The last word information to the lesser-known Greek islands


So nobody believes you preferred baklava earlier than it was cool. And can they pay attention while you say you’ve cherished Yorgos Lanthimos since means earlier than The Lobster? Like Hades they’ll.

However on the subject of holidays (and the honourable quests of cruise ship-dodging and quiet sand-seeking) hipsters have the final chuckle. From historic forests to far-flung archipelagos, get your edge again with our information to Greece’s higher stored secrets and techniques – plus how you can get there and the place to gap up when you do.


Santorini and Mykonos have lengthy dominated because the tourist-luring titans of the Cycladic islands. However trend-setting seafarers ought to sail on from Athens’ three ferry ports to shores much less trodden; treasure awaiting the adventurous contains quiet Aegean coves, archaeological wonders and, sure, a hearty sprinkling of these Instagram-star sugar cubes, plus a welcome further dose of genuine native flavour.


Dubbed the gateway to the Cyclades, the ferry from Rafina (an hour’s drive from Athens) makes reaching Andros a breeze. The island earned the nickname Little England within the early twentieth century, when grand delivery dynasties imported their luxurious London tastes. Anglicised airs and graces are evident in the primary city’s marble avenues and neoclassical mansions.

Actually, although, Andros shines in its unfettered wilderness. Waterfalls, thickly wooded hills and wildlife-rich ravines appear to insurgent towards the island’s refined historical past. Heritage mountaineering is the new tip right here – when native volunteers have scouted and spruced up a community of lots of of outdated trails, it might be impolite to not.

Seashore-wise, it has golden-sand stretches to rival its better-known Cycladic siblings; the wildest and most winsome are on the north-east coast.

It’s right here you’ll discover Onar Andros, an eco-retreat perched among the many mountains above secluded Achla seashore. 14 cottages are scattered by means of protected wetlands, dwelling to hares, uncommon monk seals and extra – carry binoculars, mainly.

This far out, you’ll be able to overlook cellphone sign. As a substitute, swap scrolling for snorkelling by means of sea caves, wild swimming in lakes and serving to with (learn: tucking into) the harvest on the native farm.


View of Naxos, Greece

The most important and most central of the archipelago, consider Naxos as your island-hopping HQ. It’s linked by ferry to all its Cycladic neighbours, in addition to from Crete and Astypalaia. And should you’re nonetheless discovering your sea legs, the flight from Athens takes lower than an hour.

That mentioned, you won’t make it previous the port should you set any retailer by the island’s most well-known fantasy. Ariadne, so the story goes, was so captivated by the island’s charms she missed the ship dwelling.

Plaka’s golden sands show onerous to withstand, however strike out to Alyko to splash about within the shadow of an historic cedar forest, or persevere previous the pebbles on Grotta to snorkel round a sunken Mycaenian metropolis.

To the east, tiny mountain-clinging villages are greatest approached by boat, and a hike just about anyplace right here doubles as a historical past lesson – look out for Venetian castles and mediaeval towers in your solution to the big-name antiquities, the temples devoted to Apollo and Demeter.

For those who do take a leaf out of Ariadne’s ebook, boutique eyrie Ayiopetra is the place to remain. Excessive within the island’s rugged hills, the 5 suites overlook the Temple of Demeter and Zeus’ birthplace, Mount Zas. However actually, the soporific cicada buzz and olive-scented breeze are all it takes to persuade that larger powers are at play right here. And if any doubt stays, a farm-to-table feast on the restaurant would make a convert of anybody.


Simply so over the usual Cycladic schtick? Syros, a three-hour ferry journey from Piraeus port, surprises from the get go. The port city Hermoupolis sidesteps sugar cubes in favour of vibrant Venetian villas and leafy marble squares.

On the hill past, Ano Syros reaches skyward in a conventional tangle of whitewash and winding lanes, however clamber as much as the Catholic Cathedral of St George for the double take-worthy reveal – a panoramic view of Tinos, Delos, Mykonos, Paros, Andros and Naxos. Different not-like-the-other-isles tips up its sleeve embrace a prehistoric settlement and a tiny chapel tucked inside a sea cave.

Be part of the Hermoupolis excessive society at Aristide, a neoclassical villa turned boutique lodge that takes the city’s tendency to technicolour and runs with it. Daring art-deco suites are dressed with jewel hues and tropical ferns; from the rooftop restaurant, the azure of the Aegean dazzles; and simply to bolster the belle vie vibe, a non-public artwork assortment completes the kaleidoscopic image.


If the way in which to your coronary heart is thru your abdomen, make haste for the ferry from Piraeus to Sifnos. Like all its Cycladic brethren, it has a bounty of hovering hills, historic websites and jewel-hued sea views. However Sifnos’ actual seductive powers lie in its culinary charms.

Native specialties embrace herbed chickpea fritters, raki candy with honey and cinnamon, and lamb, wine-soaked and slow-cooked. Succumb to the abdomen rumbles – you’ll want the gasoline for mountaineering as much as mediaeval church buildings and cloud-skimming villages.

Over on the island’s japanese cliffs, boutique keep Verina Astra has solely amped up the star high quality of the native meals scene. At fine-dining spot Bostani, the standard delicacies’s rustic edges might have been refined, however produce continues to be pulled from the lodge’s veg patch and native farms, and day by day specials rely upon what caught the chef’s eye at market that morning.

Shifting after a meal is solely elective right here – you’ll get all of the Aegean views you want out of your non-public terrace or the vertiginous infinity pool, anyway.


If the sound of the handmade island has you reaching on your reusable tote in anticipation of artisanal treasures, there’s excellent news and unhealthy information.

Tinos’ artful epithet comes primarily from a centuries-long love affair with marble. On sun-scorched afternoons, villagers splash themselves in sculptural fountains and cats laze beneath delicately carved doorways. Different island specialties – intricate dovecotes and dry stone partitions – are equally tough to take dwelling.

However all hope shouldn’t be misplaced, memento hunters. The island’s capital is the place to get your arms on all method of goodies from native craftspeople – folksy floral ceramics, hand-woven cloths, even (in case your baggage weight restrict will enable) your individual marble masterpiece.

In even higher information, the three non-public villas at boutique keep Pnoēs Tinos every characteristic handcrafted furnishings and native artwork. All three even have a non-public pool and a hammam-style lavatory (stocked with artisanal island-made cleaning soap, after all). If you end up tiring of wafting across the gardens, munching fruit straight from the bushes and choosing herbs to season your supper, the black-and-gold sands of Agios Fokas seashore are simply 5 minutes away.


In a sheltered gulf between Athens and the Peloponnese (and reachable by ferry from Piraeus in beneath three hours), the Saronic Islands have lengthy been a favorite weekend spot of city-fleeing Athenians. Soulful communities, gradual residing and a few of Greece’s most spectacular wild swimming spots – don’t unfold it round, however we’d say they’re onto a very good factor.


View of Hydra, Greece

In its days as a sixties artists’ enclave, tiny Hydra went tête-à-tête with Marianne for the title of Leonard Cohen’s most winsome muse. At the moment, the sense of bohemian sanctuary is simply as sturdy, thanks partly to strict preservation guidelines – no automobiles, no excessive rises and no airport (the ferry from Piraeus in beneath two hours).

From the harbour city, comply with cobblestone streets up into the hills to sleepy villages filled with prettily painted cottages, sun-dozing cats and, if you could find it, a miniature door concealing a set of native poetry. On the coast, pine-scented coves and crystalline waters await; formidable hikes and cliff-face swimming platforms supply higher-octane kicks. In any other case, settle in a sea-facing sq., tsipouro in hand, to look at the fishermen haul within the day’s catch because the solar units – hallelujah, certainly.

To safe your spot on Hydra’s solely sandy seashore, make for Mandraki Seashore Resort. This Nineteenth-century naval base is now dwelling to 17 steps-from-the-sea suites, every with interval particulars. With a seafront sushi restaurant, a therapeutic massage therapist on velocity dial and a sunlounger together with your title on it on the shore, that is the type of keep value waxing lyrical about.


Sipping Greek espresso by the water in Spetses’ eponymous harbour city, a extreme case of yacht envy is inevitable. A brief sail from the capital, this unique island has lengthy been a favorite weekend getaway for well-heeled Athenians. Fortunately, restoration lies in a couple of therapeutic purchases from the city’s luxurious boutiques. Previous sundown, candlelit dinners and starry strolls around the outdated harbour soothe any remaining jolts of jealousy.

To flee town jetset solely, strike out west on e-bikes to the island’s end-of-the-earth seashores. A pine copse abruptly provides solution to gentle golden sands at Agia Paraskevi, and simply down the coast really devoted do-not-disturbers can swim by means of Bekiri Cave to succeed in a tiny subterranean seashore.

If the phrases ‘plant-based’ and ‘non-public yoga studio’ set your wellness-influencer alarm bells off, loosen up. It’s not for nothing that healthful lodge Yayaki Spetses takes its title from the Greek phrase for grandmother. House-cooked meals, poolside cocktails and picnics packed by the homeowners ship this healthful keep’s feelgood issue by means of the roof. And if all of it occurs to be really good for you too, a lot the higher.


Strive saying that thrice quick after a couple of sips of tsipouro. Tucked between the Cyclades and the coast of Turkey, these islands are teeming with archaeological intrigue and japanese architectural affect. The nine-hour ferry from Piraeus shouldn’t be for faint hearts or queasy constitutions, however seasonal flights from Athens imply the archipelago is all set as a summertime rising star.


On the threat of sounding insufferably hipster-ish, Astypalaia is like Santorini earlier than the Instagram hype set in. Quiet whitewashed villages, awash with cobbled alleys and cornflower-blue domes, – come on, the comparisons all however draw themselves. The parallels persist in fairly seashores and crystal waters .

However the island has its personal distinct character within the sea-jutting outdated city, the place Cycladic-style sugar cubes climb the hill to the Fifteenth-century Venetian fortress. Come nightfall, when the fortress is lit gold towards the darkening sky, you’d be forgiven for making yet one more clichéd comparability – like this, Astypalaia may have been pulled from the pages of a fairytale.

Like an induction from a laidback native, Saluti da Stampalia Suites eases you into Astypalaia life at your individual tempo. Right here, life is gradual and pleasures are easy: breakfasts of fresh-picked fruit and native thyme honey; work by Astypalaian artists; views throughout the deep-blue bay to the fortress past; and, while you’re able to fledge the nest, a map to maintain you on the cobblestoned straight and slender.


Only a few hours’ drive from Athens, the Peloponnese has seen a number of civilisations’ value of motion and has the historic websites to show it – Olympia and Mycenae, for starters. Inland, count on idyllic scenes of goatherds and olive groves, whitewater rivers and verdant mountains topped with monasteries.

The place the three peninsulas stretch finger-like into the Med, suppose extra quaint fishing villages and classically stunning seashores; the additional south you enterprise, the extra fellow sun-seekers you’ll shake off.


When writing about Arcadia, it’s greatest to not less than attempt to keep away from going OTT on the utopian terminology. However look, they don’t go making locations synonymous with paradise willy nilly, and the area’s mist-swirled mountains, lush valleys and historic fir forests make a reasonably stable case for its rep as a pastoral idyll. In Pan’s playground, you’ll discover mediaeval castles, Byzantine cities, and Hellenic ruins to discover.

At deep-in-the-forest retreat Manna, Dionysian delights await – specifically, a luxurious spa, connoisseur Greek restaurant and, naturally, an overflowing wine cellar. There’s a lounger-lined lily pond and a swimming pool sequestered away in a cave, too, in case you fancy floating nymph-like in Arcadia’s clear spring water.


In that case far you’ve been feeling patronised by all of the handy ferries and couldn’t-be-simpler direct flights, gear up for an actual problem. To succeed in Gerolimenas, proper on the fingertip of the untamed Mani Peninsula, you’ll fly into Kalamata, then end up some wheels for a two-hour drive. Exterior the season, it’s a flight to Athens adopted by 4 hours on the street.

We’ll spare you the schmaltz of claiming the true pleasure is within the journey. However cruising alongside the coast, previous the dramatic Caves of Delos and thru vigorous Aeropolis (with a pit cease for the specialty suckling pig) absolutely beats staring in the back of an aeroplane seat.

And while you roll into Gerolimenas, the rewards for decided travellers are easy however elegant – lapis-blue sea, loads of solar and correct, unparalleled peace and quiet.

As soon as a traditionally important fortress, Kyrimai Resort is now a stronghold of solitude. There’s a sea-gazing pool, a stone jetty made for sunbathing and an award-winning restaurant, the place the daily-changing menu depends upon the fishermen’s haul.


Maybe its the relative faff of reaching Epirus, in Greece’s northwest nook, that’s helped clued-in holidaymakers hold the area beneath wraps for thus lengthy. In summer season, worldwide flights contact down within the city of Preveza; in any other case, it’s a flight to Ioannina or a five-hour (however steadily scenic) drive from Athens.

Let’s hold it on the down-low, although, as a result of this unspoiled slice of Greece has a lot star potential it makes packing one thing of an issue – you’ll want wise togs for mountaineering the pine-clad highlands, one thing stylish and floaty for the Amalfi-esque coast. The answer? One other suitcase, and an oath of silence.

Epirus Coast

Right here be sirens, based on Homer. You may scoff, positive; all we’ll say is that the Epirus Coast has been referred to as Greece’s reply to Amalfi, so in case your mini-break someway stretches right into a month-long keep, don’t say you weren’t warned. Past a bounty of seashores – together with the longest sandy stretch in Europe – offshore temptations for adventurous types embrace crusing, snorkelling and swimming out to uninhabited islands.

The Riviera comparisons fall into place in cities like Parga and Preveza, the place Crayola-coloured homes cascade down the hillside to the ocean and life strikes at a extra stately tempo.

Ten minutes exterior Preveza, Meraviglia Sluggish Residing takes this sedate rhythm and, nicely, strolls with it. Aris Tzimas, the native builder behind the luxurious keep, took 20 years to formulate his imaginative and prescient.

However good issues come to those that wait – particularly, it seems, seven trendy suites, every with a non-public pool and sweeping sea views, plus decadent brunch spreads delivered straight to your door.


View of snow capped mountains

For those who really feel one thing just a little magical about Metsovo, it’s not simply the altitude going to your head. Excessive among the many misty peaks of the Pindus mountains, with cobbled alleys weaving by means of clusters of conventional stone homes, the city scores fairly excessive on the storybook scale.

Dense pine forest, the place brown bears, wild cats, wolves and eagles roam, solely ups the once-upon-a-time issue. An induction into the centuries-old native tradition kicks off on the folklore museum, adopted by a lingering taverna lunch of the city’s specialty smoked cheese and purple wine.

Grand Forest Metsovo greater than makes hay of its mysterious setting. Suites are decked out with moody darkish wooden and hand-woven textiles from the city’s artisans, and foraged goodies discover their means onto the menus within the restaurant and spa alike. Make no mistake, although; the primary occasion right here, whether or not seen from the rooftop infinity pool or your non-public terrace, are the miraculous mountain vistas.

Able to embark in your odyssey? Discover our full assortment of Greece lodges

Amy Martin is a author, actor and journey buff, based mostly between London and Cornwall. When she’s not lurking round a theatre or scribbling in a pocket book on the Penzance to Paddington line, you’ll discover her on the cinema, on an extended coastal stroll, or watching Delight and Prejudice (1995 or 2005 is okay).



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