With hundreds of islands to choose from, Greece can be a marvelous wonder but also a tedious task as to where to go! For first timers, there is a lot to offer, but choosing should be based on what you like. Each island has trademarked their own experience it offers to tourists, so do your research and go there this year as bargains can be found all around!
Nevertheless, this is a compilation for the top Greek islands that one must hit first time round, in no particular order.
1. Santorini – for the best sunset
People flock from all over to come face to face with this island’s famed sunset. Watch the big orange ball work its way down but then head off down to Fira Town Square where the nightlife gets busy. When the night winds down around 6 AM, call Kamari Beach to book a bed and enjoy a day’s worth of lazy lounging.
2. Zakynthos – Navagio Beach (most famous beach)
Also known as Shipwreck Beach, this stretch of sand on the Ionian island of Zakynthos is famous for its blunt centerpiece. It’s believed that the ship’s last voyage was in 1983, when it wrecked itself before it checked itself while smuggling cigarettes, wine and loads of other useful items. The cargo contents may be long gone, but the ship still sits among the white cliffs and clear waters of this cove.
3. Crete – most varied island
Beautiful beaches, open terrain and a bustling nightlife scene explain why Crete, Greece’s largest island, has long been a backpacker’s favorite. The town of Rethymno combines all these offerings eliminating the need to waste time or money seeking them individually elsewhere. The beach stretches over 12 miles and offers enough watersport activities to give your body and budget a workout.
4. Crete – best nudist beach
Crete’s best beach requires a bit of a hike to access. Signs will point you toward the beach from anywhere in Matala, eventually leading you to a goat’s path that you’ll hike downhill for a solid 15 minutes. Once you’ve made it to the beach, leave your clothes and inhibitions behind and embrace one of Greece’s greatest nude beaches. Awesomely convenient caves that were called home by hippies in the ‘70s line the ocean and provide perfect seclusion.
5. Mykonos – best parties and drunkest beach
Mykonos is the wonderful result of combining Greece’s natural beauty with nonstop partying. The big action takes place on Paradise Beach so don’t expect to sit or sleep much. Like the music, the drinking on the Beach never stops. Join the masses from all over the world as they unite to celebrate life. While the party scene often takes all the credit for the beauty of this beach, don’t miss out on its other offerings: golden sand, scuba diving and jet-skiing.
Then, you bring the action to Mykonos’ main town to take a break from the comfortable chaos of the beach.
6. Milos – most secluded
Milos is a great low-profile escape. E enjoy the luxuries of having the main town and hidden beaches within walking distance from wherever you stay. Famous for its rock formations and caves, take a sea-taxi tour to uncover some of the most remote spots that Greece has to offer.
7. Chios – for adrenaline junkies
Mavra Volia (“Black Stones”) is one of Chios’ main attractions. Divided into three separate spots, this beach stretches wide past the town of Emporio. Dive into a simpler time by jumping off of Mavra Volia’s many cliffs. There are plenty of restaurants and food trucks lining the walk before the beaches.
8. Skopelos – Hidden gem
Skip the more popular Skiathos and uncover perfection in nearby Skopelos. Here you’ll find serenity and scenery that’s yet to be spoiled. If you come by ferry, you’ll be invited by some hospitable old folks to stay in their homes. You can make away with a good deal and even a home-cooked breakfast. The rooms put you steps away from the lovely maze of a town and offer bus service to some of the better beaches like Panormos and Milia.
9. Kefalonia – beautiful beaches
In the northwest corner of Kefalonia lies Myrtos Beach, often regarded as THE best beach in Greece. At first glance, it may seem like nothing special, but its sea of shimmery water surrounded by green mountains and swallowed by a beating sun are the winning ingredients for the perfect beach. As with most beaches in Greece, feel free to even out your tan lines and let your eyes wander.
10. Lesvos – best family oriented island
Lesvos is the third largest island in Greece. It is a very beautiful island with wonderful beaches, picturesque villages, friendly inhabitants, thermal springs and interesting architecture. Despite tourism, the inhabitants of the island of Lesvos have kept their tradition and customs. Lesvos is famous for its excellent ouzo and for being the birthplace of the female poet Sappho.
However, what sets apart this island is its family friendly atmosphere. Head off to "where the road ends" – as the locals call it – to the small fishing village of Sigri. Still very undiscovered and rough, see how living in traditional Greece feels like. Fresh fish is available in the limited amounts of tavernas there and enjoy coffee at the small town square. Explore the surrounding areas and beaches where kids are free to roam and play at their own enjoyment. You can find a place to stay in the village at Evangelia Studios or be a little more secluded and pampered at Sigrion Villas. Also, be sure to visit the UNESCO protected petrified forest and museum.