Wondering what the largest islands in Greece are? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this is a guide to the top ten largest Greek islands!
I’ve listed them in descending order, so we’re starting with the largest island of them all, and ending with the tenth-largest of the Greek islands. You can also see the total population of all these islands, as well as a few fun facts about each of these spectacular islands! Some of these you’re already familiar with since they’re very popular tourist destinations, but others aren’t quite as famous as Crete and Lesbos. So, read on to see what the largest Greek islands are!
Area Size: 3,219 sq mi / 8,336 sq km
The largest Greek island is Crete. It’s also the most populous island in the country, as well as the 88th largest island in the world. Crete is situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, about 160 kilometers south of mainland Greece. The largest city on the island is Heraklion with a total population of 144,442, which is about one-quarter of the entire island’s population.
Crete is also one of the most historically important islands in Greece. It was the center of the Minoan civilization from 2700 to 1420BC, and it’s estimated that the island was first inhabited by humans back in the Paleolithic age.
The largest island in Greece is famous for its mountainous relief, and its highest point is Mount Ida with a total elevation of 2,456 meters. Also, there are 30 summits on the island that are above 2,000 meters, making Crete one of the best destinations in Greece for avid hikers!
Area Size: 1,417 sq mi/ 3,670 sq km
The second-largest Greek island is Euboea. It’s located in Central Greece, and it’s separated from mainland Greece with just the narrow Euripus Strait. Euboea is a long and narrow island, with a mountain chain that traverses its entire length. The highest point on the island is Dirfi at 1,743 meters, and it’s possible to hike all the way to the top!
It’s thought that Euboea was originally part of mainland Greece but that it separated from it because of an earthquake. This theory is highly probable because of the geographical position of the island, as well as the various old writings that speak of earthquakes in the area.
The island of Euboea is divided into three distinct parts by geography and nature. The north is forested and fertile, the south is completely barren, and the center is mountainous and forested.
Area Size: 630 sq mi / 1,633 sq km
Lesbos is the third largest Greek island. It’s situated amongst the North Aegean islands, and it’s closer to Turkey than to mainland Greece. The capital city on the island is Mytilene and about a third of Lesbos’ entire population lives there. The rest of the population is spread over smaller towns and villages, the largest of which are Plomari, Kalloni, and the Gera Villages.
Residents of the island are called Lesbians and the Greek poet Sappho is the main reason for the modern meaning of that word. In her poems, she wrote about having strong feelings for other women and it’s because of her association with homosexuality that the demonym got the newer meaning. It’s worth noting that Lesbos and the town of Mytilene in particular are quite popular for LGBT tourism, precisely because of the famous poet.
Area Size: 541 sq mi / 1,401 sq km
Greece’s fourth-largest island is Rhodes. It’s also the largest of all the Dodecanese islands, as well as the historic capital of the island group. It’s situated in the South Aegean Sea, and just like Lesbos, it’s a lot closer to Turkey than to mainland Greece. Rhodes is nicknamed The Island of the Knights, because of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who ruled the island from the 13th century until the early 16th century.
Rhodes is very popular for its many ancient ruins, the best-known of which was the Colossus of Rhodes. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, until it got severely damaged and ultimately destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. Rhodes’s old town is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to many other ancient ruins that are still present in the area.
Area Size: 325 sq mi / 842.3 sq km
The fifth-largest of all the Greek islands is Chios. It’s situated in the North Aegean Sea, south of the island of Lesbos. This island is best known for the export of mastic gum, which is popularly called “tears of Chios”. The entire island is also nicknamed “the Mastic Island” because of the abundance of mastic groves on the island.
Chios is most popular for its medieval villages and the Nea Moni monastery that’s been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also famous for the Chios massacres, which took place in 1822, during the Greek War of Independence. It’s estimated that the Ottoman troops massacred between 42,000 and 52,000 Greeks on Chios, which caused international outrage and quickly increased foreign support to the Greek cause.
So, all in all, this lesser-known Greek gem is worth a visit if you want to get away from the masses.
Area Size: 302 sq mi / 781 sq km
Cephalonia is the sixth-largest, of all the biggest Greek islands. It’s in the Ionian Islands region, and its capital is Argostoli. It’s worth noting that the total area size of Cephalonia also includes other islands that are officially part of the Cephalonia regional unit.
The island’s capital city is also one of the busiest ports in Greece, as well as the most populous municipality on the island. About a third of the total population of Cephalonia lives in Argostoli, and the second-largest town has a population of just 507.
The highest point on the island is Mount Ainos at 1,628 meters and reaching the summit is surprisingly easy. It’s possible to drive most of the way there, and it only takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the summit marker from there.
Area Size: 229 sq mi / 592.9 sq km
Corfu is seventh of all the largest islands in Greece. It is situated in the region of the Ionian Islands, and together with its satellite islands, it forms part of the country’s northwestern frontier. Corfu is the fifth most populous of all the Greek islands, with a total population of more than 102,000. It’s also one of the most densely populated islands, with a population density of 170 residents per kilometer squared.
Corfu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. It’s known for its stunning beaches, as well as countless historical sites. The entire old town of Corfu is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making Corfu the perfect destination for all travelers who love the sight of ancient ruins and monuments.
Area Size: 184 sq mi / 477.6 sq km
The eighth-largest island in Greece is Lemnos in the North Aegean islands. It’s a mostly flat island with more than 30 spectacular sandy beaches that make it very popular for vacations. The west and northwest in particular are mountainous, but the highest elevation of the island is only 470 meters.
Myrina is the principal town on the island, as well as the seat of the municipality. With a population of a little over 8,000, Myrina is also home to nearly half of the island’s entire population. The city is also home to the busiest harbor on the island, which is regularly serviced with ferries from Athens, Laurium, Kavala, and Thessaloniki.
Area Size: 184 sq mi / 477.4 sq km
Samos is the ninth-largest of the Greek islands. It’s located south of Chios in the Aegean Sea, and it’s separated from Turkey with the very narrow Mycale Strait. During the period of classical antiquity, Samos used to be a very powerful city-state known for its many vineyards and wine production. This island is also famous for being the birthplace of Pythagoras, perhaps the most famous mathematician to have ever existed.
The island is quite mountainous, with the highest elevation of 1,434 meters. The two largest mountains are Ampelos and Kerkis – Ampelos is the larger of the two mountains and it occupies a bigger area, but Kerkis is the taller of the two with the island’s tallest summit. However, despite the largely mountainous terrain, Samos boasts several vast and very fertile plains that are the main reason for its prolific wine production.
Area Size: 166 sq mi / 429.8 sq km
The tenth-largest of all the islands in Greece is Naxos. It’s in the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, and it’s the largest of all the islands in this island group. Its capital city is Chora with a population of a little over 7,300 people, which accounts for almost half of the population of the entire island!
In addition to being one of the largest Greek islands, Naxos is also one of the most important islands in Greek mythology. It’s believed that Zeus was raised on the island, in a cave on Mount Zeus, which also happens to be the tallest point on Naxos.
The island is also mentioned in the Ariadne myth – it’s believed that she was abandoned on Naxos by Theseus, shortly after helping him defeat the Minotaur. The island’s protector, Dionysus, fell in love with her upon meeting her, but Ariadne was so devastated by her separation from Theseus that she eventually took her own life.
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