4 Greek islands to avoid the tourists

Ithaque

Discover the land of the setting sun, but… away from the crowds. Here are 4 tourist-free islands in Greece.

Greece and its string of islands, including the famous Cyclades, need no introduction. Promising seaside vacations on glistening beaches, festivals and enchanting white villages, this dream destination can suffer from one thing: overcrowding.

While it’s possible to stumble across a hidden address, unearth a few secluded bays or go away outside the school vacations, visitors in search of isolation may grit their teeth a little. At Generation Voyage, we’ve got you, the solo traveler, in mind. Here are 4 tourist-free islands in Greece. A secret you’ll want to keep to yourself…

Astypalea

Astypalée

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Milan Gonda

Astypalea, lying like a butterfly on the water, is one of the few tourist-free islands in Greece. This wing-shaped island is a must for lovers of hiking and ancient history. You’ll discover the alpine meadows described by Homer and beaches carved into jagged cliffs. Listen carefully! Can you hear the sirens singing?

The main village of Hora falls like a waterfall of white houses suspended in the void. It tumbles down from its medieval fortress to the small fishing port of Skala. In the heart of the narrow streets, push open the doors of a friendly tavern. Here you’ll find yourself at table alongside pure-blooded Greeks. On your way out, admire the circular movement of the Cycladic-style windmills: veritable guardians at the entrance to the village.

On the Skala side, laze on the small beach of sand and pebbles washed by shallow waters. In the early morning, or for a quick snack, let yourself be guided by the smell of the traditional bakery that has been pampering islanders’ taste buds for ages.

Things to see and do in Astypalea

Astypalée

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Milan Gonda

  • Fortress of Skala and Hora: built in the early 15th century by a wealthy Venetian family, this imposing fortress housed up to 4,000 people within its ramparts. Protected from pirates plying the Aegean, the islanders lived here until 1956. They left after an earthquake which, to your delight, spared the fortress’s two churches;
  • Excursion to Kounoupi and Kousomyti: these uninhabited islets, surrounded by turquoise waters and covered in golden sand, can be visited on a boat trip from La Skala;
  • Livadi: Livadi beach is one of the most beautiful on this tourist-free Greek island. So don’t worry, you won’t have to elbow your way between the umbrellas and the bodies packed in like sardines. The beach stretches out at the mouth of a lush valley and is home to a number of bars and restaurants where summer evenings can be enjoyed to the full;
  • Isthmus of Skala: the Isthmus to the east of Skala unites the two wings of the butterfly shaped by the island. This corridor is riddled with delightful little coves, combining sand, shade, shallow waters and sometimes the remains of Roman baths.

Getting to Astypalée

An island without tourists in Greece also means a limited number of crossings. To reach Astypalea, you have two options. The first, fast and expensive, is by plane: three flights a week from Leros, Kalymnos and Kos (under 100 euros) or six flights a week from Athens (over 100 euros).

Don’t hesitate to consult a flight comparator for low-cost tickets.

Alternatively, several ferries dock on the island. Depending on the point of departure (Kalymnos, Nos, Piraeus, Naxos, Paros or Rhodes), the crossing takes between 2h30 and 9 hours. Frequency ranges from 1 to 5 crossings per week. Find out more on the Direct Ferries website.

Kythera (Kythira)

Kythira

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Milan Gonda

Kythera, or Kythira, is a little-known island in the southern Peloponnese. Forgotten by time and tourists, reminiscent of the Cyclades with its white houses, Kythera belongs to the Ionian Islands.

According to legend, this enchanting islet was known in ancient times as the birthplace of Aphrodite. So keep an eye on the foam… The Goddess of Love, Desire and Beauty may surprise you during your swim.

Despite its abandoned rock appearance, Kythera is home to no less than forty villages. The rest of its territory is characterized by verdant valleys, gorges and cliffs covered in vegetation and dizzying peaks.

You’ll also discover a number of ancient columns scattered here and there. In each village, you’ll also find a square surrounded by tavernas and kafeneio. Step inside. A group of locals will welcome you with a glass ofouzo in hand. A genuine ray of sunshine trapped in a glass! A few vibrant notes escape from a guitar, soon joined by singing. This is how you get a taste of Greek conviviality and authenticity.

What to see and do on Kythera

Kythira

Photo credit: Shuttertock – valantis minogiannis

  • Kythira (Hora): the eponymous town is the capital of this tourist-free island in Greece. Its pretty cube-shaped buildings, splashed in white and blue, stretch up to the Venetian castle. Perched on its hilltop, it looks out over the sea and the land from a superb vantage point;
  • Kapsali: this small hamlet, prosperous in Venetian times, is now a lively seaside resort with tavernas, elegant cafés and artists’ studios;
  • Potamos: set in the heart of the island, this village is famous for its Sunday flea market and flower-filled square;
  • Agia Pelagia: this port town, hemmed in by impressive cliffs and shady valleys, plunges into azure waters. But the most beautiful things to see are the volcanic beaches, enamelled with glowing red colors;
  • Mylopotamos: nestled in a valley, this pretty, bucolic hamlet is a veritable enchanted interlude. With its canal running alongside the square, the silhouette of its water mill, its labyrinth of abandoned churches and its waterfall, this colorful village is bathed in a magical atmosphere.

Getting to Kythera

In summer, Kythera airport offers several connections with Athens (2 to 3 flights a day at less than 100 euros) or Thessalonica (2 flights a week at less than 100 euros). In low season, flights are much rarer, so be sure to use a flight comparison service.

Greener, more economical boats arrive from Piraeus, Athens and Crete. As with all Greek islands without tourists, be sure to check the ferry timetable before planning your stay.

Ithaca

Ithaque

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Heracles Kritikos

Ithaca, often mentioned in Homer’s epics, lives up to its reputation: epic, fierce and romantic. This tourist-free island in Greece, the birthplace of Ulysses and surrounded by the sea, exerts a magnetic aura. However, time and the development of tourism on the surrounding islands have never taken their toll on this timeless bubble.

And so Ithaca remains an undiscovered Greek island for much of the year. Ancient ruins, small harbours and millennia-old relics dot its territory, which is divided by an isthmus. Mythology buffs are sure to follow in the footsteps of Ulysses.

According to legend, the great victorious sailor of the Trojan War spent ten years at sea before returning to his beloved Ithaca and his tender Penelope. Captured by the nymph Calypso, charmed by the song of the sirens, snatched by the Cyclops Polyphemus and shipwrecked on Corfu, the valiant sailor is in everyone’s imagination. So what would you say to following the paths laid out around his famous Odyssey and lifting the veil on the mysteries that surround him?

Things to see and do in Ithaca

Ithaque

Photo credit: Shutterstock – photo stella

  • Vathy: the island’s main town boasts beautiful neoclassical mansions, ranging from sky-blue to ochre. Its winding streets lead to a lively port. It’s an ideal starting point for hiking on the cliffs or in the fertile hinterland;
  • Kathara: a pretty perched monastery offering breathtaking panoramic views. On the way down, visit the peaceful village of Anogi and its church lined with Byzantine frescoes;
  • Stavos: a charming, sleepy third village, such is the tradition on Ithaca;
  • Frikès and Kioni: two fabulous, secluded coves, flanked by golden villages and charming little ports.

Getting to Ithaca

Only ferries departing from Leucate (Nydri), Cephalonia (Sami) or the mainland (Astakos) will allow you to set foot on Ithaca. Connections run mainly from June to September, although there are a few routes throughout the rest of the year. Once again, organization is essential.

Tilos

Tilos

Photo credit: Shutterstock – David Fowler

Wild flowers and Venetian blond mountains lend unrivalled charm to the last of our tourist-free islands in Greece. Seen from the air, Tilos is criss-crossed by paths that wind their way through meadows to waters inhabited by seals and sea turtles.

The island also attracts birdwatchers from all over the world. Indeed, its hinterland of fertile plains is a thriving breeding ground for Mediterranean birds. In short, Tilos is an ode to nature and outdoor activities, far removed from the festive, seaside ambience of the Cyclades, for example.

Things to see and do in Tilos

Tilos

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Stamatios Manousis

  • Livadia: the sleepy town of Livadia is profoundly peaceful. Life flows slowly in the taverns and on the terraces set up in front of the old Italian buildings. A 45-minute walk from the village center takes you to the medieval village of Mikro Horio, with its more or less ruined houses bathed in an atmosphere as strange as it is seductive;
  • Mégalo Horio: Mégalo Horio is a Lilliputian capital clinging to the side of a cliff. Its streets are littered with cube-shaped houses and bathed in eternal sunshine. A strenuous hike takes you up to the knights’ fort high in the hills;
  • Beaches: while hiking is a must on this tourist-free Greek island, so is lounging. For that, head for the beaches of Eristos and Plaka.

Getting to Tilos

With no airport and few ferry services, Tilos is the ideal destination for adventurous travelers. There are several options: take a catamaran from Rhodes or a ferry from Rhodes. Tranquillity and the unheard-of have to be earned!