Plan your Greece holidays to the 7 Best Greek Islands Only Known To Locals

By Angela Eleni Siaka

Unique crystal waters and sandy beaches. Greece is the perfect place for an unforgettable getaway! We’re sure you already know all the usual touristic destinations, so we asked one of our specialists where she would recommend going for the ultimate Greek island holiday. Angela – Eleni, born and raised in Greece and with a wealth of insider’s knowledge, has shared her absolute favourite islands with us; islands that for the most part are only known to the locals

Discover hidden Greece beaches in these secret Greek islands. Islands that surprise you with their wild and authentic nature, their virgin beaches and bewitching scenery. You can travel to them either by plane or by ferry, which is part of the Greek summer adventure. Discover the hidden treasures of Greece and get lost in the moment.

Naxos – Once is never enough!

On Naxos, however long you plan to stay it won’t be long enough… Here on the greenest island of Cyclades, with its fertile valleys and high mountains, you can combine both relaxed and adventurous holidays to the point of perfection. The capital and biggest town on the island, Chora, is a lively town that combines both beach and a small but cosmopolitan buzz with many interesting places to visit, including some amazing ruins.

Naxos Island, Greece
©Aetherial Images/

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Naxos is especially well known within Greece for its cheese, potatoes (seriously, they are amazing) and Kitron, a local lemon-citrus spirit, so not only is great food guaranteed but a wee tipple of the local liquor should be indulged in by anyone that enjoys a drink.

Naxos is larger than a lot of the other islands and is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of long, golden-sand beaches, and beach days can be balanced by hiring a car and exploring the lush nature of the island. The island is also a fantastic host for water sports lovers, such as kitesurfing, windsurfing and even a horse ride by the seaside.

Catch a great view of the sunset at the ‘excellent’ rated hotel, Princess of Naxos, starting at A$53 a night.

But if you really, really want to make the most of the sea, then explore it from the inside – go snorkelling or book a scuba diving expedition and discover the submerged wrecks of the island’s shores – like the ‘Marianna’ or the Beaufighter aircraft that was shot down during the World War II.

Kythira – The birthplace of the goddess of love

Kythira is one of the most isolated of the Greek islands and tourism is quite undeveloped here, meaning if it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for then this is the island for you. Sitting at the crossroads where the Ionian and Mediterranean Sea meet, the characteristics Kythira are most know are its wild nature and natural waterfalls that create an idyllic landscape.

Kythira Island, Greece

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A morning swim in the cold and crystal waters of the Fonissas waterfall at Mulopotamos will revitalise you and leave you ready to take on just about anything. On the flipside, if you prefer warmer waters, the island is also blessed with magical beaches that are going to do everything to relax you and wash your stresses away. The most well-known beaches are, Lagkadia beach – awarded a ‘Blue Flag’ for its azure waters – Kalami beach and Palaiopi beach where according to the ancient myth, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was born.

TipFly to Athens and then take the ferry from the port of Piraeus to Kithira

A Greek summer without traditional Greek food is no summer at all. The island is full of traditional tavernas where you can find delicious homemade dishes; alternatively, you can purchase seafood from a local fisherman and do some cooking of your own. Don’t forget to try some Fatourada, a cinnamon liqueur traditional to the island. Before you leave, make sure you try some of the local ‘ladopaksimadia’, a kind of rusk that is good for the soul, and pack away some seeds from the native semperviva flower, a dainty yellow flower that only grows on Kythira and seems to stay fresh and in bloom long after it’s been picked!

Ithaca — Adventure in the lustful land of Odysseus

Yearning desperately for his “sweetest land”, Odysseus wandered for almost 20 years before he finally found his way home… Here on Ithaca, with its emerald waters and the too-beautiful-to-be-real beaches, you’ll understand exactly why Homer chose Ithaca to become the mythical land and a symbolic representation of life’s achievements. Take a walk in the charming capital, Vathi, where you can find plenty of stores to visit and restaurants with the absolute finest quality of food. If you fancy something more contemporary, pay a visit to Schinos beach. Here you can find the famous Villa Schinos, in which Madonna, The Beach Boys and the cast of the musical ‘Mama Mia’ have all found shelter.

Ithaca Island, Greece

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If you love scuba diving, then Ithaca’s seabed, A.K.A Poseidon’s Meadow, will enthral you. If you’re lucky, you might even see the Mediterranean Monk Seal resting on the rocky shores.

“As you set out for Ithaca, hope your road is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. ” C. P. Cavafy

How to get there:

  1. Book a flight to Cephalonia (Argostoli)
  2. Then hire a car
  3. Drive to Port Sami and from there take the ferry to the port of Pisaetos (Ithaca). Duration: approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Welcome to Ithaca!

Ikaria — Stop time and discover the meaning of life

Ikaria or ‘Nikaria’ as it’s called by the locals is described as a phenomenon even among the Greeks. Maybe it has to do with the lifestyle of the inhabitants, stress seems to be something they are unwilling to acknowledge and time remains an abstract concept here, or maybe it’s because the value of life is about enjoying even the smallest things in life. Some people have even been known to speculate that the meaning of life can be found by following the local approach to living. It’s no coincidence that Ikaria is one of the world’s 5 ‘Blue Zones’, the places on earth where people are the healthiest and live the longest. Whatever the reason is, Ikaria is a unique adventure that will most probably change your own mindset about how you live your life.

Seychelles beach at Ikaria Island, Greece

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Where to go:

The island is chock-a-block full of breathtaking scenery, but it is the beaches that really exceed everyone’s expectations. The best beaches to visit are:

  • Seychelles – One of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Greece, famous for its turquoise waters
  • Nas – Life’s a beach and a relaxed state of mind is what the wild beauty of this beach will give you. Sitting on its sand, it ain’t hard to tell that the world is yours
  • Agios Georgios – A golden-sand beach with the bluest water on the east side of the island.

On the northern side of the island, the shorefronts, resplendent in white sand, find themselves coming in second place after the mighty waves and the perfect surf conditions. Even windsurfing Olympians visit these beaches for some recreational surfing. The most well-known beach is Mesakti, close to the town of Evdilos.

Spoilt for options of where to stay, you can choose from the two biggest towns on the island, Agios Kirykos (the capital) and Evdilos.

Must DO:

One of the MUST SEE and MUST DO things while you’re in Ikaria partaking in the ‘Panugiria’, the island’s famous outdoor events. Ikaria has a vividly active nightlife, and once it starts it doesn’t end. With Tsabouna and violin giving the rhythm your soul unites with the rhythm and before you know it, your mind has given your body the order to get your dance on.

On KAYAK, finding the perfect holiday for your budget couldn’t be simpler: With KAYAK Explore, see the most beautiful beaches, amazing cities or peaceful getaways with their respective prices, all laid out for you on one easy map.

Karpathos — Wild, untouched beauty with a taste of ancient Greece

In between Crete and Rhodes stands Karpathos, proudly steeped in centuries of history. This is an island of rugged beauty and untempered vegetation, eagerly awaiting exploration by those who choose to visit her. Karpathos is mostly famous for its endless exotic sandy beaches, which most of the time are empty, as well as its picturesque villages. The island has slowly started to develop an interest amongst tourists in the southern part of the island over the last few decades, but the rest of the island remains untouched and authentic, away from mass tourism.

Karpathos Island, Greece

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At the medieval village of Olympos, built around the 9th century, traditions are still very much alive, so don’t be surprised if you see women in traditional wear baking bread in the outdoor ovens in the morning; and who can resist that smell?

Karpathos has many caves with amazing scuba diving opportunities . Dive into the warm, crystal-clear water and discover the thriving society of marine life on the seabed. You should not miss this experience.

Samothrace — The island on the edge

Samothrace is divisive: Either you’ll love it deeply and yearn for it, or you’ll hate it. It’s a land that will awaken the most intense feelings in you and in order to discover it properly you have to accept it as-is. If you are looking for massive parties and thumping bass on the beach, then you should reconsider. Samothrace is a place for hikers, explorers and those seeking an island break from the overrun Aegean island spots.

Samothrace Island, Greece
©catalin eremia/

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One of the most distinguishing things about Samothrace is its waterfalls with their ‘natural pools’; lakes that have been created in the rock hollows in between small or big waterfalls that look like small crystal-water pools. If you are brave enough to swim in the cold but refreshing waters, the most famous of them are the ‘Gria Vathra’ and ‘Fonia’. For those who still prefer a more tepid swim in the sea, the most famous beaches are Paxia Ammos, Kipos beach and Valtos beach.

How to get there:

The only way to get there is by ferry. So my personal tip to you is :

  1. Book a flight to Alexandroupoli (AXD)
  2. Then hire a car– Alternatively, you can hire a car on the island and hire a cab from the airport to the port (approximately a 10-minute drive).
  3. Take the ferry from Alexandroupoli to Samothrace.

Places you shouldn’t miss

  • Chora: A traditional village, built on Mount Fengari at an altitude of 300 meters. Have a wander through picturesque laneways that will transport you back to another time or enjoy a coffee in the square which has extraordinary views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Sanctuary of the Great Gods: One of the most important archaeological discoveries in Greece. Excavated in 1863 by the French, the ruins are truly awe-inspiring. It was also where one of the Louvre’s most prized exhibits was unearthed, the magnificent Winged Victory of Samothrace.

If you want to find the perfect hotel for you in the right part of the city, try KAYAK Heat Maps. Simply click on ‘Show map view’ in the top right-hand corner of the results page where it says ‘Go to map view’. From here you can filter by what’s most important to you: Shopping? Food? Nightlife? Stay in the ‘hood that’s best for you.

Lichadonisia — Discover the Bahamas of Greece

Not far away from the capital of Athens, approximately 218 km, there is an exotic paradise which is nearly unknown outside the locals. Its name is Lichadonisia. Located just off of Evia, Greece’s second biggest island, which is very easy to get to by car from Athens (about 3.5 hours).

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Lichadonisia is a made up of a bunch of small islands,  created as a result of volcano activity,  located just off of the Evia coast. The islands are not inhabited which makes the destination even more exotic, alien and otherworldly. In order to get there, you have to travel by boat from the port of Kammena Vourla. The boat will drop you off at the “Square” where you’ll find free beach umbrellas to start you relaxing. Described as the ‘Bahamas’, ‘Seychelles’, ‘Maldives’ etc., of Greece, depending on who you talk to, you can already begin to get a sense of why it’s worth your while making the extra effort to get here.

Hire a car in Athens

Looking for more secret locations? Then you may like: The Loneliest Place in Spain – Playa de Cofete, Fuerteventura

Note: These rates are based on search queries made on on 7 Feb, 2018. The prices are quoted in AUD. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.