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, we're ready to step in and help you pick the perfect island as the location for your upcoming holiday. We would never expect you to make such a tricky decision alone, so here at Plum Guide we've put in extensive hard work to ensure that you have you all the information you need to make the right choice. 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 most appealing Greek islands for a reason. It's famous, and not just for the huge volcanic eruption that happened several thousand years ago which moulded it 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, and where better to do that than at our exclusive home Ouzo & Raki. Maybe even take a dip in the plunge pool overlooking the bright blue ocean to stay cool in the heat of 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 known the world over. For a perfect day, and one that would cement this as one of the best Greek islands to visit, start your morning with a dip in your private pool. Then explore the winding streets and adorable boutiques of Oia and Fira, climb the steep steps which lead into the blue-domed churches, and finish up your afternoon with a glass of something cold 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. For views from those high mountains which will wash away all thoughts of the office from your mind, our home Hewn From Stone 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 enjoy one of the 300 days of sunshine they boast 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.
Rhodes also has a historical backbone, however, so even if the thought of relaxing on a beach all day makes you itch with frustration, it still belongs 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 western side of the island, where you’ll find a dramatic landscape of towering mountains and ruined castles.
Our luxury home Ephemera 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, our home Circinate, with a pristine circular pool and tranquil garden, seems to have been designed solely with relaxation in mind. Close to Lalysos Beach, you’ll find it difficult not to leave with the best tan of your life.