SantoriniDave.com – Updated June, 2014
What are the Best Greek Islands?
- The Best Beaches: Crete, Naxos, Milos, Paros
- The Best for Natural Beauty: Santorini, Crete
- The Most Romantic: Santorini
- The Best for College-Aged Partying: Ios
- The Best for 20 to 30-Something Partying: Mykonos
- The Best for Families: Naxos
- The Best for Outdoor Activities and Historical Sites: Crete, Santorini
- The Best for Quiet, Untouristy Beaches: Antiparos
When Is the Best Time to Visit the Greek Islands?
You’ll get great beach weather from late May until mid-October when the skies are blue most days and you’ll see very little rain. July and August are the hottest but also sees the largest crowds and the highest prices. By favorite time to visit is September and early October when the weather is still consistently hot and the sea is at its warmest. Swimming and sunbathing are possible in early May and late October but you are taking a bit of a risk if you visit at these times with the intention of hitting the beach – but they’re great times if you’re here to hike, sight-see, and wine and dine.
I Only Have 1 Week in Greece, Where Should I Go?
I would spend 5 days in Santorini and 2 days in one of the less touristy islands. Probably Naxos, Milos, or Folegandros. (Or if you wanted a few nights to party and dance then Mykonos or Paros.)
I Have 2 Weeks in Greece, Where Should I Go?
I would still spend 5 days on Santorini. Then 3 days each on 3 of the following islands: Naxos (beaches, hikes, traditional villages), Paros (beaches, partying), Antiparos (beaches, tranquility), Mykonos (beaches, partying, beautiful port town) Folegandros (hikes, beaches, non-touristy island) and Milos (beaches, full-day boat tours, unique scenery).
Finding Hotels on the Greek Islands
As you can tell from the comments below, I get more questions on hotels than any other topic. From late June to early September islands are packed and hotels often full. Book early.
- Book your hotel before your ferry – The large conventional ferries rarely sell out even in the peak summer season. Hotels, on the other hand, fill up weeks and months before the date. Buying ferry tickets just a few days in advance from your current location in Greece is usually always enough time to secure a basic economy ticket. Some people buy ferry tickets first and then can’t find a hotel they like and have to compromise. Hotel first, then worry about the ferry.
- Booking.com/Greece is the best website for finding hotels in Greece. It has the best selection and I love it because you can book and cancel rooms without any charges. This allows you to reserve multiple hotels, finalize your plans, then cancel the rooms you don’t need.
- As ferries arrive at an island port there will usually be owners of small hotels and private rooms there to greet passengers. If you don’t have a hotel booked this can be an easy way to get a cheap room. The downside is that the rentals are usually located far out of the way (that’s why they come to meet the ferries). But it sure beats sleeping on the beach.
- When to book hotels in Greece? The popular islands get fully booked in the summer months. Try to book hotels at least 3 to 8 weeks in advance. In the last decade Greece has gone from a popular summer vacation destination to a very very popular summer vacation destination. Every year it gets harder to find hotels by just showing up and hoping for the best.
- The larger your group the farther in advance you should book. A single backpacker might able to find a hotel in Corfu with little notice. A family of 5 will have a very hard time if they haven’t booked well in advance.
- Flipkey.com is great for finding villas and house rentals on the Greek islands.
- For many islands you don’t need to book in advance for travel outside of July and August. When you arrive on the ferry there will likely be a handful of hotel owners waiting for you. This works well for single or couple backpackers. Not so well for families, groups, or luxury travelers looking for the best hotels.
- Santorini – Book hotels well in advance for June to September
- Athens – Book hotels well in advance for April to October
- Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, Crete – Book hotels well in advance for late June until early September
- Naxos, Paros, Milos, Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kefalonia – Book hotels well in advance for July and August
I hope that helps. Good luck.
The 15 Best Beaches in Greece
It’s difficult to choose the best beaches in Greece. What’s the best beach for kids? What’s the best beach for swimming? What’s the best beach for partying?
Everyone is looking for a great beach, but they all have different criteria. Add to that the fact that many islands have upwards of 20 different beaches.
Here are my personal favorites.
Q. What are the best beaches for kids in Greece?
Agios Gordios Beach on Naxos is wonderful for kids. It’s a short walk from the island’s wonderful main town and port. A shallow shelf extends well out into the sea and the calm protected waters are perfect for children. Many places to eat and stay are in the immediate area. There are several other (quieter) beaches on Naxos that are also great for kids. As you move south away from the main town the beaches grow quieter and less developed – though almost all of them have at least 1 or 2 tavernas. The nearby islands of Paros and Antiparos have many kid-friendly beaches.
Q. What is the best beach for partying?
Paradise Beach on Mykonos is not for everyone. The category was Party Beach and this defines Paradise. Water sports, young people, sand, sun, and drinks wherever you look. Punda Beach on Paros has an equally established reputation for partying.
Q. What is the best beach for quiet and solitude (on a popular island)?
Ambelas Beach, Paros is fantastic. There are quieter beaches on less popular islands, but considering it’s on Paros, Ambelas is downright tranquil. There are enough restaurants and hotels in the area so you don’t feel totally isolated. Visit outside of July and August and you could have the beach to yourself.
Q. What is the best beach close to Athens?
Vouligmeni Beach is great for swimming and less than an hour from Athens. It can get very busy on the weekend but if you’re stuck in the heat of Athens you won’t complain once you’re here.
Q. When is the best time to visit Greece?
Late May to Early October are perfect beach weather everywhere in Greece. July and August are the hottest and busiest months. June and September are nearly perfect with one small difference between them being that the sea is warmer in the fall while the countryside is greener in spring. Early May and Late October can still see warm weather and sunny days but you should be prepared for the possibility of rain and cloud – and pack a sweater for coolish nights. On the southern coast of Crete it’s not unheard of to be swimming into the first weeks of November.