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But have you been everywhere?
We’d venture to say that no matter how well-traveled you are you probably haven’t been to the islands we have chosen to feature in this piece. We’re encouraging you to think beyond the thriving nightlife of Mykonos and the jaw-dropping scenery of Santorini. After all, the country of Greece has about 6,000 islands and inlets with just 227 of them inhabited.
It seems a pity to only hear about a small handful, so we enlisted expert insight from Sonia Athan (her full Greek name is Sofia Anastasia Athanasopoulou), VP of Sales & Business Development at Travelive, one of our preferred luxury travel companies for clients traveling to Greece, Italy, Spain, Egypt or Turkey.
The following islands are Sonia’s suggestions for exploring Greece beyond the usual suspects, and in a way that can still be done comfortably and in luxury. Introducing Naxos, Paros, Ios, Milos and Folégandros…
The island of Naxos wouldn’t be (rumored to be) featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show “Parts Unknown” in an upcoming season if it wasn’t a special place.
The fertile landscape of Naxos spans mountain villages, ancient ruins, old churches and long stretches of beach. You will find the port town of Naxos tightly packed with whitewashed, cube-shaped houses and medieval Venetian mansions, while traditional villages are perched high on mountain tops. The local residents still wear their traditional dress and live off the fruits of the land.
Where to stay: Naxian Collection, Luxury Villas & Suites
Íos sits halfway between Naxos and Santorini and features a hilly landscape with many of those sought after cliff vistas that draw visitors to the region. Other iconic sights include the twelve windmills, churches with arched belfries and light blue domes, and classic Grecian white cube buildings.
Ios offers gorgeous scenery and a high level of authenticity. You will find stunning beaches and a petrified forest for hiking, an organic farm, a cheese factory and a fantastic town. The product here still caters very much to Greeks and locals so food options are inexpensive and superb.
Ios is unique in that there are a lot of what they call “mixed” families, in which one person came on holiday and stayed to marry. This gives the island a unique feeling that you just belong.
The view approaching the island is simply enchanting. The capital and port town gives the impression of an amphitheater; with the buildings built up along the hillsides and the ruins of a towering medieval castle perched above.
A little fast fact for you: Íos is the final resting place of Homer, the great epic poet. We know you’ve been wanting to re-read the Iliad or Odyssey. Now’s the time!
Where to stay: Agalia Luxury Suites
Paros is best known for its beaches with naturally sculpted rock formations that form swimming coves, and for traditional villages that are connected by Byzantine footpaths. The island’s busy port and capital of Parikia is a boating and transportation hub for the Cyclades region. It’s also home to the Panagia Ekatontapiliani, a landmark Byzantine church that is one of the most splendid in the Cyclades.
Naoussa, on the north coast is a popular resort at the heart of which is a colorful fishing village. Although it has an up market feel to it Naoussa is still a working harbor with piles of fishing nets, bright caiques, and little ouzeria. It is a relaxed, picturesque village with whitewashed alleyways.
Thanks to its central location in the heart of the Cyclades and its unrivaled beauty, Páros is one of the best loved holiday destinations in Greece.
Where to stay: Yria Resort, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Beaches, caves and thermal hot springs make Milos an interesting and diverse island that celebrates nature’s spectacular drama.
Most of the island is not accessible by car, so taking a boat trip around the islands gets visitors to some of the island’s 80 stunning white sand beaches, gorgeous coves, rock tombs, mine/mineral drops (where mining products were loaded into ships), and more. Travelive hires only captains who are locals and who grew up on the seas. They love to dive for sea urchins and have taught guests to spearfish and collect mollusks – that can then be eaten on board!
Milos has a great winery to visit for a tasting and the Chora is a lovely hilltop village where guests can enjoy lovely dinners with a view and a night out “on the town.”
Where to stay: Melian Boutique Hotel & Spa
This off-the-beaten-path destination is worth the detour. It is a small and rocky island with wild beauty and a spectacular capital perched on a cliff with medieval dwellings. The island is ideal for those seeking genuine Greek island life and the wild beauty.
It captivates visitors with the untouched beauty of its beaches, the luminous blue of its waters, and the pure style of its architecture. It has been showing up in Condé Nast but still remains a bit more off the radar.
Where to stay: Anemi Hotel
For destinations from mainstream to off-the-beaten path, our Town & Country vacation planners can send you places daydreams are made of. Contact us at (805) 495-9888 to get started!