If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you might be overwhelmed by the number of Greek islands and trying to decide which ones to visit. Unless you have time to visit all of them – which sounds like the ultimate dream vacation – you’ll have to pick and choose which ones to see, and which ones to skip. Of course, since Greece is so stunningly beautiful, you can always come back and visit the other islands on your next trip.
Here’s my list of the top five islands to consider…
Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and is known as the emerald island because there is so much green. There are two million olive trees on Corfu! You’ll find Roman ruins along with medieval castles and fortifications to explore. You can also visit museums, monasteries, Corfu Old Town, and any number of fantastic beaches. Paleokastritsa is a must-see, with its charming tavernas and gorgeous blue bay. If you’re taking the family, you might want to include Aqualand with its 36 different water slides; it’s one of the best water parks in Europe.
Santorini is for lovers. Honeymooners flock to Santorini in droves to see the magnificent beauty of the deep blue water, sandy white beaches, whitewashed homes with blue roofs, and the amazing sunsets that light the whole sky a lovely pink and orange. Go one step further and find luxury villas in Santorini to fully complete the romantic experience. However, you don’t have to be in love with a partner and have a honeymoon just to enjoy Santorini. Plenty of other tourists visit and spend time relaxing on the beach, or going on excursions and seeing all the sights the island has to offer.
This is the island to visit if you’re just after a relaxing getaway. The west coast of Naxos boasts one giant pristine beach, perfect for sunbathing lazily and taking in the spectacular view of the sea juxtaposed with the mountains and lush, green valleys. If you’re looking for some water sports to indulge in while on your vacation, Naxos is a great choice because there are good winds that come in the east end, and kite surfers and windsurfers will often be spotted on a Naxos beach since it’s the most comfortable place to practice.
Like Santorini, Paros is a couples’ island, but unlike Santorini, there are many other kinds of tourists that visit as well; it isn’t exclusively for couples. Paros has a vibrant nightlife, more so than Santorini, so if you’re looking for an excuse to go into the cities, look no further. Delicious local food, trendy shopping, and plenty of local cultures await you on the island of Paros. Paros is also famous for its beaches and charming villages.
You can’t visit Greece and skip all the history. In fact, it’s almost impossible to physically miss it since there’s such an abundance of historical sites, architecture, and stories. Crete is one of the best islands to visit, next to the mainland, if you’re traveling for the historical aspect. Sure, the island is also rich with white, sandy beaches, excellent food and shopping, and surreal hiking trails, but the diverse history of the landscape, Greek legends, castles, fortified villages, churches, and museums is most prevalent on the island of Crete.
I hope I’ve given you a good idea of which Greek islands you might want to visit. My personal favorite is Santorini, so I hope you get to experience it!
Greece is such an incredibly beautiful country, at least in photographs. I’ve never been but since I love learning about history, it looks like Corfu and Crete would be the islands for me.
My husband has been to a lot of the Greek Islands but that was before he met me so I need to catch up. It is so hard to decide which though which is why I appreciate posts like this which help me in the decision making. One thing for sure I would like to go during the shoulder season as it is way too hot in the summer!
That’s true. I went the first part of September, and it was still so hot!!
I’ve only been to Santorini so I’ve got plenty of catching up to do!! Would love to visit Paros for its charming villages and Corfu for its Roman ruins!
We had actually planned to do a Greek Island trip in the fall. This will be helpful in planning when this goes back on the planning board. Naxos and Paros are islands we have never visited. So we might start there. I like the idea of pristine beaches for a relaxing getaway. Even though we do not look for the nightlife, the small charming villages would be a big draw on Paros. And of course we would want to return to the popular islands too! Maybe need to plan for several weeks in the Greek Islands.
I have been planning a second trip to Greece for a while and you’ve given me 4 islands that will certainly go in my list – Corfu, Naxos, Paros and Crete. I was also thinking of adding Zakynthos to that list, because of the famous and gorgeous Navagio beach. What do you think?
It’s unbelievable that I’ve been to places around the world but never to Greece – which is a really popular holiday destination within Europe. I’d love to explore the historic wonders of Athens first and then hang out on one of the islands you are introducing – probably on Naxus: the color of the water on your pic does the trick for me 😉
I haven’t heard much about Naxos but the idea of lazy sunbathing is appealing. Paros looks gorgeous, less tourist is a bonus
As a very first, without giving it a thought my answer would be Santorini. But have heard that it has become very crowded and people come here only for photo ops.
Naxos is a good choice and so is Paros. Laidback and quiet. 🙂
I appreciate the rundown of Greek Islands to visit. I’ve never been to Greece so it’s good to inform myself of which Island would be best for me. I think I’d pick Naxos or Crete as they seem more suited to slower travel and historical interest, which appeals to me. I want to avoid crowds that I’ve heard frequent the other islands.
I have never been to Greece, but I would love to include these beautiful islands in the itinerary of Greece. Santorini has been my all-time favorite as I have seen a lot of its pictures over social media. What I love most about your blog is that you have introduced few new places as well, like Corfu, Paros and Naxos. They look pretty and I wasn’t aware of them before.