This list isn’t going to cover the classic Greek Islands that you know and love. That would be too easy. there are 6,000 islands in Greece and we want to cover those that are less known.
So, what can you expect from the islands on this list? Beauty, authenticity, white buildings with blue detail, wild goats, beautiful water, and scraggly rocks. Plus, full fishes served and cooked on plates with the best vegetables you’ve ever had.
Sound good to you? Then figure out what ferry or private boat you’re going to use to get the top eight greek islands below.
To start off the list, we thought we’d start at the beginning of the alphabet. Amorgos is a crazily beautiful but also a non-classical island in the Greek sea.
It’s up on a cliff, literally, and you won’t find any white sand beaches. Instead, you’ll find peace, quiet, and the best fish you’ve ever eaten.
This island is best visited by nature lovers and those not looking for a luxe vacation. This island reminds us of the simple things, like how you can see the sky and sea in all directions from most paths.
The sign that welcomes you to the island isn’t a threat–but no one will find you here if you’re not careful. You wouldn’t be the first person to fall in love with the island’s simplicity and never come back!
A stark change from our last island, Hydra is more for the art-loving socialite. Why? It’s only two hours from Athens, so it’s easily accessible.
Hydra got put on the modern map by artists like Leonard Cohen and Dakis Joannou, a greek art collector. You can see celebrities by the seaside bars in the high season, but you can check out the art all year round.
Try to hit this island in the summer, which is when the art changes and production is at its peak.
There aren’t many traditional beaches on this island either, but the art and culture make up for the lack of sand.
Another great island for the art lovers in Greece is Milos. This island was the birthplace of someone famous. You may know her–the Venus de Milo.
Venus de Milo is the statue that doesn’t have any arms, yet it stands at the grand staircase in the Louvre. Though you won’t see Venus unless you go to Paris, you will see unbelievable gorgeous beaches.
Instead of black volcanic rock like you’d see in Hawaii, the rocks here are white. It makes a very Utah-like experience, minus the rust color. Think of it as Greece’s version of the Garden of the Gods.
You know the big islands everyone goes to in Greece always end in “os”. Mykonos, Sifnos, they’re all great. But, they’re all crowded, over touristy, and expensive!
Paros has the magic ending of “os” but it doesn’t have the hoards of tourists and extensive prices.
On this island, you’ll find white sands and the blue water that Greece bases its blue architectural details on. There’s no squishing on these beaches–you can expect lots and lots of play-able and well-sunned space.
Want to have an Atlantis-like experience? No, not the resort in the Bahamas. An actual submerged city that the ocean has taken over and made its own.
Most people go to this tiny island off the Peloponnese Penisula to snorkel in the blue waters and float over these ruins.
The few towns on this island have a population of fewer than 1000 people, so there are no overcrowding issues. The locals know how beautiful their island is and are happy to share it.
If you want a low-key and nature-friendly vacation, Elafonisos is where you should go.
Like Hydro, this island is more popular than the beach-only relaxing islands on this list.
It has a history of both British and French Colonialists, which makes it a unique mix of Greek and European culture.
It will cost you a good bit more to stay on this island, given its chic reputation. You can still relax on the beaches, but also have cocktails on a dinner yacht.
Classic Greek and old world Olive groves meet European wine influence with vineyards on the islands. During popular vacation times, some of the bars and popular beaches can get a little too…American Spring Break-y, so plan your time carefully.
We couldn’t make a list of the best Greek islands without mentioning Santorini. Most of the images you’ve seen of Greece’s whitewashed buildings and blue rooves come from this island.
It’s the most popular island destination in Greece, except perhaps for Mykonos.
Your wallet won’t like you if you stay too long on this island, but its worth a two or three-day visit.
Do you miss the greenery in Greece? Want to go somewhere where the plants aren’t straggly olive groves few and far between? That’s hard to find on islands which are made out of volcanic rock.
However, you can witness the emerald green of plants meeting the bright blue sea on the island of Zante. You can hike and bike on the top of the island (vertically) and relax on some of the beaches down below.
Make sure you check before you go since there are beach closures when turtles come and lay their eggs.
Choosing the Right Greek Islands
When you plan a trip to Greece, there are a few things you need to think about.
One, how will you get from one island to another? Two, which Greek islands you need to visit. And three, what bathing suits to bring.
You’ll think about this bright blue and white vacation for the rest of your life, so make the trip worth it.
Need some help packing? Here’s our ultimate beach vacation checklist.