Top Greek Islands to Visit in 2023 (As Recommended By Greek Locals!)

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When in Greece, do as the Greeks do. But how do you know which top greek islands to visit if you aren’t a local there? If you travel to Greece and find yourself at the right place at the right time—you may strike up a conversation with a Greek local who can tell you where to go. While I haven’t personally ventured to many of these Greek islands (yet); get the scoop on why these islands came so highly recommended to me by the Greeks and why I wish I knew about them sooner.

1. Ikaria — The Island of Eternal Life

Top greek islands to visit

A Greek knows he can live a long life, should he live on the island of Ikaria. Tasty local cuisine and long walks through nature are to credit for the vitality that inhabitants experience on this island. There’s much natural beauty to see: lush forests, noisy creeks, and valleys decorate this setting with striking detail.

What Makes It Unique: Natural Hydrotherapeutic Springs, Scenic Coves, Unpretentious Taverns
Location: Eastern Aegean—30 Miles Off the Coast of Turkey
How to Get There: 11 Hour Ferry from Athens or 1-Hour Flight from Athens or Thessaloniki
Length of Stay: 4-5 Days

2. Hydra — The Car(e)less Island

Top greek islands to visit

I found out just how magical a small island can be—one that makes you forget where you are—with mesmerizing memories of the sea. In this town, you can feel the quaintness of the streets, the quality of the local produce, and the curious smiles on lone strangers’ faces. Click here to read what made this island so special when I visited.

What Makes It Unique: Old Mansions, Quaint Alleys, Cliffside Beaches
Location: Below Athens—between the Saronic and Argolic Gulfs
How to Get There: 2.5 Hour Ferry from Athens
Length of Stay: 2-4 Days

3. Milos — The Island from Mars

Top greek islands to visit

Never has a more unique landmass existed than Milos—in my opinion ;). With its horseshoe shape—home to local culture on the east side, and wild, rugged landscapes on the west—you’ll find yourself ready to discover who you are when in Milos. The most enchanting part? Beaches like Sarakiniko draw you in with its bright white volcanic rock. 

What Makes It Unique: Venus de Milo, White Volcanic Rock Beaches, Cliff Jumping
Location: Halfway Between Athens and Crete in the Aegean Sea
How to Get There:  3-4 Hour Ferry Ride from Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, and Paros (Also top greek islands to visit!), or a 45-Minute Flight from Athens
Length of Stay: 1-3 Days

4. Amorgos — The Island of Color

Don’t let this quaint island fool you: there is a lot of personality to go around. Between monasteries, cliff diving, and exploring sunken ships—there’s no shortage of activities to immerse yourself in Amorgos’ authentic culture. At nighttime, head over to one of the island’s traditional taverns to sip on homemade ‘psimeni raki’ and eat the finest local cheese, ‘ladotyri’.

What Makes It Unique: Traditional Taverns, Gourmet Cuisine, Bougainvillea Flowers 🌺
Location: Southeast and Cousin of Mykonos and Santorini
How to Get There:  5-8 Hour Ferry Ride from Athens; No flights on this island, but you can fly from Athens to Naxos… then take a ferry to Katapola or Aegiali (1.5 Hours). 
Length of Stay: 2 Days is ideal, but you can also do 1-3.

5. Paros — Two Islands in One

Top greek islands to visit

Paros put itself on the map with its famous marble quarries—giving builders the fine marble they needed to construct buildings like the Acropolis. Love exploring? Grab a car on this island to make the most of your time. There are plenty of stunning beaches and charming fishing villages to see along the way, but the biggest plot twist of them all? A day trip to Paros’ quieter sister island, Antiparos

What Makes It Unique: Diverse Beaches, Sophisticated Nightlife, Fishing Villages
Location: Middle of the Cyclades Near Naxos, Ios, Sifnos, and Syros
How to Get There: 3-5 Hour Ferry from Athens (Plus Neighboring Islands like Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Ios, or Naxos) or a 40-Minute Flight from Athens
Length of Stay: 2-3 Days

6. Andros — The Culture Shock Island

Top greek islands to visit

If you’re looking for top greek islands to visit and charm you through and through, Andros is it. Between picturesque landscapes, laid-back vibes, and low prices, you’ll get the sense that maybe you’re just another local. Creativity and culture impress with every twist and turn of this town. Discover shrimp spaghetti in Batsi, or have a conversation with a local artist. Andro is your oyster. 

What Makes It Unique: Natural Landscapes, Venetian Architecture, Endless Beaches
Location: Northernmost Island of the Cyclades Island Group
How to Get There: 1-Hour Ferry from Athens or Arrive By Ferry From Neighboring Islands Like Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, and Syros (Did someone say island hopping? 👙)
Length of Stay: 1-3 Days

7. Naxos — The ‘Heart of the Mediterranean’ Island

Top greek islands to visit

Since 4000 BC, Naxos was frequented by diverse cultures and kingdoms like the Thracians, the Ionians, and the great Roman empire. Today world travelers can jump into a car on a hot day in Naxos, perusing top greek islands to visit and see just how much culture was left behind. Feeling more adventurous? Take an ATV up to the infamous cave where Zeus got his lightning bolt—if you dare.

What Makes It Unique: Colorful Buildings, Traditional Villages, ATV Experiences
Location: Center of the Cyclades 
How to Get There: 3 to 5.5 Hour Ferry from Athens or a 40-Minute Flight from Athens (or fly to Paros, Santorini, or Mykonos and take a short ferry to Naxos)
Length of Stay: 3-5 Days

8. Tinos — The Spiritual Island

Picture Mykonos’ holier sister island and you’d get Tinos. Walking around the traditional villages, you can feel the tranquility in the air. Quaint monasteries and winding roads ladder up to the hillsides. The island is mostly quiet except for every year on Assumption Day on August 15th, when people from all over Greece gather to see the iconic Virgin Mary for themselves. Can I get an Amen?

What Makes It Unique: Mountainous Villages, Byzantine Monasteries, Eye-Catching Dovecotes
Location: Between Andros and Mykonos
How to Get There: 3.5 Hour Ferry from Athens or Fly into Mykonos and Take the 35-Min Ferry
Length of Stay: 1-3 Days

9. Serifos — The Windmill Island

Welcome to the off-the-beaten-path island of Serifos. She’ll not only charm you with her windmills that scatter the hillside, but with the underwhelming number of tourists. Get lost in the picturesque capital of Chora, or wander the dreamy coastline to beaches like Psili Ammos (rated the best beach in Europe in ‘03). Once you travel there, you’ll realize that Serifos is truly a hidden gem. 

What Makes It Unique: Whitewashed Houses, Breathtaking Views, 70+ Beaches
Location: In the Western Cyclades, South of Kythnos and Northwest of Sifnos
How to Get There: 3-Hour Ferry from Athens (This is the only way since there are no airports in Serifos!)
Length of Stay: 1-3 Days

10. Thassos — The Wanderer’s Island

Top greek islands to visit

With a mere population of 13,055, aren’t you curious how these locals managed to score this stunning island for themselves? Simplicity serves their culture best, with one circular road that takes you around the island hosting the freshest local markets around. Stumble upon neighboring coastal villages or take a dip in their crystal clear blue lagoon—it’s a day in the life of Thassos. 

What Makes It Unique: Delicious Seafood, Ancient Ruins, Giola Lagoon
Location: Northern Tip of the Aegean Sea
How to Get There:  Ferry Only from Kavala (1.5 Hours) and Keramoti (35 Minutes). If you plan on flying, it’s recommended to fly into Kavala from Athens, and then ferry over.)
Length of Stay: 1-3 Days

BONUS: Thessaloniki — Greece’s Second Largest City

While Thessaloniki isn’t an island, it’s worth mentioning if you’re looking for a vibrant city to get lost in the moment. Booming with local markets, esteemed art museums, and lively nightlife—there’s no shortage of amazing things to do and see. Another local secret you won’t want to miss out on is a day trip to Halkidiki Peninsula: featuring some of the finest views in Greece.

What Makes It Unique: Seaside Promenade, Homemade Bougatsa, Axios Delta National Park 
Location: Northern Greece, Central Macedonia
How to Get There: Fly Direct
Length of Stay: 1-2 Days

That’s a Wrap!

From colorful to car(e)less, these top greek islands to visit have something unique to contribute to your experience of Greek culture. Whether a family-friendly atmosphere or a local tavern is more your vibe, there’s something interesting for everyone traveling to Greece. Now that you’ve gotten the local scoop, it’s time to start planning your trip since next time when you travel to Greece, you’ll be able to vacation as the Greeks do. 

If you’ve been to any of these islands, let other travelers know about your experience in the comments. Until next time!

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