Travel

Under-the-Radar Greek Islands to Check Off Your Bucket List

With thousands to choose from, we narrow down the list for you
The Best Underrated Greek Islands to Visit
Photo: photo_stella/Getty Images

As a woman of Greek descent, I feel an absurd amount of pride when people rave about how amazing the isles are. But with thousands to choose from, why limit yourself to Santorini, Crete and Mykonos, which are constantly flooded with tourists? Here are some of the most visit-worthy enclaves in Greece you've never even thought about traveling to—until now.

Nicoletta Richardson is an NYC-based editor and writer who travels to eat and eats to travel. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @nicolettanne.

  • Sifnos

    Known as the birthplace of the Greek cookbook, Sifnos upholds its longtime gastronomic reputation through both old-timey, hyper-local dives and new, internationally influenced restaurants from well-known chefs. You’re guaranteed to feel like an insider when you stay at Smaragdi Hotel, an intimate, sophisticated property that’s walking distance to great restaurants and beaches. Dine at Manolis for its signature revithia—a chickpea soup with onions and broth—and try homemade loukoumades, balls of fried dough drenched in honey. And whenever you see a souvlaki stand on the street, make sure to nab a stick or two—you won't regret it.

    Photo: photo_stella/Getty Images

  • Naxos

    Past the hustling and bustling island of Mykonos is Naxos—a hidden gem where you can wander little alleys lined with shops and restaurants, or escape to the serene mountains to see ancient ruins, or retreat to Agia Anna beach, which is just steps outside the chic Iria Beach Art Hotel. On Mount Zeus, one of the highest peaks throughout the Cyclades islands, a wet climate and rich soil create ideal growing conditions for olives, figs and potatoes. Stop by Axiotissa Taverna for phyllo-covered cheese pie and figs, veal with fresh herbs, and thickly sliced potatoes. Fair warning: Naxos has become increasingly popular since Anthony Bourdain featured it on an episode of Parts Unknown, so pay a visit before it becomes overrun.

    Photo: JustinBlackStock/Getty Images

  • Ikaria

    This tiny island is one of five locations across the globe where people live longer, happier lives, according to Blue Zones, an organization that tracks and promotes healthy communities worldwide. So why wouldn't you want to visit? Ikarians love hiking the mountainous terrain and chowing down on dishes made with unprocessed, local ingredients (olive oil, fruits and vegetables, goat’s milk) that naturally follow the Mediterranean diet. Book a room at Erofili Beach Hotel—your balcony will offer incredible views of the blue water and lush terrain—then stroll to the nearby Atsachas Restaurant for a slice of homemade moussaka (an eggplant-based beef dish) and a glass of red wine.

    Photo: J_Kilou/Getty Images

  • Tinos

    Part of the Cyclades islands, Tinos is home to the Church of Panagia Evangelista, a famous Greek Orthodox pilgrimage site. Marble-sculpted buildings—a traditional architectural element on the Cyclades islands—are everywhere you turn in the main town of Hora, including on the exterior of the excellent Vincenzo hotel. At Koutouki Tis Elenis, a hidden gem near the hotel, you’ll find fennel pie with artichokes; the latter is a popular ingredient found in many Tinos dishes. And at Drosia, a traditional Greek taverna, you’ll find one of the island's specialties: fourtalia, a traditional fried-egg omelet filled with local sausage and potatoes.

    Photo: milangonda/Getty Images

  • Skyros

    Although it’s the largest of the Sporades islands, don't let the size fool you—this destination is the least touristy of the bunch and is perfect for a kick-your-feet-up vacation. Stay at Hotel Nefeli, where you can lounge by the outdoor pool and take in the breathtaking views of the hilly mountains and quiet coastline. Make sure to visit the beaches of Molos and Magazia, where you can dip into the postcard-perfect, crystal clear water. Many of the locals are fishermen by trade, so there’s no shortage of fresh seafood. Head to Oi Istories Tou Barba and order the astakomakaronada, or lobster spaghetti, which Skyros is famous for.

    Photo: TaviTopai/Getty Images

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