NEW YORK – While many destinations in Greece are known for attracting crowds of tourists from around the world, especially in the summer, there are still a few tranquil places to visit that most tourists have yet to discover. Insider.com featured eight such “under-the-radar places in Greece where you can avoid tourists.”
Among the places mentioned, Patmos, the island where St. John the Theologian, Apostle and Evangelist, wrote the Apocalypse in the year 95 AD. Not exactly off the grid, Patmos is connected via ferry to many other nearby islands and visitors from around the world make the pilgrimage to the Cave of the Apocalypse where St. John received his visions and his disciple Prochoros transferred them to writing, and to the Monastery of St. John which was founded in 1088 when Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Komnenos granted sovereignty over Patmos to the monk and later Saint Christodoulos Latrinos. Besides its rich religious heritage, the island also boasts some very nice beaches.
The island of Agistri also made the list, as Insider noted that “the islands of the Argo-Saronic Gulf are a much less busy alternative to the popular Cyclades, the island group including the Instagrammable, yet overcrowded, Mykonos and Santorini.”
Agistri is “only a 60-minute ferry ride from Athens' main port,” [and] “this tiny heaven (just 14 square kilometers in size) is still largely undiscovered by tourists,” Insider reported, adding that “the island's gem is Aponisos, a little islet connected to Agistri through a small bridge … surrounded by pine trees, the emerald, pool-like waters of Aponisos' sequestered shingle beach are ideal for snorkeling.”
Folegandros is the "offbeat romantic" island of the Cyclades, according to Insider, which noted that the “bohemian island is bound to captivate you with its idyllic beaches and mesmerizing Chora, its town, half of which is built within a castle suspended over the edge of a 200-meter cliff.”
The island is also known for “matsata, a local variety of homemade pasta,” Insider reported, noting the “imposing Church of the Panagia” with its “magnificent views of the town.”
Folegandros, is “an 11-hour (or four-hour high-speed) ferry trip from Athens, and a short boat ride from Milos or Santorini, both accessible by ferry or plane,” Insider reported.
Kavala is “accessible by plane or car (a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Thessaloniki or six hours from Athens)” and features “varied architecture” in its Old Town.
“Among the must-sees are Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali's iconic 19th-century Imaret (former religious, educational, and philanthropic center now housing a luxurious hotel), Kavala's Tobacco Museum, and the Archaeological Site of Philippi; this UNESCO-protected ancient theatre still hosts shows during the summer,” Insider reported, adding that “Kavala's wonderful, sandy beaches are perfect for relaxation, while its delectable cuisine will keep you coming back for more.”
Symi, “located an hour away from Rhodes by boat,” is a “jewel” of the Dodecanese, “having been inhabited since the prehistoric period, the island is steeped in tradition and history,” Insider reported, noting the island's “neoclassical mansions,” “tranquil beaches,” and “the delicious Symiako garidaki, the island's famous shrimp, [enjoyed] at a tavern by the sea.”
Symi's Monastery of Taxiarchis Michael of Panormitis dates from the 15th century and the icon of the Archangel is “said to be miraculous,” Insider noted.
Kythira was also featured by Insider as it “fuses the allure of the wilderness typically found in the Peloponnese, with the effortless beauty of a Greek island.”
“Rocky beaches, pine forests, waterfalls, caves, intricate hiking trails, and impressive archaeological sites (including a prominent Venetian fortress) all amount to Kythira's diverse landscape,” Insider reported, adding that the island is “accessible by ferry from Athens or Laconia, or by plane, [and] is also close to Monemvasia,” the “historic Peloponnesian town is entirely built on a rock within a medieval fortress.”
The “dazzling” Epirus Rivera was highlighted by Insider as “a more cosmopolitan option, but one that's still authentically stylish.” Just “a little over four and a half hours by car from Athens (or four hours from Thessaloniki), Epirus' Parga is the picturesque little town with the superb views to the Ionian, the refined restaurants, and the cobbled neighborhoods full of flowers; ideal for long, carefree walks,” Insider reported, adding that “across, the islet of Panagia, and its ever-illuminated fortress complete the romantic setting,” and “around 30 minutes from Parga lies Sivota, a seaside village with tropical, pink-sand beaches and secret coves, often favored by A-list celebrities and sailing aficionados. The almost transparent, turquoise waters of Pissina beach (fittingly meaning pool) in the opposite isle of Agios Nikolaos guarantee an unforgettable dive.”
For those who enjoy the mountains, Pelion is “an appealing summer destination,” Insider noted, pointing out that it is “located in the region of Thessaly, about four hours from Athens by car (or two and a half hours from Thessaloniki), Pelion was `the gods' summer residence,' according to Greek mythology.”
Pelion “strikes the perfect balance between a verdant highland area and a seaside paradise,” as “the fantastic beaches around Pelion give way to the mountain's scenic villages,” Insider reported.
Among the villages, Insider highlighted “Portaria and Makrinitsa, with traditional stone houses and lavish hotels,” and the “beautifully swallowed by nature … Tsagkarada, which is semi-hidden underneath the shadow of an enormous sycamore tree.”
As a bonus, Insider recommended trying “the intense distilled spirit of tsipouro at the local tsipouradika in the town of Volos, at the foothills of Pelion.”