21 Jul

10 off-the-beaten-track Greek Islands you need to visit.

  • Kythira, Ionian

Strategically located between the Greek mainland and Crete, Kythira has long been a crossroads of merchants, sailors, and conquerors. Hora, the hillside capital, is topped by a Venetian castle, reached following white-washed lanes, and the interior is filled with dramatic gorges and waterfalls.The island boasts over 30 beaches, none of which are overly crowded. Said to be the birthplace of the goddess, Aphrodite, Kythira is bound to capture you with its beauty.



  • Milos, Cyclades

The Cyclades’ south-western isle Milos is an otherworldly land of thermal springs, ethereal rock formations and over 80 gorgeous beaches and harbours.Famous for watermelon pie and the Venus de Milo statue, it is surprisingly crowd-free. Chances are you’ll have Sarakíniko’s lunar rocks, Kléftiko’s rock arches and the stunning Alogomántra beach pretty much to yourself.


Ikaria, Aegean

Ever since local boy Icarus flew too close to the sun, the good folk of Ikaria in the North Aegean Sea have been taking it pretty easy. Shops don’t open until around noon, and the island’s tavernas and restaurants operate on very flexible hours. But if it’s a relaxed vibe you’re after, it can’t be beat. A word of warning: they love their traditional festivals on the island of Ikaria. Expect to be dragged in if you stumble upon one.



  • Leros, Dodecanese

Leros has everything you want from a Greek island – beaches, fishing villages, tavernas, and a row of whitewashed windmills above Platanos. But surprisingly, there’s a touch of Italy, too. It’s seen in the broad boulevards and grand rationalist architecture in Lakki, built by Mussolini when the Italians held the island during World War II.



  • Ithaca, Ionian

Famous all over the world as the mythical island of Odysseus, a visit to this small island quickly reveals why he was so keen to get back there in Homer’s Odyssey.Surrounded by emerald seas, blessed with beautiful beaches and hidden coves, it’s the perfect place to enjoy fresh seafood in a local taverna, chatting with locals and just kicking back in the sun.



  • Amorgos, Cyclades

Known for its excellent diving and hiking, this island, tucked away in the distant south-eastern arc of the Cyclades, is also famous for its pies. Fried white beet and fennel pie, or xerotígana, as the locals call it.(They’ll also insist you finish with a shot or two of rakomelo, the local fire water, favoured with honey). The extraordinary whitewashed monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, clinging to the cliffs of the dramatic south coast, is well worth a visit, too.


  • Serifos, Cyclades

Foreign tourists haven’t descended on the beautiful island of Serifos yet, but Greek artists have. Its main town Hora, is regarded as one of the most picturesque in Greece. A tumble of white washed cubes, clinging to the side of a mountain… no wonder painters love it. The port town Livadi shows what the Greek islands used to be like, and the beaches are uncrowded and clean. Take time to sip on a Greek coffee and chat to the locals.



  • Sifnos, Cyclades

Criss-crossed with hiking trails, and a favourite with Greek chefs looking for a more relaxed dining outpost, Sifnos is an authentic island experience with a touch of modern Greek flair. You won’t have it all to yourself – in-the-know Greeks, including chef Nicholas Tselementes, have been coming here for years. But the sandy beaches that fringe the island are delightfully free of too much racket.



  • Koufonisia, Cyclades

Resort tourism is yet to reach Koufonisia. The local Tamarisk trees serve as sea umbrellas here and there is no need for vehicles. Everywhere you want to go – including the island’s six beaches – is within easy walking distance. Visitors still camp on beaches during the summer, and there’s a distinct hippie vibe. Many of the 400 or so locals still fish for a living. Highlights include the white sand and clear blue water of Pori beach, and the rock island of Keros, where archaeologists found about 350 broken figurines, dating from 2500 BC.



  • Folegandros, Cyclades

An austere, volcanic island in the southern Cyclades, Folegandros offers beautiful, uncrowded beaches and sunsets that are every bit as dramatic as those in nearby Santorini. The clifftop bar at Anemomilos is the ideal place to watch the spectacle, a refreshing retsina wine to hand. Wander the meandering cobblestoned streets and alleyways of medieval Chora, the islands largest settlement and home to authentic tavernas and bars.


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