Greek islands & Mainland: Best places to visit

Discover our list of the 90 Best Greek islands & Mainland destinations to visit during your trip in Greece, sorted by region, and learn all their secrets for the most incredible vacation!

How to decide which places to visit?
You can see our lists of destinations sorted by popularity in order not to miss the must-see places in Greece:
Best Greek islandsBest Mainland destinations

Alternatively, continue scrolling to find all Greek islands and Mainland destinations by region and use the filters to help you find your ideal vacation destination based on your preferences: Popular, unspoilt, for summer, spring, for a family with kids, couples and more. Then, just click on the Greek island and mainland destination name and discover a quick description and a link to the complete travel guide. You can also see the Greek islands and mainland destinations on a map of Greece.
Need more info? Discover the best destinations by category, more info about Greek islands and the mainland destinations.

Looking for an island-hopping trip?
Discover the most popular Greek island-hopping itineraries and book your ferry tickets with us!

Map view

Cyclades islands

Dodecanese islands

Dodecanese Photo

Ionian islands

Ionian Photo

Sporades islands

Sporades Photo

Saronic islands

Saronic Photo

Eastern Aegean

Eastern Aegean Photo

Sterea

Sterea Photo

Thessaly

Thessaly Photo

Epirus

Epirus Photo

Macedonia

Macedonia Photo

Crete island

Crete Photo

Peloponnese

Peloponnese Photo

Best Greek islands & Mainland destinations by category

No idea where to go? See below in a glance the best Greek islands & Mainland destinations to visit.

Best for Island Hopping

SantoriniMykonosNaxosParosIosMilosCrete
Taking the Greek Ferries and visiting more than one island is an ideal option especially if your holiday lasts more than a week. Many islands are in close proximity with others or are connected by ferry on a daily basis with other ports. Island hopping is very common among the islands of the Cyclades!

Best destinations for First-Timers

AthensSantoriniMykonosParosNaxos
Athens, the capital of Greece is a large city located close to the sea, with very mild weather all year round. Its historical significance, the center’s archaeological sites, shops, museums, its upscale seaside neighborhoods, delicious restaurants and its proximity to the islands is what makes it ideal for first-timers.
Santorini is Greece's top tourist destination and ideal for first-timers. It offers some of the world's most dramatic sea views and lovely boutique hotels.
Mykonos is considered by many as the Greek sister of Ibiza. It is a Cycladic destination with numerous beautiful beaches, a charming traditional town, a plethora of luxury hotels and wild partying nightlife.
Paros and Naxos are two islands in very close proximity, their location makes them sisters but their definitive characters are quite different from one another. Both flaunt shimmering sandy beaches, wonderful whitewashed villages and excellent accomodation options.
Lastly, Crete and Rhodes are two very different islands, but both are considered as perfect destinations for first-timers since they boast unparalleled seashores and picturesque villages. An additional important aspect is their very well organized tourist infrastructure. Both islands are large and wide, hosting buzzing international airports for the convenience of travellers from abroad that may fly there directly.

Best Greek islands for Beaches

MykonosNaxosIosMilosParosKoufonisiaChania (Crete) • RhodesLefkadaZakynthosSkiathosKefalonia
Crystal-clear waters are an imperative feature of the Greek islands, although some beaches may be ranking higher than others. It is only natural that according to this, some islands are more favored than others.
Mykonos has more than 28 sandy beaches with clear and calm waters.
Naxos’s west coastal side extends into a more than 9km beach that hardly ever gets crowded.
Ios, although an island that tends to become busy during summer, has managed to keep some of the most fantastic beaches of the Aegean away from the spotlight.
Milos has got uniquely white volcanic soil forming some of the most photogenic beaches in Greece.
Paros has a variety of dazzling beaches that can satisfy any traveler.
Koufonisia are very popular for their sandy beaches as well as their sea caves and natural sea pools.
Chania in Crete have some of the most mesmerizing beaches: imagine pink sand and different hues of turquoise waters!
Rhodes is an all-time classic option when it comes to spending days by the beach.
The beaches of the Ionian islands of Lefkada, Zakynthos and Kefalonia have ranked more than once as the best beaches in the world. Porto Katsiki, Navagio, and Mirtos are now synonymous to heaven on earth!
Lastly, the unique beaches of Skiathos are where the verdant pine trees and the azure Aegean sea intertwine.

Best for Couples

SantoriniMilosHydraSpetsesMonemvasiaFolegandros
Some islands boast a more romantic atmosphere than others. A combination of golden sunsets, dreamy boutique hotels and delicious, candle-lit dining is what made those places the perfect destinations for love doves. Whether a young couple, honeymooners, celebrating an anniversary or simply planning an engagement during your holiday, these islands will create the perfect background for any occasion.

Best for Families

NaxosParosRhodesNafplionCreteHalkidiki
Greece is a common travel destination for families. Those places are all highly recommended summertime destinations to pick from when planning a fun, quality family vacation. They all flaunt comfort, easy access to fascinating beaches with safe, pristine and shallow waters; tourist amenities and facilities can be located in close proximity to almost every bay.

Best for Luxury

MykonosSantoriniRhodesHeraklion (Crete) • CorfuHalkidiki
If you want to pamper yourself with a well-deserved summer getaway to a lavish hotel, then these are all places that never disappoint when it comes to luxury lifestyle.

Best for Party

MykonosIosKosZakynthosSkiathosHeraklion (Crete)
If beach clubs, bars and fun from dusk till dawn is what you have in the plans for your summer holiday then these islands are the party hubs of Greece and welcome young boys and girls from all around the world every summer.

Best for Honeymoon

SantoriniRhodesCrete
Luxury hotels, lavish restaurants and idyllic landscapes are found in these islands, making them the perfect destination for honeymooners.

Best for Gastronomy

CreteNaxosTinosLesvosChios
Greek cuisine is super popular for its healthy, hearty meals and delicious fresh products. Some islands have a more emphasized gastronomic scene due to their fertile soil, local products and recipes. If you appreciate quality meals and want to savor memorable culinary experiences, then these islands welcome you to their delicious tavernas and invite you to taste their local cheese types, wine varieties, fresh seafood and meat dishes.

Best Destinations for Exquisite Restaurants

MykonosSantoriniRhodesAthensCorfuChania (Crete)
Fresh ingredients, talented chefs and beautiful settings is what makes a good restaurant. The above places have amazing, award-winning establishments with Greek, Mediterranean and Ethnic cuisines to die for. If you want to enjoy upscale dinners these are the places to go.

Best for Sea Sports

NaxosLefkadaParosMykonosCreteRhodesLemnosKos
A few islands where the ideal weather conditions are met, have developed into hubs for adrenaline hunters and sports enthusiasts. Naxos, Lefkada, Paros, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, Lemnos and Kos have the perfect seashores for that. Windsurfing and kitesurfing schools exist on the bays, offering you lessons or may rent sports equipment. A very committed community has been created over time, visiting on a yearly basis. If you want to enjoy some kitesurfing or windsurfing sessions on a beautiful island, you now know where to go.

Best for Photography

SantoriniMilosMeteoraMesolongi
The landscapes of these places are of unparalleled beauty. Majestic volcanic seascapes, lunar beaches, otherworldly rock formations, mirror-like reflections on a sea lake and of course interesting traditional architecture, are worth visiting and frequently captured by professional or amateur photographers.

Best for History

AthensCreteDelphiEpidaurusMycenaeMystrasOlympia
Greece is a country that counts more than 4000 years of history: from the Bronze age, the ancient classic years, to the Roman and Byzantine Empires. In Athens, Crete, Delphi, Epidaurus, Mycenae, Mystras and Olympia you will find royal palaces, theatres, temples, royal tombs, monasteries and stadiums that testify to the very rich heritage of this land. Most of these monuments are UNESCO world heritage sites and are considered as some of the most notable constructions of humanity.

Best for Luxury Chic

HydraSpetsesPatmosSifnosIthacaPaxiSyros
These Greek islands are all effortlessly elegant destinations with an unpretentious approach to high-quality lifestyle.

Best for Privacy

AntiparosAstypaleaAmorgosNisyrosAnafiSchinoussaKimolosSikinos
If you seek to experience a wonderful Aegean summer away from the crowds and immerse yourself in tranquility, then these Greek islands are the answer. Once on one of these islands, you can tune out of the hectic routine and find peace and meaning in the details of life; the golden blazing sun above, a rejuvenating dive in the indigo sea, savoring a juicy watermelon by the beach, an evening stroll in their picturesque villages and more.

Best for Authentic Lifestyle

KarpathosAmorgosNisyrosIkariaKytheraChiosLesvos
Some islands have managed to preserve a more authentic lifestyle than others. Average levels of tourism infrastructure accommodated along with centuries-old traditions and a vivid local life have given to these islands their distinctive local colours, fascinating visitors. During the summer months, don’t be surprised if you encounter the religious feasts called “panigiri” where locals and tourists dance, eat and drink together celebrating Orthodox commemorations.

Best for Remote Retreats

AnafiSchinoussaDonousaMathrakiMeganisiFournoiTilosLipsoiIrakleia
If you dream of a vehicle-free holiday where all you need is a good book, a swimming suit, a secluded beach and a taverna serving the catch of the day, you don’t need to look any further. These destinations are some small islands where you are invited to lose track of time and truly enjoy life.

Best for Year Round Holiday

CreteAthensThessalonikiPilio
These are year-round holiday destinations. All four of them have hotels operating and activities scheduled all year long, while the winter season does not last more than 3 months. Athens and Thessaloniki are two European cities ideal for a city break. Crete on the other hand being the southmost point of Europe has a very warm climate and an extended summer season starting from April and ending in early November. Lastly, Pilio is both a mountainous and a seaside destination, which means that it can accommodate all tastes.

Best Greek islands to visit

Greece has more than 6.000 islands in total scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which 227 are inhabited. It also flaunts a total of 16.000 km coastline and the best beaches in Europe.

Here we present you with the 10 best Greek islands:

Santorini

Incontestably holding the title of the Aegean queen, Santorini island is the top Greek island, thus frequently included in the most romantic destinations worldwide. It is visited by millions of tourists every summer.

Mykonos

Famous all over the world for the exotic beaches and the crazy nightlife, Mykonos island is the second most popular Greek island, right after Santorini.

Naxos

While it is being surrounded by very popular Greek islands, Naxos island has retained its family-oriented style and attracts more people every year thanks to its authenticity, great beaches and delicious cuisine.

Paros

One of the most cosmopolitan Greek islands in the Cyclades, Paros island is famous for its traditional whitewashed architecture, the wonderful beaches and the vivid nightlife.

Chania (Crete island)

Located on the westernmost region of Crete island, Chania amaze visitors with the Venetian-style Town, the fascinating beaches, the rich in history sightseeing options and the Mediterranean naturescapes.

Milos

Being a volcanic island in the Cyclades, Milos island is receiving a growing recognition in the last decades for its marble, lunar-like seascapes of Sarakiniko beach and Kleftiko, as well as for its picturesque seaside fishing villages.

Kefalonia

The emerald gem of the Ionian Sea, Kefalonia island boasts some awe-inspiring sapphire seashores, namely Myrtos and Antisamos among others. Its unparalleled, colorful traditional villages of Assos and Fiscardo captivate travellers every summer season, with many returning visitors verifying just how unique this Ionian island really is.

Corfu

Corfu island is the elegant Greco-Italian queen of the Ionian Archipelago. Its unique Venetian architecture in the main Town, the long shimmering coastline and well-preserved royal palaces will steal any visitor’s heart.

Rhodes

The Island of the Knights, named after the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, Rhodes is a large island in the Dodecanese, adorned with a fascinating mixture of Venetian, Ottoman and Byzantine architectural and historical heritage. Its Medieval town is a World Heritage Site and flaunts an interminable sandy coastline along with mesmerizing verdant landscapes.

Skiathos

If you are interested in a smooth and energizing Greek summer vacation, Skiathos island in the Sporades might be just the answer. With its turquoise waters, lush vegetation, lovely villages and a spot-on vivid nightlife, it creates a perfectly balanced combination.

Want to see more? Discover a list with all Greek islands listed by popularity.

About the Greek islands

Spreading in two main thalassic parts of the Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea on the East and the Ionian Sea on the West, the Greek islands are divided into smaller groups:

In these groupings, islands of varying dimensions, coastlines and sizes can be found, from very small to considerably large ones. Travellers can easily island hop by ferry between the smaller ones while on vacation, while investing many days in exploring a larger one is recommended.
The most popular island group is certainly the Cyclades islands in the Aegean sea. Sandy beaches, turquoise waters, picturesque villages and whitewashed houses are just some of the elements that make the Cyclades so special.
Santorini is a top worldwide romantic destination, while Mykonos is a party island with the most amazing beaches and fancy restaurants. Paros, Naxos, and Ios are also famous all over the world. The rest of Cyclades keep a lower profile in tourism development and offer calm and carefree holidays.
The islands of the Dodecanese and especially Rhodes and Kos are also very touristic and ideal for family vacations.
The Ionian islands of Corfu, Zakynthos, Lefkada and Kefalonia are of unparalleled beauty. Their world-widely acknowledged waters and breathtaking landscapes are a bucket list destination for many people.

Other famous islands are located in the Saronic gulf, such as the Instagramic Hydra and picturesque Spetses. Additionally, the Sporades and Eastern Aegean islands are becoming gradually more popular every year.
Crete is also super popular as it is the largest of all Greek islands. Its land is rich in history, mind-blowing gastronomy and amazing landscapes, while the idyllic beaches take the cake.

Overall the Greek islands are the ideal destination for every taste, from luxury to budget holidays. Despite the ongoing tourist development, their original character remains vibrant and is well-preserved, providing a wonderful atmosphere and high-quality holidays to visitors.
Want to discover more islands? Check our travel guides and use the filters to find your next holiday destination according to your preferences.

Best Mainland destinations

The Greek Mainland is basically famous for its rich history of more than 2.500 years. The most important ancient sites and temples of Ancient Greek Civilization are located here and the majority of them are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are some: the Acropolis in Athens, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the Tombs at Mycenae, the stadium where the ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia in Peloponnese, Delphi in Sterea, Ancient Dodona in Epirus, Dion and Ancient Philippi in Macedonia and more.
Most of them can be easily accessed with tours from Athens.

Although mainland Greece is not as popular as the Greek islands, it provides interesting sightseeing, amazing landscapes, beautiful towns and wonderful beaches. The amazing and mysterious Meteora is located in the Greek Mainland as well and is one of the most visited places in Greece. This amazing natural wonder will leave you speechless and is a top destination for hiking, climbing and landscape photography.
The most tourist developed places in the mainland are Halkidiki and Parga with amazing beaches and crystal blue waters. Various coastal towns of the Peloponnese such as Nafplio, the first Capital of Greece and Kalamata, are gaining a huge reputation, especially for family holidays.

Last but not least, the mainland has potentials to develop tourism all year round. It provides gorgeous nature to hike in spring, sightseeing to explore off the beaten track and even ski centers for the wintertime, whereas Athens and Thessaloniki are very popular City Break destinations.
Want to discover more mainland destinations? Check our travel guides and use the filters to find your next holiday destination according to your criteria.

View more: List of Mainland destinations by popularity | Best spring destinations

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