Choosing Greece as your holiday destination is always a good idea. With 227 inhabited islands, every year Greece is the ideal destination for millions of tourists looking for relaxation, beautiful beaches, culture and amazing food. You are probably wondering which are the best Greek islands to visit in 2021, right? We give you twelve.
12 Greek islands for your summer holidays
The word Greece triggers unique emotions. It reminds me of the crystal water and fine sand of its beaches, the charm of Orthodox monasteries, the sweetness of honey with yogurt, the romantic sunsets…
However, choosing a specific Greek island is not easy. Many different factors come into play, and the choice might fall on one island or another. Here are some things to consider:
- Cost of transport, by plane or by ferry;
- Accommodation costs: some islands are more expensive than others;
- Type of holiday: are you looking for fun, culture or total relaxation?
- Beaches: sandy or rocky.
Everyone is different and is looking for a particular kind of holiday. Luckily, Greece manages to please everyone. In this article, we propose 12 Greek islands to visit in 2021, with a description of their characteristics and the type of tourism that distinguishes them.
If I close my eyes, I still can see the white beach of Elafonissi and the charming town of Chania. Crete is the largest island of Greece and was once the hub of the flourishing Minoan civilization. Over the years it has been influenced by many different peoples, such as the Ottomans, Romans and Byzantines.
A holiday in Crete can satisfy everyone’s taste. If you love beautiful beaches and relaxation, you will find what you are looking for, the same if you prefer fun and nightlife. Not to mention that Crete also has high mountains (up to 2456 meters), long gorges for hiking and a great number of monasteries and historical sites.
- The best beaches in Crete: Elafonissi, Balos, Falassarna
- The most lovely cities: Chania, Rethymno, Loutro
- For your stay: Tersanas Village Apartments
A holiday in Santorini is the dream of all couples, especially those on their honeymoon. Santorini is romantic, elegant and with such views that make your heart beat like crazy. We all have in mind the wonderful sunset you can enjoy from Oia when the sun sets slowly diving into the Aegean Sea.
In Santorini, you will also find the important archaeological site of Akrotiri, which preserves the remains of a city dating back to 1700 BC. This island, however, mainly attracts tourists in search of luxury: having a swimming pool in your room is almost a prerequisite for a holiday in Santorini.
Greece itself explodes in all its beauty in the cobalt domes and the white walls of the buildings. Santorini is so beautiful and perfect that it looks fake, and this hasn’t stopped it from becoming the most expensive Greek island of all.
3. Naxos and Paros
With a holiday in Naxos and Paros, you get two islands at the price of one. Naxos is the pearl of the Cyclades, an island that has managed to maintain a certain authenticity over time despite the increase in tourism. It is not uncommon to find (almost) deserted beaches.
Strong points? It is a small cheap island, it has the clearest water in Greece and the city of Chora looks like a postcard.
Paros is even smaller and can be reached quickly by ferry from Naxos. The most convenient villages where to stay are Parikia and Naoussa. The latter is much more characteristic and expensive, but so charming that it is worth it.
A few kilometers from Turkey lies Rhodes, one of the largest Greek islands. Rhodes is the promise of a unique holiday for those who love dream villages and ancient civilizations. In fact, there are many archaeological remains on this island.
Given its size, Rhodes requires more than a week’s vacation. A longer stay would allow you to experience the island at a slower pace, enjoying the beautiful beaches and local dishes.
- Places you should not miss: Rhodes old town, the Archaeological Museum, the Palace of the Grand Master, the Monastery of Filerimos, the Acropolis of Lindos, the remains of Kamiros.
- The best beaches: Lindos, Fourni, Glystra, Vagies, Traganou
- For your stay: Villa dei Ciottoli
If you are looking for pure fun and clubs, Corfu is just the island for you. Kavos is the nightlife capital of the island, and every year it is stormed by hordes of young people in search of crazy nights.
In Corfu, there are also semi-deserted areas and beaches far away from the inhabited centers of the island, perfect for those who are looking for itineraries off the tourist tracks. The stretch of coast from Barbati to Kassiopi has the most beautiful sea, with lots of coves to explore.
The stony beaches are located on the eastern side of the island, while the sandy ones on the northern side, in the area of Sidari. The best way to visit Corfu? A scooter or a motorcycle.
As it happens with Santorini, our idea of Greece is very often associated with Mykonos. White alleys, blue little doors, balconies full of colorful flowers: walking through the streets of the old town is like living a daydream.
The perfect end to a day in Mykonos? A romantic dinner in Little Venice, a neighborhood almost suspended over the water.
Do not miss the Kato Myli Mills and the breathtaking sunsets. Mykonos is so beautiful and colorful that it is impossible to shoot an ugly picture or keep a bad memory of it.
For a dream vacation, you can stay at the DreamBox Mykonos Suites, a modern and elegant resort, perfect for luxury travelers.
On the island of Patmos there are 365 chapels, one for each day of the year. Do you know why? Because in the Middle Ages, you had to say mass every day in a different church. Nowadays, the colorful domes are just one of the many attractions of Patmos.
The village of Chora is a real gem, with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian towering above the white houses perched at its feet. It looks like a castle, but it is a Greek Orthodox religious building.
The three mills dating back to 1500 are a UNESCO World Heritage site, fascinating and mysterious. Patmos remains today one of the most authentic Greek islands, a real plunge dip into the past.
Black beaches and white rocks: Milos is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades, perfect for those who love a fairytale sea. The dark beach of Gerontas, of volcanic origin, is a little gem, while the unforgettable white rocks of Sarakíniko might remind you about the Scala dei Turchi in Sicily.
It is impossible to miss the cliffs of Firipláka and Paleohóri, with their yellow and red shades due to the presence of sulfur and iron. But the most beautiful area of the whole island is the western part, still unexplored and almost completely uninhabited. The dirt roads lead to dream beaches, like the one of Triades.
Not to be missed are also the remains of the amphitheater of ancient Milo, with a fantastic sea view. The best sunsets can be seen in Pláka, with the small white church that frames an enchanting panorama.
The perfect apartment for discovering Milos? Efi Studios.
9. Lefkada, Kefalonia and Zakynthos
Lefkada resembles a Caribbean island: the white sand and clear waters leave no doubt: this small island of the Ionians is a real paradise. In Lefkada, you can get around by both public and rented transport.
The highlight of a holiday in Lefkada are the beaches of Porto Katsiki, Egremni, Kathisma and Nidri. Of course, the island offers a large number of spectacular coves, far from the beaten track.
Between luxury resorts and cheap apartments, this island knows how to meet the tastes of all tourists. The ideal hotel? Allure Central Boutique Hotel.
Not far from Lefkada lies Kefalonia, an island that will conquer you with its colorful villages. Fiskardo and Assos look like something straight out of a postcard. The beaches are no less impressive, first of all the famous Myrtos, with a view that you will remember all your life.
Let yourself be lulled by the crystal clear water of Makris Gialos, Platis Gialos and Petani. Visit the Melissani cave and sip the local wine, Robola, while enjoying the sunset. A curiosity: just a few minutes by ferry lies Ithaca, the legendary island of Ulysses. You can visit it on a day trip.
Among the Greek islands worth visiting there is certainly Zakynthos, a few kilometers away from Kefalonia. Zakynthos is recognizable by the thick forests that reach almost to the shore. Zakynthos is the island of white cliffs and home to the Monachus Monachus seals.
This island is also a shelter for the Caretta caretta turtles, which go up to Zakynthos to lay their eggs. Worthy of note is also the nightlife, concentrated in the southern area, near Argasi and Laganas. But be careful not to miss the spectacular Blue Caves and the Keri caves.
To visit Zakynthos without renouncing to comfort, you can choose to stay in the wonderful Ionian Hill Hotel.
Koufonissi is perhaps the smallest of the islands on the list, but also – in a certain sense – the most remarkable. It consists of two islands separated by a 200-meter long channel, to be visited only by bike or on foot. The only village is Ano Koufonissi, which has 350 inhabitants.
As soon as you leave the little white houses and the quiet alleys behind you, the paved roads become dirt and rocky. The waters of Koufonissi are so blue and clear that you’ll have the illusion of being in a painting.
It is the most secluded Greek island ever, suitable for those who want to immerse themselves for a few days in an authentically relaxing atmosphere.
Karpathos is another Greek island unspoiled by mass tourism. The semi-deserted beaches are different from each other and go from those with very fine sand to the stony ones.
There are very few paved roads, the rest is all sand and dust. In Karpathos, you can feel the real Greece and experience the Mediterranean as it once was. The clothes of the inhabitants, the houses and even the food are still traditional. You will fall in love with Karpathos and its honey-sweet soul.
Do not miss the village of Olympos, the most remote and ancient village on the island. Stroll through the streets of the abandoned village of Tristomo. Take a trip to the islet of Saria, among coves and rocks that have become the home of a colony of seals. Visit Palatia and the remains of the buildings where Saracen pirates once lived.
A romantic idea for a holiday in Karpathos? Staying in Silene Villas with a private pool and terrace with a view.
With Kalymnos, we move to the Dodecanese. This island, not far from Kos, is famous for its sponge fishing and loved by those who practice sport climbing. The territory of Kalymnos, in fact, is mountainous and has very indented coasts.
Do not miss the Crysocheria Castle and the village of Chora, topped by the remains of a large Byzantine fortress. The site of Vathy is also worth a visit, with the Daskaliò Cave and Neolithic finds.
As already mentioned, Kalymnos is the perfect island for climbing enthusiasts, who can enjoy more than two thousand vertical routes over sheer cliffs.
Here we are at the end of our list of the 12 best Greek islands to see in 2021. Have you visited any of these islands yet? Do you have more to recommend? Leave a comment below!