LivingTravelThe largest of the islands of Greece

The largest of the islands of Greece

Greece has thousands of islands, but only about 200 of them are inhabited or visited by tourists. Most of the largest islands in Greece have been inhabited and developed since ancient times. The largest island in Greece, Crete, is among the ten largest islands in Europe. Find out more about the largest island, the largest island groupings, and the smallest islands in Greece.

The 20 largest islands

If you have a problem with claustrophobia, the following Greek islands will give you room to roam without feeling like you need more space. And since the “Top 20” list was missed by just one square kilometer, there is an additional island.


The largest island, Crete, is also the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. The island has a population of over 600,000. The capital and the largest city is Heraklion. Crete has a varied terrain from fine sandy beaches in Elafonisi to the White Mountains. Mount Ida, the highest in the range, is where Zeus was born, according to Greek mythology. The large island of Crete is not part of any island group, although it has several satellite islands, including Gavdos, which is considered the southernmost point in Europe.

The island has significant ancient ruins, particularly Knossos, which is the largest archaeological site from the Bronze Age, considered the oldest city in Europe. Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization, the oldest known civilization in Europe dating back to 2700 BC. C.

The largest island groups

The largest group of Greek islands are the Cyclades or Cyclades islands, also spelled Kyklades, with around two hundred small islands surrounding the twenty largest and best known islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini.

Then there is the Dodecanese island group, with twelve main islands (the prefix ‘dodeca’ means twelve) and many islets. They are followed by the Ionian Islands, the Aegean Islands and the Sporades. The Ionians are few in number, but consist of several of the largest islands in Greece.

The smallest islands

It is difficult to determine which is the smallest Greek island. There are many rocky outcrops in Greece that do not logically count as “islands” but may appear on some lists. Even the “smallest inhabited” island is difficult to determine as private islands can be tiny, with only a single family residence on the island.

An island that commonly appears on the lists of the smaller visitable islands is Levitha, known in ancient times as Lebynthos, it is inhabited by a single family who run a tavern there. It is 4 square miles in size. Part of the Dodecanese islands in the North Aegean Sea, it is visited during the summer by sailors, as it offers a safe harbor in all four directions.

The small islet of Rho off the coast of Turkey was inhabited by a fearless Greek woman nicknamed “The Lady of Rho” who used to vigorously raise the Greek flag every morning until her death in 1982. A small Greek military unit is now based on the island, with the main duty of continuing the tradition of raising the flag, established by the “Lady of Rho”, Despoina Achladioti. The island has no permanent residents.

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