The Greek Islands are some of the world’s most desirable travel destinations, filled with cobbled lanes lined with whitewashed architecture, beautiful beaches, and serene sea views, along with alluring ancient ruins. With some 6,000 islands, around 230 that are inhabited, it can be hard to decide where to go, but with these 20 you really can’t go wrong.
20 Greek Islands to Visit in 2021
There are few other islands that rank as high and as frequently among travel bucket lists destinations than Santorini. This all-time classic is surely one of the most photogenic, renowned for its volcanic landscapes, colorful beaches and legendary sunsets that promise to be even better when viewed while cruising in a luxe catamaran with a signature cocktail in hand.
Mykonos is famous for its glitz and glamour, including high-end resorts, fine dining, and upscale shopping, but you’ll also find authentic experiences, from farm-to-table eateries to a variety of excursions, including cooking classes and jeep safari tours. It also boasts some of the most magical beaches in Greece, with exquisite sands for soaking up the sun while sipping cocktails.
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Naxos is becoming an increasingly popular food destination with its wide range of local products from Naxian potatoes and cheeses to honey, olives, olive oil, fruits, wine and its famous liqueur, kitron. Toss in fine dining and farm-to-table experiences with breathtaking sea views, pristine beaches, spectacular mountains for hiking, fabulous shopping and marble workshops, and you’ve got a vacation that’s hard to beat.
Crete not only offers it all when it comes to a Greek island vacation, with charming villages and alluring medieval old towns, gorges beaches and Minoan ruins, but it’s become a top pick for wine enthusiasts with wineries producing outstanding local wines. Expect plenty of delicious cuisines to pair it with, as well as fantastic stays at impressive hotels and historic boutique properties. Mix in amazing hospitality and this island easily cracks the top five to visit in 2020.
Join us on a 12-day culinary journey with stops in Naxos, Crete, Santorini and Athens. Sample local food and visit historical sights on this magnificent tour.
Discover the untouched island of Milos on our Cyldades on Wheels & Water itinerary. This island offers dream-like landscapes due to its ancient volcanic activity. Discover beaches like Plaka, Sarkiniko, Firiplaka, and Klimata, so stunning you might think pictures of them were photoshopped, but they’re even more incredible to marvel at in person. The waters that frame them are always crystal clear and come in a variety of shades, emerald or brilliant green, deep or pale blue.
Paros & Antiparos
Sometimes referred to as a “laid-back Mykonos, Paros is becoming a popular wellness destination and it’s also home to a few new 5-star hotels providing an especially rich hospitality experience. Visitors can enjoy day trips to islands in the Small Cyclades nearby like Iraklia and Koufonisi along with a wide range of beaches, from stretches popular for water sports like windsurfing to remote sands for peaceful seclusion.
While Santorini may be more well-known, its neighbor Folegandros is like a little sister. Smaller but less crowded, it features similar architecture, including whitewashed buildings decorated with bright and colorful flowers and Greek Orthodox churches with vibrant blue domes. Enjoy an authentic feel and sophisticated aura along with unspoiled landscapes and wonderful boutique hotels.
Folegandros is the perfect island to visit for a romantic getaway. Take a look at our Greek island private honeymoon tour here >
One of the most captivating islands, Amorgos lies at the eastern edge of the Cyclades and hosts an especially picturesque Chora along with fantastic food and raki, ideal for a laid-back vacation with authentic local experiences. It’s renowned for its natural wild beauty, including secluded coves with crystalline turquoise waters, caves, and mountains.
Situated off the country’s northwest coast, Corfu offers ancient history and mythology along with spectacularly scenic beauty and a timeless feel. Discover whitewashed fishing villages and grand Venetian buildings along with sandy beaches, cascading waterfalls and bird-filled lagoons. In between, you’ll find many unique boutiques and outstanding eateries for shopping and dining.
Step back in time to beautiful Hydra, a virtually car-free island guaranteed to provide an authentic, tranquil experience. This is a place where you’ll see people getting around on foot, by boat or donkey. Enjoy serene cobblestone streets, peaceful squares and lavish stone mansions along with scenic hikes and outstanding snorkeling or diving too.
Visit this beautiful Greek island and many more on a 9-day small ship cruise >
One of the lesser-known Greek islands, while Kefalonia doesn’t get the mass tourism famous islands as Santorini do, you’ll find it surrounded by a gorgeous aquamarine sea that can be enjoyed from soft white sands in relative peace. There’s almost always a secluded spot in a hidden cove for tossing down a blanket. Traditional villages like Fiskardo offer some great seaside tavernas for an authentic meal too.
The westernmost of the Dodecanese where the archipelago meets the Cyclades, Astypalaia boasts sun-drenched beaches, charming whitewashed villages, and centuries-old history. Its Chora is one of the prettiest in the Aegean, perched atop a rock that juts out into the sea. At the peak is a castle overlooking the town while the promenade hosts lovely historic churches, interesting museums, shops, bars and restaurants.
Medieval Rhodes Town offers enough to make this in the Dodecanese a must-visit of its own. Offering living history, it’s especially atmospheric with a labyrinth of cobbled streets that will bring you back to the days of the Palace Grand Master. Get lost among them to find countless hidden treasures, from picturesque churches to magnificent Venetian buildings.
Learn about ancient Greek history and visit fascinating ruins in our Ruins, Castles & Island Fun 8 Day Family Trip >
This Instagram-worthy island offers lots of authentic Greek charm with Cycladic architecture and cliff-top villages along with nearly 50 miles of sandy beaches, some of which are frequently named among the best in Europe. Visit Ios and enjoy dining in authentic tavernas, taking part in the lively nightlife and fascinating sites like Homer’s tomb.
The small island of Serifos may be lesser-known, but it offers a fabulous mix of secluded beaches and livelier stretches of sand, including Psili Ammos, once acclaimed as Europe’s Beach of the Year. Its Chora is one of the most charming in the Cyclades, with enticing narrow alleyways lined with traditional tavernas and romantic whitewashed architecture.
Tinos is a Cyclades island with a long Italian tradition having been ruled by Venetians, with lots of evidence of its past found throughout. Our 12-Day Private Tour of the Cyclades visits Tinos, where you will discover ornate pigeon houses and countless traditional villages with cobbled paths, lots of white marble beauty in homes joined wall-to-wall, elegant arches and chapels. There are beautiful beaches for swimming and frequent festivals to enjoy focused on music, food, art and more.
Just a two-hour ferry ride from Athens and you can enjoy magical sunsets like Santorini’s without the crowds. Spetses is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the serene atmosphere surrounded by magnificent scenery, and with the use of cars restricted here, the clip-clop of horse and carriages replaces the traffic noise.
The cosmopolitan island of Andros will win you over with its authentic traditions, scenic villages, local foods (included delectable cheeses), surprisingly lush green slopes, and crystal-clear blue seas. Its Chora is one of the most elegant in the Cyclades, located on a narrow peninsula, filled with cafes and shops that sell local products.
While you may not be familiar with its name, you’ve probably seen Zante’s famous Shipwreck Bay, frequently featured in ads and splashed across countless postcards. The island’s symbol, it’s one of the most breathtaking sights in the world, with surreal turquoise waters and stark white sands that hold a rusty shipwreck.
Joined to the mainland at Sterea Ellada by a floating bridge, Lefkada is easy to reach but surprisingly uncrowded. Visitors enjoy some of the country’s most idyllic beaches and hidden bays along with a world-renowned kitesurfing and windsurfing scene. Experience traditional village life in Lefkada Town with authentic tavernas and an impressive mountain backdrop.
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