For travelers looking to step off the beaten path and take a break from mainland Greece, the North Aegean islands — located in the northeastern Aegean Sea — are worth visiting.
With the help of convenient ferry and flight connections, it’s easy to get to these islands — even those located far from the mainland — and spice up your Greek vacation.
Each of the North Aegean islands is described below, complete with information on what you can do and see while you’re there.
Thasos (or Thassos) is a popular island among vacationers and Greek residents alike. Not only does it offer impressive beaches, but it also provides a variety of delicious food options, including fresh fish, incredible wine, Thasian honey, and olive oil.
While you’re here, you should also attend the island’s annual summer festival. It’s one of Greece’s most popular festivals and features a wide range of performances and folklore events.
Samothrace (or Samothraki) is home to Mount Saos, the Aegean’s highest mountain. Greek mythology states that Poseidon sat on this mountain to watch the Trojan war.
Today, Samothrace is home to a variety of historic attractions, including the Sanctuary of the Great Gods and the medieval castle of the Gateluzzi family.
In addition to an impressive history, Samothrace also offers pebbly beaches, a series of streams and rivers, and famous springs perfect for soaking.
Nature lovers will have the time of their lives exploring Limnos (also known as Lemnos). In addition to a series of gorgeous beaches, Limnos is also home to a series of volcanic rock formations, fruitful green plains, and another petrified forest similar to the one found on Lesvos.
Limnos is also known for its delicious food and drink, including the sweet white wine known as Muscat and Kalathaki — a white cheese that is dried in a straw basket. Whether you want to traverse the island or just enjoy a tasty meal while you relax, Limnos has got you covered.
Agios Efstratios (or Ai Stratis to the locals) is a small island located near the edge of the Aegean Sea. This fascinating island is home to a mere 250 permanent residents, and with its distant location, it’s largely cut off from the rest of the world.
While you’re here, you can take in a stunning grey beach, which gets its color from volcanic ash. You can also take a boat tour around the island and explore beaches that aren’t accessible by land, including Agios Dimitrios Trygari and Lydario.
Lesvos is a beautiful island in the Aegean Sea known for its rich plant life. The island is home to a series of famous olive groves, as well as several examples of 19th-century industrial architecture — including soap factories, tanneries, olive presses, and more.
Lesvos is also known for its petrified forest. This is a forest ecosystem that was fossilized 15 to 20 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity. It was designated as a preserved natural monument in 1985.
Psara is a tiny island with beautiful, uncrowded beaches — including Katsounis, Kato Gialos, and Lazaretta.
Despite its small size, Psara also offers plenty to do beyond relaxing on the beach, especially for explorers who want to take in some impressive architecture. Some must-see attractions include Palaiokastro (an old castle) and the former location of the house of Konstantinos Kanaris.
Chios has a fascinating history that dates back to the Neolithic Period. It is said to be the birthplace of poet and philosopher Homer, and it is also known to be the birthplace of several well-known politicians and writers.
In addition to boasting a rich history, Chios also offers a variety of attractions for tourists, from museums to outdoor markets.
While here, you must also try mastic, a natural handmade product used in medicine, cosmetics, and dentistry. You can buy mastic-based sweets, brandies, jams, and more during your visit to Chios.
Like Fournoi, Oinousses (or Inousses) is a cluster of islands and islets — nine, to be exact. This is a quiet collection of islands perfect for those who want to enjoy a peaceful, low-key vacation.
Oinousses is also a protected area that is part of the Natura 2000 Network. It features a variety of coves for swimming, as well as gorgeous beaches. An asphalt road — just 18 kilometers in length — circles the main island, making it easy for you to jump from beach to beach.
Samos is an excellent choice for those who are fascinated with Greek mythology. As the mythical birthplace of the goddess Hera, Samos is home to Greece’s largest temple, which is located in Heraion. Formerly featuring 155 columns, just one remains today — but it is still worth checking out during your stay!
For those looking to enjoy the ultimate beach getaway, Ikaria is an excellent island to visit. It features sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, as well as mountains and green hillsides for hikers and explorers to check out.
Ikaria is also linked to Greek mythology — particularly Icarus. It’s known for its festivals and traditional dances and provides travelers with the perfect blend of relaxation and cultural enrichment.
Fournoi is an archipelago (a collection of islands) with only two that are inhabited: Fournoi and Thymaina.
Like many of the other North Aegean islands, Fournoi has a fascinating history and many impressive ancient ruins — including an Acropolis and the remains of an ancient temple.
Fournoi’s main village, Campos, is a must-visit. It boasts a variety of traditional products for sale, as well as tavernas, patisseries, and bakeries.