- Islands of the northeastern Aegean
- Sporades Islands
- Islands in the Saronic Gulf
- Dodecanese Islands
- Ionian Islands
The better part of the Greek islands is in the Aegean and is divided into seven groups of islands: the islands in the northeastern Aegean, the Sporades, the Island of Euboea (or also Evia), the second largest of the Greek islands after Crete, the islands in the Saronic Gulf, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese Islands and the famous Island of Crete. There is only one group of islands in the Ionian Sea, the Ionian Islands which also include the popular holiday destination of Corfu. The islands make the hearts of all water sports enthusiasts beat faster, because the wind blows reliably here from May until October.
The islands of the northeastern Aegean
Like the Dodecanese Islands, the Eastern Aegean group of islands is much closer to Turkey than the Greek mainland. They consist of: Chios, Ikaria, Lesbos (Mytilini), Limnos, Thassos and Samos. This group is less popular than the Cyclades Islands, but by no means less interesting. Here you will find mountainous landscapes, dense pinewoods and wonderful golden sandy beaches. In addition to these islands, Fourni, Chios, Inousses, Psara, Limnos, Thassos, Samothraki, Agios Efstratios, Amouliani and Hios are part of the northeastern Aegean as well as further small rock islands. A warm Mediterranean climate prevails here. There is only scarce rainfall in the hot summers and mild winters.
There are strong northerly and north-westerly winds all year round that do not allow the temperatures to rise above 29 degrees Celsius in summer.
The Sporades Islands
The Sporades are a group of islands east of the Greek mainland, north of Athens. The four main islands are Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos and Skyros. They are famous for their pinewoods, steep, bizarre cliff-lined coasts and wonderful swimming bays with crystal clear water. This group of islands has a pleasant climate, as the wind never allows it to become unbearably hot, luscious island vegetation and many beautiful sandy beaches.
After Crete, Euboea is Greece’s second largest island. Enchanting mountain scenery with peaks of up to 1,800 metres, mountain villages and monasteries alternate with fertile valleys and elevated plains, dense woods and a completely karstified landscape. And the sea is omnipresent. Deep blue and emerald green, a steep coast here, wide sandy and shingle beaches there and coastal towns and fishing villages. Euboea is connected to the mainland via a 40 metres long pivot bridge from Chalkis, the capital of the island, across the Euripus Strait.
The weather on Euboea is roughly the same as the weather in the Athens area. It is best from April to June and in September / October.
The Islands in the Saronic Gulf
The popular holiday islands of Poros, Hydra, Salamis, Aegina, Angistri and Spetses are situated in the emerald green water of the Saronic Gulf and belong to a craggy volcanic chain off Greece. All the islands have been well developed for tourism and are popular as a destination for metropolitans on account of the short distances to the mainland. During a holiday in Greece, one can easily reach the holiday regions using the ferry from Athens, in particular from Piraeus. The Saronic Gulf is sailing territory with prevailing northeasterly winds and offers sailors a relaxing sailing holiday. The Saronic Gulf is rich in variety as are the adjoining stretches of water and is an easy to navigate sea area.
The Cyclades Archipelago with its islands and islets is situated to the east of the Peloponnesus and is arranged like a circle, kyklos in Greek, around Delos its antique centre. The Cyclades demonstrate the associations of the Greek island world in a wonderful way: the whitewashed villages in the dazzling light form a colourful contrast to the deep blue sea, the cloudless sky or the blue church domes that soar above the settlements here and there.
In addition, the calm sea in summer makes the Cyclades very popular with sailors. The islands are situated close together and connected by ferries and are particularly suitable for island hopping. Naxos is the largest and scenically most appealing island in the Cyclades.
Syros, the geographical heart of the Cyclades, is more laid-back than the lively island of Mykonos. The island of Paros is famous for its particularly pure marble, but the picturesque fishing village of Nausa also attracts visitors. In the first instance Santorini impresses with its landscape characterised by its volcanic history. This and further islands make the Cyclades a fantastic destination that will leave you with impressions of paradise.
The Cyclades have a Mediterranean climate; the summers are hot and dry and the winters are mild with a few clammy days in between. There is normally something from a light breeze to a strong wind around the islands, making things bearable on hot days, but that can lead to cooler weather, at least in the evenings, in spring and at the beginning of autumn. The famous Meltémi wind blows mainly in July and August. This involves dry northerly winds that usually start up during the morning and die away early in the evening. This is why this season is particularly popular with windsurfers.
The Dodecanese Islands
The Dodecanese Islands are a group of Mediterranean Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean. The twelve main Dodecanese islands are Arki, Astipalaia, Chalki, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kassos, Kos, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi and Tilos. Rhodes is the largest Dodecanese island. It is only 20 kilometres from here to the Turkish coast.
The island of Rhodes lives up to its name, “the sunny island”, as the sun shines approx. 300 days a year. In July and August the daytime temperatures nearly always exceed 30 degrees. The 40 degree mark is even reached sometimes on the east coast that is protected from the wind. At this time the water in the Aegean is between 25 and 27 degrees. There is virtually never any rain during these months.
Crete is the largest Greek island and stretches from east to west to the south of the Aegean Sea. It is roughly 84,000 square kilometres in size. Its coast stretches across 1,046 km. With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, Crete is one of the sunniest islands in the Mediterranean. The weather is still very unsettled in spring and the nights are cold. It is very hot and dry in summer and the highest temperatures are in the south of the island. The pleasant warm weather usually continues into autumn. There is plenty of rain on the plains during the mild winter and the high altitude areas of the mountains are covered in snow.
The Ionian Islands
The 6 main islands are Corfu, Paxi, Lefkas, Ithaka, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. Corfu, Zakynthos and Lefkas can be reached by air. The Ionian island of Corfu offers countless, wonderful bays to anchor, barren ridges, valleys and coastal strips with luscious pinewoods and small towns with visible cultural wealth. There are beautiful sand dunes in the north of the island that attract plenty of surfers due to the good winds. On the island of Corfu flat lagoons and deserted sandy beaches alternate with protected bays to anchor and idyllic fishing ports.
The sun-drenched summer months with temperatures that also exceed the 30° mark are representative of the weather on Corfu. One must indeed anticipate rain showers in spring and autumn, whilst it rains abundantly during the winter months. The rainfall that is above average for Greek islands in consequence of the rather northern location of the Ionian Islands encourages quite luscious vegetation, earning Corfu the name of Emerald Island. For sun worshippers this means that the best tourist season is between May and the beginning of September at the latest.
The Ionian Sea with the Gulf of Corinth is rather looked upon as light wind territory. The main sailing season is from March until November.