The less-known Greek islands
The Greek islands are very popular, especially during the summer months. As much as it may sound hard, is not impossible to find amazing places to go on vacations with your family and friends and have some privacy at the same time.
At Greca, we did our research to show you the 11 less known –but very beautiful– islands that can be nice options if you want to have a travel destination full of relaxation and privacy.
You will find Naxos very close to Santorini. This island is perfect if you are looking for some action, as it is one of the best places to practice Windsurf. It is a well-known option for sports lovers as they can travel here and enjoy the amazing weather almost all year round.
Some of the best places to practice windsurf in Naxos are Agios Georgios, Agios Prokopios, Plaka and Laguna.
On another hand, Naxos has 41 amazing villages to explore. On each of them, you will immerse yourself in different cultures, but all of them have an incredible charm that usually people love. You will find this charm especially in the traditions and the beautiful architecture. We need to highlight three must-to-visit places: Naxos, Koronos and Halki.
Naxos is the main city of the islands, with many interesting places to visit. Its authentic architecture attracts lots of visitors yearly, and the landscapes you will find here are simply amazing. Naxos is also known for its variety in restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
In the north, you will find Koronos, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and green hills. As crazy as it may sound, it will make you feel somewhere around Tuscano, but it is Greece!
Obviously, this area is known for its delicious wine.
Visiting Halki will make you feel like you are traveling to the past, especially with its Venetian towers, churches and structures that show the rich culture of the island. It is very charming and picturesque, and it is a place that we highly recommend visiting.
Also in Naxos, you will find a very interesting place called Portara, which is a huge marble door located very close to Naxos' port, and the history says that it was the central piece of god Apolo's temple 2,500 years ago. This temple was built by Lygdamis' government back when Naxos was an important cultural center in Greece.
Portara means "Great Door", and a lot of people say that it has magic powers, with spirits protecting it especially during the sunset.
The islands of Aegina are very close to Athens, and of course, it is a great option to visit when visiting the capital of Greece. You can choose between spending a day there and discovering the full island or going for a day trip and relaxing there.
Rich of culture and history, but also amazing beaches to enjoy the clear waters and sand, Aegina is a great place to eat fresh fish and delicious pistachios too.
The colorful island of Milos is well known for the amazing color of its water and the picturesque houses –you can take here the perfect Instagram picture–. Milos is located in the Aegean Sea, and it is the place where the Venus the Milo statue was found back in 1820. Olivier Voutier founded it after exploring it one day when he was sailing around the area on his boat.
Kythira is an island full of history too. Here you can find the Chora castle, built-in 1503 and it was an old Byzantine fortress in the 12th century and is a nice place to go hiking and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Also, you can find the Cave of Agia Sofia, located 15 miles to the northeast of Chora. As you can deduce from the name, there is a chapel dedicated to Agia Sofia, and some people say that her body is buried there.
If you prefer to swim and adventure, the waterfalls located in Neraida and Fonissa are a great option. Here you will find greenery, beautiful trees and bodies of water to refresh from the hot sun. Are you a nature lover? This is your place!
Kythira has many places to visit, and if you like caves then you need to go towards the Cave of Kalamos. Also, it has a small church located in the entry of the cave, and we assure you will be impressed about finding a church in that place.
Last but not least, Milopotamos is an area of the island where you will find beautiful beaches and a medieval castle that was inhibited till around 1950. Also known as Kato Hora, it is a very interesting place to visit and look at the well-preserved structure.
Serifos is one of the less-inhabited islands in Greece, and its population is about 1,400 people. The small –but beautiful– island of around 75 km² has a lot of beaches. One of the top beaches is Livadakia, which is well-aligned with cedars and it can be the perfect spot to take a rest while enjoying the sun.
It is easy to access Serifos from Athens, as there are ferries going from and to Piraeus, the main port of the capital.
We always ask ourselves why the island of Syros is not more popular. This beautiful destination has plenty of beaches and to be honest, it is hard to decide where to start to recommend. If you like privacy, Syros is a good option, as we said before, it is not very crowded as its neighbor's islands.
One of the best beaches in Syros might be Galissas. It is surrounded by hills and rocks in an isolated bay located in the west of the islands, and you will have the feeling of having paradise for yourself. Clean turquoise waters will make you want to visit Syros again.
After having enough sun and sand, we recommend you to try greek traditional cuisine at their delicious restaurants.
Throughout history, Syros was an important market and production area in the Aegean Sea back in centuries. You will note this in the infrastructure and neoclassic architecture, which is very beautiful to explore.
Some buildings as the Town Hall –one of the biggest in Greece– or the Apolo Teatre highlight the importance of Ermupoli, the capital.
If you have time, we encourage you to visit the Apolo Teatre and enjoy one of their world-class performances. It was built back in the 19th century, inspired by the famous La Scala di Milano on a minor scale. It was closed for a long period of restoration and opened back in 2000.
The theater is one of the most important cultural centers in Syros, and it hosts numerous artistic and cultural events as the Aegean Festival, famous for theatrical and art performances.
In Syros, you can find a Venetian fortress that nowadays serves as part of the area where most of the Roman Catholic population of the island live. It is a very nice place to spend your afternoon and discover the charm of the area. Colorful balconies, decorated doors and people sitting outside their garages are part of the real meaning of Syros.
Amorgos is an island located at the east of the Cycladic islands, near Dodecanese. To reach here, you can buy ferry tickets to one of Amorgos' ports. We advise you to choose between Egiali or Katapola.
Amorgos is full of authenticity, and if you like adventures, it offers you a nice area to hike on the island.
Discover the caves of Loizos located in Ithaca. The name of these caves comes from Dimitrios Loizos, who was the person who discovered them in 1868 and became rich by selling the gold and other treasures that he obtained in the caves.
It is a place with historical importance and natural beauty. Here you will see puzzling and beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
According to Greek mythology, one of the entrances to the Nymph Caves was used by gods and other humans. It is also the place where Odysseus hid the gifts of the Phaeacians when he returned to Ithaca. Today, the cave is not accessible, but the view from the entrance is a unique experience, especially because of the myths associated with it for thousands of years.
Kioni is a traditional town on the Ionian Sea with a small colorful harbor that attracts boats and yachts, especially in the summer months. This place was once a footstep for pirates, and the three abandoned mills symbolize a glorious but notorious past.
On the small road to Perachori, you will find yourself in an abandoned medieval village of Palaiochora. You will notice that its architecture is dominated by defensive elements, forts, shelters and churches with very exquisite Byzantine paintings dating back many centuries.
Last but not least, the Khatara Monastery is the most important on the island and is a symbol of the religious life of its inhabitants. It is located 10 miles from Vathi, the center of the island, at around 2000 feet above sea level. The 1953 earthquake destroyed it, and it was rebuilt in 1996.
Every September 7, the traditional festival and a litany of the Virgin Mary statue are held annually.
An easy ferry ride from Athens will take you to Agistri, which is wonderful to visit in September –it's full of locals in summer– where you can kayak or relax and tan on the beach in the last rays of the sun of the year. After a day of kayaking, we suggest going to enjoy the delicious seafood offered by the local taverns in Skala, the main port of the island.
The day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary –August 15– is a special time for many populations of Karpathos, but especially, in Olympus. At this time of year, the villages are filled with descendants of emigrants who want to get in touch with their heritage. Families come together as a whole, and women often dress in very colorful costumes and necklaces with gold coins, which serve as symbols of the wealth and good fortunes of their families.
You can get musicians performing songs in the main square, with people dancing and enjoying themselves. In addition, it is logical that Karpathos has beautiful transparent waters, and together with the rocky geology of the Aegean Sea, diving is one of the activities you must do when you visit the island. The only diving center on the island –which shows how little it has been explored– is located in Pigadia.
The white and pastel houses of Menetes, which is very similar to Santorini but less visited, was built around 1,000 feet above sea level on cliffs, are one of the most visited sites on the island; but still not so frequented for how beautiful the area is.
The best photographs of the Pigadia region can be taken from Kimissi tis Theotokou, a point located to the north. The church was built in 1845 with reused stones from the former Arkesian colony. The marble columns inside the church come from the early Christian Basilica of Agia Anastasia, which dates back to the year 400. The church is the center of the great feast on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, every August 15th.
No matter which city street you are on, the rocky cliffs will never be out of your sight. And if you are looking for something else to do, you can visit the folklore museum, where you can find traditional lace, old craft tools and musical instruments such as the laouto and the lyre.
Also, you can visit the city of Olympus –sometimes compared to Italy's Cinque Terre–, which is located on a majestic hill north of Karpathos. Recently, a road leading to the village was built, but before that - which was not long ago - the village was isolated and it is not surprising that tourism has not found the village yet. Before construction, this picturesque town could only be reached by sea, and not many tourists made this trip.
The reason for this inaccessible environment was that in 600 AD, when pirates frequently attacked Karparos, the local population was looking for a way to preserve their lifestyle and beautiful customs. They sought refuge on Olympus, which represented a haven of peace and isolation where Doric culture, dialect, and ancient artifacts could be preserved.
Now, with its beautiful surroundings and calm atmosphere, we believe that the inhabitants of that time achieved what they were looking for, an oasis to escape to and the perfect preservation of a great island. And, like many places on this island, Assumption Day is also celebrated here, so if you travel during this time, you will have many options to choose from for its celebration.
Apella is probably the most famous beach in Karpathos. However, that does not mean that it is crowded or crowded with tourists. Since it's just over 10 miles from Pigadia and can be difficult to access by road, you won't find many visitors here. It is only popular with the local population and those who are used to doing the difficult mountain crossing. But for those who make the trip to Apella, the route is of course beautiful and worth your time.
You will enjoy an absolutely stunning view of the coastline before heading down to the equally beautiful beach. Another option - less stressful - is to board one of the regular ferries to Apello from Pigadia, which runs every day. You won't regret your decision to come once you find this genuinely phenomenal sandy beach with lots of shade trees to relax on. Dip your feet or splash in the crystal clear waters and feel the breeze through your hair. Its turquoise waters are the reason it has a reputation for being so pretty it could appear on a postcard.
Folegandros is one of the least visited islands in Greece. Spend time in Hora, the main port, perched on a cliff. Spend the day touring the pedestrian center and admiring the view from the spectacular cliffs.
Folegandros is further south, the low season –in May and October– still offers some pretty impressive beach weather. We suggest the beach of Karavostasi, with its fine pebbles you will need beach shoes, but it will be worth it. Rent a lounger in the shade and read a book you've been waiting to read all year.
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