5 Under-the-Radar Greek Isles You Don't Want to Miss

Original 15619708921 45282af99e z.jpg?1470085296?ixlib=rails 0.3
5 Under-the-Radar Greek Isles You Don't Want to Miss
Ah, Greece: home to mountainous islands with dome-topped buildings, spotless sandy shores, and views of the Mediterranean Sea that leave onlookers speechless. It's a given that well-known destinations like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete come to mind when thinking up that visual, but what about the hundreds of Greek isles with beauty unique to their land? From the birthplace of the Greek cookbook to where the country first waved its independence flag, we’ve highlighted five of our favorite less famous places to add to your island-hopping list.
By Nicoletta Richardson, AFAR Staff
Photo by grassrootsgroundswell/Flickr
  • 1 / 6
    Original 15619708921 45282af99e z.jpg?1470085296?ixlib=rails 0.3
    You can’t visit this unspoiled isle without spotting a church or two. Known for its rare mix of religious traditions, Tinos is an important place for both Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Even after Greece declared its independence in 1822, Catholic influence continues on the island to this day, attracting people of all beliefs to its worshipping grounds and pilgrimages. And there are marble chapels topped with blue domes to do so in, which you can learn more about at the island’s Museum of Marble Crafts.
    Photo by grassrootsgroundswell/Flickr
  • 2 / 6
    Original 2637642188 f81e6d0222 z.jpg?1470085827?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Located just a two-hour ferry ride off the coast of Athens, this small island serves as a great escape from the bustling city. But more than its close proximity to the capital, Spetses is important for its role in the 1821 War of Independence, where the revolution’s flag was first raised. The island is dotted with well-preserved churches, memorial sites, and historic museums housed inside mansions. Don’t miss taking in views at the old harbor, Baltiza, which served as a shipbuilding center in the 18th century and is still actively used today.
    Photo by Stuart Berry/Flickr
  • 3 / 6
    Original 9678897850 cf3ce92fcf z.jpg?1470086013?ixlib=rails 0.3
    It can be argued that Marathi is the smallest island throughout all of Greece. This off-the-grid oasis has no paved roads, little electricity, and minimal businesses. The result is a small permanent residency (you may see more goats than people) and a place that attracts visitors who want to escape civilization for a while. Guests have a choice among three accommodations and, essentially, three tavernas serving traditional Greek cuisine. Spend time on the beach, then walk to the stone goat shed or the blue-domed church—the only one on the island. Marathi isn’t an ideal fit for adventure-seekers, but those looking for serenity might call it paradise.
    Photo by Alexey Ivanov/Flickr
  • 4 / 6
    Original 142113359 f71d571324 z.jpg?1470088389?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Part of the Cycladic Islands, this Mediterranean retreat is complete with white beaches and crystal blue waters, pottery making that dates back thousands of years, and villages that uphold ancient traditions. But what really makes this island stand out from the rest is its historic and thriving culinary scene. Sifnos is the birthplace of the first Greek cookbook, written in 1910 by chef Nicholas Tselementes. Over the years, Greek celebrity chefs have opened up restaurants next to local eateries whipping up traditional dishes, from mastélo (goat or lamb cooked in red wine) to chickpea balls flavored with herbs.
    Photo by Gerald Adams/Flickr
  • 5 / 6
    Original 2542142693 c7d1749674 z.jpg?1470086386?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Greek mythology claims Paxi was once part of Corfu, but became separated when Poseidon broke off the tip of the island with his trident. There’s no denying that Paxi—the smallest among the Ionian Islands—has its own identity. Underwater caves and shipwrecks make for great scuba diving, and the clean beaches are starting points to some of the best windsurfing around. Wander through olive groves and visit Paxi’s Olive Press Museum, where a 19th-century stone press continues to operate.
    Photo by Philippe Teuwen/Flickr
  • 6 / 6
    Original original 8ff1870cf9a788b585bc2251d35961df.jpeg?1470084714?ixlib=rails 0.3