The Ionian Islands

There are seven main Ionian islands, which gives the group its Greek name of Eptanisa, which literally means 'seven islands'. There are also one or two smaller islands such as Antipaxos and Antikythira too. Six of the main islands are in the Ionian Sea, tucked between Greece and Italy, while the seventh, Kythira, stands on its own at the foot of the Peloponnese, not really logically in any of the main Greek island groups.

Beach on CorfuCorfu

Corfu and the other Ionian islands have been holiday destinations since at least Roman times, being conveniently located just a short boat ride across the Ionian Sea from Italy. Visitor numbers today are rather higher, especially in resorts such as Kavos and Benitses on Corfu, which opened the floodgates to mass-market cheap tourism aimed at young Europeans who want to party all night, but this aspect of the islands is restricted to a handful of places leaving everywhere else for other people to enjoy.

There is plenty to enjoy. Anyone who has only previously visited the hot Aegean islands will be astonished at just how green the Ionians are. They are incredibly fertile, and vast stretches are buried beneath whole swathes of olive groves, vineyards and citrus trees. This does of course mean they receive more rain than the Aegean islands, and even in summer there can be short showers, while autumn storms are more common than in the Aegean.

When winter disappears, however, the springs here are glorious and recommended to anyone who loves walking amid carpets of wild flowers, perhaps looking for the many species of orchid that grow here.

Zakynthos Beach and CliffsZakynthos

As with every other group of islands, the Ionians provide enormous contrasts and every kind of traveller ought to be able to find plenty to enjoy. Visit the largest town in the group, Corfu Town, and you will see how much more cosmopolitan it is, more in tune with other European Mediterranean cities thanks to the influence of the French, Venetians and British, who have all ruled here.

Yet an hour or so away from the southern tip of Corfu is little Paxos, with just three small towns and a cluster of little inland communities, and the island where the best olive oil in Greece is said to be made. The next smallest island is Ithaca, but one with a big history as the legendary home of Odysseus.

Paxos, GreecePaxos

The other main Ionian islands are all quite large – Lefkada, Kefallonia and Zakynthos – providing variety from mountains to beaches without even leaving their shores. Kythera has historically been one of the Ionian islands, but today it is grouped with the Argo-Saronic islands for administrative purposes, and tucked away on its own at the end of the Greek mainland it is popular with Greek visitors but less known to those from overseas. Those who do venture there will find yet another Greek island adding its individual character to the mix.

Assos on KefaloniaAssos on Kefalonia

We especially love Corfu, though, as we've each written a guide to the island, and we've also written two together: Spiral Corfu and Corfu and Beyond.

Mike has also written the Ionian Islands section of the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Guide to the Greek Islands, and once worked as a waiter in a restaurant on Zakynthos!

Click on the picture or text links below for more information about the individual Ionian Islands.

Where to Stay in the Ionian Islands

Other Ionian Islands pages

  • Travel information about Kythira in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights to Kythira and the best things to do

    Kythira, or Kithira or Kithera, in the Ionian islands of Greece

    Travel information about Kythira in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights to Kythira and the best things to do

  • Antonis Maroudas is a Zakynthos winemaker who lives on the 'wine road' and is one of the people who make Zakynthos.

    Zakynthos Winemaker

    Antonis Maroudas is a Zakynthos winemaker who lives on the 'wine road' and is one of the people who make Zakynthos.

  • Travel information about Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights to Kefalonia and the best things to do, like visiting Fiskardo

    Kefalonia, or Cephalonia, in the Ionian Islands of Greece

    Travel information about Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights to Kefalonia and the best things to do, like visiting Fiskardo

  • Greece Travel Secrets publishes a page of photos of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands of Greece to perhaps inspire you to visit.

    Photos of Zakynthos

    Greece Travel Secrets publishes a page of photos of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands of Greece to perhaps inspire you to visit.

  • Life as a waiter on Zakynthos tells what it was like for travel writer Mike Gerrard to work in a Greek restaurant, the Mantalena in Alykanas.

    Life as a Waiter on Zakynthos

    Life as a waiter on Zakynthos tells what it was like for travel writer Mike Gerrard to work in a Greek restaurant, the Mantalena in Alykanas.

  • Walking on Paxos is the best way to discover this tiny island south of Corfu in the Ionian Islands, with its wooded hills and terraces of olive trees.

    Walking on Paxos

    Walking on Paxos is the best way to discover this tiny island south of Corfu in the Ionian Islands, with its wooded hills and terraces of olive trees.

  • The Best Things to do on Kefalonia include visit Fiskardo and Assos, see Myrtos Beach, enjoy the capital, Argostoli, and visit the Drogorati and Melissani Cave.

    Best Things to do on Kefalonia

    The Best Things to do on Kefalonia include visit Fiskardo and Assos, see Myrtos Beach, enjoy the capital, Argostoli, and visit the Drogorati and Melissani Cave.

  • Travel information about Lefkas in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights and the best things to do beaches, sailing, windsurfing.

    Lefkas

    Travel information about Lefkas in the Ionian Islands in Greece, including ferries and flights and the best things to do beaches, sailing, windsurfing.

  • Travel advice and information on Paxos near Corfu in the Ionian islands, information on ferries and flights, what to do in Gaios, Lakka and Longos or Loggos.

    Paxos

    Travel advice and information on Paxos near Corfu in the Ionian islands, information on ferries and flights, what to do in Gaios, Lakka and Longos or Loggos.

  • Travel advice on Ithaca (Ithaka or Ithaki) in the Greek Ionian islands, with information on ferries and flights and the best things to do.

    Ithaca, or Ithaki or Ithaka, in the Ionian Islands of Greece

    Travel advice on Ithaca (Ithaka or Ithaki) in the Greek Ionian islands, with information on ferries and flights and the best things to do.

  • Travel advice and information on Zakynthos (Zante) in the Greek Ionian islands, with information on ferries and flights and the best things to do..

    Zakynthos, Zante, in the Ionian Islands of Greece

    Travel advice and information on Zakynthos (Zante) in the Greek Ionian islands, with information on ferries and flights and the best things to do..

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Airlines from the US Boost Link to Greece with 56 Weekly Flights

    Tourist traffic from the US is expected to pick up in the coming months thanks to the launch of 56 direct flights a week to Athens, set to bring more than 1 million travelers to Greece and generate 1…

    Read More

  2. Crete’s New Heraklion Airport to Become Mediterranean Hub

    Works on the highly anticipated Kastelli Airport to handle initially 15 million passengers a year and create hundreds of jobs are moving ahead as scheduled, said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotak…

    Read More

  3. Greek Destinations Among The Telegraph’s Top 50 Hotspots for Family Holidays

    A number of Greek island and mainland destinations are among the travel hotspots that The Telegraph suggests on its “50 fabulous family holidays for 2023” list.

    Read More

  4. Greece’s Chiliadou Beach Nominated for Best Filming Location

    The European Film Commission Network (EUFCN) has included Chiliadou Beach on the island of Evia among the five finalists for the 6th edition of the Best Filming Location competition.

    Read More

  5. Exploring Olympus: Can the Ice Talk?

    We head to the “residence of the gods” with a team of scientists seeking to unravel the secrets of past climate change hidden in the mountain’s ice deposits and alpine soils.

    Read More

  6. Winter Destination for Foodies: Metsovo

    A winery and hotel, a traditional taverna, and a shop selling fine local products of Metsovo, in the Pindus mountains.

    Read More

  7. Keep Swimming: Where to Winter on the Beach

    7 great beaches where you can throw off your coat and join Athens’ winter swimmers

    Read More

  8. Greek Co-Production in the Running for 3 Oscars

    Ruben Östlund's film, “Triangle of Sadness,” shot on the Greek island of Evia, receives three nominations for this year’s Academy Awards.

    Read More

  9. 11 English Language Bookstores in Athens

    Before looking online for something engaging to read, stroll over to one of these places and check out what's on their shelves.

    Read More

  10. Greek Destinations in the Running for Best in Europe Title

    Athens, Rhodes and Milos are the three Greek destinations competing with popular cities in Europe for the title of “European Best Destination 2023”. The competition is being held for the 14th consecut…

    Read More