First-timers often describe their trip to “the Greek Islands,” as if they were one monolithic entity, easily popped into and out of and in between, like boutiques in a mall. It’s only once a visitor gets to know the country that the magnitude and diversity of the archipelagos becomes clear. The truth is that there are over 200 inhabited islands in Greece — and over 6,000 isles of varying sizes all together. Of the islands with residents, each has its own character, from the whitewashed cave homes of the Cyclades to the lush, green Italianate Ionians, to the Dodecanese capped with Crusader castles.
For the most part, the islands are divided into six main island groups, plus a significant stand-alone, Crete. It’s easier to travel between islands within one group than to archipelago-hop, although that can be done. (For example, if you want to go between Mykonos and Santorini in the Cyclades, there are multiple ferry and hydrofoil options in high season, but to get from Santorini to Corfu, in the Ionian, you’ll need to fly or sail into Athens, then fly to Corfu.)
Best Time to Vacation in Greece
June or September are ideal for nicer weather and lower crowds. In high season (mid-June to mid-Sept, roughly, although on more remote islands, it’s really just August that gets busy), you’ll have more ferry routes and open restaurants and beach bars to choose from, but more visitors to compete with and higher prices to pay.
If you want a more in-depth look at the country, but like the idea of someone else doing all the planning, consider a location-specific travel agency such as Eskapas.