Greece’s 6,000 islands and islets are an integral part of the country’s civilisation and tradition. Of these jewels scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas only 227 are inhabited. Popular with beach loving island hoppers, the islands also boast archaeological sites, a rich architectural and mythological heritage and centuries-old local traditions that offer a glimpse into a multifaceted cultural past.
The Greek archipelago is the cradle of some of the most ancient and prosperous European civilisations, including the Cycladic and Minoan civilisations. This heritage, in combination with the climate, clean waters and the short distances between ports and coasts, helps maintain the enduring popularity of the islands amongst both Greek and foreign visitors.
Most islands lie in the Aegean Sea and are divided in to seven groups (from north to south):
The Northeastern Aegean Islands
The Argo-Saronic Islands
A group of 56 islands, its most important ones being
as well as the “Minor Cyclades” comprising Donousa, Irakleia, Koufonisia and Schinoussa.
The Ionian Islands
The Ionian Sea is home to one sole island group.
Antipaxi, Ereikoussa, Mathraki, Meganissi, Othoni, Strofades. These islands, together with Kythira and neighbouring Antikythira constitute the Eptanissa.
The islands of Gavdos (situated south of Crete), Elafonissos (in the Gulf of Laconia) and Trizonis (in the Gulf of Corinth), although not forming part of any group, are of unparalleled natural beauty.