April 19, 2024

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9 Classic Greek Islands Where to Stash Your Suitcases

9 Classic Greek Islands Where to Stash Your Suitcases

Translucent waters, divine gastronomy, history with a capital H: the promises of the Greek islands make many travelers dream. But which one to choose?

Greece has a total of 6000 islands and islets, 227 of which are inhabited. The Cyclades are the most well-known of them all – who hasn’t seen a picture of the white houses falling over the slopes of Santorini? -, but there are many island regions to enchant.

Based on favorites from “travel bibles” like Condé Nast Traveler and National Geographic, here’s a selection of nine Greek islands to add to your wish list.

1. Crete

The birthplace of Zeus according to Greek mythology, Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest island in the entire Mediterranean Sea. We go there for the sun, the local wines, the history – especially the landmarks of the ancient Minoan civilization – and the nature. The island has impressive canyons (36, according to the Greek Tourist Board) and many hiking trails. National Geographic recommends the Samaria Valley hike in the national park of the same name, while CN Traveler magazine recommends hiking through the Aradena Valley to the Libyan Sea.

2. Santorini (Cyclades Archipelago)

Santorini is on all the rankings, and for good reason! The beauty and romanticism of its volcanic landscapes make it an ideal destination for a honeymoon, but also for a first trip to the Greek islands. With its famous white houses above the sea, Oia is the most popular destination, but discoveries must also be made in other parts of the island: black sand beaches, the “Greek Pompeii”, hiking trails, beautiful terraces. CN Traveler magazine draws travelers’ attention to Pyrgos, an increasingly trendy village located inland, where you’ll find typical little cafes and charming Airbnbs.

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3. Skopelos (Sporates Islands)

UNSPLASH / Evgenia Stergioula

Its name is not necessarily familiar to everyone, but its landscapes have been seen by millions: it was on this Sporades island that the movie “Mamma Mia” (2008) was filmed. Skopelos enchants travelers with its pine-lined turquoise water beaches and delicious local cuisine, famous among other things for its cheese puffs (“Strifty”). Its capital, Chora, is worth a visit for its unique architecture and its medieval fortress. And in the village of Aϊ Giannis, no one will miss the church where Meryl Streep’s character sings Dad for Pierce Brosnan in “Mamma Mia”!

4. Corfu (Ionian Islands)

UNSPLASH / Sebastian Pociecha

A cosmopolitan main city, a Tuscan flair and some of Europe’s best beaches: in short, CN Traveler recommends travelers visit Corfu (Kergyra in Greek), the star of the Ionian Islands. Garfiot culture mixes Venetian, French and British influences and is very interesting to discover. Corfu Town is worth adding to the itinerary for its UNESCO-recognized Old Town and its chic Liston Street. As for the rest of the island, there are historical sites, olive groves, small villages and clear waters.

UNSPLASH / Alicia Concars

5. Naxos (Cyclades)

UNSPLASH / Chris Barbalis

Are you a “foodie” traveler? According to National Geographic, the largest island in the Cyclades is “the most delicious of all Greek destinations”. Particularly fertile, it is really recognized for its gastronomy in its capital, Hora, or elsewhere on the island. Must try: Kidron, a local lemon liqueur. In Naxos you will find many ancient monuments and remains and scenic roads, olive groves, traditional villages in the mountains and many sandy beaches.

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6. Hydra (Saronic Islands)

UNSPLASH / Christina Terzidou

The island is about 2 hours by boat from Athens and is known as an artistic destination to escape the urban bustle and technology. Many celebrities have lived or stayed there, starting with Leonard Cohen, who bought a house there in the 1960s. Hydra does not have cars or scooters. So we walk everywhere on foot and the donkeys help us carry the luggage. Don’t miss out on a stroll around the harbour, walking along the small stone paths or exploring the caves with clear water on the island.

7. Milos (Cyclades)

UNSPLASH / Vasilis Karkalas

On the western side of the Cyclades, Milos is a volcanic island. According to National Geographic, there’s nothing better than exploring its roughly 125 km of coastline by sea kayak. On your way: white cliffs, black cliffs, colorful cliffs, strange rock formations and charming little fishing villages. The “Venus of Milos”, a famous marble sculpture now in the Louvre in Paris, originated in Milos and can be seen in Plaka, the republic’s capital.

8. Rhodes (Dodecanese Archipelago)

UNSPLASH / Shinjan Bhattacharya

A large island in the Dodecanese archipelago, Rhodes is a popular tourist destination for beachgoers and history buffs. According to CN Traveller, your first stop on this large Aegean island should be the medieval walled old city of Rhodes, where you’ll encounter Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, synagogues and minarets. You should visit the town of Lindos, for its magnificent acropolis and its beautiful emerald waters, and use the seaside hotels in the south of the island to relax for a while.

9. Kefalonia (Ionian Islands)

There are at least two good reasons to choose Kefalonia: its green mountains and its wine! The island is known for its Robola, a grape variety that produces particularly popular dry white wines. National Geographic recommends visiting the Omala Valley on the west side of Mount Ainos to discover winemakers and artisans. The island is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches and clear waters for snorkeling. As for the gastronomy of Kefalonia, it is recognized and you should definitely taste the local olive oils, feta cheeses and honey during your visit.