Attracting more than 15 million tourists every year, Greece is a favored travel destination, and for good reason. With stunning views, historical sites, sandy beaches, museums, tasty cuisine and breathtaking views, Greece has a lot to offer to any type of traveler. Off the coast of the mainland, around 6000 islands, 230 of which are inhabited, surround Greece. Here are some facts about a few of them and a look at why you should make time to visit at least one of these gems.
The islands are by tradition grouped into six major clusters, the Ionian, found off the northwest coast in the Ionian Sea, the Saronic, Sporades, Dodecanese, the Cyclades and the North Aegean, a loosely grouped cluster of islands to the north east of Greece. A charter boat, ferry or a seaplane from the mainland can get you to any one of these islands although some airlines do have direct flights to some of the main ones like Corfu, Crete, Mykonos and a few others.
The beauty of the Greek islands lies in the fact that every island group, or rather every island itself has got its own character. Nothing beats the lush greenery of the Ionian Islands or the typical Greek whitewashed bougainvillea decked cube houses on the Cyclades islands.
The largest island, Crete has a lot to offer to the visitor. Here you can admire the remains of a once powerful and brilliant civilization, relax on blissful beaches and take long walks into awe-inspiring mountainscapes. Crete also has a gastronomical tradition that is second to none.
This volcanic island in the Cyclades has a spectacular landscape of red, brown and white rocks. The colorful beaches, whitewashed fishing villages and the mountainous settlements make this island a traveller’s paradise. Visit the ancient theatre, catacombs and windmills in Tripiti, where the Venus de Milo statue was found or take a boat tour of the island’s coves.
Mykonos is an island that is famous for attracting celebrities due to it’s great beaches and night life, but don’t be fooled into thinking that these are the only things the island has to offer. The small museums scattered around the island, the famous church of Panagia Paraportini, five churches merged into one built in classical Byzantine style and the Chora are some of the few locations that give the island its exquisite character.
Be sure to check out Little Venice, a picturesque little town built on water as the name suggests and whilst there make sure to make use of some of the most luxurious lodgings the island has on offer such as Greek Villas.
With its crystal blue waters and volcanic rock, Santorini is also definitely worth a visit. Famous for its wine and the Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement, Santorini is an activities haven. Whether you’re into diving, sailing, rock climbing or hiking, Santorini has it all.
Rhodes is somewhat of a different experience from the other islands. With ancient settlements, Knights Templar castles, the Grandmaster’s Palace and the exquisite museum of Greek Modern art, Rhodes is a great place to go to if you’re a history buff. Rhodes’s southerly cape forms a sandspit that separates the Mediterranean from the Aegean making it a great destination for windsurfing.
Ithaca is a short 45-minute ferry ride from Kefalonia, but it is a relatively untouched natural retreat. Hiking in the valleys and rugged hills may lead to some really great surprises such as hidden ruins and beautiful sea views.
The archeological sites of Ithaca, the homeland of Homer’s Odysseus are a great start if you want to brush up your Greek mythology knowledge. The Greeks have a great sense of hospitality and that coupled with the cuisine, wine, and all the rest makes these islands a top location for any type of traveler.
Note: This post was made possible by our partner sponsor My KonospanormosVillas. Photo credits in order of appearance: Crete - cntraveller.com, Milos - Wikipedia.com, Mykonos - travelsupermarket.com, Rhodes - touristmaker.com.