A view of Navagio beach with sailboat in Zakynthos Island, Greece, part of Ionian Islands

Things to do in  Ionian Islands

Views of mythic proportions

Comprising Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Paxi (or Paxos), and Kythira—plus a serene scattering of smaller islands—Greece’s Ionian archipelago is rife with mythology and natural majesty. Smothered with olive groves and sweet-smelling rosemary, the Ionian Islands boast plenty of things to do, ranging from white-sand beaches, waters that range from turquoise to transparent, white-washed villages, and crumbling relics of ancient Greek civilization. The island cuisine makes the best of the Mediterranean’s bounty—feast on tangy fish and tomato stews, salty hunks of feta, and almond cake as light as the clouds that rarely grace the clear, blue skies.

Top 15 attractions in Ionian Islands

Myrtos Beach (Paralía Mirtos)

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A regular on lists of the world’s best beaches, Myrtos Beach (Paralía Mirtos) is a 0.5-mile (700-meter) expanse of gleaming white sand curving between two high promontories on Cephalonia’s north coast. While the stunning color comes from rounded pebbles and coarse sand, not fine powder, the view from the blue Ionian Sea is spectacular.More

Paleokastritsa

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According to legend, the Greek village of Paleokastritsa (Palaiokastritsa) is where Odysseus was shipwrecked and met Nausicaa in Homer’s epic tale theOdyssey. It’s a suitable setting for mythical romance, with a string of beaches, olive groves, and cypress forests set against the glittering Mediterranean Sea.More

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach)

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With white sand and marble cliffs, Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach)makes a striking setting for swimming and sunbathing. Set on sun-soaked Zakynthos island off the coast of Greece, Navagio Beach is a popular day trip destination. The beach’s centerpiece is a long-abandoned freighter—the remains of a smuggler’s shipwreck—that still languishes on the sands.More

Kanoni

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Once the capital and heart of the Greek island of Corfu, today Kanoni is a quarter of Corfu town, the island’s modern-day capital. Kanoni has just two beaches but there is plenty else worth seeing, including the 17th-century church of Panagia Vlacherna, Mon Repos Palace, and the Byzantine Church of St. Jason and St. Sosipatros.More

Zante Water Village

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One of Greece’s largest water parks, Zante Water Village in Zakynthos promises a fun family outing. The park offers nine main water attractions—some incorporating several slides and adventures—alongside food outlets, shops, and family-friendly land activities such as go-karts.More

Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio)

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This 14th-century Venetian fortress is a striking sight in Corfu, sitting atop the promontory between the Gulf of Kerkyra and Garitsa Bay and separated from the mainland by the Contrafossa moat. Today, the Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio) is home to a Byzantine art collection, Church of St. George, and panoramic lighthouse.More

Achilleion Palace

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Built as a summer residence by Empress Elisabeth of Austria in 1890, Achilleion Palace in the village of Gastouri is among the top attractions on the island of Corfu. Visit the palace designed by Italian architect Raffaello Caritto in a Pompeian style to see paintings and sculptures of mythical gods, including art dedicated to Achilles.More

Corfu Cruise Port

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The main port on the sun-soaked Greek island of the same name, Corfu Cruise Port serves as a gateway to pristine beaches, verdant mountainous interiors, and Corfu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A popular stop on Adriatic Sea itineraries, Corfu Cruise Port is also the departure point for ferries bound for other Ionian Islands.More

Agios Nikolaos

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Spread across three hills overlooking the crescent-shaped Mirabello Bay, Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque and cosmopolitan seaside resort. By day, visitors flock to the beaches, while at night, patrons fill chic waterfront restaurants and bars in the harbor and Voulismeni Lake—connected to the harbor via a narrow channel.More

Spianada (Esplanade)

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Also known as the Esplanade, Corfu’s Spianada is the largest town square in Greece. Located in front of the Old Fortress and home to a mix of Venetian, French, British, and Greek buildings, the square’s construction dates back to the 19th-century French occupation and it is both a popular tourist attraction and the liveliest part of town.More

Kassiopi

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Set around a boat-filled harbor facing across the sapphire channel to Albania, this once sleepy fishing village is now a lively tourist getaway. As well as ample tavernas and bars, Kassiopi also has beautiful beaches, tranquil headland trails, and a ruined Byzantine castle perched on a hillside overlooking the village.More

Corfu Town

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The capital of the Greek island of Corfu, Corfu Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Twin fortresses, known as the Old Fortress and the New Fortress, stand atop two hills overlooking the old town, where you’ll find cobbled lanes strung with clotheslines, squares, museums, and an astonishing number of churches for a city of its size.More

Aqualand Corfu Water Park

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Aqualand Corfu Water Park is the island’s largest, most popular water park, with themed areas catering to fun-seeking visitors of all ages. Stretching across almost 3 acres (1.2 hectares), this family-friendly spot is home to water rides and slides, lazy rivers, and swimming pools for an action-packed day in the sun.More

St. Spyridon Church (Agios Spyridon)

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The 16th-century St. Spyridon Church (Agios Spyridon is among the most impressive sights in Corfu town and houses the remains of its patron saint, Spyridon, said to have repeatedly saved the island from Ottoman attacks. In addition to the saint’s ornate silver casket, the church is known for its lavish frescoes and soaring bell tower.More
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Agios Gordios

Agios Gordios

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Located on the western coast of Corfu, the resort town of Agios Gordios is a paradise of pastel-colored buildings surrounded by rugged mountains, olive groves, and cypress trees. Known for its sandy beaches, Agios Gordios is also a convenient jumping-off point for exploring nearby villages on foot, by bike, or by car.More

Top activities in Ionian Islands

Corfu Private Yacht Cruise

Corfu Private Yacht Cruise

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191
From
$364.57
per group
Leisurely Tour of Corfu

Leisurely Tour of Corfu

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123
From
$66.29
Private Corfu Custom Day Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Private Corfu Custom Day Tour

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71
From
$138.10
Private Corfu Tour- Glyfada & Paleokastritsa beach
Special Offer

Private Corfu Tour- Glyfada & Paleokastritsa beach

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12
From
$258.51
per group
$287.24  $28.73 savings
Albania Cruise from Corfu

Albania Cruise from Corfu

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58
From
$48.61
Achillion Paleokastritsa Corfu Private Tour

Achillion Paleokastritsa Corfu Private Tour

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7
From
$386.66
per group
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All about Ionian Islands

When to get there

Greece enjoys clear blue skies and warm water temperatures during the summer months of June through September when cooling Mediterranean breezes cut through high daytime temperatures. July and August are busiest, with families flocking to the Ionian Islands during the school summer holiday—visit in the shoulder season months of June and October for still-stunning weather and better accommodation deals.

Getting around

The largest Ionian islands of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Kefalonia all have international airports. All Ionian islands are connected by ferry or speedboat, with regular departures between the seven major islands. Island-hopping tours are a convenient way to cover some of the smaller Ionian islands in one day and typically cover natural wonders such as the Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach.

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If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, spend more time on some of the smaller Ionian islands rather than big hitters such as Zakynthos, Corfu, or Kefalonia. Famous for being the birthplace of Odysseus, the protagonist of Homer’s Odyssey, Ithaca is a quiet haven of white-pebble beaches, secluded coves, and mountain trails and boasts several high-end yoga retreats. Meganisi is the smallest Ionian island and has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years—head here for boutique hotels and panoramic archipelago views.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
EET (UTC +2)
Country Code
+30
Language(s)
Greek
Attractions
19
Tours
865
Reviews
12,609
EN
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People Also Ask

What are the Ionian Islands famous for?

The Ionian Islands are famous for their lush green landscapes featuring olive groves, rosemary bushes, and the deep turquoise waters of the beaches. The most famous Ionian Islands are Kefalonia, Corfu, and Zakynthos, renowned for their nightlife and historic old towns, some of which boast UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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What are the top attractions in the Ionian Islands?

The top attractions on the Ionian Islands are the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Corfu Town, featured in a James Bond movie; Cave Melissani on Kefalonia, whose rabbits and goats are said to have gold teeth; the white-sand Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach) on Zakynthos; and Dimosari Waterfall on Lefkada.

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What are the most popular things to do on the Ionian Islands with children?

The Ionian Islands have a wealth of family-friendly hotels and waterparks, plus a plethora of white-sand bays with calm waters ideal for swimming—so there’s plenty to do for children. The most popular places include Corfu Aquarium, Alyke, and Porto Roxa beaches in Zante and Vassiliki in Lefkada, an ideal place to enjoy watersports.

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How long should you spend in the Ionian Islands?

If you’re visiting the larger Ionian Islands, you should spend 7-10 days there—that gives you enough time to take day trips to the other smaller islands—such as Ithaca,the alleged birthplace of Odysseus, and Paxi, home to therapeutic hot springs—which are easy to access by ferry or speedboat.

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Which is nicer, Zakynthos or Kefalonia?

That depends—Zakynthos is famous for its nightlife and bar scene, as well as its Blue Caves and Shipwreck Beach, so expect to encounter more crowds on this Ionian Island. Kefalonia is a quieter option, with many traditional Greek villages, less-crowded beaches, and fewer commercial hotspots.

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Where are the Ionian Islands in Greece?

The Ionian Islands are located off the country’s west coast in the Ionian Sea, close to the border of Greece and Albania. The archipelago is further from the Greek capital of Athens, which makes the collection of islands a quieter, less-crowded vacation option than the Aegean Islands on the east coast of Greece.

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