8 of the most underrated destinations in Greece

Dec 7, 2021

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Greece is famous for its picture-perfect beaches and romantic island escapes, and it’s one of the most popular destinations to visit right now. In fact, Greece won this year’s TPG editor’s choice award as the top travel destination of the year, thanks to its sensible coronavirus health measures; a flurry of new hotels, resorts and flight routes; and its ongoing support of the cruise industry.

While 2021 has been a great year to see some of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations with fewer crowds and more affordable prices, as post-pandemic travel picks up, it’s time to once again consider some of Greece’s underrated destinations.

An old stone bridge in Vikos Aoos National Park. (Photo by Konstantinos Lagos/Getty Images)

When it comes to Greece, we encourage travelers to think outside the box. The country has hundreds of islands, but also an expansive mainland rife with natural wonders such as mountains and marine parks, as well as vineyards and historic monuments. For alternatives to popular spots like Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, consider one of these more underrated destinations in Greece instead.

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Kastellorizo is an island in Greece. (Photo by Franz Marc Frei/Getty Images)

You may have never even heard of Kastellorizo, an island also known as Megisti, until now. Located closer to Turkey than to Greece, the island’s beauty will captivate you. Start at its beautiful harbor, where the sun shines down on colorful neoclassical buildings scattered along the seaside.

Just like many Aegean and Mediterranean islands, Kastellorizo has a Blue Grotto sea cave to explore by boat. Another must-see is Knights Castle, which offers views of neighboring Turkey from its perch on a reddish hill.

Alonissos Marine Park

Alonnisos Marine Park. (Photo by Gatsi/Getty Images)

The largest protected marine area in Europe, Alonissos Marine Park is one of the best destinations in Greece to view marine life, most notably Mediterranean monk seals. It’s also a prime spot to scuba dive, snorkel or even visit historic monasteries and churches.

The park is made up of several islands (some uninhabited) covered in pine trees, orchids and wildflowers and herbs such as wild sage and oregano. Underwater, there are numerous types of seagrass that more than 300 marine species call home. Visitors may also spot dolphins and loggerhead turtles.


Vineyards in Greece. (Photo by Takis_Milonas/Getty Images)

The hills of Mount Olympus hold far more than just tales of Greek mythology. They’re also home to the town of Rapsani and its accompanying vineyards. Rapsani is a red wine created from a blend of three different grapes: the xinomavro, krassato and stavroto grapes. Visiting this sloping wine region is truly an off-the-beaten-path experience.

In order to access the vineyards on the hills, you’ll need to get off the road and drive along dirt trails. Pair a visit to the most famous winery in the area, Tsantali, with a trip to the nearby Mount Olympus National Park.


Nafplion, Greece. (Photo by Alexander Nikitin/Getty Images)

Nafplion is one of the most beautiful and romantic towns in the Peloponnese region of Greece for an alternative seaside holiday. An easy drive from Athens, Nafplion features a picturesque old town and harbor that are perfect for strolling.

The Arvanitia Beach is pebbly but has clear turquoise water perfect for a refreshing swim. Make sure to visit the Bourtzi Castle, a 15th-century medieval fortress that sits on a tiny islet just off the coast of the charming town.

The Athens Riviera

Lake Vouliagmeni along the Athens Riviera in Greece. (Photo by SStajic/Getty Images)

If you don’t have enough time to head to the Greek islands, a visit to the Athens Riviera — a stunning stretch of coastline just 30 minutes from the Greek capital — gives you an easy dose of sand and sun. The coastal area is accessible by car or even tram from Athens, so you won’t need to fret about taking a ferry.

The area has many beautiful beaches, plus fancy nightclubs, charming harbors, hidden sea caves and tranquil fishing coves. One of the most popular areas to visit with a few sandy beaches is Voula, which also has towering rocks that overlook Lake Vouliagmeni.

Spend the night at the relatively new Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel, a fancy hideaway just 30 minutes from Athens city center on the tip of the Riviera.

Vikos Aoos National Park

Viewpoint overlooking the Vikos gorge in Vikos Aoos National Park in Greece. (Photo by fotofritz16/Getty Images)

Greece has an immense amount of natural beauty beyond its most famous islands, and outdoor enthusiasts should head straight to Vikos Aoos National Park in northwest Greece.

The park is named after its most precipitous gorges, Vikos Gorge and Aoos Gorge. Besides these two natural wonders, travelers can also enjoy outdoor activities among the many rivers, canyons, lakes, mountains and woodlands within the park. Expect to see a number of different bird species, plus animals such as otters, foxes, wolves and deer — and watch out for brown bears!


Autumn in Kastoria. (Photo by Athina Psoma/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Part of Greece but in the Macedonia region, Kastoria is often compared to the Amalfi Coast, but without the tourists. The Hellenic town sits along a peninsula that juts out into Lake Orestiada. The lake, which has been deemed a national monument, is backed by rocky, wooded mountains.

Besides enjoying the lake, visitors can also explore the Byzantine churches and Ottoman architecture in Kastoria. One of the most important attractions is the Panagia Mavriotissa Monastery, which sits on the shores of the lake and dates back to the 11th century.


A beach on Elafonisos island in Greece. (Photo by Pnik/Getty Images)

An island often frequented by Greek travelers, Elafonisos sits off the coast of the Peloponnese region near Athens. Although it’s tiny, Elafonisos still has abundant white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Besides the island’s glorious beaches (Simos Beach is a favorite for its unique shape), it also has ancient ruins to explore.

Divers can appreciate the island’s underwater ruins, too. Pavlopetri is one of the oldest completely sunken towns that has been found underwater. The best part? Elafonisos is only a 10-minute ferry ride from Pounta, a port in the Peloponnese region — perfect for travelers who want to minimize their travel time or who get seasick on long ferry rides.

Bottom line

The Greek island of Kastelorizo. (Photo by nejdetduzen/Getty Images)

Even if you want to spend a romantic holiday in Santorini, a family weekend in Athens or a getaway partying in Mykonos, remember that Greece is a large country with hundreds of islands, 10 national parks and many other destinations to consider.

There are plenty of places to go if you want to get off the tourist track or try something a little different. Traveling somewhere more underrated means you’ll be able to experience traditional Greek culture, wine and cuisine; find those deserted beaches; or see some of the country’s lesser-visited monuments and attractions without competing with other travelers.

Featured image of Simos Beach on Elafonisos island by verve23/Getty Images. 

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