Greek Island hopping is on the top of everyone’s bucket-list but with over 220 inhabited islands it can be quite overwhelming trying to work out which are the best Greek Islands to visit on your holiday.

Whether you are looking for the best Greek Island for couples or the best Greek Island for families, groups or solo, we’ve broken it down and listed some of our favourites to make it easier for you.

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Best Greek Islands for couples

best greek islands

SANTORINI

Considered one of the most romantic locations on the planet there’s a reason more people propose in Santorini than anywhere else in the world. 

This stunning and completely unique island has everything any couple could wish for. Offering spectacular views, world-famous sunsets, unusual beaches, wine tasting, and dining options galore you can be as busy or as chilled out as you like. There’s no shortage of things to do in Santorini and its close proximity to other islands and its recently renovated airport means it’s easy to get to and to include in any island-hopping itinerary.

When to visit Santorini

Unlike many of the Greek Islands Santorini is a year-round destination. 

The summer months of June, July, and August are the absolute peak when Santorini is absolutely bustling with visitors. This is when the weather is the warmest and there are many great events happening. It is also when prices are at their peak due to demand.

A good compromise is to travel in the shoulder season, especially April, May, June or September. In these months, the weather is still warm and there is plenty of buzz about the place, but you’ll have a little more room to enjoy Santorini with your loved one, without the crowds.

How to get to Santorini

There are a couple of ways to get to this iconic island.

You can fly direct to Santorini from various European cities, especially in summer (there are significantly fewer direct flights off-season). You can usually fly direct from cities including London, Madrid, Paris, and Brussels.

If you are flying from outside Europe, or outside the peak tourism season, you may need to fly to Athens first.

Catching the ferry to Santorini is, of course, the other way to get there with Ferries from Athens arriving several times a day. You can either catch the fast ferries which take about 5 hours or the slower Blue Star ferries which have big outdoor decks, restaurants and even cabins.

You can also arrive by ferry from neighbouring islands such as Naxos and Ios or even Crete or Rhodes.

TIP: Both the port and the airport can be quite nuts in summer and there can be long waits for the cablecar, taxis and donkeys. It REALLY pays to have a private transfer waiting for you!

 

Where to stay on Santorini

There are 17 towns and villages on Santorini, although most tourists stay in just 4 or 5 – Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, Pyrgos, Kamari and Perissa. Fira is the capital and is where you will find most services including the bus depot. It, along with Oia and Imerovigli are located on the Caldera of the Volcano and have the famous sunset views and Cave Hotels, hence they are the most expensive destinations.

For couples & solo: Ducato Di Oia ( adults only) suites in Oia or Above Blue Suites in Imerovigli for more isolation and at a lower price point. Kivotos in Imerovigli for a splurge or Abelonas Retreat on a tight budget. For something a bit different stay at Pyrgos 1870 winery.

For families and groups: White Harmony Suites have 2 bedroom suites or Theoxenia Boutique Hotel have quad rooms and are not far from, dare I say it, McDonald’s.

In Oia we have had a great stay with our family at Armeni Village and Myst Boutique Hotel is also worth checking out. If you want to be right near a beach then Crystal Blue in Kamari is great or Damma Luxury Villas have a 4 bedroom beachfront villa that can sleep 8.

 
3 weeks in greece

MILOS

Still unspoilt by commercial tourism yet developed enough to offer something for all budgets Milos has extraordinary landscapes, hidden coves and beaches and small, quaint, hard to reach fishing villages that are perfect for couples who like to self explore and relax. It also has some of the best food in the country.

One of the main attractions of Milos is its many extraordinary beaches including Sarakaniko which is often described as a ‘lunar’ landscape and is very popular on Instagram! The island has enjoyed a long and profitable mining history for hundreds of years and the various colours of the mineral composites are seen everywhere making it very unique.

The island is also renowned for its excellent food and wine and its many caves and water activities.

 

How to get to Milos

There is a small domestic airport on Milos that is serviced by Olympic Airlines/Aegean, and Sky Express. Like many of the islands all flights are to and from Athens.

You can travel by ferry to Milos from mainland Greece through the port of Piraeus in Athens. The main port of Milos is Adamas which is located in the center of the island.

The ferry route from Piraeus to Milos runs regularly with weekly trips and the ferry journey between the two ports lasts from 3 to 7 hrs.

If it’s a special occasion and you are keen to get to Milos quickly then a private helicopter transfer is the way to do it. Flying in over the Greek Islands in your private helicopter or jet will be an experience you will never forget and if its a special occasion this is one experience you will not regret investing in. Click here for a quote.

 

Where to stay on Milos

With limited development, no big resorts or chains and few hotels, Accommodation on Milos books out quickly each year so don’t procrastinate on this one! Milos is certainly no longer a secret but luckily development is slow, making places to stay in Milos limited. Book early and don’t miss out, which many people do, especially in Summer.

We love staying in Pollonia which is a charming fishing village with a lively dining scene and the stopping off point to get to neighbouring Kimolos island. Here we recommend Ostria Vento, Captain Zeppos and Delmar Suites.

Another good place to stay is the small capital Plaka which has wonderful views and charming small alleyways and tavernas. Check out Arethousa here.

In the port town of Adamas its hard to beat Hotel Dionysis or Medousa while the southern beaches also have a couple of stunning small hotels, namely Psaravolada Hotel and Artemis Deluxe Rooms.

 

Further reading:

Where to stay on Milos ( what are the different towns and villages and best hotels/Airbnb’s)

Things to do on Milos – a quite extraordinary list!

best greek islands

ANTIPAROS

Only a 7-minute ferry ride from its much busier big sister Paros, Antiparos is a small island in the Cyclades with little development other than a lovely Chora(town) and seaside villages.

 

Home to a number of celebrities including Tom Hanks, you can see why they chose this island to get away from it all. Home to beautiful beaches and the biggest vertical cave in Europe. Check out our complete Antiparos guide!

 

How to get to Antiparos

Antiparos island is located one nautical mile southwest of Paros island. There is no airport on Antiparos and the only island that connects to it by ferry is Paros which you can get to by Ferry or by flying from Athens.

Paros to Antiparos from Pounta

Buses depart frequently from the main Paros port, Parikia, as well as most popular villages around the island. From there, travellers can take the vehicular ferry over to Antiparos which takes 7 minutes. You can take your car or just leave it in the carpark in Pounta and ride as a walk-on passenger.

In 2021 the Antiparos – Paros ferry tickets cost €1,20 per passenger and €6,30 per car. Children ride for free and all tickets are one way.

Tickets are only sold inside the boat and cannot be prebooked. They run daily Monday to Sunday all year around. (If the winds allow it.) During peak season you may not get on the first ferry you want and might have to wait for the next.

Ferry to Antiparos from Parikia, Paros

There is also a small boat operating daily between the main port of Paros, Parikia, and Antiparos that only takes passengers and no vehicles. 

 

Where to stay on Antiparos

This is a small island with just a handful of places to stay.

For couples we recommend Artemis Hotel which has lovely sea views from the rooms as well as a rooftop terrace and a plunge pool. The décor is modern and chic and yet the hotel is surprisingly affordable.

If you’re on a tight budget then check out Nicolas Studios which are in the town but in a quiet spot. The rooms are basic but spotlessly clean and have a small kitchen. You can walk to most things including the local tavernas and shops.

 
best greek islands

PAXOS

Located just 10 kilometres south of Corfu this Ionian island is mostly covered in vineyards with a number of good beaches and one main harbour town. The azure waters are spectacular and popular with sailors and people who really want to be left alone.

This is the complete antithesis to Santorini in many ways with few tourists, affordable prices and a very laid, back, relaxed feel, especially in Summer.

When to visit Paxos

The best times to visit Paxos is April to September. High season is late June to early September, and prices will reflect that as will accommodation availability.

Summer is wonderful with warm water,  blue skies every day and a fun holiday atmosphere. It doesn’t get as busy as most of the other islands and retains an authentic look and feel.

How to get to Paxos

One of the best things about Paxos is that it is fairly hard to get to. There is no airport here and the closest one is on Corfu, which has a small international airport welcoming flights from Athens and several European and UK destinations.

From Corfu you need to catch a ferry to Gaios on Paxos.

Ferries to Paxos

Kerkya Lines run a ferry service for both vehicles and foot passengers that leave from Corfu’s New Port and also from Igoumenitsa on the Mainland, which takes around 3hours 15mins.

Kamelia Lines offer two passenger-only ferry services from Corfu to Paxos, (see timetables). “Despina” takes around 90 minutes whereas the new “Christa” service takes one hour.

The Dolphini hydrofoils also depart from the New Port in Corfu for Paxos in the summer and also take one hour.

 

Where to stay on Paxos

Most people choose to stay in or around the main town of Gaios which has a charming port with a narrow channel overlooking a small island. There are some lovely, leafy tavernas and seafront bars here that are popular with sailors and other visitors in Summer and Spring.

Paxos Fairytales is a lovely place for couples to stay and everything is on your doorstep. Otherwise, we love Blue Horizon which is a 20-minute walk into town and is located at the mouth of the harbour with views out over the sea.

Other places worth checking out on the island are Paxos Club Resort and Spa and PaxosBlue Suites and Villas.

Further Reading: A Complete Guide to Paxos

best greek islands

SYMI

Beautiful Symi is a small island in the Dodecanese just north of Rhodes, with very distinctive and well preserved coloured houses and beautiful neo-classical buildings spilling down the hills to the harbour.

The island is best known for its harbour but beyond that, there are fabulous coastal hikes and coves and caves to explore and castle ruins and monasteries.

With many stairs to be traversed, it is well suited to fit and healthy people and there are enough hidden gems to keep everyone happy. Great for the architecture buffs.

Its’ also popular with culture vultures who come for the Symi International Film Festival as well as live music, book fairs and outdoor theatre that all occurs between July and September.

 

How to get to Symi

Symi has two ports for ferries to arrive and depart: Symi Town and Panormitis. From Piraeus (the main port in Athens), the journey to Symi is a long one, taking around 20 hours to complete. There are also daily ferries to and from Symi to nearby major islands such as Kos and Rhodes. 

Island hopping around the region is made easy thanks to Symi’s many connections with smaller islands – Amorgos, being one of them, and Kasos and Katapola among the others. 

Flights to Symi are unfortunately not possible – the island does not have an airport. Everyone arrives on the island by boat. The closest airport is on the nearby island of Rhodes. Rhodes Airport is connected by direct flights to and from Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion (on Crete). 

 

Where to stay on Symi

Accommodation on Symi is not widespread. It’s mainly made up of small hotels and private houses for self-catering options and most of them are located in the port town of Symi Town (which is also called Gialos). 

There are some charming neoclassical villas that make up some of the accommodation options here. These include Marika’s Deluxe Rooms – an elegant villa with polished rooms close to the port – and Symi Nautilus Luxury Suites which boasts self-catering rooms in a stunning neoclassical mansion. 

We also love Marina Studios – be sure to book a Harbourview room, and Kokona Hotel too, both elegant and good value.

Just around the bay from the Gialos is the town of Pedi. This is a great alternative to the busy area around the port of Symi Town. 

Our pick here is Pedi Beach Hotel. Alternatively, you could try Gompos Apartment with its sea views and modern interiors.

To the north of Symi Town is Nimborio. This quiet village was once the ancient capital of the island, where King Nireus (as mentioned in The Odyssey) lived. Here you should check out seaside apartments such as Niriides Hotel Apartments.

Further Reading: A Complete Guide to Symi!

best greek islands

HYDRA

Hydra has been home to young bohemians and wealthy Athenians for decades and is situated close to Athens in the Saronic gulf, in the Saronic Islands.

With no cars or scooters, couples love to explore Hydra on foot or in water taxis and there are some very fashionable shops, tavernas and clifftop bars that can be a lot of fun. This island is particularly popular with lovers of music and literature as it was home to people like Charmaine Cliff, George Johnson, and Leonard Cohen for many years.

Nowadays, Hydra remains a much-loved hotspot but has avoided the mass tourism of some other well-known islands. This is partly due to stringent planning regulations, which have ensured that the island’s quaint charm remains intact.

As a result, Hydra oozes charm and charisma, with donkey carts and beautifully restored neo-classical mansions lining what is considered to be one of the prettiest harbours in Europe.

While Hydra is calm and traditional when the sun goes down there are plenty of bars and tavernas that get quite lively, especially in summer.

 

How to get to Hydra

There is no airport on Hydra or, in fact, any of the Saronic islands. The closest one is Athens. A trip to the Saronics will always involve the sea even if you drive to the Porto Heli Peninsula on the mainland and catch a small ferry over to Poros, Hydra or Spetses.

Luckily these islands tightly hug the Saronic gulf and are probably the most protected in Greece in terms of wind and bad weather. It is highly unlikely you will experience seasickness in this area and ferry cancellations are not common.

Visiting Hydra is also a popular day trip from Athens. You can do this on the public ferries as mentioned above or join a full day cruise which visits Poros and Aegina as well and includes lunch!

There is also a VIP cruise option which includes your transfers in Athens, priority boarding and access to a VIP lounge on the boat.

 

Where to stay on Hydra

While a daytrip to Hydra is great staying a few nights is even better. The island really comes alive at night, especially late when the locals come out.

Most visitors to Hydra stay in Hydra Town (also known as Idra). It’s basically impossible to land on the island without taking in the beauty of Hydra Town. The town is wrapped around the island’s port, which is also one of the most beautiful sights on the island.

This is where you’ll find most of the island’s amenities and attractions. The bars of Hydra Town have long attracted an eclectic mix of visitors – from 1970s rockstars to local Greek youths indulging in a good time. Equally, there’s fabulous diversity in the eating options too – from small traditional tavernas to upmarket restaurants.

For a great budget option check out Amaryllis Hotel. Hotel Sophia is a lovely mid-range hotel and for something really special look at Hydrea Exclusive Hospitality.

Elsewhere on the island we recommend Hydra Erato and Four Seasons Hydra Luxury Suites in Vlichos Beach and Villa Ada in Kamini. If you love the feel of the sand beneath your toes then you’d best head for Mandraki. Not only does it offer Hydra’s only sandy beach, but it’s also a lovely place to stay on Hydra. Villa Mandraki and Mandraki Beach Resort are both excellent.

 

Further Reading: A Complete Guide to Hydra

 

 

Best Greek Islands for families

NAXOS

Naxos is a perennial favourite with families with it’s wide, shallow, sandy beaches and family-friendly villages and tavernas making it one of the safest and most enjoyable islands for families to holiday in Europe.

Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades and is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Paros, its smaller but busier neighbour. Naxos Town, in particular, is a great spot to base yourselves as it is home to both the Port and the Airport, has good family-friendly beaches and lovely family-run cafes, tavernas and shops. There’s a wide variety of accommodations to choose from and many are very good value for money too.

It’s a good idea to hire a car for a day or two and get out and explore all the island has to offer. You can visit farms and vineyards, Rina Cave and Aliko Juniper Forest, visit ancient sites such as the Temple of Demeter and the much-photographed Portara Gate near the port. There’s even a castle for the kids to explore too.

Naxos is also known for its food and in particular, its honey, herbs, cheese and potatoes. There is even a world-famous potato festival each year and they currently hold a Guinness Book of Records record!

The other great thing about Naxos is that it is right next to the lovely group of islands called the ‘Small Cyclades’ which can be visited on a day trip, or stay a few days.

How to get to Naxos

There is a small airport just south of Naxos Town which has daily flights to Athens and sometimes other European destinations in Summer via Charter flights.

You can also catch the ferry with regular connections between Athens, Santorini and the other Cycladic Islands such as Paros, Ios, Mykonos and Amorgos.

Where to stay on Naxos for families

The main town is known as Naxos Town or Chora which translates to ‘Town’. It was the seat of the Venetian Duchy of Náxos, who ruled most of the Cyclades from the fortress after 1204.

You will find everything here that most port towns have – souvenir shops, backpacker hostels, cafes, tour desks and more. It’s also where the ferry terminal is located as well as close to some excellent beaches, so for many people, it is easy to base themselves here.

You will find a good mix of accommodation in Chora as the hotels and villas spread right around to St George Beach, one of the best beaches in Naxos. Families love Hotel Grotta or Nastasia Villa, and Astir of Naxos for a splurge.

Agios Prokopios is also popular with its wide sandy beach and deep turquoise water. It’s considered one of the best beaches in Greece and it is no wonder it is popular, particularly with families. Here have a look at Astra Apartments and Villa Adriana Hotel.

We also love Sofia Studios and Naxian Breeze in beautiful Agios Anna, a little further down the road and again with a long sandy beach and a small port that is home to some local fishing boats. 

 
best greek islands

CRETE

Crete is the largest Greek Island and the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean. The capital and the largest city of Crete is Heraklion. Crete is a big part of the economy of Greece both in heritage, industry, and tourism. There is so much to see and do it is like visiting a whole other country.

Families are delighted with the huge number of safe, beautiful beaches – including some of the best in Europe, and the many cafes and tavernas that are so family-friendly.

There are small neighbourhood trains that are offered for transport in some of the better-known beach areas and there are many other things to do covering historical sights, outdoor adventures, water sports and even shopping.

It’s also a great place for a family road trip. With a car, you can explore all the incredible sights and sites and travel at your own pace around your family’s needs and likes.

How to get to Crete

Crete has 3 airports and they welcome thousands of visitors a day from all over the world, especially in Summer and Spring. It’s a pleasant 50-minute flight from Athens and there are direct flights also from places like London, Berlin and Moscow.

It is also possible to arrive by Ferry with connections to and from Santorini, Rhodes, Athens and even the small Ionian island of Kythira. 

Where to stay on Crete

If you’re looking to enjoy the best amenities that Crete has to offer, including theme parks and shopping centres, the most popular tourist areas in the north of Crete are a good choice.

Generally, they offer the best transport links as well as plenty to do, see and eat! There are some wonderful houses and apartments to rent too including converted windmills!

Bustling Chania is one of the most popular places to stay in Crete, and also one of the most charming.
It offers a stunning beautiful Old Town, where you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time as you wander the laneways. Here, you’ll find plenty of excellent restaurants, bars and shops around the fourteenth-century Venetian harbour.

Porto Antico is a lovely small, family-run hotel with a great view of Venetian harbour too and it’s very budget-friendly. Just outside town, you will find Kedrissos Hotel and Sansal Boutique Hotel which are both on the beach, have great swimming pools and family rooms.

Near Heraklion, you will find the very popular Mitsis Laguna Resort and Spa and Creta Maris Beach Resort, both heaving with amenities and activities for children and with huge swimming pools.

 

Further Reading: Road Trips in Crete 

 

which are the best greek islands

CORFU

The Ionian island of Corfu is a perennial favourite with families with plenty of sunshine and beautiful beaches.

But there are also plenty of modern-day family attractions such as waterparks and aquariums and there are many big resorts catering to families of all shapes and sizes.

It’s a big island so it pays to have a car to explore but you can also rent boats or do numerous tours. If big resorts and hotels aren’t your thing then Corfu Town has a lot to offer as does the beautiful villages of Paleokastritsa which is worth a week all on its own. There’s a wide range of accommodation for everyone.

Venetian mansions and the focal Venetian Castle, French arcades, Byzantine churches, British monuments and even a cricket pitch are among Corfu Town’s many charms. There is even a very good Holocaust Monument that highlights the impact the second world war had on this part of the world.

Paleokastritsa (see image) is an iconic, scenic spot to spend your Greek holiday. In fact, it remains one of the best family holidays we have ever had.

Situated at a dead-end road on the western side of Corfu it becomes a bustling resort during the day when day-trippers and cruise passengers arrive and is surprisingly tranquil at night when most of them leave.
There is a lot to see and do especially if you are into water sports with a wide range of boats and boating activities on offer including very modern glass bottom boats. There is also good snorkelling and diving, parasailing, canoeing and even little pedal boats you can rent on the beach.

At night there are a variety of excellent tavernas to choose from for a variety of budgets. Many are west-facing so have beautiful sunsets and some also have live entertainment and dancing. It is really is a great spot for everyone!

How to get to Corfu

Corfu is the Northernmost Ionian island so is quite a distance from most of the Greek Islands and even much of the Mainland.

You can get to Corfu by ferry from Mainland Greece or Italy or by plane from Athens and several European destinations such as the UK, Italy and Germany.

Ferries to Corfu depart daily from the port of Igoumenitsa in north-western Greece and the journey takes about 1 hr.

Where to stay on Corfu

In Corfu Town we love Mayor Mon Repos Palace Art Hotel and Rodostamo Hotel & Spa.

Olive Grove Luxury Maisonette is great for families with washing and kitchen facilities and is a short walk into the old town.

Just north of Corfu Town is the impressive Ikos Dassia beachfront resort which has a great pool and plenty of things to keep the kids occupied while Agios Gordios Beach Resort to the south is the pick of family accommodation there.

Paleokastritsa has very small hotels but lots of great watersports and activities. We’ve stayed with our kids at Zefiros Traditional Hotel and loved it. It was like being in The Durrells! North of there Pictures Suites in Agios Stefanos is worth a look.

Be sure to hire a boat and explore!

 
best greek islands

RHODES

Similar to Corfu in many respects but located on the other side of the country, Rhodes is in the Dodecanese Islands near Turkey.

Rhodes has a lot of diversity and offers something for all budgets. Theres something for everyone, from the party-hard crowd to young families looking to enjoy a relaxing beach break. There are a lot of historical sights on the island and a wide range of things to see and do. Many areas are very developed with big resorts and beach activities whilst other areas still underdeveloped and authentic. The medieval town retains its enduring charm.

For families in particular there are plenty of attractions for kids, and the kids-at-heart.

Rhodes has more than its fair share of beautiful beaches and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece.

Historically, Rhodes is one of the most significant of the Greek Islands. Perhaps most famously, it is believed to have been the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. If you are a history lover or keen to explore ancient sites about Greek mythology then Rhodes is the perfect choice.

There are also things like The Valley of the Butterflies, the amazing Toy Museum, Theme Parks, Waterparks and the Marine Aquarium that are great days out.

How to get to Rhodes

Rhodes is fairly easy to get to with a modern International Airport and busy ferry port.

Getting to Rhodes from Athens and Thessaloniki is quick and easy. There are multiple flights per day from both cities. You can also get to Rhodes by ferry from Athens. The fastest ferries run every night, while the slowest ones take a few days and make for a great island-hopping adventure

There are no direct flights from Santorini to Rhodes but there is a ferry that connects both islands. It’s a long trip so book a cabin and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Where to stay on Rhodes

There is a lot of diversity in the accommodation choices on Rhodes. We love to stay within the walls of Rhodes Old Town, at least for a few days, before moving to a beachside location in summer.

In Rhodes Old Town we love Evdokia Hotel which has family rooms with kitchenettes and is a short walk to the Grand Masters Palace. In Camera Art Boutique Hotel is also worth a look and has a lovely, peaceful rooftop terrace.

Great beachfront accommodation for families includes Moscha Hotel and Ammades Epsilon Apartments in Faliraki and Lindos Athena in Lindos. 

 

Best Greek Islands for groups

BES

PAROS

Located in the heart of the Cyclades Islands in Greece there are over 120kms of coastline and 10,000 inhabitants on Paros. Beautiful beaches, medieval villages, wineries, harbours and easy access to neighbouring islands, they say Paros is like Mykonos was 20 years ago. It has all the charm and atmosphere but without the crowds and the steep prices, particularly in summer.

Paros is the perfect choice for large groups. There are 2 main towns and numerous small villages. Naoussa is the most vibrant and has many excellent tavernas and bars that open until sunrise while the port town of Parikia has plenty of choices for both things to do and dining options.

Paros is one of the easiest islands to access and it is relatively close to Athens. It’s no wonder it is often chosen as the perfect venue for big celebrations and in fact, we took 41 of our own friends and family there for a big birthday bash of our own!

How to get to Paros

There is a small domestic airport on Paros that is serviced by Olympic Airlines/Aegean, and Sky Express. Like many of the islands, all flights are to and from Athens.

If you book early enough flights can often be cheaper than the Ferries and it is certainly quicker. The airport is quite new but small and there are only two gates so plan your visit carefully. There are hire car desks at the terminal and the airport is slated to expand and will be able to take International flights in the future.

You can also travel by ferry to Paros from mainland Greece through the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion in Athens. The main port of Paros is Parikia which is located on the western side of the island.

The ferry route from Piraeus to Paros runs regularly with 2 ferries a day in the low season and up to 5 in Summer. The ferry trip from Athens to Paros takes between 3 and 7 hrs depending on what ferry you book.

Paros is also well connected to most of the other islands in the Cyclades group. Mykonos, Naxos, Syros, Ios and Serifos all have regular direct services and they, in turn, connect to other islands such as Santorini, Milos and Sifnos.

You can even connect with the Dodacannese Islands like Rhodes via Syros or Santorini and Crete via Naxos or Milos.

Where to stay on Paros for Groups

Paros, in particular, has a lot to offer and a lot of excellent accommodation catering for all budgets. There are no high rise and big all-inclusive resorts so the emphasis is on small family-run boutique hotels and rooms.

Naoussa is a lively fishing village at the north of the island, about a 15 minute drive from the port in Parikia and about 30 minutes from the airport. It is slightly more upmarket, and more expensive than Parikia and has many excellent bars and tavernas around the main square at the port and lovely shops and boutiques, as well as a winery.

The nightlife can get pretty busy here in peak periods with many bars open until dawn and a vibrant party atmosphere. There is a lot to do and for many people really no need to leave the town at all!

Even if you stay elsewhere on the island chances are your group will end up in Naoussa a lot, especially at night, so why not stay there.

We stayed with our big group at  Paliomylos Spa Hotel which we cannot speak highly enough about. The service is amazing ( owned by Greek Australians).

It’s also worth checking out Stelia Mare Boutique Hotel in Naousa and Onira in Parikia which has lots of free parking and a bar.

If you would prefer your own Villa it’s hard to beat Krotiri View and Alfa Luxury Villas.

 

Further reading:

Things to do on Paros

Day Trips from Paros

A Complete Guide to Naoussa

best greek islands

KEFALONIA

The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is the new hotspot in international travel as more people explore its verdant mountains and sky blue beaches.

Known for its excellent wine and stunning coastline its wise to rent a car on Kefalonia as it’s a huge island and there is much to explore and a wide range of things to see and do for all ages.

It’s such a big island it can takes weeks to cover it but even with just 4 or 5 days it packs a lot of punch. With some of the best beaches in Europe, dramatic caves, charming neo-classical villages, wineries, historical sites, hiking and easy day trips to neighbouring Ithaca & Zakynthos there is something for everyone of all ages on this island.

The waterfront towns of Fiscardo and Assos are excellent locations for groups to base themselves and there are many all-inclusive resorts as well, especially in the south.

Further reading: The best beaches in Kefalonia

 

How to get to Kefalonia

There are daily flights from Athens to Argostoli, and charters departing from other European cities. If you are planning on visiting Kefalonia from the UK, there are weekly flights from London to Kefalonia, departing from Manchester and Birmingham with more in summer of course.

There are numerous ferries from Patras in the western Peloponnesus on the Mainland to Kylini. These routes run every day and connect with Buses to Kefalonia from the Bus Terminal A in Athens.
There are also ferries from Ithaka island to Fiscardo and from Lefkada island to Sami.

There are also ferries from Ithaki to Fiscardo and from Lefkada to Sami.

 

Where to stay on Kefalonia for Groups

Argostoli is the capital of Kefalonia and the largest town, with a population of just over 10,000 people. It was devastated in the earthquake of 1953 so largely rebuilt and sadly lacking many buildings from before that time. Because of the rebuild, however, it is set out in a grid pattern and easy to get around. Here, Panorama Fanari Studios and Apartments is an excellent mid-range hotel with well-appointed self-contained apartments that are great for groups and families.

Lixouri is the second largest town. It is situated on the western Paliki Peninsula which is covered in farmland, vineyards and fruit and olive groves. It is only 30 minutes by car from Argostoli ( a very scenic route) or by ferry, which usually runs every 30 minutes or so in summer. It can be very busy in summer as there is quite a lot to see and do in the area including visiting famous Xi Beach and various statues, museums, and monuments.

In Lixouri we recommend The Leaf House for groups or Kymata Bohemian Beach Resort if you prefer a hotel.

Agia Effimia is an authentic Greek village which has all the necessary amenities like tavernas, supermarkets and a laundromat without too many tourists. If you are after something here for a large group check out Santafemia which is right across from the waterfront and sleeps up to 12 people in 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The views are wonderful and it is very well equipped. 

In beautiful Assos ( one of the most photographed villages in the Ionians) check out Gardenia House which is perfect for groups, with 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. You could sit on its lovely terrace and gaze at the views for years!

At the northern tip of Kefalonia is Fiscardo a lively and upmarket fishing village popular with yachts and with plenty of great beaches and tavernas. Emelisse Nature Resort is stunning and considered one of the best on Kefalonia. It is surrounded by Cyprus trees and the sea and has two restaurants and excellent facilities.

Angel Apartment (the last building on the right in the photo below) is a beautifully converted loft apartment right on the harbourfront in Fiscardo and can sleep up to 7 people. It is a very beautiful and elegant place to rent with great views over the marina.

best greek islands

MYKONOS

Known as one of the premier party destinations on the planet Mykonos is loaded with stunning beach clubs, elegant restaurants and numerous celebrities, especially in Summer.

This glamorous Island is best known as one of the best Greek party islands with its celebrity superyachts and luxurious beach clubs, although that’s not all there is to it. While the nightlife is bustling, there are also excellent restaurants, interesting cultural attractions and beautiful landscapes as well as some very good beaches to enjoy. If you can tear yourselves away from the beach and the clubs and bars there are also cooking classes to do, breweries to visit and the the sacred island of Delos right next door. It’s worth doing a private tour there and perhaps also a sunset cruise or a boat trip around the island as well – there are plenty of things to do in Mykonos for everyone!

Probably the most expensive destination for groups Mykonos suits those with deep wallets and short memories but you sure will have some stories to tell!

 

How to get to Mykonos

The fastest way to get to Mykonos is by flying. There are direct flights from the Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) to the Mykonos International Airport (JMK) available year-round.

Alternatively, there are a number of places in Europe and the UK, which offer direct flights to Mykonos such as London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt to name a few.

While the number of flights available usually increases during the high summer season, most of these cities do offer flights to Mykonos year-round.

 

Where to stay on Mykonos for Groups

Mykonos Town is famed for its nightlife and there are also a number of cultural activities including open-air museums, churches, and tavernas, especially around the beautiful Little Venice area. It’s also within very close proximity of the beautiful windmills of Mykonos, so you’ll never forget that you are on the stunning island!  It is also well-connected to other places on the island via public transport and is close to the ferry terminal too.

For a truly incredible experience in Mykonos Town check out nearby Boheme with its ultra-cool Boho interiors. Not far from there is Portobello Boutique Hotel which is a lovely mid-range option. Villa Kampani is also right on the Old Harbour and can sleep 8 people in stunning, sophisticated luxury.

If your group wants to be right by the beach and/or the beach clubs then Villa Thalia near Ornos is incredible value offering 4 bedrooms, a big swimming pool, and beautiful views over the area. It can also sleep up to 12. Villa Santa Katerina is the perfect luxury option and is right next to Nammos Beach, sleeping 12 people with an infinity pool and spectacular views over the whole bay.

For something truly unforgettable check out Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge, a super cool hotel and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

Further reading:

Mykonos vs Santorini

Things to do on Mykonos

10 Best Villas and Apartments on Mykonos

 

SYROS

Located just 2 hours south-east Athens by Fast Ferry or north of Santorini is the capital of the Cyclades Islands, Syros. Also known as Siros or Syra this island is very different from the others in the group with its colourful neo-classical buildings and many impressive Government buildings, museums, theatres and even a casino!

Syros is in the Cyclades Islands, a group of islands in the Aegean Sea. To be exact, you’ll find it 78 nautical miles southeast of Athens. It’s a medium-size island, with an area of 83 square miles. 

Though Syros itself is fairly rural, being the administrative capital of the region it’s home to over 21,000 people and boasts a relatively large port-town capital. Thanks to its location, the island is something of a ferry hub to more northerly islands in the area.

 

How to get to Syros

There is both an airport and ferry port on Syros making it fairly accessible, and it is a year-round destination too.

FLYING TO SYROS

Syros has its own airport with direct flights from Athens taking just 25 minutes. During summer (high season), flights should be booked in advance as there’s only one airline making the trip – though they do fly all year round.

You cannot fly from any other island to Syros island.

FERRY TO SYROS

With its history as a port of call, Syros is well connected by boat, and reaching it by sea is simple. The ferry to Syros from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, takes between 2.5 and 4 hours depending on which ferry you book.

Syros can also be reached via ferry services from another Athens port, Rafina, which runs from May to October. This daily service takes 1.5 hours. 

 

Where to stay on Syros 

The capital of Ermoupolis is a good place to start your adventures. This attractive port town, with its beautiful 19th-century buildings and cosmopolitan atmosphere, is full of accommodation options.

The new DIIO Suites have amazing views of the port and are very well priced. Also with amazing views, but this time of Verona bay lined with the gorgeous colourful neo-classical buildings, its hard to beat Pafsilipon Suites.

You can also find hotels such as charming Wind Tales situated high on a hilltop in a medieval part of the town and close by, for something really unique, how about staying in a windmill! Situated high on the hill in Ano Syros up behind Ermoupoli is Anemomylos Windmill which is a fair way from the centre of town but with incredible, panoramic views.

If you are looking for a bit of a splurge the stunning Aristide Hotel is a design dream and, in our opinion, one of the most stylish hotels in the Greek Islands.

Galissas is one of the most popular of Syros’ tourist resorts and has one of the best and biggest beaches on the island. It’s located five kilometres from Ermoupolis and is on the western side of the island so the sunsets are wonderful. Here Dolphin Bay Resort is very popular with families and Hotel Benois and Remvi with couples. For something more independent Caviri Apartments, which is surrounded by nature. 

Kinion (Kini) is another nice beach village with a lovely west-facing beach. Here you can’t go past Oro Suites which are very chic and modern and only steps from the beach or the lovely Blue Harmony Hotel which is a perennial favourite for good reason.

 

Further reading:

A Complete Guide to Syros

best greek islands

SKIATHOS

With an infamous international airport right on the beach, Skiathos is particularly popular with the British and is a great base to explore the Sporades islands, including its Mama-Mia famous neighbour, Skopelos.

Located in the northwest Aegean Sea the Sporades Islands are some 200 kilometres north of Athens and sit off the Pagasetic Gulf in the Pelion region of the Mainland. Skiathos is the closest to the mainland and the easiest to get to, making it also the most popular.

There are a lot of great beaches to explore on Skiathos including Koukounaries, Paraskevi, Kanapitsa, Megali Ammos and iconic Lalaria Beach as well wonderful hiking trails that afford some of the best views in Greece.

There are plenty of ruins and Monasteries to explore as well and of course excellent tavernas to eat at, but what makes this the best island for groups in the Sporades is its vibrant bar scene, especially in Skiathos Town. When the sun goes down this is where you will find people dancing until dawn!

Grab a car and get out and explore some of the more remote beaches and hiking tracks. Its also worthwhile doing a day trip to neighbouring Skopelos and, if time permits, places on the Pelion too.

There’s some lovely places to stay to suit all budgets.

 

How to get to Skiathos

There is a small international airport on the island, Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport, which receives flights from Athens and places like the UK, Italy and Sweden.
Flights are fairly infrequent, often just one a day even from Athens, and often at odd times. Skiathos airport is however quite famous as its runaway is so close to the road and the beach. There are thousands of videos on the internet if you look them up!

You can also ferry to Skiathos of course and there are a couple of ways to do it. Either board one from Mantoudi Port on the island of Evia north of Greece ( you can drive here over a causeway) or from Agios Konstantinos port in Volos on the Mainland which is a little further away. Both of these can be reached by KTEL bus from Athens.

You can connect with Skopelos and Alonissos islands from Skiathos by ferry.

 

Where to stay on Skiathos 

Most groups will want to stay in or near Skiathos Town for easy proximity to the bars, restaurants and transport. 

Villa Ftelia is a gorgeous 2 bedroom villa that can sleep 6 people and has a garden, pool and bar. It is a short stroll to supermarkets, shops and tavernas as well as the beach. Poseidon Villa Skiathos has 3 bedrooms and an absolute beachfront location as well as a lovely, private garden.

If you would prefer a small hotel for your group check out Villa Elexis in Megali Ammos with its incredible views or Almira Hotel with its huge swimming pool.

Best Greek Island for solo travel

HYDRA

Yes, Hydra is included above in the sections for Couples but it is also a great choice for Solo travellers too.

Often referred to as the ‘birthplace of Bohemia’ due to its popularity with writers and artists in the 1960’s and ’70s, and with no cars or scooters, Hydra is a great choice if you are travelling to Greece alone.

You don’t need to rely on hiring a car or other forms of transport to get around, nor cope with the road rules and conditions.

The harbour in Hydra Town is considered one of the prettiest in Europe and the hills surrounding it are covered in beautifully restored neo-classical mansions that were once owned by Shipping companies, Captains and their families. Today these are often owned by wealthy Athenians who visit Hydra and its neighbour Spetses on weekends and holidays.

Hydra can be explored on foot or by using the water taxis that scoot around the island. It is also possible to visit the neighbouring Saronic islands and the local mainland by ferry as well.

Located less than 2 hours by ferry from Athens, Hydra is a great spot for solo travellers to get an authentic Greek Island experience and also enjoy fantastic swimming conditions and great bars, tavernas and a multitude of Galleries and other cultural activities.

 

How to get to Hydra

There are no airports in the Saronic islands and they can only be visited by sea.

 

By ferry

From Pireaus Port Hellenic Seaways Flying Dolphin and Hydrofoils run daily trips to Hydra and several times a day in Summer. Tickets are usually €28 per person and the journey takes 90-120 minutes.

By Water Taxi

From Varkiza Marina in Athens you can pre-book a sea taxi to take you to Hydra Town, Kamini, Vlychos, Plakes or Mandraki. This takes 2 hours and costs €500 one way for up to 8 passengers.

 

A Day trip to Hydra

Hydra is also a popular day trip from Athens. In fact all the Saronic Islands with the exception of Spetses which is the furthest away.

You can either use the ferry system as mentioned above or join a full day cruise which visits Poros and Aegina as well and includes lunch!

There is also a VIP cruise option which includes your transfers in Athens, priority boarding and access to a VIP lounge on the boat.

 

Where to stay on Hydra

Hydra is in the Saronic Islands group which are located in the Saronic Gulf, southwest of Athens. There are no airports on these islands and they can only be visited by sea.

There is a popular day trip you can do from Athens which stops in at Poros and Aegina as well or you can visit under your own steam, for the day or longer, by using the public ferries.

By ferry

From Pireaus Port Hellenic Seaways Flying Dolphin and Hydrofoils run daily trips to Hydra and several times a day in Summer. Tickets are usually €28 per person and the journey takes 90-120 minutes.

By Water Taxi

From Varkiza Marina in Athens you can pre-book a sea taxi to take you to Hydra Town, Kamini, Vlychos, Plakes or Mandraki. This takes 2 hours and costs €500 one way for up to 8 passengers.

A Day trip to Hydra

It is quite viable to visit Hydra on a day trip from Athens, in fact this is something we have done several times. You can either use the ferry system as mentioned above or join a full day cruise which visits Poros and Aegina as well and includes lunch!

There is also a VIP cruise option which includes your transfers in Athens, priority boarding and access to a VIP lounge on the boat.

 
which are the best greek islands

ITHACA

In Ancient times Ithaca was the Kingdom of Odysseus, the hero of the Trojan War and husband to faithful queen Penelope as featured in Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad (the first modern book).

Today Ithaca is a much smaller and quieter version of its close neighbor, Kefalonia, in the Ionian Islands in Western Greece. It is a charming and very authentic island that has managed to strike a perfect balance with seasonal tourism.

Its a great choice for solo travellers looking for some peace and solitude yet in a setting where they can soak in the local culture and sit and watch the world go by at one of the many tavernas or cafes in the main harbour, or the sailors and superyachts in the many bays.

It is easy to see why Odysseus found peace on this island and a holiday in Ithaca will likely leave you feeling relaxed and yearning to stake out a place of your own.

Further reading : A complete guide to Ithaca

 

How to get to Ithaca

This does take a bit of effort as there is no airport on this island. You need to fly or ferry to Kefalonia, make your way to the port of Sami and then ferry from there to Vathy on Ithaca. That leg is only 40 minutes. There is also a ferry to Lefkada island in the north and a small ferry from Sami to the village of Aetos as well.

There are also day trips to Ithaca from Fiscardo at the northern tip of Kefalonia. It’s a great day out with lots of swims and fun for all ages. Group Day trips are also on offer from Agia Effimia during Summer as are private sailing cruises.

 

Where to stay on Ithaca

Most Solo travellers prefer to stay in Vathy as it has all the amenities, shops and some excellent cafes and tavernas. Some very good boutiques and galleries too!

For budget travellers Epicharis Studios have comfortable rooms with port views or for something a little more luxe check out Perantzada Art Hotel, right in the port and housed in a 19th-century neoclassical building.

Elswhere on the island Kioni apartments in Kioni are well appointed and have lovely views over the harbour or Nostos Hotel in Frikes is popular and has a nice pool. Cavos Sunset view cottages have incredible sunset views and are close to Dona Lefki, one of the best tavernas in the Ionians.

best greek islands

CHIOS

Once home to shipping magnates and tycoons modern-day Chios is a big island, mostly untouched by tourism, and a beautiful place for an authentic Greek adventure. Located in the Northern Aegean just off Turkey, Chios has a colourful and fascinating history involving the Ottomans and Byzantines over thousands of years.

It has a fascinating, albeit sometimes tragic past with a history of relentless conflict with its neighbour as well as other invaders.

There are a number of things that make Chios (pronounced “He-oss” and not to be confused with the similar-sounding Ios island in the Cyclades) quite unique and different from the other Greek Islands.

Learn about the unique ‘mastic’ trees that made the original chewing gum and is now a highly sought after commodity. When you drive around Chios in summer you will smell the Mastic trees and the rosemary and oregano growing wild near the road, hence the term the ‘fragrant island.

There are also numerous excellent, and often deserted beaches, some fascinating architecture, beautiful Monasteries, and many historic buildings and churches including the excellent Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum, housed in the Mecidiye Mosque on Vounakiou Square, and the Maritime Museum which houses paintings, ship replicas and navigational instruments from the islands Naval history.

Agriculture is now Chios’s main industry and there are many opportunities to see and learn about citrus, olives, figs, cherries and of course, mastic.

Further reading: A complete guide to Chios

 

 

How to get to Chios

Once home to shipping magnates and tycoons modern-day Chios is a big island, mostly untouched by tourism, and a beautiful place for an authentic Greek adventure. Located in the Northern Aegean just off Turkey, Chios has a colourful and fascinating history involving the Ottomans and Byzantines over thousands of years.

It has a fascinating, albeit sometimes tragic past with a history of relentless conflict with its neighbour as well as other invaders.

There are a number of things that make Chios (pronounced “He-oss” and not to be confused with the similar-sounding Ios island in the Cyclades) quite unique and different from the other Greek Islands.

Learn about the unique ‘mastic’ trees that made the original chewing gum and are now a highly sought after commodity. When you drive around Chios in summer you will smell the Mastic trees and the rosemary and oregano growing wild near the road, hence the term the ‘fragrant island.

There are also numerous excellent, and often deserted beaches, some fascinating architecture, beautiful Monasteries, and many historic buildings and churches including the excellent Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum, housed in the Mecidiye Mosque on Vounakiou Square, and the Maritime Museum which houses paintings, ship replicas and navigational instruments from the islands Naval history.

Agriculture is now Chios’s main industry and there are many opportunities to see and learn about citrus, olives, figs, cherries and of course, mastic.

Further reading: A complete guide to Chios

 

Chios hotels for Solo travellers

 

Most people visiting Chios tend to stay either in Chios Town or Karfas, a modern beach resort town about 20 minutes south of Chios Town that is still fairly quiet compared to its counterparts on some other islands. Karfas has a nice wide beach so is a great spot for visitors.

Sun Rooms are clean, comfortable rooms in Chios Town just a two minute stroll from the beach. It’s a safe, authentic area and the rooms are hosted by a very friendly and helpful lady who has really gone out of her way over the years for many guests

To experience staying in a traditional castle Mesta Magic is located on the western side of the island and provides an authentic experience you will never forget!

best greek islands

IOS

Ios has a reputation as a bit of a Greek party island and if you are under 30 you will definitely love your time here. There are many hostels and budget accommodation places to be found in the Chora as well as plenty of bars, tavernas, and clubs. It’s easy to meet people with similar interests and make some new friends for life!

But it’s a fairly small island and quite beautiful, so even if you are older if you visit outside summer and/or stay a little further out of town you will still love this island. There are some excellent beaches, which is where everyone heads the day after the night before, including Milopota which is one of the best beaches in Greece.

There’s a huge amount of activities to do including watersports, diving and shopping and there are even some ancient sites to explore including Homer’s Tomb.

It is also right in the middle of the Cyclades Islands group with Santorini, Milos, Sifnos, Amorgos, Naxos, and Paros all with one hour in any direction so you can happily explore them as well on day trips.

 

How to get to Ios

There is no airport on Ios so all visitors arrive by Ferry.

You can fly to Paros, Naxos or Santorini and ferry from there or go direct from Athens which takes between 5 and 8 hours.

Ios is located right in the middle of the Cyclades islands so it is perfectly placed for an island-hopping itinerary.

In fact, if you are moving between the Western and Eastern Cyclades chances are you might stop here anyway.

 

Where to stay on Ios

Most people tend to stay in or near Chora for easy access to the bars and clubs at night. There are a lot of hostels for budget travellers and small hotels and pensions.

If you want to meet other people and be close to all the action then you can’t go wrong at Ios Resort Hotel, while Liostasi Hotel is one of the best on the island. The talk of the town this summer has been the opening of Calilo, an Instagrammers dream and already a favourite with the celebrity set.

For a bit of peace and quiet and a more traditional Ios experience check out Gorgona overlooking Mylopotas Beach with balconies and terraces and traditional Cycladic style.

 

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