The beauty of the Greek islands attracts influencers and tourists, but there are hidden gems to discover if you venture off the beaten path. Embark on a ferry journey to these secluded island retreats before the crowds arrive.
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Known as the Emerald of the Aegean, Thassos is a wooded island of hilly terrain and emerald waters. Visitors come to explore its natural wonders, delve into the island’s rich history and enjoy its gastronomic treats.
The highlight of a visit to Thassos is its stunning coastline, which includes sandy beaches and small gulfs. A favourite is Makryammos Beach, which has shallow water, fine sand and shade to make it family-friendly, as well as the organised Platanes Beach near the traditional village of Skala Rachoni. This beach has a lovely bar for snacks or cocktails at sunset and views of the imposing mountains that flank the shoreline.
A walk around the island’s mountain villages is also an opportunity to soak in its quaint atmosphere. Those looking for a more vibrant experience should head to the town of Potos, a modern seaside village with lively bars and clubs.
The best time to visit the island of Thassos is in autumn, when the weather remains warm and sunny but crowds have thinned. This is also a good time for nature lovers to explore its forests, as the island is full of pine and fir trees. Those with religious interests will find that the island has plenty of old churches, like the monastery of Archangel Michael built seemingly precariously on a rocky mountain side.
The cliffs, beaches, and villages of Santorini are one of Greece’s most iconic attractions. Its swoon-worthy Instagram images fill us with envy and the island is a magnet for couples and honeymooners. But what many travelers don’t realize is that Santorini is more than its postcard views and luxury hotels. It’s a true hidden gem that offers adventure, serenity, and a touch of culture for visitors.
The peak travel season in Santorini is July and August, when the villages, viewpoints, and hotels are packed with tourists. For a more relaxed experience, visit in spring or fall when prices are lower and crowds thinner. Santorini is also working to position itself as a year-round destination, so don’t discount a winter break when the weather is still warm and sunny.
The interior of Santorini is a more laidback experience, with traditional villages and rolling vineyards. Pyrgos is home to great eats and is a good place to stay if you want to avoid the crowds at the caldera rim. Accommodation options include a hostel in a former convent and cheap guesthouses in Fira. Alternatively, stay in Oia’s quieter northern end, where you’ll find an array of budget apartments and villas.
Situated in the heart of the Cyclades, Paros is a unique island where beauty and simplicity shine bright. It has long beaches with crystal clear waters and impressive landscapes, narrow cobblestone labyrinthine alleys, imposing churches, monasteries and cultural monuments that testify of a great past.
Paros is not only an ideal vacation spot but also a cultural and historical destination where you can discover the slightly less known side of Greece. Unlike Santorini, Crete and Mykonos where there are thousands of tourists, here you can find hamlets, coastal towns and mountain villages, where taking photos will not require clever camera work or selfie sticks.
The island has been inhabited since the 4th millennium BC and experienced periods of prosperity, intense violence, decline and obscurity. During the Greco-Persian Wars it sided with the Persians until it was defeated by Themistocles’ fleet. After that it became a member of the Athenian Alliance and then an ally of the Macedonians until the death of Alexander and afterwards it was under the control of the Ptolemies.
Aside from the many churches and monuments on the island, you can explore the ancient ruins and the caves of the region as well as the beautiful sand and pebbly beaches. For those looking for a more active vacation, there are also plenty of hiking trails and mountain biking options.
During the 1960s, Mykonos became a hotspot for the international jet set. From Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas to Jackie O, Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly, these famous celebrities made Mykonos their summer hideaway. The hedonist’s paradise offers secluded beaches, flashy bars, and glamorous hotels with sea views and infinity pools.
In addition to the dazzling beachfront resorts, Mykonos Town has a quaint traditional side. Explore the inland monastery of Panagia Tourliani with its gorgeous icon screen and carved wood-carvings, as well as the 16th-century church of Agios Ioannis (known from the English movie Shirley Valentine). You can also visit the headless, almost limbless 2nd-century BC statue of Hercules in Parian marble.
While the Town and southern beaches become crowded in high season, the rest of the island remains serene and secluded. Take a drive around the western side of the island to discover private coves for swimming, monasteries, and fabulous spots with spectacular sea views.
Most locals speak a moderate to advanced level of English, making it easy to communicate. In addition, many of the seasonal staff at hotels, shops, and restaurants are fluent in English as well. You can also use your credit cards in most places. Cash is king, though, for small purchases like water and snacks. Most places accept the euro, but make sure to check.