The Greek Islands, located within the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, are amongst the world’s most popular cruise destinations, often incorporated within the itineraries of Eastern Mediterranean cruises. There are over 1000 different islands scattered across the Aegean Sea for you to discover, although only a hundred or so are inhabited. This region offers abundant sun, sea and sand, creating the perfect cruise holiday destinations. Read on to learn more about some of the most popular Greek Island destinations and the attractions on offer to the droves of visitors who arrive in the region every year.
At approximately 260 kilometres long and 60 kilometres wide, Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands. As one of the Mediterranean’s most naturally beautiful destinations, with a marvellous climate to boot, Crete is a particularly popular holiday hotspot, especially amongst the throngs of cruisers arriving there every day. The island’s diverse landscape creates a distinctive environment, where soft sandy beaches are overlooked by dramatic craggy cliffs and verdant valleys and forests are filled with quaint vineyards, olive groves and lemon orchards. A number of famous caves are also waiting to be explored, including a famous grotto where St Paul is believed to have resided and preached.
Crete’s natural beauty is matched by is rich architectural and cultural heritage, in the form of historic monasteries and ancient ruins scattered across the island. The remnants of the ancient Minoan civilisations can still be seen all over the island, at locations including Knossos, Malia, Gortys and Phaistos, alongside a multitude of accessible religious structures. Modern developments have improved Crete’s infrastructure considerably and a profusion of restaurants, bars and nightclubs now populate the island, providing plenty of entertainment for the younger demographic.
Located in the eastern Aegean Sea, Rhodes is one of the most popular Greek Islands due to its range of natural and man-made attractions – all complemented by the stunning climate typical of the region. Rhode’s beautiful landscape creates the perfect environment for a number of outdoor pursuits. Daredevil visitors can attempt to climb the mighty Mount Attavyros or try a range of coastal activities on the island’s pristine beaches, such as surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and swimming. Alternatively, unwinding on the beach with a cocktail can be equally rewarding.
Rhode’s old town is the ideal place to discover the island’s rich cultural heritage and visit several ancient buildings, including the Palace of the Prince Grand Master, the Street of Knights and the region’s old fortifications. Elsewhere, the castles of Kastellos of Monolithis offer a terrific excursion possibility, whilst fascinating medieval remains, ancient ruins and fantastic views of the island can be found at Kamiros and in the Filerimos Hills.
Corfu is one of the most well-known Greek Islands and the northernmost Ionian island in the region – situated in the Adriatic Sea. Many foreign powers have influenced the course of Corfu’s history, including Britain, France and the Venetian Empire, all of which shaped the island’s culture and heritage. The old town of Corfu is one of the best places to appreciate the island’s history. Visitors to the old town will find a collection of wonderful historic structures, including the old 16th century Venetian Fortress and the 19th century Palace of St George and St Michael, both of which can be found close to the area’s fabulous Esplanade – a perfect place to start exploring the district.
Corfu’s immaculate sandy beaches are especially popular with holidaymakers, offering a wonderful place to relax in the plentiful sunshine. Walking trails through the island’s dramatic mountains are also great for active travellers hoping to uncover Corfu’s rich collection of flora and fauna. Younger travellers may also wish to spend a day at Aqualand, the island’s tremendous water park, brimming with water slides and aquatic attractions.
The volcanic island of Santorini is famous for its stunning views, incredible sunsets, white-washed buildings and dramatic active volcano. A walk through the island’s many charming cliff-top villages, such as Fira, Oia and Firostefani, is a great way to observe the area’s unique architecture. Santorini’s enchanting natural landscape is also awe-inspiring and the island’s beaches offer a wonderful place to unwind – especially the famous volcanic black beaches. There are all sorts of ways to see different sides of Santorini. Why not explore the island from horseback, on a boat excursion or on a walking tour?
Santorini’s illustrious history stretches back thousands of years, a fact which becomes clear when visiting the island’s many historical sites. An archaeological and cultural hotbed, Santorini’s many historic attractions include the excavation site of an old Minoan town at Akrotiri, the classical city of Ancient Thera at Mesa Vouno and the fascinating archaeology museums of Fira. Don’t forget to sample some of the locally produced wine and cuisine at the island’s many splendid wineries and restaurants.
The diverse and welcoming Greek island of Mykonos attracts tourists in their droves during the holiday seasons and is included on numerous Mediterranean cruise itineraries. The island’s best beaches can be found to the south, lined with excellent bars and restaurants as well as offering the opportunity to partake in many different coastal sports. Head to Psarou, Paranga or Paradise beach for plenty of fun in the sun or a relaxing sunbathe.
Like many other Greek Islands, Mykonos boasts a number of intriguing historical attractions. The 16th century windmills of Mykonos have become a symbol of the island, harking back to the days when the region was famous for its wheat and bread production. Elsewhere, Mykonos Town is home to several historic sites, including Little Venice – well-known for picture perfect medieval buildings – and the remarkable white-washed Byzantine church of Panagia Paraportiani, which took over four centuries to complete.