Greece Beyond Santorini & MykonosJuly 20, 2020 | By
With over 6,000 islands to choose from, we are excited to hear that Greece is now opening for tourists. Later this year or early next year will be a great time to tour islands beyond the heavily visited Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. The Greek archipelago boasts so many beautiful beaches that it can be very hard to choose among them. These are our top 5 off-the-beaten path Greek islands to visit:
Close to Athens, the Saronic group of islands is easy to access but easily overlooked by tourists. Part of this group, Salamina island is just a 15-minute ferry ride from Athens and has the homey feel of a local suburb. After visiting the 12th-century Monastery of Panagias Faneromenis and the Archaeological Museum of Salamis, you have to hit all the main beaches: Psili Ammos, Iliakti,
Mainland haunts are unsung heroes among Greek beaches. Avoid the flights and ferries, and take a leisurely 55-mile drive from Athens to the Peloponnese peninsula. The region has mountains in the interior and beaches along the coasts, making it perfect for outdoor adventurers and beach bums alike. Don’t miss the spectacularly horseshoe-shaped Voidokoilia beach. This beach is popular but undeveloped, so, bring your own towels and umbrellas. Before heading out of the Messenia area of the peninsula, take in the history with visits to Old Navarino, Pylos, and Methoni castles.
The Cyclades group of islands has been made famous by celebs lounging in Santorini and Mykonos. We much prefer the hidden gem of Kea (also called Tzia). Known for its green leafy landscape, Kea is a bit different from its neighboring islands. Picturesque Korissia port in Agios Nikolaos bay is not to be missed, but we really love the quaint capital city of Ioulida. It is a traditional village kept pristine by a car ban. Art lovers can spend an afternoon in the Vourkariani Art Gallery and the Archaeological Museum of Ioulida, and appreciate the architecture and sacred art in local hamlets.
Patmos Island is best known for Christian pilgrimages. It is said to be where John had the visions written into the Book of Revelations, and where he wrote the Book of the Apocalypse inside a cave. That cave draws large crowds all year round. While this is a great reason to visit the island, Patmos’ impressive beaches are the main draw for tourists. Patmos is nestled within the Dodecanese group of islands and it sits in the Aegean Sea. The Didimes (also called Liginou) beaches are exotic and isolated – perfect for eco-tourists seeking a sea-side retreat for reflection and meditation.
Antipaxos Islet, not to be confused with Paxos, its neighbor to the north, is the smallest of the Ionian islands. However, Antipaxos’ beaches punch above their weight class. The three main beaches are not to be missed. Voutoumi regularly ranks in the top 10 European beaches, but Mesovrike and Vrika’s pebble beaches are also stunning. Better still, near the small harbor of Agrapidia, there are beautiful vineyards that produce regionally-acclaimed red wine. Cheers to that!