Most visitors to Greece want their trip to include, or even to be devoted to, the islands, but may initially be bewildered by their number and variety. In order to sort out these islands' diverse attractions, here is a high-level overview of them; the characteristics of each group will be summarized on their regional pages with further descriptions on the links to the individual islands. Also below there are some suggestions which may be helpful for travelers in getting an idea of which islands they may find most appealing.
Crete is not included on this page; due to its size and importance, it is described as a separate region. The island of Evvia is so large, and so closely associated with the mainland, that it is considered together with the mainland areas of Central Greece and Northern Greece, rather than being included in the list below. Also, a few small offshore Greek islands are described on the pages of the mainland areas they are close to.
|Saronic Gulf Islands (Aegina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses)|
|Cyclades (Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, Santorini, Andros, Tinos, Syros, Kea, Syros, Serifos, Sifnos, Milos, Ios, Kimolos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Anafi, Amorgos, Iraklia, Donousa, Ano Koufonisi, Kato Koufonisi, Schinousa)|
|Dodecanese (Kalymnos, Kos, Leros, Lipsi, Patmos, Agathonisi, Nisyros, Tilos, Karpathos, Kasos)|
|Sporades Islands (Skopelos, Skiathos, Alonnisos, Skyros)|
|East Aegean Islands (Chios, Samos, Lesvos, Ikaria, Fourni)|
|North Aegean Islands (Thasos, Samothraki, Limnos, Agios Efstratios)|
|Ionian Islands (Corfu, Paxos, Antipaxos, Lefkada, Ithaki, Kefalonia, Zakynthos)|
- 1 Heraklion (Ηράκλειον) – Crete's capital city is home to the Knossos Palace.
- 2 Rhodes (Ρόδος, Ródos) – magnificent city with impressive medieval structures, nightlife and beaches
- 1 Corfu (Κέρκυρα) — large island with many attractions
- 2 Ithaca (Ιθάκη) — famous home of Odysseus and the Greek gods
- 3 Kefalonia (Κεφαλονιά)
- 4 Kos (Κως)
- Lesbos (Λέσβος)
- 5 Mykonos (Μύκονος) — a popular tourist destination, with excellent beaches and the most vibrant night life
- 6 Rhodes (Ρόδος) — island with ancient monuments, as well as beaches
- 7 Santorini (Σαντορίνη) — a spectacular volcanic island, one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world, with amazing landscape, unusual beaches and a vibrant night life
- 8 Zakynthos (Ζάκυνθος)
|Close to Athens||✔|
What follows is by no means a complete list of island attractions but is meant as a starting point to help travelers to the islands, especially first-time ones, decide which islands might warrant further investigation. Islands top ranked in their category are given first, followed by an also listing of others that rank highly in the category.
- Islands with great beaches: Mykonos, Naxos, Thasos, Rhodes, Skiathos, Skopelos, Koufonisi; also Kos, Lefkada, Serifos, Milos, Corfu, Kefallonia.
- Islands with significant archeological sites and museums: Delos, Rhodes, Aegina, also Kos, Samos, Thasos, Lesvos.
- Great island harbor towns: Chios, Hydra, Symi, Naxos, Rhodes, Mykonos, also Syros, Corfu, Lefkada.
- Great island medieval towns and fortresses: Corfu, Rhodes, Sifnos, Serifos.
- Lots of night life: Ios, Mykonos, Santorini, also Skiathos, Rhodes, Corfu, Paros, Zakynthos.
- Good for walking: Samos, Sifnos, Kefallonia, Koufonisi, Tilos, also Andros, Iraklia, Skopelos.
- Significant connection with early or Orthodox Christianity: Patmos, Tinos, also Chios, Milos.
- Impressive landscape: Santorini, Nisyros also Naxos, Milos, Syros.
- Closest to Athens: Saronic Gulf Islands, also Serifos, Sifnos, Milos.
- Best access by airplane: Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, Syros, also Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos, Corfu.
- Islands with luxury hotels or resorts: Rhodes, Santorini.
- Honeymoon favorites: Santorini, also Mykonos
- Nudism: Crete, Rhodos,Kefallonia, Koufonisi, Zakynthos
Often, though not always, the main town of a Greek island will have the same name as the island; thus, Naxos is the name of the main town on Naxos, and Paros is the name of the main town on Paros. Sometimes these towns also have alternate names; thus Paros town is sometimes known as Parikia. In addition to these names, the main town on an island is often also referred to locally on the island as Hora (sometimes spelled Khora), which basically means "the place": thus "Hora" on Naxos means Naxos town, while "Hora" on Paros means Paros town.
- Please see this section at the country level for a full discussion
Ferries will take you to every island, though routes and frequencies vary depending on time of year.
Direct flights from elsewhere in Europe to some Greek islands are very frequent in high season. The following Greek islands have international airports:
In addition, the following islands have airports with domestic flights only:
The best way to get around between islands - you already guessed - is by boat. Ferry schedules can be found at Ferryhopper, Openseas or GTP. Ferryhopper provides you with a handy interface to see the schedules and the prices of ferries crossings. It also shows indirect connections between islands that have no direct link. On the other hand Openseas can do a X to ALL search, which gives you all ferries departing from island X on a certain day which can be quite handy. Unfortunately this does not work (yet?) for Piraeus. To get this knowledge you can use the ferry connection map tool in Ferryhopper.