It’s hard to resist the allure of Greece’s idyllic seaside charms, as its exotic islands are known for its whitewashed architecture, cobblestone lanes, historic landmarks and tranquil water views. It can be a daunting task to decide which captivating island is perfect for your next summertime escape, so we’ve put together a list of the best. Check out our list of the most beautiful Greek Islands you must visit this summer.
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Santorini is the perfect destination if you’re looking to relax and unwind. It’s the most famous of the Greek islands, known for its picturesque Cycladic architecture with blue shutters and bougainvillea, where you can meander down cobbled lanes and pick up charming souvenirs. If you’re looking for a dose of culture, visit the Archaeological Museum of Thera, the Museum of Prehistoric Thira and the Minoan Bronze Age ruins at the Akrotiri Archaeological Site. Unwind with a visit to the hot springs at Palia Kameni.
If you’re looking for a cosmopolitan destination this summer, visit Mykonos to discover a picturesque town filled with narrow streets and whitewashed lanes. Browse through small shops, boutiques, art galleries and cafes, then visit the various beaches that surround Mykonos Town for a day of water sports and sipping cocktails at beachfront bars. Explore the area of Little Venice, make an excursion to the windmills above town or revel in the island’s party scene at night.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is home to an array of cultural attractions. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops and nightclubs to explore, while outdoor enthusiasts will delight at its beautiful beaches, scenic mountains and gorges that are great for exploration in summer. Visit Knossos Palace, which dates back to the Minoan civilization, then take a day trip to the island of Spinalonga to see its historic fortress or go on an excursion through Samaria Gorge National Park.
History enthusiasts will enjoy a summertime jaunt to the beautiful island of Rhodes, which is home to an abundance of historic treasures in the Old City in Rhodes Town, the Temple of Apollo and the acropolis ruins in Lindos. Soak up the Mediterranean sunshine at one of the island’s picturesque beaches, then take a day to see its medieval citadel where you can stroll the battlements and admire Byzantine churches, Roman ruins and synagogues.
Located directly east of Paros, Naxos boasts plenty of picturesque beaches that can be enjoyed during summer. Head to the west coast to see its miles of powdery sands, then take the kids to Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna to enjoy its shallow waters. You can go horseback riding at Plaka or swimming in the crystal clear waters of Kastraki, while those who want to kick up your vacation a notch can go windsurfing or kitesurfing adventure in Mikri Vigla.
A combination of lush landscapes and cosmopolitan vibes, Corfu is the most popular of the Ionian islands. You’ll find a blend of attractions, landscapes and culture, where you can explore its Byzantine history and Greek mythology and admire its charming traditional towns. Walk through Corfu Old Town to see its shops and restaurants, then visit the quaint village of Kassiopi or the local monastery in Paleokastritsa. Venture out of town to discover unspoiled beaches go on a boating excursion to admire the islands natural beauty or meander through Agni, a tiny fishing village with charming tavernas.
If you’re looking for a buzzing nightlife scene, head to Ios, located south of Paros and Naxos and north of Santorini. It’s home to the famous Mylopotas Beach where you’ll be lured in by its natural splendors where you can soak up the sunshine, while its traditional villages offers plenty of Greek charm in local restaurants and nightlife spots. After a day at the beach, visit the Archaeological Museum, Homer’s tomb or the ruins of an old Byzantine castle.
If dramatic scenery is what you’re after, head to Kefalonia to be spoiled with its Greek charm and natural beauty. You’ll be drawn in by the stark white Myrtos beach and the lush foliage at Horgota beach, while outdoor adventurers can visit Mount Ainos, which is a national park where deer and wild horses roam. It was made famous by the book and film adaptation of “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, where sun-seekers come to snorkel along the rocky coastline around Fiskardo.
Sitting between Mykonos and Santorini, Paros offers a laid-back ambiance with some of the more nicer beaches. It’s known for its thriving party scene, while beachgoers can delight in a day of sunbathing and beach hopping to shorelines that range from quiet and secluded to lively. Those looking for a water sports adventure can go kitesurfing and windsurfing. Learn more about the island’s past at the historic Panagia Ekatontapiliani church in Parikia or at the Archaeological Museum.
Kos is the perfect summer getaway with its ample sunshine, secret coves and luxury resorts. It’s most famous attraction is the Asklepion, which is an ancient center of healing and temple complex that sits just outside the picturesque Kos Town. You can also visit its long strips of white sand beaches and admire its rolling farmland with grapes, figs, olives and corn. Dress your best and dance the night away at one of the abundant selections of bars and restaurants in Kos Town.
Art enthusiasts and creative types should visit Hydra this summer, where you’ll find an impressive selection of art galleries, installations and exhibitions dotted around town. It’s just a two-hour journey from Athens, where chic Greeks and celebrities roam the streets and enjoy its waterfront restaurants and bars. Admire its stone mansions, elegant monasteries and cobblestoned streets, then visit the Monastery of the Assumption of Virgin Mary or the Historical Archives Museum.
Known for its picturesque beaches, Zakynthos is backed by a dramatic coastline and is perfect for seaside summer holidays and families traveling with kids. Admire emerald hills and turquoise waters, then marvel at its bright blue coves. See bubbling underwater springs at Xigia, the craggy Porto Limnionas and join a scenic boat cruise at Skinari to discover the Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach. You can arrange outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, then visit the Askos Stone Park wildlife sanctuary to get up close to deer and chinchilla.