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Greek islands are some of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean sea and thanks to the many ferries and well organized flights they are often very easy to reach. If we consider both the larger and smaller islands that are spread in the different archipelagos Greece counts more than 6000 islands, but only 277 of them are inhabited.
There are so many small islands that if you add up the surface of all of them you can cover one fifth of the total surface of Greece. They are very famous throughout the world and many tourists visit them each year. Of course some islands are nicer than other ones just as some are a lot bigger than others.
On most islands you will find the typical white and blue houses, these colors are both the national colors of Greece and the traditional ones used in architecture. A part from the iconic beautiful beaches you will also find nice apartments, hotels, villages and natural views.
In many villages and towns you will find many archeological sites and Hellenic remains from the ancient times. One of the best archeological sites is located on the island of Delos.
Greek islands, the archipelagos
Observing in detail all the small and big islands in the Aegean sea you will notice that Crete is the biggest of all islands while the biggest archipelago is the Cyclades (this includes more than 56 islands and is considered one of the most iconic areas in the whole of Greece). Then there is the Dodecanese, another very famous archipelago, that counts 12 main and inhabited islands besides many other smaller islands that are often completely uninhabited.
If you observe the map of Greece you will also notice the islands in the eastern Aegean sea, in the Northern Aegean sea and the Sporades archipelago (a remote archipelago for people that want a quiet and relaxing vacation). Let’s start by examining the Greek islands in the Aegean sea in order to help you decide which archipelago or island to visit during your vacation in Greece. Every suggestion and idea comes from our direct experience and that from other travellers that regularly choose these islands for their vacations.
Ionian islands, the westernmost Greek islands
In the westernmost part of Greece you will find the Ionian islands, divided from Italy by the Ionian sea. Here you will find legendary islands, most of all the island where, according to the Odyssey, Ulysses was born: Ithaca. Each of these islands has its own unique characteristics, for example there is Zakynthos with its iconic Navagio beach (a very particular and unique beach with a wrecked ship on it that is considered one of the nicest beaches in the Mediterranean sea).
Then there is Lefkada with its huge white beaches and turquoise waters. Then there is Corfù, also known as Kerkyra where most ferries and cruising ships stop by before continuing their route.
Sporades islands and the true Greek atmosphere
The archipelago of the Sporades islands counts more than 20 islands, but only 4 of these are inhabited (Skyathos, Alonissos, Skopelos e Skiros). They are probably the less visited of all islands together with the islands of the north-eastern Aegean sea. In the last few years tourism has been increasing and for this reason quite a few new structures have been built and many ferries reach them. All the inhabited islands have an airport and can be easily reached by flying from the airport of Volos or by taking a ferry from there.
Dodecanese islands, from Rhodes to Kastellorizo
If you are planning a holiday in Greece one of the best places that you can choose from is an island in the Dodecanese. This archipelago of Hellenic islands is famous for its beautiful beaches and archeological sites that attract millions of visitors every year (also thanks to the many direct flights and ferries that stop in this island. Since most of the islands aren’t as crowded as other islands like Kos, Rhodes and Patmos, prices are often a lot lower than in most other islands.
North Eastern Aegean islands, the less visited Greek islands
If you are looking for islands where you will find the true Greek atmosphere, where people barely speak any English, where there is almost no sound and where to observe some truly beautiful sunsets you may want to choose an island in the north- Eastern Aegean sea.
Since there aren’t any airports and not many ferries reach them these islands are often a lot less crowded even during high season. As in all other archipelagos there are bigger and smaller islands that are almost or completely uninhabited, these can often be visited and if you decide to do so you will be prized by some truly beautiful and isolated beaches. Often even on the smaller islands you will have the chance to rent an apartment from one of the local inhabitants.
Saronic islands, the Greek islands in the Saronic gulf
Located between the regions of the Attica and the Peloponnese you will find the Saronic islands that get their name from the gulf where they can be found. These are the closest islands to Athens and for this reason during high season many Greek tourists visit it.
They aren’t as famous as other archipelagos like the Cyclades but not being very far away from Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese they are a favorite for Greek tourists. The fact of being well connected to other islands, thanks to the many ferries that stop here on a daily basis and travel to the port of Piraeus. There are also many accommodations that can be rented directly on the island.
Cyclades islands, the most famous and well known of all islands
When we are speaking about Greek islands people often think about white houses with blue windows and doors, villages of fishermen with small ports and beautiful sunsets. When visiting the Cyclades islands you will be able to admire all of these things.
You will be amazed by the blue and white architecture, intense colors and beautiful houses, alleys and churches. The islands that are part of this archipelago are 56, and like for most other archipelagos not all of them are inhabited (actually most of them are uninhabited). The most famous of these islands are Santorini (iconic symbol of the Cyclades), Mykonos (where you will find magical nightlife), Milos, Paros, Amorgos and Ios.
There are many islands to choose from but we suggest you look for one of the more touristic ones as they are well connected to other islands with ferries and planes that travel on a daily basis. Yet if you are looking for the true greek traditional atmosphere you should choose one of the smaller islands.
Crete and Euboea (Evia)
You can also choose to visit one of the two biggest islands in the Aegean sea: Crete and Euboea (or Evia). Crete is a very famous island where history and art mix in a truly unique combination and where you will also find lovely beaches. There are also many archeological sites (the most important of which is certainly the Palace of Cnosso) and buildings built in Venetian style. Eubea is a peninsula as it is connected to the mainland by a small strip of land that is only 40 meters wide. This is also a very famous destination for Greek tourists.