Encompassing the whitewashed villages of the Cyclades, the archaeologically rich Dodecanese and the untouched beaches of the Sporades, the Greek Islands are among Europe’s most alluring destinations. Of the 6,000 islands and islets that surround the Greek mainland, more than 225 are inhabited, each with its own atmosphere and aesthetic.
Things to do in Greek islands
Whether you want to experience the romance of Santorini or discover the architectural wonders of Corfu, there’s a Greek Island to suit your travel interests.
Explore volcanic Santorini. With its rugged landscape shaped by a volcanic eruption some 3,500 years ago, Santorini is one of the most enchanting of the Greek Islands. Explore the Instagrammable clifftop towns of Fir and Oia, take a boat trip to the crater of Nea Kameni and bathe in the therapeutic hot springs of Palia Kameni.
Relax on the beaches of Naxos. Naxos is the largest of the Cycladic Islands and is ringed by powdery white beaches lapped by the South Aegean Sea. Families can enjoy the shallow waters of Agios Prokopios and kitesurfers can test their skills at Mikri Vigla while beachgoers after something wilder should head to Plaka.
Discover the diverse architecture of Corfu. Surrounded by the Ionian Sea off the north-west coast of Greece, Corfu is dotted with pastel-coloured villages that reflect Venetian, French and British architectural influences. Explore the medieval streets of Corfu Town and see the stunning ceiling of St. Spyridon Church, then make a pilgrimage to the 13th-century Paleokastritsa Monastery.
Follow in the footsteps of film stars on Kefalonia. Made famous as the film setting for “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, Kefalonia boasts pine-fringed beaches and a rugged interior where wild horses roam. Wander through the pretty seaside villages of Assos and Fiskardo, go snorkelling at Dafnoudi or bliss out on photogenic Myrtos Beach.
Getting around Greek islands
Several of the Greek Islands have international airports, which are served by direct flights from Athens and European destinations. Ferries connect from Piraeus to most of the Greek Islands, with some also served by ferries from Patras. Rental cars and local buses are available for getting around the islands.