Which Greek islands to visit for an authentic experience

With more than 5000 islands and islets floating in the seas, out of which 250 are inhabited, choosing which Greek islands to visit for an authentic experience might prove to be more complicated than you ever imagined.

I am sure that all of you heard about Santorini, Milos, Rhodes, Zakynthos or Skiathos but unfortunately all these islands are very popular among tourists and they lost most of their authentic vibe.

This article is for those looking to experience the real Greek spirit and are willing to sacrifice the comfort of a 5-star hotel just to feel the authentic greek atmosphere.

Here is a list with the islands which have best kept the Greek traditions, culture and social vibe alive.

Which Greek islands to visit

1. Paxoi

1.1 Location

Located in the Ionian Sea and one of the most secluded Ionian islands from the western part of Greece, Paxoi actually consists of some inhibited islands together with the main islands, Paxos and Antipaxos.

Voutoumi Beach Antipaxos Ionian Greece Beaches Blue Water Which Greek islands to visit
Voutoumi Beach Antipaxos Ionian Greece Beaches Blue Water

1.2 How to get there

The largest island from this group is Paxos which can be reached from Igoumenitsa port or from Corfu.

There are no direct ferries from Athens, so for those of you who land in Athens and want to reach Paxos you need to rent a car or take public transport to Igoumenitsa.

Cars can be rented directly from Athens International Airport or from a renting office located in Greece capital, Athens.

The cost of a car starts from 30 euro per day, depending on the length of the renting period, the type of car chosen and the coverage included.

Get the best price for your car rental today

1.3 What to see

This secluded small island characterised by its tranquil atmosphere has many beautiful attractions to see and a lot of stunning  beaches where to perfect your tan.

Paxos Greece Beach Which Greek islands to visit
Paxos Greece Beach Which Greek islands to visit

Among the most important attractions from the island I would name:

  • Stroll along the beautiful streets of the village of Gaios with its amazing houses and Italian architecture
  • Swim in the water of St. Nicholas island which is located just 50 metres from Gaios
  • Visit the Museum of Paxoi full of antiquities from prehistoric and classical times
  • Take a day tour to Antipaxos, a small island with just 20 inhabitants and go to a wine tasting as the island is famous for its vineyards.

1.4 Where to sleep

Located less than 1 kilometres away from Gaios, Paxos Club Resort & SPA is one of the best choices for those looking to spend some quality time on this island.

The hotel offers an outdoor pool, a hot tub and a restaurant where guests can try Greek traditional cuisine.

A playground, a fitness room and a mini gallery are available at the hotel, while free transfers to and from the port of Gaios, and to Gaios and Kaki Ladkada beach are operated daily.

2. Symi

2.1 Location

Located in the Aegean Sea and one of the most interesting Aegean islands from the southeastern part of Greece and the second on my list of which Greek islands to visit is Symi.

Located very close to Rhodes island and less than 8 kilometres from the Turkish shore, Symi is considered by many the jewel of the Dodecanese islands.

 

Halki Chalki Greece Symi Island Greek Grece Which Greek islands to visit
Halki Chalki Greece Symi Island Greek Grece Which Greek islands to see

2.2. How to get there

The island is accessible by ferry from Piraeus port and from the neighbouring islands.

The closest airport is the one from Rhodes town and from there you can take the public ferry or arrange a private transfer with your hotel.

2.3 What to see

Symi is considered to be the birthplace of Charites or Graces, the ancient Greek deities of charm, nature, human creativity and fertility.

Among the most important attractions from the island are:

  • The large neo-classical houses with influences from Marseille, Trieste and Athens located in the port of Gialos
  • The castle of Symi dating from ancient times (15th century)

2.4 Where to sleep

With a cosy atmosphere, Symi Nautilus Luxury Suites welcomes their guests with rooms and apartments overlooking the sea or the surrounding gardens.

Some units have a fully equipped kitchenette and a terrace and/or balcony.

The closest beach with golden sand, Nos Beach is located 1 kilometre away, while Pedi beach is 200 metres further.

3. Psara

3.1 Location

The next on my list of which Greek islands to visit is Psara, a small island located west of Chios island, in the Aegean Sea.

The island has been inhabited since prehistoric times but everything changed in the medieval times when Suleiman II the Magnificent conquered and captured all the inhabitants from the island.

For a small period of time, the island remained inhabited and then ottomans from different parts of the Empire were brought here.

But a short time after this, Greeks from the nearby islands of Chios, Thessaly and Epirus moved to the island, so Greeks were again the dominant ethnic group of the island.

Psara Island Chios Aegean Sea Greece Greek Islands
Psara Island Chios Aegean Sea Greece Greek Islands

3.2. How to get there

The easiest way to get to Psara is from Chios; there are regular ferries from one island to another and the ride lasts just a few hours.

3.3 What to see

Although a small island, it plays a very important role in Greece history and has many wonderful sceneries and offers many opportunities like:

  • Underwater fishing
  • Hiking trails
  • Long stretched beaches

The best way to admire the beauty of the island is to take a day trip around the island with a local boat and why not sail to the islet of Antipsara, located just a few miles away.

3.4 Where to sleep

There are limited accommodations offered on the island so if you are looking for a nice hotel, you’d better search on Chios island.

Grecian Castle Chios is one of the best choices from Chios;  it is located less than 1 kilometres from Chios town, 100 metres away from Bella Vista Beach.

The on-site restaurant serves international and traditional greek cuisine, while guests can enjoy their time on the sunbathing terrace or at the bar.

4. Nisyros

4.1 Location

Which Greek island to visit if not Nisyros if you are looking for an authentic atmosphere and Greek vibe?!

The small island of Nisyros is located between the islands of Kos and Tilos, in the Dodecanese islands, in the eastern part of Greece.

It is a volcanic island with a still active volcano and a huge caldera of almost 4 kilometres wide.

Nisyros Island Greece Greek IIslands
Nisyros Island Greece Greek IIslands

4.2. How to get there

Reaching this small and picturesque island is not such an easy task, especially if you plan to visit it outside the peak season.

During summer months, there are regular ferries which leave from Piraeus port, but the journey is pretty long, you are almost 12 hours on the sea.

The fastest and easiest way to get to Nisyros is by plane to the nearest islands of Kos or Rhodes.

From there you can take the ferry with destination Nisyros and here you are, on this magnificent island in less than 12 hours.

4.3 What to see

For those passionate about mythology and the ancient world, we recommend to include in their travel plans a visit to Mandraki, located in the ancient part of the island and one of the most interesting historical sites from the area.

For nature lovers, the volcano offers many hiking trails and a unique landscape which can be explored in daily hikes.

And for those looking to spend some days at a sandy beach and perfect their tan, the island offers many secluded beaches where you can relax and watch the sunset at the end of the day.

4.4 Where to sleep

Located right in Mandraki village, Romantzo is a beautiful guesthouse just 50 metres away from the sea with an amazing view over the Aegean Sea and the gardens nearby.

In the nearby area, guests can eat at local tavernas and try a large variety of cocktails and wines at the bars.

The beaches of Mandraki and Hohlakia can be reached within walking minutes, while the volcano is 6 kilometres away.

5. Kasos

5.1 Location

The last on the list of which Greek islands to visit is Kasos, a small island located in the southern part of the Dodecanese region.

Kasos Greek Island Greece Islands
Kasos Greek Island Greece Islands

5.2. How to get there

To get to this island is pretty complicated and the ferry journey lasts for almost 24 hours and starts from Piraeus port.

The good news about getting to this island is that although it is small, the island has an airport so in less than 1 hour you reach it from Athens.

5.3 What to see

This remote island offers some of the most beautiful Greek beaches, out of which I would like to name Armathia and Paralia Antiparos.

Among other important places to see when visit this island are:

  • The old port of Bouka
  • The beautiful villages of Pounta, Panaghia and Emboreio with its magnificent old churches
  • The church of Aghios Mammas built in a Byzantine style
  • The islet of Armathia with the amazing beach known as Marmara which translates as Marbles in English.

5.4 Where to sleep

Villa Evdokia Kasos is a vacation home with one bedroom, a kitchen, a dining area and a small garden.

This traditional, but stylish house is located in the village of Arvanitochori and offers amazing views of the sea.

All the seas near Greek mainland hide secluded and very well preserved islands, where culture and traditions are kept alive by locals.

These are the best greek islands to visit if you are looking for something different for your next holiday.

Most tourists heard about Cycladic island of Mykonos with its very photographed Mykonos town or about the very famous beaches from Greece like Navagio beach of or Myrtos beach, but these places have lost the authentic Greek flavour.

We don’t say that you should not visit these places but if you are looking for something authentic than the islands mentioned above should be on your list.

Plan your trip ahead as the accommodation options are quite limited in these places and choose ahead which Greek islands to visit for the most authentic vibe.

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