13 Underrated Greek Islands You Must Visit In 2024

Last Updated on November 6, 2023

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Greece is well-known for its beautiful beaches and islands and is one of the most popular tourist destinations for all visitors.

Indeed, Greece has consistently been named the best vacation destination of the year, thanks to luxury hotels, resorts, and even flight lines and its continued support of the cruise sector.

However, due to the country’s beauty, millions of tourists rush to Athens and famed islands like Mykonos and Santorini every summer, forgetting about the most underrated Greek islands.

My advice for you? Think beyond the box when it comes to Greece.

The country has hundreds of islands and a big mainland with natural wonders like mountains, coral reefs, wineries, and historical monuments.

🧳 MUST-HAVE: Before you head out on your trip, make sure you have travel insurance. I recommend either SafetyWing or World Nomads.

Below you will find the lesser-known Greek islands with beautiful beaches.

Best Underrated Greek Islands to Visit

1. Paros

The island of Paros, with its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, is high on the list of the best Greek tourist destinations.

This amazing island is the nearest Greek island to Santorini but still is one of the underrated Greek islands that tourists still know little about.

A well-developed tourist infrastructure also ensures that your vacation is genuinely unforgettable.

Paros was well-known in the past for its white marble quarries; the so-called ‘Parian marble’ was highly valued for its outstanding quality and was used in architecture and sculpture (particularly during the Classical Greek Period).

This pure white, translucent substance was used to create some of the masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture.

2. Naxos

Naxos is best known for its beautiful endless sandy beaches.

The Naxiots originally made a fortune by exporting potatoes, cheese, marble, and emery. If you are planning a nice vacation with your loved one, this is one of the best quiet Greek islands for couples.

It’s also one of the most secluded Greek islands that you might find. Naxos’ west shore is surrounded by miles of fine sand. As you continue south, the beaches become wilder.

You can see Plaka, where you can gallop across the dunes on horseback, windsurf, kitesurf, and crystal-clear Kastraki.

If you get tired of swimming in the sea, three big kouros statues are hidden in the hills, and hundreds more quiet towns to explore.

If you prefer quiet places and want to avoid the noise from loud music, you can take advantage of plenty of underrated Greek islands.

Try kitron, the traditional citron liqueur, at the Vallindras distillery in Halki, or sip homemade wine and cheese under the palm trees in Ano Potamia hamlet.

💡PACKING TIP: Make sure you bring a good snorkel, water shoes and a fast-drying towel for all of the beach-going you’re about to do!

3. Antiparos

Antiparos is located in the Aegean Sea, near the island of Paros, and is part of the Cyclades island group.

Even those it’s close to Paros, Antiparos is less busy, one of the underrated Greek islands, and has a more sophisticated vibe.

It is an amazing Greek island for laid-back holidays away from the rush and the bustle!

Swimming is one of the nicest activities in Antiparos because the island is known for its beaches.

The beaches are typically sandy with clear blue waters, most of which are within walking distance of Chora, the island’s capital.

On the island’s southern side, the most outstanding view is a wonderful cave full of stalagmites and stalactites.

Chora, Antiparos’ magnificent city, is the beating heart of the island, as well as the location of most hotels, restaurants, bars, and taverns.

Chora is home to a Venetian castle, stronghold, and classic Cycladic architecture.

Antiparos is a fantastic destination for a wonderful vacation! It’s so good in fact, that Tom Hanks even has a property on this island.

Enjoy the nearest Greek island to Santorini this summer, view of coastline covered in dense cluster of apartment buildings next to the clear turquoise sea with a row of grassy hills behind under a clear blue sky
Photo by Toula Douka on Unsplash

4. Syros

It is the best Greek island for Culture and off-season cachet. You won’t find sugar-cube towns and whitewashed alleyways in Syros, the Cyclades’ capital.

Ermoupoli, a vibrant 19th-century city, is constructed on twin peaks, one Orthodox and the other Catholic, the legacy of a long Venetian occupancy.

Ermoupoli’s marble piazzas, princely homes, and a small model of La Scala, the highlight of a year-round cultural scene, retain a strong Italian flavor.

Syros hosts animation, singing and dancing, digital art, cinema, classical music, jazz, and rembetiko festivals, which local singer Markos Vamvakaris popularized.

Ano Syra’s upper town still has a few rembetiko establishments.

Nevertheless, Syros, once Greece’s shipbuilding center, now one of the most underrated Greek islands, has a boatyard at Neorio.

But the most spectacular relic of the seafaring business is the stately mansions in Vaporia and Poseidonia. The beaches are just stunning.

3 things you MUST try while you’re there:

  • Excellent beachfront tavernas abound in Ambala for fresh fish
  • Ciiliovassilemar on Galissas beach for samphire and sea-urchin salad and rockfish soups
  • Allou Yallou in Kini for lobster with orzo

On Androu Street, the greatest places to eat and drink in Ermoupoli are Ousyra, where the chef delivers Greek-ified pasta and beautifully balanced dishes, and Django Gelato, where the smoked-hazelnut ice cream and fig sorbet runs out in 30 minutes.

You should visit Mazi too, a vine-covered courtyard adorned with bougainvillea.

5. Elafonissos

In our list of the most underrated Greek islands now comes Elafonissos.

Elafonissos is a small island off the coast of Peloponnese, immediately below the Laconia peninsula.

Elafonissos is one of the Greek islands known as the Caribbean of Greece because of its beautiful waters.

The most attractive beaches are Simos, Sarakiniko, and Panagia, with golden sand and clear sea. On the island, all activities are centered in a single village.

After a long day at the beach, folks flock here in the evenings to meander about and enjoy a relaxed meal.

Ferries to the island depart from the little port of Neapoli, located on the opposite mainland shore.

Elafonissos, Greece, can be visited as a vacation destination or as a day excursion from Peloponnese.

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6. Koufonisia

This place is perfect for you if you want to visit an underrated Greek island. The view of Koufonisia, Greece, is breathtaking!

Incredible turquoise ocean, sparkling sand, a relaxed attitude, and Cycladic architecture combine to produce a remarkable wonder within the Cyclades archipelago.

You’ve just discovered a beautiful island where you may unwind and rest!

Find the finest things to do, the nicest beaches, the best hotels and restaurants only searching a bit more than usual!

The island is easily accessible by ferry from the ports of Athens (Piraeus & Rafina). The nearest airport is Naxos, which only allows flights from Athens.

7. Crete

Best for: Antiquities, active adventures, and sunshine all year round.

Sunshine is almost always assured all year, but spring is exceptionally beautiful for rambling and sightseeing.

Crete, Greece’s largest island and Zeus’ home, features ancient ruins, snow-capped hills, and beaches abounding.

The Minoan palace of Knossos is magnificent, despite the constant stream of coach groups (go early: it opens at 8 am), but there are gorgeous ancient monuments across the island, such as Aptera and Malia.

There are pilgrims in the 16km-long Samariá Gorge, but there are 50 more to explore, often with the elusive kri-kri (wild goats).

For traditional villages surrounded by olive and orange trees, head west to the Amari valley or Apokoronas.

Go south to locate Crete’s greatest beaches, such as Ligres, Sougia, and Kedrodassos. Alternatively, take a back-to-nature getaway at Milia, a 17th-century village powered completely by solar energy.

Crete’s wonderful cheese, honey, and olive oil, as well as tasty goat, rabbit, and smoked-pork dishes, make it practically impossible not to eat well.

Everything on the organic menu is grown, caught, or produced in the area.

8. Rhodes

Rhodes, often known as the “Knights’ Island,” has a rich history, spectacular medieval architecture, beautiful beaches, and natural beauty!

Rhodes’ Old Town, with its stone-paved streets and beautiful homes, is a World Heritage Site.

Rhodes has a long and glorious history; it is a place where the strong medieval character blends with the conventional Greek one.

It is also an island of great beautiful nature: the lovely beaches face the pine woods on the side of a mountain; the mountain villages overlook the seaside towns.

Don’t forget the archaeological sites, ancient monuments, and cosmopolitan resorts arranged in the traditional style all conspire to make this destination difficult to resist, even for the best customer.

You can go to the island by plane from Athens or abroad or by ferry from Athens, Crete, or other islands.

9. Lefkada

Best for Sailors, surfers, and superstar beaches.

Lefkada is extraordinary. Unlike the other Ionian islands, it is accessible from the land through a causeway on the northern tip.

It’s also easily accessible from the United Kingdom, with direct flights to Preveza, a 40-minute drive away.

The main town of Lefkada, destroyed by an earthquake in the 1950s, may not steal your breath away, but the legendary cliff-backed beaches of Egremni and Porto Katsiki will.

There are safe beaches despite the direction of the wind, but if you’re here for the waves, the south coast is great for windsurfing (go to Vassiliki or Sivota, home of the world windsurfing championships).

Kitesurfers abound in Agios Ioannis Bay. Skip the unattractive pubs and watersports establishments in Nidri and charter a boat to explore the surrounding little isles.

Swimming in Kalamos sea caves, enjoying grilled fish with tarama at Errikos taverna on Meganisi, and watching the sunset with a basil-infused Mastiha and tonic at Mylos bar, a converted windmill on Kastos are all alternatives.

Want to cool off or escape the summer crowds? Go to Lefkada!

Lefkada is one of the most beautiful underrated Greek islands!

Drive through chestnut and woods into Lefkada’s hilly interior to the sleepy settlements of Karya (which has an interesting textile museum), Eglouvi (where you can play backgammon under plane trees), and Exanthia (to watch the sunset from up in the clouds at Rachi restaurant).

You might even see parachutists taking off from the top.

📸 PRO TIP: My go-to camera for all my travels is the Sony A7iii – I highly recommend it!

10. Sifnos

In our list of the most amazing underrated Greek islands is also Sifnos. Since 1933, all roads in postcard-perfect Artemonas have led to Theodorou, creator of nougat wafers and almond desserts.

The island is covered with potteries that produce the ceramic casseroles used for revitháda (baked chickpeas) and mastello (meatballs) (lamb with red wine and dill).

At Omega 3, where locally wild mushrooms and fished products are given an unusual twist, you can eat:

  • Tempura baby calamari
  • Wasabi-infused cold melon soup with smoked eel
  • Sorbet of chickpeas with wild apricot jam and pine nuts

You can visit Cantina, an adventurous restaurant in Seralia, a charming little bay below the picturesque medieval hamlet of Kastro.

At Heronissos, lobsters are fished from the sea and eaten with spaghetti on the pier. It strikes the perfect blend between low-key elegance and pure authenticity.

Similar to Sifnos itself. It’s a shame that people only know two islands in Greece: Santorini and Mykonos.

But with this amazing guide, now you know who are some of the most underrated Greek islands.

Spread the news, be smart, and don’t go only to Santorini or Mykonos just because you have seen some nice pictures. Greece is a miracle of mother nature.

Take some time to wander among these lesser known Greek islands, view from hilltop down into a valley with small sandy beach next to bright blue water and rolling hills leading off into the distance along the coast under a clear blue sky
Photo by Evan Verni on Unsplash

11. Kefalonia

This green island will steal your breath away with its stunning beaches and pure crystal waters of greenish-blue hues.

Kefalonia is a hidden gem and one of the most attractive underrated Greek islands in the Ionian Sea. Yet many tourists have not discovered it, so we can say that it is an unspoilt Greek island.

It has a long history of cultural tradition. It is the largest of the Ionian Islands, and the green of its mountains merges with the blue of the water to create a genuinely distinctive and popular resort.

Mt. Ainos’ peak is covered in pine, cypress, and olive trees, while vineyards at its base produce the famed Kefalonian Robola wine type.

If you enjoy snorkeling or diving, the seabed around the island will blow you away.

You might see the rare caretta sea turtle and monk seal monachus, which take sanctuary here.

Kefalonia’s culinary legacy, history, ancient villages, lively nightlife, and stunning beaches will captivate you.

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12. Spetses

Spetses Greece is popular for short getaways among foreign visitors and residents due to its handy location in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, a couple of hours by ferry from Athens.

Yet one of the underrated Greek islands.

The island is largely recognized for its exquisite environment, as it is full of impressive houses and the car ban that keeps its atmosphere tranquil.

 There is a yacht marina, boutique hotels, and elegant restaurants on the island, as well as isolated beaches with turquoise waters.

Our travel guide has been created to give you all the information you need to know when planning your vacation.

Discover the island’s best hotels and restaurants, beaches, prominent monuments, and activities, and there is no need to break the bank!

13. Folegandros

One of the underrated Greek islands for authenticity with a bohemian buzz. On this Greek island, the village square should be your first point of call.

The little city of Hora has three squares, each filled with a labyrinth of cafés, tavernas, and dinky raki bars.

The one noticeable landmark, Panagia church, is reached through zigzag steps that slope up and away from Hora.

We recommend (Pounta), where the Danish proprietor produces (and sells) the unequal cups and bowls used to serve your coffee and Greek yogurt.

Fruit trees are sheltered from high winds by rings of stones. There are no sandy beaches with loungers here, only clear, pebbly coves like Katergo, Ambeli, and Livadaki.

On a wooden deck aligned with the horizon, Papalagi serves enormous fat prawns and full grilled octopus on the cliffs above Agios Nikolaos bay.

In high season, water taxis service fine beaches; otherwise, you’ll have to walk down stony trails to cool yourself.

Stop at Ano Meria at Mimis or Synantisi for matsata, an island specialty, on your way home (goat or rabbit stew with hand-made pasta).

There are a million reasons to visit some of the most underrated Greek islands: gorgeous scenery, nice people, stunning beaches, fantastic weather, and unique flavors.

The birthplace of Western civilization is just one ticket away from you!

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ What is the most unique Greek island?

Each island has something special about it. But one of the most unique Greek Islands is Syros. It has more distinct architecture from the other islands rather than just whitewashed towns. The food here has its own flavour, and you’ll even find an array of rembetiko spots around the island.

✅ Which Greek island is the least touristy?

All of the Greek islands listed above are generally less touristed. However, some of the least visited ones are Kefalonia, Folegandros, Elafonissos and Syros.

✅ Which Greek island is cheapest?

Many of the Greek islands are surprisingly affordable, especially if you are happy to eat local food. And Crete is one of the cheapest spots in all of Greece!

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