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.

Some of our other Ionian Islands pages...

  • 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..

  • Zakynthos Winemaker

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Lefkas

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

Latest Posts

  1. Greece Looking to Open to Travelers from the United States

    The United States is one of the markets that Greece is eyeing to form a travel arrangement that will open up tourism between the two countries this year.

    Read More

  2. Restaurants in Greece Expected to Re-open for Outdoor Service After Easter

    Restaurants and other food and beverage (F&B) establishments in Greece will most likely be allowed to re-open and serve customers initially outdoors after the Easter holiday, Greek Deputy Development…

    Read More

  3. Norwegian Cruise Line to Sail the Greek Islands in July

    Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is planning to restart operations this summer with sailings to the Caribbean and the Greek islands.

    Read More

  4. Greeks and Tourists will Abide by Same Covid-19 Rules, Says Tourism Minister

    Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis on Monday clarified that any safety and health rules that apply to Greek citizens – such as mandatory mask wearing and social distancing – will also apply to tourists…

    Read More

  5. Celestyal Getting Ready to Offer Safe Cruise Experiences from May

    Celestyal Cruises is speeding up procedures for the restart of sailings on May 29, aiming to provide its guests with carefree holidays to the Greek islands and the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Read More

  6. Greece will Open for Tourism with ‘Five Lines of Defence’ Against Covid-19

    Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said Greece has set up five lines of defence against the coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to open for tourism safely this year.

    Read More

  7. Greece Unsure About Easing Lockdown Measures for Easter

    Greek Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos on Monday told SKAI radio that it is “too soon” to discuss if lockdown restrictions would be eased in Greece in time for the Easter holiday. T…

    Read More

  8. Piraeus Port Authority to Create New Park, Bike Lane

    The Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has announced plans to undertake the construction of a new playground and a bicycle lane at the port of Piraeus.

    Read More

  9. Culture Ministry: Summer Operating Hours for Archaeological Sites, Museums

    The Ministry of Culture has announced the summer operating hours of archaeological sites and museums across Greece. According to a ministry announcement, the opening hours of archaeological sites, mon…

    Read More

  10. The Guardian Selects 10 Crowd-free Greek Islands and Coastlines

    The Guardian recently announced its selection of 10 crowd-free Greek islands and coastlines that can offer travelers “a taste of true Greek culture”. According to the British newspaper, with the end o…

    Read More