Best Things to Do in the Greek Islands: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Saad Backup
Best Things to Do in the Greek Islands
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Are you planning to visit the Greek Islands soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in the Greek Islands. These sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

The Greek Islands beckon like a radiant gem in the Mediterranean, where the sea meets the sun, and age-old legends flourish. Picture mornings serenaded by gentle waves, your hours infused with anticipation and awe. The Greek Islands host an array of experiences, from Santorini’s iconic whitewashed architecture to Mykonos’ vibrant festivities, each inviting exploration in its own distinct paradise. And amid this scenic haven, a diverse array of things to do in the Greek Islands awaits your discovery.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Planning the perfect Greek Island getaway can be as complex as a Greek drama. With over 200 islands to choose from, each boasting its own charm, how do you even begin to decide? Fear not, intrepid traveler, for we’ve done the legwork for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the crème de la crème of experiences that these islands have to offer.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for your next thrill, a history buff keen to walk in the footsteps of gods and heroes, or simply someone in search of the perfect beach, you’re in for a treat. So grab your sunhat and your best pair of sandals. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in the Greek Islands.

The best things to do in the Greek Islands right now
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Best Places to Visit in the Greek Islands

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in the Greek Islands? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this enchanting vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Greek Islands places to visit.

Are you looking to bask on pristine beaches and savor delectable Mediterranean cuisine? Or would you prefer exploring ancient ruins that unveil the rich tapestry of history? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in the Greek Islands can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in the Greek Islands that you should know about.

1. Ionian Sea

If sailing through the Ionian Sea isn’t on your bucket list, it’s time to grab a pen. Picture this: you’re on a yacht, the wind in your hair, navigating through islands like Corfu, Zakynthos, and Lefkada. Each island is a treasure trove of hidden coves, stunning beaches, and quaint villages.

The Ionian Sea offers some of the coolest things to do in the Greek Islands, especially for those who love the water. From snorkeling in crystal-clear bays to enjoying a sunset dinner on deck, the options are endless. And let’s not forget the local cuisine. Visualize the experience of relishing freshly caught seafood, skillfully seasoned with local herbs, while nestled in the peaceful embrace of a secluded bay.

But what truly sets this experience apart is the sense of freedom. You’re the captain of your own adventure, free to explore at your own pace. Whether it’s dropping anchor to explore a hidden beach or setting sail for the next island, every day is a new adventure.

So, are you ready to hoist the sails and discover the best places to go in the Greek Islands? Trust us, this is one nautical journey you won’t want to miss.

Enjoy the Crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea and experience the best things to do in the Greek Islands
Enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea and experience the best things to do in the Greek Islands

2. Discover the Mystical Caves of Milos

Get ready to be awestruck, because the caves of Milos are nothing short of magical. Step into an otherworldly realm where the walls shimmer with mineral deposits and the water glows an ethereal blue. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale, only better because it’s real!

Milos, one of the Cycladic islands, is home to some of the most unique places in the Greek Islands. The caves are accessible by boat, and once you’re inside, it’s like being in a cathedral sculpted by nature. Stalactites hang from the ceiling, and the water is so clear it’s like floating in air.

What makes this experience truly unforgettable is the history. These caves were once used by pirates as hideouts, adding an extra layer of intrigue to your visit. Picture yourself exploring these hidden chambers, each bend and twist revealing another jaw-dropping view.

Wondering about what to do in the Greek Islands? Look no further. A visit to the caves of Milos is a must-see, offering a blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue that’s hard to beat.

Witness the awe-inspiring formations that grace the Mystical Caves of Milos
Witness the awe-inspiring formations that grace the Mystical Caves of Milos

3. Mykonos Town

Ah, Mykonos Town, where the streets are a labyrinth of whitewashed wonders and the air is filled with the scent of blooming bougainvillea. This is among the best things to do in the Greek Islands, the place where you’ll want to lose yourself, and believe me, it’s simpler than you anticipate.

Navigating through the narrow alleys is one of the coolest activities in the Greek Islands. Each turn presents a new discovery: quaint shops selling handmade crafts, cozy tavernas offering mouthwatering Greek cuisine, and vibrant murals that add splashes of color to the already picturesque setting.

However, what distinguishes Mykonos Town is its remarkable nightlife. As twilight descends, the town evolves into a bustling epicenter of entertainment. With beach bars and sophisticated lounges galore, the options cater to all tastes. This nocturnal ambiance competes with even the most metropolitan cities.

Where to go in the Greek Islands for a mix of traditional charm and modern excitement? Mykonos Town is your answer. It’s a place that perfectly blends the old with the new, offering an experience that’s as diverse as it is delightful. If you’re visiting Greece, this is the first place you’ll want to add to your list.

Seaside Serenity in Mykonos Town
Seaside Serenity in Mykonos Town

4. Oia in Santorini

Imagine standing on the edge of a cliff, the sky painted in hues of orange and pink, as the sun dips below the horizon. That’s Oia, Santorini for you, a place that offers one of the most breathtaking sunsets in the world.

This is not just a sunset; it’s an event. Locals and tourists alike gather hours in advance to secure the best spots. The anticipation builds as the sun starts its descent, and when it finally sets, the crowd erupts in applause. It’s a must-see in the Greek Islands that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

The village itself is a marvel, with its iconic blue-domed churches and narrow streets filled with boutique shops and cafes. After the sun sets, the village comes alive with a different kind of beauty, illuminated by quaint street lamps and the chatter of evening diners.

Best places in the Greek Islands for a romantic evening? Oia, without a doubt. Whether you’re capturing the perfect photo or simply soaking in the moment, the sunset at Oia is an experience that belongs on every traveler’s bucket list.

Aerial view of Oia in Santorini, with white buildings and blue domes overlooking the sea
Aerial view of Oia in Santorini, with white buildings and blue domes overlooking the sea

5. Ancient Ruins of Delos

If you’re a history aficionado or simply fascinated by the mysteries of the past, then Delos is your go-to destination. This uninhabited island near Mykonos is one of the Greek Islands things to do for anyone intrigued by ancient civilizations.

Delos was regarded as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis in Greek mythology. Presently, it stands as an open-air museum, displaying impeccably preserved ruins encompassing temples, theaters, and iconic lion statues. Strolling along the ancient streets, envisioning the former magnificence becomes effortless.

The island is accessible by a short boat ride from Mykonos, making it a perfect day trip. Don’t forget to climb Mount Kynthos, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding islands. It’s a unique place in the Greek Islands where history and natural beauty coalesce in the most stunning way.

Whether you’re into photography, history, or simply looking to experience something different, Delos offers a rich tapestry of experiences that are both educational and awe-inspiring. It’s a living testament to the grandiosity of ancient Greek civilization and among the most captivating Greek Islands places to visit.

A view of the weathered columns and structures within the Ancient Ruins of Delos
A view of the weathered columns and structures within the Ancient Ruins of Delos

6. Chania

The joy of discovering a new culinary landscape! Chania, located on the island of Crete, is a gastronomic paradise that you simply can’t miss. This is one of those unique things to do in the Greek Islands that will leave your taste buds dancing.

The Old Town of Chania is a labyrinth of narrow streets filled with tavernas serving up local delicacies. From moussaka to dakos, the flavors are as rich as the island’s history. And let’s not forget the olive oil—liquid gold, as the locals call it.

The setting is equally enchanting with the food. Dining within a centuries-old Venetian building or by the iconic harbor lighthouse offers a sensory banquet. This culinary experience ranks among the top spots for food enthusiasts in the Greek Islands.

Don’t leave without trying raki, a traditional Cretan spirit. It’s a fitting end to a meal and an experience that encapsulates the essence of Cretan hospitality. Trust us, your culinary journey in Chania will be one for the books, and truly one of the cool destinations in the Greek Islands for any foodie.

Discover the enchanting streets of Chania as history and beauty intertwine
Discover the enchanting streets of Chania as history and beauty intertwine

7. Samaria Gorge

For those who crave adventure and natural beauty, the Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete is a must-visit. This is one of the coolest activities in the Greek Islands for outdoor enthusiasts. The gorge is one of the longest in Europe, stretching over 16 kilometers and offering a hiking experience that’s both challenging and awe-inspiring.

The trail starts at the plateau of Omalos and descends through forests of ancient cypresses and pines, eventually leading you to the shores of the Libyan Sea. Along the way, you’ll encounter rare species of flora and fauna, making this a must-see in the Greek Islands for nature lovers.

The hike takes about 5-7 hours, depending on your pace, but every step is worth it. You’ll pass through the narrowest part of the gorge, known as the “Iron Gates,” where the walls are only 4 meters apart but soar up to almost 300 meters high.

Once you reach the end, the village of Agia Roumeli welcomes you with open arms and delicious local cuisine. It’s the perfect way to end a day of exploration and one of the best places in the Greek Islands to truly connect with nature.

Wander through the heart of Samaria Gorge, a haven for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike
Wander through the heart of Samaria Gorge, a haven for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike

8. Naxos

Naxos, often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors like Mykonos and Santorini, is a paradise waiting to be discovered. Coolest things to do in the Greek Islands? Well, Naxos offers a blend of stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and charming villages that make it a standout destination.

Start your day by visiting the iconic Portara, a massive marble doorway that’s all that remains of an unfinished temple of Apollo. It’s a sight to behold, especially at sunset. Then, head to Plaka Beach, where the golden sands and crystal-clear waters offer a serene escape from the crowds.

For history enthusiasts, the island is home to Venetian castles and Byzantine churches that tell tales of a rich and varied past. Don’t miss the Kouros of Apollonas, a colossal ancient statue lying in an old quarry.

Naxos is a haven for water sports. From windsurfing to kitesurfing, the island’s windy conditions make it one of the best places to go in the Greek Islands for adrenaline junkies.

Wrap up your day with a visit to one of the island’s traditional tavernas, where you can indulge in local dishes like ‘Naxian potatoes’ and ‘Arseniko cheese.’ It’s the perfect end to a day of exploration and one of the Greek Islands attractions you shouldn’t miss.

Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Naxos’ pristine beaches and azure waters

9. Rhodes’ Medieval Old Town

Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, is a treasure trove of history and culture. Where to visit in the Greek Islands, you ask? Well, the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s like stepping back in time. It’s also among the prettiest locations in Greece, hands down.

As you walk through the Street of the Knights, you’ll be transported to the era of the Knights of St. John, who once ruled the island. The cobblestone streets, fortified walls, and ancient architecture create an atmosphere that’s both mysterious and enchanting.

Be sure to visit the Palace of the Grand Master, a breathtaking fortress transformed into a museum. Within, a collection of historical artifacts offers insights into the island’s vibrant heritage. This Greek Islands landmark is a must-visit, especially for history enthusiasts.

The Old Town is also home to vibrant markets, quaint shops, and cozy cafes. Try a cup of traditional Greek coffee or indulge in some local pastries.

As the sun dips below the horizon, the town awakens with a medley of bars and eateries presenting a spectrum of options, spanning from authentic Greek dishes to global flavors. This serves as an ideal conclusion to a day of discovery and stands among the essential Greek Islands experiences.

Narrow cobblestone street with medieval buildings in Rhodes' Old Town
Narrow cobblestone street with medieval buildings in Rhodes’ Old Town

10. Ikaria’s Thermal Springs

Ikaria, often dubbed the “island where people forget to die,” is renowned for its longevity secrets. But did you know it’s also home to some of the coolest activities in the Greek Islands? One such activity is soaking in the island’s natural thermal springs.

The springs, scattered across the island, are rich in minerals and have been a wellness destination for centuries. The most famous is probably Radio Nero, where the water is so therapeutic it’s said to have healing properties. Submerge yourself in warm, mineral-rich water while enveloped by Ikaria’s lush landscapes. This represents the pinnacle of relaxation.

But the springs aren’t just for soaking. Many of them are located near charming villages where you can explore local culture, dine on fresh seafood, and sip on Ikarian wine. It’s a holistic experience that combines wellness with local traditions, making it one of the unique things to do in the Greek Islands.

As the day winds down, find a secluded spot near the springs to watch the sunset. The sky turns into a canvas of oranges and pinks, providing a serene end to a day of rejuvenation. It’s one of the Greek Islands attractions that leads the way to understand why Ikarians live such long, happy lives.

A scenic view of Ikaria's thermal springs surrounded by lush greenery
A scenic view of Ikaria’s thermal springs surrounded by lush greenery

11. Sifnos Panigiri

Where to go in the Greek Islands for an authentic cultural experience? Cast your gaze upon the island of Sifnos. Known for its charming villages and beautiful beaches, Sifnos takes on a whole new life during its annual Panigiri festival. Held in the village of Artemonas every summer, this is a celebration you won’t want to miss.

Envision Artemonas’ central square transforming into a lively arena, resonating with the tunes of traditional Greek instruments. Locals dressed in vivid attire extend open-armed invitations to join the festivities. The air is filled with the enticing aroma of freshly grilled souvlaki and sweet loukoumades.

What makes this event one of the unique places in the Greek Islands is its genuine atmosphere. You’re not just an observer; you’re an active participant. Whether you’re dancing the Sirtaki with island residents or clinking glasses of local wine, you’ll feel like you’re a part of this tight-knit community.

As the evening unfolds, the tempo increases, and the dances become more intricate. It’s not just a festival; it’s a celebration of Sifnian culture and a must-see in the Greek Islands for anyone eager to go beyond the typical tourist path.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions of Sifnos Panigiri
Immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions of Sifnos Panigiri

12. Temple of Poseidon in Sounion

When it comes to unique things to do in the Greek Islands, stargazing at the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion is a celestial experience you won’t forget. Located at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, this ancient temple offers an unparalleled view of the night sky, away from the light pollution of Athens.

The Temple of Poseidon, perched on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea, is a sight to behold during the day. But come nightfall, it transforms into one of the best places in the Greek Islands for stargazing. The temple’s ancient columns silhouette against a backdrop of twinkling stars and the vast, inky expanse of the sky.

Astrology buffs will appreciate the clarity with which constellations like Orion and Cassiopeia can be seen. Even if you’re not into astrology, the sheer beauty of the night sky from this vantage point is awe-inspiring. It’s a moment to reflect, to dream, and to feel connected to something much larger than yourself.

Pack a cozy blanket, some snacks, and make your way to this iconic spot. As you lay back and gaze upwards, you’ll realize that this is not just another tourist attraction; it’s a must-see in the Greek Islands that offers a moment of serenity and wonder.

Witness the Breathtaking Beauty of the Temple of Poseidon as the Sun Dips Below the Horizon
Witness the Breathtaking Beauty of the Temple of Poseidon as the Sun Dips Below the Horizon

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in the Greek Islands

Looking for more content on the top things to do in the Greek Islands? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the Greek Islands:

What’s the best time to visit the Greek Islands?

The ideal time to visit is from late May to early October. During these months, you’ll experience warm weather, clear skies, and the Aegean Sea at its most inviting. However, July and August can be crowded, so plan accordingly.

What do people do in Greek islands?

The Greek islands are renowned for their beauty, history, and vibrant culture. When visiting the islands, people often engage in a variety of activities:

  1. Beach Relaxation: Many visitors flock to the islands primarily for their stunning beaches. Whether it’s the pink sands of Elafonissi in Crete or the party vibes of Paradise Beach in Mykonos, there’s a beach for every preference.
  2. Historical Exploration: The Greek islands are steeped in history. Tourists often visit ancient ruins, such as the Temple of Apollo on Naxos or the ancient city of Kamiros on Rhodes.
  3. Sailing and Boat Tours: The Aegean and Ionian seas are perfect for sailing. Many tourists charter boats or join group tours to explore the islands from the water.
  4. Culinary Adventures: Greek cuisine is celebrated worldwide. On the islands, visitors indulge in fresh seafood, local cheeses, olives, and traditional dishes like moussaka and souvlaki. And, of course, trying out local wines and ouzo is a must.
  5. Hiking: Islands like Santorini, with its caldera path, or Crete, with the Samaria Gorge, offer fantastic hiking opportunities with breathtaking views.
  6. Nightlife: Islands like Mykonos and Ios are famous for their vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and beach parties.

How do I get around the Greek Islands?

Ferries are the most common way to hop between islands. Some islands also have airports for quicker travel. Renting a scooter or a car is a great way to explore each island’s unique landscapes.

How many days do you need on Greek islands?

The number of days you should spend on the Greek islands depends on your travel goals and which islands you plan to visit. Here’s a general guideline:

  1. Single Greek Island Trip:
    • Major Islands (e.g., Crete, Rhodes): 4-7 days. These islands are large with diverse attractions, so you might want to spend a week or more exploring.
    • Popular Islands (e.g., Santorini, Mykonos): 3-5 days. This gives you enough time to see the main attractions and relax.
    • Smaller Islands (e.g., Naxos, Paros, Milos): 2-4 days. These islands are more compact but still offer plenty to see and do.
  2. Island Hopping:
    • Two Islands: 7 days. Spend 3-4 days on each island. For instance, you could combine Santorini and Mykonos or Naxos and Paros.
    • Three Islands: 10 days. This allows for about 3 days on each island, which is a good pace for islands in close proximity, like those in the Cyclades.
    • Four or More Islands: 14 days or more. If you’re planning to visit multiple islands, especially if they’re spread out, you’ll want at least two weeks.

Is island hopping easy in the Greek Islands?

Yes, island hopping in the Greek Islands is relatively simple. An extensive ferry network connects many islands, offering diverse routes and schedules. Some islands have airports for quicker transfers. With proper planning, you can easily navigate between islands, exploring the unique charm of each destination.

What should I pack going to the Greek Islands?

Pack light, breathable clothing for the sunny climate, including swimsuits, airy tops, and comfortable sandals. Sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses are vital. Essential items include a versatile cover-up for visiting religious sites, a daypack for excursions, and a power adapter for electronics.

Lose yourself in the sun-soaked serenity of the Greek Islands
Lose yourself in the sun-soaked serenity of the Greek Islands

Which of the Greek islands is best to visit?

The best Greek island to visit depends on what you’re looking for, as each island offers a unique experience. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular Greek islands and what they’re known for:

  1. Santorini:
    • Best for: Romantic getaways, sunsets, and breathtaking views.
    • Highlights: The iconic blue-domed churches, the caldera views, ancient ruins of Akrotiri, and the towns of Fira and Oia.
  2. Mykonos:
    • Best for: Nightlife, beaches, and luxury.
    • Highlights: The windmills, vibrant nightlife in Mykonos Town, and beautiful beaches like Paradise and Super Paradise.
  3. Crete:
    • Best for: History, diverse landscapes, and cuisine.
    • Highlights: The Palace of Knossos, Samaria Gorge, and the towns of Chania and Rethymno.
  4. Rhodes:
    • Best for: History and family vacations.
    • Highlights: The medieval Old Town of Rhodes, the Valley of the Butterflies, and ancient Kamiros.
  5. Corfu:
    • Best for: Lush landscapes and Venetian architecture.
    • Highlights: The Old Town of Corfu, Achilleion Palace, and Paleokastritsa Monastery.
  6. Naxos:
    • Best for: Beaches and traditional villages.
    • Highlights: Portara gate, the beaches of Agios Prokopios and Plaka, and the mountain villages.

Are the Greek Islands expensive?

The cost of the Greek Islands varies. While some islands can be pricey, others offer budget-friendly options. Accommodation, dining, and activities contribute to expenses. Visiting in shoulder seasons or opting for local eateries can help manage costs. Research and planning allow for tailored experiences within your budget.

What islands are worth visiting in Greece?

Certainly! The islands worth visiting in Greece are numerous, but some standouts include Santorini for its iconic sunsets, Mykonos for vibrant nightlife, Crete for diverse landscapes, and Rhodes for rich history. Lesser-known gems like Naxos and Paros offer a more laid-back experience but are equally captivating. Each island has its unique charm!

What is there to see on the Greek islands?

The Greek Islands offer a smorgasbord of sights, from Santorini’s jaw-dropping caldera views to the ancient ruins of Delos. You’ll find pristine beaches, like Navagio in Zakynthos, and unique landscapes, such as the volcanic formations in Milos. Add in traditional villages, Byzantine churches, and vibrant local markets, and you’ve got a visual feast!

Concluding Thoughts on Exploring the Greek Islands

Ah, the Greek Islands, a paradise where ancient history and modern leisure collide in the most beautiful way. From the awe-inspiring sunsets of Santorini to the hidden gems of lesser-known islands, this archipelago offers a smorgasbord of experiences that cater to every type of traveler.

Whether it’s the adrenaline rush of water sports, the serenity of secluded beaches, or the rich tapestry of culture and history, there’s no shortage of things to do in the Greek Islands. So pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready to be swept off your feet by the endless allure of these Aegean treasures.

The best things to do in the Greek Islands for all types of travelers
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