Zakynthos Islands

Travel Guide: Comprehensive Panorama of Greek Islands

Within the magical cobblestone streets filled with bougenvilla where blue and white blend so dreamy Greek spirit invites to visit. While Santorini is the crown of all Greek islands, the choice of more than 200 inhabited islands flows like a daisy wheel.

The Aegean and Ionian Sea spread up like the turquoise dream between the island pearls. Some of them breath out the ancient life of ruins like Santorini, Rhodes or Crete. Some of them enchant visitors by its nightlife like Mykonos or Ios. Gorgeous beaches should certainly be a reason to visit, then don’t hesitate because Naxos or Paros are calling you.

Greek islands are divided into chains out of which the most famous one is the Cyclades. Let’s dive into this panorama of vast choice of Greek islands.

Aegean Sea

The largest group of islands is beind divided into Cyclades including 56 of the most famous islands among which Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Naxos, Paros, Ios.

Santorini Island

Magical island which is a symbol for romance is recognizable by its cliffy streets, churches of the blue roofs and stunning sunsets hides thousands of reasons to come. Covered in volcanic formations Santorini is a picturesque promise of rich greek experience.

Fira Town

Fira or Thira is the lovely capital of Santorini, the largest place on island with the stunning views. Standing on the western side of island Fira enchants with the views of volcano named Caldera that imposantely stretches on the cliffs. Two volcanic islands- Palaia Kammeni and Nea Kammeni- are faced on the opposite side of Fira.

Fira, Santorini island- photo by Fira Backpackers
Fira, Santorini island- photo by Fira Backpackers

Fira is a vivid and picturesque place with the bursting social and nightlife. Cultural scene of Fira will gift you with the chance to see some museums: The Museum of Prehistoric Thira and Archeological Museum dedicated to all Santorini, Folklore Museum. Numeral galleries picture the life of Fira.

Many restaurants and caffe bars on the caldera interwine with the gift and souvenir shops along the narrow streets. Typic white and blue houses offer the picture-perfect moments, in Fira you can find also picturesque infinity pools across luxury hotels.

Beautifully enlightened during sunset life in Fire stops at this time of the day.

Small port of Fira Skala spices up the views within the easy reach of 587 stairs, it’s also possible to get a cable car.

Firostefani village is located only 10 minutes walking from the Fira centre set up with another package of volcano views through narrow streets.

Kontochori is 15 minutes away from the Fira centre within the tranquille alleys where outdoor summer cinema is placed.

Imerovigli as the highest point of caldera within 30 minutes from the centre.

Oia Town

Oia is the most touristic place on Santorini filled with cute little corners covered with blue domes. The picture-perfect sunsets make Oia so glorious and romantic. It’s a tranquille village where cave houses blend with bougenvillas during summer at the hilly streets.

Oia, Santorini island- photo by Santorini-island.com
Oia, Santorini island- photo by Santorini-island.com

Agia Ekaterini and Panagia Platsani are two ortodox churches, the unmissable sight of Oia. Byzantine Castle offers fantastic views over the sunsets. Windmills of Oia are the charming places where sunset can be caught too. Some other spots for sunset lovers include Skaros Venetian castle in Imerovigli or Akrotiri Lighthouse.

Beaches of Oia lead through hundreds of steps down the cliffs, the closest being Katharos only 1 km from the centre and Baxedes 3 km away and nearby Paradise and Koloumbos beach. The beaches of Santorini are mostly covered with black sand and large rocks. The most fascinating one is probably the Red beach within 12 km from Fira.

The unmarked path from Oia to Fira will take you through wonderful views during 10 km.

Boat trips from Oia to the volcanic islands and Palea Kamini hot springs are the fantastic way to absorb the island.

The archeological sites of Santorini

Akrotiri is a Minoan site that traces back to volcanic eruption destroying it in 1613. BC, recently re-discovered in 1967.

Akrotiri archeological site at Santorini- photo by Greeka
Akrotiri archeological site at Santorini- photo by Greeka

A paralel can be made to Pompei while Akrotiri was never inhabitated.

Ancient Thera which is located on the Mesa Vouno Hill shows the lifestyle of ancient Santorini. Once Santorini was named Thera. It covers the ruined temples, the agora, the theatre and gymnasium.

Mykonos Island

One of the iconic Greek islands Mykonos is a small one so it can be visited in a day or two. Mykonos is known for its windmills as once they served in the wheat production, nowadays there are only 7 of them.

Windmills of Mykonos town- photo by Viator
Windmills of Mykonos town- photo by Viator

Mykonos town itself is the charming wonder of cobblestone streets. Mykonos is famous by its party life just like Ios island. Paradise beach is the most fantastic beach to experience delicious cocktails within the Tropicana Beach Club.

Little Venice is scenic area of the Mykonos town where the sea views blend with the lovely restaurants, souvenir shops just at the waterfront.

Paraportiani church whole in white envelops its five church all in one. Some of the museums that dwell the cultural significance of Mykonos are Folklore Museum and Maritime Museum.

Fantastic boat trips can be done from Mykonos including Delos island and Rheina island. Delos island is the mythological birthplace of Apolo known as archeological site where you can see the House of Cleopatra or the Agora of Italians.

Stunning beaches of Mykonos are sometimes the crowded world like Paraga beach or Psarou beach where the dreamy water colours give fanastic scuba diving experiences. Some quieter beaches include Elia beach which is the longest in the island or Ornos beach, the perfect for family.

Milos Island

Milos island is known by its volcanic nature and thus called “the island of colors“. It’s also known by the famous statue of Venus or Aphrodite which is now placed in the Louvre museum in Paris. It’s the most southern islands of all Cyclades but easily reachable by ferry from Athens.

Milos captures by the enchanting beauty of its beaches, more than 70 of them. Sarakiniko beach is a stunning formation made by lava creating a natural swimming pool. Papafragas beach is a secluded beach created by rocks which shape the letter V. Firapotomos beach is a tranquille beach encircled by white-washed houses and many cliffs made for jumping. Paliochori beach is a fancy beach with lounge chairs and restaurants.

Sarakiniko beach at Milos island- photo by Touristorama
Sarakiniko beach at Milos island- photo by Touristorama

Numeral caves can be found within the Kleftiko chain as the stunning colours exchange themselves.

The capital of Milos- Plaka- is nestled upon the picturesque streets on the top of the hill. Ancient Roman Theatre is placed upon the fabulous seaside view where the legendary Venus was created. Catacombs of Milos are the impressive sight made of volcanic rock.

Pretty village Pollonia is a fishing place enveloped in the typical white houses coloured by bougenvillas.

Paros Island

This sweet little island lies next to another gem Naxos divided only by a tiny canal. Stunning beaches and charming streets make Paros an excellent choice between greek islands.

Parikia and Naoussa are two main villages where elegant restaurants and bars find their place, even the nightlife has a hidden charm. Parikia is a ferry port itself. Lefkes and Marpissa are the villages that breathe more tranquille air.

Naoussa village at Paros island- photo by Going Awesome Places
Naoussa village at Paros island- photo by Going Awesome Places

Enchanting beaches of Paros are the main reason to visit and here’s what they are:

Kolymbithres is the chain of small beaches shaped by the artistic rocks. Particularly popular by windsurfing this beach is located a short drive from Naoussa village.

Santa Maria is known by its shallow water even when you swim deeper. It’s easily accessible from Naoussa even by bus.

Golden beach is one of the largest in Paros specially popular by windsurfers and lovely restaurants.

Butterfly Park is a nature resort open only during the summer when butterflies colour the trees and spell the magic. It’s located only 15 minutes away from Paroikia village.

Paros Park is a stunning collection of hiking trails, rocky landscape and hidden beaches at the North coast of an island. Ancient amphitheatre embedded with fascinating sea views host various events and festivals. An open-air cinema with free entrance can be a stunning night experience. Manastiri beach is the main beach.

Ios Island

This magic island paradise is not framed only as a party island though living this reputation. Chora village is the main and only village on the island but this place bursts with activities.

75 km of the beaches among which Manganari beach is the most famous will keep you entertained. Blue Flag Status is its precious etiquette. Mylopotas beach, Loretzena or Kalamos beach are just some of the most considered.

Mangari beach at Ios island- photo by Unforgetable Greece
Mangari beach at Ios island- photo by Unforgetable Greece

Spectacular views from Odysseas Elytis Amphitheatre enlight this place made for summer concerts. Archeological site of Sarkos is still well preserved.

Author of the Odyssey and Iliad Homer spent a lot of time on the island and his tomb can be visited on the top of the cliff.

Archeological museum in Chora adds to the feeling of antic magic.

Typical windmills of greek islands find their place also in Chora. Panagia Gremniotissa offers an amazing stage for sunsets, just above Chora.

Byzantine Castle of Paleokastro was built in 14. century to protect the island from pirates. Many cliffs and hills are decorated with the cute little white churches, 365 of them spread over the island. One of them is particularly elegant, the Monastery of Agios Ioannis of Kalamos.

Naxos Island

Naxos is the largest od Cyclades islands with the delighting offer of the beaches. Being the greenest of Cyclades Naxos also bursts with mountainous life.

Naxos town at Naxos island- photo by Greek City Times
Naxos town at Naxos island- photo by Greek City Times

Its highest peak is nestled at Mount Zas upon which is believed that Zeus was raised here. Numeral hiking opportunities are among pearls to discover.

The Portara or temple of Apollo is the highlight of Naxos, located near the main town Chora. It’s actually consisting only of a large door.

Chora or Naxos City is the main town upon a hill leading to a castle on its top.

Among the stunning beaches of Naxos Agios Prokopios is the most popular. With their beauty amaze also Plaka beach, Alyko, Agia Anna beach.

Temple of Demeter which is dedicated to Demeter, the goddess of harvest is majestically dignifying the beauty of Naxos. It’s located near the town of Sangri.

Ionian Islands of Greece

On the west coast of Greece Zakynthos and Corfu find their place here.

Zakynthos Island

Turqouise waters of this popular touristic island create magic alone. Commonly known as Zante this stunning island will satisfy all tastes.

Zakynthos town built in classical Venetical style is the cultural heart of the island. The main historic point include church of Agios Dionysios, Byzantine Museum and Venetian castle at the village of Bohali.

Navagio Beach is the highlight of the whole island but the high cliffs that protect it make it impossible to walk directly. That’s why it’s accessible only by boat or guided tour. It’s also called Shipwreck beach.

Navagio Beach at Zakynthos island- photo by Greek City Times
Navagio Beach at Zakynthos island- photo by Greek City Times

Laganas is a touristic village where nightlife plays its rule within the popular Laganas beach and many night clubs. Laganas is also home to Zakynthos National Marine Park where se turtles have their settlement.

Corfu Island

Corfu is a beauty captured in time as it collects Venetian, French and English influences. It’s located close to albanian border. Corfu is one of the greenest greek islands. The legend says that the name comes from the nymph Korkira who was kidnapped by Poseidon to live at the island.

Corfu town itself is a treasure of elegant buildings and beautiful museums, charming square and alleys like the famous Liston promenade. Old Venetian fortress has left its traces at Corfu also like on the other islands.

Corfu town at Corfu island- photo by Matt Barett's Greece Travel Guide
Corfu town at Corfu island- photo by Matt Barett’s Greece Travel Guide

Stunning beaches of Corfu are some of the best found in Greece. Paleokastritsa is a village which hides the history of Odyssey. The Monastery Theotokus from 13. century is an excellent architectural wonder. Exquisite beaches captures the visitors like the most popular Agios Spyridon or one tranquille beach named  Ampelaki. Some of the most stunning beaches of Corfu are Canal del’amour, Sidari beach, Glyfada beach, Kasiopi beach.

Corfu as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of charm and history where food plays the main role.

Conclusion

Greek islands deserve the whole novel dedicated to each chain. Crete as the largest greek island is worth to have a separate description. Most touristic travels stop only at Santorini and Mykonos. Visit smaller and underrated islands means capturing the greek soul, its hidden lifestyle, its fantastic food and absorbing the history that changed the world.

Dreaming of visiting greek islands is the first step into entering fairy-tale where only two colours shape the joy: white and blue. When bougenvilla joins that dream, the wonder is beyond question. Only sunsets will need to prove the magic of greek islands. Greece is probably one of the rarest places where seaside views can substitute the joy of swimming in the sea.

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