off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Leros windmills
Leros Island Old Windmills

Are you looking for off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations for your next trip to the country? If yes, explore in this post, Greece’s wealth of magnificent, yet lesser-known destinations, on both mainland and Greek islands.

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Kea island
Kea Island

Greece’s most popular destinations are Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes, and Crete. However, there is an endless richness of lesser famous but equally beautiful destinations, ideal if you are searching for a low-key, authentic vacation in Greece.

4-day Peloponnese Itinerary, Gialova
Gialova

Be adventurous and discover an out-of-the-way beach, embark on a scenic mountain trek, and travel to real old-time Greek destinations!

Some of the best off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations are:

The Best Things to do in Portaria, Portaria village
Pelion Villages
  • 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
off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Skyros Magazia beach
Skyros Island, Magazia beach

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Up next I am going to tell you about 5 of the best off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations!

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Off-The-Beaten-Track Greece Destinations

Leros Island in the Dodecanese

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Agia Marina village on leros
Agia Marina, Leros

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

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Leros beach
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 still feels like old Greece and is one of the best off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations.

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Leros Agia Marina
Leros Agia Marina

Lakki, Leros port, will impress you with the 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.

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Leros landscape
Leros Windmills and Landscape

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 breath-taking view.

Explore 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.

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Leros beach
Archaggelos Beach. Photo Greekwanderlust

As for beaches, there are so many choices that you have to stay for a long time to explore them all:

  • In the amphitheatrically built Agia Marina, the shallow waters are ideal for families with small children
  • In Alinda, just after Agia Marina, the pine trees sandy beach create 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 in Panteli, with killer views from its balcony and rooms decorated in white and blue tones fitted with wooden floors (self-catering doubles from €55 a night) is a wonderful option. Alinda Hotel (doubles from €36 a night) located right in front of the beach with an amazing breakfast, is a great value for money property.

Where to eat

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Mylos tavern Leros
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 (€25 to 35 pp).
  • Mylos in Ag. Marina by the old windmill, at Mill, besides fresh fish, you will find delicious shrimp pilaf, octopus meatballs, and seafood pasta (€20 to 30 pp).
  • Petrino in Lakki, with French and Greek cuisine. Its specialty is the chicken spit a la crème (€20 to 30 pp).

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

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, SKyros
Skyros, Atsitsa Beach

Only 1,5 hours by ferry from Kymi port in Evia island, Skyros is a top off-the-beaten-track Greece destination. Skyros is located right 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 movie locations).

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Skyros CHora
Skyros Chora

Skyros island is famous for:

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

Achilles, the ancient hero, according to Greek mythology, went to Skyros in his attempt to escape participating in the war against Troy.

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Skyros main village
Skyros Chora with fortress

Explore Chora, with cubic Cycladic-style houses, and walk towards the Byzantine-era fortress on the top of the town. Discover the Skyrians shops with hand-carved and stained wood objects, much of which decorate their houses as well.

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Skyros beaches
Skyros beaches

Skyros is full of ancient monasteries, half of the island is deeply forested and the other half is rugged and rocky with trails ideal for hiking. There are many long sandy and quiet beaches on Skyros, and 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

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, hotel Skyros
Villa Mantalena

Villa Mantalena is a beautiful beachfront property in Gyrismata beach, with Skyrian traditional wooden beams and artifacts set amidst a large garden(self-catering doubles from €52 a night only). Sereno Natu Villas is a finely decorated property with a garden, and an outdoor pool in the Kalamitsa area (doubles from €220 B&B).

Where to eat

  • Agios Petros (Tacos) tavern in Trachy village, and inside the forest, you can taste their own production of vegetables, cheese, and meats. Try excellent goat, rabbit stew, oil pie with sour cheese, and amazing gruyere with pepper (€10 to 20 pp).
  • 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 (€10 to 25 pp).

How to get there

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

Greek Island hiking on Kea island
Kea, Ioulida Chora

Kea, or Tzia, is a beautiful Cycladic island, just an hour far 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.

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.

Hike Safely in Greece, Kea island with hikers
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

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!

off-the-beaten-track Greece destinations, Kea island sunset
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.

https://travelthegreekway.com/best-things-to-do-on-kefalonia-island/, Kea island beach
Kea Beaches

Best Beaches on Kea Island:

  • Xyla, 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. Xyla beach is organized in terms of umbrellas and sunbeds but has no cafes and restaurants
  • Sikamia beach is generally a magical landscape. It is not an organized beach. Access requires crossing a 4 km dirt road but it really 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

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 (doubles from €141 B&B). La Maison Vert Amande is a lovely 19th-century accommodation, 3 minutes from Spathi beach in a green garden (doubles from €101 B&B).

Where to eat

  • 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 or FerryHopper for ferries to Kea. Lavrio port is right after Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon, at the end of the Athens Riviera.

Mainland Off-the-Beaten-Track Greece Destinations

Pelion Mountain, Thessalia region

Greece in May, Plaka beach in Pelion
Plaka beach on Pelion Mt

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 among Greeks.

The Best Things to do in Portaria, main square 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 streets, and old churches, covered in a multitude of trees and flowers. Reaching the eastern Pelion you arrive in Damouchari, the third location of the Mamma Mia movie.

Evgenia in Tsagkarada Pelion
Me in 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.

Black Orthodox Saints mylopotamos beach
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 car or public bus from Athens (360 km) or Thessaloniki (252 km).

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Gialova, Peloponnese

https://travelthegreekway.com/best-things-to-do-on-kefalonia-island, Gialova
Gialova at sunset

Gialova is a small seaside village in the south-western 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.

https://travelthegreekway.com/best-things-to-do-on-kefalonia-island/, Gialova beach
Gialova beach

What is really exciting about Gialova, besides being a beautiful, relaxing, seaside village is that it offers a large number of nearby stunning natural and historical sites. You can see the shipwrecks of the Battleship of Navarino in 1827 while snorkeling on the nearby beaches.

https://travelthegreekway.com/best-things-to-do-on-kefalonia-island/, Gialova lagoon
Gialova Lagoon – Photo: Cycling Gialova

Near Gialova you will find the Gialova 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.

4-day Peloponnese Itinerary, Voidokoilia Messinia
Voiokoilia beach

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.

Polylimnio Falls

22 km from Gialova you will find the Polylimnio Falls, 30 km far 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.

4-day Peloponnese Itinerary, Pylos
Pylos village

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.

4-day Peloponnese Itinerary,the Palace of Nestor in Pylos
Nestor’s Palace in Pylos

Best family beaches in Gialova:

  • 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

Where to stay

Hacienda Voidokilia, is a top location property, with an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, and fantastic landscape views from its windows (self-catering doubles from €77 a night). I love brand new Ioli’s Villa, a beautiful seafront 2-story house with a garden and beautifully decorated rooms, ideal for a group of 5 or a family (from €264 Self-catering).

Where to eat

  • 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.

Off-The-Beaten-Track Greece Destinations

  • 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

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