The Best Greek Islands

Updated: December 1, 2016

What are the best Greek Islands?

  • Best Greek Island for Honeymoon: Santorini
  • Best Greek Island for Nightlife and Parties: Mykonos
  • Best Greek Island for Beaches: Naxos, Mykonos, Ios, Crete
  • Best Greek Island for Families: Naxos
  • Best Greek Island for Families with Teens: Santorini, Mykonos, Paros
  • Best Greek Island for History: Crete, Rhodes, Santorini
  • Best Greek Island for Hiking: Crete, Folegandros, Santorini, Naxos
  • Best Greek Island for Biking: Kos
  • Best Greek Island for Luxury: Santorini, Mykonos
  • Best Greek Island for Quiet and Solitude: Folegandros, Ikaria, Karpathos
  • Best Greek Island for Outdoor Activity: Crete, Santorini
  • Best Greek Island for Food: All of them
  • Best Greek Island for Cruise: None of them – don’t do cruises, visit on your own
  • Best for Island Hopping: Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Ios, Mykonos, and Milos are all well connected by ferry and easy to get from one to the next

The 10 Best Greek Islands

The best greek island for a honeymoon is Santorini.
The most romantic greek island and the best one for a honeymoon is Santorini (Mykonos is great if you want more nightlife). This is the Cave House Suite at Keti Hotel in Fira – one of the most private and romantic suites in Santorini.

The best greek island for clubs and nightlife is Mykonos.

Mykonos has the best nightlife and club scene of any greek island. It usually starts with dinner and drinks by the water and then hit the clubs in Mykonos Town (or a beach party at Paradise Beach).

Old Town in Rhodes.

Rhodes is one of the best islands for historical sightseeing (Crete, Naxos, and Santorini are also great). This is the main entrance of the famous Knights Grand Master Palace (also known as Castello) in Rhodes Town, a must-visit museum. 

The best greek island for scenery and natural beauty.

Santorini and Milos are two of the most beautiful islands in Greece. This is the fishing village of Firopotamos on Milos.

The best greek island for beaches is Ios.

The greek islands are loaded with great beaches. Some of the best are on Naxos, Crete, and Ios. This is Mylopotas beach on Ios.

The best greek islands for island hopping are Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Ios, and Mykonos.

Island hopping by ferry is one of the highlights of the greek islands. Sitting at the back of the ferry and seeing the islands pass by until you arrive at the one your destination.

The best greek island for walks and hiking.

Folegandros is the best greek island for hiking – great paths all around this beautiful island.

The best greek island for food is Crete.

All the greek islands have great food and restaurants. This is a gyros plate from a restaurant in Crete.

The best greek island for families is Naxos.

Naxos is a wonderful family destination. Great beaches, a relaxed vibe, cheap hotels (and luxury ones too), and there’s even a water park.

The best greek island for families with teens is Paros.

Paros is a great island for families and it’s got a little more shopping and activity for teens – and nightlife for older family members.

16 Questions and Comments

  1. Best Island for Hiking, Exploring, Beaches, Boat Trips

    Hi Dave!
    My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in late May/early April. We already plan to spend a few nights on Santorini, and are trying to choose one other island to pair with it (will have 3 nights on other island). We are in our late 20s and are more interested in outdoors (hiking, exploring, beaches, boat trips). I’d like to keep travel time to a minimum, so I have been looking at the closer islands – Milos, Paros, and Naxos. Do you have any recommendations or thoughts on a good island to pair with Santorini?
    Thank you!
    Ann

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Naxos for the hiking. Milos for the boat trips. Both for beaches and exploring.

  2. Greek Islands for Culture, History, Swimming, Food, and Drink

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you for putting together such a great site. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Islands in May – neither of us have been and, honestly, have no idea where to even start putting together an itinerary. We have at least 14 nights to spend there (and may be able to push that to 17). I’m in my early 30s, my husband’s in his early 40s. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This is probably our one big holiday this year so while the budget is more mid-range than sky-high, we can push it a bit for the right places or experiences. We’re happy to take in quite a few islands, or with a mix of longer and shorter stays.

    This may be way too vague for you to help! But if you can, it would be hugely appreciated!

    Lana

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      The good news is that all the Greek islands are great. There’s almost no chance that you’ll pick 3 or 4 different islands and come back disappointed. That said, you’re probably best to focus on the Cyclades and of those Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, and Milos have everything you’re looking.

  3. Which Islands with Teenage Daughter

    Fabulous site Dave! I am taking my daughter to Greece for 12 days in late May 2017 as a grad gift (yeah I know…, I think my Dad gave me a Timex watch, but I digress) and we are flying into Santorini expecting to spend 5-6 days there then ferrying over to Mykonos (not really sure why?) for a couple days. A couple days there and then flying into Athens for 2-2.5 days to inject some culture into what is otherwise somewhat hedonistic trip. I was wondering, after reading about other islands whether it is worth going to Mykonos. I’d love to go to Crete but it seems to be tough to squeeze that in. The original plan was to go to Istanbul for a couple days but it seems really sketchy right now. So is Naxos a better idea than Mykonos? Should we stay longer in Santorini? Is 2.5 days too much for Athens? Any and all info is appreciated.
    Tom

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      I would recommend Naxos over Mykonos and with 12 days you could easily add Paros too. With Santorini, Paros, and Naxos you’ll get a good mix of different delights and some ferry island hopping too which is fun in itself. 1.5 days in Athens is perfect for most – 1 day for the Plaka, Parthenon, Acropolis Museum area; and a half-day to visit the Archaeological Museum which is a short drive or walk from the Plaka but hard to fit in one day along with the other sights.

  4. Day Trip from Mykonos to Delos

    We’re planning a Greece trip to celebrate our 25th anniversary in September 2017 We plan to arrive in Athens and directly take train to Kalambaka/Meteora (2 nights), then down to Delphi (hotel stay in Athens), a day to see sights in Athens, a day trip to Nafplio and then leave to explore islands. Our plan is to go to Naxos for 4-5 nights, then to Santorini (for our anniversary) for 4 nights, and then to Crete for 5-6 nights. I would like to see Delos and wonder if it’s possible to stop in Mykonos, do the tour to Delos and still be able to catch ferry to Naxos the same day?

    Thank you so much for your assistance! We’re looking forward to visiting Greece!

    Laurie

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Yes, it’s possible. Get the SeaJet ferry from Athens to Mykonos. It should arrive at 9:30am or shortly after. You’ll have to hurry to store you’re luggage at the Sea and Sky travel agency across from the Old Port and then buy tickets for Delos. The last ferry to Delos leaves at 11am or maybe 11:30am. Ferry to Delos is about 30 minutes. Last ferry back is at 3pm which will give you plenty of time before the last ferry of the day to Naxos (at 6:15pm on SeaJet). All the ferries mention here use the Old Port. Don’t book any ferries that use the New Port or you’ll have trouble making the connections.

  5. Best Greek Island for Budget, Beach, Nature

    Hello Dave,

    It’s still months away but my boyfriend and I (we’re in our late twenties) are thinking about going to a Greek island in the first week of October. We’ve both never been to Greece and we’re wondering what the best Island is for us.
    We’re on a budget (think €50 per person per day) and would like to go someplace warm and sunny where there’s also a combination of culture and nature. So we can explore in the mornings and relax at the beach in the afternoon. Preferably a sandy beach. We don’t need a lot of nightlife but it would be nice if not the whole island is closing down already. Do you have a suggestion?

    Thanks in advance!

    Marlieke

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      I’d go with Naxos: cheap hotels can be found, great walks and hikes through the mountains, wonderful beaches, and popular enough not to be dead in October. €50/per day is doable but you’ll really have to watch it.

  6. Best Islands for Guys in 30s

    Hi Dave,

    We are two guys in our early 30s, we have 12 days for the Greek Islands. We like to swim, ride bikes, or drive on the islands to explore villages, culture, local life, love to eat local food, rest and have beers on beach, stroll and walk around in evening, etc. We will go to Santorini for 3 nights and select Fira according your suggestions, we are confused for next island between Crete and Naxos. Crete is huge but if we choose Naxos as it’s easy to reach from Santorini than does 8-9 days will be boredom in Naxos? Please suggest what’s best and on which place we should look for accommodation in either island you suggest..

    Thanks
    Manik Arora

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Yes, I would agree that 8 or 9 days is too long for Naxos – unless you’re happy sitting at the beach for several of those days. But if you’re looking to be semi-active and explore then you’d be best to add Paros and spend 4/5 days on each. Crete, on the other hand, would be perfect for an 8/9 day road trip. Start in Heraklion (where the ferry arrives from Santorini) head east and then south and finally ending up in the western town of Chania where you can fly up home from.

  7. Milos Hotel and Things To Do

    Hi Dave,
    My husband, another couple, and I are planning a trip to Greece in September 2017. We are staying in Milos for a few nights and were planning on staying at Melian Hotel and Spa….do you know anything about this hotel? I was worried about proximity to things, but it looks like no matter what, we are going to need to rent a car or use the bus system to get around. It seemed though that Melian had 6 or 7 restaurant options within walking distance. Also, any ideas or tips on things to do, see, or go?? We plan to do one of those semi private sailing tours, but other than that we are an open book. Thanks so much for any input!
    Laura Carroll

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      The Melian is great and yes an easy walk to a good range of restaurants in Pollonia. The sailing tours around Milos are the highlight of the island but would also recommend renting a car and exploring the spread out beaches and stunning views. Getting around Milos to see things by bus is doable but definitely easier with a car.

  8. Santorini, Naxos, and Milos in Spring

    Hi Dave! Your website is so detailed and helpful! I’m starting to plan a trip for late May-early June. We were interested in visiting Santorini, Naxos (we opted for Naxos instead of party-filled Mykonos) and Milos. Our main airport of arrival is Athens. What order should we visit all three islands (in terms of convenience of ferry/flight availability) and how many nights do you recommend allotting to each? Thanks in advance for your time!

    Connie

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Ferries between Naxos and Milos don’t start until June 7th (one each way, every day after that). Ferries between Santorini and Milos start April 28th and there is one every day in each direction. And there are always ferries between Naxos and Santorini. So if the dates work I would fly to Santorini (the longest leg) then ferry to Milos then Naxos and back to Athens. But if you need to travel between Naxos and Milos before the 7th then ferry Athens to Milos to Santorini to Naxos and back to Athens.

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