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17 lesser-known Greek Islands you need to know about

You can’t really go wrong with any Greek Island! And with a whopping 227 inhabited islands to choose from, there are plenty of options beyond Mykonos and Santorini.

The Greek Islands are home to idyllic scenery, iconic sunsets, charming towns, jaw-dropping beaches and coastlines, the clearest water in Europe and beautiful weather. They all have their own unique charm and magic. Greece is full to the brim with off-the-beaten-path islands and hidden gems.

However, when you start to figure out which islands to go to, it can be challenging as the options are overwhelming!

In this post, discover the best-lesser known Greek Islands to add to your itinerary.

1. Naxos 


Naxos is the largest island in the iconic Cycladic group of islands. Naxos has stunning sandy beaches, gorgeous islands and ancient ruins. 

It is much less touristy than its famous neighbours (Santorini and Mykonos). 

Due to its larger size and relatively larger population, it is quite easy to get to and has more amenities than other lesser-known islands in Greece. This makes Naxos a great option for Digital Nomads and slow travellers.

Things to do in Naxos include:

  • Horse riding
  • Windsurfing
  • Beach hopping and swimming
  • Explore old towns

You can fly or ferry to Naxos from Athens.

lesser-known greek islands

2. Antiparos


Antiparos is a small island near the better-known island of Paros. Antiparos boasts incredible waters and beaches for swimming and working on your tan. It is very close to Paros but is much quieter and offers a more laid-back option for a Greek Island holiday.

Due to its small size, it is also very easy to get around, with most of the beaches being within walking distance from the main town.

If you love Greek beaches and are happy to eat beach sleep repeat, then Antiparos is a great destination.

You can only get to Antiparos by ferry from Paros. Getting to Paros is easy with flights and ferries from Athens and ferries from neighbouring islands.

lesser-known greek islands

3. Folegandros


Folegandros is a small island located in the Cyclades, amongst all of the uber-famous Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos and Milos. This is one of the islands in this iconic region that has retained its authenticity. A true hidden gem in the Greek Islands.

Expect stunning cliffside views, whitewashed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets and spectacular sunsets.

Explore the island to find secret coves and hilltop villages. Forget massive cruise ships, overpriced boutiques and fine dining restaurants on Folegandros and immerse yourself in an authentic Greek experience on Folegandros.

You can get to Folegandros via ferry from Athens or the surrounding Cycladic islands.

lesser-known greek islands

4. Koufonisia


Koufonisia is a small island in the Cyclades and is definitely one of the best hidden gems in the Greek Islands. This lesser-known Greek Island is conveniently located next door to Naxos.

Escape the hustle and bustle and soak up the gorgeous ocean, sandy beaches and relaxed lifestyle on this stunning Greek island.

While this island is jammed in the peak summer months, travel here off-season to enjoy some of the best beaches in Greece without all the crowds. The island isn’t overly developed for tourism so expect to stay in local guest houses with the island's residents for an authentic experience.

You can get to Koufonisia via ferry from Athens of Naxos.

lesser-known greek islands

5. Amorgos


Amorgos is another stunning Greek Island that no one seems to know about in the Cyclades. This lesser-known Greek Island is more rugged than its pristine neighbours and is an incredible hidden gem in Greece

with many unforgettable spots to visit.

This island is home to traditional villages, beautiful beaches and even a famous Monastery. Head to Amorgos to step back in time. Amorgos is the ideal off-the-beaten-path Greek island to truly experience the traditional way of Greek living.

Don’t expect ‘normal’ restaurants and instead expect local tavernas with food and wine made lovingly on the land itself.

Get to Amorgos via ferry from Athens or one of the other surrounding islands.

lesser-known greek islands

6. Kimolos


Kimolos is another stunning hidden gem in the Cyclades. It is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Greece. Located right next door to the now-famous Milos, Kimolos is the perfect island to escape to. White chalk cliffs in Kimolos are what have made the striking white sand beaches that make this island so special.

Expect to find traditional white and blue houses in the small settlement, colourful gardens and a very authentic Greek lifestyle.

To get to Kimolos, get the ferry from Athens or fly to Milos and get a ferry from there.

lesser-known greek islands

7. Sifnos


Sifnos is another stunner of an island in the Cyclades which is lesser known among international tourists. Greeks however know how incredible this island is and so it can get busy. If you visit in the shoulder or off-season you will be treated to a beautiful island that is best known for its incredible Greek food.

All foodies need to add Sifnos to their Greek itinerary! There are of course lots of incredible beaches to enjoy as well as hiking trails and the trendy main town of Apollonia to explore.

Get to Sifnos via ferry from Athens or the other Cycladic islands.

lesser-known greek islands

8. Paxos and Antipaxos

Ionian islands

Paxos and Antipaxos are two stunning islands located south of Corfu in the Ionian islands. These lesser-known Greek islands are the perfect hidden gem to discover if you love the landscapes of the Adriatic Sea but without the tourism of Corfu.

Expect to find perfect beaches, olive groves, vineyards, underwater caves cliffs and even lush green woods.

These islands are the perfect place to settle into the laid-back Greek island way of life, off the beaten path!

Get there via ferry from Corfu.

lesser-known greek islands

9. Lefkada

Ionian Islands

Lefkada is the only Greek Island that you can drive to! Located in the Ionian Islands, this stunning island is like a true paradise. Expect dramatic white cliffs falling into the sparkling blue sea and lush green mountains. This is the place to dive into nature and adventure with lots of activities such as kayaking and windsurfing.

Lefkada is not known for its picturesque towns and villages but rather its jaw-dropping scenery and beaches.

Get to Lefkada via ferry or drive from the nearest airport, Preveza, 40 minutes away.

lesser-known greek islands

10. Ithaca

Ionian Islands

Ithaca is known as the home island of Ulysses from Homer's Odyssey. This off-the-beaten-path Greek Island is located off the coast of Kefalonia. It is the smallest of all the Ionian Islands. 

Ithaca is an island that you probably haven’t heard of making it an epic hidden gem in Greece. Expect to find a pine tree covered island with a dramatic coast.

Find a sheltered spot in a secluded harbour and indulged in endless swims in the turquoise waters and sink into the Greek way of life.

lesser-known greek islands

11. Karpathos

Dodecanese Islands

Karpathos is the hidden treasure of the Greek Islands. If you make the effort to visit Karpathos you will be greatly rewarded. Karpathos is part of the Dodecanese Islands near Turkey. 

Karpathos is a long and skinny Island which is made up of big mountains and a beautiful coastline. 

Stay in the main village of Pigadia and hire a car so you can explore the island freely.

The best beaches and towns that you cannot miss on Karpathos are:

  • Apella Beach- unofficially the best beach in the world
  • Kira Panagia Beach- developed but beautiful
  • Achata Beach- small and untouched
  • Nikolaos Beach- go for the view on the way down
  • The village of Olympos- to step back in time

You can fly or ferry to Karpathos from Athens.

lesser-known greek islands

12. Symi 

Dodecanese Islands 

Symi is located in the Dodecanese Islands near Turkey, between Rhodes and Kos. It is only accessible by ferry and being quite far from mainland Greece, it can be quite a journey to reach this stunning island.

Once you arrive you will be greeted by one of the most picturesque harbours in the world. With colourful pastel buildings climbing up the hillside, cute boats and of course crystal clear water to dive into.

There isn't that much to do on this island which makes it the perfect place to unwind and learn how to enjoy the authentic Greek Island lifestyle. Heaven!

Get the Symni via ferry from Rhodes or Athens.

lesser-known greek islands

13. Astypalaia 

Dodecanese Islands 

Astypalaia is a lesser-known Greek Island located between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. It features a unique blend of Cycladic and Dodecanese architecture, beautiful beaches, and a charming hilltop Chora.

Get to Astypalaia via plane or ferry from Athens.

lesser-known greek islands

14. Leros

Dodecanese Islands 

Leros is another incredible hidden gem in the Dodecanese Islands in Greece. It is a bigger island and so has more amenities than some of the other off-the-beaten-path islands in Greece - it is also a good option for Digital Nomads who want to stay for longer! Expect to find picture-perfect white-washed buildings and ever-enticing seculded coves.

Explore the beautiful main town and windmills before hitting the beach!

lesser-known greek islands

15. Elafonissos


Elafonissos is a gorgeous underrated Greek island! This lesser-known Greek island is off the coast of the Peloponnese region.

This stunning island is home to tropical-like beaches with clear sea and sand. The charming village is the best place to spend a warm summer evening.

Elafonissos is a great place to stay but due to its proximity to the mainland, can also be visited in a day.

You can get a ferry to Elafonissos from the port of Neapoli.

lesser-known greek islands

16. Ikaria 

Aegean Islands

Ikaria is located in the Aegean Islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is best known for the longevity of its residents and offers beautiful beaches, hot springs and bathhouses, hiking trails and authentic local culture.

Experience a way of living that is almost non-existent in the Western world. This is a laid-back island, to the max!

Get to Ikaria via ferry from Athens.

lesser-known greek islands

17. Aegina

Saronic Islands

Aegina is a lesser-known island in Greece that is super accessible from Athens, making this a no-brainer for a visit. Its proximity to Athens means you can go there in a day or stay for longer.

Aegina is home to everything you would expect from a Greek island including culture, history, fresh food and of course gorgeous beaches.

Get to Aegina via ferry from Athens.

lesser-known greek islands

Tips for travelling around the Greek Islands

Before you head on a Greek Island hopping adventure to these off-the-beaten-path places, it is better to plan your route, especially if you are travelling in the high season and need to book accommodation in advance.

This is because you may find you need to catch several ferries or flights to get to where you need to go and coordinating the timing of everything can take some effort. There are plenty of websites you can buy your ferry tickets through in advance.

It is better to have an idea of the logistics of getting from island to island because it may be a bit more time-consuming and complicated than you realise! The best thing to do is to pick a cluster of islands and explore those for a shorter trip!

lesser-known greek islands