With literally thousands of islands, deciding where to go in the Greek Islands might seem intimidating. But there’s an island for everyone in this shimmering blue sea! No matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for, you’ll find the perfect place in the Greek Islands.
Where to go for… iconic views
Santorini enters the public imagination each December, when its stunning whitewashed villages with sky-blue domes and doors grace the calendar racks of grocery stores, bookshops and office supply stores. If there’s ever been a Greek Islands calendar hanging on your wall, you’ve already fallen hard for Santorini’s iconic good looks. The crescent-shaped island is actually the caldera of an ancient volcano, and its rugged cliffs are home to those sky-high, shimmering white houses and churches that have made Santorini famous.
Here’s what you might not know about: black-sand beaches (thanks to that volcano) on the east coast, red sand on the south. Vineyards where you can taste cave-aged wines touched with the Aegean sun and volcanic soil, paired with local cheese. Akrotiri, the ancient Minoan city that was buried by the volcanic eruption in 1613 BC. Hot springs, where you can take a dip in mineral waters heated by the earth itself.
All of it with incredible views, of course.
Stay along the black-sand beaches at Kamari Beach for a good budget-friendly option, or along the caldera in Fira for that signature whitewashed style overlooking the cliffs and sea.
Where to go for… staying out all night
Mykonos combines classic Aegean sea-views with stylish restaurants, chic bars and a fashionable aesthetic that’s perfect for anyone who combines the words “designer” and “flip-flop” on a regular basis.
Stylish beach bums flock to Mykonos in the summer for lounging by day and partying by night, so bring your eye-shade and plan for an afternoon nap. Spend some time soaking up the sun at Agio Sostis, a white-sand beach away from the bustle of Mykonos town, when you’re ready for a little quiet time.
Still looking for ancient Greece? You’ll find it in Mykonos, where the whitewashed houses are traditionally cubist, a famous line of windmills absolutely must grace your Instagram, and at the port, where you can sail for tour of Delos — the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.
Where to go for… a whole other country
Crete, the largest Greek island, is home to a culture all its own. Here the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos offers one of the world’s most remarkable archaeological sites; here you can lounge on a pink-sand beach; here Venetian castles overlook medieval stone cities. In Heraklion, you can visit the Heraklion Archaelogical Museum, where artifacts found at the site of Knossos, considered to be Europe’s oldest city, are preserved.
And when you’ve lolled along beaches and wandered ancient sites long enough, the rugged landscape of Crete lends itself to incredible adventures, like hiking Europe’s longest gorge, Samaria Gorge. Wild goats browse here amongst the pine and cypress forests, pathways lead to ancient temples and old villages, and springs bubble pure water.
These are just the beginning of the Greek Islands, an incredible archipelago that litters the Aegean Sea with sun-drenched, rocky isles of all sizes. Near Santorini and Mykonos you’ll also find Paros, a beautiful island set upon crystal-clear waters and home to museums of Byzantine culture, folklore and archaeology. Closer to Athens, you can visit islands like Hydra, Poros and Aegina. Explore car-free Hydra’s artistic culture, tiny Poros’ pretty beaches, and historic Aegina’s Temple of Afea.
A day-trip to these islands makes the perfect addition to an Athens or mainland Greece vacation if you don’t have time to visit Santorini or Mykonos. Get tips on planning your Athens vacation here.
Make a summer vacation to remember with our Greek Islander packages, which include Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, with optional additions of Paros or Crete. Explore all of our Greece packages here, and start planning for a sunny escape to the Greek islands!