No desire for mass tourism and crowded beaches? Here are my 5 insider tips in Greece that I have visited myself!
The 12 km long island of Symi with about 3000 inhabitants is located in the southern Aegean Sea, only about 1 hour by boat from Rhodes. Already the entrance to the harbor is enchanting. Old mansions stretching up the steep slopes, colorful fishing boats, cute taverns, turquoise blue water. The houses of Symi are under monument protection!
If you are on vacation on Symi, you should avoid the area around the harbor from late morning until late afternoon, because then the excursion boats from Rhodes arrive. As soon as the last boat has left, peace returns and you can comfortably enjoy the beauty of the island.
Around the island there are many picturesque, secluded bays. Some are even accessible only by water cabs.
Symi is also called the island of sponge divers and it is practically a must to buy a sponge as a souvenir or for yourself.
Besides the beautiful port of Symi, the monastery of Panomitis, which is located on the other side of the island, is a highlight. The flower decorated courtyard and the beautiful mosaic floor offer great photo opportunities.
The small island of Nisyros has a diameter of only 8 km and is located 16 km from the popular island of Kos. The island inspires everyone who is looking for white houses with blue shutters, peace and azure sea – and all this far away from mass tourism and horrendous prices. Many call you one of the most beautiful islands in Europe!
Nisyros is actually not an island, but an active volcano and therefore a popular excursion for day tourists who visit the volcanic crater in the center of the island.
Even though most tourists come to the island only for a few hours, it is well worth staying here for a few days. Mandraki is the largest village on the island with 700 inhabitants. Here you can find everything from small souvenir stores, cute taverns, picturesque alleys to the main square, where in the evening the inhabitants gather and let the evening end. Around the island you will find numerous beaches, from pebble beaches to white sandy beaches – there is something for everyone.
Pelion is a peninsula on the mainland, which has the shape of an inverted boot.
What fascinated me the most is how incredibly green, mountainous and rich in vegetation this area is. On the steep mountain slopes are the villages with their old mansions, many of which have been converted into cute boutique hotels. The area has kept its originality, probably also because it is only accessible via Volos airport, which is 2 hours away by car. I think Pelion is the Greece that people imagine in their heads who have never been to Greece.
Pelion is known in Greek mythology as the home of the centaurs and in modern times through the movie “Mamma Mia” with Meryl Streep.
If you want to relax without the hustle and bustle, but still need a little more than lonely beaches, book a room in the village of “Agios Ioannis”. If you don’t want to do that and are looking for absolute relaxation, you will probably feel most comfortable in “Chorefto” further north.
Very few tourists come to the island exclusively for swimming. The peninsula offers countless dreamlike hiking trails through deciduous forests of chestnut, apple, beech and plane trees. You can also visit the famous Meteora monasteries in the interior.
Halki is a 10 km long and 3 km wide island, which can be reached via Rhodes, 10 km away. The island is perfect for anyone who is looking for peace and romance and wants to escape mass tourism and stress. The main town, which is also the only village on the island, is called Emporio. Here is also the port of Chalki. When I took the ferry from Rhodes to the port of Chalki, I thought to myself: “If I were writing a romance novel and looking for peace and inspiration, I would come here for 14 days”.
Many of the colorful houses have been restored in recent years, giving the island a new splendor. On the harbor promenade there are numerous tavernas and cafes where you can sit and enjoy the view of the fishing boats and the turquoise water. Compared to Symi, there are fewer day tourists on Halki, which means that you can also stroll leisurely along the harbor promenade during the day.
The island is almost car-free due to the few roads, there are no buses or other public transport. Two small bathing bays are located almost directly in the village, others can be reached by water cab. The most popular beach is called “Pontamos” and enchants with its shining white sand.
Kefalonia is perhaps no longer a total insider tip and the largest island in this list.
Nevertheless, the island is not completely overcrowded like many other Greek places and even has its own airport. Green hills, charming fishing villages, hidden monasteries and colorful house facades.
The most famous beach on the island is Myrtos Beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The deep blue to turquoise green water gives the beach a very special atmosphere.
In the west of the island you can find the famous “Xi” beach, which forms a strong contrast to the turquoise blue sea due to its red coloring.
The island is rich in great sights. My highlight is the “Melissani Cave”, an underground lake in a stalactite cave. When the daylight reaches the cave around noon, great color shows.
In Argostoli, the capital of the island, hundreds of sea turtles come to the harbor every day to feast on the fish leftovers that the fishermen throw back into the sea.
These are my 5 insider tips in Greece.