Ignored by tour operators, overlooked by the crowds, and underrated by the travel guides until recently. Isolated and remote, sometimes even neglected, or for the most part, overshadowed by their world-famous neighbours, here we find a bunch of islands that also deserve our attention, for their pristine beauty and unique appeal.
These outsiders of the package holiday are not failures. The loser becomes the winner, when they manage to stay out of the grounds of the beer consuming hordes. Letting life just pass by, waiting their moment of a rather private glory, these small retreats enjoy a peaceful unspoilt existence, some in the bounds of the West, others in the midst of all the bustle.
Nor ten or twenty: we have seventeen, out of about 1,400 islands that belong to Greece (and we hope will for a long time, in spite of any crisis), of which only 227 are inhabited (please find a map at the end of this post).
Because maybe we would never have the chance to stop there, in our journey towards the highlight, and because one lifetime is not enough, we would like to rescue these endearing islands from their ostrach and even harder to geism just for a post.
We start at the Cyclades with Amorgos, a not so small island but with no airport, and at a long boat trip distance from Athens in a ferry that stops at almost every harbour that is placed in its path. This a guarantee that most of the potential holiday makers will stay far away. Image by Visit Greece
Amorgos has its own shipwreck bay, although it is not as famous as the overpromoted one in the Ionian island of Zakynthos. Image by Dans le grand bleu
Embedded on a cliff above the Aegean, the spectacular Hozoviotissa monastery is, like a whisky, on the rocks.
Image by Anjči
The landscape in front of the mismatched windows of Hozoviotissa, rewards the small community of monks with a stunning panorama over a crystal-clear sea. Image by Nvoutiras1976
Anafi has avoided all the glamour and fuss of its sister Santorini. Pictured mount Kalamos, a massive solid rock monolith, standing out at the eastern side of this tiny island. Image by Sinus Iridium
With less than three hundred inhabitants and out of the way, to get to Anafi can take up to sixteen hours, if coming from Athens. Hands up, this is loneliness!
Image by Karstalipp
Hora, in Folegandros, is a seriously beautiful place. It perches on the edge of a steep cliff, has cute streets of traditional houses, and this zigzagging view of the church of Panagia. Image by Amphithoe
For how long is Folegandros going to resist the arrival of mass tourism? Just a few years ago it had no ATM, no car hire, no nightlife... Image by EnKayTee
Sifnos still belongs to the Greeks rather than the tourists, but its increasing number of visitors endangers its inclusion in a list like this one. Image by Visit Greece
Ano Koufonisia is a tiny satellite island of Naxos, with a population of around 400, but it could get crowded in summer, as it has been in vogue in recent years. Image by Visit Greece
The cunning plan is to visit Koufonisia off season, to experience its empty beaches, bathing spots and natural swimming pools. Gala beach is an uncommon treasure found in here. The sea passes under a formidable semicircle of rock, that shelters a little beach with a refreshing shadow. Image by Pandemia
Thirasia is what Santorini used to be many years ago. Well, actually they used to be the same island, many more years ago, before a tremendous volcanic eruption split them, and allegedly started the end of the splendid Minoan civilisation.
Image by Visit Greece
Moving east to the Dodecanese group of islands, we meet Astypalaia and its imposing castle, built as a defence against the Ottoman incursions. Image by Anjči
This view over the charming port town of Mandraki in Nisyros. However, the island has something more exclusive to show to the scarce visitors who venture here. Image by Visit Greece
Nisyros is basically a volcanic cone with some activity. Day-trippers come here to walk between the steam coming out the smoking holes. Image by Elli Vassalou
The atmospheric Patmos, aka the island of the Apocalipse, so called because here is where St John established direct line with God, to write the biblical Book of Revelation. This heavily fortified monastery is an UNESCO's World Heritage site, along with the cave where the Apostle had his visionary trip. Image by Davidhealy
Symi has one of the most stylish ports in all the Mediterranean, with its buildings perfectly restored in its shiny 19th century pastel colors. Image by Alessandro Silipo
Symi has been kept reasonably untouched by tourism, eluding modern developments and restoring the old buildings instead, unlike many other places, although it is growing in popularity quickly. Here's hoping that there are no real estate speculators reading this. Image by Dgedge76
Kastelorizo and its islets are the easternmost Greek territory, just in front of the Turkish coast, but at around 80 miles away from Rhodes. In fact, it is so faraway, it feels like it has fallen off the map.
Image by Plamman
Karpathos, situated between Crete and Rhodes, is not such a small island but you've probably never heard of it. It used to be a land of immigrants in the middle of nowhere, and totally disregarded by the world. The good news is that its old inhabitants came back and got to work to pick this forgotten gem up. Image by Poseidonblue
In Karpathos we can find villages almost stranded in time. Olympos, built in the top of a mountain to be protected from the pirates, is the one of the highlights of the island, although in the last few years, tourists have begun to break the spell.
Image by Giotse
Going to the west, in the Ionian sea, the alluring azure sea glistens with intensity in the little island of Paxos.
Image by Rupert Brun
Paxos is located at the south of the monster Corfu, and even if it is a very popular destination, it attracts quality tourism, and it is almost ignored by the most of the cruises that sail the region. Image by Rupert Brun
In the even smaller Antipaxos, with less than a hundred inhabitants, you can marvel at these folded rocks. Try to imagine the geological force that once bent this.
Image by Sean O'Sullivan
Lefkada, eclipsed by its Ionian neighbors, connected to the mainland through a bridge, and at a medium distance from Athens, could pass as an average Island. It doesn't come up in any ranking, it's not the top of anything, it's barely highlighted in the brochures... but even so, it is one of the most beautiful islands in the region, and still has remote traditional villages to explore. Image by Visit Greece
The dazzling light of Lefkada, welcoming you to enter this postcard world.
Image by Anjči
Chrysi, Chrisi, Chrissi, Hrysi or even Gaidouronisi, in the south of Crete, is an uninhabited and protected pocket-size island, which has, other than a lot of names, only a tavern, and where all the visitors have to leave with the boat at the end of the day. Image by Bri74
Gavdos, the southernmost European edge, is the place for you if you would like to feel like a Robinson Crusoe. It is difficult to reach and even harder to get out in case of bad weather. Only a small community of a hundred souls inhabit this truly isolated place. Image by Carinas
We don't want to give ideas, but Gavdos is also a good hideout if you are escaping from your banker or if you are a member of the mafia. Image by Carinas
A good sign that you're off the beaten track in Greece (and almost everywhere) ironically, is when you stumble upon these telluric human-made stacks of pebbles. Image by Br0wser