The Best Kept Secret Greek Islands You May Have Never Heard Of.
Greece boasts an amazing sum of islands (more than 150), some of which are global hits and are world-wide known, such as Creta, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Zakynthos, Rhodes, Naxos and others.
However, there are many small and hidden gems, unknown to the big touristic masses (20 million tourists per year), that flee to Greece every summer and which are there for you to discover. So, if you feel a little bit more adventurous or you like the backpacking and camping adventure, here is a list of 9 fantastic Greek islands that are almost secret.
1. Koufonissi Island
This is a really small island, in Cyclades Complex, very close to the bigger island of Naxos, from where you can easily get with a boat (or alternatively take a boat from Athens ports). It has become quite trendy to hipster Greeks in the last years, so it is not easy to find a room, especially since it is so small. It has amazing beaches, with white sand and blue waters, a great main town (chora) with white houses and nice restaurants and tavernas. People go out in the evening to enjoy “Rakomela”, which is Raki (a drink like vodka) with honey. You can also do free camping on a small island which is in the opposite side of Koufonisi island and is called “Kato Koufonisi”, which means “Lower Koufonisi” in greek. This island is best enjoyed from couples or group of friends. Prices in the rooms vary from 60Euros per night to 150E per night for a double room.
If you want to visit Koufonisi island, you will have to book your room at least 3 months before, as there are not many options for your stay. Moreover, you will have to prebook your ferry tickets to go and come back from the island. If you are going to Koufonisi directly from Athens’ ports, there is a quick boat that will get you there. Otherwise, you can go to Naxos island and then get a slower boat from Naxos to Koufonisi, as they are close to each other.
You don’t need to rent a scooter in this island. You can rent a bike and travel with that to the beaches, which are around 1-2 kms away from the main town of Koufonisi (actually, it is the only town in the island and it is a village..)
2. Gaidouronissi Island or Chrisi (South of Creta Island)
An amazing small island with one of the best beaches in Greece, which is situated in the south of Creta. You go there with a small boat that leaves from Crete in the morning and you have come back in the afternoon. Or, you can do free camping there. This is an island with no people living on it – so make sure you prepare accordingly if you plan to stay during the evening.
3. Tzia Island (or Kea island)
This is a great small island, one and half hours away from Lavrio, which is one of the 3 ports of Athens, 60 km away from the Athens town. Tzia is not famous for the beaches but it has a great nature, a fantastic town to visit and is popular to sailors who start from Lavrio port or Rafina port. If you sail, this is probably your first stop. There are many places to visit and enjoy in Tzia island, so you will easily find a room. Stay at Vourkari village, which is on the sea, so that you can enjoy the sailboats that arrive. In the evening, the crews of the boats have drinks at Vourkari, together with …everybody!
In Tzia island, you can find hotel rooms or apartment rooms starting from 50 Euros per night or even lower at the low season. The high season for Greece is from 20th of July until the end of August, so prices are higher during that period. Plan for a budget of 80E to 100E for a standard room for two persons, during that time.
4. Patmos Island
Patmos may not be that secret anymore. A lot of italians have discovered the island, especially after some hollywood stars have selected it for their vacation. This is a sacred island for Greeks, as it has a special religious meaning for the country. Again, the beaches are not the reason to visit the island as the water tends to be quiet cold to swim compared to the other greek islands but it has a great town, a great feeling and amazing people that visit it. The rich and famous of Greece and the hipsters, usually pay a visit here, as it has become the place to go, after Mykonos island. It is very far from Athens to go with a boat (around 8 hours), so you should try to get an airplane to a nearby island and get the boat from there.
If you go to Patmos island, don’t miss the chance to eat at the “Trehantiri” tavern. This is a family tavern, ran by the captain of “Trehantiri” boat, which brings fresh sea fruits and fishes everyday to your dishes. You will be amazed by the quantity you get for the money you pay. Definitely the best value for money tavern on the island of Patmos.
Moreover, go to the Vaya beach and visit the Vaya Cafe, where you should try the famous Chocolate Cake. Simply amazing!
5. Paxoi and Antipaxoi Islands
These are two small islands on the west side of Greece, opposite to Italy. Paxoi is inhabited while Antipaxoi has almost nothing and you get there with a boat from Paxoi island. Both islands and especially Antipaxoi, are famous for the amazing blue-water beaches and the vivid, green nature that cover the islands. Paxoi however is a little bit expensive, so plan well ahead. Moreover, it is not easy to find a room due to the small size of the island.
6. Symi Island
What can we say about this paradise island. Probably one of the most beautiful islands in Greece. It has an amazing town built in front of the sea and when you see it for the first time as the boat arrives, you will feel so amazed that you will want to start ..crying from joy! Symi is well-know for its tavernas and food, especially the shrimps, which have a well-know brand name in Greece – make sure that you try them! Again, it is very far from Athens and it doesn’t have an airport, so you should fly to a nearby island and get the boat to it.
7. Elafonisos Island
This is a small island on the south of Peloponnese in Greece. It is famous for each beach, which is called “Simos”, after the name of the person who has a taverna in front of it. Pretty small, without a lot of things to do. It’s just the perfect place to go if you want to relax and enjoy a Hawaii-like beach in Europe.
8. Kithira Island
Kithira is also in the south of Peloponnese and opposite from Elafonisos. It is a big island with amazing nature, great food to try and a fantastic main town built on the top of a hill, into a castle. To go there you either fly from Athens, or you get a boat from Athens, or you drive 4 hours to the south of peloponnese from Athens and then you get a 1 hour boat to Kithira. Best option is to fly.
9. Folegandros Island
Folegandros is a volcanic island, opposite from the world-famous Santorini island. So, Santorini catches all the glory. Still, Folegandros is much less touristic but offers amazing views and a great town (chora). The beaches are strange. With black volcanic stones and crystal clear (although cold) waters. You can add Folegandros to your schedule if you plan to visit Santorini. It’s far from Athens, so get an airplane to Santorini and a boat from there to Folegandros.
Here, you can view all these islands on the map, so that you get an idea of where they are: