With over 6,000 (well, 227 inhabited) Greek Islands to choose from, why not take the road less traveled? Most first-time visitors to Greece head to Santorini, an island famous for its sunsets and luxury honeymoon hotels, or Mykonos, a prime spot for partying. The call to these islands is understandable — most visions of Greece are Santorini’s whitewashed, blue-domed buildings overlooking the sea.
But there are downsides. Santorini is one of the most expensive spots in Greece to visit, and you can admire those whitewashed buildings and epic sunsets from hundreds of other islands at a much more affordable price without the crowds. Mykonos often gets so busy in the summer months that traffic on the island’s main roads comes to a dead stop.
So for that next (or first) trip to Greece, consider visiting one of the other incredible islands Greece has to offer. You’ll encounter fewer tourists, spend less and get a feel for the real Greece. Here are some of the best recommendations for Greece’s more underrated islands.
- Thasos (Thassos)
- Evia (Euboea)
- Samothrace (Samothraki)
- When is the best time to visit the underrated Greek islands?
- How do I get around and island hop among the less-touristy Greek islands?
- What are the must-try local dishes and delicacies on the underrated Greek islands?
- What are some underrated Greek island attractions and activities to consider?
- What type of accommodations are available on the less-touristy Greek islands?
Important: How to Navigate Greece’s Less Touristy and Underrated Islands
Navigating Greece’s less touristy and underrated islands may require a bit more planning and research compared to visiting popular destinations, but the experience of exploring these hidden gems can be incredibly rewarding. Before setting off on your adventure, spend some time researching the less touristy islands you’d like to visit (read below or view the above Table of Contents). Take into account factors such as travel time, ferry connections, and the availability of accommodations. Plan your itinerary to ensure you have enough time to fully explore each island and make the most of your trip.
Best Greek Airports to Fly Into
The best airport to fly into before getting to Greece’s more underrated and less touristy islands is Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos Airport, code: ATH). This airport serves as the primary gateway to Greece and offers numerous international and domestic connections. From Athens, you can take domestic flights to smaller airports on some of the islands or board ferries to reach your desired destination.
Alternatively, Thessaloniki International Airport (Makedonia Airport, code: SKG) in Northern Greece is another option for travelers, particularly if you plan to visit islands in the Northern Aegean or Ionian Sea. However, the number of domestic flights and ferry connections available from Thessaloniki is usually less frequent compared to those from Athens. You can compare flight prices into either airport right here.
Getting Between the Greek Islands
When it comes to transportation, ferries are the most common and cost-effective means of getting around between islands. Research the ferry schedules ahead of time and book your tickets in advance, especially during peak season when routes may be busy. Keep in mind that ferry schedules can change due to weather conditions, so be prepared to be flexible with your plans. Domestic flights and private yacht or sailboat charters are also options for some islands, although they may be more expensive.
For an authentic experience, consider staying in locally-owned accommodations like guesthouses, rooms for rent, or small boutique hotels. Not only will this support the local economy, but you’ll also get a genuine taste of Greek hospitality. Be sure to book your accommodations in advance, particularly during the high season when availability may be limited. Contact the Winetraveler travel agency directly if you’d like us to handle the logistics for you.
During your stay, take the time to engage with locals and ask for recommendations on the best places to visit, eat, and explore. They can often provide valuable insights into lesser-known attractions, hidden beaches, or traditional tavernas that may not be on the typical tourist radar. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and explore the unique landscapes, history, and culture that these underrated islands have to offer.
Best Less Touristy & Underrated Greek Islands to Visit This Year
Worth noting: Just because they are less-touristy, these islands in Greece are still just as beautiful, if not more so.
A volcanic island part of the Cyclades, Milos has a budding culinary scene. Some family-owned restaurants such as Sirocco on Paleochori Beach use the volcanic landscape to their advantage. Chefs bury food in clay pots in the soil which is then heated by the underground geothermic springs. After a naturally-cooked meal, enjoy the sand and pebbles of Paleochori beach, backed by rocky cliffs marbled with volcanic amber colors. And don’t forget about the popular Sarakiniko beach, famous for its sleek white rock formations jutting out over the sea.
Where to Stay in Milos
Andronis Milos is an exclusive luxury boutique hotel located in the picturesque fishing village of Pollonia. This hotel features 12 beautifully designed suites, each with private plunge pools and terraces offering stunning views of the sea. Guests can indulge in the hotel’s spa and wellness center, savor gourmet meals at the on-site restaurant, and enjoy easy access to nearby beaches and attractions.
Find more hotels in Milos here.
The third-largest Greek island (it’s part of the Dodecanese group) has over 20 gorgeous, sandy beaches. It also has a number of Greek and Roman ruins to visit. The island is known as the Cycling Island and is best explored by bike. If you need a shady escape from the hot sun, head inland to the Plaka Forest for a nature walk. Make sure to check out the peacocks (and cats) that wander the area.
Where to Stay in Kos
Aqua Blu Boutique Hotel + Spa
Situated on Lambi Beach, Aqua Blu Boutique Hotel + Spa is an adults-only luxury hotel offering modern design and top-notch amenities. With 53 suites featuring minimalist decor and private balconies, guests can enjoy the sea view and indulge in the hotel’s Tamaris Spa, two on-site restaurants, and a beachfront bar.
Browse more hotels in Kos here.
RELATED: Which Greek Island is Right For You?
One of the quieter Greek islands, Thasos has a little bit of everything. With long, tranquil beaches, mountain villages and pine-covered hills, visitors are spoiled with choices on what to do and where to explore. A good plan is to sample the local honey and olives, spend a Saturday afternoon meandering through the Kavala market and swim in the clear waters of the Giola Lagoon.
Where to Stay in Thasos
Alexandra Golden Boutique Hotel
Alexandra Golden Boutique Hotel is a 5-star, adults-only resort located on the idyllic Golden Beach. The hotel offers elegantly designed suites, some with private pools or jacuzzis, and is known for its personalized service. Guests can enjoy the on-site spa, two outdoor swimming pools, and the gourmet restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine.
Discover more accommodation options in Thasos
This is the second-largest Greek island, separated by the mainland only by a narrow strait and easily reachable from Athens. Ironically, Evia’s proximity to the mainland ensures its beaches, villages and dramatic natural landscapes have stayed remote and relatively tourist-free, as most visitors want a more far-flung Greek island escape. Make sure to visit the rushing Drimona waterfall in the north, explore the Dragon House (over 20 megalithic rock structures), hike the verdant Dimosari Gorge and soak in the thermal Edipsos hot springs with the locals. Evia has a number of beautiful hotels worth staying at.
Where to Stay in Evia
Negroponte Resort Eretria
Located near the coastal town of Eretria, Negroponte Resort Eretria offers 5-star luxury with its elegant rooms and suites, some featuring private pools or jacuzzis. Guests can enjoy the on-site spa, sports facilities, and gourmet dining options. The resort boasts beautiful gardens, a private beach, and stunning views of the Euboean Gulf.
The largest of the Ionian islands, Kefalonia has some of the whitest sand in Greece (make sure to visit Myrtos Beach). It’s the ideal island for those wanting to beach by day and drink wine at night. Kefalonia has one famous native wine variety: Robola. Since Kefalonia has limestone soil, the wine is highly acidic, often with citric undertones.
Where to Stay in Kefalonia
Emelisse Nature Resort
Emelisse Nature Resort is a luxury hotel nestled on a hillside in the charming village of Fiskardo. The resort offers stylish rooms and suites with sea views, as well as private villas with their own pools. Guests can enjoy the on-site Elemis spa, two outdoor pools, and fine dining options that focus on Mediterranean cuisine.
Sample and learn more about this unique variety at the Robola Cooperative Winery and stay at one of these hotels nearby.
Koufonisia is part of the Cyclades islands between Naxos and Amorgos. This ‘island’ is actually made up of two islands: Ano Koufonissi and Kato Koufonissi. Stay on Ano, which has quaint home rentals, mom and pop restaurants and serene sands. Boat over to Koufonisia’s other half, Kato, which is uninhabited for a day trip. Here, you can explore the pristine waters and exotic rocky sands of this near-deserted Greek paradise.
Where to Stay in Koufonisia
Koufonisia Hotel is an upscale, family-run boutique hotel situated near the port of Koufonisia. The hotel offers stylish and comfortable suites, some with private pools or outdoor jacuzzis, and provides easy access to nearby beaches. Guests can savor Greek and Mediterranean cuisine at the on-site restaurant and unwind by the poolside bar.
An excellent alternative to Mykonos, Skiathos (part of the Sporades) has emerald green waters and a happening nightlife. With over 60 beaches, the island has plenty of sand and sun to go around for visitors and locals alike. If its gorgeous shores and dense pine forests look familiar, it’s probably because the famous movie Mamma Mia was filmed there. Party animals should plan to drink and dance at some of the outdoor clubs near the airport.
Where to Stay in Skiathos
Elivi Skiathos is a luxury resort located on the beautiful Xanemos Peninsula. This 5-star hotel offers elegant rooms, suites, and villas, many with private pools or jacuzzis. Guests can enjoy the on-site Elemis spa, four swimming pools, and several dining options, including a fine dining restaurant that offers panoramic views of the Aegean Sea.
Here are some recommended places to stay on Skiathos.
While you may have heard of Paros, Antiparos still manages to fly under-the-radar. The island is small, but its main village, Chora, has those typical whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches overlooking the glittering sea. This is the ideal island if you’d prefer not to rent a car, as you can walk or cycle to many of the island’s best beaches from Chora.
Where to Stay on Antiparos
The Beach House Antiparos
The Beach House Antiparos is a luxury boutique hotel located on a secluded beachfront. The hotel offers stylish suites and villas with private terraces and sea views. Guests can indulge in the on-site spa, dine at the gourmet restaurant, and enjoy a range of water sports and activities.
Some hotel options can be found here, and for those on a budget, families or outdoor enthusiasts can camp on the island too.
Small Ionian island Ithaca boasts quiet beaches, beautiful hiking/biking trails and calm waters for scuba diving. After you’ve spent some time enjoying the natural wonders, make sure to wine and olive oil taste around the island. Although Ithaca has several native grape varieties, vines and production are often minimal, so winemakers create blends to maximize their harvests.
Where to Stay in Ithaca
Perantzada 1811 Art Hotel
Perantzada 1811 Art Hotel is a boutique hotel situated in the picturesque port of Vathy. This neoclassical mansion offers elegantly designed rooms and suites with modern amenities and sea views. Guests can relax by the pool, enjoy a cocktail at the bar, and dine at the on-site restaurant, which serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.
Here are 10 of the top accommodation options on Ithaca.
If you want to discover traditional Greek villages, head to Tinos, an island in the Cyclades. Combine a visit to Tinos with a trip Mykonos if you really want to visit a more well-known island too. Pyrgos is the most popular white village and don’t miss Volax, a small village flanked by giant boulders.
Where to Stay on Tinos
Diles & Rinies Luxury Hotel Villas
Located near the village of Triantaros, Diles & Rinies Luxury Hotel Villas offers an upscale accommodation option for visitors to Tinos. The property features a collection of luxury villas with private pools and panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant, which serves Mediterranean and Greek cuisine made with locally-sourced ingredients, and take advantage of the hotel’s concierge services for personalized experiences.
If you visit during August, expect crowds and plan ahead to get the best accommodation. Many Greeks head to Tinos as part of a pilgrimage to visit the sacred Panagia Megalochari church.
The largest of the Cyclades islands, Naxos is known for its beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, and charming villages. With its rich history, visitors can explore ancient ruins, such as the Portara, a massive marble doorway that dates back to the 6th century BCE.
Where to Stay on Naxos
Naxian Collection Luxury Villas & Suites
Naxian Collection is a luxury boutique hotel situated on a hillside overlooking the picturesque Stelida area. The property offers a range of stylish villas and suites, many with private pools and terraces providing stunning views of the sea. Guests can indulge in the hotel’s spa, dine at the on-site restaurant that serves Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, and easily access nearby beaches and attractions.
Located in the Sporades island group, Alonissos is a quiet, unspoiled gem with pristine beaches and turquoise waters. The island is part of the National Marine Park of Alonissos and the Northern Sporades, which protects endangered monk seals and a variety of marine life.
Where to Stay on Alonissos
Marpunta Resort is a luxurious boutique hotel nestled in a private pine forest on Alonissos island. The resort offers stylish rooms and suites, some with private pools, and beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Guests can enjoy the on-site spa, three outdoor swimming pools, and two restaurants serving Mediterranean and international cuisine.
This small Cycladic island offers a tranquil escape from the more popular islands, featuring traditional architecture, cliffside views, and crystal-clear waters. The island’s main town, Chora, is perched high on a cliff and boasts narrow streets, colorful houses, and quaint tavernas.
Where to Stay on Folegandros
Anemi Hotel is a 5-star luxury boutique hotel located near the village of Karavostasis. The property features elegantly designed rooms and suites, some with private pools, and offers panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. Guests can indulge in the hotel’s wellness center, savor gourmet meals at the on-site restaurant, and explore the beautiful island of Folegandros.
Named after the Greek mythological figure Icarus, Ikaria is known for its laid-back atmosphere and the longevity of its residents. The island offers stunning landscapes, therapeutic hot springs, and a unique local cuisine. Ikaria is also home to a number of traditional festivals throughout the year.
Where to Stay on Ikaria
Atheras Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel situated in the charming village of Evdilos. The hotel offers well-appointed rooms and suites with private balconies and stunning views. Guests can enjoy the on-site wellness center, which includes a sauna and massage services, dine at the hotel’s restaurant offering traditional Ikarian cuisine, and take advantage of the hotel’s prime location near beaches and local attractions.
Rich in history and natural beauty, Samothrace is famous for the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, an important archaeological site. The island is characterized by its lush forests, waterfalls, and rugged mountain landscapes, making it perfect for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
Where to Stay on Samothrace
Archondissa Boutique Beach Hotel
Archondissa Boutique Beach Hotel is an upscale beachfront hotel located on the northern coast of Samothrace. The property offers comfortable rooms and suites with modern amenities and sea views. Guests can relax at the hotel’s private beach, dine at the on-site restaurant that serves local and Mediterranean cuisine, and explore the unique landscapes and attractions of Samothrace.