First on any travelers must-visit list to the Greek islands would be Santorini. Often referred to as the “crown jewel of Greece”, beautiful Santorini is one of the most popular destinations in the country, and also one of the top honeymoon locations in the world.
Mykonos can be as serene and peaceful as it can be wild and action packed. On the world-famous island, you can explore the capital Chora, which offers one of the best examples of Cycladic architecture. Little Venice is another island highlight, and so are the endless beach parties that are constantly happening and which earned Mykonos the nickname “Party Island.”
The beaches of Greece promise absolute pleasure and enable visitors to enjoy the rejuvenating power of the Greek seas. Voted one of the best beaches on earth, Myrtos Beach on Kefalonia Island boasts tall white limestone cliffs with caves bored into the rock frame, and turquoise waters kissed by warm currents, offering the best background for great photo opportunities.
On Kastellorizo Island, don’t miss out on Fokiali – the biggest and most spectacular of all Greek sea caves. Its crystal clear waters and cave walls are illuminated by natural sunlight peeking through the tiny entrance to produce a magical atmosphere of stillness, acoustics and colors.
On Crete, the largest Greek island, food lovers can get a taste of world-famous Cretan cuisine – but only after enjoying a wonderful stroll around the Old Town of its capital, Chania. The Old Town makes for a spellbinding attraction, whose ambience is bound to enchant any visitor.
And then there’s Symi Island. Boasting one of the most beautiful harbors in Greece, the irresistible superb spectacle of the town of Symi stretches its impeccable architecture on the slopes of the surrounding hills to create picture postcard perfection.
Lindos village on Rhodes Island offers a landscape that encompasses the essence of Rhodes: a great blend of the medieval and the ancient on one intriguing island. Further along is Samos Island, which was regarded by historian Herodotus as first among all Greek cities. As the center of the Ionian civilization, the island saw periods of great splendor, remnants of which are still visible today.
As a country, Greece has the ability to hold the interest of the visitor with its natural beauty and attractions that are very deserving of attention. But even better, the Greek islands comprise a small universe teeming with treasures and beauties that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover.
Few visitors to Greece will leave without exploring the mythical island of Santorini. Nicknamed the “crown jewel of Greece”, Santorini is a magical island where charm and mystery abound. One of the country’s most popular destinations, Santorini also enjoys the status of being one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations.
If you arrive at Santorini by sea, you will be struck by the island’s steep cliffs branded with black, brown and white layers. Formed by a series of volcanic explosions that took occurred over millennia, Santorini has some of the most unique geography in any island. The end product is wondrous steep cliffs, beautiful volcanic rock, as well as breathtaking Mediterranean views.
When you think of Santorini, the first thing that comes to mind is beautiful whitewashed houses adorned with distinct blue shutters. This image derives from the magnificent village of Oia, one of Santorini’s most photographed settings.
Perched on a caldera’s edge, Oia comprises a labyrinth of cave houses; narrow streets and little squares. Visitors should not miss out on the amazing sunset at Oia castle, which happens to be the most famous sunset on the island. At Oia you can also enjoy spectacular ocean views, while taking pictures of one of the most iconic Greek landscapes.
Perched on a cliff overlooking the caldera, Fira is the capital of Santorini, which offers better day-time views than Oia, as well as twinkling night-time vistas. You can enjoy some quiet time in Fira’s churches, as well as the museums which will take you into the island’s rich, long history.
Tour the Museum of Prehistoric Thera to explore artifacts discovered during excavations at the Akrotiri site. These include the unique golden wild goat statuette, impressive bronze pottery items and plaster furniture moldings. Also visit the Archaeological Museum to see collections of sculpture and inscriptions spanning the archaic period to the time of the Romans.
The most renowned site on Santorini is the famous Minoan city of Akrotiri, which was buried in a layer of volcanic ash, but still managed to leave its artifacts and walls intact. Take a journey in time with a visit to Akrotiri. Wander around the squares and streets of the pre-historic city and admire the elegant mansions dating from the 17th century BC. Visitors can also marvel at the temples of Ancient Thera which are carved into the cliff sides.
Wander the streets of Emporio Village, one of Santorini’s best-preserved castle cities, and take a peek at its tall church steeples. You can visit the Panagia Mesiani church that was built in honor of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, and which has a splendid wooden temple.
Santorini is regarded as the most gastronomic island of the Aegean, and true to its name, the island boasts a wide variety of exceptional restaurants and dishes, which add a flavor to Greek cuisine. A true taste of Santorini can be found in dishes prepared by island chefs and accompanied by a bottle of local island wine.
After Santorini, Mykonos is the second most celebrated Greek island which draws millions of tourists to its magnificent beaches and vibrant nightlife. Having retained its traditional Cycladic architecture that is characterized by little cubic houses and whitewashed walls, Mykonos is truly a sight for sore eyes.
Alefkantra is arguably the biggest attraction on Mykonos. Popularly known as “Little Venice”, Alefkantra is an 18th century quarter dominated by the whitewashed mansions of grand captains.
This truly wondrous area in Mykonos town earned its nickname from the fact that it resembles Italy’s Venice. The quarter features quaint medieval houses built directly on the edge of the sea, with many of the colorful balconies and stylish windows hanging right over the water.
The snow white walls of its old, elegant houses blend in harmony with the deep blue sea, and the scenery is completed by the sun’s golden rays. The Alefkantra seashore is lined with cafes and bars where you can sit and have a drink, while admiring the sunset and the majestic view.
From Little Venice you can also see Mykonos’ famous windmills set against a luminous blue backdrop. Dating from the 16th century, the 16 windmills are set on a small hill and were used to grind wheat. However, they no longer spin in the sea breeze as they were decommissioned in the 20th century.
But there’s more to Mykonos than the magnificent Little Venice. Chora is the capital of Mykonos and situated in its center is the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, which is a visual feast. Began in 1425 and completed in the 17th century, the impressive, whitewashed church comprises of a cluster of five smaller churches with indiscernible partitions.
A stroll along the paved marble streets of Chora is a unique and recommended experience for visitors. You can admire the traditional whitewashed cubic houses, window frames, lovely chapels, balconies and doors colorfully decorated in the medieval style.
While away your afternoon meandering through narrow alleys and twisting whitewashed streets filled with shops selling art, linen and other gift items. Chora town possesses the quintessential Greek island atmosphere and is a great spot to wander around and stop for a delicious meal overlooking the sea.
Head over to the lively waterfront where you can soak up the atmosphere, and admire the fleet of fishing boats, which cast colorful reflections in the azure waters.
Mykonos is also famous for its wonderful beaches characterized by golden sands and shimmering azure waters. Its most popular beaches are located on the southern side of the island and are known for hosting fun day and night parties. There are more secluded beaches away from the crowds for those who prefer a bit more privacy.
One of the most popular beaches on Mykonos is Paradise Beach. The beach did not earn its name for nothing, as its white sands comprise some of the most beautiful on the island. The beach is quite lively with many parties being held throughout the day.
One of the most popular things to do in Mykonos is party. The island is famous for its great nightlife and is regarded as the top spot for clubbing. A wide range of bars and clubs are scattered within the town center and offer alternatives for all styles of music.
The picturesque quarter of Little Venice has a diverse night scene ranging from busy clubs for dancing, to sophisticated bars for having a drink. Because Mykonos is a popular gay destination, drag queen shows are frequently organized in gay bars. Also be on the lookout for the full moon parties which are a must-attend in Mykonos.
Mykonos also offers the opportunity to engage in a variety of water sports, including jet skiing, water skiing, banana boating, canoeing, tubing, windsurfing, paragliding and kite surfing. Whatever strikes your fancy, you will find a water sport in Mykonos to suit your action packed day of sporting.
Mykonos is also one of the most well known places in the Aegean Sea for snorkeling. It’s clear, warm waters feature many reefs and rocks for exploration, which are home to a variety of marine life. Visitors can also take a relaxing afternoon cruise around the island to really explore the beauty of the blue seas surrounding the island, and get a feel for the area.
Greece boasts one of the longest coastlines in the world, with half of its length comprising the thousands of islands scattered around the Greek seas. The islands offer a variety of coastlines with beautiful small beaches, charming bays and fascinating coves, which feature crystal clear waters, unique diversity, pebbled beaches, coastal caves, steep rocks and golden sands with dunes.
The beaches of Greece are a true kaleidoscope that enthralls the senses with their colors and formations. Engulfed in beauty, some are lush-green with pines reflecting in the water, while others originate from volcanoes to produce jet-black pebbles. Some are hidden paradises with peaceful coves, for swimming and fishing, while others still offer waves big enough for windsurfing.
Of the numerous beaches in Greece, the best is arguably Myrtos on the island of Kefalonia. Regarded as one of the most beautiful on earth, Myrtos is situated 30 kilometers from Argostoli, and boasts beautiful natural landscapes, pure white pebbled sands and breathtaking waters. The beach, which has previously been voted 12 times as the best beach in Greece, continues to receive awards each year.
Situated in the Pylaros region, the beach is located at the foot of two mountains: Kalon Oros and Agia Dynati, which gives it an imposing effect. The bewitching beauty of Myrtos beach astonishes every visitor who gazes at it from above. Its magical waters have a unique blue color which contrasts beautifully with the bright white of the smooth marble pebbles.
For the most spectacular view of the beach, head over to Fiskardo and stop and view it from the middle of the road. During the day, you can enjoy the magical colors of the water that alternate from dark blue to sky blue, and from turquoise to green blue. At dusk, with the sun disappearing on the horizon, the water is tinted with magnificent shades of red, orange, yellow and purple.
In addition to Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia has lots more attractions to offer the erstwhile traveler. Kefalonia is the biggest island of the Ionian Sea and boasts breathtaking natural beauty, magnificent sights, great monuments and a rich cultural heritage. The mountainous island is mainly visited for its sparkling coves, beaches and landscapes dotted with ancient olive trees.
Be sure to take a stroll in Argostoli, the island capital. The modern town has preserved its traditional character with its amphitheatrical design that offers a view of the Koutavous lagoon, a crossing area for migratory birds. The city also boasts many neo-Classical buildings, big squares and churches, and is the center of remarkable cultural activity on the island.
At the Archaeological Museum, visitors can browse exhibits of important findings discovered on the island, dating from the Mycenaean period. At the Korgialeneios Library, you can check out over 55,000 volumes and a great collection of Byzantine icons. Also tour the Folklore and History Museum for historical exhibits of costumes, heirlooms and weapons.
Officially known as Megisti, Kastellorizo is one of the prettiest islands of the Dodecanese complex. Kastellorizo is surrounded by several islands, although being the largest earned it the name “Megisti.”
Located on the easternmost edge of Greece – 130 kilometers away from Rhodes and two kilometers from the shores of Turkey – the island derives its name from Castel Rosso, a 14th century castle built by the Knights of Saint John from Rhodes.
The beauty of the Kastellorizo harbor will leave you speechless upon arrival, and will be your reward after a long journey. Two and three-storey neo-Classical mansions are built amphitheatrically to reflect their colorful facades on the sea and in your eyes. The minaret and the mosque’s red dome are bound to catch any visitor’s attention, just as the picturesque fishing boats do.
The scenic village of Kastellorizo is the only populated area on the island which features cobblestone alleys and traditional colorful mansions with iron and wood balconies that beautify a walk through the village quarters. The colorful houses of Kastellorizo are built facing the sea in blues, yellows, whites and reds, and have tiled roofs that compose a lovely mosaic panorama.
The most celebrated attraction on Kastellorizo is Fokiali, the biggest and most spectacular of all of Greece’s sea caves. There are many sea caves in the world, but none possibly compares to the unparalleled beauty of Fokiali. The cave is at once one of the rarest geological phenomena and one of the most amazing formations on Earth, and is named after the monk seals that inhabit it.
Located on the south eastern part of the island, the cave is famous for its rich decoration of stalactites, which create a unique spectacle when lit up by the sun’s reflection on the water. When sunlight is reflected into the grotto’s interior, it produces a dazzling blue color. The stalagmites and stalactites, the iridescent light, water reflections and variety of colors create a spectacle that is truly unique.
Fokiali is popularly known by tourists as “Blue Cave” and can only be visited by boat and only under calm sea conditions, as the entrance is barely a meter high above sea level. The best time to visit is early in the morning, when the sun is still low enough to produce an intense reflection. It is also possible to swim in the cave during your tour, just ask your skipper.
The coast and waters around Kastellorizo are just as enchanting and worthy of a boating trip. The seas are crystal clear and you can swim and sunbathe from the main harbor quay. Snorkelers will also enjoy seeing a wide variety of fish, octopus and other marine life.
Back on land, plenty of attractions abound on Kastellorizo island. Visitors can take a delightful stroll around the main harbor in the morning or late afternoon, and enjoy the sights including ancient monuments and museums, as well as the raw landscapes and spectacular views over the Mediterranean.
Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean. Visitors to Crete can admire the remnants of past eras, discover glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, steep gorges and the fertile valleys that enhance the rich gastronomic culture of the island. Chania is the capital of Crete which is built on the Minoan Kidona area, spreading out on the north coast of the island.
Chania houses Crete’s charming Old Town, as well as one of its most historic areas. Mosques, churches and synagogues exist side by side here, and an array of photogenic buildings of Turkish, Moorish, Venetian and Roman influences are clustered around the harbor where life proceeds at a leisurely pace. Beyond the ancient core is a thriving modern city set against the backdrop of dramatic mountain peaks.
Chania is one of the most beautiful and picturesque Greek cities and an absolute paradise for food lovers. Familiarize yourself with the city of Chania by wandering its streets, visiting its museums and admiring various architectural styles dotting the city’s historical route.
A walk around Chania’s Old Town is truly an experience worth savoring. The Old Town was built around the Venetian port and features Venetian buildings with Turkish elements that combine to create a unique architectural style. Wander around the Old Town’s maze-like alleys, beautiful Venetian mansions, elaborate churches and fountains and uncover some well-preserved monuments.
From the harbor, a labyrinth of cobbled alleyways stretches amid pleasantly haphazard Venetian architecture, and a maze of cafes, stores and churches. The Chania waterfront is lined with bars and restaurants were you can sit back and enjoy ouzo as you wind down in the early evening.
For some local action, head over to Platia 1821 or 1821 Square where you will find plenty of open-air restaurants, where food lovers can get a taste of the famous Cretan cuisine, while enjoying a glass of excellent Cretan wine. If you have the time, don’t miss out on a visit to the many wineries where you can discover the varieties of the Cretan terrain, as well as the special local gastronomy.
In addition to Chania, there are other Cretan regions worth exploring. Rethymno is the smallest prefecture on Crete, which is famous for its gorgeous mountainscapes, marvelous beaches, lyre melodies, spirits, historical monasteries, traditional mountain villages, legendary caves and monuments.
Heraklion is the largest region on the island, which is nestled among two imposing mountain ranges. The town boasts exceptional archaeological treasures, picturesque villages, significant coastal settlements, and vast valleys with vineyards and olive groves. This unique combination of natural wealth and urban scenery make Heraklion an attractive destination.
Lasithi is another interesting Cretan town which is home to the mythical palm tree forest of Vai, the Gulf of Mirabello, the windmills on the Plateau of Lasithi, beautiful beaches and crystalline waters, all of which make for a rather fascinating tourist destination.
As you approach the port of Symi, you can’t help but get the overwhelming feeling that you are entering a perfectly painted image of a scenic traditional Greek village. As a rule, visitors to Symi will remain agape, unable to take their eyes off the spectacular sight before them. Symi is part of the Dodecanese chain of islands, located 41km north-northwest of Rhodes island.
Rising on both sides of the steep fjord are tiers of pretty houses, some in pastel yellow, and others in white. Virtually all the houses display neo-Classical influences that point to the island’s history as one of the most prosperous in Greece just 100 years ago. Practically no modern concrete construction has taken place among the fine old houses of Symi, which has enabled the island’s spirit to remain intact.
Chorio is Symi’s oldest inhabited area which has numerous narrow lanes and picturesque houses that predate the neo-Classical period. While in Old Chorio, be sure to visit the museum which has many interesting artifacts and the Old Pharmacy which houses a fascinating collection of French medicine jars in addition to other paraphernalia.
Visitors can visit St. John’s Church and admire its restored pebble courtyard. Take the 350 steps up to Chorio where you can admire interesting 19th century mansions that line the way. Once at the top, you can enjoy spectacular views over the harbor and marvel at the breathtaking sight.
There are many old monasteries and churches to be seen around Symi island. The most famous monastery on the island is the Monastery of the Archangel Michael at Panormitis. Built on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo, the Monastery contains splendid icons of the Archangel, along with two interesting museum sections.
The Monastery itself comprises a spectacular building within an even more spectacular setting at the end of a massive bay. Because Archangel Michael is the patron saint of seafarers, the Monastery was a popular place of pilgrimage for Greek sailors.
Another monastery worth visiting is the Sotiris Megalos monastery, which is very picturesque and offers spectacular island views.
Located at the heart of the Cyclades, Paros is a Greek island boasting unrivalled natural beauty, gorgeous beaches of crystal clear waters, and wonderful Byzantine footpaths that connect traditional villages to breathtaking landscapes. Parikia, the capital of Paros, comprises a beautiful Cycladic village characterized by whitewashed cubic houses and attractive neo-Classical mansions.
Visitors can explore the well-preserved Venetian castle dating from the 13th century, and which stands atop a hill at the village center, offering amazing views of the capital. Take a peek at the important ecclesiastical monument, the church of Panayia Ekatontapyliani which dates from the 6th century; and the 4th century baptistery which is one of the best preserved in the Orthodox East.
Wander through the beautiful colorful traditional villages of Paros. The village of Naoussa has Venetian fortress ruins at its small harbor’s entrance.
Situated at Paros’ highest point, Lefkes village offers stunning island views from its attractive mountain setting, surrounded by the rich green landscape. Lefkes boasts well preserved neo-Classical and Cycladic buildings, narrow alleys of marble and beautiful squares.
At the medieval Marpissa village you can visit the fascinating Monastery of Ayos Antonios, admire the ruins of a Venetian castle dating from the 15th century and enjoy wondrous views of the sea. Just a couple of kilometers away from here are the famous beaches of Pisso Livadi and Loyaras that you can visit for a swim.
Petaloudes is a place of striking beauty, which is situated close to Psychopiana village. The area boasts rich vegetation, tall plane trees, wild olive trees, laurels and ivy-covered carob trees, which are inhabited by unique butterfly species.
Pounda, Chrissi Akti and Santa Maria are some of the best beaches on Paros. Sun-loving travelers can get soaked on these sun-soaked beaches and enjoy the crystalline seas. Adventurous travelers can also enjoy the experience of an exhilarating tour around the island coast on a kayak.
Nature lovers can take in the extraordinary natural landscape of Kolymbithres, which features stunning white rock formations. Kaloyeros beach is surrounded by green and red clay rocks which produce a great spa effect. While here, cover your skin with the clay and allow it to dry in the sun. After some time, rinse your body in the sea and enjoy baby-soft skin.
The capital of the Dodecanese, Rhodes island boasts bright green hills, rich fertile valleys and an endless line of golden beaches. The island offers a special blend of the traditional and cosmopolitan, with many archaeological and cultural sites to be explored.
Southern Rhodes is where the beauty of nature in Greece is unveiled in its entire splendor. Sun-drenched bays line the coast; medieval villages retain their traditional color and houses hold on to their traditional decoration. Walk along old footpaths and discover the beauty of shady woods and golden fields, gentle valleys and hills, and magical landscapes that will soothe both your body and soul.
Nestled at the foot of a steep rock and beautifully surrounded by the sea is the traditional settlement of Lindos village. At the top of the same steep rock stands the centuries-old acropolis that proudly overlooks the archipelagos. The acropolis of Lindos was a natural watchtower built facing the open sea, and which today bears silent witness to the past of Lindos as a major naval power during ancient times.
The acropolis is surrounded by well-preserved walls which house the remains of ancient buildings dating back to the Byzantine era and the era of the Knights. These include the Byzantine chapel of Ayios Ioannis, the castle of the Knights of Saint John, the Propylea and the large Hellenistic arcade.
Visitors can begin their tour of the magnificent acropolis through an ancient old gate. The first level houses more recent buildings built on the foundations of an older Byzantine fortification. To the south, on the second level, visitors can marvel at the remains of the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia which dates back to 300 BC, and which was built on the site of an earlier temple.
Go up the monumental staircase to the sanctuary’s upper level which comprises buildings dating from the 4th century BC. From this location, the sweeping views of the Aegean will take your breath away. Also within the main archaeological site of Lindos visitors can marvel at the ancient theatre that is situated beneath the Temple of Athena.
Lindos village is itself a picturesque settlement with cubic houses that sprawl down the hillside, under the acropolis. One of the most photographed scenes in Greece, Lindos’ whitewashed labyrinth of tiny alleyways was designed deliberately to confuse pirates. Today, the layout makes wandering about town a great adventure.
The winding streets of the well-preserved settlement offer a great backdrop to a rejuvenating evening stroll. During your walk, you can admire the picture-perfect residences of medieval captains built around pebbled courtyards with emblems dotting the heavy wooden doorways.
Adorning the streets are arched entrances that add a cosmopolitan touch to the settlement. Visitors can admire the stunning interiors with impressive ceilings and pebbled courtyards. Don’t miss out on a visit to the Virgin Mary of Lindos church which features an abundance of 15th century frescoes.
The Old Town of Rhodes is another major island attraction. This is one of the largest medieval towns in Europe and comprises a mosaic of various cultural influences. Visitors can admire the intriguing medieval fortress-like buildings, old houses, gates, walls, bastions, minarets, fountains, narrow alleys and busy squares that will leave you feeling as if you’ve stepped back into the medieval era.
The Palace of the Grand Master is arguably the highlight of the Old Town. Originally a Byzantine fortress built at the end of the 7th century, the Palace was later converted into a 14th century residence and headquarters of the Knights of the Order of Saint John. The building has since been converted into a museum.
Also explore the cobblestone Streets of the Knights, which is one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. This area is full of medieval inns that were once patronized by soldiers of the Order of the Knights.
On Syros, Greek tradition and western influence come together in a harmonious marriage. The island is characterized by its natural beauty and tranquility, combined with historical monuments to make Syros the ideal place for a Greek island holiday destination.
Ermoupoli is the capital of Syros Island, which was the first important trade and industrial center of Greece in the 19th century. Evidence of the town’s glorious past can be seen on its neo-Classical houses, beautiful squares, as well as on public buildings such as the Apollo Theater, the City Hall and Customs Office. History buffs will enjoy learning about the town’s years of blossom at the Industrial Museum.
For breathtaking views of the island, go up the stairs of the fortress-like St. George’s Cathedral on Ano Syros hill, and into the narrow streets. On your way you will pass traditional whitewashed houses, archways and open spaces at which you can enjoy the sights.
The Orthodox community of Syros has contributed some great religious monuments to the town’s architecture. These include the churches of Metamórphossi tou Sotíros, Áyios Nikólaos Ploússios, and Koímissis tis Theotókou.
There are many glorious beaches on Syros to please the beach-lover. At Possidonia village beach, you can also admire numerous neo-Classical mansions with colorful orchards.
Syros is also famous for its gastronomic delights, and food lovers can partake in Halva pie with thyme honey and roasted almonds; loukoúmi, loosa ham, fennel sausages and the San Mihalis spicy cheese.
If you ‘re lucky, you may be in Syros in time for one of their internationally acclaimed festivals such as the International Cyclades Music Festival, the Classical Music Festival, the Ermoupólia or the Musical May.
Samos is a Greek island ruled by legend and picturesque beauty. It is the island of Pythagoras the mathematician, Aristarchus the astronomer and Epicurus the philosopher. It is also the land that hosted Aesop the poet and Herodotus the historian. An important trade center in the Aegean and a major naval force in antiquity, Samos historically came into contact with important cultures of the Mediterranean.
Greek legend has it that Hera the goddess of marriage and women was born and raised on Samos. It is for this reason that her temple in Heraion was one of the biggest in the ancient world. Remnants of the Temple of Hera include a single surviving gigantic column that’s still standing, the big Altar and the Sacred Road.
Visitors can wander around the settlements of Samos, along old cobble streets and take in the architectural beauty. Take a peek at the Sarakini Tower, a magnificent 16th century fort. You can also visit the convent of Agia Zoni which has a splendid library, and Timios Stavros which houses an impressive throne.
Samos also has great beaches including Tsamados and Lemonakia that offer fine golden sands for visitors looking to sunbathe.