The first time anyone visits Greece it is highly likely that Santorini and probably Mykonos will be on their agenda. And with good reason. They are gorgeous islands, unlike anything else one earth – or are they ? There are over 2000 islands in Greece with 170 inhabited. Whilst they are all similar in a way there are many local and cultural differences that make each one special. It’s hard to know which Greek islands to go to !
Here are 5 of our favourite islands that you should see next time you are in Greece ( and the time after – its highly addictive!)
Like Santorini and Mykonos, Paros is located in the Cyclades islands, home to the white sugar cube houses and blue roofs and doors that cover every guidebook and postcard on Greece.
They say Paros is like Mykonos 10 years ago and in our view it ticks all the boxes. With a new airport and close proximity to Athens it is a favourite with many others too. We will be returning again this year!
To read more about why we chose Paros for our 50th birthday celebrations;
Ferry’s arrive into the port of Parikia. There are lots of lovely towns and villages but our favourite is Naousa.
Right next door to Paros ( a 30 minute ferry ride), Naxos is much larger and has more remote areas with large swathes of forest and greenery. It’s a lovely option for families and groups with the main port town packed with things to do from beautiful beaches to a Castle and important archeological sites.
On the far Western side of Greece are the Ionian islands of which Corfu is the most popular and is home to an international airport. Whilst some will argue that large volumes of charter flights have ruined much of it there are still plenty of gorgeous seaside villages such as Paleokastritsa, where we spent a magical week a few years ago.
Favoured by the wealthy Athenians and home to many artistic types over the years including Leonard Cohen who called Hydra home for almost 30 years. Hydra is in the Saronic group of islands which are the closest to Athens and most can be visited as an easy day trip. There are no cars nor scooters on Hydra and this adds to much of its appeal with transport options restricted to donkeys and water taxis.
Chios is where my father-in-law was born and raised. It is the 5th largest island in Greece and is very close to Turkey – only a 30 minute ferry ride. It was once famous for its shipping economy and is home to the original Mastic trees which produce the resin once used in chewing gum among other things. It is often called ‘the fragrant island’ for the sweet aroma of Mastica and Oregano grown throughout the island and has many unique beaches, monasteries and villages such as the incredible town of Pyrgi with its hand etched houses.
It is a quiet island visited by few tourists and for that reason we found it incredibly authentic and the people extremely friendly. Like its neighbours Lesvos and Samos it has suffered terribly with first the economic crisis and then the refugee situation so do consider these islands as genuine options when planning your trip.
These are just a few of the magical islands of Greece. They are a fraction of the price of their more famous cousins and have far less tourists. After Santorini and Mykonos it is hard to know which greek islands to visit next. These are 5 of the 12 islands we have visited so far and this year we will also be visiting Sifnos and Milos.
There are so many amazing spots it can be overwhelming for visitors to work out where to go and how to get around. I found a great source of information over the years was via American/Greece Matt Barrett’s travel guides and he has a very helpful community on his Facebook page too;
Have you been to the Greek Islands ? What is your favourite ? Please leave a comment below. Yassou!