Destinations / Travel

10 islands to visit in Greece that aren’t just Mykonos and Santorini

Best islands to visit greece

It's hard not to think of the Greek islands as a gift from the gods. Dotted with ancient ruins and sun-drenched coastlines, you'll find all this and more, peppered across the Ionian and Aegean waters. At this point, we know Mykonos is the place to chase a never-ending party and Santorini is a honeymooners retreat, but given that Greece is home to more than 6,000 islands, we can't help but ask: what about the rest?

That's why below we're bringing you 10 islands on our post-pandemic travel bucket lists. From up-and-comer Milos to artist's haven Hydra, these are the destinations that have our hearts. So since we've finally made it to the other side of Australia's travel ban, we're thinking what better way to celebrate than with a trip to Greece?


1. Hydra


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You come to Greece and expect a history lesson, but Hydra arrives (a brief two hour boat ride from Athens) with its own mythology as the artist's island. Part of this has to do to with the fact that it is home to The School of Fine Arts and that it's old slaughterhouse puts on a rotating exhibition of contemporary art each summer. But mostly it's because of the company it attracts. Leonard Cohen famously settled on the island in the 60s where he met his former lover Marianne Ihlen, Juergen Teller has a home here, and art collector Dakis Joannou sails his Jeff Koons yacht 'Guilty' to the island frequently. Cars, bicycles and just about all other land vehicles are banned on Hydra, which is a stroke of genius that has meant the island has staved off development. There are no street names either. All that's left to do is swim off its craggy shores, sail and get lost – just the way we like it.


2. Zakynthos

You might hear Zakynthos referred to by its Italian name Zante, and both are interchangeable. The island is the perfect escape for those with toddlers or lugging around teenagers. It draws attention for its famous Navagio Beach, a dramatic cove embellished with a shipwreck and turquoise waters as far as the eye can see and is thought of as Greece's green island, due to its nature reserves, a hatching ground from endangered loggerhead turtles, wildlife sanctuaries and rugged mountainous inland that makes for good mountain-biking and hiking material.


3. Santorini

Honeymoon island. To sing about the beauty of Santorini might come off as cliché, but it's earned this reputation for a reason, bougainvillea and all. The view behind Santorini's flood volcanic crater is enough to stir even the most jaded traveller back to their senses. Visit the hot springs at Palia Kameni and go on the obligatory boat trip to see Nea Kameni. Aside from that, just sit back and enjoy the view.


4. Milos

For a long time Milos was overlooked by travellers due to its mining industry. But now that it's closed up shop, the island is becoming something of an up-and-comer. You'll recognise Milos by the endless Instagram snaps of the lunar-shaped white cliffs at Sarakiniko, the natural curvature of swimming hole Papafragas and the colourful boat houses at Mandrakia. Or if you're a history buff, you'll know it as the place the Venus de Milo was discovered. Either way, Milos provides the landscape necessary for those seeking out an aquatic vacation.


5. Corfu


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A little bit Venetian, a little bit British and a touch French, Corfu has absorbed all of its colonial influences which show in its Venetian architecture and rowdy southern town of Kavos, a place brimming with vacationing Brits. Among the seven Ionian islands, Corfu holds the title of the cosmopolitan option. Besides endless beaches to laze by, it's worth a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Old Corfu Town part way down the island.


6. Folegandros

Begin at the capital, Chora, a salt-hued town perched atop a cliff. Catch up on local gossip, taste the energy and then set off on foot to explore the island. It's peaceful here, a place for those craving a gentle holiday. Walk the zig-zag stairs to up to Panagia church and slip into the arid landscape, swim in its many quiet beaches. What Folegandros lacks in greenery it makes up for with seafood; octopus is dancing one moment in the water and the next hangs from a clothesline to be served at dinner. Fat prawns are found in abundance, while pigeon and rabbit make for earthy eating.


7. Crete


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Where some islands boast quiet living, Crete is its polar opposite. As the largest island in Greece and the most populated, Crete is buzzing with personality; a place for exploring ancient treasures, rugged landscapes and lively villages. Did we mention it's also the birthplace of Zeus? Add visiting the cave where the god was born to your list, if you can fit it in between eating, snorkelling and hiking.


8. Skiathos

Let's get this out of the way first. We watched Mamma Mia, we loved it and yes, there were scenes filmed in Skiathos. We would check it out too. But beyond the greatest film to ever exist, Skiathos has other draw cards too. Take its deep blue beaches for example, ocean-side restaurants like Sklithri and all the trimmings you need to slip seamlessly from bed, to beach to bar.


9. Ithaca

For solo pilgrims and lovers, disappear into the mythical and mystery that coats Ithaca. Untouched by heavy tourism and just out of reach, this island is known the world over as the birthplace of Homer's Odysseus. Byzantine frescoes line the walls of the church at Anogi and Kioni is a verdant seaside treasure lined with fishing boats and restaurants to cook their catch.


10. Mykonos

If being wholesome and eating Greek salad loses its charm, Mykonos is poised to fulfil your craving for debauchery and dancing. Stop in at Scorpios and Jackie O for a night to remember that you sadly won't, and drag yourself to Fokos taverna the next day to restore a little life into your hungover self.

With little else on our minds as the northern hemisphere heats up, read what the RUSSH editors are packing to bask in the European sun.

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