Let’s be honest, the perfect Greek island summer holiday entails arriving at the beach in the morning (ordering a Freddo Cappuccino as soon as you get there) and leaving when it’s almost dark (after that last post-sunset swim and a cocktail at the bar).
Whether you prefer kicking back on a sun bed listening to famous DJs playing the latest and hottest tracks, or discovering remote spots that offer complete and utter privacy- we’ve rounded up the best Greek islands for those (like us) who love spending endless hours at the beach every summer!
Greece’s largest island is filled with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and whether you visit Chania, Rethymno, or Heraklion- you are in for a treat!
Best beaches in Crete
Vai (about 2 hours from Heraklion), Preveli (closest to Rethymnon), Balos (55 km from Chania), Elafonisi (1.5-hour drive from Chania), and Seitan Limani (in Chania).
This small Cycladic island offers breathtaking beaches and stunning waters; the bonus is you can easily get around from one beach to another without a car!
Best beaches in Koufonissia
Finikas, Fanos, Ammos, Italida, Pori, Charakopou and Parianos.
Postcard-perfect beaches are scattered all over the island! From famous Porto Katsiki to remote little bays that boast crystal clear waters- Lefkada is a must for water babies!
Best beaches in Lefkada
Porto Katsiki, Egremni, Kathisma, Pefkoulia, Agiofili and Avali.
Lefkada’s neighbouring Ionian isle is also renowned for its stunning waters that are surrounded by lush cliffs that make for memorable days at the beach.
Best beaches in Zakynthos
Navagio (for the views), Marathonissi island (a small boat ride from town), Gerakas, Dafni, Limnionas, Porto Vromi, and Xyngia.
Fast becoming one of Greece’s most popular islands, Milos is home to some of the Cyclades (if not Greece’s) most beautiful beaches.
Best beaches in Milos
Sarakiniko, Firiplaka, Tsigrado, Papafragas and Fyropotamos.
This is the largest island of the Cyclades and an ideal destination for those that want to spend all day and night on a long sandy beach that’s lined with taverns and bars- so you don’t need to move!
Best beaches in Naxos
Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Agios Giorgios, Sahara and Mikri Vigla.
An under-the-radar island that offers striking beaches that are quiet and remote; this is the ideal island for those who prefer privacy and tranquility during their summer getaway.
Best beaches in Donoussa
Kedros, Livadi, Kalotaritissa, Fikio and Stavros
With water temperatures that are ideal from early Spring through to late Autumn, Rhodes is by far one of the best Greek islands for those that want to make the most of the magical Mediterranean Sea!
Given there are over 6000 beautiful Greek islands, of which roughly 227 are inhabited, deciding which one to visit is always a hard decision to make.
If you’re planning a Greek summer holiday for 2022, the editors at IN+SIGHTS GREECE rounded up their favourite Greek islands (based on recent visits) and recommend adding them to your Greek island getaway list for this year!
P.S. This list is in no particular order- they are all just as spectacular as each other!
The charmingly mysterious Folegandros, situated in the corner of the southern part of the Cyclades, entices with its deep blue waters that are in complete harmony with its steep mountains, picturesque Chora, and jaw-dropping sunsets. This Greek island exudes natural beauty and it’s a dreamy destination where you can completely relax and unwind in style.
Part of the Small Cyclades, Donousa is perfect to explore by boat so you can get up close to the magnificent caves like “Spilia Tichou” with its beautiful stalactite formations- or discover “Fokospilia” a habitat of seals. Also, head over to the southeast of the island where you’ll find a mountainous village with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. And for the most beautiful beaches on the island, make your way to Livadi and Fikio.
Located a little over two hours away from Athens, the luscious island of Spetses is a perfect weekend escape from the Greek capital. This idyllic, car-free island of the Argosaronic Gulf is a favourite spot for affluent Athenians and international jet-setters.
Located in the Sporades islands, Skyros is only three and a half hours away from Athens; a destination untouched by tourism, it retains its tradition and authenticity. Whether you are an adventure seeker or looking to relax, Skyros offers a unique experience that entices you to unveil all its mysteries.
The dreamy landscape of this almost untouched Cycladic island is composed of rugged hills, historic mining sites, breathtaking coves, picturesque settlements, classic Greek island architecture, and endless beaches. The wild beauty of Serifos will fill your soul, relax your mind, and steal your heart.
Whitewashed houses, delicious food, unbeatable beaches. This is Naxos island in one sentence- one of our favourite Greek islands that never ceases to amaze. Beautiful beaches, ancient sites and museums; plus great food, atmospheric mountainous villages, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere for those who want to stay out all night. Naxos has something for every type of traveller and fulfills even the most demanding one!
Home to the beautiful town of Ermoupolis, Syros features stunning neoclassical architecture, old mansions, marble-paved streets, charming town squares, imposing churches, and historical monuments. Syros is not only rich in both history and culture, but it also boasts beautiful beaches including Galissas, Delphini, Kini, Finikas and De La Gratsia.
A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), Hydra island has a charming atmosphere and romantic allure. It’s aristocratic, yet authentic and features a rocky landscape with elegant, imposing stone mansions, narrow cobblestone alleys with colourful bougainvillea; plus impeccable sunsets.
Volcanic rocks, vast blue magic waters, stunning sunsets, jaw-dropping beaches, geological formations and picturesque settlements by the sea, all together narrate exquisite stories about this Cycladic island that blows your mind away every time you step foot here. Fast becoming one of Greece’s most popular destinations, there is still an authentic and untouched beauty about Milos island.
Boasting spectacular azure waters and charming architecture, Paxos is one of Greece’s most beautiful islands. Located on the Ionian, it boasts some of the most stunning and exotic beaches in the world; as well as a wonderful natural landscape with lush vegetation. Combining a cosmopolitan feel with natural beauty, Paxoi is a Greek island that has been described as a “paradise on earth”.
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.
Wild landscapes, diverse beaches, thermal springs, lively summer festivals in beautiful village squares, rugged mountains, and tavernas serving foods made from organic produce and local goods like goat’s cheese, honey, and meat are all part of the Ikaria experience.
The simplicity of this authentic island, which shares aesthetic elements of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, is what makes this destination extra special! Astypalea’s magnificent Chora, the old port, picturesque windmills, an imposing Venetian castle built of dark stones, and stunning beaches with crystal clear waters are the main reasons to fall in love with this beautiful Greek island.
Greece’s largest island is always a good idea! Renowned for its breathtaking beaches, rustic natural beauty, delightful cuisine and its remarkable hospitality, there is so much to see and do here. The main places to visit are Chania,Heraklion,Rethymno, and Agios Nikolaos; it doesn’t really matter where you go, as it’s a magnificent island filled with rich culture, history and traditions.
An ideal Greek island year-round as it’s located just two hours from Athens, Andros is filled with lush vegetation, abundant water, and stunning beaches. The beautiful Cycladic isle owes its lush greenery to its rich underground and surface water resources. Here you can experience the island’s rich culture and culinary flair. Also make sure you visit one of the many historic monasteries and churches, the amazing museums and enjoy the endless nature and its hiking trails.
The third-largest Cycladic island, Tinos is gifted with impeccable beauty. Crystal-clear waters, rare sorts of stone, architectural masterpieces, several charming villages with alleyways and bougainvillea, dovecotes, and the perfect environment to stimulate any artistic inclination- the island of Aeolus has it all!
The Aegean island of the Apocalypse is known as the place where Saint John the Theologian wrote the Book of Revelation. Patmos is a nostalgic destination, offering wild beauty, a striking coastline, medieval Chora, a maze of alleyways filled with cascading bougainvillea, and beautiful doors. Patmos is an unspoiled island that you should explore at your own pace.
Also located in the Dodecanese, Karpathos is an island of untouched beauty that’s loved for its authentic customs and centuries-old traditions. Visit the ancient acropolis, caves, churches and see locals in their traditional dress. Offering beautiful views from authentic mountainside villages- here you’ll get to understand what Greek island life is truly about.
The largest island of the Dodecanese, Rhodes is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. Make sure you visit Lindos, which has one of the best microclimates in the Mediterranean is a must, as well as the beaches of Anthony Quinn and Kallithea.
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. Otherwise known as Lefkas, it’s the perfect spot for a summer holiday.
An absolute gem in the heart of the Dodecanese, Symi is a small but mesmerising Greek island, which lies in the north of Rhodes. Surrounded by deep green seas and covered in cypress trees, this beautiful destination is home to one of the prettiest ports in Greece, neo-classical mansions, and dreamy fishing villages. Many visitors arrive here on their private yacht and spend days (or weeks) enjoying the magical views surrounding them.
This undiscovered island close to Athens is filled with history, captivating scenery, imposing castles, secret caves, medieval villages and beautiful beaches. Located off the south coast of the Peloponnese, Kythira also features delightful villages and lovely local delicacies that you’re sure to enjoy.
Whitewashed houses, delicious food, unbeatable beaches. This is Naxos in one sentence. My favourite Greek island that never ceases to amaze me.
Naxos is the largest Cycladic island and it has it all. Beautiful beaches, ancient sites and museums, great food, atmospheric mountainous villages, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere for those who want to stay out all night. It has something for every type of traveller and fulfills even the most demanding one.
I visited the island for the third time in September 2020, and besides visiting my usual go-to spots, this time I discovered a few more gems as well. Are you ready to travel with me?
1. Plaka beach will always be my number one. Crystal-clear waters, fine sand, and amazing views that take your breath away. My second favorite would be Mikri Vigla with its mesmerizing green waters. Agios Prokopios deserves a shout-out too, but then again, all Naxos beaches do, to be fair.
2. Plaka area has introduced a few great places for snacks, food, and drinks that made me want to return again and again. Excellent tastes, well-presented dishes made with local products, and charming boho vibes. Try Tohu, Tortuga, Yucca, and Cedars. I did slightly prefer Yucca as their sunbeds were super comfortable! I also loved their spinach salad- the local sun-dried tomatoes were mouthwatering.
3. Naxos has turned good food into an identity, making it ideal for food enthusiasts. You have most probably heard of Axiotissa tavern. Well, there is a good reason for their great reputation and they surely know how to maintain it. Their variety of dishes makes you want to come back for more (I think I visited it at least three times while on the island). If you’re up for fresh fish, call them in the morning and ask them to hold the day’s fish for you. If you’re more into meat, then Axiotissa has you fully covered. Accompany everything with the famous Naxian potatoes and salads. I promise you will leave the place more than satisfied.
4. If you’re in the mood for Italian, then visit Dal Professore restaurant in Naxos town. It’sone of the best Italian places I have ever tried; thumbs up to the chef. They’re pizza- made using three different types of flour- and the pasta were exquisite.
5. And since you’re in Town, head over to the all-time classic Waffle House for a delicious waffle or ice-cream. There is also a Waffle House in the Plaka area!
6. Moutsouna village is another place you have to add to your list. It’s a picturesque little village, with a beautiful beach and a fantastic tavern under the trees. Make sure to ask for Manolis and order fresh fish.
7. One of the reasons why I love Naxos so much is its unique way of combining the sea with the mountains. Take a break from the summer heat and discover Apeiranthos, one of the most picturesque villages of the island, the”jewel” of Naxos as locals call it. Explore its alleys and when you’re done exploring, seek Amorginos tavern to try their “rosto”, while sitting outside and admiring the lush green views.
8. Koronos is one more village worth discovering. I was fascinated by its narrow alleys and admired the refreshing views by drinking Greek coffee at Perasma café.
9. Wandering around the Town’s alleys will always be one of my favorite things to do. Ilove discovering cute little shops with handmade items. This year I got myself a lovely necklace from one of these shops. I do not recall its name, but I’m sure you will find your own favorite!
10. Last but not least, wander around the Castle of Naxos and fall in love with its beautiful corners. The other side of the Town, though, also deserves a visit. Walk by the coastal road to take in the delightful views.
It’s important to highlight that all facilities and establishments were following all health protocols and taking all the necessary precautions and measures to ensure visitors’ safety.
I left a piece of my heart in Naxos and promised to be back again soon, to enjoy my favorite places and discover new ones. What matters now is to stay safe and healthy, and Naxos will always be there, waiting for us to fall-again-in love with everything it has to offer!