With over 200 inhabited islands in Greece to explore, each with their unique attractions, spectacular sunsets, and azure waters, deciding which one is best suited for your holiday can be difficult. That’s why U.S. News compiled this ranking of the top Greek islands by taking into account attractions, seasonality, and tourist attitude. Do you have a favorite lane? Vote in the poll below to help determine the ranking for next year. (Note: The coronavirus outbreak may affect some of the following destinations.) Before traveling, consult the CDC and the US Department of State.
Santorini’s ancient Cycladic architecture makes this archipelago one of Greece’s most beautiful and visited. Because of its volcanic heritage, the main island of Thira has spectacular black and red sand beaches as well as well-preserved historic ruins. After seeing the crowded tourist attractions of Thira, take a day journey to tranquil Thirassia to see its beautiful towns and country side. You could also pay a visit to Santorini’s Renowned Wineries. Most are in the middle of central Santorini and can be visited on a vineyard tour.
Corfu’s natural beauty has captivated notable writers such as Homer and Shakespeare, as well as ancient Venetian, French, and British troops fighting for possession of the island since the seventh century B.C. It is now a gorgeous refuge for vacationers looking for some real R&R. There are numerous resorts overlooking the Ionian Sea. As well as restaurants, cafes, and stores lining the streets of Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue up the coast for a more quiet hideaway.
Greece’s largest island has something for everyone. Sunbathers can relax on beaches like Vai and Elafonisi. Nature enthusiasts may hike through Samaria Gorge National Park. Also history fans can visit ancient ruins like the Venetian Fortezza and the Palace of Knossos. At the island’s tavernas, everyone will taste typical Cretan fare such as graviera (a Gruyere-like cheese) and dakos (a twice-baked bread topped with tomato, oregano, and olive oil).
Hydra, located in the Saronic Gulf southwest of Athens, distinguishes out from its neighbors due to its lack of motor vehicles. That’s correct, you’ll have to walk or ride a donkey through the cobblestone streets. But that is a big element of Hydra’s allure for visitors. While you’re here, explore the island’s pebbly shorelines and attractive seaside towns, such as Hydra Town, where you’ll find traditional residences and some of Hydra’s greatest nightlife places.
Despite the fact that much of Kefalonia’s exquisite Venetian architecture was destroyed in an earthquake in 1953, the island still feels mystical due to its unique scenery. Explore picturesque villages such as Assos and Fiskardo to view colorful dwellings and stunning churches. Then, relax on one of the island’s sandy or pebbly beaches. Or even go snorkeling or scuba diving in the lovely blue ocean. Hike to the summit of Megas Soros in Mount Ainos National Park for an adrenaline rush. You could also explore one of Kefalonia’s underground caverns.
Because Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades, there is a lot more shore to go about. There are numerous beaches to choose from, ranging from popular Plaka to low-key Alyko, as well as numerous water sports activities. Naxos is an ideal site for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Mostly due to the wind on the west side of the island, so sign up for a class. Make time to visit ancient ruins such as the temples of Apollo, Demeter, and Dionysus.
Mykonos is the place to go for a more boisterous Greek vacation. When you’re not dancing the night away at one of the many clubs on the island, you may unwind with a beverage while gazing out at the Aegean Sea. Other must-dos on Mykonos include sampling its delectable fish and admiring its whitewashed architecture. Keep in mind that this popular island is not cheap, especially during the high season. Visit Mykonos during the shoulder seasons in spring and fall to avoid rubbing elbows with swarms of visitors and paying more for flights and accommodations.
Whether you like watching movies or spending time outside, chances are you’ll like your visit to Skopelos. The film “Mamma Mia!” was shot on Greece’s greenest island. Skopelos is home to pine forests, vineyards, orchards, and olive groves, as well as Agios Ioannis (the church where the movie’s characters Sophie Sheridan and Sky Ramand were married). It also has several gorgeous lengths of sand, including pebbly Panormos, which is a great place to view one of Greece’s famous sunsets. Because Skopelos has only two main highways, travel around on foot or by bike.