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Greece is a beautiful country blessed with more than 220 islands, but some of them have barely made it to the headlines of travel blogs. So pack your bags and get ready to get off the beaten track; here is a small guide to eight of the most beautiful islands you have never heard of but are definitely worth visiting.
Symi is a beautiful island located near the Turkish border. With its stunning architecture, small cafés and tavernas and probably one the prettiest harbors with colorful, neoclassical houses, Symi is an ideal destination for a relaxed and laid-back holiday. There are many pebbly and sandy beaches, though most are reachable only by boats regularly leaving the harbor. Whether you prefer to lazily relax on a beach or visit the few sights worth seeing, such as the monastery of Archangel Michael of Panormitis; the picturesque villages of Pedi and Kali Strata, reachable from Gialos; or the harbor through a 500-step stairway, Symi is surely a marvelous haven you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
Nisyros is a small volcanic island boasting unspoiled beauty. Located between Kos and Tilos, this small island is part of the volcanic chain formed by Aegina, Méthana, Milos, Santorini and Kolumbo, and Kos, Nisyros and Yali. While you’re there, opt for visiting the impressive crater if the safety regulations allow it; otherwise, there is still the volcanological museum. The monastery of Panagia Spiliani, Paleokastro and the Castle of the Knights are also worth a look, and be sure to visit the hot springs at Loutra. Nisyros also has beautiful beaches, such as Katsouni, Agios Savas, Agia Irini, or even Chochlákia.
Astypalaia, another stunning island located where the Cyclades meet the Dodecanese, is packed with exotic beaches, picture-perfect villages and crystal-clear waters. Named after Astypalaia, daughter of Phoenix and Perimedes, the island is a perfect getaway for adventurers looking for a secluded destination. Stroll around the seaside village of Livadia and make a point of visiting the Baths of Talara, known for their mosaics dating from the Hellenistic period.
Schinoussa is a small island that lies to the south of Naxos. With just three villages, the island is great for hiking aficionados. The small port of Mersini may seem intimidating with its desolate atmosphere, but don’t be fooled; Schinoussa is a small paradise where, contrary to many other islands, you can find sandy beaches like Lioliou, Bazeou, Tsigouri and Livadia. While on the island, don’t miss a walk through Chora (the main town) or go on your own adventure into the wild.
Part of the Ionian islands, Paxi (or Paxoi) is covered with verdant hills, small bays and exotic beaches. It is said that it was Poseidon, god of the sea, who created the island by breaking it off from Corfu with his trident. The tiny island – only 13 kilometers long – attracts tourists in smaller numbers, but during August it is very hard to find accommodation, so make sure to book ahead of time if you’re planning a trip then. Alternatively, getting to the island is possible from Corfu or from the mainland city of Arta. The island boasts countless beaches, mainly on the eastern coast, but you can reach more secluded ones by hiring a small motorboat for the day as no license is necessary. If you desire even more isolation, then head to Antipaxi, Paxi’s micro-satellite. You won’t regret any bit of your holiday.
Lying 110 kilometers off the eastern coast of Rhodes, Kastellorizo (also called Megisti) is a charming little island with colorful stone houses, underwater caves to explore and striking natural beauty. The island coast is steep and rocky, which explains why the island doesn’t have long sandy beaches, but it boasts numerous rocky inlets from which you can swim and snorkel. Unmissable sights include the Parasta Cave, the monastery of Agios Giorgos, the kastro (a medieval castle) and the only Lycian Tomb in Greece. And don’t forget to meander the small streets of Palaiokastro!
This small island underneath Crete is the southernmost part of Europe. Vastly unspoilt, Gavdos is a haven of tranquility blessed with spectacular wilderness. Though the island is home to only 50 inhabitants, there are a few accommodation options available. Despite the few basic amenities there, less than a dozen tavernas and no ATM (get enough cash out before heading to the island), hundreds of campers flock to Gavdos for a taste of tranquility. The island’s stunning beaches are just begging for you to enjoy long walks on them.
Samothraki (or Samothrace) is an isolated island of the northern coast of the Greece. Boasting some of the most diverse ecosystems in the country, this island features one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece: the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. The island’s other sights worth seeing are the medieval castle of the Gateluzi family, a three-aisled early Christian basilica built between 5th and 6th centuries AD, and the archaeological museum. The island is also packed with fresh-water springs, waterfalls and rivers ideal for a refreshing swim. A perfect place for trekking, it also has beautiful pebbly beaches in the southern part of the island; the Beach of the Gardens and Pachia Ammos should definitely be on your list of things to do. But first, visit Loutra (or Therma) and its spa facilities, and relax…