Greek islands: 7 undiscovered gems

hellomagazine.com

Think Greek islands and no doubt the whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches of Santorini, breathtaking beaches and glamorous nightlife of Mykonos, and deep lush green and sparkling azure waters of Corfu spring to mind. The larger and more famous of the islands have long been drawing in celebrities looking for a luxurious, sun-soaked retreat – but their smaller, lesser known neighbours provide an equally tempting slice of paradise.

We explore 7 hidden gems among the Greek islands perfect for a spot of R&R and island-hopping...

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1. Start at stunning Santorini, then head off to pristine Anafi

Situated on the top of a volcanic rock, the spectacular sunsets, architectural wonders and picturesque cliffs of Santorini provoke the feeling of being on top of the world. The iconic vineyards are full of different varieties special to Santorini including, Assyrtiko, Athiri, Mavotragano and Mandilaria. Voyage two hours across the big blue, east of Santorini and you can explore the beautiful Anafi with its amphitheatrically-built Chora standing 260 metres tall. The island’s sandy beaches, heavenly waters and remote caves combine to make Anafi a great island-hopping destination.

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2. Indulge in Skiathos before giving in to the call of 'wild' Alonissos

Previously known as "Ikos" in ancient times, Alonissos, according to mythology, was first inhabited by Stafylos, the son of Ariadne and Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and merriment. Patatiri, which means "wine press" in Greek, is the capital of the island. Being the most remote of the Northern Sporades (including Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros), this beautiful island has become a celebrity hotspot. Only two hours away by ferry and just 30 minutes from Skopelos, be sure to visit Greece's first national Marine Park, established in 1992, which has become a refuge for rare seabirds, dolphins and the Mediterranean monk seal.

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3. Holiday in Corfu, then sail to petite and passionate Paxi

When you've soaked up the impressive Venetian architecture of Corfu's Old Town, taken in the rugged mountains and resort-studded shoreline and partied the night away in its various nightclubs, sail off to its smaller southern neighbour, Paxi to bathe in its famous emerald green waters. Hop from beach to beach, and venture over to the uninhabited islet of Antipaxi for some of the most wonderful beaches in Greece.

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4. The Captain's Table of Greek Islands: Chios and Oinousses

Home to the most beautiful deep green waters, Chios is perfect for navigating the winding roads, stopping to see the famous mastic trees unique to the island and discovering the charming mastic villages dating back to the 14th century. Ferry or water taxis will take you to Oinousses, a cluster of nine tiny islands and islets. Dotted with small beautiful coves, Oinousses serves as a retreat complete with sparkling sea, sun and taverns serving delicious Geek specialities.

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5. Naxos and the isles of the Small Cyclades

Naxos is the biggest and greenest island in Cyclades, with impressively high mountains, fertile valleys, lush green gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages perched high on mountain tops. As hard as it may be to pull yourself away, it's worth it to discover the Small Cyclades, one of the few spots in Greece where you can still experience a low-key, laid-back island-hopping adventure. From Naxos a network of local ferries connects the idyllic islands of Iraklia, Schinoussa, Koufonissi, Donoussa and Amorgos.

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6. After Athens, get hooked on chill-out fishing island Agistri

Next door to Athens and the island of Aegina, Agistri, meaning "fishing hook" in Greek, is known to locals as the "chill out island". Boasting a thick forest of pine trees, pebbly beaches and blue-green crystal clear waters, and the chance to trek over to the islet of Aponisos and enjoy the secret dock frequented by yachters and sailors, it's easy to see why…

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7. Visit Hippocrates' Kos and volcanic Nisyros to discover a world of contrasts

The endless stretch of sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife and many archaeological sites have long made Kos one of Greece's most popular destinations. Step off the beaten track by combining your trip to Kos with a trip to Nisyros to venture into authentic Greek island life, where the beaches are splendid and the thermal spas are natural. Visit the volcano and descend its three craters for a unique experience.

Fore more help with your Greek holiday planning, travel highlights and destinations, visit Discovergreece.com.