The Greek islands are the sea, mountains, natural and historical monuments. They survived volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, a huge number of wars, the fall and flourishing of several civilizations. Architects deliberately turned the streets of the white cities into real labyrinths to hide from the pirates.
Rest on the islands is calm and measured life. Here, no one is in a hurry, and tourists are afraid to spill the peace of mind, which they infect in the island world. Almost anywhere in the world can be reached on foot or by bicycle, and more romantic people can take a horse for walks. Only on large islands may need a car rental. The holiday season here lasts from April-May to September-October.
Each island has its own legend and heroes, a unique story, a highlight that makes it special, different from others. Some pieces of land in the Aegean Sea still contain treasures of unsolved mysteries. Island culture from the mainland is distinguished not only by complete dependence on the sea. Greece mainland and islands are very different. It was on the islands that the national flag was born, for years the spirit of the Greeks was free and strong as the sea.
The islands are divided into several areas: Ionian (Corfu, Zakynthos) – is the birthplace of Odyssey and giant turtles. Northern Sporades (Skiathos, Euboea) are included in the marine security park complex. Here you can find a rare monk seal, many natural geological features. Southern Sporades or Dodecanese (Kos, Rhodes) will delight you with good wines, citrus and olive groves. Rhodes is known to the whole world for the mention of the lighthouse-ear of Rhodes. In Santorini, be sure to visit the museum of wine at a depth of 6 meters with labyrinth streets-passages. Crete is the largest island in the territory. There are great beaches, many museums and interesting places that are mentioned in the myths of ancient Greece.
Islands of Greece – PHOTOS
Samos Island is only 8km wide and 43km long. However, this does not prevent him from surprising guests with landscape diversity and rich history. Samos is full of great beaches. And both wild and quite civilized. Here you can wander mountain paths, enjoy the magnificent views and clean air. Samos is the birthplace of Pythagoras, Epicurus, Aristarchus, the first fabulist of Aesop. In the 6th century, the island experienced an unprecedented flourishing. Thanks to the mention of the Greek historian Herodotus, scientists have discovered here several wonders of the ancient world – the aqueduct tunnel and the temple of Hera. The restaurant cuisine is famous for excellent local wines, exquisitely prepared seafood.
Hotels in Samos Island
The island has many excellent beaches, special local cuisine, a well-developed system of cycling. There is a zest: a thermal spring that hits directly into the sea. You can rent a car and see all the sights of the island, and there are so many of them that even two weeks will be enough to see everything. Do not be surprised if you meet a herd of goats or peacocks walking freely in the forest. Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates, there is an ancient school, an amphitheater, a fortress of the Johanites. A jar of tomato jam, thyme honey or the clay oath of Hippocrates will be a great souvenir from Kos.
Hotels in Kos Island
During its existence, Crete managed to visit the polis world, the Muslim emirate, the Catholic kingdom and the democratic state. Many famous Greek myths about Zeus, Theseus and Ariadne, Dedalus and Icarus are connected with Crete. And the labyrinth of the Centaur still brings mixed feelings. On the island of countless temples, palaces, museums. Crete is the largest island of Greece, quite mountainous. There are many interesting caves, beautiful canyons, exotic vegetation. National cuisine is a variety of dishes. The islanders prepare rosemary snails, various cheeses, moussaka, they love homemade wine and hot dancing.
Popular hotels in Crete
4. Naxos Island
The symbol of the island is the marble gate left from the destroyed or unfinished temple of Apollo. Like a door to another world, Portara (gate) connects with Naxos by an artificial dam. The snow-white capital of Chora Island, reflected in the azure water is worthy of the brush of the most sophisticated artists. Here are preserved medieval houses, the Venetian Palace. On the island in a marble quarry, you can see the huge (up to 10.5 m) statues of Dionysus and Apollo, stroll through the picturesque mountain villages, order a yacht trip – you may be lucky and you will be able to communicate with dolphins. For the whole of Greece Naxos is famous for various types of cheeses, honey, marble and sandpaper are mined here.
5. Skiathos Island
Snow-white houses with orange rooftops crowded on the shore, directing their views into the sea distance. The whole island: beaches, houses, hills covered with forests, grew together and connected to the sea in the works of Alexandros Papadiamantis, who was born and spent his life on the island. Skiathos is loved by famous actors, roving artists, traveling yachtsmen from different parts of the world. Despite the fact that the island is small, only 44 km of the coastline, there are about 60 beaches, which are separated by coves, vegetation, and many hiking routes. Having rented a boat, you can see the natural sights of the island, visit the empty town of Castro of the 14th century, the Venetian fortress or sail to the neighboring islets.
6. Kefalonia Island
Kefalonia is an island that is full of wonders not only of the architectural past. It captures the spirit of the beautiful beaches, the protected summit of Enos, unusual caves and underground lakes. Penetrating through the collapsed dome of the cave of Melissani, the sun’s rays create a bizarre play of light on the surface of crystal clear water. Here, it seems that pleasure boats are hanging in the air. And in the huge cave complex Drogarati at a depth of 60m under the stalactites regularly hosts musical concerts. The history of the island reflects the preserved Venetian castles and houses, monasteries, Roman buildings. Kefalonia’s traditional cuisine is famous for meat pies, cod, herbs, sweet almond cakes and white wine.
The beauty of Corfu was sung by Goethe and Oscar Wilde, artists Sisley and Lind. Seen scenery was shocked by Napoleon. On Corfu, the remains of the magnificent temple of Poseidon, whose 16 columns are recognized by tourists all over the world, have survived. The walls of the temple of Artemis were excavated, and a statue of Medusa-Gorgon from it was placed in the archaeological museum. If you climb the highest mountain of the island of Pantokrator, you can see neighboring Albania, and in clear weather even Italy. There is a church built on the top, there is a cafe. On the coast you can find sandy rocks of bizarre forms, with tunnels, caves, holes. One of the tunnels is called the tunnel of love.
Hydra is an island of Greek sailors, an island that Greece recognized as a national treasure. The most amazing thing on the island is the almost complete absence of automobile traffic. All residents and tourists walk. For transportation of goods use a horse, a donkey or a mullah, and if a bike is completely unbearable without wheels. Idra fell in love with the rich and famous businessmen, artists who are actively buying real estate here. They come here from Athens for a weekend to rest from the city. Here they love to walk, especially in the spring, poets and artists. The island inspired Picasso and Marc Chagall.
Hotels in Hydra Island
The island of Evia through the strait is connected to Greece by two bridges. A new bridge is one of the largest in Europe, standing on it can be observed an unusual phenomenon – standing waves, which are formed during the successive ebbs and flows. Homer wrote about this phenomenon, trying to unravel Aristotle. The island is large, ecotourism is well developed here, and forest tracts in the central and northern part of the island contribute to this. A giant tree grows near the village of Prokopio in a plane grove. Mineral springs were discovered near Edeps, in which Heracles and the Roman emperors restored their strength. There are special sights here: the Kerasi forest and Drakoni houses, hardened after volcanic eruptions, are clay solid houses resembling giant eggs. And near the legendary city of Livny marked the place where Zeus and Hera were married.
Hotels in Evia Island
10. Rhodes Island
There are so many places in Rhodes that are on the UNESCO list that one can safely say that this list includes the whole island. He is extraordinarily beautiful, chivalrously romantic. That only is the quarter of the knights – as if you get into the 15th century. The island has a well-preserved fortress wall, the largest in Europe, and an ancient fortress. It is interesting to look at the ancient Acropolis. Here you can observe unique natural phenomena. For example, how the two seas merge – the Aegean and the Mediterranean. And in the valley of butterflies begins to seem that you are in some cute fairy tale. No wonder that Rhodes is the name of a nymph. Not far from Lindos is the valley of the seven sources. In this place flowers bloom all year round.
Hotels: Rhodes Island
11. Zakynthos Island
The most beautiful beach of Zakynthos is the beach in the bay of Navagio. It is surrounded by cliffs and milky-blue water. In this place the sea washed ashore the smugglers’ ship torn to pieces, which became the attraction of the beach. Be sure to see the blue caves at Cape Skinari. There is a legend that God dropped a precious stone near the island, and now the water in caves and grottoes reflects its radiance. Zakynthos is the birthplace of meter turtles and coach. Here you can visit the turtle island and see in June how they lay their eggs in the sand. The island has many archaeological and architectural monuments, colorful local folklore, excellent service. The author of the “Scarlet Flower”, Aksakov, lived and died here.
12. Mykonos Island
Island of holidays and fun, the island of magnificent celebrations, music and dance. No wonder this island, according to legends, was chosen by the goddess Leto. The rest is bohemian and expensive, but the island is very beautiful – snow-white houses with blue doors and windows, round towers of windmills create a unique Greek flavor. The island has many churches, an interesting folklore museum. In the western part of the capital, be sure to visit little Venice – here you can dive into the sea straight from the balcony. Mykonos is perhaps the best place in Greece for those who love a vibrant and unforgettable nightlife.
13. Paros Island
Paros is famous for white and red wines, feta, dolma, delicious cakes. Octopuses hang near almost every restaurant. Paros is remembered for its beautiful beaches, which are chosen by surfers because of the frequent winds. Here you find yourself in a fairy tale or an adventure novel with pirates, walking through the labyrinth streets. Especially if you find yourself on August 23 in the port of Naruso, where the inhabitants of the city are annually played with the pirate Barbarossa. And in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin (Ekatondigillini), you can try to find the hundredth door. There are only 99 of them, but legends say that there is one more. In ancient times, this island was very rich. Paros marble carved many sculptures and temples built. The ancient statues found on the island have been transported to the museums of Athens, the remaining artifacts can be viewed in the local Archaeological Museum.
At Chios, the sea is not milky blue, but dark blue. And the dark green pines, which overgrown the mountains of the island, emit a special resin – mastic. It has been mined on the island for several centuries. Resin is the most famous product of this locality. On the island there are about 50 beaches, there are pebbly, sandy, as well as black volcanic sand. Chios is the birthplace of Homer, here preserved old fortresses, medieval monasteries. Particular attention should be paid to local villages, which are characterized by a distinctive island culture.
Hotels: Chios Island
15. Santorini Island
Santorini is not one island, but five small ones that form a ring as a result of a long-term eruption. When you learn that a monster-volcano lives not far from this blue and white fairy-tale, you involuntarily think: isn’t this the remnant of Atlantis? Jacques-Yves Cousteau thought so. To the craters on the two islands of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni regularly lead tours – an unforgettable experience. Island beaches – for every taste – and with volcanic black sand, and red, and white. There are a lot of churches, antique rarities. And in the mountain village of Ia, the tourists see off the setting sun with stormy applause. White blue-eyed houses, like mushrooms grown right on the rocks, rooms right in the rock holes, milk stairs, gates, gates leading to the sea, windmills – all this creates indescribable delight in the soul. If you were not an artist, you will become them in Santorini.