Greece & the Greek Islands

The Greece Travel Guide
About Santorini Dave
Updated: November 15, 2022

Where to stay:
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Mykonos in the Greek Islands.

Mykonos Town harbor in Mykonos, Greece.

Greece is my favorite country in Europe. It’s loaded with great beaches (Naxos, Mykonos, and Paros have the best sand and swimming), fantastic historical sites (Athens, Crete, and Delphi top the list), and stunning natural beauty (Santorini, Milos, and the Meteora are my favs). The magical Greek islands are perfectly scattered for island hopping and adventure, while mainland Greece is packed with ancient cities and less-visited regions that will surprise and reward the unhurried traveler.

The 2023 Greece Travel Guide

Greece Travel Guides

Where to Go in Greece

When to Go to Greece

What to Do in Greece

Where to Stay in Greece

Where to Eat & Drink in Greece

The Best Beaches in Greece

Greece Travel Videos

Best beach resort in Greece.

The fantastic Calilo Hotel in Ios is one of our favorite new beach resorts in Greece.

The Best Hotels in Greece

Getting To & Around Greece

Frequently Asked Questions about Greece

See Also: Greece: Tips & Information for First-Timers

Where is Greece?

Greece is located in southeastern Europe, at the southernmost tip of the Balkan Peninsula. Greece has a land area of over 50,000 square miles and comprises a large mainland peninsula between the Ionian and Aegean seas, surrounded by an archipelago of about 6,000 islands and islets. Sharing its northern land borders with Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, Greece is positioned at a historically rich crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Location of Greece.

What is the population of Greece?

The population of Greece was estimated by the United Nations to be 10,445,365 in 2021. Some estimates put the current population as high as 10,600,000. The country’s population grew from 5,000,000 in 1920 to a peak of nearly 11,000,000 in 2010. The five largest cities in Greece are Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa, and Heraklion. The vast majority of Greeks live in Mainland Greece. Approximately 1.2 million people live in the Peloponnese and 1.3 million on the Greek islands.

How many islands are in Greece?

Greece has between 1,200 and 6,000 islands depending on the measure used to establish an island vs an islet. The number of inhabited islands is variously cited as between 166 and 227. The ten largest Greek islands by land area are Crete, Euboea, Lesbos, Rhodes, Chios, Kefalonia, Corfu, Lemnos, Samos, and Naxos. The ten largest Greek islands by population are Crete, Euboea, Rhodes, Lesbos, Corfu, Chios, Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Kos, and Samos. The Peloponnese has technically been an island since the completion of the Corinth Canal in 1893 but is generally not considered to be an island due to its artifical nature.

What language is spoken in Greece?

The official language of Greece is Greek, spoken by 99% of the population. The most common foreign languages learned by Greeks are English (48%), German (9%), French (8.5%), and Italian (8%). English is widely spoken in the largest cities and on the most popular Greek islands.

What are the best things to do in Greece?

The must-do destinations and attractions in Greece:
Acropolis in Athens
National Archaeological Museum in Athens
• Caldera hike in Santorini
Boat tour in Santorini
Wineries of Santorini
Helicopter ride around Santorini
Staying in a caldera hotel in Santorini
Nightlife & beach clubs in Mykonos
Beaches of Naxos
• The beaches and solitude of Antiparos
Sarakiniko Beach on Milos
• Staying in Chania Old Town
• Staying in Rhodes Old Town
• Visiting Delphi
Meteora Monasteries
Staying in Nafplio
Island Hopping by Greek ferry

Beach in Greece.

Naxos is one of my very favorite islands in Greece. Relaxed vibe, wonderful local food, and great beaches.

How do you get to Greece?

Most people will fly from a hub in western Europe (usually London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Rome, or Venice) to Athens, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Kos, Rhodes, or Corfu. If you’re arriving from the east you could fly via Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Mumbai, Delhi, or Singapore.

My top tip for choosing flights is to fly into and out of different airports so you don’t waste time and money backtracking to your arrival point. For example, fly from London to Athens, then ferry to Mykonos, ferry to Paros, ferry to Santorini, then fly Santorini to London (and don’t go back to Athens for your return flight). You may pay slightly more for 2 one-way tickets than a round-trip ticket, but it will be more than made up for by the savings for the extra ferry and hotel night.

How long is the flight to Greece?

Flying times to Athens, Greece. For direct flights to the Greek islands (when available) flight times can be up to 30 minutes longer or shorter.
• Rome to Athens: 1 hour, 50 minutes
• Barcelona to Athens: 2 hours, 50 minutes
• Paris to Athens: 3 hours, 10 minutes
• Amsterdam to Athens: 3 hours, 15 minutes
• London to Athens: 3 hours, 40 minutes
• Boston to Athens: 9 hours, 15 minutes
• New York to Athens: 9 hours, 30 minutes
• Toronto to Athens: 9 hours, 30 minutes
• Chicago to Athens: 10 hours, 10 minutes
• Atlanta to Athens: 10 hours, 50 minutes
• Istanbul to Athens: 1 hour, 25 minutes
• Dubai to Athens: 5 hours, 10 minutes
• Delhi to Athens: 10 hours, 15 minutes
• Singapore to Athens: 11 hours, 30 minutes

Map of direct flights to Athens, Greece

Flight to Greek Islands from Athens.

Boarding a Sky Express flight from Athens to the Greek islands.

When is the Best Time to Travel to Greece?

To enjoy Greek beaches and hot weather, travel between June and September. For sightseeing, tours, hiking, and exploring the best months to go to Greece are late March to early June, and late September to and early November. Travel to the Greek Islands is not recommended between November and March; the weather will be gray, windy, and often rainy, and many most hotels and restaurants will be shuttered for the season. Athens is a good year-round destination; the weather is best in the spring and fall, but archaeological sites and museums are open throughout the winter, and there is the benefit of lower rates and thinner crowds in the off-season.

Bar graph indicating the best time to visit Greece for a variety of factors

Acropolis Museum in Athens.

The Acropolis Museum in Athens. Though travel to the Greek Islands is best in the spring and summer, Athens can be a great destination at any time of year.

What are the Best Greek Islands?

All the Greek islands are wonderful. Really! I have never met someone that went to an island and said, “what a mistake, big disappointment.” It just doesn’t happen. They’re all different but all very special. Perhaps a better question is what are the best Greek islands for a first time visitor to Greece? For that I would answer Santorini, Naxos, Paros, and Mykonos. Crete is also great for first-timers but it’s so big that it’s good to do on its own or perhaps along with Santorini – not much more or you’ll spread your time too thin.

What are the best Greek Islands?

Fira, Santorini.

The cliffside paths and staircases in Fira, Santorini. With its picturesque caldera villages, family-friendly boat tours, archaeological ruins, and wonderful wineries, Santorini is my favorite of all the Greek Islands.

How do you get between the Greek Islands?

Greek ferries are the primary mode of transport between the islands – especially for the islands in the Aegean (e.g. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes). There are also some flights between the islands and (more commonly) flights via Athens between different islands but these are expensive and have inconsistent schedules. For most itineraries, using the ferry is best. Ferryhopper.com is the best website to search for and purchase tickets for all Greek ferry routes.

Ferry ports in Greece

Ferry travel in Greece.

Passengers boarding a ferry in Mykonos. Traveling between the Greek Islands by ferry is easy, fun, and a highlight of a trip to Greece.

What are the best places to visit in Mainland Greece?

I love the Greek Islands, but there are so many great places to visit in mainland Greece that it’s worth making a trip to explore it all on its own. Just west of Athens is The Peloponnese, a vast peninsula peppered with romantic harbor towns, olive groves, and archaeological ruins. North of Athens are the ancient ruins of Delphi and the incredible clifftop monasteries at Meteora. In Greece’s far north is the three-legged peninsula of Halkidiki, famous for its excellent beaches and mountain monastic republic.

Map of the top destinations on Mainland Greece.

Nafplio, Greece.

The romantic harbor town of Nafplio is located in the Peloponnese peninsula, about two hours by car or bus west of Athens.

What are the Best Beaches in Greece?

My favorite islands for beaches are Naxos, Mykonos, Paros, Ios, Rhodes, and Crete. But there are many more with wonderful beaches and every island has great swimming even when the beaches don’t have the typical golden sand you’re expecting. Outside of the islands, the Halkidiki region of northern Greece also has excellent beaches running all up and down the coast of its three popular peninsulas.

Kid-friendly beach in Greece.

With its pink sand and calm turquoise water, Elafonissi Beach in southwest Crete is my all-time favorite Greek beach.

Where are the best places in Greece for kids?

The whole of Greece is incredibly kid-friendly. And with great beaches, interesting history, a laid-back vibe, and incredible (and kid-friendly) food, the Greek islands are an especially excellent choice for a family vacation. Greek island hopping adds a bit of adventure to a family trip and an opportunity to see several very distinct destinations – plus, riding the ferry is always fun. My favorite island for families is Naxos, but there are many others that are also kid-friendly and great for families: Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu are four more islands that have great beaches, cool towns, and a friendly atmosphere.

Dining and nightlife in Paros, Greece.

Paros is an idyllic mix of Naxos (slow pace, traditional, great beaches) and Mykonos (trendy, luxurious, lots of nightlife).

What currency is used in Greece?

Greece is part of the European Union, and the currency used is the Euro (€). Most major shops and restaurants across Greece accept credit cards, but there may be a minimum purchase required to use them. It is a good idea to have some cash on hand for bus trips and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. ATMs are plentiful in Athens and generally easy to find in most villages and beach towns across Greece.

Do you tip in Greece?

Tipping is not expected in Greek restaurants but is appreciated. Rather than a percentage of the bill, a restaurant tip in Greece can be a few Euros left on the table as a recognition of good service, or simply rounding up the tab to the nearest convenient amount. The more touristy (and expensive) a restaurant is, the more a tip is expected.

Amoudi Bay below Oia in Santorini.

A seafood tavern in Ammoudi Bay below the village of Oia in Santorini. Most restaurants and stores in Greece accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some cash on hand for small purchases.

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