The Greek Islands attract millions of tourists from all over the world every year, and this may come as no surprise to those who’ve been there. The weather is fantastic, and the sandy beaches are incredibly beautiful with their clear blue waters. This is not to mention the tasty cuisine and friendly locals. But what are the best Greek Islands to visit in 2023?
A Plethora Of Options – What Are The Best Greek Islands To Visit In 2023?
Table of Contents
- A Plethora Of Options – What Are The Best Greek Islands To Visit In 2023?
- Final Words On The Best Greek Islands To Visit In 2023
There are 227 inhabited Greek Islands and hundreds more that are uninhabited, making them an excellent destination for anyone looking for a holiday with an authentic island feel. It really is no coincidence that the film industry has often used the islands as the setting for films from Mamma Mia! (but not the sequel which was, in fact, filmed on a small island off Croatia!) to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Shirley Valentine and For Your Eyes Only to name but a few.
Of course, choosing the right one for your trip can be tricky, so we have put together our ultimate guide to the best Greek Islands to visit in 2023.
Arguably the most stunning of the Greek Islands, Santorini is on the southern side of the Aegean sea. It is part of the Cyclades islands complex and one of the smallest islands at just 35 square miles. It may be small, but when it comes to things to do, it has plenty to keep visitors busy.
Scenery Like No Other
Instantly recognizable for its multicolored cliffs and whitewashed buildings, people visit Santorini for its spectacular panoramas, whitewashed buildings, and incredibly romantic sunsets.
One popular feature is Santorini’s glorious volcanic sandy beaches, as the island sits atop a sea-drowned volcanic crater. Being a volcanic hotspot is something that attracts many people to the island, and this natural landmark gives Santorini a real identity of its own.
The sandy beaches are a little different from those that you will find elsewhere in the Greek islands. Thanks to volcanic ash and soot, they are a deep black color. There are also plenty of hot springs located around the crater, making it great for rest and relaxation.
Because Santorini is such a small island, exploring is really easy. You could opt for a walking tour or drive or cycle around the island with ease. Boat trips are a great way of exploring its stunning coastline and for the adventurous, helicopter rides and jet ski tours offer unrivaled views.
Three Bells of Fira
If relaxing on the beach or in the hot springs isn’t your thing, then why not check out Three Bells of Fira with its picture-perfect view over the village of Oia – the iconic blue domes make the perfect instagrammable picture. The nearby Castle of Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicolas) is also somewhere not to be missed, and so is the prehistoric Akrotiri site. There is no shortage of exciting places to visit, and when you have finished sightseeing, you are sure to find an eatery in one of the villages on the island where you will be able to sample local dishes.
If it is partying that you are after, then make a beeline for Mykonos, the island nicknamed the Ibiza of Greece. Part of the Cyclades islands group with Santorini, Mykonos is located further north than Santorini but still in the middle of the Aegean sea.
Read our guide: Is Mykonos Really Worth The Hype?
Dance The Night Away
Whilst this might be another of the smaller islands, it is one of the top party islands that you will find in Greece. Here you will find a plethora of bars and clubs where you can party all week.
Such is the island’s reputation as a party island that you may even find yourself brushing shoulders with celebrities late into the night. If nightlife is your thing, then no visit to Mykonos is complete without spending time at Paradise Beach, voted the number 14 best nightclub in the world.
In addition to the many bars and nightclubs that you will find in Mykonos, there are also a great number of restaurants for those people who prefer to get their evening off to a gentler start.
Of course, there is more, a lot more, to Mykonos than its reputation as a party island. If you want to explore the island properly, then there are several places of interest that should be on your list.
Or Visit The World Famous Windmills
The windmills of Mykonos are world-famous. Located between Niochori and the settlement of Little Venice, these impressive white windmills are the only 7 left in good condition of more than 20 that were built during the 17th and 18th centuries. A 15-minute walk from Ano Mera is the Monastery of Paleokastro.
The building is a great place to see what life might have been like in the area 250 years ago, and the stunning architecture makes for some fantastic photographs. There are some very good places to eat in the town as well.
The UNESCO site of Delos is just off the coast of Mykonos and well worth a full-day trip. We recommended a guided trip as there is so much to see and do. This is one of the most important mythological, archaeological and historical sites in Greece.
A part of the Ionian Islands chain off the west coast of Greece and in the Ionian Sea, Corfu is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful of the Greek islands. It has been a popular destination with people for centuries and is now a regular choice for those looking for a long weekend in the sun. People know Corfu for its incredible beaches, and with an international airport, it is one of the most accessible Greek islands. Whilst many people think of Corfu as a party island, for the most part, this reputation is confined to the resort of Kavos.
There are plenty of much quieter spots in Corfu where you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to fantastic restaurants. Here, you can sample local dishes and have a relaxing drink in perfect, idyllic surroundings.
Take In The History Of Corfu Town
The historic centre of the island is Corfu Town. Here you will find influences from the island’s Greek, Italian, French and British heritage, and plenty of stunning architecture to admire. Palaiokastritsa is the main tourist hub. Here you will find an incredible, awe-inspiring turquoise bay, and a fantastic monastery. Plus, if you are looking for something to do as a family, there is a family-friendly theme park in Sidari.
The coast of Corfu provides the perfect setting for diving, and there are some very popular spots that people come to the island specifically to visit. On the northern side of the island, Paleokastritsa, Barbati, Kassiopi, Nissaki, and Gouvia are all locations where you will find the highest concentration of diving centres on the island. There are plenty of reefs around the rest of the coastline. Whether you are an experienced scuba diver or are looking to try your hand at diving for the first time, the crystal clear waters of Corfu are a great diving location.
In terms of area, Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and this is another location that has plenty of things for visitors to do. Like many of the Greek islands, Crete has a thriving nightlife. However, there is so much more to the island than bars and parties.
From the fishing villages to the old historic town, the Samaria Gorge National Park to the Sacred Monastery of Arkadi, this is an island of culture and history. It has something to suit every type of tourist.
Longer Summer Days Than Anywhere Else
One of the biggest draws of Crete is the sunshine. The island boasts one of the longest summers that you will find anywhere in the Mediterranean. Visitors can expect to enjoy sunshine-filled holidays on the island until mid-October.
History and Culture
We can trace the history of the island back as far as 2000 BC, when it was inhabited by the Minoans, the earliest European civilisation. If history is your passion, then Crete is an incredible location. There are renaissance mansions, Turkish bathhouses, Islamic mosques, Byzantine chapels, monasteries and churches. The capital of Crete is Heraklion, and here you will find the archaeological museum just a short distance away from the ancient Minoan sites of Ayia Triadha, Phaestos and Knossos. Don’t forget to visit the Ideon Cave in the White Mountains, which is said to be the birthplace of the Greek God Zeus, and Elafonisi beach.
Fun for the Foodies
With so many of the tavernas in Crete making their own produce, from olive oil to cheese, this really is a fantastic destination for foodies as well. Take a walk through any town, or village, and you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eateries serving simple local dishes to wow your taste buds.
If you want to avoid the tourist traps of the Greek islands, then why not head to Anafi? This little-known secret is one of the Cyclades group of islands and also one of the least visited.
Anafi is just 14 miles from Santorini and has a population of under 300 people. This is a volcanic island and one that will give you an incredibly authentic Greek island experience. The size of the island is also a real bonus as absolutely everything is within walking distance of wherever you choose to stay. It is claimed that the island itself emerged from the seabed in order to provide shelter for the Argonauts. It certainly is a magical place to visit with rocky hillsides, turquoise waters and a wild natural beauty that really hasn’t been spoilt by over-tourism.
Hotels or Beach Camps – The Choice is Yours
Whilst there are several good hotels on the island, this is a chance to really get away from it all. Hiking is a popular activity, and at times a necessity due to the lack of motor vehicles – there is certainly no public transport here. And for those with adventure in their hearts, free camping on the beach is a wonderful way to really get back to nature and sleep under the stars. In fact, the local authorities have even put showers on the beach for those who want to free camp.
There is only one village on the island, Chora. You might, therefore, find you’re limited to shopping in mini-marts and local craft stores. There are a few taverns as well. For such a small island, one thing that you will find in significant abundance is religious buildings with two stunning white monastery buildings and a rather ornate church.
Another tiny island that is much less visited is Iraklia. This miniature island is found between Ios and Naxos in the small eastern Cyclades. A little off the beaten track of the usual tourist destinations, a visit to this island is rather like taking a step back into a time when everything was just a little bit simpler.
The island has just two villages, and there are narrow streets that snake through them with glorious fuchsia bougainvillea blooms offering their incredible scent at every turn. The hillsides are carpeted with olive groves and are the ideal place for hiking.
Getting away from it all
There are only 100 inhabitants on the island so expect a peaceful, almost isolated stay – this isn’t for everyone, but if you really do want to escape from it all, this is perfect. There are a couple of small hotels on the island too. They are not the luxury you might find on one of the bigger islands, but their simple décor and unclutteredness add to their unique charm and echo the feeling of the island.
Getting Back to Nature
As well as being a great location for relaxing on the sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters lapping on the shore, the island is great for hiking. Points of interest include the Venetian fortifications, bubbling hot springs, and the snorkelling here is particularly fantastic. The clear blue waters around the coast of the island are home to eerie shipwrecks. A hiking tour around the island will offer you the best viewing points and some great panoramas of the 19 nearest islands. Hiking is also the best way to reach most of the island’s beaches, of which only 3 are accessible by vehicle. If you want something completely different, this really is the island for you.
Final Words On The Best Greek Islands To Visit In 2023
With all these fantastic destinations, which one will you choose? Depending on your budget and travel plans, you might even wish to take a tour of more than one of the best Greek islands to visit in 2023. And if not, there’s always the year after!