Greece offers some of the most mesmerising landscapes on the planet – and beaches to die for (plus, there are very nice salads).
The downside is that holidaymakers the world over have caught on, with hotspots such as Crete, Mykonos and Santorini jampacked with tourists in the summer season.
However, as we reveal here, the country has plenty of hidden gems to discover – eye-catching lookalike alternatives to the overcrowded big hitters.
Scroll down to discover eight of these stunning quieter beach destinations.
Paxos is speckled with delis, boutiques and beaches including Erimitis Bay (image four), which is often praised on Tripadvisor for its ‘stunning’ views
Paxos is ‘unusually verdant and still largely unspoilt’, according to Rough Guides, which says it is a ‘particular favourite of yachting flotillas’.
Size doesn’t matter for the stunning destination which is ‘the smallest of the main Ionian islands at barely 12km (7.5 miles) by 4km (2.5 miles)’, it adds.
The island is speckled with delis and boutiques as well as several beaches including Erimitis Bay, which is often praised on Tripadvisor for its ‘stunning’ views – reviewer ‘Jana’ labelled it ‘a must-see’.
Britons travelling to the island can fly to Corfu International Airport and take a bus or taxi to the Port of Lefkimmi, followed by a 45-minute direct ferry to Paxos.
Folegandros is ‘ideal for a peaceful vacation’ with ‘mouthwatering cuisine, stunning beaches, azure Aegean waters and secluded coves’, according to Visit Greece
Often compared to popular Santorini, nearby Folegandros is considered a quieter alternative in the Cyclades island group.
This island is ‘ideal for a peaceful vacation’ with ‘mouthwatering cuisine, stunning beaches, azure Aegean waters and secluded coves’, according to Visit Greece, the official website of the Greek National Tourism Organisation.
‘This off-the-beaten-path destination captivates visitors with the untouched beauty of its beaches, the luminous blue of its waters, and the unadulterated style of its architecture,’ it adds.
International travellers can fly to Santorini International Airport and take a direct ferry to the island, taking around one hour and 30 minutes. Alternatively, fly to Athens International Airport or Milos Airport and take a ferry from there.
THE MANI PENINSULA
Mani in mainland Greece offers ‘dramatic and varied scenery’ and is ‘still wonderfully under-explored’, according to Lonely Planet
Greece’s mainland destinations can be easily forgotten.
Here’s a nudge that Mani, the central peninsula of the southern Peloponnese, has ‘some of the most dramatic and varied scenery’ in this part of mainland Greece and is ‘still wonderfully under-explored’.
So says Lonely Planet, which adds that the ‘wild, rugged region’ offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventures, from ‘the steep foothills of the snow-tipped Taygetos Mountains to the pristine coastal coves, and from the tiny villages nestling amid olive groves, connected by threads of walking trails, to the arid landscapes in the south of the peninsula, speckled with abandoned stone towers’.
Fly to Kalamata International Airport and take a bus or a taxi to Mani.
You’ll discover ‘isolated beaches, atmospheric mountain villages, ancient sites and marble quarries’ on the island of Naxos, Lonely Planet reveals
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and ‘packs a lot of bang for its buck’, says Lonely Planet.
‘You needn’t travel far, though, to find isolated beaches, atmospheric mountain villages, ancient sites and marble quarries,’ it adds.
Like nearby party-loving Mykonos, the island’s main town of Hora ‘has a gorgeous waterfront and a web of steep cobbled alleys below its hilltop kastro [castle]’ as well as ‘fortified Venetian mansions’.
Its beaches have been ranked among the top 10 in the world by the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.
Commenting on the travel review website, reviewer ‘greek-traveller’ said: ‘The beaches as such are excellent, and regarded as some of the best in Greece.’
Fly to Athens, Santorini, or Mykonos and then board a ferry to Naxos. There are also domestic flights from Athens to the island.
Pictures show the picturesque fishing village of Pythagorion Port (image three) as well as the turquoise waters of Lemonakia Beach (image two) and Potami Beach (image four) on the island of Samos
The isle of Samos boasts ‘an outstanding natural landscape’ which offers ‘beautiful beaches, fine wine and monuments of sizable cultural significance’, according to Visit Greece.
‘Wherever you head to, you’ll see mountains, caves and ravines. Its pristine nature will impress you,’ it adds.
Photographs highlight the picturesque qualities of the fishing village of Pythagorion Port as well as the turquoise waters of Lemonakia Beach and Potami Beach.
The island also features wetlands, waterfalls, and two Unesco heritage sites – the ‘fortified ancient city of Pythagoreion and the ancient Temple of Hera’.
In a Tripadvisor review, user ‘Patrik Z’ commented that it’s an ‘incredible’ island with ‘very clean waters’. He added that it’s ‘absolutely to be visited’.
Fly to Athens and then take a domestic flight to Samos, or take a long ferry ride to the island.
Skopelos appeared in the 2018 film Mamma Mia but has still managed to ‘hang on to its low-key charm’, according to Lonely Planet
Despite its star appearance in the 2018 film Mamma Mia, Skopelos ‘has managed to hang on to its low-key charm’, according to Lonely Planet.
The island is characterised by its ‘pine forests, olive groves, rippling vineyards and orchards of plums and almonds – many of which find their way into local cuisine’, it says.
It is ‘notably wilder, artier and more laid-back than neighbouring Skiathos’ and benefits from ‘a string of beautiful sand-and-pebble beaches’.
The travel guide adds that visitors can choose between two settlements – the ‘wonderfully attractive main port of Skopelos Town’ and the ‘equally delightful northwest village of Glossa’.
Fly to neighbouring Skiathos, then take an hour-long ferry to the port in Glossa or Skopelos Town.
On a visit to the Greek isle of Meganisi, reviewers recommend visiting Fanari Beach (image five) for its ‘beautiful swimming’
Meganisi is described as ‘authentic’ Greece with ‘great people’ and a ‘very laid back atmosphere’ in recent Tripadvisor reviews.
Photographs show the island’s hilltop villages nestled among the trees and quiet beaches surrounded by wild countryside and clear aquamarine waters.
Reviewers recommend Fanari Beach for its ‘beautiful swimming’. Lomonari Beach, meanwhile, is praised for its ‘crystal clear water’ and ‘stunning views’, and is said to be ‘perfect for safe snorkelling or paddle boarding’.
Fly to Aktion International Airport and then take a taxi and a ferry to Meganisi, which is less than two hours away.
Photos of Paros show the beautiful fishing village of Naousa (image one) and the traditional village of Lefkes (image four), which features whitewashed buildings and cobbled patios
Paros enjoys ‘great beauty’, ‘impressive landscapes’, and ‘long beaches with crystal-clear waters’, according to Visit Greece.
The island benefits from a ‘well-developed tourist infrastructure… to make your holidays truly memorable’, it adds.
The photographs above show the beautiful fishing village of Naousa and the traditional village of Lefkes, which features whitewashed buildings and cobbled patios decorated with an abundance of plants and brightly painted furniture.
Travellers on Tripadvisor also recommend the ‘beautiful’ old town of Parikia for its small shops, cafes and restaurants. One reviewer, ‘Cheryl G’, labelled Parikia as ‘the best town to stay in Paros’. She wrote: ‘You can take a ferry to other islands, you can take boat rides to hidden coves, there is even a boat ride to the local beaches.’
Fly to Athens, Santorini or Mykonos and then catch a ferry to Paros.
All transportation services were available at the time of publication.