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8 Greek Islands you’ve probably never heard of

Dec. 20, 2020
6 min read
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We all know about the legendary Santorini sunsets or the epic parties on Mykonos, but what about the thousands of other Greek Islands out there? We're not talking Crete, Rhodes or that stopover in Kos when you hopped off your cruise ship. Stunning beaches, authentic Greek culture and cuisine, fewer tourists and lower prices all await you in these lesser-known locales. Here are eight other Greek Islands you may not have heard of, but are still worth a visit.

1. Symi

If you really want a taste of some local charm, head to Symi, part of the Dodecanese Islands. Each year between July and September, the island puts on a festival featuring parades, gastronomical events, open-air music, dancing, religious ceremonies and sporting events, among other activities. Symi is also known for sponge fishing and its colorful Neoclassical houses.

Symi. (Photo by Stefano Stefani/Getty Images)

2. Milos

The island for beach lovers, Milos (also referred to as Mylos), is part of the Cyclades group and is home to more than 70 beaches, with many tucked away in coves or between cliffs. Sarakiniko is one of the most well-known, thanks to its oddly-shaped giant rocks that were formed by volcanic activity -- hidden between the rock formations is pure, white sand.

Milos. (Photo by summerphotos/Getty Images)

3. Amorgos

The easternmost island of the Greek Cyclades, Amorgos is home to a special place that any history buff should come and see: the Monastery of Hozoviotissa. The religious edifice was built into a cliff overlooking the sea in the 11th century and views from the monastery, which overlooks the glittering blue sea, are nothing short of breathtaking. Keep in mind there's a modest dress code if you wish to enter the monastery -- like some other European churches or when visiting Vatican City, knees and shoulders must be covered to show respect.

Monastery of Hozoviotissa. (Photo by MartinM303/Getty Images)

4. Lipsi

If you really want a getaway to a small and tranquil paradise, head to Lipsi. Also known as Leipsoi, this tiny island -- just under five miles long -- is located in a small group of islands near Patmos. Known for producing delicious local products like thyme honey, cheese and wine, the island offers plenty of tranquil coastline and beautiful churches and monasteries to visit. If you want to stick to eating clean while on vacation, Lipsi is the perfect island to reset your diet.

The harbour at Lipsi. (Photo by Konstantinos_K/Getty Images)

5. Schinoussa

Schinoussa (meaning "island of the sun") is known as a nature sanctuary, as it hosts several local plant species and many birds. The island, which is barely more than three square miles, is part of the Lesser Cyclades group, but there's nothing "lesser" about it. With 18 stunning beaches to visit and several hiking trails to tackle, it's perfect for outdoorsy types. It's also famous for its fava beans, figs and grapes. There are only two villages on the island, with less than 300 inhabitants between the two of them, so Schinoussa makes a great spot for a quiet, romantic getaway.

Schinoussa. (Photo by tella_db/Getty Images)

6. Pyrgi, Chios

Not to be confused with Pyrgi, Italy, this small village on the island of Chios offers an architectural experience unlike any other. Commonly known as the "painted village," this medieval town's buildings are covered with painted geometrics and artsy motifs in funky grey-and-white patterns. The technique is known as xysta, and uses cement, lime and volcanic sand. Thanks to its xysta-covered buildings (churches, apartments and shops, among other buildings), this village makes the island of Chios one of a kind.

Pyrgi, Chios. (Photo by Freeartist/Getty Images)

7. Ikaria

If you're hoping to find the meaning of life during your vacation, you don't have to go all "Eat, Pray, Love" and ashram it in India. Visiting the Greek island of Ikaria will definitely give you some solid insight into life because its inhabitants live forever -- well, maybe not actually forever, but still, longer than most. Locals attribute their longevity to all sorts of things the island offers, like a healthy Mediterranean diet full of fresh foods, daily walks and natural herbs that can be used for pretty much anything. Visitors to the island can learn about special herbs and teas and take a little bit of these life lessons home with them.

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Read more: 9 European islands perfect for a socially-distanced vacation

Apparently, Greek herbs can make you live (almost) forever. (Photo by Bildagentur/Getty Images)

8. Alonissos

Part of the northern Sporades, Alonissos is an island covered in a rugged, green landscape. This spot is perfect for eco-friendly travelers, as it's home to the Natural Marine Park of Alonissos and is dedicated to protecting the monk seal. Also famous for its vineyards, this island is ideal if you'd like to spend your vacation doing a combination of wine tastings, nature walks and relaxing on pristine beaches.

Alonissos. (Photo by Alonissos/Getty Images)

Bottom line

When one thinks of jetting off to a Greek island, it's easy to just look at the usual big hitters -- however, there are so many more to choose from, especially if you want to be somewhere where social distancing will be a bit easier. Boat is a fun (and sometimes necessary) means of island hopping, so do check each destination's tourism page for the easiest access.

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5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.