10 Hidden Islands
Imposing lava formations, wild beaches, natural hot springs, and an active volcano make up Nisyros, one of Greece’s best-kept secrets (and worth the journey into the middle of the Aegean). Nisyros’ dramatic landscape, Spanish gray stone footpaths, and volcanic craters look like something off a movie set. Explore on foot, enjoy some homemade soumada, and tak it all in. With very few tourists travelling this far into the Greek Archipelago you are likely to have it to yourself!
Renowned for its unspoiled nature, there are more than 600 different plant species on Amorgos, many of which are used in the local dishes. Some eateries 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.
The one you’ve nerver heard of. Well, it is one of the smallest Greek islands boasting of the bluest and clearest waters! Far-flung Kastellorizo is a microcosm of everything that’s great about Greece: the bluest, clearest waters, the prettiest pastel houses and gorgeous little tavernas serving fresh food by the water’s edge. It’s also the smallest of Greece’s inhabited islands (just 2 miles across), the furthest from Athens, and has just one village – and no cars save the odd taxi. Perfect.
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.
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.
6. Chryssi (Gaidouronissi)
A tiny speck of an island minutes off the shores of Southern Crete in the Libyan Sea, Chryssi means “gold” in Greek and is a mini paradise complete with tropic-style waters, windswept sand dunes, and a protected juniper bush forest. Also known as “Gaidouronissi,” Chryssi is easy to explore thanks to its size—three whole miles! This uninhabited Greek island is known for its Minoan ruins from 1800 BC, its Roman cemetery, its old lighthouse and salt pan, a 13th century chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and its crystal-clear waters. The island has shallow and safe waters and it attracts anyone who loves snorkeling and diving.
Home to the last Dwarf Elephants some 4,000 years ago, this tiny island in the Dodecanese is a must for nature lovers, geology buffs, and hikers, not to mention if you’re into fossils. stunning mountains, running waters, verdant valleys, stately houses, crystal clear sea, and four traditional settlements make up Tilos. A walker’s delight, Tilos is lush by Greek standards, wild with untouched beaches, with no umbrellas or sunbeds in sight. Hit the trail to its many chapels and fortress-like Mikro Horio, a deserted village in the hills. Tilos is also the only Mediterranean island wholly powered by renewable energy,
Back in the late 2000s, some of the Sporades Islands like Skiathos and Skopelos suddenly turned into tourist attractions after being featured in the award-winning movie, ‘Mamma Mia’. Escape to Skyros for beaches, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, charming cafés in the island’s sole town (Skyros town) – and even a sea cave transformed into a chapel. English poet Rupert Brooke is buried in an olive grove on a hill on the island. You’ll also want to see the unique and rare breed of Skyrian horses. Almost extinct, they look like regular horses, but shorter (about 3+ feet high). You can meet them at the Skyros Island Horse Trust, dedicated to saving the breed.
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.
Paxos, also known as Paxoi 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.