For a lot of people around the world, Greece is synonymous with islands. If you need a vacation from your busy mainland Greek vacation, the Greek islands exert an irresistible pull. A guide of the most popular Greek Islands, featuring the best hotels, restaurants, taverns, things to do and how to travel there and around.
Greece has 6.000 islands, scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Only 227 islands are inhabited. They take up 7,500 km of the country’s total 16,000 km coastline.
Spreading in two main seas, the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, the Greek islands are divided into smaller groups. This section is a Greek islands travel guide and will give you information and photos for the most attractive islands in Greece.
The most famous group of islands in Greece is certainly the Cyclades islands. Mykonos Island, Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Ios are very popular islands all over the world.
The Cycladic architecture, is unique worldwide and the culture of the population is very rich. The islands of Ionian and Dodecanese are also very popular. Corfu Island, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Kos and Kefalonia also get very popular. It's amazing that despite the tourist development, the Greek islands do not lose their original character and provide wonderful atmosphere for true relaxation. Usually an island and it's main village has the same name.
The islands are divided into distinct clusters
The Ionian Islands (or Eptanisa) are located in the Ionian Sea, off the west coast of Greece and are composed of Kefalonia island, Corfu, Zakynthos, Lefkada, Ithaca, Paxos and Kythira. These islands are well known for their crystal clear waters, beautiful sandy beaches, charming villages and stunning scenic countryside which is verdant and flourishing with greenery and nature. Each one of the Ionian island has a distinct character and between them they offer everything you could wish for from a Greek Island holiday.
The Saronic Gulf Islands (Argosaronikos), are the closest to Athens and are composed of Aegina island, Agistri, Hydra, Poros, Salamina and Spetses.
Because of their short distance from Athens, they give you a chance to get away without actually going very far. But the Saronic islands in Greece are also worth spending more time on and the island of Hydra has a jet set reputation that rivals Mykonos.
The Sporades Islands, well known for their beautiful beaches with amazing turquoise seas and rich vegetation they can be reached by ferry or highspeed. Sporades islands are composed of Alonissos island, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.
Skiathos island is the most travelled of Sporades mainly because of its international airport and its fame lies mainly in its sandy beaches. Skopelos is larger. It's rugged scenery is perhaps more beautiful and certainly less developed.
Alonissos Island lies in the middle of a marine park and is surrounded by a group on uninhabited satellite islands. Visitors have increased in the last decade, but it retains an exclusive air and some exceptional hiking routes. Skyros atmosphere blends traditional Greek village life with an increasingly trendy 'alternative' vibe.
Evia, although is not strictly part of the Sporades, also lies off Greece's eastern coast. It is the second largest island in Greece and located very close to Athens. From its fertile north to the mountainous south it offers a wealth of travel opportunities.
The Cycladic Islands, are probably the most attractive islands of Greece. They offer a great variety. From quiet holidays to party holidays everyone here can enjoy his vacations. Mykonos Island and Santorini are the two best and most famous of the Cyclades. Close to Mykonos is the archaeological site of Delos (one of the most important locales of the ancient world). Cyclades islands are composed of Amorgos, Andros, Folegandros, Ios, Kea, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini,
Sifnos, Serifos, Sikinos, Syros and Tinos.
Cyclades islands are mountainous and with the exception of Naxos, the largest of the group, they are generally scantily watered and sparsely wooded. Delos, Milos, and Santorini contain numerous ancient remains, many of which have been excavated by archaeologists.
The Dodecanese Islands, at the sunny, southeastern end of the Greek lands, are more rustic and less developed than the Cyclades. This group of island is composed of Astypalaia island, Halki, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kassos, Kastelorizo, Kos, Leros, Lipsi,
Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi and Tilos
Of these the most important are Rhodes, Kos and Karpathos. Rhodes or Rodos, capital of the group is located.
The footprints of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, Italian occupation and medieval knights are all found here and beyond better known Rhodes and Kos there are enigmatic islands begging you to explore them.
The North Aegean Islands, lie at the northern end of mainland Greece. The southernmost of these, Samos, is a particularly handy springboard for Turkey, as it's very close to the Turkish port city of Kuşadası (near the remarkable ancient site of Ephesus).
Crete, is Greece's biggest island and practically a mini-state of its own. Crete was the home to the Minoans, the earliest advanced European civilization, peaking around 1950 BC, before 'the ancient Greeks' of Athens. While Crete's modern main city, Heraklion, is drab and uninviting the rest of the island offers an engaging diversity of attractions. Minoan ruins, scenic mountains, enticing beaches, characteristic rustic villages, and dramatic caves and gorges, including the famous Samaria Gorge.
Whether your visit Crete is for relaxation or to explore and discover the many well known and countless hidden treasures, you will not be disappointed by the diversity of the landscape. Live the essence and the heartbeat of the Island from dawn till dusk and discover your 'homeland'.