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Top Greek Islands Attractions

The first time you visit Greek Islands, or any new destination, the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice, and other information about the top tourist attractions in Greek Islands to help with your itinerary planning.

Mykonos Island Mykonos Island
Santorini Island Santorini Island
Rhodes Island Rhodes Island
Crete Island Crete Island
Patmos Island Patmos Island

Mykonos Island

The island of Mykonos has a tireless number of attractions. Residents of Mykonos claim that 365 churches exist on the small island, one for every day of the year. The most famous is the Church of Paraportiani. Built over a long period of time from 1475 to the 17th century, the church is a whitewashed structure built on low Kastro hill, and consists of five smaller churches built into one.

Another symbol of Mykonos is Petros the Pelican. Petros landed on the island during a bad storm in the 1950’s, and decided he loved Mykonos enough to never leave. The original Petros died in the 1980’s, and was replaced by a new, and equally content, pelican. Locals know him well and allow him to wander around the island, while tourists often pet him and take pictures as he passes.

The windmills stand tall as a symbolic part of the Mykonos landscape. They were once used to crush the grain bought by stopping ships. They represent a part of the island’s history that stands for economic and commercial strength. Now, the few windmills that remain are used as museums, shops, and homes.

Church of Paraportiani
located on low Kastro hill, free admission daily

Windmill Museum
June to September, 4 to 6pm, free admission


Santorini Island

Santorini IslandSince the first settlers arrived in 3000 BC, Santorini has developed from a major commercial port to what is now a popular vacation spot and historical treasure. When you visit the island, allow several days to take in all of the attractions. If you go exploring, be sure to visit some of the numerous museums, archaeological sites, or one of the 250 churches. The Historical and Cultural Museum of Santorini in Fira, the island’s capital, is home to ancient vases, frescoes, and inscriptions.

If the museum catches your interest, you will also enjoy the excavations of Akrotiri and ancient Thira. The settlement of Akrotiri dates to 4th millennia BC and the settlement of Thira dates to 9th century BC. Excavations from both of the sites suggest that highly effective and organized civilizations existed on the island so many years ago.

The black sand beaches and scenic “red beach” give you tireless options for a day of sun bathing, water sports, and rest. If you want an umbrella and chair, most beaches will charge around five euros. Extracurricular activities such as scuba diving and parasailing can cost anywhere from 15 euros to 50 euros. You can complete a day the beach by taking a short taxi or bus ride back to your hotel, and going to any of the posh or cozy restaurants and bars for dinner and drinks.

Historical and Cultural Museum in Fira
Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 to 3pm, approx. 3 euros, telephone: 22860-222-17
Akrotiri – Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 to 3pm, approx. 5 euros, telephone: 22860-81-366

Site of ancient Thira
Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 to 3pm, approx. 5 euro, telephone: 22860-31-366


Rhodes Island

When the sun god Helios transformed his love, the nymph Rhodes, into an island, he created a place of everlasting sunlight. Today, Rhodes has been declared one of the sunniest places in Europe. One of the most historically significant moments in Rhodes’s past was during the rule of the Knights of Saint John. The Palace of the Grand Master can be seen from quite a distance. The mark of the medieval era can be seen in the architecture of the Old Town and specifically down the Street of the Knights, which, in turn, leads you to the Palace.

Despite many earthquakes, the history of Rhodes has been well preserved both architecturally and through the efforts of organizations such as the Archaeological museum. A part of the island’s history that did not survive the earthquakes is the Colossus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Although the Colossus collapsed and disappeared in 226 BC, after a major earthquake, the island is still strongly connected to its memory. Before it fell, the bronze male figure stood over 100 feet tall on the harbor of Rhodes, and symbolically reached its arm to the gods on Olympus. The sheer greatness and gigantic height of the statue made it a true accomplishment for the time in which it was built. Although paintings and drawings attempt to recreate the Colossus based on literary accounts, we will never really know exactly what it looked like or where it stood on the island.

Palace of the Grand Master
located in the Old Town, (May to October) Tuesday to Sunday 8am to 7pm / Monday 12 to 7pm, (November to April) Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 to 2:30, approx. 3 to 4 euro, telephone: 22410-23-359


Crete Island

When you visit Crete, the largest of the islands, make the ruins of Knossos your first stop. The foundation of the great Palace of King Minos has been excavated and partially rebuilt for research purposes. When Arthur Evans began excavations in 1900, he unearthed one of the greatest finds in Greek history. Not only did he discover a massive foundation of architecture from the Minoan civilization, he also found well-preserved frescoes and artifacts. The most significant object is the throne of King Minos, which has benches on each side. Today, it is on display in the same location where it sat for thousands of years. Evans was able to piece together dolphin frescoes that spanned four walls of what was thought to have been the Queen’s room. King Minos is well known for his role in Greek mythology as the son of Zeus and keeper of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth. Part of the excavated foundation shows complex winding passageways that add fuel to the Labyrinth myth.

If you want to learn more about the ruins of Knossos, the Archeological Museum of Heraklion holds many different artifacts from the Minoan civilization. Golden statues, vases, and jewelry are among the rarities on display.

located in Heraklion, (April to October) 8am to 8pm, (October to March) Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday 8:30am to 3pm, approx. 4 to 6 euro, telephone: 2810-23-194.

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
(April to October) Tuesday to Sunday 8am to 7pm (October to March) 8am to 5pm, approx. 6 to 10 euro, telephone: 2810-226-092


Patmos Island

For spiritual inspiration and knowledge of the divine, you should visit the island of Patmos. In 95 AD, St John the Apostle lived in a cave in exile on the island. During this time, he had a divine revelation when Jesus spoke to him, prompting him to write the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. Today, you can see the three lines embedded on the ceiling of the cave, where many believe the voice of Jesus came from during the revelation. The three lines are said to represent to the Holy Trinity. In the cave you will also see a niche in the wall, where St John would place his hand to help himself up.

The Monastery of St John the Theologian is the grandest site on the island and sits on top of a hill of white washed square homes. Built by Father Christodoulos in 1088, as a dedication to the Saint, the Monastery looks more like a medieval castle. Father Christodoulos purposely designed the monastery by surrounding it with tall brick walls to keep the holy place safe from intruders. The Monastery houses five chapels, the only museum on the island, the legendary library where priceless texts have occupied the shelves for thousands of years, and a collection of frescoes.

Cave of the Apocalypse
hours vary, but generally Sunday to Wednesday 8am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm, Thurs to Saturday 8am to 1:30pm, free admission

Monastery of St John
every day 8:30am to 12pm and 4pm to 6pm, admission free except museum approx. 4 euro, telephone: 0241-21-954


Greek Islands Travel Guides
 Frommer's Greek Islands
 Lonely Planet Greek Islands
 Let's Go Greek Islands
 Fodors Greek Islands