Our favourite small Greek islands

10 January 2019

Greece is one of Europe’s most popular destinations – and why wouldn’t it be? With year-round warm temperatures, fascinating history, incredible Mediterranean food and sublime coastal beauty spread across its 6,000 islands, there’s no wonder holidays there are in high demand.

But while destinations such as Crete, Corfu and Rhodes attract millions of visitors every year, there are a number of lesser-known islands that are just as ideal for an escape. Here is a selection of smaller Greek islands that we think you would love.

Paxos

Only 13 kilometres across with just three picturesque villages, the island of Paxos is the perfect place for a few days of downtime. Its capital, Gaios, has jaw-dropping scenery and is where you’ll find many of Paxos’ shops, restaurants and cafés. The other villages, Lakka and Loggos, are located in a more serene setting, with stunning beaches nearby.

If you really want to get away from it all, take a boat to Antipaxos, an even smaller island approximately 15 minutes away by boat. Spend the day on this vineyard-covered rock hiking up its green hills and snorkelling in the clear, turquoise waters that surround it.

Closest major island: Corfu, Greece’s multicultural island with remnants of its Venetian, French and British past. Reach Naxos by boat in 90 minutes, with a daily service available.

TC Tip: Rent a boat and discover the beautiful coves, sea caves and beaches around the two islands at your own leisure.

“I wondered whether finding simple Greek charm was still possible, and so I visited Greece in search of it again. I chose Loggos on the island of Paxos, where I booked myself and my family into a villa with a pool on the outskirts of town.

“We loved exploring the local walking paths and travelling through olive groves to find hidden beaches in pretty coves. We also hired a small speedboat as you can motor around the whole island in just a few hours. Perhaps the best thing we did was to find a deserted cove and drop anchor to swim and sunbathe.”

Neil, Travel Counsellor

Therasia

The charming settlements carved into the landscape on Therasia are only home to a permanent population of around 250 people, but if you’re looking for somewhere with a Santorini-feel without the crowds, then this is the place for you. Easily accessible by boat, Therasia can be enjoyed on a day trip, but you can follow in the footsteps of Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie by actually staying on the island.

Closest major island: Santorini, the fashionable Greek island with incredible volcanic beaches, famous whitewashed buildings and gorgeous bays. Take the short boat ride from Ammoudi, the small harbour serving Oia, to get to Therasia.

TC tip: Make sure you book your Therasia trip enough in advance, as rooms on the island are very limited and can sell quickly.

Symi

This small island in the Dodecanese island chain can either be visited on a day trip from Rhodes or serve as your main destination. The port town of Gialos is absolutely stunning, with brightly-coloured, neoclassical mansions built up on the slope around it. The port street is dotted with traditional cafes and fish tavernas, and from here you can reach the island’s capital Ano Symi, which is home to incredible views across the bay and island.

Closest major island: Rhodes, an ideal place for a variety of travellers, whether you want to relax on its uninterrupted golden beaches, explore the charming Old Town or feel the thrill of high-octane watersports such as paragliding and windsurfing. You can travel between Rhodes and Symi on multiple daily ferry crossings, which take around an hour.

TC tip: If you want to scope out Symi’s best beaches, take a ride on traditional boat Poseidon, which will pick you up and drop you off.

Koufonisia

Koufonisia is a cluster of three islands: Pano Koufonisia, Kato Koufonisia and Keros. Pano is the only one that’s inhabited, with close to 400 year-round residents, and what was once a quiet fishing community is now a tourist haven, bursting with Cycladic charm. On its eastern side, you’ll find some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, while the island’s village, Chora, has plenty of places to stay, eat and drink.

Closest major island: Naxos, the biggest and greenest island in the Cyclades with lush gorges, high mountains stunning seascapes and many traditional villages. The two islands are connected by daily ferry services, and crossings take approximately 50 minutes.

TC tip: Take a day trip to either Kato Koufonisia and Keros, which are both reachable via a small daily boat. They’re a lot quieter than Pano and are great for swimming and camping excursions.

If you would like to book your Greek island-hopping adventure, contact your Travel Counsellor and take advantage of excellent benefits including full financial protection and the support of our 24-hour duty office before, during and after your holiday.

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