17 Off the Beaten Path Greek Islands (for now)

Posted by Ra Moon

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 neighbors, 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.

Off the Beaten Path Greek Islands

Letting life just pass by, waiting for their moment of a rather private glory, these small retreats enjoy a peaceful unspoiled existence, some in the bounds of the West, others amid 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, despite any crisis), of which only 227 are inhabited (please find a map at the end of this report).

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 ostracism just for a post.

Amorgos shipwreck
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 harbor that is placed in its path.

This guarantees that most of the potential holidaymakers will stay far away. Amorgos has its own shipwreck bay, although it is not as famous as the overpromoted one in the Ionian island of Zakynthos.
Image by Visit Greece and Dans le grand bleu

Embedded on a cliff above the Aegean, the spectacular Hozoviotissa monastery is, as a whisky, on the rocks.
Image by Anjči

Non-touristy islands in greece
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 Nvoutiras

Anafi has avoided all the glamour and fuss of its sister Santorini.

Pictured mount Kalamos, a massive solid rock monolith, stands out on 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.

From this list, this is the closest island to Kyopeli.
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 here, as spectacular as Cathedral Beach.

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 civilization.
Image by Visit Greece

Moving east to the Dodecanese group of islands, we meet Astypalaia and its imposing castle, built as a defense 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 of the smoking holes.
Image by Elli Vassalou

The atmospheric Patmos, aka the island of the Apocalypse, so-called because here is where St John established a direct line with God, to write the biblical Book of Revelation.

This heavily fortified monastery is a 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 far away, 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 on the top of a mountain to be protected from the pirates, is 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 south of the monster Corfu, and even if it is a very popular destination, it attracts quality tourism, and it is almost ignored by 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

For further information, there is available the book Best-Kept Secrets of The Greek Islands. It includes lots of images and places not only about the lesser-known islands: this is rather a compendium of potential destinations.

Also for first-timers and to have a better idea of where are you heading to, we can recommend the latest edition of the Lonely Planet Greek Islands travel guide, the more alternative Rough Guide, or even the less adventurous Fodor's Greek Islands guide.

NOTICE: If you’re using this information on your website, please credit and link to this page as a source.

  1. Nice article on the separate islands. With regards to Symi, it has been found. Five years ago you could buy a house for 40K euros, most now 300K to 850K euro's, and some over 2 million.

  2. Interesting, thanks. This is something that doesn't surprise me.

  3. Ruined buildings are selling for 80K to 400K euro's. Virgin land is being purchased by locals for 'new' housing.

  4. But I believe you must still be a Greek in order to purchase any kind of property in Greece.

  5. You do NOT need to be Greek to purchase. Show the owner the $$$$ and its yours! Though in my opinion, you should be a native to buy land wherever that may be.

  6. Amorgos, especially the shipwreck and the monastery were two iconic locations in Luc Bessons Big Blue


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