For a European country that has been at the top of the tourism charts for decades now, Greece surely knows how to keep its amazing islands hidden. With more than 8,000 miles of coastline, hundreds of inhabited islands and thousands of the uninhabited ones, it’s quite understandable that the quietest Greek Islands will be difficult to discover.
Before proceeding further, we need to explain what quite means, and no, it’s not that simple. Depending on who you are, how old you might be or even who you’re traveling with, the word ‘quiet’, ‘quiet destination’ or ‘quiet holiday’ takes on different meanings. For most people, quiet islands are slices of heaven yet to be discovered by throngs of tourists, who then lead to overcrowdedness of beaches, bars, and streets and drive the prices up. However, for young couples looking for a secluded getaway or romantic honeymoon, the absence of families with noisy children is all the peace and quiet they need. And when it comes to families with young children, they want to avoid destinations with excessive nightlife options and party animals roaming the streets hours on end.
As you can see, different people have a different understanding, or should we say expectations, of quiet islands. No one is either right or wrong, it boils down to personal preference really. So, how does our list fit the bill? Well, we aimed for the islands that fulfill ALL of the needs mentioned above. Believe it or not, there are such places in Greece that, for one reason or another, remain as quiet as they possibly could.
The Saronic Islands often get overlooked due to their proximity to mainland Greece, with tourists often jumping the gun so to speak, only considering the most popular of Cyclades or Dodecanese Islands. However, you being here means that you aren’t the average tourist, so the island of Hydra might speak to you on a more personal level, as it did to Leonard Cohen.
Why is it quiet? The reason Hydra made it on this list of the quietest islands in Greece is due to some interesting laws in place there. With a ban on motor vehicles (the exception being garbage trucks and ambulances), the island is often fairly quiet. When you leave the ferry at Hydra Port (which also happens to be the main city here), there will be hard-hauling mules waiting for you to transport your baggage to the hotel. The rest of the island you’ll have to cover on foot, which won’t be that difficult as there won’t be any vehicles nagging you off the road. Moreover, Hydra is rather small with very limited accommodation options. This is a double-edged sword as, on one hand, it means that you won’t find tourists overcrowding this place, but if you’re not fast enough, you might miss out on visiting it at all.
What to do here? As anyone living in Hydra will tell you, there simply isn’t much to do here. This island is great for couples on honeymoon looking to relax and not be bothered by anything, or people who are after some privacy on their vacation. You can go hiking all over the island, visiting ancient monasteries and musing over preserved 18th-century buildings. Weddings are quite common here, so you might sit at one of the nearby cafes to show your support of the newlyweds.
How to reach? Take a ferry from the port of Piraeus in Athens to Hydra. It’s a ride of about 2 hours, so you’ll be there in no time.
The largest of all the Greek islands and shrouded in ancient mystery, Crete has been a real powerhouse of the country’s tourism for a long time now. From ancient forts to Venetian architecture and the inexorable nature of its mountains and valleys, the landscape of Crete is a rich tapestry of life and history.
Why is it quiet? It’s exactly the aforementioned size that’s giving Crete and its visitors all the peace and quiet. There’s so much of it that you could easily head into any direction you like and get lost. If you look hard enough, there’s always a vacated beach or a tucked-away village for you to discover and enjoy.
What to do here? You can find anything you like on Crete. Gorgeous beaches, breathtaking mountains, monasteries, and churches cover most of the area. Ancient Roman burial sites, museums, and even the home to the much-dreaded Minotaur can be discovered by curious individuals. Endless vineyards and olive plantations complement the distinct Cretan cuisine, while the cities such as Heraklion and Chania can even offer decent nightlife if you so desire.
How to reach? The cities of Chania, Heraklion, and Sitia have airports that you can fly to. Alternatively, get on a ferry from either Piraeus or Thessaloniki ports, but expect at least 10 hours of rocking on a boat.
Read more: Greek Island Maps
In the northern realms of the Aegean Sea lies an island that has seen its fair share of tourists, but not even nearly as many as Zakynthos or Mykonos. Thassos is the northernmost island of Greece, located in the province of Kavala and not too far from the coast of Chalkidiki’s third ‘finger’.
Why is it quiet? Thassos greets a relatively moderate number of tourists when compared to other destinations in the country. Moreover, it brags with the ability to attract visitors throughout the year, not just during the summer holidays. That way, travelers often get partitioned and don’t collide as much, making it decently peaceful.
What to do here? Besides sunbathing at the beach all day, there’s a host of activities to partake in and places to see. If you’re on the more adventurous side, go scuba diving or kayaking. Visit Monastery of Archangel Michael, or check out one of the many museums on the island such as Vagis Sculpture Museum or Archaeological Museum. Hike the expansive forests of Thassos to learn about why timber is such an important export, and most of all – try the local honey!
How to reach? There are no airports on Thassos, but the nearest one is just across the water. From Kavala International Airport, you can get to the port in 15 minutes and then board a ferry to Thassos which takes about an hour to get there.
One of the seven main islands of the Ionian Sea, Ithaca boasts immense natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, embodied in the character of Odysseus from Homer’s epic poem. Surrounded by larger, more prominent islands, sitting across the beaches of Peloponnese, it has remained largely undiscovered for a long time.
Why is it quiet? Greece has seven important islands in the Ionian Sea, of which only Paxi is smaller than Ithaca. Its size and reclusiveness dictate the small number of visitors to the island. On the other hand, the proximity of large tourist hubs nearby, namely Corfu and Zakynthos, draws a lot of attention from Ithaca.
What to do here? While you could just make good use of the laidback nature of this island, exploring it will reveal the most tremendous views, especially if you get high enough to places such as the Monastery of Panagia Kathariotissa. No matter where you go, emerald waters will follow, both at organized and more remote beaches. Gidaki, Filiatro, and Sarakiniko are the best tended to beaches! For a more educational approach, see Folklore and Nautical Museum in Vathy, which also happens to be the most picturesque town around.
How to reach? The Argostoli Airport on the nearby Kefalonia is the nearest one, and thus your best option of flying in. You can also reach Ithaca from mainland Greece, or the island of Lefkada. Either way, you’ll have to settle for a short ferry ride.
Read more: A Guide to Athens
Overshadowed by the world-renowned Santorini to its west, Anafi has yet to develop as a popular tourist destination. Due to its small size, however, it’s highly unlikely that it’ll ever be as frequented as the other islands of the Cyclades.
Why is it quiet? Anafi is very small and its area can’t host tourists properly. The number of people that come here is low, as there’s isn’t enough accommodation nor facilities to satisfy the ever increasing number of tourists. That makes it perfect for the few those that do manage to get bedding ahead of time in one of the quietest Greek islands. Most people just come on a day trip from Santorini, and they’re gone soon after.
What to do here? Enjoying the charm of its small seaside towns is all well and good, but if you’re not keen on taking it too easy, you can always go hiking as it is the best way to explore Anafi. Agios Nikolaos is the port town that sees the most activity, and you could head out on a boat tour from there. The town of Anafi is the main town – in Greece, when the main town shares the name of the island, it’s simply called ‘Chora’. Check out The Monastery of Zoodohos Pigi from the 19th century, or go on a hunt for the Venetian Castle – it’s up to you.
How to reach? Your best bet is to board a ferry from Santorini, which takes about 2 hours to get to Anafi. Obviously, there are no airports here. You can also catch a ferry from Crete and Piraeus, the latter running only 3 times a week.
Read more: Visiting Karidi Beach
Named after Icarus from the famous story of Greek mythology, Ikaria is well-known for being one of the greenest islands in the entire country. What most visitors to Greek islands often take notice of is the lack of flora, substituted with boulders, mountains, and beaches. Not Ikaria though.
Why is it quiet? For such a fairly big island, Ikaria sure sees a modest number of tourists throughout the year. Most often, the reason for that is believed to be overwhelmingly mountainous terrain with ravines, covered in shrubs and trees. While it may seem inhospitable at first, you’ll find it to be more than stunning (and quiet), especially if you don’t mind adventuring.
What to do here? The mountain path leading from Agios Kirikos to Evdilos, two port towns on the island, is the most spectacular and challenging one you’ll face. It will reveal the best of Ikaria and its breathtaking landscape. If you’d like something more relaxed and don’t care about traversing the highlands, stay in the port towns. Locals are fond of strangers and will introduce you to their own very strong red wine. After it, there’ll be dancing involved.
How to reach? Ikaria actually has an airport in the town of Agios Kirikos. The nearest ferry lines run from the picturesque islands of Samos and Mykonos.
Despite the fact that Lesbos is one of the largest islands in Greece (third-largest to be precise), it still feels undiscovered to this day. While there is a great number of tourists that come to visit the birthplace of Sappho, whose poetry coincides with the contemporary name of the island, it is still fairly quiet and peaceful.
Why is it quiet? Besides size being an obvious factor here, it also has something to do with the kind of people it attracts. Lesbos has been a favorite among couples looking for a romantic getaway.
What to do here? Wander the petrified forest of Lesbos that really captures the ‘quiet’ aspect of this place in the Aegean. Again, hiking is a great opportunity to uncover the secrets of Lesbos, but considering its size, renting a car might seem like a more prudent move. Make sure to stop by the castle of Molyvos, or visit one of the many museums on the island such as the New Archaeological Museum Mytilene or the Museum of Industrial Olive Production.
How to reach? Mytilini International Airport is going to be your destination on Lesbos, after which you can proceed in a rented car. A ferry from Piraeus is going to take about 12 hours to Lesbos – quite a journey!
Also known as Samothrace, this lonely island in the northern region of the Aegean Sea is unique in so many aspects. Samothraki is, much like all the other islands in Greece, steeped in culture and history.
Why is it quiet? Whether it’s due to its modest size or some other reason is difficult to say, but hordes of tourists have not yet descended upon Samothraki island. It doesn’t lack anything – the impressive landscape, sandy beaches, nightlife, amazing cuisine – it’s all there, waiting to be experienced. The most reasonable explanation as for why it is not yet crowded has a lot to do with Samothraki being very difficult to reach.
What to do here? Sanctuary of the Great Gods is probably the most remarkable location on the island. It was from here that the famous Statue of Nike was recovered by a French archaeologist and stored in Louvre. Explore the narrow streets of Kamariotissa and Therma, where you’ll be able to try the exquisite cuisine in one of the many restaurants along the way. For those looking to soak some rays of sun on a comfy sandy beach, Pachia Ammos is by far the best choice, although the Vamos Beach is also pretty good.
How to reach? There’s only one way you can reach Samothraki and that’s by ferry from Alexandroupoli. You will arrive at Kamariotissa 2 hours later.
Read more: Best Island Beaches
A gem of the beautiful Dodecanese Islands, Leros island sees few foreign visitors a year, making it a must-have on your itinerary of the quietest Greek islands.
Why is it quiet? Leros has always been self-sufficient thanks to fertile soil and the bounties of the sea around it. For that reason, there was little need for tourism-based income, leading to a largely untouched place that it is.
What to do here? If you’re into watersports and activities, you won’t be disappointed with this island. Underwater fishing is a very interesting thing to try if you haven’t done so already. Snorkeling, jet skiing, and windsurfing are just as cool, but if you prefer staying dry, tennis courts are also at your disposal. Make sure to try the local seafood, as well as wine to really get a feel for Leros.
How to reach? Despite it being fairly small and unknown, Leros has an airport of its own serving domestic routes. So first, you need to catch a flight to Athens, and then go to Leros from there. Ferries from Piraeus run only 4 times per week and it’s also a sufficiently long trip. If you find yourself at Rhodes, the ferry will be much cheaper and faster.
Finally, the gorgeous island of Amorgos, where the Cyclades and the Dodecanese meet. Best known as the island where ‘Le Grand Bleu’ takes place, it has seen a rise in the number of tourists who come to see the movie location. Despite that, it’s still pretty much hidden on most tourist maps.
Why is it quiet? This quaint island has so much to give in the way of relaxation, quiet, and beauty that it’s really strange it doesn’t get more visitors. Perhaps Naxos, Santorini, and other islands of greater interest to tourists are to blame, but for people who’re looking for a less touristy option, it’s perfect.
What to do here? Reach the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa to see an icon dating back to the 9th century inside. Towns of Katapola and Aigali are incredibly picturesque and would be wonderful places to visit, much like the town of Amorgos (Chora). The beaches are clean, sandy havens surrounded by turquoise waters, a real treat for people on a mission to relax.
How to reach? Get on a ferry from Santorini, Naxos, or Mykonos and you’ll be in Amorgos in a couple of hours.
While these islands get few visitors at the moment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always going to stay that way. If they are to your liking, you should start making plans sooner rather than later. There are many more places like this in Greece, and maybe one day, they’ll be our new quietest places to drift off to.