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Secret Greece: Our Favorite Under-the-Radar Greek Islands

With more than 6,000 islands (some 200 of which are inhabited), Greece offers a plethora of bucket-list destinations where you can still find your own piece of paradise that no one else knows about: volcanic islands, snow-capped mountains, lush peninsulas and enough remote clifftop fortresses to fill several episodes of Game of Thrones. So, where should you begin living your own golden age of Greece? We recommend somewhere your friends have likely never heard of. Read on for our favorite under-the-radar islands.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized journey to Greece.

The Island: Syros

Where it is: Part of the Cyclades (also home to Mykonos and Santorini), Syros is your choice for an island experience beyond the beach.

What to do: Its Italianate waterfront capital, Ermoupolis, has neoclassical architecture and a robust cultural scene. There’s almost always a festival on—of film, ecclesiastical music and the Greek blues known as rembetika. Another can’t-miss is Ano Syra, a typical Cycladic village inhabited by descendants of Venetian settlers, where you can visit the Orthodox and Catholic churches, wander the whitewashed alleys or swim off the platform of the Asteria Beach Bar. The island also has shockingly good beachfront tavernas. In Ermoupolis, enjoy phyllo-wrapped shrimp, salads of cherry tomatoes and local grothotyri cheese and other Mediterranean dishes at Mazi, Avant-Garden and Peri Tinos. Or venture out to Delfini beach, in the north, stopping for lunch at Allou Gialou, on the water in Kini.

Where to stay: Contact Indagare for recommendations for the perfect villa above a beach or a palazzo-turned-hotel filled with modern art.

How to get there: There are flights and ferries from Athens. It’s also easy to reach by ferry from Mykonos, Paros and other islands.

The Island: Patmos

Where it is: Patmos is part of the Dodecanese islands, a favorite of sailors and geographically closer to Turkey than to mainland Greece.

What to do: The crowning glory is the 11th-century Monastery of St. John the Theologian, a museum and working monastery located above the Cave of the Apocalypse, where the saint is said to have had the visions that inspired the Book of Revelation. Chora, the whitewashed citadel-town surrounding the monastery, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has attracted such high-profile visitors as the Aga Khan and Jackie Onassis. The island offers a variety of lovely beaches: the multicolored-pebble strand of Lambi, the sandy, tree-lined Agriolivadi and lively Kambos, home to laid-back George’s Place beach bar. Dine at Benetos Restaurant, named for the owner and chef, a native son who trained in Miami and returned to his family farm overlooking the sea to serve fresh ceviches, sardines he cures on site and whatever delicacies are in season, such as stuffed squash blossoms.

Where to stay: Indagare can recommend an intimate, attentive hotel or the best villa options.

How to get there: There’s no airport, which keeps the crowd away. You can charter a yacht and sail in; fly into Kos, Samos or Leros and take a hydrofoil; or book the seven-hour ferry from Athens, which gets in at 2:00 A.M.

The Island: Spetses

Where it is: This small, yacht-filled escape is part of the Saronic Gulf islands, the closest archipelago to Athens. Cars are not allowed; horse-drawn carriages are the preferred mode of transportation.

What to do: Spend your days sailing (the island’s famous yacht race takes place in June), shopping for olive oil and honey or browsing beach boutiques like Below the Deck. Or just enjoy time at the beach, including Kaiki, which has an excellent taverna, and the fragrant, pine tree-lined Ayia Paraskevi. In the evening, you can dine on fresh-caught fish at Tarsanas Fish Tavern, in the Old Harbour, or sample bouillabaisse at Patralis Psarotaverna, on the water in Kounopitsa. Afterward, head to one of the bars, like La Luz, which hosts live bands and has a balcony overlooking the sea. The two open-air cinemas, Ciné Titania and Ciné Marina, are also a scene in summer.

Where to stay: Indagare can recommend the best options on the island, including a grand hotel with a modern spa.

How to get there: There’s easy and frequent hydrofoil service from Athens and the Peloponnese.

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized journey to Greece.

Eleni Gage

– Indagare on August 5, 2019

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