Heraklion, Chania…) but the southern part of the island is much wilder.

The most beautiful beaches

Milos, Kythera, Kythnos, Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Elafonissos

You’ve undoubtedly seen many “hits for the most beautiful beaches in Greece”. And it’s not just a myth: these sublime beaches exist just a few hours from Paris and are a real dream.

Here’s our own best-of list of the most beautiful beaches we’ve visited. Whether in the Cyclades or the Ionian Islands, there’s always this infinitely gradating blue on the seabed and in the sky. It contrasts so well with the white of the rock and the green of the vegetation. You just can’t get enough of it. So, no comment, time for photos.

Bohemian chic

Sifnos, Folegandros, Amorgos, Poros, Spetses

best of greek islands. The most beautiful Greek islands
Laure M.

For Parisians, it’s a bit like moving rue des Martyrs to a Greek island. Here you’ll find trendy boutiques with carefully designed decor and items that look as if they’ve just stepped out of a fashion magazine. There are also restaurants with innovative cuisines in tune with the times. They are also very popular with the French, who appreciate good food and “simple, tasteful luxury”. The beaches are also beautiful and well-maintained, with plenty of places to eat, cool off and lie down.

According to my friend, these two islands are a little less chic than Sifnos, with more of an eco-nature bent. Here you’ll find tastefully maintained villages and pretty boutiques. Lots of Birkenstock-wearing tourists, too! These islands are also appreciated for their unspoilt nature, with great diving and hiking.

Close to Athens, these two islands are frequented by the Greek bourgeoisie. With beautiful neoclassical houses and some grand hotels dating back to the last century, they have a history, a tradition and a charm that is sometimes a little old-fashioned.

The quiet ones

Andros, Tinos, Alonissos

Tinos dovecotes
The dovecotes of Tinos © Laure M.

We love these islands because they’re quiet and less crowded than the others. With their more discreet charm, they are also quieter and will seduce you with their varied landscapes (forests, rivers…) and traditions (pilgrimages, marble working, cheeses). You can even find beaches that are rarely visited in summer!

The wildest

Serifos, Evia, Kythnos, Ithaca

eubee-montochi-grece
Mount Ochi – Island of Evia © Sophie B.

There are no frills on these islands, just raw, untamed nature. In Serifos and Kythnos, the aridity of the soils is surprising, while Evia and Ithaca are greener but also little damaged by the hand of man. Coves and small beaches are often in more inaccessible locations. On foot or by boat, they’re full of surprises.

Islands near Athens

Kea, Aegina

Kea Island Greece
By ALEXANDER PAPPAS from ATHENS, GREECE (Ioulis) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A Greek island near Athens? Think of Kea or Aegina. These two islands are very popular for short stays, and allow you to get a quick taste of a Greek island in just a few minutes. Perched villages, lively ports and pleasant beaches are all less than an hour away by boat (from Lavrion to Kea, from Piraeus to Aegina). Their proximity makes them very popular with Greeks at the first fine spring weekends. They are also very lively during traditional festivals.

Micro-islands

Agistri, Symi, Koufonisi, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Donoussa, Kimolos

agistri angistri greece
Agistri © Sophie B.

They are tiny, barely a few kilometers in diameter. It’s a great place for walking and cycling. In the smaller Cyclades, you can move from one to the other in just a few days. Often little-known, they are becoming increasingly popular. So make sure you book your accommodation well in advance, as there aren’t many of them.

Those served by airports

The big islands: Crete
Crete
Rhodes, Santorini, Paros, Corfu, Milos .

But also smaller ones: Skiathos, Skyros, Syros, Naxos, Kos, Ikaria, Samos, Astypalea, Kalymnos, Kythera, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Lemnos

airport greek islands greece greek island
CC0 Creative Commons via Pixabay

You may not be aware of it, but many islands are served by an airport. For those who are seasick or want to save time, this is a very interesting option. Some are served by international flights, otherwise you’ll have to go via Athens. Flights don’t have to be expensive, and in just a few minutes you’ll be at your destination. Think about it when you book!

In fact, we’ve written an article on all the Greek islands that are easily accessible by plane, as well as our Top 5 islands that are easily accessible by plane.

All Greek islands

So if you’d like to find out more, here are a few articles to help you:

  • This article gives you a comprehensive overview of all the Greek islands: Sporades, Ionian Islands, Saronic Gulf Islands, Dodecanese, etc. We explain everything.
  • If you’d like to find out more about the islands, we recommend you take a look at the pages of the Greek islands we’ve visited.
  • For your vacations in the Cycladeswe’ve put together a series of fun and varied itineraries for you.
  • If you’re looking for authentic islands, away from the crowds, we’ve put together a list of our
    7 little-known Greek islands a must-see
    or our selection of
    18 less-touristy Greek islands
    for an authentic vacation.
  • And why not visit the islands by boat!

Laure M. and Sophie B.

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