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Imposing white stone temple with 6 pillars and a blue sky in the background.

Fancy a fascinating historic holiday? Take a trip to the best Greek islands for history! Greece is one of the oldest countries in the world and its islands are steeped in ancient history. From history buffs to curious children, it’s hard not to be impressed. However, there are so many islands to choose from. 227 in fact! Which begs the question, which are the best islands for history? Well prepare to update your bucket list. Virtual Wanderlust has researched which the best Greek islands for history are. Here is what we found! 

Table of Contents:


Rhodes is the largest island in the Dodecanese and is a popular tourist destination. Many flock here for the amazing beaches, food and scenery. However, Rhodes is also one of the best Greek islands for history! The crowning glory is the UNESCO listed Mediaeval City of Rhodes. This is one of the oldest mediaeval towns in the world. You can see Ottoman mosques, Italianate villas, and the imposing Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. Another incredible site is the Acropolis of Lindos. This Acropolis dates back to the 4th century BC. Here you’ll find the Theatre of Athena, the Temple of Apollo and much more. Rhodes is also home to the archeological site of Kamiros and ancient thermal springs of Kallithea. For more modern history, check out the abandoned villa at Profitis Ilias which was built for Mussolini. With all these sites, Rhodes definitely deserves the title of one of the best Greek islands for history.


Crete is one of the best Greek islands for history and beaches. It has a beautiful coastline as well as an interesting past. Explore ancient sites in the morning. Swim or sunbathe at the beach in the afternoon! Crete was once home to the Minoans. They are one of the oldest advanced civilisations in Europe and lived in the Bronze Age. In the east of the island are four ancient Minoan palaces. The most famous of which is Knossos. The palace is connected with exciting Greek myths such as the story of Icarus and the legend of the Minotaur. Another remarkable historical site is the Venetian harbour and old town at Rethymno. Also don’t miss the archaeological museum in Heraklion or the Monastery of Arkadi. Not only is Crete one of the best Greek islands for history, but it also is easily accessible via direct flights from London. The combination of historical attractions, easy access, and stunning beaches also makes Crete one of the best Greek islands for family holidays.

Against the blue sky stands the ruins of Knossos Palace with its red stone columns.


There are numerous historical monuments and ancient sites in Naxos. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was born and raised here! Nowadays, it is one of the best Greek islands for history fans. A top historic attraction in Naxos is the Portara. Also known as the Great Door, this is a grand marble doorway which dates back to the 6th century. In Greek myth, this is where Theseus abandoned the Minoan princess Ariadne. History lovers can trek along Naxos’ hiking trails to explore the island’s Byzantine churches. Another fantastic site on Naxos is the Temple of Demeter. Demeter is the Greek goddess of grain and fertility. The ruins of her temple date back to the 6th century. There are many more ancient sites here including The Sanctuary of Dionysus at Iria and the Kouros at Melanes. As well as exploring the historical sites, make sure to taste Kitron. It is a citron liqueur hard to find outside of Naxos. 


Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular islands. It is famous for its iconic white and blue houses and black sand beaches. It is also one of the best Greek islands for history lovers. Visitors will love the Akrotiri archaeological site. This once important port dates back to the Bronze Ages. It was preserved when a volcano erupted in the 17th century BC and covered the site in ash. Another fascinating historical site is Ancient Thera. Located at the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain, Thera is a settlement that has been influenced by many different eras. Utterly fascinating and with mesmerising views, Ancient Thera is a must visit. In Fira, Santorini’s capital, history buffs can find the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Folkloric Art and The Naval Museum to name a few. If you are looking for the best Greek island for history and beaches, Santorini is a good place to start! To take your holiday up a notch, explore the island from your very own luxury Greek villa!


Aegina is the perfect island for a historical day trip. It is beautiful and filled to the brim with awe inspiring sites. You won’t regret adding this Island to your Greek holiday itinerary!  The island is found in the Saronic Gulf about an hour away from Athens. The well preserved Temple of Aphaia is a must-see. It is a mini acropolis with panoramic views. On a clear day you can even see across the water to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the Athenian Acropolis. Another highlight is the mediaeval village of Paleochora. Various hiking trails can take history lovers around the 365 historical churches. There is also a small archaeological site and museum at Kolona. It may be less well known but Aegina has a lot to see. This is why it is one of the best Greek islands for history. 

The remains of a stone fortress on the edge of one of the best Greek islands for history.


Corfu only became part of Greece in 1864 but the island’s history stretches much further back. It is one of the Ionian islands and it’s believed to have been inhabited since 775 B.C. On the east coast of the island is Corfu’s Old Town. This UNESCO world heritage site has ancient roots and possesses features from many historical influences. These include Corinthian, Roman, Byzantine, French, Russian and British. The Palace of Achilleion is another intriguing site in Corfu. This stately mansion was home to Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Other great sites include the ruins at Paleopolis and the Kardaki Temple. Also of interest to history lovers might be the Venetian shipyard at Gouvia. Corfu is one of the best Greek islands for history if you want to admire foreign influences on Greek culture. If you are considering visiting this island, you might enjoy renting a Greek villa with a private pool so you have a place to cool off after a day of exploring!

Travel Tips at Your Fingertips

Hopefully this article has inspired you to visit one of the best Greek islands for history in 2022. The next step is to find your perfect type of accommodation! If you haven’t seen any destinations which takes your fancy in this post, why not check out these amazing Italian islands for history? Virtual Wanderlust has got your travel needs covered. Whether you are about to embark on a trip or are fantasising about travel from your sofa! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


Jay is the founder of Wine Travel & Song and contributor to Virtual Wanderlust. A published writer and photographer, Jay is an extensive traveller, a passionate music fan but an average cook. He loves the Eagles, U2, Genesis and Pink Floyd. A trusted Google Local Guide & TripAdvisor Superstar, Jay's travel photos have been seen over 26 million times and counting!

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