Famous Greek Islands

This is not a professionally conducted poll on which Greek islands are most known to the majority of people.

But my approach while less scientifically rigorous, still gets results! You really only need to check your Instagram feed for the most tagged places and ask a couple of friends the first 5 islands they can think of when someone says “Greece”.

Now, what is the reason why some islands are more known than others? Obviously natural beauty plays a role, but then again, they are all stunning! So, why do some islands spring to mind faster than others and what are some unique features about each one? 

© Stefanos Zacharakis

Famous Greek Islands To Visit

Mykonos (Greek name: Mykonos – Μύκονος) 

What people said: parties, super paradise, LGBTQ+ friendly, white washed buildings, celebrities, yachts 
Why is Mykonos famous: It wasn’t long ago that Mykonos was a fairly unknown Cycladic island, similar to any other, with its white washed buildings, blue touches, harsh winds and beautiful coastline. All that changed with the influx of billionaires, celebrities and Instagram influencers.  Mykonos became the new Ibiza and everyone wants to sit in its narrow alleyways sip umbrella decorated cocktails and look at the sunset. 
Why go to Mykonos: Despite its massive popularity, Mykonos retains most of its original feel and architecture. This is both a blessing and a struggle, as the narrow alleyways can get crowded, the road network is not extensive enough and public transport is almost not existent. If you love the party scene, cosmopolitan destinations, dining at high-end restaurants and spending your days at exclusive beach bars, then Mykonos will not disappoint. 
Mykonos Definitely Greece
© Definitely Greece

Santorini (Greek name: Santorini – Σαντορίνη) 

What people said: volcano, romance, love, couple holidays, honeymoon, wine, sunsets, 
Why is Santorini famous: It is almost impossible to find one person that is not familiar with the name Santorini. It is even harder for that word not to be followed by, “I want to go there”. It seems that Santorini is mostly thought of as a couples destination. Romantic, mysterious and draped in the orange and red hues of a sunset. While all of that is true, some people also know that Santorini is famous for its produce, a result of the unique volcanic soil of the island. Do try the fava beans, sweet but funny looking cherry tomatoes and white eggplants. On the list of famous Greek islands, Santorini would take top place, any day! 
Why go to Santorini: There is no reason to skip Santorini, even if you haven’t found your other half yet. Indeed lots of people chose to travel there as a family or friends group. Santorini offers a unique landscape that will take your breath away regardless of how many photos you have seen. There is something special about standing on the top of the cliffs looking across at the caldera (volcano) while small ferries and yachts sail around the Aegean. The island offers a ton of activities to entertain guests but beach enthusiasts will find their options limited. Do not miss visiting the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum for an underground tour of the history of winemaking in the region as well as a wine tasting to top it all off. The recently opened Museum of Atlantis is an excellent choice at the end of your trip after you have had a chance to visit the Akrotiri peninsula and get a feel of the island. 
Santorini Blue White Houses Island 2018
© Definitely Greece

The most famous Greek island

Crete (Greek name: Kriti – Κρήτη) 

What people said: large, vast, south Greece, diverse, beaches, Minoan kingdom, Knossos, olive oil, hospitality, incredible food 
Why is Crete famous: Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean, which by itself makes it stand out. It takes up most of the space on the southern end of the Aegean separating the rest of the country with the Libyan Sea and the north coast of Africa. It is most known as the island where the Minoan civilization flourished and eventually was destroyed after a massive tsunami wave that originated close to Santorini. Recent theories say that the Minoan civilization could have been destroyed by the Mycenaeans. Crete is also known for being an incredibly diverse destination, simultaneously being able to satisfy solo travellers, families, nature lovers, foodies and culture aficionados. 
Why go to Crete: There is no reason not to go to Crete. You are free to hike and explore countless gorges, drive to the mountains, dine on amazing Cretan dishes, visit some of the best beaches worldwide (not joking), and get lost in Venetian harbors, while strolling through paved alleyways. Renting a car is ideal for your days in Crete. 
Greece in September
© Definitely Greece
Elafonisi Definitely Greece
© Canva Library

Corfu (Greek name: Kerkira – Κέρκυρα)  

What people said: familiar name,  green landscape, large, Italian influence, “Ionian Sea” aka not the Aegean, castle, beaches
Why is Corfu famous: Corfu has received considerable attention as a favourite destination of English tourists, as it is easily accessible and well connected through its airport. Corfu has more than 50 beaches, appealing to the diverse needs of its countless visitors that come to relax and enjoy the crystal waters of the Ionian Sea. 
Why go to Corfu: Corfu is one of the largest Greek islands which means you will be able to find competitive rates on accommodation and plenty of options to suit every need. The beaches and stunning natural scenery adorned by thousands of olive trees will undoubtedly satisfy every visitor. The castles, churches and palaces of times past, some of which have been converted into museums, reveal the rich and glamorous history of the island.   
Castle in Corfu Definitely Greece
© Definitely Greece

Milos (Greek name: Milos – Μήλος)

What people said: caves, beaches, architecture, Instagram influencers, lunar landscape 
Why go to Milos: Milos is loved by Greeks and visitors for its beaches and picturesque villages, whether that is the fishing seaside village of Klima with its colourful doors or the white and blue details of Adamas. While the nightlife is not as intense as neighboring Mykonos or student favourite Ios, there are plenty of options for your nightly entertainment. While Milos is already one of the famous Greek islands, we predict its popularity will rise even higher in the coming years. 
Why is Milos famous: Until recently Milos was not one of the islands people would have known of. While it is second only to Santorini, in terms of its diverse volcanic influenced landscape, Milos was a treat for locals, Greeks and some tourists. But alas, its more than 70 stunning beaches have captured the hearts of travellers and that love is being widely spread all over Instagram. Every year Milos is becoming more and more popular. Number one on the list, is Sarakiniko beach that has a lunar-like rocky landscape and and white cliffs. Brave souls that stay until late will witness the light reflecting off the smooth and creamy limestone cliffs and transforming the scenery. 
Most Famous Greek Islands
© Canva Library

Rhodes (Greek name: Rodos – Ρόδος) 

What people said: tourists, castles, knights, Seven Wonders of the World, sunny 
Why go to Rhodes: In addition to its history, Rhodes size ensures that there is plenty of room for everyone. Families love the east coast beaches for the lack of wind and protected sandy coves whereas the west coast is an adventure enthusiasts best friend with great waves for surfing. History lovers can spend many days learning about its settlements and trace elements left by the Venetians, Byzantines, and Turks. 
Why is Rhodes famous: Rhodes is the Island of the Knights. It is a place that offers both tradition and luxury. Think about the Medieval Old Town, the stunning beaches and the Acropolis of Lindos, that competes with other ancient sites such as Delphi, for the second most visited spot after the Acropolis in Athens. Rhodes is also famous for its 300+ sunny days per year, so you can visit anytime you want a little break, be it winter or summer! 
Famous Greek Islands November Lindos Definitely Greece
© Photo by Matthijs Waanders on Unsplash

Zante (Greek name: Zakinthos – Ζάκυνθος) 

What people said: stunning beaches, shipwreck, party island, Caretta-Caretta turtles 
Why got to Zante: Most of the activities in Zante include being in or around water. If that sounds like something you enjoy then its endless coastline will provide many an option. Zante is popular with a diverse group of people, from families to adrenaline seekers and those looking for the best spots to party.  During your stay, you will also get the chance to learn more about the Caretta Caretta turtles. The island and specifically the Bay of Laganas is a shelter for the now threatened with extinction red-brown animals. The overdevelopment of the area among other issues has led to a decrease in numbers, however, conservation efforts are in place to protect the nesting and hatching area of the eggs. 
Why is Zante famous: The number one attraction and one of the most photographed places in all of Greece that has graced many a travel brochures and attracts visitors from all around the word is the Shipwreck Beach or Navagio. Undoubtedly, this also makes Zante one of the most famous Greek islands. To reach this spot you need to get on a boat and to get a photo that does justice to the view you need to climb up above. For the bravest and those fond of extreme sports, the spot is used for cliff jumping. A unique viewpoint that’s for sure! 
Famous Greek Islands Navagio Definitely Greece
© Canva Library

Want to visit the not so famous Greek Islands? 

Our complimentary guide to the Greek islands was made to help you find which island suits your style of travel more. Explore 60 famous and not so famous destinations and claim yours below!

Love it? Save it! 

Famous Greek Islands
Famous Greek Islands
Famous Greek Islands
Famous Greek Islands

Rania Kalogirou

Rania grew up in Thessaloniki and after some years of travelling around the globe has now settled down in Auckland, New Zealand. When she’s not studying to complete her undergraduate degree she’s either reading, writing or exploring the outdoors.

She loves going on mini adventures, whether it is an impromptu road trip, exploring her local op shops and antique shops or going on multi-day hikes. She is interested in photography and strongly believes that feta should be consumed with every meal.

She also thinks Greece is the best holiday destination and invites anyone that thinks otherwise to prove her wrong.