Undeniably one of the best backpacking destinations in Greece, the island of Crete is filled with everything a traveler needs. From millennia-old sites such as the archaeological site of Knossos, stunning beaches with a plethora of watersport activities, varied and rich gastronomy and beautiful landscapes, Crete should certainly feature on your destination list.
The Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece offers an authentic blend of Greek culture and history. You can explore ancient cities and archaeological wonders, hike your way to scenic mountainous villages, visit modern cities and picturesque port towns and soak up some vitamin D on some of the gorgeous beaches on the mainland. But if you still feel like you need to go and explore an island, the Ionian islands and Kythera are just a short ferry ride away.
Due to their remote location, the Dodecanese islands are not as popular with tourists as their counterparts in the Cyclades. However, they offer equal beauty and scenic, vibrant landscapes. Take Kalymnos, for example. This island, mostly known for being a rock climbing paradise, is cheap, off the beaten path and ideal for adventure seekers and lovers of nature. Culture Trip highly recommends that you give it a go.
Aptly dubbed the island where people forget to die, Ikaria is a tranquil and verdant paradise, bordered by picture-perfect beaches and relaxing villages. Perfect for the laid-back backpackers looking for an idyllic island to explore, Ikaria is known for its friendly locals and the 15th of August panigiri (traditional feast) that lasts the entire day and well into the wee hours of the morning. Note: Prepare to hitchhike a lot in Ikaria as the island has one of the worst bus networks, which probably contributes to making it not so touristy.
If you are a hiker, Amorgos is your go-to destination. Famous for its dramatic peaks and scenic walking paths, this rugged Cycladic island boasts whitewashed villages, thousands of churches and a rocky coast lined with small coves and beaches bordered by turquoise waters.
For the traveler in search of a relaxed city trip destination, Greece’s second city might just be the best. Get ready to explore this city with a mixture of history and cultures, with Balkanic, Ottoman and Jewish influences, fascinating UNESCO-listed monuments, an exciting food scene, and vibrant nightlife. Thessaloniki’s cultural scene is equally impressive with cool exhibitions and fun happenings taking place around the city. Besides, Thessaloniki is also the gateway to the fascinating region of Halkidiki, where you will find fantastic beaches and a dynamic nightlife.
A popular island during July and August, especially among college students and young internationals who flock to the beautiful beaches of this Cycladic destination, Ios is more relaxed outside that period, when it is less crowded. Offering an alternative to the cosmopolitan Mykonos yet still with a more relaxed vibe, it features a mix of urban life with next-level beach clubs and cool restaurants and tavernas. Ios can be a stop in an island-hopping trip around the Cyclades, as it is conveniently located within short ferry rides to Santorini, Sikinos, Mykonos or the smaller Cycladic islands, which includes Iraklia, Schinoussa, and Koufonisia.
An adventure in the Ionian might be in the cards. Lefkada, conveniently connected to the mainland via a causeway and a floating bridge, is a green island often called the Caribbean of Greece. Its turquoise waters bordering white sand beaches enclosed by steep cliffs amaze visitors, and its small villages and quiet atmosphere make it a favorite, earning it a cult following. Whether you visit it as part of an island-hopping trip in the Ionian (Lefkada is connected through Corfu, Kefalonia, and Ithaki) or on its own, it will certainly give you a run for your money.
Don’t roll your eyes: Athens is a great backpacking destination. Why, you ask? Cheap accommodation, easy transport means, affordable eating and drinking and a whole host of things to do. Even if you are not into museums and archaeological sites, the Greek capital glows with a captivating cultural world, from plays and live gigs to art exhibitions and shows. The wide selection of bars and restaurants and unique neighborhoods will certainly keep you busy. Furthermore, Athens has a wide selection of day trip ideas and nearby islands easy to get to.
Folegandros may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you are planning a backpacking trip, but trust your instincts and give it a try. A paradise for hikers with a hora (main town) of narrow streets and sun-bleached houses, Folegandros features a network of paths and trails that allow you to see the whole island and explore it from north to south, east to west. You can take a dip in a hidden cove or a small beach away from the crowds, satisfy your hunger at one of the delicious tavernas in Hora or by the port and live it up after dusk. Thanks to its proximity to other islands, Folegandros could be a starting point to an island-hopping journey across the Cyclades.