With summer at our doorstep, our attention turns to Greece! White-washed houses, turquoise waters as far as the eye can see, romantic sunsets, Mediterranean flavors, mythological references… This is the idea most of us have of the Greek Islands, among the most popular sea destinations in Europe. But with more than 5000 islands and islets, making a list of the most beautiful is extremely difficult. So here’s just a few of our favorites…
For our first choice, we’re going with the classic and well-known Santorini. If you are looking for the perfect blend of ingredients listed at the beginning of the article, together with a hint of romance and a bit of nightlife, then this is the right island. Of volcanic origin, the rugged black sand beaches contrast with the blue sea and the white houses of Fira, a village perched on the western side of the island from which you can enjoy breathtaking sunsets.
- The most beautiful beaches: Red Beach, named for the unique lava colored sand, White Beach, and Kamari and Perissa.
- How to get there: fly directly to Santorini (Thira) National Airport or book cheap flights to Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” and catch a ferry to Santorini.
Very close to Corfu, the second largest Ionian Island, Paxi, is smaller and less known, but absolutely marvelous. An oasis of tranquility, perfect for couples seeking privacy. There are stunning beaches and restaurants on the main port of Gaios serving fresh fish. The best time to enjoy the magical atmosphere is in the evening, when the tourists that have come to Corfu for a day trip have left the island and you can sit at a table in a tavern to drink Ouzo, the popular anise-flavored apertif.
- The most beautiful beaches: Soulanena, Kloni Gouli, Gianna, Kipiadi (accesible only on foot or by boat), Sterna Bay, but our advice is to venture out on foot and discover your personal favorites.
- How to get there: Take a ferry or jetfoil from Kerkyra (Corfu) or from the Greek mainland in the town of Parga.
It goes without saying that Mykonos is the best choice for those who want to party. The laid-back vacation vibe is contagious and takes over anyone landing on this island. Because of this it’s easy to understand why over the years, Mykonos has become one of the most popular destinations in Greece. Tourism has not yet affected the beauty of the countryside, with picturesque houses and narrow streets full of Cycladic architecture and, not to mention, the crystal clear sea. Digging a little past first impressions, the soul of Mykonos is that of one of a traditional fishing village.
- The most beautiful beaches: Paradise Beach, Elia, Kalafati, Panormos.
- How to get there: Seasonal flights to Mykonos from companies like easyJet, Thomson Airways and Vueling (to name a few) to the Mykonos Airport. Or if you fly into Athens Airport there are ferries that depart for all the Cycladic Islands out of Athens.
Mountains and rough back roads make this island the perfect pick for the adventurous looking for excursions to explore rich flora and fauna. On the small and remote island of Tilos, you can come face to face with animals like exotic birds and dwarf elephants that will make you think you’re in faraway lands. The beaches are rocky and rather difficult to navigate, but once you get there you’ll be surrounded by peace and nature, even if it’s the peak tourism season.
- The most beautiful beaches: Eristos, Red Beach, San Antonio.
- How to get there: By plane you can fly to the island of Rhodes‘ Diagoras International Airport and then get a boat to nearby Tilos. From Athens you can take the Blue Star Ferries which serve the entire route of the Dodecanese Islands (Piraeus – Kalymnos – Kos – Rhodes and Santorini – Astypalaia – Patmos – Lipsi – Leros – Nisyros – Tilos – Symi – Kastellorizo).
Icaria, located in the Aegean Sea about 20km from Samos, was named after the Greek mythological figure Icarus, as legend has it that he fell into the sea near the island. Icaria’s beauty lies in it being so inaccessible: mountainous and wild, with breathtaking views. The small bays are mystical, you can relax in the thermal waters and take in the typical architecture that contributes to the ancient atmosphere, enhanced by the tranquility that reigns. All these features may explain why the Icarians are some of the longest living people on the planet.
- The most beautiful beaches: Iero, Agios Giorgi, therma hot mineral springs, Prioni, Kilosirtis.
- How to get there: Fly to Athens and take the ferry with the company Aegeon Pelagos on the Samos route.
In the archipelago of the Sporades, located in the western part of the Aegean Sea, you will find the island of Skyros. Is the largest, and probably the most peaceful among this group of islands.
There is no nightlife, but during the day you can rent a bike or a scooter and wander the streets to catch glimpses of the beaches on the horizon.
The northern part of the island is hilly and green and home to Mount Olympus, while the south is arid and barren. A contrast that will make you fall in love!
- The most beautiful beaches: Gyrismata, Atitsa, Palamari, and Ahrounes.
- How to get there: There are direct flights to Skyros Island National Airport from Athens Thessaloniki Airport, the ferry is not recommended as the journey is very long.
The southernmost island in Europe enters into our rankings for its faithful dedication to tradition. There are few tourist facilities, but making up for that is the fact that you can sleep on the beach under the stars. Its beaches are among the most beautiful in Greece and probably the entire continent. The few permanent inhabitants (only about 50 people are year-round residents) mingle with new residents, mostly artists, who choose to live here, leaving watches and mobile phones behind. Do not miss Tripiti Cape, the southernmost point in Europe.
- The most beautiful beaches: Agios, Ioannis and Potamos.
- How to get there: By ship from Crete with the company Anandyk (journey takes about 2 hours).
The statue of the Venus de Milo, one of the symbols of classical beauty and excellence, was discovered here. It is not difficult to understand where the inspiration came from: the small island of Milos is indeed paradise. The island is located southwest of the Cyclades and is characterized by a lunar landscape with white earth and rocks. The island’s strong point is its beaches: 70 in total, many of these hidden, are all so magnificent they will take your breath away. And quite rare and appealing is that it is nearly deserted in the summer months.
- The most beautiful beaches: Papafragas, Sarakiniko, Pollonia, Papikinou.
- How to get there: Direct flights to Milos from Athens with Olympic Airlines. Or from Athens by ferry (journey takes about 9 hours).
Do you agree with our picks? What are your favorite Greek Islands?