Greece is home to thousands of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Since you probably don't have time to visit hundreds of islands, here are the five unique Greek islands you should start with.
The first island on our list is one that most people have heard of. In fact, when you think about the stereotypical white-washed houses packed close together on the rolling hills looking out over the turquoise waters of Greece, you are most likely thinking of Santorini. Santorini is actually several islands in one, and many of its incredible beaches are not covered in golden sand, but in black volcanic ash, thanks to the active volcano on the island. This volcano is reportedly the only one in the world whose crater is under the sea.
Mykonos is unique in that it is referred to as a "party island." This is the place for vacationers who really want to let their hair down and have a good time. Surprisingly, though, all this rowdiness hasn't led to any deterioration of the island's beautiful natural scenery. The golden sand still looks gorgeous against the turquoise waters, and the beautiful purple bougainvillea still decorates the surrounding village. If you aren't a party animal, don't worry, there is still plenty for you to do here. The city is full of interesting historical sites and shops to explore, and there are many secluded parts of the beaches where you can relax and take in the view.
This circular island is full of rocks — rocks said to be the old inhabitants of the island. Legend has it that the original residents of Serifos were turned to stone by looking at the snake-haired Medusa, and now these stones remain on the island for visitors to see and explore. If you don't feel comfortable examining rocks that used to be people, there are plenty of other things to do on Serifos, like climbing the hills and mountains to get to the beautiful beaches beyond. Just watch out for Medusa on your way!
Samothrace is another island that can bring you into contact with the history of Greek gods and goddesses. It is home to Mount Saos, the tallest mountain in the Aegean sea, which is where Poseidon once sat to watch the Trojan War play out. This island is truly stunning. With its lush greenery, pebbles, streams and natural hideaways, it seems like a veritable Eden. Visitors can also spend some time at the museums and other historical sites, including a medieval castle and the ancient Sanctuary of the Great Gods.
Tilos takes the number one spot on our list thanks to one thing: dwarf elephants. This quiet, "unspoiled" island is home to tons of incredible natural wonders like flowers, streams and lush hilltops. But the thing that makes it the most unique is its exotic wildlife. On any given day, you will come across several varieties of birds and other animals you might never see anywhere else, as well as the adorable dwarf elephants, who live here in their natural habitat. The beaches here are a bit rocky, but that only helps to keep this island free of overcrowding, so that visitors can truly enjoy being in touch with the island in its wild, natural state.