Where To Go in Greece in 2018

Updated: October 7, 2017

  • All Greek islands are unique, wonderful, and worth visiting. But my favorites (especially for first timers) are Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, and Crete.
  • If you can only visit one island then make it Crete or Santorini (they have the most to see and do). If you can only visit two then it should be Santorini and Naxos (very easy to get between) or Santorini and Mykonos (both have international airports making visiting from western Europe easy).
  • The best Greek island for couples (or a honeymoon) is Santorini.
  • The best Greek island for families is Naxos.
  • The best Greek islands for nightlife is Mykonos and Ios.
  • The best Greek islands for beaches are Crete, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Ios.

See Also

The 29 Best Places To Go in Greece

Santorini – My favorite island in Greece. If you can only visit one then it has to be Santorini.

Santorini – My favorite island in Greece. This is the footpath that runs from Fira to Oia along the edge of the caldera and it’s nothing short of magical. If you can only visit one island in Greece then it has to be Santorini.

The best beach in Greece: Elafonisi in southwestern Crete. I takes a bit of effort to get here (90 minute bus ride from Chania) but it's worth the effort.

The best beach in Greece: Elafonisi in southwestern Crete. It takes a bit of effort to get here (90 minutes by bus from Chania) but it’s worth the effort. Crete is loaded with great towns (Chania, Rethymnon, and Agios Nikolaos are my favorites), things to do (Samaria Gorge), and historical attractions (Knossos and a top notch museum in Heraklion).

Athens is great fun and a highlight for me, after a day of sightseeing, is watching a movie in an open-air cinema in the Plaka beneath the Acropolis. (Movies are in english with greek subtitles.)

Athens is great fun and a highlight for me, after a day of sightseeing, is watching a movie in an open-air cinema in the Plaka beneath the Acropolis. (Movies are in english with greek subtitles.) Athens deserves 1 or 2 full days of sightseeing. 

The idyllic beautiful town of Chania in Crete.

The idyllically beautiful town of Chania in Crete. Those are my 2 boys walking along the port jetty.

Naxos has a half-dozen great beaches but the one near the Chora (main town) is probably the most kid-friendly beach in all of Greece.

Naxos has a half-dozen great beaches but the one near the Chora (main town) is probably the most kid-friendly beach in all of Greece. As you move south from Naxos Town the sand gets even better. Naxos (and neighboring Paros, which you can see in the distance) are also great for wind-surfing. Phenomenal local food is a highlight of Naxos.

Ios is just 50 minutes by ferry from Santorini and has some of the best beaches in the Greek islands. Day trips are easy to do in summer when ferries are running all the time.

Ios is just 50 minutes by ferry from Santorini and has some of the best beaches in the Greek islands. Day trips are easy to do in summer when ferries are running all the time.

Mykonos is known for its party scene (which is super fun) but even here, it's easy to leave the crowds behind, and find a quiet patch of sand. The walk between along the coast (from Psarou to Paradise Beach) is a highlight of Mykonos.

Mykonos is known for its party scene (which is super fun) but even here, it’s easy to leave the crowds behind, and find a quiet patch of sand. The walk along the coast (from Psarou to Paradise Beach) is a highlight of Mykonos.

Island Hopping: easy, cheap, and awesome fun. You just never forget those ferry trips bouncing from one little island to the next.

Greek Island Hopping: easy, cheap, and awesome fun. You just never forget those ferry trips bouncing from one little island to the next.

View of Nafplio in the Peloponnese from Palamidi Castle.

The Pelopponese is an underrated jewel. Great beaches, tons of history, never overwhelmed with tourists, and easily accessible from Athens. This is a view of Nafplio (a super charming town), the largest city in the Peloponnese, from Palamidi Castle.

Gerolimenas in the Mani Peninsula of the Peloponnese.

Gerolimenas in the Mani Peninsula of the Peloponnese.

Katakolon on the Peloponnese and close to Olympia.

Katakolon in the Peloponnese and close to Olympia.

This looks like just a big rock out in the middle of the sea (and connected to land by a thin causeway). But as you round the corner there is a small byzantine village clinging to the far side of the island – completely hidden from the mainland (and invaders). Yes, it's as amazing as it sounds.

Monemvasia looks like just a big rock out in the middle of the sea (that’s connected to land by a thin causeway). But as you round the corner there is a byzantine village clinging to the far side of the island – completely hidden from the mainland (and invaders). Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.

The mountain villages of the Peloponnese are magical. This is the Monastery of Orthokosta in the southwest of the peninsula.

The mountain villages of the Peloponnese are magical. This is the Monastery of Orthokosta in the southwest of the peninsula.

The Corinth Canal about an hour from Athens.

The Corinth Canal about an hour from Athens and divides the Peloponnese from mainland Greece.

Kos – Beautiful island great for biking owing to its flat geography.

Kos – Beautiful island great for biking owing to its flat geography.

Corfu Town – Beautiful city that makes a great base for the island's beach towns.

Corfu Town – Beautiful city that makes a great base for the island’s beach towns.

The beach coves of Paleokastritsa in Corfu.

The beach coves of Paleokastritsa in Corfu.

Panoramic view to City of Ermopoli on Syros – Traditional city in that sees few tourists though it's smack in the middle of the Cycladic Islands.

Ermopoli on Syros – Traditional city that sees relatively few tourists even though it’s smack in the middle of the Cycladic Islands.

Folegandros – Close to Santorini and great for hikes around the countryside.

Folegandros – Close to Santorini and great for hikes around the countryside.

Traditional stone bridge in Konitsa village in northern Greece. This is a stunningly beautiful area.

Traditional stone bridge in Konitsa village in mainland Greece. This is a stunningly beautiful area. If you drive or take the bus from Corfu to Athens try to spend a few nights in the town of Ioannina and explore the rugged beauty of northern Greece.

Famous Navagio beach on Zakynthos island.

Famous Navagio beach on Zakynthos island. Since it’s somewhat isolated Zakynthos is not a great choice if you’re looking to island hop but if one island is all you need then it’s almost perfect.

If you want a traditional island with few tourists then Karpathos Island is a great choice. This is Olimbos village up in the hills of the island.

If you want a traditional island with few tourists then Karpathos Island (near Rhodes) is idyllic. This is Olimbos village up in the hills of the island.

No cars or traffic on here. It's short ferry ride from Athens making it a great day trip.

No cars or traffic on the island of Hydra. It’s a short ferry ride from Athens making it a great day trip.

The Meteora – 4 hours from Athens. This is one of the wonders of the world and is my favorite destination on mainland Greece. Monasteries are perched on the top of mountainous rocks. This an amazing and awe-inspiring location.

The Meteora – 4 hours from Athens. This is truly one of the wonders of Greece and is my favorite destination in mainland Greece. Monasteries are perched on the top of mountainous rocks. This an amazing and awe-inspiring sight.

Mandrakia village on Milos island in the Cyclades. It's easy to overlook Milos but it's second to only Santorini for it's stunning geography.

Mandrakia village on Milos island in the Cyclades. It’s easy to overlook Milos but it’s second to only Santorini for it’s stunning geography.

Phospfori tower in Ouranopolis on the Chalkidiki in Northern Greece. This is a popular area for Greeks but doesn't see a lot of foreign tourists even though it's beautiful and loaded with great beaches.

Phospfori tower in Ouranopolis on the Halkidiki in Northern Greece. This is a popular area for Greeks but doesn’t see a lot of foreign tourists even though it’s stunningly beautiful and loaded with great beaches.

Skiathos is a great choice away from the usual tourist track. Popular with Greeks and filled with beautiful beaches.

Skiathos is a great choice away from the usual tourist track. Popular with Greeks and filled with beautiful beaches.

Beautiful cove at St Paul's Bay near Lindos in Rhodes.

The beautiful cove beach at St Paul’s Bay near Lindos in beautiful Rhodes.

Delphi can be done as a day trip from Athens but it's best to stay overnight and visit the temple before the crowds arrive mid-morning.

Delphi can be done as a day trip from Athens but it’s best to stay overnight and visit the temple before the crowds arrive mid-morning.

Which Greek Island by Season and Weather

Where To Go In Greece in July and August (Summer/High Season)
Santorini and Mykonos are great if you want lots of activity, nightlife, live DJs, and packed clubs. If you want a quieter island in the peak season Naxos, Folegandros, Milos, Sifnos, Antiparos, and Ikaria are wonderful choices.

Where To Go In Greece in June and September
Santorini and Mykonos are a little quieter than their high season peak but still plenty going on. Crete, Naxos, Paros, and Rhodes are at their best. The quiet islands (Sifnos, Ikaria, Antiparos) quickly become very quiet by mid-September which might be fine for some but too slow for others.

Where To Go In Greece in May and October
Most islands are slow in these shoulder months but Santorini, Crete, and Rhodes are still wonderful places to visit with lots open. Naxos and Paros are quiet but far from dead. Quiet islands are very slow but still enough open to get by.

Where To Go In Greece in March, April, and November
A great time to visit if sightseeing, wine tours, fine food, and walking are your main interests. Weather is nice by northern European standards but usually not warm enough for swimming or suntanning. Santorini and Crete are the best islands to visit during this period but unfortunately there are no ferries between the two islands during the slow season so you’ll need to fly via Athens if you want to visit both.

Where To Go In Greece in December, January, and February (Winter/Low Seasons)
Santorini is the best island to visit during the winter. Best to fly directly as the sea can be rough during the winter months. Crete is also a good destination as it’s the warmest place in Greece during winter.

See Also



2 Questions and Comments

  1. Rhodes or Kos

    Trying to decide between Kos and Rhodes for a June holiday. What would you say are the strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics of both. (It could be just my wife and I, but also inviting others, so hard to know what we’re looking for yet. At this point need a general comparison of both islands.)

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Rhodes and Kos are a bit like Ying and Yang: so different in many ways yet they complement each other perfectly. Rhodes is the mature big sister; Kos the little sister wanting to wear her big sister’s shoes. Both are islands geared towards international package tourism and attract large numbers of visitors wanting sun, sand and relaxation. Both share similar cultural traits – they are part of the Dodecanese island chain and are no more than two hours apart from each by fast catamaran or an hour or so longer by one of the regular connecting ferries.
      Rhodes: the bigger and more diversified island of the two boasting an exquisite Old Town and a string of beach resorts running mainly down the southeast coast with an overlap running from the northern tip of the island back down to the airport on the northwest side. The island’s attraction to the score of cruise ships that make Rhodes’ harbour an obligatory stop is the well-preserved mediaeval Old Town. Completely enclosed within its own fortifications, the narrow streets are either full of restaurants, cafés and shops and strolling visitors, or almost completely untouched by time with abandoned houses and locked wooden gates with intriguing door handles. Outside the Old Town is the New Town, also a popular destination because of its fashionable clothes and shoe shops and restaurants and also a pretty decent beach scene. Excursion boats to other parts of the island leave from here, while ferries and the island’s catamarans arrive and depart from two harbours a little way further south of the New Town.
      The southeast coast is a contiguous strip of hotels and beachscapes starting with the upper-market hotels of the Faliraki Riviera and petering out at the decidedly quieter and serene scene of the southern coastline centred on Gennadi. In between, the village of Lindos bursts out like a Cycladic theme park marking the half way point down the island’s coast. It is long here that you will find Rhodes’ best beaches. It northwest coastal scene, on the contrary, is much more muted and less developed mainly because it doesn’t have the beaches, but does get most of the winds.
      Kos: is long and skinny and its shape vaguely reminds one of a whale, seemingly swimming into the embracing Turkish gulf of Gökova. It’s taken negative press in the last couple of years – from ‘uninvited refugees’ to an earthquake earlier this year. The refugees never were a problem and the earthquake shook part of Kos’ Old Town and has since been cleaned up. The island has a cosier, more intimate feel and while, like Rhodes, it has a mountain scene, the feel is mainly flat and rolling and for that reason cycling is enormously popular here and quite feasible along the meandering backroads of the north coast. Kos’ Old Town is not as extensive or in any way as picturesque as Rhodes’: the appeal of Kos lies in its relative compactness, its sunny demeanour and the high quality of its accommodation. Boutique hotels do not feature as prominently as they do in Rhodes, but on the luxury side there are some quite stunning places. Its excellent beach scene is hidden from casual view along a swathe of golden sand running along the cusp of Kefalos Bay in the south. Beaches elsewhere (and by comparison) are generally average. Oddly, one of the most popular beaches is a thermal springs beach made up of pebbles and warmed by hot artesian water. That’s just around the corner of the eastern tip of the island basically where the island’s road network ends.
      So the toss-up between the two? They are touristy islands but still lived-in Greek islands. They make a good duo so half your time in one and half in the other with day visits to neighbouring islands such as Halki, Tilos, or Symi (from Rhodes) and Kalymnos, Nisyros, and Pserimos (from Kos) will give a total of 8 Dodecanese islands for the price of two! June and September are good shoulder periods to travel, so good luck. It’s win-win all the way.

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