Greek Islands: 8 Fairytale Islands in Greece Beyond Athens and Santorini

Beyond Santorini and Mykonos: 8 Fairytale Islands in Greece You Need to Visit 

These stunning islands in Greece are hidden gems in their own right.

Breathtaking sunsets, white windmills, and endless sea views are the sights we usually associate with Greece. These come to mind whenever we imagine popular Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos. But did you know that if you look beyond these islands in Greece, you’ll find plenty of hidden treasures waiting for you as well? 

Across the sun-drenched Grecian archipelago, there are as many as 6,000 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Only about 227 islands have residents. From secluded coves to idyllic fishing towns, you can explore the islands of Greece and feel the weight of ancient civilisations — straight out of legends. 

Islands in Greece

Image credit: Max van den Oetelaar

These are the fairytale islands in Greece that inspire us with their mythic splendour. We hope they tickle your imagination as well, until the day comes when we can explore them for real! 

Also read: 7 Tips For Exploring Greece On A Budget

1. Crete

Greek Islands: Crete

Known in Greek mythology as the birthplace of the sky god Zeus, Crete is the largest and most densely populated of all the Greek islands.

Located in the south of the Aegean Sea, the island of Crete boasts of stunning bays like Seitan Limania Beach and Elafonissi Beach; towering landscapes like the Samaria Gorge; and even ancient palaces like the Palace of Knossos — an archaeological site from the Bronze Age that is considered to be the oldest city in Europe

Greek Islands: Crete

Additionally, Crete is divided into four regions: Lasithi, Heraklion, Rethymno, and Chania. Drop by the Old Town of Chania, where you can wander through the maze of picturesque side streets and feast on traditional Greek cuisine at the tavernas. 

2. Milos

Islands in Greece: Milos

Hailed as the “Island of Colours” for its scenery, the volcanic island of Milos is blessed with diverse landscapes and rock formations. If you’re seeking a destination that merges natural beauty with serene coastlines, look no further than Milos. For starters, there are over 70 beaches to explore on the island alone! 

Make your way to the ashen-white sands of Sarakiniko Beach, which gets its moon-like appearance due to the erosion of volcanic rocks from the strong winds and the sea. Afterwards, you can wade into the aquamarine waters of Papafragas Beach, slipping between the open caves. Or enjoy the sun-baked sands of Firiplaka Beach, flanked by tall reddish cliffs. 

Islands in Greece: Milos

Image credit: Marco Verch

Milos is also full of enigma and history. After all, this is where the graceful masterpiece of Aphrodite — the Venus de Milo, now housed in The Louvre — was discovered with mysterious origins; the same goes for a marble statue of the Greek god Poseidon. Certainly, it makes you wonder what other treasures might be hiding in the depths of the Aegean Sea

3. Corfu

Greek Islands: Corfu

Image credit: Major Wave 

Combine lush vineyards, Venetian-style fortresses, and some of the best beaches in Europe into one destination — and you get the breathtaking island of Corfu. According to Greek mythology, the name of the island comes from Kerkyra, a nymph with whom the sea god Poseidon fell in love and brought to this very island. 

Allegedly, the playwright William Shakespeare was also inspired to write about Corfu in his play The Tempest. In particular, Shakespeare felt drawn to the verdant olive trees in this beautiful island.

Greek Islands: Corfu

Image credit: lemon_and_happiness (left); aspiotis (right) 

Keep your eyes out for the remnants of Italian influence, which you can find in the houses and winding side streets of Corfu. Don’t forget to try the Greek salad, feta cheese, and locally grown olives served at the island’s restaurants! 

4. Kefaloniá

As the largest of the Greek Islands in the Ionian Sea, the magical island of Kefaloniá teems with pine forests, towering cliffs, olive trees, cobalt lakes, ancient castle ruins, and majestic caves. You can take a boat tour that will ferry you inside Melissani Lake, an underground lake with crystal-clear water that lets you see all the way to the bottom.

Image credit: tinabiondag (left); cephaloniagreece (right) 

Admire the icy blue waters and majestic cliffs at Myrtos Beach, before making your way to the ruins of St. George’s Castle, where you get an amazing view of the island. 

Known for its vibrant plates of Greek food and wines, Kefaloniá offers many culinary delights and seaside activities at the fishing villages of Assos and Fiscardo

5. Paros

Greek Islands: Paros

Image credit: A_Peach

Looking for white-washed houses in Greece? Paros offers charming blue-domed churches, fishing ports, and hillside towns without the tourist crowds. Just like in Santorini, you can also discover pristine cubic homes in the village of Parikia, find windmills in Marpissa, or shop for Greek souvenirs and taste authentic souvlaki in the narrow alleys of Lefkes. Really, what’s not to love? 

Greek Islands: Paros

Image credit: Kostas Fotiadis (left); Clement Souchet (right) 

Need a place to rest from your sightseeing? Wind down for a romantic evening at the marina of Naoussa, where you can chill by the rustic tavernas for dinner. All the while, you can enjoy views of the yachts and fishing boats in the harbour.

6. Zákynthos

Islands in Greece: Zakynthos

Even if you were stranded on the island of Zákynthos, you probably wouldn’t call S.O.S. It is, after all, a picture of paradise itself. 

When the Venetians ruled the island from 1484 to 1797, Zákynthos earned the moniker the “Flower of the East.” That’s because there are more than 7,000 different species of flowers scattered across the island. Pretty amazing, right?

Image credit: Max van den Oetelaar

Aside from horticultural splendour, Zákynthos is known for Navagio Beach. Often called “Shipwreck Beach” or “Smuggler’s Cove.” Next to the brilliant blue of the water, you will discover a huge, rusting marooned vessel on the pebbled shore. Just don’t explore this area barefoot, as the pebbles are sharp enough to hurt your feet! 

Does this jewel among islands in Greece look familiar? Avid K-drama fans will recognise this shipwreck from the Korean drama sensation Descendants of the Sun, starring Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo. 

7. Ithaca

You won’t find any sirens calling out to you in Ithaca, but you will unlock an island full of mythic beauty. Known as the home of the wise Odysseus, Ithaca’s appeal lives on in rugged mountains, cypress trees, sleepy villages, and archaeological sites. 

Today, you can explore the postcard-perfect houses around the bay of Vathy, the capital and main harbour of the island. Visit the archaeological museum of Stavros or the old medieval centre of Paleohora, where you can discover churches with Byzantine frescoes. 

Greek Islands: Ithaca

But perhaps the most alluring attraction in Ithaca is the Cavern of Nymphs, rumoured to hold one entrance for mortal people and another for the Greek gods. Truly, you don’t have to be a Greek myth or history buff to be entranced by the stalactites and dreamy waters at this cave — made irresistible for how secret it still is. 

8. Skopelos

Greek Islands: Skopelos

Mamma Mia, here we go again! If Skopelos looks like it could be part of a Hollywood film set, well, that’s because it was. Chosen for its verdant landscape and limestone cliffs, Skopelos appears in the Mamma Mia movie as the fictional island of Kalokairi. And sure, we may not be young and sweet and 17 anymore, but with the celebratory atmosphere and the sunny vibe of Skopelos, it’s a pretty close feeling! 

Greek Islands: Skopelos

Image credit: Christophe André

Skopelos attracts visitors from far and wide for its beaches and towns; the most scenic attractions have served as filming locations for the jukebox musical starring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried. 

You can easily spot the turquoise waves on the shore and colourful boats on Kastani Beach, where the Mamma Mia cast filmed dance numbers singing ABBA hits like Does Your Mother Know? and Lay All Your Love on Me. One of the iconic moments in the latter song is the scene where the groomsmen emerge from the beach and start dancing in their flippers. Not going to lie, it’s very unforgettable! 

Also read: Greece 10D Itinerary: Witness The Magic of Athens, Santorini, And Mykonos!

Image credit: Joia de Jong

Out of these enchanting Greek islands, which one caught your attention today? Don’t forget to tag us on your island photos of Greece on IG: @tripzillamag

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys being swept up in books that spark her curiosity for new places, both real and imaginary.

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