Greece Islands and Beaches, Pictures and Information

Skiathos banana beach, Greece

Skiathos  is favoured by British visitors and our choice for a pure, lazy family beach holiday with varied good beaches, a bit of pleasant walking and a lot of swimming.

Why holiday on the Greek Islands?

The 228 inhabited islands of Greece are famously beautiful, good value, serve interesting food, have fast and efficient ferries, are invariably sunny in summertime and surrounded by mostly clear, warm waters washing onto sandy beaches or sculpted rocks.
Island Hopping is easy via good, fast ferries so you could easily visit two or three islands in a week. Journey time between the Cyclades islands, for example, is mostly less than an hour by fast cat.

Stick to the same island group if you want it easy, for example the Ionian islands of Zakynthos, Cephalonia, and Corfu have a superb ambience and history though they’re a bit less sunny due to their northwesterly location, while the Cyclades Islands in the south include monster must-sees such as Santorini, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos.
Here are a few photos of some of our favourite Greek Islands to help you make the right holiday choice, which is not necessarily to stay on one island.

Which islands to visit?

Once just farmed for olive oil or used as a base for fishing, over the last 50 years the Greek islands have developed into Europe’s best beach holiday destination, with a huge variety of natural tourist attractions from the soft bleached sands, and pine forests of Skiathos to the staggering volcanic views and red beaches of Santorini, the stylish party scenes in the hora (old town) and pebbly gathering places of Mykonos, the ancient cultures, sites, hikes and hot beige sands of Crete or Rhodes, the hiking routes and dunes of Naxos and the young and wild clubbing scenes of Ios where the beaches morph into recovery wards the morning after.

Greece offers massive variety at a reasonable price. We haven’t visited all the Greece islands but with our current knowledge we’d choose Skiathos for Brits who want good value beach holidays on soft sand and who don’t have pollen allergies, Mykonos for stylish, sun-seekers and Santorini for its out-and-out bizarre looks and staggering views, but you’d have to tolerate well-cooked black sand beaches.

Girls sitting in clear turquoise waters on a Skiathos beach, Greece

One of Skiathos’ few non-sandy beaches.

Oia town on the caldera of Santorini, Greece

See the incredible views, town and stony beaches of Santorini, birthplace of the Atlantis legend? Photo by Tango7174.

Santorini is a strange, beautiful and dramatic island with incredible views though beaches are volcanic stoney and hot. Santorini caldera (the volcanic bowl) is the site of Atlantis – or rather the Atlantis legend, so we Bugheads believe.

Panormos beach, Mykonos, Greece

See the famously stylish Little Venice hora and beaches of Mykonos. And no, it’s not all about gays, but it is about style. It’ll be all white on the night!

Mykonos is one of the top Greek Islands for its exquisite little town, wild nightlife, stylish surroundings and pretty good beaches, though it is a bit pricey.

naxos hills, greece

See the high hills, old town and extensive beaches of Naxos, a favourite of German tourists.

Naxos is a sizeable island with central mountains and beaches that are sandy and huge, the waters are clean and many of the visitors here are off walking in the mountains.

Kolumbythres beach, Paros, Greece

See the cute little old town, cathedral and beaches of Paros.

Paros is a small, calm island with a typically charming hora but less of the mass tourism than its neighbours – less of the brilliant beaches too, as it happens.

Ios beach, Greece

See not much of Ios.

Ios – just north of Santorini in the Cyclades island group – has had a reputation as a party island which may be running out of steam as the island is attracting more mature holidaymakers with new, sophisticated developments.

Matala beach, Crete, Greece

See the towns, ancient sites and beaches of Crete.

Huge and southerly Crete island offers not only massive beaches but also history and remnants of an important ancient culture, the Minoans, along with Romans, Venitians, Ottomans and more.
Crete is also alive with mythology as the birthplace of the Greek god Zeus, home to the Sirens, Muses, Icarus, the Minotaur, and visited by Athena, Hercules and Theseus.
Off the beaches and out of the palaces there are many hiking and biking trails, notably the Samaria Gorge.

wild ride on rubber rings, Greece

See the hora and beaches of Skopelos.

OK, well we’re not very enthused about Skopelos but if you need a very quiet, traditional forested Greek island experience then Skopelos is easy to reach and encompasses a handful of good beaches.

Vourvouru beach, Halkidiki, Greece

Vourvourou beach in Halkidiki.

The Sithonia peninsula in Halkidiki (Macedonia, north Greece) is not an island, but it might as well be as it possesses all the assets of great sand, warm water and comfortable life support systems. The main difference is you can drive there via Thessaloniki. Halkidiki is a popular German holiday destination though after the eurozone crisis it’ll be interesting to see how Greeks react to German visitors.