Off mainland Greece, the Aegean Islands—home to dramatic rocky landscapes, crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and quiet traditional villages—attract adventure-seekers keen to escape bustling Athens. Here are a few ways to go island-hopping in the Aegean and experience the best of Greece’s stunning coastal landscapes.
Greece’s largest island, with its soft-sand beaches and soaring White Mountains, is a veritable playground for travelers. Follow a guide along hiking trails above historic Agia Roumeli, explore beneath the waves on an Aegean Sea scuba dive, enjoy high-octane thrills with an off-road Jeep safari, or watch the waves roll over Elafonisi Beach. Chania and Heraklion are two of Crete’s most historic cities, and to escape civilization completely you can head to Samaria Gorge, one of the longest in Europe.
Cyclades Islands Tours
Over a couple of days or longer, soak up the sunshine on the beaches of Mykonos, then watch the sunset from a seaside bar. Explore the pretty town of Chora (affectionately known as Little Venice), island-hop by catamaran, or visit the 19th-century Armenistis Lighthouse for stunning coastal views.
On nearby Santorini—widely considered to be the ultimate Greek island—explore the Minoan archaeological site at Akrotiri, sunbathe on the black sands of Perissa Beach, and get a taste of traditional island life in the village of Megalochori. Wine-lovers can hit the island’s vineyards and sample some of the delicate local wines in production.
And on the slightly more remote Milos, escape the tourist trail and experience a quieter side of Greek island life. Milos offers peaceful beaches, rich culture, delicious local food, and amazing sunsets. If you’re keen to see the Greek islands in their natural glory—minus the crowds—it’s a dream destination.
The Ionian Islands lie off the west coast of Greece. From these shores, take to the waves and spot native loggerhead turtles swimming off Zakynthos, or explore the Drogarati Caves and Myrtos Beach on Cephalonia. On the nearby island of Corfu, discover top attractions such as 19th-century Achilleion Palace, the Byzantine-era Angelokastro Castle, and the elegant arcades of the Liston Promenade.
Perhaps most famous for their Byzantine churches and medieval castles, the Dodecanese Islands include the popular hotspots of Rhodes and Kos. Rhodes has its own ancient Greek Acropolis and other historic monuments, including a stadium and theater. But the island was even more of a powerhouse in the Middle Ages—and boasts one of the largest inhabited medieval towns in Europe. On nearby Kos, explore the ruins of 14th-century Neratzia Castle and Antimachia Castle, stroll along sandy beaches to mountainside villages like Pyli and Zia, or sample local wine at a family-run winery.