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Which are the Most Authentic Greek Islands to visit?

Which are the Most Authentic Greek Islands to visit?

Greece and its islands are growing in popularity with beautiful beaches, amazing sunsets, archaeological gems to explore and delicious food. However, many visitors do not venture beyond the busiest, most famous islands like Santorini and Mykonos. If you want to see the real Greece, and escape the crowds, then it's worth exploring some of the lesser known islands. They have fewer visitors, tend to be better value and will give you a taste of the charming, welcoming, less commercialised heart of Greece.

But what are the most authentic Greek islands to visit? Here’s our pick of the top five:

Why is Nisyros an authentic Greek island?

This small volcanic island in the Dodecanese is ideal if you want to visit an island with a volcanic crater but don't want the crowds. The picturesque villages with white washed buildings, traditional tavernas and secluded coves make this an ideal island to get away from it all! There’s no airport and most visitors arrive by ferry from Kos. Many of the beaches have black pebbles and it's easy to find a peaceful bay here. The caldera is definitely worth visiting.

Why is Astypalea an authentic Greek island?

This pretty butterfly shaped island is famous for being the place where goats outnumber people! Its unusual shape means in the middle it is less than 100m wide. Chora, the port and capital of the island, with its Venetian castle has to be one of the prettiest towns in Greece. There is a small domestic airport here linking the island with Athens and Thessaloniki. Vathy village is very pretty and from here you can get a boat to the impressive Drakos caves.

Why is Lesvos an authentic Greek island?

Lesvos is the third largest island in Greece but still one of the most authentic. Here Olive trees outnumber people and it is one of the greenest islands with forests and waterfalls. There’s an international airport in the island’s capital of Mytilene, meaning this hidden gem is easier to get to than most unspoilt islands. There’s so much to explore from amazing beaches to the Petrified Forest. The cobbled streets of the harbour village of Molyvos with its castle at the top were named the world's prettiest street and it's easy to see why, especially when they are filled with lilac rivers of wisteria in spring.

Why is Chios an authentic Greek island?

Chios keeps a low profile for visitors but is a thriving island, known for the production of Mastic. This is the only place in the world where it grows and production of mastic is the main income for the island. This tree resin is used in so many things from chewing gum to spices. The beautiful beaches are almost overshadowed by the amazing architecture of the pretty villages with winding streets and geometric decoration - Pyrgi and Olympi are wonderful to explore. Tourists are few but the reputation of the island for photography and diving is growing.

Why is Folegandros an authentic Greek island?

Part of the Cyclades, Folegandros is only a short ferry ride from Santorini but a million miles away in terms of crowds! Here the landscape is barren but the sea is still azure blue and the island keeps its unspoilt charm. Chora is the capital and worth exploring for its whitewashed buildings and sunset views. You might avoid the hustle and bustle of busier islands but tourists are still well-catered for here with great tavernas, organised beaches and watersports. There’s no airport and the rocky landscape means fewer beaches but amazing deserted coves. Ano Meria is a must see - a traditional village with an open air museum where visitors can see the ‘tree-homes’ - traditional dwellings from the 19th century.

Hopefully we have given you some ideas to see another side of Greece, away from the crowds and to truly experience the authentic Greek islands. If we can help further with trips to Lesvos, please contact or check out

Mark Walker

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