Because Greece is so vast, it can be quite difficult to actually nail down where to visit, especially when it comes to determining the best Greek islands to visit. Whatever you’re after, you can’t go wrong with visits to Santorini, Crete and Skiathos.
Greece is the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of Western civilization. With its mix of awe-inspiring beauty and history, Greece regularly tops lists of the best destinations in the world to visit.
Home to some of the world’s most important historical sites, along with some 6,000 islands(!), Greece is known for its natural beauty and fascinating culture. Because Greece is so vast, it can be quite difficult to actually nail down exactly where to visit, especially when it comes to determining the best Greek islands to visit. Whatever you’re after, you can’t go wrong with visits to Santorini, Crete, and Skiathos.
The most iconic Greek island, Santorini is a stunning place to start your trip in Greece. Easily recognizable thanks to its white houses with blue cupolas and emerald pools, Santorini offers travellers stunning sunsets, jaw-dropping views and vineyards galore. Well-known as a popular honeymoon spot, Santorini is home to a flooded volcanic crater that was created by a volcanic explosion 3,500 years ago. Left in its wake are black-sand beaches, towering cliffs, and legends that the island is actually the lost city of Atlantis.
Popular sights to see include the ancient city of Akrotiri, preserved under layers of ash, the smouldering crater of Nea Kameni, and hot springs at Palia Kameni. Tourists tend to congregate in Oia and Fira, but the south region of the island offers a quiet respite for those looking to escape the crowds.
TLW Tip: The island is chock-full of boutique hotels with infinity pools, but Perivolas is widely regarded as the most stylish and peaceful place to stay in Santorini.
Crete is the largest island in Greece, and will require several days to explore. Known for being the birthplace of Zeus, Crete features ancient ruins, snow-capped peaks, and beautiful beaches that can be enjoyed year-round thanks to the island’s sunny climate.
Can’t miss sights include the Minoan palace of Knossos, Seitan Limania Beach, and the historical city of Chania, known for its 14th-century Venetian harbor, narrow streets and waterfront restaurants. Crete is also home to one of the most impressive hikes in the world, the Samaria Gorge.
The Gorge is part of a national park and is also on the World’s Biosphere Reserve. Organized tours are the best way to experience the hike, which can take between five to seven hours, unless you opt for “the lazy way”; a modified, shorter hike from the village of Agia Roumeli to the Gates and back.
Expect to eat well on Crete, which is famous for its cheese, honey and olive oil, as well as delicious goat, rabbit and smoked-pork dishes.
Crete is unfortunately quite over-developed; get away from the bigger communities, and head to smaller towns like Plakias or Matala on Crete’s south coast to find more remote beaches and beautiful mountainous backdrops.
The smallest of the Sporades islands, Skiathos is a laid-back spot that offers the perfect mix of opportunities to relax and to explore. Famous for being one of the main locations where Mamma Mia! was filmed back in 2008, the island features more than 60 beautiful beaches with powder-soft sand and turquoise water, and numerous nightlife options.
Once you arrive, be sure to visit the Agios Nikolaos Church and see the historic monastery of Panagia Evangelistria. Enjoy a meal at Marmita in Skiathos Old Town, which features some of the best seafood on the island.
As dusk falls, stroll down to Papadiamantis Street to browse boutiques selling handcrafted jewellery and knick-knacks, or pick up local delicacies from the upscale Ergon deli.
During the day, Skiathos offers numerous outdoor activities, including sailing, snorkeling, and fishing tours.
For Andrew, travel is so much more than just learning history or taking photos. Rather, the value of travel is witnessing a lifestyle, bonding with locals, and gaining rich cultural experiences. That’s why he founded the Luxury Wanderer; a place to share itineraries, offer advice, swap stories, and foster a like-minded community of curious travellers.