After Alice’s recent trip to Zakynthos we have fallen in love with the Greek Isles all over again! We’ve been to a couple of these beautiful islands on family holidays but there are so many still to explore, all with their own specialities and great things to see and do. So here are our top picks for the Greek islands that you need to visit.
We have been to Crete multiple times on family holidays and we love it! Being the largest of the Greek Islands it holds a lot to see and do. One of our favourite is the city of Chania; the main harbour and winding side streets give it a classic Mediterranean vibe. And the food. THE FOOD! There are so many restaurants it means you could eat at a different place every night and never get bored. If you’re looking for something a little quieter we recommend the village of Almyrida, its a beautifully sleepy village on the beach which still has a range of restaurants and bars but has a much more relaxed feel.
Known for being the setting for the film ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ in 2001 Kefalonia has been on the tourist map ever since. Not far from Zakynthos, and the largest of the Ionian islands, Kefalonia shares the same amazingly blue waters and incredible beaches. In 1953 a series of earthquakes hit the island basically destroying houses on the island and rising the island 60cm higher (you can see this from water marks on some places of the island). Myrtos beach and Melissani cave are some of the islands most popular locations to visit and they also have a national park where deer and wild horses roam free.
Grace visited Corfu a couple of years ago and fell in love with the laid-back culture and stunning scenery (it’s one of the greenest islands in the Mediterranean y’know)! Much like the other Greek islands, Corfu has great food and wine and crystal clear seas for you to enjoy complete relaxation. If you are looking for something more than a place to sit on the beach, Corfu has many accessible excursions which can take you to the likes of the infamous Blue Lagoon (read about Grace’s trip here) or to one of the many private beaches dotted around the island! Everyone knows Corfu for being the home to party town Kavos, but smaller towns like Benitses are a perfect get-a-way from the manic cities in which you can submerge yourself in local culture.
Lets face it, everyone knows Santorini for its amazing Insta worthy views! It has become the iconic image of the Greek Islands, with those white washed buildings all looking over the incredible deep blue water. A volcanic explosion helped how the island looks today as it blew out the heart of Santorini, giving it the amazing sheer cliffs and black sand beaches (It is also thought that this was the origin of the legend of Atlantis.) Oia is definitely the most popular place to stay here but Pyrgos is up and coming.
Mykonos is probably knows best as the glamorous island. It has some of the best hotels in Greece and is known to host a fair share of supermodels. The nightlife is great and is a gay friendly island, so its prefect for the LGBT community. Mykonos’ white washed buildings and small winding streets have become iconic (along with the Santorini views) thanks to instagram.
Kos’ relatively flat land makes it perfect for cycling round to visit all its sandy beaches. An incredibly popular holiday destination since the 60’s Kos knows how to host tourists. The best beaches are on the south of the island, the north doesn’t offer as many but there are plenty of beat trips to other islands to keep you busy.
Rhodes is one of the Greek Islands top destinations. Made famous thanks to the writer Lawrence Durrell, who lived there just after WW2. The big draw of the island is the medieval citadel where you can see Byzantine churches and roman ruins. The medieval old town of Rhodes has also been names a world heritage site.
Alice has just returned from Zakynthos (or Zante) and she loved it! You can read all about her experience here. Zakynthos is known for its amazing beaches like Navagio ‘shipwreck’ beach, which has become the main attraction on the island. The south of the island is known for its night life and is also home to sea turtles (there is even a turtle island!) If you are looking for something a little quieter then try the North where it is a lot more family orientated with just as many great beaches and Zakynthos town.
Symi is definitely one to look out for. The picturesque port is a highlight of any visit to the island, with its peach and apricot coloured houses. There is only one main road, so be prepared for lots of walks and hikes. Hidden in the pine and cypress forests there are plenty of monasteries to explore and some gorgeous small beaches like Marathounda, where you can meet the local goats. It is much more of a relaxation destination where you can take in the local culture.
What is your favourite Greek Island? Or is it on your bucket list?