Greek sovereign land includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 islands are inhabited. This is a truly unique phenomenon for the European continent. The Greek Archipelago takes up 7,500 km of the country’s total 16,000 km coastline, offering a highly diversified landscape: beaches stretching over many kilometers, sheltered bays and coves, sandy beaches with sand-dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and dark colored sand typical of volcanic soil and coastal wetlands.
Some of the oldest European civilizations developed on the Greek islands (Cycladic, Minoan civilizations, etc.), so therefore the islands have unique archeological sites, a distinctive architectural heritage and the fascinating local traditions of a centuries-old and multifaceted civilization.
The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: the Argo-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens; the Cyclades, a large but dense collection occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea; the North Aegean islands, a loose grouping off the west coast of Turkey; the Dodecanese, another loose collection in the southeast between Crete and Turkey; the Sporades, a small tight group off the coast of Euboea; and the Ionian Islands, chiefly located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea. The largest Greek island by area is Crete, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. The second largest island is Evia, which is separated from the mainland by the 60m-wide Euripus Strait, and is administered as part of the Central Greece region.
From one end of the sea to the other, the Greek islands are the perfect holiday destination. It’s not just the emerald water and the idyllic beaches that make holidays on the Greek islands a world-famous holiday experience, but the very personal relationship you can have with your chosen island that puts a seal of perfection on these little Greek oases.
A romantic sunset in Santorini’s Oia, painting the horizon every shade of pink; dawn on Mykonos, in Little Venice, drinking, dancing and flirting as the sun comes up; the epitome of luxury with a view of the sea from your opulent suite in Elounda, on Crete; travelling back in time, as you walk through Rhodes’ Old Town and aristocratic Corfu; a stately excursion to Athens’ smaller, nearby islands in the Argosaronic Gulf (Hydra, Spetses, Aegina, Poros); an expedition off the beaten track where you’ll discover hidden ‘diamonds’, islands like Anafi, Kimolos and Kastelorizo, Symi, Alonissos, Samothrace and Paxi.
The ideal climate, safe waters and small distances between ports and coasts, have made the Greek islands extremely popular among Greek and foreign visitors. Add to the mix, the smiles of the locals, the hospitality and the culinary delights of the Mediterranean diet, spice it up with adventures in nature, in the deep, on the waves and on the mountains and you’ll find that discovering the Greek islands makes the best holidays of your life.