When I hear the word ‘Greece’, my mind immediately thinks of pebbled beaches and clear, balmy turquoise waters. These Mediterranean islands are also home to intriguing historical sights, warm and hospitable locals, and scrumptious foods.
Sadly, most tourists follow a Greece Itinerary that only takes them to Santorini or Mykonos.
What these tourists don’t realize is that they’re missing out on some of the most authentic and beautiful islands.
For those of you who want a more unique experience, then this list of the 13 most beautiful islands in Greece is just for you.
13 Most Beautiful Islands in Greece
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Beach lovers will adore the spectacular island of Milos. It boasts more than 70 beaches that vary from long sandy expanses to stark-white, rocky shelves that drop off into sea-green waters. What better way to see all of this than by taking a full-day catamaran tour around the island?
If you’re looking to explore Milos on your own terms, consider renting an ATV and driving around. A must-see is the colourful fishing village of Klima and the nearby ruins of a Roman theatre that’s said to be 4000 years old.
Did you know that Milos is where the famed Venus de Milo statue of Aphrodite was created? Unfortunately, this masterpiece now resides in the Louvre. Luckily there are still many other sites to see.
You can easily reach this stunning island via a ferry from the port of Piraeus in Athens.
Just a quick 1.5-hour ferry ride from Athens is the island of Andros, a perfect Mediterannean destination for all travellers. Across Andros, you’ll find mountainous landscapes, trickling rivers, lush vegetation, and typical Greek villages.
Soak up some sun on any one of Andros’ gorgeous beaches, hike across the entire island or head up to Foros Cave to see some spectacular stalactite formations. For those seeking to take in some Greek monuments or landmarks, visit the Monastery of Panachrantos.
Whether you’re looking to party or relax, Paros is the perfect tourist destination for you. If you’re seeking some festivities during your time here, be sure to stay in the Parikia area. Otherwise, Naoussa is perfect if you want a calmer atmosphere.
While on this small island, be sure to visit one of the many churches and monasteries dotted across the landscape. Or stroll around some of the quaint seaside fishing villages and sample some fresh seafood.
To get to this Greek island, you’ll have to hop on a ferry at either Athens, Naxos, or Santorini. Once you arrive, the public transport system – consisting of buses and water taxis – will get you where you need to go.
Naxos, the largest Greek island in the Cyclades archipelago, is a slice of heaven. It’s located in the middle of the Aegean Sea and can be reached by plane from Athens. Or you can catch a ferry from almost any nearby island.
While in Naxos, be sure to visit Portara, on the island peninsula, where you’ll find an unfinished temple dedicated to Apollo. Creatives will love the colourful graffiti artworks that can be found in an abandoned hotel in Aliko.
Alternatively, you can spend your days taking part in an array of water sports like scuba diving, soaking up some Vitamin D on one of the many beaches. Or you could take a stroll along the charming village alleyways.
Rhodes actually only became a Greek island after the Second World War in 1945. Before that, Rhodes lay in Italy’s hands. The island’s history is marked with much violence and many exchanges of power.
Today, Rhodes Island is a top travel destination in Greece, and one can easily see why. It features beautiful beaches, lush forests, as well as castles, battlements, and churches left behind by its many inhabitants.
Some must-see attractions include the Palace of the Grand Master, the medieval site of Acropolis, Monolithos Castle, the Monastery of Tsambika, and the street of the Knights.
To reach this incredible spot, simply hop on a ferry in Athen’s port, Piraeus. Alternatively, you can travel by ferry from Kos, Patmos, Leros, and several other Greek islands.
Amargos is a slightly more isolated island, with more goats than residents on the island. Despite this, it offers visitors the beauty typical of other Greek islands as well as a chance to find some peace and tranquillity.
Once your ferry reaches Amorgo’s port, you can spend your time admiring the village’s white-washed architecture. Head out on a hike among the island’s fragrant vegetation, go diving, or head to one of its bustling cafes or bars.
Be sure to visit the bleached building of the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which has been built into a cliff almost 300 metres above the ocean. If heights aren’t your thing, then head to Kalotaritissa Beach to find the nearby shipwreck of the Olympia vessel, which has stood in the shallow cove since 1980.
Across the island, you’ll discover castles and other ancient sites, charming Venetian-style towns, stunning beaches, and amazing natural wonders. The friendly people, clear waters and delicious seafood contribute to the beauty and charm of this island.
There are three airports in Crete, making access to this island quick and simple. Flights from Athens usually take about one hour.
Are you interested in spending your days on gorgeous beaches, admiring nature, learning about Greek history and culture, or getting involved in some water-based activities? Kefalonia has it all.
Located off Mainland Greece’s west coast in the Ionian Sea, this island has so much to offer. Head to Argostoli, Kefalonia’s capital, to see De Bosset Bridge. At 689,9 metres in length, it’s the longest stone bridge stretching across the ocean in the world – and it was built back in 1813!
For more natural sights, visit the bright, cobalt blue waters of Melissani Lake, hike to the summit of Mount Ainos, or head to one of the top-rated beaches in the world – Myrtos beach.
Kefalonia is also the perfect base from which to explore Ithaca and Zakynthos. To reach the exotic island of Kefalonia, you’ll have to drive or bus about 3 hours from Athens to the ports of Patras or Kyllini. These are both located in the region of Peloponnesus.
⇒ Read all about Paxos Greece as well as the best Paxos restaurants and Paxos beaches. Or find out how to get from Santorini to Ios, the best things to do in Ios and a complete guide to Mylopotas Beach. And don’t miss 11 Famous Greek Landmarks, 37 Fascinating Facts About Greece, 13 Most Beautiful Islands in Greece and my 10 Days in Greece Itinerary.
From here, you’ll need to catch a ferry to the island.
If you think you’ve seen true Greek island beauty, then think again. Lefkada is a paradise of crisp, white beaches, the clearest azure-coloured waters, and lush vegetation – it will take your breath away.
Many of the island’s beaches, like Egremni and Porto Katsiki, are backed by cliffs. So be prepared to hike down to the inviting waters – once you’re there, you’ll realize it’s totally worth it!
If you’re not one for sunbathing or are simply looking for a little more adventure, head to Vassiliki Beach where you can try your hand at sailing, kitesurfing, or windsurfing. After a busy day out on the water, you can stop at one of the many bars or restaurants lining the beach for some fresh seafood.
One of the best things about this hidden gem is that it’s connected to the Greek mainland via a highway – so you can easily drive the 360 km (4 hours) route from Athens.
Small but stunning, that is how many people describe the island of Antipaxos. To put this into perspective; the island is only 3.86 km long and 1.6 km wide. During the high season, you’ll find a maximum of about 100 people on the island, and around 20-30 people residing here throughout the rest of the year.
So, I’m sure you get the picture – visiting Antipaxos will be a more remote, relaxed, and authentic experience. The scenery is just astonishing, too. You should definitely spend some time on the beaches or snorkelling in the clear waters.
Ideally, you’ll want to visit for the day by taking a full-day boat tour from the island of Paxos, which is only 1.2 miles away.
As your ferry brings you into Little Symi’s port, you’ll be greeted with peach and apricot-coloured houses packed on the hillside. This town was built by merchants in the 19th-century, and today, it’s a national monument waiting to be explored.
Spend your time on the island basking in the sun on one of the beach areas. But be sure to discover the many monasteries sitting amongst the pine and cypress trees of the forest, and take a walk (more like a hike!) up to the acropolis ruins.
If you aren’t out touring this charming island, be sure to pop into one of the many tavernas for some flash-fried baby shrimp – a Symi speciality. To reach this beautiful destination, you’ll have to take a ferry. It’s best to do a trip out from Rhodes, which is only an hour and a half boat ride away.
Ios Island used to be known as the Greek island for partying – I remember hearing about it when I was backpacking a long time ago (thank god those days are over).
Ios Greece still attracts a young crowd in the old town at the height of summer but it also now has some great boutique hotels, lovely restaurants (the food is amazing), some hidden gems and some fantastic things to do.
Boat trips are one of the best ways to visit the many beautiful beaches on Ios. Mylopotas beach is the most well known of the Ios beaches but it is so big that there are lots of places to have a quite relaxing time. When you’re not on the beach try visiting one of the 365 blue and white churches on the island and enjoy some amazing seafood.
My personal favourite Greek Island is Paxos. I mentioned Antipaxos earlier in this post – Paxos is Antipaxos’ big brother. Paxos Island Greece is 10km long and 4km wide and filled with olive groves, crystal clear water, dry stone walls, beautiful Paxos beaches, farmhouses and fantastic food.
Life is relaxed on Paxos Island. There are three small main settlements that are at different points along the coast – Gaios, Loggos and Lakka. There are few inland villages on this greek island and those that exist are very small. It has a wonderful peaceful air. It feels like actual people live on Paxos.
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Other Notable Mentions:
The above destinations are only a handful of the most beautiful islands Greece has to offer. If you find yourself in Greece with ample time on your hands, be sure to visit some of the breathtaking islands below:
Ready to Explore These Beautiful Islands in Greece?
Choosing these eleven islands was a tough challenge. But I know that they offer every kind of traveller an experience they won’t soon forget.
Beach-lovers can take advantage of the pristine beaches and warm turquoise waters while nature lovers and adventurers can explore the lush forests or try some activities. Or if you’re an intellectual, you can learn about Greece’s fascinating history and culture. No matter your interests, you’ll certainly love these beautiful islands in Greece.
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