Of the over 200 inhabited islands of Greece, the vast majority are quite small. Crete, Rhodes and Lesbos are three of the biggest, and incidentally, three of the most visited. However many of the little guys have just as much, if not more, to offer holidaymakers. Plus they’re invariably a lot quieter too!
Take Paxos as an example. It’s one of the smallest of the Ionian Islands, off the west coast of the Greek mainland. In the warmer months there’s about 2,500 people calling the island home, and they live across a few coastal towns. The main port of Gaios has great restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as a pretty square. From there you can explore the rest of the island, with its gorgeous beaches and fantastic walking trails. Paxos has all the things you generally find on the bigger islands, without the crowds and loss of identity.
Another of the picks of the bunch is Folegandros. With Cyclaidc neighbours like Santorini and Mykonos, it’s no wonder this destination is often forgotten. But being in the shadow of a couple tourist hot spots works in its favour. It means the place has been able to maintain its identity and avoid becoming a cliched party island or busy hub. It’s not the place for those after lots of beaches covered in deckchairs, or lively bars. The coastline is mostly made up of sheer cliffs, which is something unusual for Greece. It affords dramatic scenery and countless photo opportunities, as well as great hikes, quaint taverns and absolute tranquility.
These are just two examples of the dozens of lesser-known islands that are well worth exploring. Kea, Halki, Ithaca, Kastelorizo, Anafi….the list goes on! I can’t stress enough just how much I love visiting these off the beaten track destinations. They provide an authentic Greek experience and give you a chance to escape to quieter parts of the country full of old world charms and friendly people. So when planning your trip to Greece, take the time to dig a bit deeper. Search for places you hear little about. Go beyond the first few pages of Google and see what you can discover. I can tell you now, the more research you do, the greater the rewards. Chances are you’ll unearth gems that will leave everlasting memories.