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BlogTravel buzz6 of Greece’s islands you can’t miss this summer
white buildings along the coast in greece on a sunny day
Travel buzz

6 of Greece’s islands you can’t miss this summer

Mar 01, 2023 by Adam Amundson

Strolling along quaint stone streets on your way to the taverna for lunch. Lounging on world-famous beaches while you soak in the summer sun. Engaging with cultural sites that date back to ancient mythology. Trips to Greece in the summer check every box, with plenty of options to satisfy your travel craving. So, if you’re looking for the best islands to visit in Greece this summer, we have a location for you. Read on for our definitive list of why to visit each of these six Greek Islands on your next tour of Greece.

1. Santorini

the sunset casting golden rays on white buildings with blue roofs in Santorini

The best Greek Island for unbeatable sunset views

Santorini’s beaches are known for their volcanic black sands, offering visitors a unique experience in the Aegean. Kamari Beach is world famous for its ebony shores, while on the opposite side of the island, Red Beach stuns with its red-rock sand. But popular swimming spots and seaside breezes aren’t the best things about Santorini. The picturesque, white-washed Cycladic buildings with their signature blue tops truly shine as the sun starts to sink over the horizon. Here are a few excursions we recommend for your time on one of the best islands in Greece, and reasons why summer is the perfect time to visit. 

Looking for all the best things to do in Santorini? Check out our Santorini Travel Guide

bare feet laying on a wooden plank on a boat with a view of the Santorini coastline

Soak up the sun on our Santorini Caldera Cruise & Dinner excursion

Grab your bathing suit and hop aboard a catamaran. You’ll cruise through Santorini’s awe-inspiring caldera on this thrilling excursion. The cliffside village of Oia on the island’s western side provides the perfect backdrop for postcard-worthy photos. It was once a maritime center for Greece, and small houses remain high on the ridgeline. You’ll snorkel, sunbathe, and swim in the warm waters that were once the bubbling crater of an ancient volcano. Snack and sip local wine as you enjoy the day at sea.

Climb aboard this excursion on our Greek Islands: Mykonos, Santorini & Crete tour

a women holding glass of red wine with Santorini's sapphire blue water in the background

Sip like a local on our Greek Wine Tasting & Lunch excursion

There is so much to do in Santorini. Why not attend a wine tasting so you can dazzle your friends back home with your newly acquired wine knowledge? You will learn about the storied history of winemaking on the island from a local sommelier as you sip on local vintages. From the specific grape varietals that thrive in the volcanic soil to the tasting notes that separate Santorini wines from their counterparts, you’ll learn everything you need to know to make delicious wine selections at sunset dinners the remainder of the trip. 

beachgoers resting on lounge chairs in the dark brown sand and dipping into bright blue sea water

Why visit Santorini during the summer?

It’s quite simple why Santorini is best in the summer. You can spend an entire day soaking up the sun at a world-famous beach, walk to the local taverna for dinner, and still have time to see the sunset every evening. Sunset won’t arrive until nearly 9:00pm local time, so you have plenty of opportunity to catch the stunning views.

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2. Mykonos

a women posing for a candid picture in front of Mykonos's white-colored windmills

The best Greek Island to visit for beaches

Crystal-clear water lapping against shores lined with umbrellas and lounge chairs is a quintessential view from any of Greece’s islands, and no island does it better than Mykonos. Picturesque windmills in Mykonos Town and the romantic restaurants in Little Venice are wonderful destinations for your visit, but the beach should always be the focus for Mykonos. Here are a few things that should be at the top of your list during a free day on the island and reasons why summer is the perfect time to visit.

Check out our complete list of Greece’s most beautiful beaches

white and stone houses on the shoreline of Mykonos, photographed from a boat

Use a free day to soak up the sun at Paradise Beach

If you’re looking for a little adventure to go along with your beachgoing, there is a coastal trail that links Paradise Beach to Paraga and several other beaches. The hike can take up to an hour, but the views are worth every moment. Grab a bus from Mykonos Town and arrive at Paradise Beach early to take full advantage of one of the premier beaches on the island. With bars that spill right out onto the sand and restaurants playing the latest tunes, Paradise—while crowded with beachgoers—is the perfect place to soak in the rays and the local energy of Greek Island life.

ruins of the columns of Sanctuary of Apollo art Delphi with green hills and valleys in the background

Step back in time on Delos

If you want to soak in some history before you head to the sandy shores to soak in the sun, adding our excursion to Delos should top your to-do list. Once an important center for trade in the Aegean, the island is packed with mythological history and sacred sites. Walk along the Lion Terrace and explore the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo on one of the most culturally significant islands of Greece.

Step back in time on Delos during our Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour

a women sitting at a restaurant table on the edge of the sea, photographed from behind, facing the bright blue water

Why visit Mykonos during the summer?

To truly experience the beach bar and live music scene that has made Mykonos world-renowned, you must go during the summer. Whether you come for the scenic coastal trails, the A-list celebrity watching, or the sunny beaches, Mykonos will provide an incredible travel story for your return home.

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3. Crete

the colorful buildings on the shoreline of Crete, photographed from the water

The best Greek Island for culture

The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete has something for everyone: beautiful beaches, scenic hikes, and deep cultural history. The first human inhabitants of Crete walked the shores nearly 130,000 years ago, during the Paleolithic Age. From Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman occupations, the island is rich with cultural sites. Here are a few of our favorite spots to visit during your time in Crete, and why we think summer is the perfect time to make the trip.

Catch up on millennia of culture during our Greek Islands for Solo Travelers: Crete & Santorini tour

someone selling trinkets outside of Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque, an Ottoman era domed mosque made of off white colored stones

Celebrate the deep culture of Chania

The city of Chania has a mix of Venetian, Turkish, and Jewish influences and is home to a cathedral, mosque, and the only synagogue on the island. Stepping back from the picturesque Venetian Harbor, the city’s quaint Old Town has zigzagging streets—providing the perfect opportunity to spend an afternoon getting lost and soaking up the history of the Greek Islands.

the ruins of Royal Minoan Palace, featuring its red, blue, and yellow columns and polka dot molding

Step back in time as you walk through ancient sites

A can’t-miss for history buffs, the ruins of the Royal Minoan Palace at Knossos offer a look into what the island was like millennia ago. Dating to the Bronze Age, Knossos has been called Europe’s oldest city. One top site to see is the Koules of Loutro, which is a 19th-century Turkish fortification. Visiting is a great opportunity to walk back in time as you explore the ruins on foot. Hikers can walk right up to the protected monument that was used as a school until the middle of the 20th century.

See a complete list of our favorite things to do in Crete

colorful string lights hanging in a tree above restaurant tables that look out over the shoreline of Crete

Why visit Crete during the summer?

Crete has one of the most ideal climates in all of Europe. Ample sunshine, warm water, evening breezes, and low rainfall totals make it one of the best islands to visit in Greece during the summer. You might come for the sun, but you’ll remember the unforgettable cultural sites that make Crete truly unique.

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4. Paros

a bowl of vegetables sitting on a restaurant table, surrounded by fuchsia colored flowers, with a view of the water

The best Greek Island to visit for outdoor dining

Coffee shops, tavernas, and family-run wineries are among the diverse options that make Paros one of the best islands to visit in Greece. From the capital port city of Parikia to the mountain village of Lefkes to the colorful harborside city of Naousa, Paros is at the top of our list of Greek Islands to visit this summer. The sights and sounds of the island are on full display as you sip and snack your way from small patios in the hills to large outdoor dining spaces along the water.

Taste the beauty of summer on our Greece’s Cyclades Islands: Naxos & Paros tour

a stone alley lines with pink bougainvillea trees growing up the side white buildings with blue railing

Wind through the walkways of Naousa

What was once a quaint fishing village on the north side of the island is now a culinary hotspot for locals and visitors alike. Fresh seafood still arrives on shore daily and the back streets house some of the most delicious pastry shops on the islands of Greece. During our Greece trips you’ll enjoy a visit to a family-run winery. There, you’ll learn about the vineyard’s unique practice of growing grapes close to the ground to protect them from the strong sea breezes.

a blue dinghy boat floating in water in front of the white buildings on Paros's shoreline, photographed at dusk through a hole in a stone wall

Lunch like a local in Lefkes

Grab a latte and stroll along stone walls that date back to the Middle Ages as you make your way towards the Church of the Holy Trinity. This exquisite, Byzantine, white marble structure looks out over the village. You will work up an appetite in this pedestrian-only village, so pop into a local taverna for lunch on the cobbled patios that overlook the island.

Curious about what to order in Paros? Read more about the 5 dishes you must eat while visiting the Greek Islands

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5. Naxos

people crossing a stone walkway connecting two stretches of land in Naxos as the setting sun beams on white buildings across the water

The best Greek Island to visit for ancient ruins

The largest island in the Cyclades chain of Greece’s islands, Naxos is a hidden gem that you can’t miss on a summer visit. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was raised in a cave on the island and Poseidon was passing Naxos in his chariot when he first saw his future wife on the island. All this mythology makes the temples, sanctuaries, and monuments on Naxos some of the most impressive on any of the islands in Greece.

ruins of an arch on a hill overlooking the sea,  silhouetted with the sun setting in the background

Frame the Portara in an unforgettable photo

The causeway at the edge of the Old Town leads to a tiny islet where the unfinished Temple of Apollo sits, overlooking the sea. Known as the Portara, a nearly 20-foot-tall marble doorway serves as the entrance to the 6th-century BC temple, which was never completed. Today, you can stand at the opening and imagine the massive building that never was while you frame the setting sun for a truly memorable vacation photo.

Step back in time when you explore the ruins on our Greece’s Cyclades Islands: Naxos & Paros tour

a women stirring an orange cocktail over ice, with a glass full of popcorn and a orange drink in a martini glass in the background

Hike to a picturesque village

On our optional Apeiranthos Village Hike, Lunch & Liquor Tasting excursion, you will drive to the mountainous region of the island to set off on a walking tour of the village’s marble streets. Visit a local women’s cooperative to learn how traditional woven textiles have been made for generations. Then, see one of the oldest Christian monuments in the Mediterranean before stopping for lunch on your way to Vallindras Distillery. Here, you’ll learn how kitron is produced, which is a liquor made from the fruits and leaves of the citron tree (think of a lemon tree, but stronger and slightly more acidic). Taste the local liquor before heading down the mountain to your hotel.

the buildings on the shoreline of Naxos lit up at night

Why visit Naxos in the summer?

Many of the islands in Greece become very hot in the summer, but due to its location and the ocean breezes, Naxos manages to stay just a touch cooler than many of the other islands. Early sunrises and late sunsets contribute to unforgettable views on one of the best islands in Greece.

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6. Corfu

a bay filled with bright blue water surrounded by greenery on Corfu Island

The best Greek Island to visit for postcard views

Northwest of mainland Greece, close to the Albanian border, this Ionian island feels quite different than many of its neighbors. In fact, this leafy retreat is almost completely covered in olive trees, with citrus trees and cypresses sprinkled in, leading you to believe you could be in Northern Italy instead of one of the best islands in Greece.

the Greek-style church of Saint George, constructed with beige stone featuring large columns and a cross on top

Sample the global influence on the island

Heavily influenced by the Europeans, Corfu takes pride in its museums, palaces, and cultural institutions. You’ll visit the regal palace that was once the summer home of German Kaiser Wilhelm and the Spianada, the largest square in Greece, which was inspired by Italian architecture.

pink and orange buildings in a city square with restaurants tables set up outside

Snap a picture-perfect view in the Old Town

Corfu Town is the island’s UNESCO-recognized Old Town. A stroll through its tangle of cobblestone streets and elegant archways opens to the legendary Liston, a charming arcade inspired by Paris’ Rue de Rivoli and lined with restaurants and boutiques. Every turn produces views that are worthy of your travel scrapbook, but we think the best moments happen as the sun begins to sink below the horizon. The fading light throws shadows on the bright facades and charming balconies of the stone city, creating stunning photo-worthy moments.

Capture every moment on Corfu during our Athens & Ancient Greece tour

sail boats docked on the Corfu Marina with hills in the background

Why visit Corfu during the summer?

The sea is at its calmest in the summer, allowing you to drop down a tree-lined trail and dip your toes in the nearest body of water from almost anywhere on Corfu. Each minute spent exploring is sure to produce another memorable moment, making Corfu one of the best Greek Islands to visit in summer.

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There are over 200 islands you could visit on a trip to Greece. Are you ready to take the plunge into the crystal blue waters and dive head first into culture and cuisine on one of our Greece tours? Whether you eat and drink your way from island to island or immerse yourself in the ancient history of the tiny towns you visit along the way, we know any time spent traveling throughout Greece in the summer is sure to produce lifelong memories.

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About the author | Adam Amundson
Adam believes that we learn about ourselves when we experience new cultures—whether that’s a riverside stroll in Portugal, dinner in a Sicilian cave, or popping a bottle of Champagne with his wife on the Garden of the Eiffel Tower. When he’s not writing about all the amazing places to visit across the globe, he’s likely out for a run, grabbing cocktails with friends, or going for walks along the docks with his rescue pup, Fenway.

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views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground
views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground
A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini
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