Beach lovers, foodies, hikers, and history buffs—a Greek Islands tour has something for every travel craving. Here’s your cheat sheet of what to do on Santorini, Crete, Mykonos, and Corfu.
What to do in Santorini: Come for the sunsets
Santorini’s own spin on beach beauty
Forget soft golden sand—Santorini’s beaches offer anything but. Kamari Beach is famous for its black sand and Red Beach stuns with its (unsurprisingly) red rock sand, both offering a completely different seaside setting. In fact, the most popular swimming spot isn’t at a beach at all. It’s at Amoudi Bay, below the cliffside city of Oia.
The caldera is a four-mile wide basin at the center of Santorini, and locals and visitors alike are drawn to sea views that celebrate this natural wonder. One of the best spots to take in this view? The hilltop town of Oia at sunset—perhaps the most quintessential Santorini experience. Wander through the maze of pathways and hidden corners that run through the whitewashed village, post up on the cliffs to watch the sun go down, and settle in for dinner in a taverna, a family-run restaurant usually tucked into a side street.
Beyond the basics
There is so much to do in Santorini. The island offers lots of opportunities for town-to-town hikes, archeological viewing at the Akrotiri excavations, wine tasting of its trendy volcanic white wines, and even outdoor movie nights. And remember, Santorini is a little archipelago all its own. Thira, the main island, is home to Santorini’s biggest towns of Fira and Oia. Next in line is Thirassia, where you’ll only hear the lull of crashing waves and Greek being spoken by the 270ish locals. There’s also a handful of uninhabited islands, which you can see from aboard a cruise boat jetting around the crystal clear waters.
What to do in Crete: Come for the culture
As the largest of the Greek Islands, Crete has something for everyone—great beaches, beautiful hikes, and interesting history. One highlight all visitors will agree on? The food! Considered the culinary hub of the islands, locally sourced olive oil, wine, honey, mountain herbs, and Cretan cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk can all be found here.
The city of Chania has a mix of Venetian and Turkish influences, and offers great opportunities for shopping. Stepping back from its picturesque Venetian Harbor, the city’s quaint Old Town has zigzagging streets—the perfect spot to spend an afternoon getting lost just strolling around.
Step back in time
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. The Venetian Caste in Loutro is another opportunity to explore local ruins on foot; hikers can make their way right up through the castle grounds.
What to do in Mykonos: Come for the beaches
The picturesque windmills in Mykonos Town are a traveler-favorite. For cute shops and romantic restaurants, Little Venice is the place to go.
A glamorous past
A longtime playground for jetsetters, Mykonos has the ingredients for a good time: gorgeous beaches, bohemian-chic restaurants, and lots of options for nightlight and entertainment. While it’s been popular with European A-listers for ages, Jackie Kennedy Onassis is credited for putting the island in the limelight back here in the states.
Catch up some rays
Mykonos has some of the Greek Islands‘ best beaches. Head over to Platys Gialos Beach (reachable by bus from Mykonos Town) for unbeatable views, Paradise Beach for a lively seaside bar scene, or Fokos Beach for a more secluded setting.
What to do in Corfu: Come for the greenery
Northwest of mainland Greece, close to the Albania 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. The forested landscape extends to the water’s edge and jagged cliffs, making the island an excellent (read: shaded!) choice for hikers.
A global spin on island life
Heavily influenced by the Europeans, Corfu takes pride in its museums, palaces, and cultural institutions. This influence floods into their flavors as well. Alongside traditional Mediterranean specialities, you’ll find gingerbeer, a British drink that locals whole-heartedly embraced (ask for Tsitsibeera), English breakfast, and Middle Eastern kumquat liqueur.
Old town, new treasures
Corfu City is the island’s UNESCO-recognized old town. A stroll through its tangle of cobblestone street and elegant archways opens up to its legendary Liston, a charming arcade inspired by Paris’ Rue de Rivoli and lined with restaurants and boutiques.
Have you ever been visited these idyllic isles? Tell us your Greek Island travel tips in the comments below?