Greece has hundreds of islands scattered around the Aegean and Ionian seas. The larger, inhabited ones feature picturesque landscapes, ancient architecture, beautiful beaches and sandy coves, ideal destinations for the heliotrope, vacationer or historian.
Mykonos is part of the Cyclades island group and is famous for its whitewashed buildings, blue roofs and domed churches. The sixteen iconic windmills are the trademark of the island and many can be seen as you approach the island, and from the village of Mykonos. Renowned for its many bars, restaurants and exuberant nightlife, the island has become a hangout for party-going tourists who come to Mykonos for their vacations. The south coast features some of the most popular beaches on the island, such as Super Paradise and Paradise Beach, complete with loungers, umbrellas and water sports centers.
The island of Santorini was formed by a massive volcanic eruption in 17th century B.C. Travelers flock to this island for the dramatic sunsets and views from its rugged, steep cliffs. Beaches are formed from red and black volcanic stones sprawling in sheltered coves beneath dramatic, rocky formations. Historians will appreciate the Minoan town of Akrotiri on the south side of the island, which was buried under volcanic ash around 1650 B.C. and is a popular sightseeing venue for visitors.
Crete is an island that has such a variety of things to do that it can be hard to choose. You can visit cities like Heraklion, Rethymno, and Chania in order to soak up the culture and get to know the city life. There are also some excellent beaches scattered throughout the island, such as the popular Elafonissi Beach. The island also has an interesting landscape, which draws nature enthusiasts from all over the world. For example, the Samaria Gorge is one of Europe’s longest gorges and is a popular hiking destination. It’s impossible to run out of things to do while here!
Rhodes is the largest of the Greek islands and a very popular destination for many Europeans. With its clean, organized beaches and crystal clear waters, beach and water sports are among the top choices when it comes to island activities. Dive schools offer courses for divers of all levels, and experienced divers will revel in the reefs and nearby shipwrecks. Venture out on your own and explore mountain villages, castles, sheltered coves to swim, or soak up the atmosphere of Rhodes Town. This is also an island with a rich history from both ancient Greece and also the Middle Ages. Remnants of the Knights of Saint John can be found near Lindos.
Corfu is by far one of the greenest of the Greek islands. Hike in its steep hillsides through lush foliage and discover charming villages perched high above the Ionian Sea. As with all Greek islands, Corfu is steeped in history with ancient fortresses, palaces and churches. Sun worshipers might head for Paleokastritsa, a trendy beachside resort with fine golden sands where you can take boat trips to visit sea caves.
The Greek Islands all have something different to offer. All have beautiful beaches, places to walk and hike and outstanding historic architecture. One of the best ways to see them is to take an island-hopping vacation or a leisurely cruise. Whichever way you choose to explore them, you will find they all earn a place in your heart with their magical charm.