Island Hopping: Navigating Greece’s Island System

Greece is composed of a set of islands that are just waiting to be explored. Away from the sun soaked mainland lies a series of islands and archipelagos that hide some of the best spots on the continent of Europe. With so many treasures out there, though, making your selection can be more than a little difficult. Fear not; while waxing lyrical about the wonders of the Greek isles might be something that could be done for hours, this edited selection will give you everything you ever wanted from your trip overseas.

If long weekends are your thing, then let the island of Hydra be your entry point into Greece. A hot spot for all things artsy and laid back, the island attracts any number of major players in the art world each year. Greece’s most famous art collector, Dakis Joannou, is renowned for his presentations of some of the world’s major artists, and whether you’re gawping at the latest Jeff Koons or Matthew Barney, you’re not going to be disappointed. The island itself is a brisk 2 hours away from the capital, letting you connect to the mainland in a hop, skip and a jump.

Of course, Greece is renowned for its historical offerings and if your curiosity is awakened by the past, you should give the island of Mykonos a go at some point. Bursting with archaeological sites, the island is the perfect place to get your fill of an ancient ruin or two, all before reclining in the nearest bar. Things are certainly not stuck in the past, however, and with any number of beach bars popping up every year, there is more than enough opportunity to sit back and relax.

On the other side of things, Santorini is pulling in serious tourism numbers each year and it’s not hard to see why. The hilly island destination is practically a postcard for laid back Greek life, complete with those signature blue and white buildings. Thanks to an ancient volcanic explosion, the island offers incredible scenery and jet-black beaches. If stunning sunsets are your thing, you need to head here — stat.

Nestled on the water, Greece is overflowing with pretty port towns and when it comes to picturesque spots, Symi is perhaps the prettiest of them all. Mansions finished in the neoclassical style are dotted around the water’s edge, offering a pop of color amidst the blue of the Mediterranean Sea. While the site itself is a bit of a hike, the ruins along the way are well worth a closer look, giving you an insight into the country’s rich cultural history. Take your camera and your walking boots; you’re going to be doing a lot of exercise.

Greece’s largest island, Crete, is one of the most beautiful in the world. Drenched in sunshine the whole year round, Crete is an option in any season, giving you the opportunity to jet off when the moment seizes you. If ruins pique your interest, you need to make a beeline for Knossos, the ancient Minoan palace. Away from that, there are strings of beaches and reams of beautiful spots just waiting to be photographed. An island that has it all, Crete is well worth a look.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.