The Best Greek Islands to Visit for an Unforgettable Holiday
Greece has 227 inhabited islands to choose from. Here's our pick of the best.
Greece has more than 6,000 islands, and 227 of those are inhabited. With numbers like those, Plum Guide is ready to step in and help you pick the perfect island as the location for your upcoming holiday. Below is a guide to some of the most popular islands, all of which are waiting to receive you with a smile and an ice cold glass of wine, safe in the knowledge that you’re going to have the vacation of a lifetime. Here’s our choice of the best Greek islands to visit.
Santorini is one of the best Greek islands to visit for a reason. It's famous, and not just for the huge volcanic eruption that happened several thousand years ago which moulded Santorini into the shape it is today. For those in Greece as a couple, there’s no better place to spend some time. Santorini’s gorgeous calderas are some of the best sights in the world to gaze at while you sip your morning coffee on your private terrace at this Plum Guide home (and maybe even take a dip in the plunge pool overlooking the exceptionally blue ocean to stay cool in the heat of the day).
The island is a highly popular destination, so consider visiting early or late in the season to avoid the majority of the crowds. Attractions include eye catching black and red sand beaches, a town dating back to the 17th century which was buried by the volcanic eruption and of course the Santorini sunsets that are famous the world over.
For a perfect day and one that makes this one of the best Greek islands to visit, start your morning with a dip in your private pool, explore the winding streets and adorable boutiques of Oia and Fira, climbs the steep steps which lead into the blue-domed churches, and finish up your afternoon with a glass of something cold in your hand as you watch the sun sink below the horizon.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete brings a lot to the table (which is important when a rightfully fussy person such as yourself is deciding where to spend their time). As the birthplace of Europe’s first evolved society, there’s an awful lot of history here, so nerds (we know you’re out there) – you’re guaranteed to have a good time discovering facts about ancient civilisations in the island’s many museums.
The large size of the island means that there’s a huge variety of scenery to enjoy, from tall mountains to beaches with pink sand. After all, don’t you want to see the island that Homer described as ‘a fair land ... in the midst of the wine-dark sea’? As Crete has been occupied by many different cultures, there’s an intriguing mix of influences that can be seen in the Venetian fortresses, Turkish bathhouses and Byzantine buildings.
Food is a big part of life here. Days start in one of the traditional kafeneions, or coffeehouses, and end with a dinner made from locally sourced vegetables and olive oil and specialties such as mountain snails and raki.
For views from those high mountains which will wash away all thoughts of the office from your mind, this stunning house with five (yes, five) private terraces is an oasis in the storm of modern life. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, an infinity pool and a chic, modern design aesthetic, this house might just push Crete into the lead position of the best Greek island to visit.
If you grew up taking classic beach holidays where you sheltered from the wind under a cagoule and ate slightly sandy sandwiches for lunch, Rhodes will feel like a home from home for you. It’s the kind of destination that makes you want to break out your bucket and spade, set up shop on one of its famously long, sandy beaches and lay back and enjoy one of the 300 days of sunshine they enjoy a year here. If you’re sports-inclined (or even if you’re not) you can try out the mountain biking and windsurfing that this island is famous for.
This island also has a historical backbone, however, so if the thought of relaxing on a beach all day makes you itch with frustration, put it at the top of your list of the best Greek islands to visit. The capital, Rhodes City, is Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited medieval town and is an UNESCO world heritage site. It’s also well worth visiting the ancient stronghold of the Acropolis of Lindos, with temples that date back to the 4th century BC.
While parts of Rhodes are very developed, lovers of wilderness can simply head to the wester side of the island, where you’ll find a dramatic landscape of towering mountains and ruined castles.
This house is located at the base of the Acropolis of Lindos and is actually within the UNESCO world heritage site itself – you don’t get closer to history than that. Plus, it’s so attractively designed that you’ll have to dissuade yourself from the idea of moving in permanently. Its features include an outdoor shower overlooking a postcard-worthy view, a hammock to nap in and an outdoor kitchen for al fresco entertaining.
Alternatively, this sleekly modern pad with a full size pool and seemingly endless views over the sea seems to have been designed solely with relaxation in mind. Close to several well-known beaches, you’ll leave with the best tan of your life.