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Best Greek islands to visit this summer
Destinations & Inspiration

Best Greek islands to visit this summer

Suzie Dalton
By Suzie Dalton - 9 minute read

Greece often tops the list of our mem­bers’ trav­el buck­et lists, so we’ve round­ed up just some of the best Greek islands to vis­it! Admit­ted­ly there are more than 200 inhab­it­ed islands to choose from, so this isn’t the eas­i­est task, but we want­ed to high­light a few top sug­ges­tions of the best Greek islands for cou­ples, the best Greek islands for fam­i­lies and more. We’re pret­ty con­fi­dent that you’ll know some of these des­ti­na­tions – plus we’ve sug­gest­ed a few that you might not have heard of too… 

Water with cliffs and boats and jetty.

Many of Pax­os’ beach­es can only be reached by boat.

Best Greek islands for couples

Let’s be hon­est, the minute you think of a roman­tic get­away, San­tori­ni springs to mind. And right­ly so, because it’s absolute­ly beau­ti­ful and the white­washed hous­es, pret­ty colour­ful domes and clifftop loca­tion make this an Insta­gram favourite. But if you real­ly want to know what the best Greek island for cou­ples is, then we’d sign­post you to some­where a lit­tle less showy!

Locat­ed near Cor­fu, Pax­os is the ide­al spot. Only reach­able by boat (the island doesn’t have an air­port), this peace­ful haven is per­fect for a roman­tic retreat, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it’s one of the best Greek islands for beach­es. The beach­es of Soula­ne­na, Kloni Gouli, Gian­na and Kip­i­a­di are unfor­get­table, but there’s plen­ty more to be explored. Make sure you try some of the local­ly-pro­duced olive oil, and take a trip to the vine­yards at Antipax­os, which is a short boat jour­ney away. 

Kou­fon­isia (which is just off the coast of Nax­os) is anoth­er gor­geous­ly roman­tic spot. Made up of three islands, one of which is inhab­it­ed, the island hosts lit­tle more than beau­ti­ful white sand beach­es, a hand­ful of chilled tav­er­nas and bars and the chance to go snor­kel­ing or rent a bike so that you can go some­where seclud­ed for a pic­nic. It real­ly doesn’t get much more roman­tic than that. 

Waterside town with sea and boats.

Hal­ki is a great loca­tion for a fam­i­ly break in the Greek islands.

Best Greek islands for families

The best Greek islands for fam­i­lies is a hot­ly debat­ed top­ic. Crete and Cor­fu have long been the go-to des­ti­na­tions of choice for par­ents who are look­ing for the ide­al com­bi­na­tion of activ­i­ties that will tire out the kids, with pret­ty beach­es and laid-back bars that serve chilled Mythos beer with delight­ful­ly huge pots of hum­mus. In fact, some would argue that Crete and Cor­fu are also two of the best Greek islands for history. 

So first up, let’s look at Crete which also hap­pens to be the largest of the islands. If your kids love Hor­ri­ble His­to­ries, then they’ll love the ruins here. Take them to The Minoan Palace of Knos­sos, and share what you know about Ancient Greek his­to­ry – though don’t wor­ry if your knowl­edge is lim­it­ed, as the friend­ly guides are always keen to fire up young imag­i­na­tions! Make sure you hire a car so that you can get off the beat­en track, and if your kids tire of the edu­ca­tion­al days-out, you can always stop at one of the many beach­es or head to the aqua parks. 

Cor­fu is anoth­er big favourite with chil­dren and adults alike. Boast­ing a Venet­ian-influ­enced his­to­ry, there are ruins aplen­ty to explore, plus the towns on the north coast are unspoilt and peace­ful. While you’re on the island, make sure you pay a vis­it to Agios Gordis beach – this stretch of sand alone makes Cor­fu a con­tender for being one of the best Greek islands for beaches. 

If you fan­cy some­thing a lit­tle less touristy, then Skope­los is the island where Mam­ma Mia was filmed – it also hap­pens to be per­fect­ly locat­ed for a day-trip to love­ly Skiathos, while the sea kayak­ing on offer will delight kids of all ages! Symi is also love­ly – you’ll need to hire a water taxi to get to many of the beach­es (what child doesn’t love bounc­ing along on the waves?!) while numer­ous hik­ing routes will exhaust them in time for bed, or explore love­ly Hal­ki, which is close enough to Rhodes for a day-trip. While you’re in Hal­ki, make the most of the child-friend­ly tav­er­nas, and con­sid­er tak­ing a day trip to the unin­hab­it­ed islet of Alimia.

Cliffs with white sand beach and turquoise water.

Por­to Kat­si­ki is one of the most pho­tographed beach­es of the Greek islands.

Best Greek islands for beaches

If your idea of the best hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion involves crys­tal clear waters, white sand beach­es and a spot of sun­bathing or snorkelling, then Greece has to be top of your trav­el buck­et list. In fact, with a coast­line of 13,676 km in total – which makes it the longest coast­line in the Mediter­ranean Sea Basin – it’s hard to know where to start!

First up – and with 70 or so beach­es to boast about – Milos is undoubt­ed­ly one of the best Greek islands for beach­es. It can be a busy lit­tle island, but with so many stretch­es of sand to pick from, it’s easy to find some­where that’s rel­a­tive­ly secluded. 

Kefalo­nia is a well-known island for the par­ty-scene, but its beach­es are love­ly (make sure you head to Myr­tos beach), while Lefka­da right­ly gets kudos for its pret­ty shel­tered coves on the east coast, while the long sandy beach­es on the west coast are over­looked by dra­mat­ic cliffs. Por­to Kat­si­ki is actu­al­ly one of the most pho­tographed beach­es of the Greek islands, and the windy Agios Ioan­nis beach is a favourite spot with wind­surfers and kitesurfers. 

For some­thing that’s real­ly fam­i­ly-friend­ly (and will look daz­zling on your social media posts) head to the pink sands of Ela­fonis­si Beach in Crete. 

Kimolos in Greece. White stone buildings, empty street and tables and chairs.

Escape the tourists and go to peace­ful Kimolos.

Best Greek islands for peace and quiet

Let’s be hon­est, there lit­er­al­ly isn’t a Greek island that isn’t beau­ti­ful – and if you’re will­ing to head away from the top tourist spots you can always find a peace­ful beach cove or olive grove in which to read a book and take in the views – but if you want real peace and qui­et, we’d sug­gest the island of Kimolos. 

Locat­ed a 30-minute fer­ry ride away from its much flashier neigh­bour of Milos (which could also lay claim to being one of the best Greek islands for cou­ples), the island is home to just 1,000 res­i­dents and offers an authen­tic Greek expe­ri­ence. Make sure you explore Chorio which is the main town, then enjoy some qui­et time on one of the many unspoilt beach­es. Bon­atsca beach offers calm waters and sand, snorkellers will enjoy Kalamit­si and Ellini­ka beach­es, while Pras­sa offers a beach bar and gor­geous turquoise waters. Feel­ing ener­getic? Then hike to Skia­di, which is a mush­room-shaped rock! If you want to find even more peace and qui­et, then take a boat trip to Polyai­gos (via Milos) which is unin­hab­it­ed. Just don’t miss the boat home! 

Hap­pi­ly Kimo­los is just the tip of the ice­berg for peace­ful islands. For real me time’, you might want to explore less­er-known islands such as Symi or Chios. Both are love­ly, and both offer a sleepy way of life that’s unde­ni­ably appeal­ing. For pic­ture-per­fect take-your-breath-away type land­scapes, then you could con­sid­er vis­it­ing Kos – there’s a lot to be said for sim­ply pulling up a stool and whiling away some time in one of the love­ly tav­er­nas that are dot­ted around the island.

Anoth­er key sug­ges­tion for nat­ur­al beau­ty, and peace and qui­et is a lit­tle more con­tro­ver­sial, but we’d sug­gest explor­ing the island of Paros. Admit­ted­ly the island is par­ty-cen­tral in the hot­ter sum­mer months, but vis­it beyond Sep­tem­ber, and you’ll find exquis­ite land­scapes and beau­ti­ful tra­di­tion­al vil­lages. Parikia is the cap­i­tal of Paros, and boasts a 13th cen­tu­ry Venet­ian cas­tle, while a 6th cen­tu­ry church is a much-loved sight. Its name Panayia Eka­ton­tapylianí’ trans­lates as the church with 100 gates’ – see if you can find the secret gate, before enjoy­ing plen­ty of peace­ful strolls on the well-main­tained straits’ that con­nect the love­ly tra­di­tion­al villages! 

White stone buildings, terracotta rooves, dramatic stormy sky.

Hydra is a gor­geous place to explore, par­tic­u­lar­ly for art-lovers.

Best Greek island for art-lovers

If you’re the type of per­son who loves a city break and you inevitably find your­self seek­ing out an art gallery, then Hydra (also known as Idra) is a real treat. As a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion with the arty set, this gor­geous traf­fic-free island boasts exquis­ite archi­tec­ture, the pret­ti­est scenery for bud­ding artists to cap­ture and a wealth of con­certs through­out the year. 

But more than that, it’s also home to Deste Foundation’s Slaugh­ter­house (it’s much love­li­er than its name would sug­gest!) which hosts major art exhi­bi­tions. If you can bear to tear your­self away from Hydra’s fun vibe and beau­ti­ful beach­es, you could even com­bine your trip with a vis­it to equal­ly-arty Athens, which can be reached in 2‑hours by the high-speed ferry. 

Art-lovers will also enjoy trips to Lesvos which is home to the K‑Gold Tem­po­rary Gallery – the pho­to­graph­ic exhi­bi­tions and futur­is­tic sculp­tures are impres­sive – while a trip to Mykonos could be com­bined with a day-trip to the tiny island of Tinos, which is home to a muse­um cel­e­brat­ing the work of Greek sculp­tor Yan­noulis Chalepas. 

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