Anyone planning a visit to the Greek islands for the first time often won’t hesitate to book some of the staples—Santorini and Mykonos, for example—and with good reason. They are beautiful and fun islands, and there’s a reason why they’re so popular. But if you’re looking for something a little bit off the beaten path, why not add a lesser-known island to your itinerary? Think less crowds, cheaper prices, and that same wonderful scenery you’ll find in the country’s packed islands.
For your visit to the Greek islands, explore the possibilities of:
In a nutshell: If you want some seriously cool looking beaches (and little to no crowds), Milos is your island. Our top pick: Sarakiniko Beach, which is more of a swimming spot than your typical sandy beach, but that’s what makes it special.
Top hotels: Aera Milos, Milos Breeze, Villa Gallis
In a nutshell: The beaches on Lefkada are undeniably stunning, but one of the island’s top attractions is windsurfing. If lazing around on the beach all day isn’t really your thing and you’re looking for some adventure, Lefkada can be a good island to add to your Greece itinerary.
Top hotels: George, Art Blue Villas, Anemos Luxury Villas
In a nutshell: You’ve probably seen Shipwreck Beach before on Instagram or Pinterest, and it’s no surprise to see why. But not enough Greek island travelers ever make it to Zakynthos to witness the island’s majestic landscape in person, although it is easily accessible with direct flights from Europe. If you’re traveling throughout Europe, you can get to Greece via Rail Europe and then take a short flight to Zakynthos.
Top hotels: St. John Villas and Spa, Luxury Dream Villa, Zante Vista Villas
In a nutshell: Unlike a lot of other Greek islands, Skiathos is very lush and makes for great hiking and nature tours. On top of its amazing beaches, this island makes a good choice if you’re looking for a lot of different things to do outdoors.
Top hotels: Aegean Suites Hotel, Skiathos Princess Hotel, Magic Hotel
In a nutshell: Whether you’re visiting during the off-season when the weather is a bit chilly, or you’re just looking to escape the heat and take a beach break, Symi is a good option to consider. Explore Greek culture by sightseeing around the island, and visiting the fascinating museums, memorials, and churches.
Top hotels: Iapetos Village, Dorian Hotel, Captain George
In a nutshell: You’ll find some pretty unique rock formations on the beaches of Ikaria. It’s easy to see how the island’s top beach attraction, Seychelles Beach, got its name.
Top hotels: Erofili Beach Hotel, Hotel Nefeli, Kerame Studios
In a nutshell: From castles to museums, the island of Chios offers visitors several options when it comes to activities. If you plan to hit the beaches, be sure to bring water shoes, as they tend to be quite pebbly.
In a nutshell: Karpathos has tons of beautiful beaches with a lot of variety. If you’re looking to hit up a new beach daily, Karpathos just might be your ideal island for your next vacation.
Top hotels: Alimounda Mare, Althea Boutique Hotel, Rigo Apartaments