The Greek islands are without a doubt one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. Every year, thousands flock to their shores to experience beautiful beaches, rich history, and, of course, that famous Greek hospitality.
However, sometimes it’s nice to avoid the crowds and head somewhere that is not quite as well known – we understand the need for exclusivity, after all.
While the likes of Mykonos and Santorini are wonderful places to visit in their own right, there are so many more hidden gems waiting to be discovered in and around this stunning archipelago. Here are four of Greece’s lesser-known isles that you can explore on our itineraries.
The peace and quiet that surrounds Patmos is one of the first things that will strike you about this island. The second is the vast number of quaint little churches that are located here. Set on volcanically formed rock, the terrain is uneven and rough and has helped create some truly stunning views of the surrounding area.
Hofa, the largest village on the island, contains the one true tourist attraction, the ornate monastery. This imposing structure has stood in place since 1088 and gives you a glimpse into the island’s rich religious past. Other than this, the village’s small, cobbled streets are ideal for pottering around, and such is the charm of the area, this all many people choose to do. The island is thought to be the very place that St John The Apostle wrote the Book of Revelations and you can visit the Cave of the Apocalypse where he is believed to have had the visions that led to its creation.
In terms of beaches, Patmos’ coastline is awash with small, intimate coves and longer sandy beaches. Close to Skala port, Agriolivadi is a popular choice, but Kampos is by far the busiest on the island due to its shallow, temperate waters.
This stunning little island is perfectly located between Mykonos and Athens and yet it is often overlooked by many larger cruise ships sailing the route. That’s not the case with our itineraries, and with the smaller vessels we use, you can get well acquainted with the stunning allure of Tinos.
Known as the Holy Island, Tinos is most visited by religious pilgrims which gives it a peaceful, calm feeling. As well as the many quaint little churches you will find here, the island is also renowned for its delicious omelettes and the use of artichokes that almost every restaurant seems to favour. While the beaches of Mykonos are packed with revelers during the high season, Tinos’ remain quiet and are no less beautiful.
The most important religious site on the island is The Monastery of the Holy Virgin (or Our Lady of Tinos). Every year, hundreds of Orthodox Christians make a spiritual journey to this beautiful sanctuary to see the sacred icon within.
From its charming, whitewashed villages to the surrounding dramatic scenery, Paros is one of the most visually pleasing Greek islands we travel to.
The village of Parikia forms the epicentre of this island’s allure, with its picturesque little harbour and quaint cube-shaped houses. The paved streets you’ll find here, and in other traditional villages like Naoussa and Lefkes, add to Paros charm and make exploring a real treat.
If you are only spending a day here, it’s the beautiful architecture of these villages that you will want to see. Parikia is filled with tiny shops, old churches and traditional tavernas and restaurants – an ideal place to spend the day.
Of course, there’s also an abundance of stunning beaches lining the coastline of Paros with Golden Beach and New Golden Beach being two of the best. Not only are these ideal for a lazy morning on perfect sands, but the water conditions are ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Syros is one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up in character. Its capital Ermoupoli, known to be one of the most beautiful towns in the entire region, renowned for fantastic restaurants, stunning buildings and Greek charm.
Surrounded by dramatic hills, the town centre is awash with fantastic neoclassical mansions, quaint houses and an impressive town hall. The island is by no means crowded, but there is a buzz that emanates from the capital that is evident all year round. The best part of Ermoupoli is certainly the picture of Greek life that it paints.
Cruises to choose: