There’s a reason the gods and philosophers adored Greece… We’d bet it had something to do with these beautiful villages. The birthplaces of democracy, myths and ouzo, these pretty hubs have so many gorgeous nooks and coves that we could spend an age exploring them all. Somehow, we’ve narrowed it down to just ten of the most beautiful villages in Greece. So, prepare for postcard-perfect scenery, cosy tavernas and ancient landmarks galore.
- Ano Symi, Symi
- Agni Bay, Corfu
- Oia, Santorini
- Assos, Kefalonia
- Katapola, Amorgos
- Apollonia, Sifnos
- Kastro, Sifnos
- Kilma, Milos
- Fiskardo, Kefalonia
- Lindos, Rhodes
The birthplace of the Three Graces (Zeus’ daughters for non-mythology buffs), Symi has retained its elegance over the centuries. Tiered rows of pastel-hued neoclassical buildings work their way up from the serene harbour with its see-to-the-very-bottom blue water. As part of the Dodecanese archipelago, this port village is home to some of the best secluded bays in the islands – some only reachable by water taxi. When you’re finished in the water, catch more of Symi’s serene vibes with a wander through the churches and monasteries that dot the roadless mountains (the island has 275 of them – but you’re not expected to explore them all!).
Eat, swim, snorkel – that’s all there is to do in Corfu's Agni Bay but, trust us, it’s plenty enough. This tiny village has a small cove and shingle beach lined with waterfront tavernas. Lay a towel on the pebble beach or dip into the clear waters for snorkelling. Then, cool off in Nikolas Taverna with a cup of fresh Greek coffee (be warned, the ouzo is strong) and a bowl of divine roasted mussels.
When you think of Greece, you’re probably picturing Oia. The crown jewel of Santorini graces the cover of just about every travel guidebook on Greece and there’s no wonder why, with its white houses and blue-domed churches. It might be pretty but it’s also popular, so prepare for crowds. Go early to avoid the busiest part of the day, or head there for an unmatched sunset from Oia castle. Follow the 300 steps down from the village to the clear waters where you’ll find Ammoudi Bay. When stomachs start rumbling, Ammoudi Fish Tavern is the best place on the island to taste the fresh catch – we recommend the prawns in ouzo-orange.
Nature lovers will adore Assos, Kefalonia’s main attraction. The neat Venetian and Ionian architecture of the village is backed by thick Cyprus and pine trees. Assos is home to two small bays, giving the whole village a secluded feel, and the main horse-shoe-shaped beach is perfect for sunbathing and taking in the local atmosphere. There’s also a smaller shingle bay which is a little quieter and the perfect spot for snorkelling and paddling. Assos isn’t the destination to visit if you’re looking to party; you can expect a calm atmosphere here with just a few tavernas and bars lining the waterfront.
For a truly authentic experience, head over to Katapola on Amorgos. This small village has just a smattering of white houses along the harbour and is dominated by its Venetian castle. The perfect blend of history and relaxation, there are plenty of beaches and bays to unwind on as well as historic ruins to explore. Take a wander off the beaten path to find the remains of a Minoan settlement just a short walk out of the village. And don’t depart the island without trying the local liquor, psimeni, in one of Katapola’s quaint bars. Made using honey, sugar and eight secret herbs, this alcoholic tipple goes down a treat.
The namesake of the Greek God Apollo has to make the list of most beautiful villages in Greece. Apollonia is an inland village so there’s no beach here, but what it lacks in sand, it makes up for in serene views. Get lost in the maze of cobblestone streets and alleys or extend your walk to one of the nearby villages. Apollonia is a foodie’s dream, teeming with bars and restaurants dishing up traditional and modern Greek eats. The hottest spot in town is O’Drakakis café. You’ll spot its emerald green doors if you don’t spot the queue of tourists and locals first – get in line to try the honey chicken and a glass of tsipouro, a traditional Greek spirit distilled from grape pomace and sometimes flavoured with anise.
Kastro is quintessentially Greek. What do we mean when we say that? It has a lone church upon a steep hill overlooking crystal-clear water, an image that has become synonymous with Greece. The Church of the Seven Martyrs is what draws most visitors to Sifnos and it’s easy to see why. With its blue dome and white-washed walls, the small chapel is a Cycladic icon. Follow the cobblestone pathway up to the church and take in the scenery which, on windy days, can be particularly wild. Pilgrimage made, head back to the village and sit on the terrace at Dolci; it’s the perfect cafe for people watching with a cocktail.
As your boat arrives at Kilma on Milos, the first thing you’ll notice is the row of brightly hued homes carved into the rock face by the water’s edge which were built for the local fishermen with the lower half of the building housing their boat and the upper half acting as a living quarter. They are known locally as syrmata, meaning ‘cables’ in reference to the cables used by the fishermen to pull in their boats. Today, some syrmata are rented out to holidaymakers, while others are open as shops selling handmade souvenirs. There’s little to do in Kilma apart from taking snaps of the bright harbour and watching the sunset, so we’d recommend just visiting for a day trip, but believe us, this fishing village is still bucket-list worthy.
For a taste of luxury on the Greek islands, head to Fiskardo, Kefalonia. The village has a cosmopolitan vibe and is thriving with cafe terraces, upmarket boutiques and gelaterias – hinting at its Venetian heyday. It’s a popular destination with the super yacht crowd, so prepare your wallet – you can even join in (on a smaller scale) and rent a boat to explore the surrounding beaches.
The nightlife in Lindos is something else. Whether you’re looking for a quiet and classy cocktail or a dance floor that’s packed until the early hours, you’ll find it here. The village arguably has everything you need for a satisfying short stay – from the sandy beaches and the hilltop ruins to the narrow streets of boutique shops. Don’t depart without viewing the island from the cliff-top Acropolis, which is reachable by foot (or donkey, if you’re too tired from the night before).
Header Image: Zoé Fidji