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Guide to the Best Greek Islands for Over 60s

By Sandra Roussy March 31, 2024 Travel

Is a Greek adventure on your bucket list? Did you know that Greece has over 6000 islands and islets? Of those 6000 islands, only 227 are inhabited. There’s definitely no lack of choice when it comes to choosing a Greek Island to visit.

Here are our favorite Greek islands that are often recommended for people in their 60s:

  1. Santorini – Famous for its stunning sunsets, whitewashed buildings, and crystal-clear waters, Santorini is a beautiful island with a chill ambiance. It offers incredible views, excellent dining options, and a variety of cultural sites.
  2. Crete – The largest Greek island, Crete has a diverse landscape with mountains, beaches, and charming villages. It’s rich in history and culture, providing opportunities for exploration and discovery.
  3. Rhodes – With its medieval Old Town, historical sites, and beautiful beaches, Rhodes offers a mix of culture and relaxation. The island has an assortment of activities suitable for different interests.

The best Greek island for someone over 60 depends on individual preferences, such as whether they prefer a more relaxed environment, cultural experiences, or beautiful landscapes. It’s a good idea to consider factors like accessibility, available amenities, and the overall vibe of the island when making a decision.

Santorini

Santorini, widely acclaimed as one of the most romantic destinations globally, captivates visitors with its enchanting atmosphere and beautiful landscapes. The island’s fame is rooted in its stunning sunsets, where the sun gracefully dips below the horizon, casting a myriad of colors over the submerged volcanic caldera, particularly in the village of Oia, where people gather daily to witness this magical display.

The traditional architecture of Santorini adds to its allure, featuring whitewashed buildings adorned with blue-domed churches and narrow winding pathways. This iconic aesthetic, set against the deep blue sea and sky, creates a postcard-perfect image that is synonymous with the island’s visual identity. Exploring the labyrinthine streets of villages like Fira and Oia offers an immersive experience into Santorini’s architectural beauty.

Santorini’s beaches, blessed with crystal-clear waters ranging from deep blue to turquoise, further contribute to its appeal. Perissa, Kamari, and the striking Red Beach provide settings for relaxation and swimming. The diverse coastal landscape, including the dramatic Red Beach with its red-hued cliffs, showcases the island’s natural beauty, offering you a chance to unwind in an idyllic seaside environment.

The island’s elevated positions, be it the cliffs of Oia, the heights of Fira, or various viewpoints across Santorini, offer breathtaking panoramic views. With its submerged volcano at the center, the caldera stands as a central focal point, providing unparalleled vistas. Boutique hotels strategically perched on the cliffs enhance the experience, immersing guests in the island’s captivating scenery.

Santorini’s culinary scene adds another layer to the overall experience, with an abundance of dining options catering to diverse tastes. From traditional Greek tavernas serving local delicacies to upscale restaurants offering international cuisine, you can savor delicious meals against the backdrop of spectacular views. The island’s gastronomic offerings, including fresh seafood and locally produced wines, contribute to the sensory delight of a visit to Santorini.

Beyond its natural beauty, Santorini is steeped in history and culture. Ancient Thira, an archaeological site, has ruins from various historical periods, while the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira displays artifacts from the Minoan era. The Akrotiri archaeological site, often likened to the “Minoan Pompeii,” provides a fascinating glimpse into an ancient city preserved in volcanic ash.

How to Get to Santorini

The most common ways to reach Santorini are by air and sea.

  • By Air – The fastest way to reach Santorini is by flight. Santorini International Airport (Thira Airport) receives domestic flights from Athens and other Greek cities, as well as international flights during the tourist season. Several major airlines operate regular flights to Santorini.
  • Ferry – Santorini is well-connected by ferry services from various Greek islands and the mainland. Ferries and high-speed catamarans depart from Athens’ ports (Piraeus and Rafina), as well as other islands like Mykonos, Crete, and Rhodes. The journey duration varies depending on the type of ferry.
  • Cruise – Many cruise lines include Santorini in their itineraries. Cruise ships anchor in the caldera, and passengers are tendered to the port of Fira or Athinios. This option is popular for those exploring multiple destinations in the Aegean.

Where to Stay

Luxury

  • Canaves Oia Hotel – Located in Oia, this luxury hotel offers elegant suites and villas carved into the iconic cliffside.
  • Katikies Hotel – Also situated in Oia, Katikies Hotel has whitewashed architecture and breathtaking views of the Caldera.

Budget

  • Villa Manos – Located in Karterados, Villa Manos offers budget-friendly rooms and apartments with a swimming pool. It’s within walking distance to Fira, the island’s capital.
  • Villa Irina – Located in Perissa, Villa Irini is a family-run guesthouse offering affordable rooms and apartments. It’s a short walk from the Perissa Beach.

Where to Eat

Fine Dining

  • Lauda – Situated in Oia, Lauda offers a fine dining experience with a menu inspired by Greek and Mediterranean flavors, complemented by stunning views of course.
  • La Maison – La Maison delivers a serene and tropical ambiance, authentic flavors, and a sweeping Santorini panorama. They provide a premium experience in a warmly inviting setting designed to host your most cherished moments within a minimalistic decor.

Cheap Eats

  • Falafeland – Greek eatery dedicated to delivering a delectable fusion of Middle Eastern flavors and Mediterranean freshness, showcased through their menu of falafel-based dishes.
  • The Cave of Stolidas –A Greek tavern-style restaurant offering a diverse menu that includes Greek cuisine, seafood, fresh fish, a variety of spaghetti dishes, meat options, and an array of rice-based specialties.

What to Do

Santorini offers a variety of fun activities and experiences.

  • Witness the Sunset in Oia – Experience the breathtaking sunset in Oia, known for its unparalleled views of the sun setting into the Aegean Sea.
  • Explore the Caldera Villages – Wander through the charming villages perched on the Caldera cliffs, such as Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli, each offering unique perspectives of the island’s beauty.
  • Visit the Ancient Ruins of Akrotiri – Explore the well-preserved ancient ruins of Akrotiri that has a prehistoric city buried in volcanic ash.
  • Relax on Santorini’s Beaches – Unwind on the distinctive beaches, including Perissa and Kamari, each offering its own unique charm and crystal-clear waters.
  • Discover the Unique Red Beach – Visit the iconic Red Beach, known for its red-hued cliffs and volcanic sands, creating a visually striking and photogenic landscape.
  • Sail around the Caldera – Take a boat tour or sunset cruise around the Caldera to appreciate Santorini’s beauty from the sea, exploring hidden caves and enjoying the panoramic views.
  • Taste Local Wines – Go on a wine-tasting journey in the renowned Santorini wineries, where you can savor the distinct flavors of Assyrtiko and other local varieties.
  • Hike from Fira to Oia – Enjoy a scenic hike along the Caldera rim from Fira to Oia, taking in panoramic views and passing through charming villages.
  • Visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera – Discover Santorini’s history at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, located in Fira, showcasing artifacts from the Minoan period.
  • Indulge in Local Cuisine – Delight in the delicious local cuisine at traditional tavernas, savoring dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, and fresh seafood with a backdrop of stunning views.
  • Take a Boat Trip to the Volcanic Islands – Explore the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni, where you can hike to the summit of the volcano and bathe in the therapeutic hot springs.
  • Shop in Fira and Oia – Stroll through the streets of Fira and Oia for shopping, where you’ll find local artwork, jewelry, and traditional Greek products.
  • Relax in Hot Springs – Enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs near Palea Kameni, renowned for their mineral-rich waters.

Santorini’s diverse attractions and activities cater to a range of interests, making it a great destination for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking relaxation amid breathtaking landscapes.

Crete

Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, offers a landscape that seamlessly intertwines majestic mountains, sun-kissed beaches, and quaint villages.

The island’s topography is a testament to its geographical richness, with towering mountain ranges such as the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and the Ida Range dominating the interior. These rugged peaks not only provide a dramatic backdrop to the island but also serve as a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts seeking panoramic vistas and a sense of serenity amidst the beautiful Cretan wilderness.

At the same time, Crete’s coastline has numerous inviting beaches, each with its own character. From the famous pink sands of Elafonissi to the exotic allure of Balos Lagoon, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to seaside retreats. The crystal-clear waters that fringe the island offer an ideal setting for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports, providing a refreshing counterbalance to the rugged inland terrain.

Traditional settlements like Chania, Rethymnon, and Agios Nikolaos show the island’s rich cultural heritage through their well-preserved architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and welcoming locals. These villages are not merely charming but serve as living museums, offering a glimpse into the island’s centuries-old traditions and way of life.

Crete’s cultural history is woven with threads dating back to ancient times. The Minoan civilization, one of the oldest in Europe, flourished here, leaving behind archaeological wonders such as the Palace of Knossos. You can step back in time as you explore these ancient ruins, marveling at the advanced engineering and artistic achievements of a civilization that thrived over 3,000 years ago.

Beyond the Minoans, Crete has been shaped by various civilizations, including the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans, all of which have left their mark on the island’s architecture, traditions, and cuisine. The diversity in cultural influences is reflected in the eclectic blend of flavors found in Cretan cuisine, renowned for its use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients and traditional recipes passed down through generations.

For those seeking relaxation, Crete offers idyllic settings where time seems to slow down. Whether it’s strolling through olive groves, enjoying a leisurely meal in a seaside taverna, or unwinding in a boutique hotel nestled in the hills, the island provides ample opportunities for rejuvenation and tranquility.

Crete is a destination that unfolds like a captivating novel, with each chapter revealing a new facet of its beauty, history, and culture. It’s a place where exploration and relaxation coexist harmoniously, inviting you to immerse yourself in the diverse and enchanting experiences that the largest Greek island has to offer.

How to Get to Crete

  • Flight to Chania or Heraklion – Crete has two major international airports: Chania International Airport (CHQ) and Heraklion International Airport (HER). Many international airlines operate direct flights to these airports from various European cities. There are also domestic flights from Athens International Airport (ATH) to both Chania and Heraklion.
  • Ferry from Athens (Piraeus or Rafina) – Ferries and high-speed catamarans connect Crete with the ports of Piraeus and Rafina in Athens. The ferry journey provides a scenic route, and there are different companies offering services. The main ports in Crete are Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymnon.
  • Ferry from Other Greek Islands – Crete is well-connected by ferry services from other Greek islands, including Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes. These connections make island-hopping in the Aegean Sea a popular option.
  • Cruise Ships – Some cruise itineraries include stops in Crete, usually at the port of Heraklion or Chania. Passengers are tendered to the shore to explore the island.

Where to Stay

Luxury:

  • Mitsis Rinela – Mitsis Rinela is a luxurious all-inclusive 5-star resort in Kokkini Hani, Crete, offering a renovated Blue Flag sandy beach.
  • Blue Palace, Elounda, Crete– Phaea Blue Palace creates a highly curated yet understated experience that connects you to the ‘real’ Greece through original Phaea experiences.

Budget stays:

  • Yiannis Manos Hotel – Studios, one-bedroom, and 2-bedroom apartments at affordable rates.
  • Kastro Beach Apartments – A family-owned and welcoming complex in Malia, Crete, provides a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere. They offer recently remodeled 3-star accommodations with kitchenettes.

Where to Eat

Fine Dining:

  • Xalavro OpenBar – Unique gastronomic experience in Heraklion.
  • Swell Restaurant – Top-rated restaurant in Kokkini Hani serving Mediterranean, European, and Greek cuisine.

Cheap Eats:

  • Cooking With Love – Healthy Greek, Mediterranean, and European food in Heraklion.
  • O Nikolas – Taverna in Agia Pelagia with hundreds of raving comments.

What to Do in Crete

Crete offers a diverse range of activities and attractions. Here are some of the best things to do in Crete.

  • Visit the Palace of Knossos – Explore the ancient Minoan ruins at the Palace of Knossos near Heraklion, a significant archaeological site and the legendary home of King Minos.
  • Relax on Elafonissi Beach – Unwind on the pink sands of Elafonissi Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and unique pink-hued sand.
  • Discover Balos Lagoon – Take a boat or hike to Balos Lagoon, a breathtakingly beautiful beach with turquoise waters and white sands.
  • Explore Chania Old Town – Wander through the streets of Chania’s Old Town, characterized by Venetian and Ottoman architecture, a harbor, and lively markets.
  • Visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion – Submerge yourself in Crete’s history at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, housing an extensive collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization.
  • Drive the Lassithi Plateau – Explore the scenic Lassithi Plateau, known for its traditional windmills, fertile plains, and charming villages.
  • Take a Boat Trip to Spinalonga Island – Discover the historical island of Spinalonga, known for its Venetian fortress and later use as a leper colony, by taking a boat trip from Elounda or Plaka.
  • Visit the Arkadi Monastery – Experience the historical Arkadi Monastery, a symbol of Cretan resistance during the Ottoman occupation.
  • Taste Cretan Cuisine – Indulge in the delicious local cuisine, including specialties like moussaka, dakos, and Cretan cheese pies, at traditional tavernas across the island.
  • Explore the Venetian Fortress of Rethymnon – Climb to the top of the Venetian Fortress in Rethymnon for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding region.
  • Visit the Ideon Cave – Trek to the Ideon Cave, associated with Greek mythology as the birthplace of Zeus, located on Mount Ida.
  • Participate in a Traditional Cretan Evening – Experience Cretan hospitality and culture by attending a traditional Cretan evening with music, dance, and local food.

Rhodes

Rhodes, an enchanting island in the southeastern Aegean Sea, captivates visitors with its dynamic blend of rich cultural heritage and quiet coastal beauty. Offering a medieval Old Town, significant historical sites, and stunning beaches, Rhodes emerges as a destination that combines culture and relaxation, catering to a diverse range of interests.

At the heart of Rhodes lies its medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that transports visitors back in time. Enclosed by sturdy stone walls and adorned with cobblestone streets, the Old Town exudes an air of medieval charm. The Palace of the Grand Master, a grand fortress and former palace of the Knights of Saint John, stands as a testament to the island’s medieval history. Wandering through the labyrinthine alleys reveals hidden squares, Byzantine churches, and Ottoman-era structures, creating an immersive journey through centuries of architectural evolution.

Rhodes is also a treasure trove of historical sites that chronicle its diverse past. The ancient city of Kamiros has Hellenistic and Roman ruins, offering a glimpse into daily life during classical antiquity. The Acropolis of Lindos, perched atop a cliff, has ancient temples and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. These archaeological wonders provide a compelling narrative of Rhodes’s role in the development of Western civilization.

For those seeking relaxation, Rhodes offers plenty of beautiful beaches that cater to various preferences. From the lively sands of Faliraki to the tranquil bays of Tsambika and Anthony Quinn, the island’s coastline offers a range of options for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. Each beach possesses its unique charm, providing you with the opportunity to unwind against the backdrop of the Aegean Sea.

Rhodes stands out not only for its cultural and coastal attractions but also for the variety of activities it offers, making it suitable for different interests. Adventure seekers can explore the island’s natural beauty through hiking trails that lead to scenic viewpoints, such as Mount Attavyros. Water enthusiasts can go on boat excursions to discover hidden coves and nearby islets.

How to Get to Rhodes

Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands in Greece, can be reached by air and sea. Here are the main ways to get to Rhodes.

  • Flight to Rhodes Airport (Diagoras) – Rhodes has an international airport, Diagoras International Airport (RHO), which is well-connected to major European cities and domestic destinations. Airlines operate regular flights to Rhodes, especially during the tourist season.
  • Ferry from Athens (Piraeus) – Ferries and high-speed catamarans connect Rhodes with the port of Piraeus in Athens. The ferry journey takes longer compared to flights but provides a scenic sea voyage. The duration of the ferry ride depends on the type of vessel, with high-speed catamarans being faster than conventional ferries.
  • Ferry from Other Greek Islands – Rhodes is also accessible by ferry from other Greek islands, including Crete, Kos, and Symi. The ferry routes and schedules may vary depending on the season.
  • Cruise Ships – Some cruise lines include Rhodes in their itineraries, allowing passengers to explore the island during a day stop.

Where to Stay

Luxury:

  • Atrium Palace Thalasso Spa Resort & Villas – Located in the serene bay of Kalathos Village, just 6 km from the enchanting Lindos Village and its captivating Acropolis, The Atrium Palace blends relaxation and exploration.
  • Mayia Exclusive Resort & Spa – An upscale, all-inclusive luxury resort tailored for passionate luxury travelers. They offer premium accommodation, personalized service, and an extensive array of leisure facilities exclusively designed for couples and adults.

Budget Stays:

  • Hotel Vallian Village – No frills 3-star hotel in Tholos.
  • Hillside Studios & Apartments – Hillside Studios & Apartments, located 1 km from Faliraki Main Street, offers convenient access to the vibrant center and the renowned Faliraki Beach.

Where to Eat

Fine Dining:

  • Mylos A La Carte Restaurant – Mylos provides an authentic Greek dining experience in a charming atmosphere. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and Tsambika Mountain, chefs serve traditional, locally sourced dishes for a genuine taste of Greece.
  • Christof Modern Mediterranean Cuisine – Top-rated restaurant with a unique twist on Mediterranean cuisine.

Cheap Eats:

What to Do on Rhodes Island

  • Explore Rhodes Old Town – Wander through the medieval charm of Rhodes Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site that features narrow cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, and the Palace of the Grand Master.
  • Visit the Acropolis of Lindos – Explore the ancient Acropolis of Lindos, perched on a hill overlooking the sea, featuring ancient ruins and panoramic views.
  • Relax on Faliraki Beach – Unwind on the sandy shores of Faliraki Beach, one of the most popular beaches on the island, offering water sports, beach bars, and a lively atmosphere.
  • Discover Prasonisi Beach – Prasonisi Beach, where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet, is a popular spot for wind and kite surfing.
  • Explore the Valley of the Butterflies – Witness the unique natural spectacle of the Valley of the Butterflies, where thousands of butterflies gather during the summer months.
  • Visit the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes – Submerge yourself in Rhodes’ history at the Archaeological Museum, showing artifacts from ancient times.
  • Take a Boat Trip to Symi Island – Enjoy a day trip to Symi Island, known for its colorful architecture, charming harbor, and the Monastery of the Archangel Michael.
  • Relax in Kallithea Springs – Visit the restored Kallithea Springs, known for its therapeutic waters and stunning architecture, offering a relaxing environment.
  • Explore Ancient Kamiros – Discover the ruins of Ancient Kamiros, an ancient city with well-preserved archaeological remains.
  • Visit the Seven Springs – Explore the Seven Springs (Epta Piges), a natural oasis with lush vegetation and freshwater springs.
  • Experience Medieval Castle of Kritinia – Explore the medieval Castle of Kritinia, perched on a hill, offering panoramic views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Indulge in Local Cuisine – Delight in the delicious local cuisine at traditional tavernas, savoring dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, and fresh seafood.

Also read, 15 OF THE BEST UNESCO DESTINATIONS FOR WOMEN OVER 50.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you been to a Greek Island? Are you planning a trip to one of the Greek Islands on our list? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website: www.sandraroussy.com

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