‘Underrated’ and ‘Greek’ don’t often appear in the same sentence. Thanks to its dreamy landscapes, rich history, colourful cuisine and Mama Mia fame, the country is one of the world’s most treasured travel spots. But with over 200 inhabited islands, even Greece has a handful of glorious hidden gems to offer up. Looking to live the island life far away from flocks of tourists? Read on to discover four of the best underrated Greek islands.
It’s hard to stand out among Greece’s iconic Ionian Islands. Corfu is often the top choice, with its beautiful beaches, historical hotspots and short flight time from the UK, but Kefalonia, the lesser-known and largest of the seven Ionian islands, also has gems that are worth the journey to discover. Visit Melissani Cave, which has a lagoon so clear that boats look like they’re floating in the air; see loggerhead sea turtles bob their heads from sparkly blue waters; and enjoy glasses of local Robola wine in bustling bars. It even has a fully functioning – albeit smaller than Corfu’s – airport. What more could you want?
When Icarus flew too close to the sun, causing his wax wings to melt into a dream-destroying gloop, he didn’t just miss out on proving his father wrong. He came crashing down near Ikaria, an island haven where he could have enjoyed a long leisurely life. The locals today can vouch for this. Thanks to their active Mediterranean lifestyles and healthy herb-enriched diets, an impressive one in three people live into their 90’s (should’ve listened to your father’s advice, Icarus). But long lives aren’t the only appeal. Tourists are treated to wild forests leading to cerulean seas and a spread of serene beaches free from the usual chatter of crowds. The island lies just an hour's ferry ride from its famous neighbour, Samos, yet remains wonderfully low key which is why it deserves a spot on our list of the best underrated Greek islands.
Slow, simple and sizzling with a sensational food scene, Sifnos is an underrated delight for the senses. Although visitors may come for the beautiful blue-domed churches and whitewashed villages, they stay for the authentic Greek gastronomy. Think intoxicating scents wafting from woodfired ovens, plates loaded with fresh kaparosalata (caper salad) and bowls of sweet melopita (honey pie), certain to taste even better when eaten with sand between your toes. It’s one of the underrated Greek islands that’s guaranteed to leave you with a satisfied stomach.
If you’re looking for a slice of Greece that’s been frozen in time, then set sail for Folegandros. Just one main road snakes through the island, fringed by whitewashed buildings and sun-drunk donkeys. Craggy paths break off the main track and lead to pebbly beaches and coves, so peaceful that every set of eyes to discover them feels like the first. But to get the best views of Folegandros, follow the stone path that zig-zags its way to the top of the ridge above the Chora. Here you’ll find the ancient Panagia Church, enveloped by views of the island that, 30 years ago, would have looked equally as untouched.
Written by Evie Buller.