By far the lushest of all the Greek island chains, the Ionian Islands offer the most breathtaking cliff-backed beaches, with striking milky white sand that blends in beautifully with the azure turquoise sea.  

Featuring seven main islands that attract many visitors from around the world each year, the Ionian still retains a sense of authenticity and a mysterious allure waiting to be discovered. 

Here are the 7 main islands of the Ionian- that are all ideal for a summer getaway!  

Corfu

Boasting crystal waters, a cosmopolitan Old Town, and remarkable landscapes, Corfu with its Venetian fortresses, British mansions, grand royal palaces and fine French arcades- is the perfect place to explore both day and night. The elegant Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, filled with monuments and museums; here you will feel as though you are taking a mini- stroll through Europe! Corfu is paradise who those that love the sea and can explore the Aqualand and the Corfu aquarium for water adventures and getting up close to sea life. 

Best beaches: Prasoudi, Voutoumi, Halikounas, Marathia; Glyfada Beach, Canal d’Amour, Paleokastritsa, Barbati, Issos, Agios Giorgios Agios Stefanos and Avlaki Beach should all be added to your list!  

Zakynthos

By far one of the greenest islands, where lush emerald hills meet the bright blue Ionian sea- there is so much to see and do on this large island that’s filled with so many beautiful coves, great restaurants, luxury hotels and of course- the Navagio/ Shipwreck (the view is breathtaking from the cliffs) – one of the most famous beaches not only in Greece but in the world; you can’t visit Zakynthos without capturing a glimpse of this beauty. 

Best beaches: Marathonissi island (a small boat ride), Gerakas, Dafni, Limnionas, Porto Vromi, Porto Zorro, Banana, Makris Gialos (pebbly), Xyngia, Pelegaki. Best swimming caves: Blue Caves and Keri Caves. 

Note: much of the island’s south coast is a nature reserve due to endangered turtles who hatch in the sand. You can’t enter the turtle beaches, but there are so many beautiful coves to discover. From Keri, you can cast away for Marathonisi island, another turtle sanctuary.

Lefkada

Reachable by car, Lefkada is known for its gorgeous white sand beaches and turquoise waters; The island is a paradise for water babies –swimming,  windsurfing, kayaking and kite-surfing. This Ionian isle boasts remarkable natural landscapes, world-famous beaches, verdant mountains, delightful local cuisine, a noteworthy winemaking tradition, and an exciting range of things to see and do. 

Best beaches: Standouts are Porto Katsiki, Egremni, Kathisma, Perfkoulia, Agiofylu and to avoid the crowds head to the local faves: Mylos, Ammousa, Megali Petra and Avali Beach. 

Paxos

Boasting spectacular azure waters and charming architecture, Paxos is one of Greece’s most beautiful islands. Boasting some of the most stunning and exotic beaches in the world; as well as a wonderful natural landscape with lush vegetation it combines a cosmopolitan feel with natural beauty. Popular with the yachting crowd, here you can rent a small boat and spend the day dipping in and out of the sea. 

Best beaches: Make sure to swim in the passage between Mongonissi and Kaltsonisi. Jump into the deep blue waters that are famous worldwide and enjoy the mesmerising beaches including Alati, Kaki Lagada, Kipiadi, Magonisi and Marmari. 

Tip: Take a day trip to Antipaxoi- this tiny unspoiled island boasts one of the most impressive natural landscapes; the most famous beaches of the island are Vrika and Voutoumi- pure paradise! 

Kefalonia

The largest of the Ionian Isles, Kefalonia remains pure and protected from mass tourism. What makes this place so special is the pride locals take in keeping their island clean, fresh, modern, yet warm and inviting, all while encouraging its natural charm and authentic beauty to shine through. From the main town of Argostoli where you’ll find a range of eateries, bars, and boutiques through to gorgeous fishing villages and quaint towns, there’s so much to see and do on this lush island.

Best beaches: The most famous beach of Kefalonia is Myrtos, which you have to see, however depending on where the wind is blowing it may not be perfect for swimming. Also head to Antisamos and local favourite Petani (with the most amazing little tavern). For families, we recommend Platis Gialos, Makris Gialos, and Lassi. If you want to stay away from the crowds head to Gradakia and Xi beach with its orange sand. And you can’t leave without having a dip in the most stunning emerald waters of Assos. 

Ithaca 

Ithaca island the birthplace of Odysseus, is set in the Ionian Sea and flies very much under the radar compared to its neighbouring islands Kefalonia and Zakynthos, however, we suggest you put Ithaca at the top of your Greek island holiday list. Boasting stunning blue beaches, verdant green landscapes, charming villages, breathtaking views, and Venetian architecture; there is plenty to see and do when visiting the island home of Homer’s mythical hero who found peace on an island that also leaves its visitors feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after spending time here. 

Best beaches: There are so many beautiful beaches and bays on Ithaca and some of our favourites include: Filatro (organised beach with sunbeds), Skinos (a gorgeous secluded beach), Gidaki (which can only be reached by boat), as well as Aetos, Agios Ioannis and Sarakiniko. 

Kythira 

This undiscovered island is filled with rich history, secret caves, medieval architecture, wonderful natural setting and amazing beaches. Located off the south coast of the Peloponnese, one of our favourite spots here is Avlemonas, a traditional fishing settlement built in Cycladic style and boasts stunning gulfs and lush vegetation that create a beautiful natural backdrop. The whitewashed houses and lush gardens draw visitors here each summer, as they take a quick dip in the sea. 

Best beaches: Paleopoli, Kapsali, Fyri Ammos, Kaladai, Melidioni, Likodimou, or Chalkos and Kombonada- you can’t go wrong!  

Main Image by IN+SIGHTS GREECE ©

Team IG

This article was written/ edited by a team member of IN+SIGHTS GREECE.

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