Summer, it’s on the way and all of us, at some point, we are catching ourselves to think about golden beaches and sunny afternoons.
Greece will be a choice of many of us, so why don’t we leave the main tourist islands and try to discover some undiscovered Greek Islands that still have their local colour.
Greek islands: Hydra, Saronic Gulf
The island is ideal either for a relaxing weekend or longer. Cars, motorbikes and high-rise buildings are banned on the island. The architecture is unique for the region, with many art galleries and museums in 18th-century mansions.
Hydra port is the only town; the interior is largely uninhabited. Narrow streets lead from the pretty harbour to the cathedral, museum, monasteries, churches and galleries. Donkeys and water taxis transport tourists to small villages and swimming spots along the coast (most beaches are rocky or pebbly).
In Hydra you can try traditional Greek food, seafood and you can enjoy a glass of the Greek wine. There are ferries and catamarans from Piraeus, many of which continue to Spetses, another upmarket island.
This volcanic island has a spectacular lunar landscape of red, brown and white rocks, and around 70 equally colourful beaches: white, gold, red and grey. There are pretty whitewashed fishing villages and more rugged mountain settlements.
Do not forget to visit the ancient theatre, catacombs and windmills in Tripiti, where the Venus de Milo statue was found; take a fishing boat tour of the island’s coves; go to Plaka, the former capital and a great spot to watch the sunset; take in as many beaches as time allows, such as eerie, moonlike Sarakiniko.
When in Milos try the famous chocolate pie and the extreme watermelon pie, along with the other delicious dishes that the island has to offer.
You can either fly to Milos, as there are regular flights from Athens or take a ferry from Piraeus.
One of the Cyclades islands, this is the least touristy, but it has nothing to envy from the other islands. The local colour is still there and during your visit you will have the opportunity to browse around and enjoy the sun, the sea and the beaches.
Accommodation ranges from stylish boutique hotels to rustic houses, and is based mainly to the north where there are several great beaches, particularly Gialiskari and Otzias bay.
The nightlife is surprisingly sophisticated, with a few popular bars in Korissia and Vourkari. The capital Ioulis has a maze of little cobbled streets and there also many archaeological sites to visit in Kea such as the Temple of Apollo at Karthia or the ruins at Agios Marina.
To get there you should fly to Athens, drive to Lavrion, where you can get the ferry. The trip to the island lasts only one hour!
This is an off-the beaten path Greek island. Do not expect anything that you normally find in Greek islands. Think out of the box and leave the island’s colour to direct you. Alonissos is much the quietest of the Sporades group, in the northern Aegean, that includes Skopelos and Skiathos.
In Alonissos you can spend a relaxing day in the beach. Chrisi Milia beach is lovely for sunbathing: golden sand, turquoise water, trees for shade, rock pools and a Greek tavern, which promises you unforgettable tastes. Hire a moped and check out the island’s many other coves, bays and beaches. Spot dolphins and seals on a boat trip from Patitiri harbour into Greece’s first National Marine Park .
How to go there? Flight to Skiathos, and Alonissos is 90 minutes away by ferry, via Skopelos.
Ithaca, Ionion sea
Ithaca is just a 45-minute ferry ride from Kefalonia, but is a gem that very few people know. In the lush green valleys and rugged hills, hiking trails lead walkers to hidden ruins and stunning sea views.
Trek along the cobbled footpaths or cycle around the dirt roads of the interior. Brush up on your Greek myths at the archaeological sites (Ithaca is the homeland of Homer’s Odysseus). Visit Exogi and Anogi, two crumbling villages on twin capes in the north of the island with views across the archipelago.
After the exploration, what is better than a good meal. The seafood is great in Frikes and Kioni, two harbour villages with a high concentration of taverns.
You can go to Ithaca by flying to Kefalonia and taking the ferry or you can take the ferry either from Patra or Astakos.