World-renowned honeymoon destinations, legendary party, and some of the most significant ruins of the ancient world – the Greek Islands offer something for every kind of traveler. The more famous islands of Santorini, Crete, and Mykonos boast an endless stream of things to do and see, as do the smaller and lesser-known isles scattered throughout the Aegean Sea.
With their own character and vibe that is vastly different from mainland Greece, the islands are definitely somewhere you’ll want to include on your bucket list.
Keep reading to find out what 10 amazing things you can do in the Greek Islands.
10 DISCOVER THE MIRACULOUS PANAGIA EKATONTAPILIANI
Some of the most exciting wonders to discover are on the lesser-known Greek Islands. The island of Paros, for example, boasts the spectacular Panagia Ekatontapiliani, otherwise known as the Church with a Hundred Doors. The Byzantine Church is one of the most sacred sites in Greece, and one of the oldest remaining Byzantine structures.
99 doors have been found so far in the church, and legend has it that the 100th and final door will be discovered when the city of Constantinople, nowadays known as Istanbul, is in Greek hands again.
9 CHECK OUT EUROPE’S OLDEST CITY
Knossos is one of the best landmarks to visit, not just on the island of Crete, but in all of Greece. The city, which was home to 100,000 people during the Bronze Age, is considered by some archaeologists to be the oldest city in Europe. It also holds a special place in Greek mythology where a labyrinth was built to contain the Minotaur son of King Minos.
The Palace of Knossos is arguably the island’s most famous attraction. Here you’ll find the famous Throne Room and the courtyard where the royal family used to entertain guests.
8 ENJOY THE SANTORINI HOT SPRINGS
Located in the center of the Santorini caldera, the island of Nea Kameni is sometimes called the Santorini volcano. Surrounding this volcanic island are warm waters containing many therapeutic benefits. Iron and manganese are found in the hot springs, which protect against a variety of diseases.
To get to these hot springs, you can travel by water from the port of Fira. You can also walk up to the famous volcano of the island, but be aware that it is still active! The last eruption took place in 1953.
7 VISIT THE LEGENDARY ISLAND OF DELOS
As far as Greek mythology goes, Delos is one of the most sacred islands in the Aegean Sea, even though it’s one of the smallest. Twin gods Apollo of the sun and Artemis of the moon were born on the island, and the archaeological precinct is officially a UNESCO World Heritage site.
To visit Delos, you have to travel by boat, with regular tours running from the nearby island of Mykonos. Visits are limited to four hours only, so you won’t want to waste any time once you’re there!
6 EXPLORE RETHYMNO OLD TOWN
Aside from Knossos, Crete is also famous for the old town of Rethymno, which is the third largest city on the island. Standing since the 14th century, the town was once under the control of the Republic of Venice, and reminders of its history can be found everywhere you look. The Catholic churches and renaissance mansions are among the best preserved in the world.
One of the most famous buildings is the Neratze Mosque, which now holds regular music concerts. In its early days, it served as a Venetian church.
5 PARTY AT THE TROPICANA MYKONOS
The island of Mykonos has a reputation for being the party destination of the Greek Islands. Though several establishments on the island would be a dream come true for anybody who likes to party until the early hours of the morning, the most iconic club to check out is Tropicana.
Situated in Paradise Beach, Tropicana first opens its doors before sunset at 4:30 p.m. and blasts its music until late the next morning. Imagine an endless stream of cocktails, Mediterranean dishes, beach view, and party vibes. Having been voted the Travel Channel’s Best Beach Bar, Tropicana is one place you can’t afford to miss.
4 RENT AN ATV
One of the best ways to explore the rugged terrain of the Greek Islands is to rent an ATV or scooter. Some of the bigger islands might require you to rent a car or travel by bus, but on the smaller islands, an ATV is a perfect way to get around. It’s easier to travel this way than by car or public transport and it is definitely much more fun.
Always opt for an ATV over the traditional donkey rides. There’s no cruelty involved, and you can travel where you want at your own pace.
3 EXPLORE THE MOUNT OF ZEUS
The highest peak of the group of islands is located on Naxos. Called Zas, Mount Zeus stands nearly 3,300 feet and features a famous cave, called the Cave of Zeus, on its slopes. In Greek mythology, this is one of the most important caves in existence, since it’s said to be where Zeus hid from his father Cronus.
The trek to the top of the mount might require a little bit of effort, but the views at the end are well worth it. Don’t take our word for it!
2 WITNESS THE BEAUTY OF ELAFONISI BEACH
The Greek Islands are famous for their iconic sunsets and sweeping ocean views. They’re also home to one of the world’s best beaches. Elafonisi Beach, located between Elafonisi and the mainland, attracts flocks of visitors every year thanks to its otherworldly pink sand. Contributing to the beauty is the clear water, which seems like it belongs on a postcard.
The beach features a natural pool of water that’s no higher than knee deep. Many visitors like to relax by simply floating in the water and soaking up the Greek sun.
1 WATCH THE SUNSET IN SANTORINI
Watching the sunset hardly seems like an exciting thing to do. On the island of Santorini, it’s worth stopping what you’re doing and getting to a prime position just to see it. Often called the prettiest sunset in the world, the sun sinking into the caldera at dusk means that the romantic village of Oia is packed with people almost every night.
If you don’t want to battle it out for a good spot, you can book a sunset cruise that will take you around the island and caldera.