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Coastline of the village of Assos on the island of Kefalonia, Greece
Freesurf | Adobe Stock

Five Greek Islands to Avoid—and Five to Visit Instead

When seasoned travelers visit Greece, they frequently plan their trip to include the Greek Islands. These islands are renowned for their breathtaking scenery.  However, despite their shared Mediterranean climate, not all islands are equal. Here are some traveler-inspired recommendations for the five Greek islands to avoid – and the five best to see. 

The Five Greek Islands to Avoid 

1. Kos

Boats in a port on the Greek island of Kos on a clear sunny day
imagIN photography | Adobe Stock

The beaches at Kos seem to stretch forever. Unfortunately, so do the lines to get there. Tourists line the beaches, making for a rather unpleasant experience. Even historical sites like Neratzia Castle have become overrun. The same fate may decrease the pleasure you’d expect when visiting the ancient Agoran ruins. While the scenery may be stunning, the crowds will make you wish you had picked a different island.

2. Zakynthos

Small boat sailing into the port on the Greek island of Zakynthos
Ana Tramont | Adobe Stock

Zakynthos’s greatest draw is, ironically, also its most significant drawback. Internationally known for relaxing beaches, it draws an overload of tourists. The “shipwreck beach” is a “must-see” photo op – so it’s also too chaotic to enjoy.

Religious pilgrims seeking prayer may journey to Agios Georgios Krimnon. Unfortunately, many tourists don’t respect the spiritual nature., and their irreverence can make it difficult to enjoy your visit.

3. Rhodes

The village of Lindos and the adjacent Acropolis on the Greek island of Rhodes
ecstk22 | Adobe Stock

Many have heard of the Colossus at Rhodes. The island of Rhodes was recently reported to be overcrowded and overpriced. Students of history will flock to Old Town for its historic buildings- but may end up disappointed at its poorly tended paths. 

Some historical attractions, like the Street of Knights, are still worth visiting most of the year. However, summer unleashes too many tourists. This subdues those inspirational sights with too many crowds. A subpar visit can tarnish even sacred landmarks like the Suleymaniye Mosque

4. Santorini

White and blue houses on the coastline of the Greek island of Santorini
Patryk Kosmider | Adobe Stock

Known for tempestuous volcanoes and spellbinding sunsets, Santorini should be a paradise for vacationers. The island hosted two million tourists last year. However, reviewers reported dirty beaches and overcrowded nightclubs.

Past visitors have also reported too many cruise ships clogging the harbors. Even mesmerizing red and black lava pebbles on the beach can’t make up for crowds of boisterous tourists. While the Santorini Caldera (cavern) should be a place for reflection, it’s allegedly too unkempt.

5. Mykonos 

Outdoor dining patio along the coast of the Greek island of Mykonos
pkazmierczak | Adobe Stock

Although Mykonos is known for its amazing beaches, thriving nightlife, and unique downtown architecture, it’s unanimously cited as the least enjoyable Greek Isle for visitors. Reviewers reported crowded beaches and overpriced snacks. One beach’s gift shop listed the price of two sunbeds and an umbrella at over 135 euros.

It’s easy to see why Mykonos is so famous. Its Cycladic ivory white homes make it a perfect setting for tranquility. Yet, streams of bargain-hungry tourists rob the city of its potential charm. 

The Five Greek Islands to Visit Instead

5. Corfu

Coastline of Kerkyra, capital of Corfu island, Greece
Aleh Varanishcha | Adobe Stock

Corfu is known for its lively nightlife. Like other famous Ionian islands, there are plenty of beaches, including Porto Timoni. The most famous beach is the enchanting Canal d’Amour (channel of love), surrounded by its sandstone cliffs. 

Many visitors to Corfu enjoy renting a boat, as speeding along the Ionian coast is a unique way to enjoy the view. You can learn about beekeeping and savor the sweetness of fresh honey from “Mr. Honey” – a veteran apiarist at the Corfu Honey Farm.

4. Crete

Agios Nikolaos City on the Greek island of Crete
Mariana Ianovska | Adobe Stock

Crete is the largest island in Greece. It offers euphoric scenery and hiking trails. Its most famous beach is Balos Lagoon, the perfect spot to relax in the sun. History lovers can trek through the ruins of the Minoan settlement, where can gaze upon rows of crumbling castles. Stand transfixed at the 18th-century Agios Nikolaos, where you’ll learn about the Greek pioneers of faith.

3. Skiathos

Megali Ammos beach on the Greek island of Skiathos
dave0992 | Adobe Stock

Skiathos is considered the most cosmopolitan of the Sporades islands. Beaches are the island’s best feature, with over 60 beaches framed by dark pine trees. Lalari, one of the famous Skiathos beaches, boasts silvery pebbles and turquoise waters.

Head away from the beaches to the Evangelistria Monastery, built in 1794. The monastery sheltered fighters in the War of Greek Independence. The monks will invite you to sample fresh olive oil and delectable wine.

2. Lefkada

People enjoying the beach and coastline on the Greek island of Lefkada
Freesurf | Adobe Stock

Lefkada is another one of the Ionian islands, and it’s famed for beaches with soft sand and soothing water. The coast of Lefkada resembles a parade of beaches. For beach lovers, Porto Katsiki is the most popular beach featuring stunning cliffs. 

When you arrive in Lefkada, it’s impossible not to notice the remains of the 13th-century castle Agra Mavra. Wander through the town to see endless cafés and shops. At sunset, tryst with your sweetie at the quaint wooden bridge

1. Kefalonia

Village of Assos on the Greek island of Kefalonia
SCStock | Adobe Stock

Kefalonia, the largest Ionian Island, is full of mountains and bright blue waters, and visitors praise its tranquility. A trek up Mount Ainos will reward you with a breathtaking view of the Ionian Sea.  Wine lovers won’t want to miss Venture Island,  home of Kefalonia’s white robola wine.

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