Beyond Santorini: Lesser-Known Greek Islands
3 weeks ago Ryan Comments Off on Beyond Santorini: Lesser-Known Greek Islands
Santorini is one of Greece’s most famous and beautiful destinations, but it’s hard to deny that its charm is fading amongst the throngs of tourists who come to visit for its year-round sunshine and Mediterranean charm. Away from the bustle of Santorini, however, are roughly 6,000 Greek Islands that are ripe for exploration, ranging from Mykonos’ summer party atmosphere, to the tiniest, sandiest and uninhabited islands. There’s no way to cover all of them, and some are so small that there really isn’t much to detail, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a swim out to sunbathe on your own private island for the day. There are plenty of places in Greece to charter a boat and set sail to these lesser known islands.
When you’re setting sail in Greece there is one thing you’ll need to bring more than any other: your appetite. The island of Sifnos refuses to disappoint even the most voracious appetite. Its rugged landscape has given birth to a rich food culture based on herbs, olives and goat’s cheese, and is proud to be the birthplace of the late Nikólaos Tselementés, one of the most influential modern Greek chefs and food writers. At 682 metres, the highest peak of the island is a height moderate enough to work off a big breakfast and be back in time for lunch over stunning views of the surrounding waters and hillside. Sifnos also serves as a great hub for accessing nearby islands.
If you want to go fully off the beaten track, the tiny island of Koufonisia’s harbours might look like open arms welcoming you into the relaxed lifestyle of this Cyclades island. With a population hovering around only 400 people, there will be plenty of chances to trade a smile, nod, or a few words with some locals. You’re unlikely to find many other tourists here, and the ones you do come across should have some stories to tell. This island is definitely for the more relaxed and independent travellers across Greece, where siestas are widely embraced and, as usual, meals are the most important fixtures of daily life.
Some islands are mistakenly considered “daytrip” destinations, and Meganisi is one of them. Tucked away just west off the mainland facing the Ionian Sea, Meganisi has a small population of roughly 1,000 people mainly spread across three villages. Like many smaller islands, the limited infrastructure is what inspires its charm, many beaches are accessible only by foot or by boat. Either way you’ll be granted with stunning views, and if you stay around after the sunset the town will transfer into its own distinctly local feel.
Telendos follows a similar vein to Meganisi, with a few strong hooks. For one, it’s basically erupting out of the Southwest Aegean only one kilometre from the larger island Kalymnos. Although it looks steep as you approach, once you get walking along this island you’ll find an abundance of isolated spots to throw down a towel and soak up some rays. The biggest draw to this island though is the lack of cars – there are none! The dramatic peak is easy to work up a sweat summiting before skipping back down to the crystalline waters to cool down. Most people come here as a daytrip, but for more intrepid travellers this is a camper’s paradise.
The choice can appear overwhelming, and while Greece has an extremely well developed boat and ferry system to navigate its open seas, the true way to experience is to charter your own yacht, mark a few places like these on the map, set sail hoping to find new places by following your charts, or binoculars, spot an island and go explore. You’re sure to find something new and exciting, new caves, coves and castles await all those who dare to explore Greece’s lesser known islands.