NEW YORK – Fodor’s Travel (FT) published the list of “10 Secret Greek Island Getaways for Those who Want to Get Lost” on July 15 and as might be expected, the lesser known islands mentioned are off the beaten tourist path.
The first island on the list is Nisyros which FT calls “one of Greece’s best-kept secrets” with its lava formations, natural hot springs, and an active volcano. “Explore on foot, enjoy some homemade soumada [a non-alcoholic almond-based drink], and just surrender,” FT reported, noting that few tourists have discovered the Dodecanese island. Ferries regularly make the trip from the village of Kardamena in Kos, and the island does draw crowds on August 14-15 in celebration of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary when the faithful, some on their hands and knees, make the pilgrimage up to the Panagia Spiliotissa (Virgin Mary of the Cave).
Donoussa, plastic-free, is second on the list as “the perfect place to go solo and leave with new friends (or even a new lover),” FT reported, adding that “this no-frills wonder in the Cyclades has one supermarket, a couple of cafes-cum-bars, a few tavernas, a handful of beaches… and is perfect for wanderers– well-marked trails will take you to sheltered beaches and crystalline waters.”
Chryssi (Gaidouronissi) is “a tiny speck of an island minutes off the shores of Southern Crete in the Libyan Sea,” FT reported, noting that “Chryssi means ‘gold’ in Greek and is a mini paradise complete with tropic-style waters, windswept sand dunes, and a protected juniper bush forest.”
It is also known as “Gaidouronissi,” donkey island, and “is easy to explore thanks to its size— three whole miles, basically a walk around the block,” and “all the lazing takes place along its very own ‘Golden Coast,’ aka Belegrina Beach, and the magic begins when you take a closer look at the pinkish sand under your feet,” FT reported, noting that “life on Chryssi is back to basics: No running water, no shade, no amenities, just Greek nature in all its glory. You’re overdressed if you’re even wearing a sarong. As for food, the day’s catch, some eggs, and a sip of island spirit, raki.”
Tilos, “home to the last Dwarf Elephants some 4,000 years ago,” a “tiny island in the Dodecanese is a must for nature lovers, geology buffs, and hikers, not to mention if you’re into fossils,” FT reported, citing “majestic mountains, running waters, verdant valleys, stately houses, crystal clear sea dips, and four traditional settlements”… [also]
Tilos is “the first Mediterranean island wholly powered by renewable energy, which explains the numerous charging points for electric cars and bikes. Catch the sunset at Agios Antonios and who knows, you too may be one of the many loyal fans who now call it home.”
Sikinos in the Cyclades is “genuine, peaceful, and welcoming… [with] time-worn stone trails that take you to lone chapels, secluded bays, and ancient sites,” FT reported, noting the “crystal blue waters,” and “spectacular vistas,” among “three quaint villages and their whitewashed little houses, 61 churches, a sleepy harbor and lots of wine.”
Samothrace, perhaps best known as the island where the marble statue of Nike, the Winged Victory (now on view at the Louvre in Paris) was found, also made the list for its “lush forests over jagged cliffs to discover one of Greece’s tallest waterfalls, invigorating natural springs (vathres), hidden hamlets, and pristine white-sand beaches with emerald green waters,” FT reported, adding that “getting to Samothrace means traveling all the way to Alexandroupolis in northern Greece, and from there taking a ferry,” [where] “minutes after setting foot the mystical energy hits you.” Believed to have “healing powers as it was once the Sanctuary of the Great Gods,” the island served as Zeus’ vantage point to follow the Trojan War and now “also attracts climbers thanks to the towering Mt. Saos, the Greek islands’ third highest mountain at 5,285 feet,” FT reported.
Skyros offers “untouched landscapes, lovely Greek villages steeped in tradition, amazing food, and cherished age-old customs” as well as “one of the craziest Carnival celebrations in Greece,” FT reported, noting “the aura of the beautiful Hora with its traditional architecture built inside a Byzantine fortress… the unique-to-the island miniature horse, the Skyros pony, and the exquisite Byzantine-inspired wood-carved chairs and trunks.”
Lipsi in the Dodecanese “is the perfect place to get lost,” FT reported, adding that “this faraway Aegean Sea getaway dotted with fig trees, cedars, and pines off Leros is not one but 24 dreamy (and protected) islets all in one place. Start your day with some local ‘ladotyri’ cheese, thyme honey, and freshly baked bread, pack a picnic lunch and water, and set off from the one and only settlement of Hora to discover dozens of hidden inlets and amazing caves.”
Antipaxos is a “bit of paradise in the calm waters of the Ionian sea near Corfu and off mainland Epirus… like a crayon-colored artwork calling out to you like a mythical siren,” FT reported, noting that “a protected pine forest and wild olive trees slide into the water on Antipaxos, which the god of the sea, Poseidon, created as a love nest for his later-to-be wife, the nymph Amphitrite. No cars, no noise, no worries. It’ll be just you, your towel, and the white pebble or velvety sand beaches.”
Lichadonissia, “dubbed the ‘Seychelles of Greece’… are the astonishing remnants of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago,” FT reported, adding that “until recently, only divers knew about this mini complex of islets off the coasts of central Greece and northern Evia,” and “take your pick of seven bijou islands with white sand shores against a tree-covered backdrop in the middle of the sea… the Lichadonissia’s waters are a must for underwater fishing lovers and divers seeking adventure thanks to a 25-meter (82 feet) World War II shipwreck that’s now home to colorful marine life.”