5 Best Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations in Greece

Are you interested in exploring the less touristy and more unique destinations in Greece, both on the mainland and its islands? Would you like to discover off-the-beaten-path destinations in Greece rather than sticking to the typical tourist spots? Great because I will tell you all about my top five favorite authentic Greek areas:

Zagora Beach in Pelion
  • Leros Island in the Dodecanese
  • Skyros Island in the Sporades
  • Kea Island in the Cyclades
  • Pelion peninsula in mainland Greece, Thessalia region
  • Gialova seaside town in the southwestern Peloponnese
Skyros Island

Greece’s most popular destinations are Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes, and Crete. However, there is an endless richness of less famous but equally beautiful destinations, ideal if you are searching for a low-key, authentic vacation in Greece. Be adventurous and discover an out-of-the-way beach, embark on a scenic mountain trek, and travel to real old-time Greek destinations!

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Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations in Greece

Leros Island in the Dodecanese (a hidden gem in Greece)

Whitewashed houses and shops beside the sea in Agia Marina, Leros. Off-The-Beaten-Track Greece Destinations.
Agia Marina, Leros

Leros is located in the Dodecanese, the Greek group of islands in eastern Greece close to Turkey. On its south, you will find Kalymnos, famous for the sponges and rock climbing, and on its north, the smaller islands of Lipsi, Arki, and Strogylo.

A beach in Leros Island with some olive trees and bushes and a boat in the sea in a sunny day. Off-The-Beaten-Track Greece Destinations.
Leros beach

Leros or else the island of goddess Artemis is characterized by low green hills and plains. Its mountainous side looks like an open-air museum of World War II because of the ruins that still stand in their place. Leros’ elaborate shape has created countless bays with unspoiled beaches and is surrounded by many small islands and islets, ideal for your sea adventures.

This island is one of the best off-the-beaten-path destinations in Greece. Things to do in Leros are:

A windmill beside the sea, some houses and a restaurant in Agia Marina, Leros.  Off-The-Beaten-Track Greece Destinations.
Leros Agia Marina
  • Explore Lakki, Leros’ port. It will impress you with its beautiful neoclassical houses that will remind you of Giorgio De Chirico
  • Find the Pyrgospita, the medieval 2-story buildings, with decorative defensive elements (in Gourna, Lakki, and Vagia). The Pyrgospita is a remnant of times when the inhabitants had to protect themselves from the constant pirate raids.
Credit: Eve Koutoumanou
  • Near the capital, Agia Marina, and Panteli you will see the impressive windmills, while all over the islands there are scattered old Byzantine churches
  • Go to the imposing castle of Panagia on Apitiki Hill with a breathtaking view
  • Discover Partheni village built in a fertile valley, where remains of the temple of Artemis were found, dating back to the 8th or 7th century BC.

As for Leros’ beaches, there are so many choices that you have to stay for a few days to explore them all:

Leros Panagia of Kavouradena
  • In the amphitheatrically built Agia Marina beach, the shallow waters are ideal for families with small children
  • Alinda sandy beach, just after Agia Marina, is surrounded by pine trees and is ideal for water sports
  • At Xirokampos beach you can have free diving lessons. Nearby there is also the cove of Panagia of Kavouradena with the tiny, unique chapel, which is built on the rock.

Where to stay on Leros Island

Asterias rooms

Asterias (mid-range, family-friendly): A brightly decorated self-catering accommodation with killer views from its balcony and rooms decorated in white and blue tones.

Alidian Bay Suites Leros

If you love swimming pools in family-friendly seafront hotels with a touch of luxury then Alidian Bay Suites Leros might be what you are looking for!

Where to Eat in Leros

A tavern beside the sea with people having their dinner in Mylos Island.
Mylos Restaurant

Leros is home to fresh fish in huge variety and quantity. So, if you love fish and seafood, you must try the “koukouvades” (fish marinated with rosemary), but also octopus, fried mussels, and sea urchins. Alternatively, lemon goat and cabbage dolmades are among the local specialties.

  • Psaropoula in Panteli: Fresh fish in a seafront restaurant with must-have shrimp pasta and fish soup. The beach’s sunbeds and umbrellas are offered to customers free of charge.
  • Mylos in Ag. Marina by the old windmill, at Mill, besides fresh fish, you will find delicious shrimp pilaf, octopus meatballs, and seafood pasta.
  • Petrino in Lakki, with French and Greek cuisine. Its specialty is the chicken spit a la crème.

How to get to Leros

Leros is connected to Piraeus and other ports of the Aegean. The conventional ferries make the route “Piraeus – Leros” in approximately 9.5 hours while the high-speed ferries make the route in approximately 8 hours. Leros is connected to Athens International Airport, the flight takes 1 hour, and to Thessaloniki Airport.

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Skyros Island in the Sporades

A beach called Atsitsa in Skyros with trees and a lot of bushes.
Skyros, Atsitsa Beach

Only 1,5 hours by ferry from Kymi port in Evia island, Skyros is one of the most authentic islands in Greece. It is located in the middle of the Aegean Sea and belongs to the Sporades islands. In the Sporades, you will find Skyros’ more famous siblings of Skopelos and Skiathos (Mamma Mia’s locations).

An alley with whitewashed houses and ships, some plants in pots in a sunny day.
Skyros Chora

Skyros Island is famous for:

  • its tiny Skyrian ponies
  • its raucous carnival
  • the beautiful handmade ceramics and other artifacts
  • the delicious cuisine, and numerous beautiful beaches.
Skyros Castle

Mythology Tip: Achilles, the ancient hero, according to Greek mythology, went to Skyros in his attempt to escape participating in the war against Troy. The Oracle Kalchas from Mycenae had predicted that Achilles would die during this war and he was trying to avoid it. Unfortunately, Achilles went to the Trojan War where he died.

Many whitewashed houses on the cliff and the fortress on the top in Skyros Chora.
Skyros Chora

What to do in Skyros?

  • Explore Chora, with cubic Cycladic-style houses, and walk towards the Byzantine-era castle on the top of the hill
  • Discover the Skyrians’ shops with hand-carved and stained wood objects
Skyros Molos beach
  • Find out about Skyros’ ancient monasteries such as the Monastery of Saint George (960 CE)
  • Half of the island is deeply forested and the other half is rugged and rocky with many trails ideal for hiking
  • Enjoy the many long sandy and quiet beaches on Skyros, as most of them are relatively uncrowded.

Best Beaches on Skyros Island:

  • The very long sandy beach in Magazia is partially organized
  • The 1 km sandy beach of Gyrismata
  • Molos, the nearby beach to Chora, Kalogria, Kyra Panagia, and stunning Atsitsa

Where to stay in Skyros

Aelia Collection Suites

Aelia Collection Suites – Adults Friendly is one of the best hotels to stay in Skyros. It ticks all the boxes: Amazing sea view, privacy, swimming pool, very nice decorative touches, traditional style, amazing staff.

Villa Mantalena is a beautiful beachfront property in Gyrismata Beach, with traditional wooden beams and artifacts set amidst a large garden.

Where to eat

  • Agios Petros (Tacos) tavern in Trachy village: they use in the delicious dishes their production of vegetables, cheese, and meats. Try excellent goat and rabbit stew, oil pie with sour cheese, and amazing gruyere with pepper.
  • Antonis Tavern in a courtyard on the beach, where the owner brings the fish and his wife Maria is in charge of the kitchen. One of the few places where you’ll find rockfish in the pan and stonefish with whiskers – all fresh.

How to get in Skyros

You can fly from Athens or Thessaloniki or you can take the ferry from Kymi port in Evia island. Arriving at the port of Kymi, you will take the ferry Achilleas (the company that issues tickets for the ferry is located at the pier of the port ) and in about one and a half hours you will be at the port of Skyros, Linaria.

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Kea Island in the Cyclades

Kea island alley with bougainvillea.
Ioulida Chora

Kea island, or Tzia, is a beautiful Cycladic island, just an hour from Athens port of Lavrion. Although it belongs to the group with some of the most popular Greek islands (Mykonos, Santorini, Paros), is a very low-key vacation island.

A hotel called Agrikea on the cliff with a beautiful sunset in Kea Island.
Kea Photo: Agrikea Hotel

Kea will fascinate you with its diverse landscape and rich historical tradition. The terrain is characterized by steep mountains, small meadows, olive groves, vineyards, ravines, picturesque coves, and secluded beaches.

Evgenia hiking in Kea Island.
Hiking Kea Island

For this reason, Kea is a very popular hiking destination and you often see hikers on its impressive beaches or in the largest oak forest in the Cyclades or the many small caves. Follow the trails – a total of 81 km long – and discover the four ancient independent city-states of the island (Ioulida, Karthea, Korissia, Poiessa).

Greek Island hiking, Karthea Temple in Kea Tzia Island.
Ancient Karthea, Kea

Sail around Kea, go to remote crystal clear blue beaches, and dive into its many shipwrecks under the sea. It is even said that the ancient Greek fleet sank here during its victorious return from Troy!

Panoramic view of Ioulis, Capital town of Kea island.
Ioulida on Kea island

The capital of Kea, Ioulida, is located in the center of the island, built on the site of the ancient city of the same name. It is a picturesque settlement full of traditional houses with tiled roofs, cobbled alleys, and many stairs.

A sandy beach called Otzias with some people on Kea island.
Otzias Beach on Kea Greece

Best Beaches on Kea Island:

  • Otzias, is one of the most popular beaches in Kea, in a beautiful bay with characteristic Cycladic beauty. The beach is covered with golden sand and fine pebbles while the waters are clear blue and relatively deep
  • Sikamia beach is generally a magical landscape. It is not an organized beach. Access requires crossing a 4 km dirt road but it is worth the effort
  • Pisses beach, is located at the edge of a verdant valley with olive groves that end in a long sandy beach with tamarisk trees. It is organized with umbrellas and sunbeds, as well as facilities for food and coffee. Its western orientation offers unobstructed views of the sunset.

Where to stay

A table fool of breakfast, coffee, fresh orange juice, jam, bread, fried eggs at La Maison Vert Amande.
La Maison Vert Amande Breakfast

Exceptional Agrikea, is a modern property with an outdoor eco-lap pool with sea views, pet friendly with delicious breakfast.

La Maison Vert Amande is a lovely 19th-century accommodation, 3 minutes from Spathi Beach in a lovely garden.

Where to eat in Kea

  • Kalofagades tavern in Ioulida with a gorgeous terrace overlooking the opposite hill, for amazing grilled meats, next to the Tschiller-designed town hall of Kea.
  • Mimi’s Strofi is a seafront fresh fish restaurant with your feet submerged in the sand while watching a magical sunset.
  • Christoforos Tavern on Pisses Beach, for fresh fish and Greek cuisine, is considered to be – probably – the best taverna in Kea.

How to get there
Kea can be mainly reached by Lavrio port in Athens in an hour. Check FerryScanner for ferries to Kea. Lavrio port is right after Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon, at the end of the Athens Riviera.

Read my dedicated post on what is best to do on Kea island.

Mainland Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations in Greece

Pelion Mountain, Thessalia region

Plaka beach on Pelion Mt. Credit: giorgos.kzs

Pelion, or else the Mountain of the Centaurus, is a deeply forested and fertile peninsula with 28 traditional, and picturesque villages surrounded by the Aegean Sea. Pelion is a 4-season destination as it has everything you need for your summer or winter vacations.

Black Orthodox Saints Tsagkarada Square and church.
Tsagarada Square and Church

The villages are scattered between the Pagasetic Gulf and the open Aegean Sea all around the magical mountain of Pelion. With easy access through the national road from either Athens or Thessaloniki, Pelion is a hidden gem, a very popular destination for Greeks.

Main square in Portaria, a building, chairs and tables and many flowers in pots in Pelion Portaria.
Pelion Portaria

After you have left behind the port town of Volos, you reach the first beautiful villages of Pelion, Makrinitsa, and Portaria. Traveling towards Zagora in the east, you see forests, mansions, stone fountains, and cobblestone alleys. Each village has a few centuries-old churches, covered in a multitude of trees and flowers. Reaching the eastern Pelion you arrive in Damouchari, the third location (the other two are Skopelos and Skiathos) of the Mamma Mia movie.

Evgenia in Tsagkarada Pelion beside and old stone bridge in Pelion Tsagarada.
Pelion Tsagarada, old bridge

Pelion is an outdoor sports paradise, with a ski resort in Chania, and numerous hiking trails, scuba diving, climbing, sailing, and canyoning choices. In Milies village, you can take the old train to Ano Lechonia, a magical route, passing through trees, forests, and over 12 bridges.

A stone beach called Mylopotamos with many swimmers in a sunny day in Pelion.
Mylopotamos beach in Pelion

Pelion has some of the most impressive beaches in Greece: Plaka, Fakistra, Mylopotamos, and Chorefto are stunning sandy beaches, easily accessible.

Last but not least, Pelion is famous for its traditional cuisine, the fruits, and the local jams and sweets.

How to Get to Pelion: By private car or public bus from Athens (360 km) or Thessaloniki (252 km). You can also fly to Volos, the town port near Pelion.

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Gialova Greece, Peloponnese

Gialova is a small seaside village in the southwestern Peloponnese in the Navarino Bay, surrounded by the olive-tree-covered Messinian hills. It is touristically advanced and you can find all kinds of hotels, apartments, and even an organized campsite for your accommodation.

Near Gialova you will find a lagoon one of the most important wetlands of Europe for migratory birds of the Balkans to and from Africa. You will see 254 species of birds such as herons, cormorants, flamingos, ospreys, kingfishers, and the African chameleon, which is considered endangered.

Voiokoilia beach & Lagoon

Another stunning natural site is Voidokilia Beach, characterized as a “Site of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. Voidokoilia is uniquely shaped like the Greek letter omega with a fine sandy beach and nearby you can find the mega-resort of Costa Navarino. Above the beach, you can hike to the cave of Nestor, while just above is Paleokastro offering impressive vistas.

Waterfall Polylimnio with a lot of green in Gialova.
Polylimnio Falls

22 km from Gialova you can explore the Polylimnio Falls, 30 km from Kalamata. It is a large lake that due to the uneven terrain creates smaller lakes and waterfalls. Walk along the specially designed path between the trees and on wooden bridges and experience the beautiful landscape. You can swim but avoid diving from a rock, there might be rocks very close to the surface of the water.

Pylos

In the other direction is ancient Pylos, where excavations have unveiled a large Mycenaean-era palace, popularly named Nestor’s Palace after the local king in the Iliad. Modern Pylos is a beautiful seaside village and nearby is another gem, Methoni village with its extensive medieval castle.

The Mycenean Palace of Nestor in Pylos, Peloponnese.
Nestor’s Palace in Pylos

Best family beaches:

  • Golden Beach or Divari Beach, a vast sweep of fine gold sand with trees for shade, shallow and calm water, safe for young children
  • Gialova beach is sandy and organized with sunbeds and umbrellas

Where to stay in Gialova Greece

Mylos Apartments

Mylos Apartments are perfect if you are a family. It is a beautiful self-catering property with a large garden and light-colored, spacious rooms.

If you prefer hotels – great for families and couples – then you will love the seafront Zoe Seaside Resort. It has everything you may need on your vacation: sunbeds, a swimming pool, a large garden, and near all the bars and restaurants in Gialova.

Where to eat in Gialova

  • Deroko Casual Fine Dining Restaurant: Seafront fine Mediterranean cuisine at the end of Gialova beach
  • Spitiko Tavern: seaside family-run tavern with a traditional Greek menu
  • Kochyli: seafront fish tavern with the original Mediterranean recipes

How to get there

Gialova is 275 km from Athens if you travel through E65 national road, get to Kalamata through E55, and from there take the smaller road 82 to Gialova.

Alternatively, you can fly to Kalamata and rent a car from there.

When is Best to Go to an Off-Beaten-Path Destination in Greece

The least touristy areas in Greece have as expected a smaller season except for Gialova as it is on the mainland and easier to reach. The busiest and liveliest times for the islands would be July and August and the waters will be at its warmest the early days of September.

Plan My Trip to Greece

Do you need a custom travel itinerary or a transfer within Greece? Are you traveling solo, with your family or friends and need a tailor-made multi-day tour or a transfer?

If yes, please visit my dedicated Plan My Trip Page for a free itinerary!

Let me know what you think about visiting off-beaten-track Greece in the comments, I’d love to hear whether I managed to get it onto your bucket list! Till next time, Evgenia❤️

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How to Get to Athens Port (Piraeus) from Athens Airport

Bus X96 Peiraias Port to Athens Airport
Airport Bus
  • Bus: If you are arriving at Athens International Airport you can travel straight to the port by taking the X96 express bus (€5.5, children <6 yo, free entrance), which departs every 40 minutes and the average trip lasts 1 hour – runs 24/7.
  • Metro: (€9) is easily found across airport arrivals (blue line – M3) going directly to Piraeus port. The average trip to Piraeus lasts 1 hour.
  • Taxis are available in front of the airport (around €40 to Athens, €55-60 to Piraeus (depending on the traffic in Kifisos), and take up to 3 or 4 people with small luggage)
  • Rent a car with Discover Cars for reliable, new cars at affordable prices
  • You don’t like driving but love hassle-free solutions? Book a Private transfer with an English-speaking driver from Athens International Airport to Piraeus Ferries, or anywhere else in Greece
  • Are you looking for domestic flights in Greece? Check out the official Aegean Airlines Website.

Essential Travel Info for Greece

About the author
Evgenia Mataragka
Hi! I am an Athens-based Greek obsessed with exploring Greece and bringing you the best travel experience ever!

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