Nearly everyone is familiar with islands like Santorini and Mykonos, with their images splashed across the Internet, printed ads, postcards and more, representing the Greek isles. Of course, that’s also why they tend to be much busier in terms of tourists as compared to some of the others. But with some 6,000 islands, 227 that are inhabited, you’ll find many undiscovered gems offering stunning scenery, tranquility and more – these seven are our very favorites.
Our 7 Favorite Hidden Greek Islands
Our 7 Favorite Hidden Greek Islands
While Folegandros is a just a short ferry ride from Santorini at the southern edge of the Cyclades, with similar architecture like those famous whitewashed buildings draped with colorful flowers and churches with vibrant blue domes, it feels like an entirely different world. There are no big cruise ships sitting in in its port, no fine dining restaurants or upscale boutiques, no vehicle traffic – and on parts of the island, there is still no electricity. Of course, there are no worries about battling crowds either. Instead, you’ll discover remote, unspoiled beaches like Katergo with its striking white sands framed by crystal-clear turquoise waters, ideal for a secluded swim. The island has a bohemian kind of character that’s ideal for wandering through narrow alleyways and bougainvillea-strewn courtyards, almost like taking a walk through another time without the traffic noise. Historic windmills spin in the salty sea breeze while goats are often seen scurrying across the hills. Authentic dining experiences include local delicacies like goat cheese, homemade matsata and the signature beverage of this region, rakomelo.
Located just off the coast of Paros, Antiparos is ideal for a “secret” island getaway. This little-known treasure has a magical energy that seems to sing from its secluded beaches, surreal blue lagoons and rocky volcanic crags. It’s the true unspoiled slice of Greece that many yearn for. As you walk down the main street, you’ll note that the shops aren’t the average sort with alabaster gods, cheap bikinis and knickknacks. Running to the heart of the old fort, where locals once hid from pirates, the paved streets, lined with tavernas, cafes and homemade ice-cream parlors, are so clean you can even walk around safely in your bare feet.
This island has somehow managed to remain a local’s best-kept secret, despite being only an hour from Athens by ferry. It’s accessed from Lavrio rather than more well-known Piraeus Port, which makes it largely ignored by tourists. It has a seductive feel so when visitors do discover it, they tend to return again and again. It’s the delicious local cuisine, opportunities to hike ancient restored mule tracks to remote beaches and ancient ruins, including temples dedicated to Apollo and Athena, along with plenty of opportunities for outstanding snorkeling and diving that bring so many back.
Renowned for its unspoiled nature, there are more than 600 different plant species on Amorgos, many of which are used in the mouthwatering meals that can be found in the local tavernas and restaurants. Some even have their own organic gardens for truly farm-to-table dining experiences. Situated at the eastern edge of the Cyclades near the Dodecanese, its diverse terrain includes everything from mountains and caves to rocky shoreline and hidden coves with crystalline azure waters for swimming, snorkeling, diving and other water sports. While it’s wonderfully uncommercialized, there’s no shortage of things to do, albeit in a more laid-back atmosphere with a timeless feel. Explore the Chora, considered one of the prettiest main towns in the Greek isles, discovering lovely churches, a very impressive monastery and all sorts of ancient relics.
This volcanic island is the southernmost in the Cyclades, characterized by a horseshoe shape and a stunning shoreline that boasts more than 75 beaches, with everything from black and white sands to shell- and pebble-covered stretches. All are framed with a strikingly clear sea in an array of captivating colors, from brilliant green and emerald to deep or pale blue. Not only are there beautiful beaches, but quintessential whitewashed Cycladic villages, welcoming people, out-of-this-world food and a fascinating, rich history to explore. In fact, this is the spot where the famous Venus de Milo statue was discovered. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, Milos is an ideal choice – you can soak in natural hot springs too, guaranteed to melt every last bit of stress away. And, at the end of every day, look forward to a grand finale: marveling at a legendary sunset.
Thirassia is often referred to as Santorini as it was a half-century ago. While it’s less than a mile from romantic Oia village, here, time seems to have stopped in another era. In the 3rd-century BC, a volcanic eruption destroyed the land bridge that linked the two islands, and it’s remained primarily as it was, never developing into a popular tourist destination. It’s big on natural scenery but far from the crowds of its neighbor. Immerse yourself in the authentic traditional colors of the charming settlements – there are only three here, complete with whitewashed houses, pretty churches and historic windmills. Climb to the island’s highest point at the Chapel of Prophet Elias and you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view of the deep blue Aegean and Santorini’s jaw-dropping caldera. The village of Manolas is the perfect place to feed your appetite afterwards – relax in a taverna and enjoy the authentic island cuisine.
Paxoi, also known as Paxos and Paxi, is a tiny island gem only a few nautical miles of the south shores of Corfu. The smallest and one of the least commercialized of the Ionians, it’s known as the romantic hideaway of the god Poseidon. Its myriad of colors, spectacular beaches and clear aquamarine sea are truly something that must be seen to be believed. Time moves slowly here, making it an ideal place to wind down, sipping an iced coffee in a seafront café as you watch the local fishermen haul in their catch. In the port and capital of Gaios, meander through a maze of narrow streets lined with Venetian architecture and the pedestrianized square, perfect for people watching. There are a variety of eateries scattered throughout, often serving high quality local cuisine like traditionally made souvlaki, pastas and pizza.
If you are looking to discover either of these islands, our Greece travel experts can design a tailor-made itinerary to either of these islands and include them with other destinations in Greece. Please feel free to contact us.
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