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Die Bucht von Balos auf Kreta, Bild: leoks / shutterstock

The 5 most popular Greek islands

Greece has 2500 islands. Of these, about 120 are (at least partially) inhabited. We have taken a closer look at the five most popular Greek islands. These include Rhodes with its fascinating old town and the summer party stronghold of Mykonos, which attracts only true connoisseurs in winter. Crete with its original beaches and countless olive groves is also one of them. The green island of Corfu and also Kos with its family-friendly hotels find a place in the top 5 list.

Mykonos: The party stronghold with the pelican as a landmark

Greek Islands, Mykonos
The port of Mykonos, Image: Pawel Kazmierczak / shutterstock

Mykonos is more than a party stronghold

The island is nicknamed “jet-set darling” and “disco island”, but these are all just clichés. Mykonos Town is the most beautiful place in the Cyclades Islands. Anyone who has ever strolled through the alleys of the lively port city will never get away from it. The atmosphere in the evening is unique, when sirtaki dancing and red wine is served in the restaurants. From the harbour promenade you can see the illuminated cruise ships moored in the roadstead. The backdrop behind it is a row of white cube houses, winding alleys, quaint taverns and ancient churches. Mykonos stands for the original Greek island life. If you want to experience something, you will find an exciting nightlife everywhere.

Windmills and a pelican

For decades, the windmills above the city were the landmark of the island. No other sight in the Cyclades has been photographed so often. But then an injured pelican washed up on a beach. The islanders took care of him. After his recovery, he was considered the new landmark of the island. In the meantime, the pelican has already been inherited and his successor Petros II comes from a German zoo. He makes the harbor area unsafe, patrols the beach promenade and begs for fish in front of the restaurants.

Rhodes: Turquoise blue water, beautiful bays and a historic old town

Rhodes
The marina port of Rhodes, Image: Nejdet Duzen / shutterstock

Rhodes Town: Modernity meets history

Rhodes Town cannot be described, you have to experience the atmosphere. Young islanders chase through the narrow streets on their scooters and besiege the pubs in the evening. During the day, the stalls of the souvenir shops are lined up. In between are Gothic buildings, the Grand Master’s Palace with its Romanesque mosaics, the Byzantine church with its beautiful murals and the Rejep Pasha Mosque. The Collos of Rhodes was destroyed by an earthquake in 227 BC, but in the harbour you can see deer and hind, which are now considered the symbols of the island.

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Holiday hotels, picturesque bays and beautiful beaches

Just a few kilometres beyond Rhodes Town, the island of Rhodes is just the way holidaymakers love it. Small boats cavort in the turquoise bays, the taverns smell of freshly prepared gyros and on the beach you can enjoy your holiday in warm temperatures and with lots of attractions. Among the most popular places is Faliraki. The former fishing village has devoted itself entirely to tourism. Here you will find a variety of beautiful hotels, the best shopping facilities and well-kept beaches. In addition, Rhodes attracts with numerous excursion possibilities, such as the Acropolis of Lindos or the famous Valley of the Butterflies.

Kos: Hippocrates’ Oath, Healing Baths and Roman History

Greek Islands, Kos
Kos offers many beautiful beaches, Image: George Papapostolou / shutterstock

The Oath of Hippocrates and the Ancient Romans

Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine. Every tourist knows the ancient plane tree under which he once taught his medical students. But there is no getting around the learned physician in any other way either. His bust is a popular souvenir and even hotels bear his name. The Romans have also left their mark everywhere on Kos. Old walls and Roman columns characterize the image of the island. Remains of a temple of Dionysus and a stadium can also be visited. If you want to learn more about it, you have to visit the Archaeological Museum. Also worth seeing is the Casa Romana, a reconstructed Roman villa. It has Corinthian columns and was built in the Pompeian style.

Spas, beaches and shopping of a different kind

Kitsch and knickknacks can also be bought on Kos in all variations. But a real shopping tour also leads to the ceramic shops of the island. Here you can still experience good old crafts up close. The works made of alabaster and onyx are also original souvenirs. After an extensive shopping tour, you can relax in the thermal baths of Embros. They are located directly on the beach and the thermal water here is up to 40 degrees warm. Lively beaches can be found around Kos Town. If you like it quieter, you can swim at Kefalos. There is always a light breeze on the beaches of Marmari. No wonder that the surfers of the island meet here.

Crete: The Island of Contrasts and Contrasts

Skiing in the morning and swimming in the sea in the evening

Crete, Chania
The beautiful town of Chania, Image: Georgios Tsichlis / shutterstock

Crete is unique and full of contrasts. It is the only island where you can ski in the morning and swim in the sea in the evening. There is still snow on the Nida plateau until March, while summer temperatures can already be found down on the coast. In between, the fruit trees bloom and yellow fields full of wood sorrel stretch. If you love nightlife, you can stroll through the narrow streets of the island’s capital Heraklion in the evening. If you like peace and quiet, you can hike through the Almyros Valley. Here you are guaranteed not to meet any people, but a few mountain goats. Chania and Heraklion are lively holiday strongholds. More tranquil is along Mirabello Bay. Here you will find a quiet spot on the beach even in summer.

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Crete – packed with sights

There is never a dull moment in Crete. If you’ve had enough of beach life, you’ll find countless opportunities here. Among the main attractions are the ruins of Knossos. The important excavation site attracts visitors with unique remains of baths, workshops, residential buildings and sanctuaries. In the Archaeological Museum you can admire finds from all eras. They were all excavated on the island. No less interesting are the Festos Palace ruins. They lie off the beaten track in the Messara Plain and were destroyed by an earthquake. The most beautiful panorama of the island can be enjoyed above the bay of Matala. Here, hiking trails lead directly down to the sea. Down on the beach, fish restaurants invite you to linger. In the streets of the island’s capital, you can combine shopping and culinary delights. In the restaurants at the fish market, the seafood comes into the kitchens freshly caught. A popular souvenir are works made of porcelain and ceramics.

Corfu: The Emerald Isle with a German Hero

Greek Islands Corfu
Corfu, Image: Cristian Balate / shutterstock

A victorious Saxon and the beauties of Corfu Town

The islanders like to tell the German guests about Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, whom they still celebrate as a hero today. The warlord successfully defended the island against Turkish attackers in 1716. For this, he received a marble monument during his lifetime, which can still be admired at the old fortress of Corfu Town. Spianada Square is one of the most beautiful places on the island. It was built by the French and is reminiscent of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Corfu Town should be explored extensively. There are a variety of shopping opportunities and the quaint taverns are ideal for a break. Out of season, it is cozy here. Then you also get into conversation with the islanders, who welcome you with warmth.

Green forests and blue sea

Corfu is considered the greenest island in Greece. Elms, aspens, oaks and cypresses provide shade everywhere and countless wildflowers bloom all around. It is estimated that there are over four million olive trees on the island. In addition, 36 different species of orchids grow here. This plant world is surrounded by fantastically beautiful bays. Small sandy beaches make the hearts of holidaymakers beat faster and the crystal clear water invites you to swim. The hotels on the slopes are popular. From here you can enjoy a unique panorama, such as at Benittses. In the restaurants away from the tourist areas, you can still enjoy the real Corfiot cuisine. A treat for the palate is “Burdeto”, a fried sea bream served with spicy pepperoni.

The inhabited islands of Greece at a glance

Attica

  • Aegina
  • Angistri
  • Docos
  • Hydra
  • Poros
  • Salamina
  • Spetses
  • Spetsopoula

Halkidiki

  • Ammouliani
  • Spalathronisia

Dodecanese

  • Agathonissi
  • Arki
  • Astypalaia
  • Halki
  • Farmakonissi (military base)
  • Giali
  • Kalolimnos (military base)
  • Kalymnos
  • Karpathos
  • Kassos
  • Kastellorizo
  • Kinaros
  • Kos
  • Levithas
  • Leros
  • Lipsi
  • Marathi
  • Nissiros
  • Patmos
  • Plati
  • Pserimos
  • Rhodes
  • Ro (military base)
  • Saria
  • Strogilí (military base)
  • Symi
  • Telendos
  • Tilos

Epirus

  • Ioannina
  • Koronisia

Evia

Ionian Islands

Crete

 

Cyclades

Macedonia

  • Agios Achillios

North Aegean

Peloponnese

  • Antikythera
  • Elafonisos
  • Koronis
  • Kythera
  • Sapientza

Sporades

Thessaly

  • Alatas
  • Paleo Trikeri

Central Greece

  • Tourlis
  • Trizonia