Scattered across the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey, the far-flung northeastern Aegean Islands are probably Greece’s best-kept secrets. Featuring stunning beauty and virtually untouched by mass tourism, these hard-to-reach islands offer visitors a glimpse into the authentic heart of Greece and will captivate you with their mythological origins.
Located off the coast of Turkey, Chios is also known as the mastic island, thanks to the presence of mastic-producing trees dotting the landscape, and boasts a rich history and culture. Vestiges of the Venetian and Ottoman rule pepper the island, while the collection of Mastihohoria, fortified villages dating from the 14th century, forms the center of mastiha production.
Make sure to visit Mesta, which is home to a few medieval treasures, as well as Pyrgi, known for its buildings adorned with geometrical patterns. Chios, the birthplace of Homer, is a magnificent island where you won’t hear many foreign languages but will have the opportunity to discover a place where myths, history, and traditions reign.
Ikaria, the island where people forget to die, is undeniably one of the most popular destinations in the Northeastern Aegean Sea. Often included among the Dodecanese islands, Ikaria boasts not only stunning beaches lapped by turquoise waters but also a verdant interior where freshwater streams provide a refreshing respite for exploring wanderers. Filled with character and traditions, Ikaria is also a popular destination among locals thanks to its many panigyria, traditional feasts where entire villages celebrate the local saint.
Home of the father of mathematics, Pythagoras, and philosopher Epicurus, Samos is rich in mythology. The island is thought to be the birthplace of Hera, sister and wife of Zeus, goddess of marriage and women in general. But if you find yourself on the island, you will find much more than myths—you’ll discover endless beauty. The island has a tranquil atmosphere and boasts a few archaeological wonders, including the temple dedicated to Hera. Spend a day on the beach, or hike the green inland where you will come across old monasteries, picturesque villages and ample vineyards where the world-famous sweet wine of Samos is produced.
It may take some effort to reach Thassos (also spelled Thasos), but the island instantly seduces its visitors, who often return again and again. A little green jewel off the coast of Kavala, Thassos is perfect for a couple’s getaway far from the crowds or a nature-filled family vacation. The island is home to a collection of inland villages with traditional architecture, while the vegetation and landscape offer you a place to escape your hectic, daily life. Hiking, biking and water sports are the main draws, while a lazy day on a beach, whether isolated or not, is a must for every traveler.
The third largest island in the archipelago, Lesvos, or Mytilini, is another great island worth exploring if you want to avoid more popular destinations. The birthplace of poet Sappho, known for her ambiguous poems on women, gave its name to the word lesbian, which has made Lesvos a top destination among LGBTQ tourists. But the island is also known for having the best ouzo, notably in Plomari, while the thermal springs around the island are a perfect excuse to pamper yourself in a spa. The beautiful village of Molyvos will enchant Instagrammers, while the local beaches with their Caribbean vibes will draw anyone looking for a place to sit back and relax.
Nestled between Lesvos and Thassos, Limnos is ideal for those who love beauty but prefer to stay away from crowded beaches. The eighth largest island in Greece, Limnos is known in mythology as the birthplace of Hephaestus. The island boasts spectacular landscapes, including waterfalls, volcanic rocks, and even a small desert. Its beaches are popular for water and wind sports, while the local gastronomy will seduce foodies.
One of the nation’s best-kept secrets for a long time, the island of Samothraki (Samothrace), where the magnificent statue of the Winged Victory was discovered, is a forested island that deserves to be on your travel list. It will charm you with its postcard-perfect beaches and mountainous interior, complete with plenty of waterfalls—excellent for nature lovers. A perfect getaway destination where time seems to stand still, Samothraki is undeniably a great island should you want to enjoy total relaxation away from the crowds.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.