If the kind of excitement you seek on holiday comes from natural beauty, historic interest, and authentic cultural experiences in unspoiled surroundings, then you might consider visiting one of these quiet Greek islands. Abundant in charm and character, rich in natural beauty, and above all pleasantly under the radar, on these lesser-known Greek Islands you can enjoy your own unique and unforgettable experience of Greece.
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The best 18 quiet Greek islands to visit in 2020
The North Aegean is full of charms, and Lemnos is one of them. Tucked somewhere between the better known Lesvos and somewhat known Thassos, this more minimally developed island has a delightful wild side. There are many remote sandy beaches to enjoy in privacy, and windsurfers particularly like the eastern coast’s beaches.
Fans of culture will enjoy ancient Kavrio and ancient Poliochni, and the Medieval castle of Myrina. Speleologists and other adventurers can have the thrill of visiting beautiful Philoctetes cave- named for a mythological hero- by boat!
Recommended places to stay in Lemnos
Artemis Traditional Hotel – With the beach a 2 minute walk away, this traditional hotel in a beautifully converted 19th-century building will feel like a home away from home since the owners are wonderfully hospitable. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Archontiko Hotel – This recently refurbished family-owned hotel with courtyard is full of personal touches for that quintessential Greek island stay. 1 minute away from shops and the beach, rooms are decorated in a timeless classical style. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
You might be interested in: Things to do in Lemnos.
The Cycladic Islands are those who form a circle (“kyklos”) around sacred Delos. Some of them are world famous destinations- which means you’d have to share the crystalline Cycladic waters and white sandy beaches with many others. On smaller, less known Donousa, you can enjoy them in relative tranquility.
And among them is beautiful Kedros, voted by Forbes Magazine as one of the 8 best beaches in the world (!). This is a tiny island- just under 14 square kilometers. Explore on foot- the villages of Mersini, Messaria, Stavros, and Kalotaritissa have always been connected by footpaths, which are groomed each year, making for comfortable hiking, and even an annual train run.
Recommended places to stay in Donousa
Astrofegia Guest House – With beautiful sea views, these well-equipped apartments have a classic yet modern Cycladic design and are within easy reach of both the port and the shops and tavernas of the town. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Asterias House – These beautiful studio apartments are in a quiet location close to the village with the port 5 minutes walk away. The décor is simple yet modern with bright airy rooms and sea views from the balcony. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
You might want to check out: Things to do in Donousa.
East of ultra-famous Santorini is a beautiful island worth discovering. It features the same stunning Cycladic architecture- stark white and blue against a glorious Greek sky- as its better – known neighbor. The Chora, populated since the middle ages, is centered around a Venetian fortress and the whole town is amphitheatrically arranged high above the harbor.
The island has several gorgeously unspoiled beaches- like Kleisidi, Katsouni, Flamourou, Megalos (large), and Mikros (small) Roukounas, Megas Potamos , Agioi Anargyroi , Prassies, and Livoskopos, all of which are sheltered from northern winds. A magnificent feature of Anafi is Mount Kalamos, a 460 m high monolith that is linked to the island by an isthmus.
Recommended places to stay in Anafi
Golden Beach Resort – With its own private beach and infinity pool, the views from this resort are stunning, especially at sunset when the sun sinks into the Aegean. The rooms are modern and feel light and airy with all the necessary amenities. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Apollon Village Hotel – With panoramic views of the Aegean from the comfortable spacious rooms with terraces, this quiet hotel on the hill (just 250 yards to the beach) has super friendly and helpful staff who are ready to serve you. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
This mid-sized North Aegean island- just west of more famous Samos- has an exciting terrain combines lush green sloped with dramatic rocky areas. Ikaria is known for longevity: this is a “blue zone”- a region where life spans are much longer than the average. Is it the diet?
Or the wildness and unspoiled purity of the terrain, and the exercise that day to day life involves? Or perhaps it’s simply the way they embrace a traditional lifestyle- enjoying the company of friends and family and not giving in to the stressful, fast-paced modern way of life. These are all qualities that make it a fine holiday destination, too.
Recommended places to stay in Ikaria
Hotel Nefeli – Ideally located for the thermal baths which are just 100 meters away, this family-run hotel is in a quiet location and goes above and beyond to ensure guests have an enjoyable stay. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Cavos Bay Hotel & Studios – This modern hotel decorated in a chic rustic style is in a quiet hillside location and has stunning sea views from the rooms and grounds. There are 2 saltwater swimming pools, a pool bar, an internet cafe, and a restaurant. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
The South Aegean Island Karpathos, located between Rhodes and Crete, is secluded- far from other islands. Only the southern part of the island has been partially developed in response to tourism, leaving the island’s middle and northern areas nearly untouched, with authentic traditional villages. This is a great place to experience the unspoiled culture, and nature too- the island’s excellent routes make it popular with hikers.
Recommended places to stay in Karpathos
Apolis Beachscape Hotel – With excellent staff, comfortable contemporary styled rooms, and stunning views, this beachside hotel has an outdoor pool, fitness center, sun terrace, garden, and bar serving up great cocktails. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Hotel Finiki View – These spacious apartments enjoy stunning views, especially at sunset, and with friendly and hospitable hosts and tavernas nearby, it has everything needed for a great holiday, the beach just 100 yards away. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Click here for more things to do in Karpathos.
This is an island popular with people interested in alternative tourism, the kind of people who are more likely to be doing yoga at sunrise than seeking out the latest trendy cocktail by night. Dramatic natural surroundings bring out the nature lover in everyone- the island has not one but three mountains: Krokellos at 821m, Prophet Elias at 699m, and Korakas at 528m, and of course also wild and beautiful beaches. Agrotourism and activities centered around physical and spiritual wellness draw a select crowd to this Cycladic gem.
Recommended places to stay in Amorgos
Aegean of Amorgos – Located close to the port with the village center shops and tavernas just 5 minutes walk away, this beautiful white washed hotel has spacious modern rooms decorated in a gorgeous Cycladic style. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Hotel Landeris – Well located in a small scenic village close to the port, this traditionally decorated hotel with roof terrace ensures guests receive a warm welcome. Studio rooms have a balcony and there are fully-equipped apartments too. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Close to Santorini and the ever-popular Milos, Folegandros thankfully remains relatively untouched by mass tourism. Beautifully terraced over generations, this hilly and rocky island is distinguished by its stone walls. Its three small towns- Chora, Ano Meria (“Ano” means “upper” in Greek) and Karavostassi (the port) is characterized by authentic charm, and Chora has the added attraction of having no cars or motorcycles to disturb the tranquility. Many footpaths make exploring the island a great pleasure.
Recommended places to stay in Folegandros
Vrahos Boutique Hotel – This modern and intimate beachfront hotel has superb views and very accommodating staff with the restaurant serving up tasty dishes. Close to the port, the nearby town is easily accessible by bus. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Aeolos Beach Hotel – Ideally located for the port with shops and restaurants, this peaceful hotel has the beach as its backyard with a bus stop at the end of the road for when you want to explore the Chora. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
The Ionian islands are much prized for their lushness, abounding in pine, carob, oak, olive, and cypress trees. Very close to popular Kephalonia, Ithaca none the less remains peaceful, offering all the Ionian charms. Chief among Ithaca’s attractions its variety of beaches suiting a host of tastes, from the tranquil to the active and fun, from soft sands to wild rocks.
The island also has charming villages: picturesque Perahori has the finest view of across the island, and Anoyi, known for its very unusual rock formations. The Ionian Islands have excellent gastronomy with more than a little influence from their Italian neighbors, tasted in exotic local specialties like Savoro- fish fillets in vinegar, rosemary, garlic, and raisins.
Recommended places to stay in Ithaca
Korina Gallery Hotel – This small family-run hotel, in a listed Venetian house, is centrally located on a quiet street with sea view across the red-tiled rooftops. The luxurious rooms are well-appointed and the staff really go the extra mile to ensure a great stay. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Perantzada Art Hotel – This 19th-century neoclassical building has spacious modern rooms and stunning views from the private verandas. Extremely picturesque, the hotel is located within walking distance of all the shops, bars, tavernas, and beach. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Between Patmos and Kalymnos, this small Dodecanese Island was famously the hunting ground of the goddess Artemis as it was full of deer. Now it’s more popular with divers than hunters- the many shipwrecks of Leros’ coast make for fascinating underwater adventures. The beautiful traditional fishing villages provide a fine selection of places for a classic seaside meal. And if you like both swimming and hiking, this is the place for you- some of the most rewarding beaches are reached on foot.
Recommended places to stay in Leros
Nefeli Hotel Leros – These spacious Cycladic style apartments with beach access and sea views are within walking distance of the town. The complex benefit from high-speed internet, onsite parking, and a beautiful blooming garden. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Castelo Beach Hotel – Located in a quiet bay with magnificent views and bars and tavernas, this ambient hotel, decorated in a Medieval style is a 20minute walk to the heart of the town. Evening entertainment and boat tours are organized by the hotel too. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Off the southern tip of the Peloponnese’s easternmost peninsula, this remote island is poetic in its beauty. Kythera provides an extraordinary variety of experiences. Waterfalls and forests and caves compete with the coves and beaches for your attention. This much sought after spot brought the Venetians, leaving romantic castles and fortresses. The island has several villages, each with their own unique and authentic characters.
Recommended places to stay in Kythera
Kythea Resort – With stunning views overlooking the sea and village of Agia Pelagia, this luxury hotel has a restaurant and bar, a large pool and sunbed area, and elegantly decorated rooms which have a terrace or balcony. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Romantica Hotel – 30 yards to the beach with bars and restaurants also close by, this elegant hotel which serves up a great breakfast makes you feel like you’re one of the family. The rooms are modern and tastefully decorated. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
When you think of remote, do you also think of small? Schoinousa is so tiny that you can make it your own by discovering it all: you can hike around petit Schoinoussa in just a couple of hours- it’s not even 9 square km, yet still has ruins from the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine eras.
The tiny port Mersini is popular with sailing enthusiasts, and this is a great starting point for your hike to discover lovely beaches, gardens, and palm trees. The small island’s rather big name could come from a plant that grows here in abundance, or perhaps from the name of a Venetian nobleman.
Recommended places to stay in Schoinousa
Hotel Theasis Luxury Suites – Enjoy a home away from home experience in a stunning quiet location at this family-run boutique hotel with luxury suites. Rooms are high-end with a modern minimalist design, and the staff goes out of their way to help you. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Mersini – Enjoy a warm welcome at this tranquil guesthouse with a stunning view across the port, the beach a 2 minute walk away, and the village also accessible on foot. The light and airy modern rooms, all decked out in white, are spotlessly clean. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
This is a Cycladic island with a difference- rather than the pristine simplicity of the classic white and blue Cycladic architecture, Syros is all about color: the capital Ermoupolis is awash in delicious pinks and ochres. A trading center in the early 19th C, the island’s wealth is seen is its glorious neoclassical architecture, and it even has an opera house.
These considerable urban charms are of course joined by splendid beaches, like Kini and Finikas, and wonderful nature. For those who like a little urban lifestyle with their rugged terrain, this is a sweet choice (speaking of sweet, this island is famous for its excellent ‘loukoumia’- soft, chewy sweets perfumed with rose, bergamot, and other exotic flavors).
Recommended places to stay in Syros
Hotel Benois – This beautifully designed hotel by the beach has thought of everything – workout equipment to use in the garden, hammocks outside rooms, and palm trees by the pool. Staff are friendly and the shops and tavernas are close by. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Francoise Hotel – Just a few minute’s walk from the beach and the center of the village, and with a bus stop right outside if needed, this hotel with kind staff provides good value for money. It has a pool with a bar plus spa with a Turkish bath and a hot tub. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
The small Greek island of Kastellorizo is one of the pretty Dodecanese islands which is nestled around 2km off the south coast of Turkey. This hidden gem remains one of the most untouched Greek islands, with a collection of colorful Neoclassical mansions built above the harbor and a handful of fishing boats gently bobbing on the surface of the water.
Features that make Kastellorizo stand out against its neighbors are the Castello Rosso, built by the knights of St John in the Middle Ages, the 18th Century mosque, and the singular cobblestone fishing village that is home to all of the island’s residents. While getting to Kastellorizo does involve a long ferry from either Rhodes or Piraeus, the peace and quiet you will experience, as well as the authentically local lifestyle will make it more than worth it!
Recommended places to stay in Kastellorizo
Megisti Hotel – This lovely hotel is located right on the waterfront giving you those picture postcard-perfect views of the harbor. Spacious, contemporary designed rooms and impeccable service the hotel also boasts its own private sea swimming area. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Karnayo – This guesthouse with its beautiful rustic charm has been lovingly restored so that it keeps many of the building’s original features. It’s in a quiet location, but still within walking distance of the harbor. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Fournoi is a collection of tiny islands that lie between Ikaria, Samos, and Patmos in the North Aegean region. While there are a whole host of landmasses here, only two are inhabited, Fournoi and Thymaina. These are the perfect place to while away a summer’s day, with quiet beaches, classic Greek windmills and a handful of traditional hamlets with little tavernas serving up Greek coffee and a game of backgammon!
The island has come to be known for its thyme honey, local cheese and its exceptional fish selection that are caught fresh by Fournian fishermen each day. The best way to explore the island is by moped, hopping on to discover each corner and cove at your own pace. The island is home to ancient temple ruins, hidden beaches, and stunning viewpoints so you could spend endless days here during the spring/summer months.
Recommended places to stay in Fournoi
Patras Apartments– Perfectly located above the harbor with the beach 350 yards below, these adorable clean and cozy apartments set in a quaint courtyard with shady trees have brightly painted pink or blue shutters and a terrace with sea view. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Bilios Apartments – With beautiful views of the harbor and friendly hosts, these apartments which are superbly decorated have good facilities. The beach is accessible down some steps directly from the grounds with tavernas and shops a short walk. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Tilos is another Dodecanese treasure that is wonderful in spring thanks to its wildflowers, verdant hills, and birdlife that attract nature lovers from all over the world. It is also known as being the last place where elephants lived in the wild in Europe, with dwarf elephants having lived on the island around 4,000 years ago.
Despite having some alluring natural hotspots, Tilos remains a relatively unknown Greek island, probably due to the fact that the island constitutes an ecological park which has meant that large hotels and chains have not been able to take over. This really is a blessing and it makes Tilos a great destination for those wanting to get away from it all.
Recommended places to stay in Tilos
Eleni Beach Hotel – With well-kept gardens and friendly and attentive staff, this quiet beachfront hotel, located in a horseshoe bay, is a 10-minute walk from the harbor along a beautiful coastal footpath.- Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Seva’ s Studios – Located above the village, therefore, providing stunning views and peace and quiet, these spacious family-run studio apartments within garden grounds are within walking distance of the port and beach. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Nisyros is a pretty magical island thanks to its mythological history, an active volcano, and the stunning villages perched atop the mountainous landscape that looks out across the island towards the sea. Legend has it that the island of Nisyros was formed during a war between Gods and Giants that saw Poseidon cut off part of the island of Kos and throw it at his enemy Giant Polyvotis, sinking him the bottom of the Aegean Sea under the landmass that is now Nisyros.
Mythology aside, Nisyros is a stunning place to escape the buzz of real life, with the quaint villages of Mandraki, Emborios, and Nikia being quiet spots to relax. While most visitors only come to Nisyros for a day trip, it is worth staying to explore the island further, discovering beaches, churches and old thermal baths that are still in use today.
Recommended places to stay in Nisyros
Haritos Hotel – Centrally located right next to the port with the beach 550 yards away, this small hotel with friendly staff boasts a therapeutic geothermal pool with water temperature never drops below 35c. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Romantzo – Located a 5-minute walk away from the port town, this beautiful stone guesthouse serves up a first-class breakfast and has high-speed wifi. The balconies and terraces provide a beautiful sea view. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Another tiny island in the Dodecanese to discover is Chalki (pronounced Halki) a picturesque destination with just 430 inhabitants! Chalki lies 35 nautical miles west of the city of Rhodes and can be reached by ferry five times a week. The only settlement on Chalki is the harbor village of Nimborio with a collection of homes, guesthouses, cafés, and restaurants scattered along the seafront.
Further inland lies the former capital of the island Chorio, which is built just below the castle fortress, the highest point on the island. While the only way to reach the castle is on foot, the hike is well worth it as the views are simply spectacular! Elsewhere on the island are beautiful beaches that can be explored on foot or by boat, including Kania, Ftenagia, and Trachia.
Recommended places to stay in Chalki
Aretanassa Hotel – With beautiful views of the harbor, this historic and eye-catching terracotta-colored hotel with attentive staff is located at the end of the bay with the heart of the town accessible with a 5-minute walk. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Atlantis Houses – This well-maintained complex of traditional houses is full of character and ideally located with views overlooking the harbor. Each house is fully equipped and features great interior design. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
If you’re looking for a peaceful Greek island then Lipsi is it! This little island, located in the middle of the Dodecanese chain of islands has only around 700 inhabitants and just a handful of attractions that bring in tourists each year.
The harbor itself is small yet perfectly formed, with colorful houses and churches rises up the hillside. Travelers can explore the church of Aghios Ioannis, Theologos, The Ecclesiastical-Folklore Museum and the Panaghia of Haros icon as well as taking time to visit the beaches of Kambos, Katsadia, Tourkomnima, and Platis Gialos.
Recommended places to stay in Lipsi
Nefeli Hotel Lipsi – Located 10 minutes from the port town in an idyllic peaceful location, these self-catering studios have wonderful sea views and are stylishly decorated. The staff is extremely hospitable and helpful, providing lots of information about Lipsi. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Michalis Studios – Located in the heart of the port town with a bakery and bars and restaurants close by, these spacious and well-equipped studios with double balconies are good value for money with the host being extremely hospitable. – Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Very often, the things we most remember from a holiday are the things we discover for ourselves- the secret beach, the casual seaside taverna with just a couple of other patrons. As popular as Greece is, at these lesser-known destinations it’s still possible to have your own unique experience.