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The Ionian islands boast a superb mix of stunning beaches, sleepy towns, crystal clear waters and adventurous hiking trails. Although this group of Greek islands may not form the stereotypical image of whitewashed buildings, it does boast a beautiful backdrop of green mountains. Which is exactly what sets them apart from the likes of the Cyclades islands. But nonetheless, the Ionians will continue to impress you upon your first arrival. Uncover what this Greek archipelago has to offer its guests with the help of our guide.

Table of Contents:

What are the Ionian Islands?

The Ionian islands are a Greek archipelago, located to the western coast of Greece and the east coast of Italy. Their Greek name is Heptanesia, which can be translated to ‘7 islands’. This group of islands are also known as the Ionian Sea islands, as it is the Ionian sea which separates the islands from the Greek mainland. This clustered group of Greek islands have a long and rich history that dates back to ancient times, but now are a popular tourist destination.

What are the 7 Ionian Islands?

The 7 Ionian islands are:

  • Corfu – Impressive architecture, cuisines, beaches and atmosphere, this Ionian island is popular with tourists.
  • Zakynthos – Everything is within reach on this Greek island. From white sandy beaches to forest treks and vibrant nightlife.
  • Lefkada – A charming island which is great for watersports. It has a beautiful castle to explore, as well as the stunning waterfall of Dimosari.
  • Ithaca – One of the more traditional and calming Greek islands, Ithaca is known for being the home of mythical hero Odysseus.
  • Paxos – Home to pebble beaches and coves, Paxos is perfect for those looking for a slower-paced Greek experience.
  • Kythira – Featuring mediaeval sites and secluded beaches, Kythira is a remote and relaxing place to explore.
boats docked in water at mouse island corfu, which is part of the Ionian islands.

How Do You Get to the Ionian Islands?

There are several ways to get to the Ionian Islands, depending on where you are starting from. As all the islands are quite large, they have their own airports which may offer direct flights from London, direct flights from the USA or direct flights from Dubai.

  • By plane: The easiest way to get to the Ionian Islands is by air. All of the islands have airports, and there are regular flights from Athens and other major cities in Greece. Other European countries may offer regular departures too. Some of the larger islands, such as Corfu and Kefalonia, have direct flights from several international airports.
  • By ferry: Another option for getting to the Ionian Islands is by ferry. There are regular ferry services that connect the islands with each other and with the Greek mainland. Some of the larger islands, such as Corfu, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos, have ferry ports that are served by both passenger and car ferries. Ferry services are generally more frequent during the summer months, and schedules can be affected by weather conditions, so always check beforehand.
  • By yacht or sailboat: For those who prefer to set sail and travel by sea, the Ionian Islands are also a popular destination for yachts and sailboats. There are several marinas and ports throughout the islands that offer berthing and other services for private boats.

Are the Ionians Where Corinthia Once Was?

The Ionian Islands are not located in Corinthia. They are located in the western part of Greece, in the Ionian Sea. Corinthia was a region in ancient Greece that was located on the narrow strip of land that connects the Peloponnese to the mainland of Greece. It was named after the city of Corinth, which was located on the isthmus and was one of the most important and influential cities in ancient Greece. The Gulf of Corinth, which separates the mainland from the Peloponnese, is located to the east of Corinthia and the Ionian Islands. The region of Corinthia was known for its fertile soil, which made it an important agricultural centre. It was also an important transportation hub, as the isthmus was the shortest land route between the mainland and the Peloponnese.

What is the Peloponnese?

The Peloponnese is a large peninsula in southern Greece. It is located to the south of the Gulf of Corinth, which separates it from the rest of the mainland. The peninsula is named after the island of Pelops, who was a mythical hero in Greek mythology. The Peloponnese is surrounded by:

  • The Ionian Sea to the west
  • The Aegean Sea to the east
  • The Mediterranean Sea to the south

The Peloponnese is home to many ancient sites and landmarks, as well as beautiful beaches and natural landscapes. Which is why it is worth a visit if you are looking for the best Greek islands for history.

Some of the major cities and towns in the Peloponnese include Corinth, Patras, and Nafplio. Other important ancient sites in the Peloponnese include:

  • The ancient city of Mycenae, which was the capital of the Mycenaean civilization.
  • The ancient city of Olympia, which was the site of the original Olympic Games.

What is an Isthmus?

An isthmus is a narrow strip of land that connects two larger land masses. They are often found between two bodies of water, such as a sea and an ocean, or a lake and a sea. Isthmuses are usually relatively narrow, often no more than a few miles wide, and are often used as natural land bridges or corridors for transportation and communication.

The term is derived from the Greek word “isthmos,” which means “neck”.

One of the most famous isthmuses is the Isthmus of Corinth, which is a narrow strip of land that connects the Peloponnese to the mainland of Greece. The Isthmus of Corinth is located in the region of Corinthia and is an important transportation hub, as it is the shortest land route between the mainland and the Peloponnese. Other notable isthmuses include:

  • The Isthmus of Panama, which connects North and South America.
  • The Isthmus of Suez, which connects Africa and Asia.

Greek Adventures Await

The Ionian islands can offer so much who venture upon its shores, so we hope to have inspired you to visit for yourself. Looking for a different European country to explore? Why not discover Italy or Portugal? For regular travel inspiration, follow Virtual Wanderlust on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


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