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Karpathos, Apella beach  | © ufoncz/Flickr
Karpathos, Apella beach | © ufoncz/Flickr
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10 Magical Greek Islands You Should Visit Instead of Santorini

Picture of Ethel Dilouambaka
Updated: 30 January 2017
Don’t get us wrong, we love Santorini. The island is truly unique and mesmerizing. But there is something magical about getting off the beaten track and discovering a new location without the crowds of tourists. Discover 10 underrated islands you should visit on your next vacation.

Karpathos

Part of the Dodecanese island group, Karpathos lies east of Crete. As one of Greece’s best-kept secrets, it boasts an unspoiled nature, with a mountainous inland, fresh water springs, vineyards and lush pine-tree forests. This is also where you may catch sight of the Mediterranean monk seals, an endangered species. Perfect for nature lovers, hiking enthusiasts and those looking for relaxation.

Apella beach, Karpathos, Greece | © Kostas Limitsios/Flickr
Apella beach, Karpathos, Greece | © Kostas Limitsios/Flickr

Paxi

Paxi is a tiny island off the coast of Corfu. This little paradise in Ionian Sea is blessed with awestrucking beauty, secluded beaches, underwater caves and verdant hills. Mythology has it that the island was part of Corfu but Poseidon, god of the sea, broke it off with his trident so that he and his wife Amphitrite could have some peace. An ideal destination for a restful and peaceful holiday, Paxi has three small seaside villages tucked away in pine forests and olive tree groves. Scuba diving aficionados and sun-soaking enthusiasts will have blast in the numerous island’s beaches and little coves, where underwater caves and shipwrecks await. And if that’s not enough to convince you, there are plenty of islets to discover as well.

Kasos

A hidden island between Crete and Karpathos, Kasos may look rugged and barren at first sight, but once you’ve set foot on its soil, the warmth of its residents will make up for its unique landscape. Explore small villages with traditional flair just like Poli or Emporios or settle on the beaches with deep crystal clear waters. The island’s vestiges of the past, with a plethora of churches, monuments and monasteries dotting the land, are true witness of a rich history.

Othoni

Just north of Corfu lies one of Greece’s less visited islands, Othoni (sometimes spelled Othonoi). With cobbled streets, stunning beaches, hidden coves and luxuriant vegetation, Othoni is a little Eden where you can swim in turquoise waters, enjoy paradisiac landscapes and enjoy the beauty of nature. Make sure to visit Calypso’s Cave, located near Ammos beach. Legend has it that it was there that Calypso kept Ulysses captive for 7 years.

Aspri Ammos beach in Othonoi | © Katechis303/WikiCommons
Aspri Ammos beach in Othonoi | © Katechis303/WikiCommons

Sikinos

This small island unknown island to the vast majority of tourists is located in the Cyclades. With less than 300 permanent residents, the island is a wonderland for lovers of nature and beauty. Located between Ios and Folegandros, Sikinos hardly gets crowded during the summer and has a plethora of beaches in its southern side, where you can truly enjoy a relaxing day in the sun. Add to this tasty tavernas and historical sightseeing and you will understand why Sikinos is the best destination if you want to avoid the crowds.

Lemnos

Lemnos, or Limnos, in the north of the Aegean Sea, is a hidden paradise which has escaped massive tourism. With its extensive sandy beaches, picturesque villages, quiet inland lakes, powerful waterfalls and unspoiled landscapes, Hephaestus’ homeland welcomes visitors with open arms. Home of the ancient city of Poliochni, thought to be the oldest Neolithic city in Europe, Lemnos is definitely a destination you should discover soon.

Leros

Often overlooked as a holiday destination, the Dodecanese archipelago has a plethora of undiscovered islands waiting to be explored. Take for example Leros, nestled between Kos and Samos. It may be one of the few islands where you can still experience traditional Greek island living without the touristy activities. A familiar destination for discerning adventurers, Leros is thought to be the homeland of goddess Artemis.

Iraklia

Located near Naxos, Iraklia is a little underrated paradise where you can enjoy daily beach days, tour boats, and breathtaking beauty. Feast in the local tavernas, enjoy swims in crystal waters and explore the inland. You can also decide to visit the neighboring islands of Amorgos, Schinoussa or Koufonisia, all deserving a visit.

Kalymnos

Also in the Dodecanese, Kalymnos is mostly known among divers and climbers. Wild and beautiful, known for its rocky landscapes, its clear waters ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, and for its honey, Kalymnos where you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities in an unaltered environment. It is also the perfect base point to explore nearby islands.

Lihadonisia

Last but not least, Lihadonisia form a beautiful archipelago which is sometimes dubbed the Seychelles of Greece. These littles islands are located in the northern Gulf of Evia, between Kamena Vourla and Evia. Including the inhabited islands of Monolia where you can find an organized beach, Megalo Strongili, Mikri Strongili, Vagia, Voria and Limani, this unique archipelago was created by a huge earthquake long ago and is a paradise for scuba divers. It is also an excellent spot to observe a few seals, who have settled on one of the little islands of the cluster.

Lihadonisia | © Agnee/Flickr
Lihadonisia | © Agnee/Flickr