11 Aug 2022

The 8 best Greek islands to visit


Navagio Beach Zakynthos Greece. Navagio Beach Zakynthos Greece.

Yacht Cruising 

Mediterranean & Adriatic

Excursions and Experiences

With its beautiful sandy beaches, gorgeous weather, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder that millions of tourists visit Greece each year

One of the key ways to enjoy a Greek holiday is to explore a selection of different islands, but what are the best Greek islands to visit on your trip? We’ve put together a list of our top choices. 

Amorgos, Greece Amorgos, Greece
Amorgos, Greece
Amorgos is a tranquil island where you can avoid the hustle and bustle of crowds. It’s one of the top Greek islands to visit if you prefer a more relaxed environment but have an overwhelming sense of adventure. 

The natural landscape of Amorgos is truly breathtaking. Maltezi beach has crystal-clear waters, and there are plenty of spots on the island where you can scuba dive and observe exotic sea life in their natural habitat. 

If you prefer to keep your head above the water, Amorgos has over 15 hiking trails to traverse, and an array of stunning and charming villages to stroll through such as Tholaria and Chora. 

While you’re on the island, the Hozoviotissa Monastery offers a zen and relaxing experience. There’s even a more recent addition to the island you need to see; the Kalotaritissa Shipwreck – the abandoned commercial vessel ‘Olympia’ that’s stranded off the coast of Kalotaritissa beach. 
Cephalonia (also known as Kefalonia) is one of the largest and best Greek islands to visit if you want to explore sprawling natural beauty. Here, you’ll find plenty of stunning beaches dotting the landscape, but you’ll also discover a series of wonderous caves to explore. Drogarati Cave is well known for its stalagmite and stalactite formations, while Melissani Cave’s awe-inspiring lake creates a sense of mysticism when the sun dazzles off the water’s surface. 

When you’re ready to take a short break from exploration, Cephalonia’s array of bars and restaurants allow you to unwind while enjoying the local cuisine. Stop by the port towns to sample the local dish of Kefalonian meat pie brimming with tender meat, rich cheese, and warm spices. 

There’s plenty of history to lose yourself in on the island as well. The ancient Acropolis of Sami can be found on Lapitha Mountain towards the east of Cephalonia. Formerly a highly populated and fortified town, it now stands as a relic reflecting the island’s cultural heritage. Tombs dating back to the third century BC can be explored as can the remains of an ancient theatre. 
Corfu, Greece Corfu, Greece
Corfu, Greece

Corfu is your dream destination if sun, sea, and sand is the main reason for your trip. With over 58 beaches, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more ideal paradise. 

But it’s not just the idyllic beaches that makes Corfu one of the best Greek islands to visit. There’s a great number of festivals and events held throughout the year that add to the area’s charm. The Carnival of Corfu is a particularly lively celebration that closely resembles the Carnival of Venice in a nod to the island’s Venetian roots. 

Corfu is known for being a party hotspot, but for the most part, that reputation is reserved for the resort of Kavos. You’ll find plenty of quiet spaces across Corfu if you want to have a relaxing drink in the evening, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the perfect restaurant to dine at. 

Those visiting Mykonos can indulge in the island’s storied history and culture. The Maritime Museum celebrates the island’s rich nautical heritage, while the House of Lena provides a step back in time to a traditional middle-class 19th century Mykonian home. 

A trip to the artificial lake of Ano Mera Dam is a must for nature enthusiasts. Originally built to solve the island’s water supply issues, it has also become a haven for wildlife. 

Birds have truly fallen in love the lake; the Eleonora’s falcon is a species that can often be spotted flying across the water, alongside swallows and herons. Regular birdwatching events are arranged at Ano Mera Dam, so you can see these wonderful birds enjoying their adopted habitat. 

Mykonos perfectly captures the party vibe and is one of the top Greek islands to visit if you’re looking to let loose at night and take things easy during the day. You’ll never be short of places to dance and enjoy a drink with clubs and bars all across the island. 

Mykonos is also one of the most LGBTQ-friendly parts of Greece to visit, giving thousands of holidaymakers a place to relax in comfort and style. 
 Patmos, Greece  Patmos, Greece
 Patmos, Greece
Patmos is one of the smaller Greek islands, where organised events and activities are rare. However, its seclusion makes it one the more serene parts of the country to unwind and take things at your leisure. Strolling along the beaches and stopping for a drink in the sun are popular ways to relax, but there is plenty to see if you want to enjoy a nice, long hike across the island. 

The Cave of the Apocalypse is arguably the most visited destination on Patmos – it’s where St. John of Jesus’s Twelve Apostles was said to have seen visions of the destruction of Earth followed by the creation of a new Earth descended from Heaven. As a result, his complied scriptures were added to the Bible as the Book of Revelations. 

Religion forms a significant part of the Patmos’ identity, but the islanders are also proud of their culinary treats. Two dishes that are a must try while on Patmos are the local cheese pie, and a sweet Greek delicacy made with dough, almonds, walnuts, syrup, and sugar. 
Rhodes highly popular and one of the best Greek islands to visit if you’re first-time visitors longing to experience everything that the country has to offer. With its exuberant way of life, you can enjoy a range of fun activities from the relaxed to the extreme. 

Diving tours can take you to see underwater wrecks along the neighbouring islands, and there are plenty of instructors who can teach you how to kitesurf or windsurf. 

If you prefer a slower pace, leisurely guided tours to see Rhodes’s monasteries, water springs and valleys are frequent on the island, and you can even attend a cooking lesson if you want to learn how to make delicious Greek dishes yourself at home. 

The history of Rhodes is as varied as it is interesting, picking up several nicknames along the way. It’s regularly referred to as ‘The Island of the Knights’ after being ruled by the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem between the 15th and 16th centuries. The medieval influence can be seen and felt throughout with the medieval Old Town being UNESCO World Heritage-listed. 

If you want to take a break from the sites and activities, shopping in the Old Town can be a welcoming distraction. Jewellery, art, clothing, and local cuisine can all be found here, making it one of the best places in Rhodes to pick up souvenirs or a special something for yourself. 
Santorini, Greece Santorini, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Santorini is famous worldwide, bringing in tourists with a love of nature and a taste for culture. The island is famous for being a volcanic hotspot – an eruption in the 17th century BC even played a part in shaping Santorini. 

Being so close to such an exclusive natural landmark gives Santorini its own cultural identity and has created a range of beauty spots and activities that can’t be enjoyed anywhere else in Greece. 

The sandy beaches in the area are dyed a bold black thanks to the soot and ash, a sight that has to be seen to be believed. Hot springs around the volcano’s craters provide a great spot for rest and relaxation, so you can enjoy the fantastic scenery while soothing tired joints and muscles. 

For a unique view of the island, jet ski tours and helicopter rides are becoming increasingly popular, but you can always opt for a walking tour or take a drive around Santorini if you prefer. More leisurely boat trips run daily as well, meaning there’s no shortage of ways to explore this beautiful island. 
If local culture piques your interest, Syros Island is one of the top Greek islands to visit. The arts are widely celebrated here, with film and guitar festivals taking place on the island each summer. The August Moons festival (Avgoustiatika Feggaria) is an annual event celebrating the life and works of musician Markos Vamvakaris, who called Syros Island his home. 

A museum dedicated to Vamvakaris can also be found on the island, charting his life and influence on rebetiko music (folklore music from the 1930s). Other museums to visit include the Archaeological Museum, which showcases a range of treasures from the island’s past as well as a selection of items sent over from the neighbouring islands of Kythnos and Amorgos. 

When you’re ready to rest your feet, Hermoupolis and Ano Syros have plenty of bars and restaurants for you to enjoy. Relax with a glass of locally made wine made or order some of the special local dishes on offer. 

How many Greek islands are there to visit? 

There are 227 inhabited islands that you can visit while holidaying in Greece. Each one has its own charms, unique history, specialist cuisine, and natural attractions to see. There are thousands of Greek islands in total, but the actual number is disputed based on the definition of the term ‘island’. Some of these islands may be briefly visited during your trip, but they are uninhabited. 

Are the Greek islands safe to visit? 

Greece is considered to be a very safe country, meaning you are highly unlikely to run into any trouble while exploring the islands. The locals are well known for their friendliness – they show great kindness and hospitality towards tourists, encouraging visitors to enjoy their stay. 

When is the best time to visit the Greek islands? 

July, August, and September are the best months for visiting the Greek islands. The weather is perfect for a summer getaway and enjoying the beach. You’ll also find that many of the events and festivals celebrated across Greece take part during these months. 

Discover the top Greek islands to visit with Emerald Cruises 

There is a great deal to uncover when you explore the Greek islands. On your luxury yacht cruise along the Mediterranean & Adriatic Sea, you’ll see many of the best Greek islands to visit complete with a range of fun excursions and activities. 

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