When it comes to the Greek islands, we consider ourselves the experts. With new ferry routes and faster catamarans, these dazzling islands are easier than ever to reach. Here are 7 favourite secret treasures
1 Folegandros – The magical island
Where: Folegandros is in the southern corner of the Cyclades
Why go: By far the most delightful island in the Cyclades, Folegandros matches its glitzy neighbour Santorini for striking views, but is a fraction of the price. This untouched paradise is sprinkled with secret coves, stark coastlines and higgledy-piggledy hamlets. The spectacular hilltop village of Hora is one of the most magical spots in Greece.
Getting there: Fly to Santorini then take a ferry or hydrofoil to Folegandros (1-3 hrs).
Stay here: Blue Sands is a pretty little hotel poised over a craggy hillside that tumbles into gin-clear waters. You’re a hop from the beach and the views from all 15 bedrooms are just mind-blowing (it’s worth paying extra for a top-floor room). Prices from £120.
2 Milos – The Venus de Milo island
Where: Milos is the southwesternmost island in the Cyclades
Why go: This striking volcanic island is where the Venus de Milo was first discovered (she’s now living it up in the Louvre). Milos boasts a coastline of more than 65 beaches, the standout being the spectacular, moonlike Sarakiniko – currently starring all over Instagram – which has waters so blue you’ll think the pictures are filtered.
Getting there: Easy! Fly to Athens then take a hopper flight to Milos (45 mins).
Stay here: Skinopi Lodge will take your breath away. Just 3 utterly romantic villas with incredible views of the blue Aegean from your bed, plus outdoor showers for starlit bathing. And talk about privacy – there’s not a speck of civilisation for miles around, just the soft tinkling of goat bells. Prices from £169 per villa.
3 Kastellorizo – The tiny, picture-perfect island
Where: Kastellorizo is about 2km off the Turkish coast near Kas.
Why go: Far-flung Kastellorizo is a microcosm of everything that’s great about Greece: the bluest, clearest waters, the prettiest pastel houses and gorgeous little tavernas serving fresh food by the water’s edge. It’s also the smallest of Greece’s inhabited islands (just 2 miles across), the furthest from Athens, and has just one village – and no cars save the odd taxi. What a winner!
Getting there: Fly to Rhodes, then ferry to the island (2-3 hrs). Check ferry schedulesbefore booking your hotel.
Stay here: Carettais a chic ‘n’ cheap guesthouse run by ever-smiling Monika and Damien (a German and Aussie couple). It’s a place for lazy days, starry evenings and some of the freshest and cheapest seafood found anywhere in the Med. We had a lobster for just €20 at Billy’s on the harbour. Prices from £43 per room.
4 Lefkas – The island you can drive to
Where: Lefkas is part of the Ionian islands.
Why go: Wait, an island you can drive to? Lefkas (or Lefkada) has some of the most dazzling beaches in Greece – all sugar-soft sands and electric blue seas – but is separated from the Greek mainland by a small bridge. You’re free to explore the sun-bleached villages and the flower-strewn valleys. Thrill junkies should make a beeline for twin hotspots Vassiliki and Nidri, both magnets for watersports.
Getting there: Fly to Preveza on the Greek mainland (easyJet), then take a taxi or hire a car and drive straight over the bridge!
Stay here: The Stone House is a lovely self-catering villa with amazing sea views from the private infinity pool. With 5 bedrooms (sleeping 10) and plenty of hammocks, it’s ideal for large groups or a couple of families. You can walk to the local taverna or BBQ-up local meat and veggies for dinner (help yourself to herbs from the garden). Prices from £386 for whole villa.
5 Evia – The island where locals go
Where: Evia is the second largest Greek island, located in Central Greece
Why go: I know what you’re thinking: how can Greece’s second largest island be a secret? Simple: it’s barely explored by non-Greeks. Evia (or Euboea) is an island of ridiculous beauty. It’s blessed with mountain forests, tumbling waterfalls and every kind of beach imaginable – sand, shingle, pebble, nudist – Evia’s got them all.
Getting there: Easy! Fly to Athens, hire a car and then drive to Evia via a long causeway. It’s a pretty journey (2 hrs).
Stay here: Eleonas Hotel is one of Evia’s most charming guesthouses, and definitely the best value for money. Owners Marina and Stefanos cook delicious vegetarian dishes (their fava bean hummus is heavenly) and they are more than happy to show you the best secret hiking trails along the coast. Prices from £49 per room.
6 Ithaka – The mythical island
Where: Ithaka is one of the Ionian islands, off the northeast coast of Kefalonia.
Why go: The epic island home of wandering Odysseus may be famous in world literature, but this hidden gem is mostly unknown to tourists. It’s a wooded, hilly island with a jagged coast. Sailors love its sheltered harbours, swimmers its emerald waters, and you can discover places with wonderful names like The Cave of Nymphs and The Fountain of Arethousa.
Getting there: Easy! Fly direct to Kefalonia (easyJet) then take a quick 45-min ferry from Sami or Poros.
Stay here: Levendis Estate is a stylish retreat for nature lovers with just 4 charming cottages surrounded by scented gardens, plus a tempting pool. It’s a place for massages, moonlit swims and marvellous feasting. Expensive? Yes, but worth every euro. Prices from £317 per cottage, including chauffeur transfers from Kefalonia airport.
7 Andros – The island with 70 beaches
Where: Andros is the northernmost island in the Cyclades
Why go: Probably our favourite secret island in Greece, Andros is like the Scottish Highlands plonked down in the south Aegean. Like the Highlands, Andros is endowed with waterfalls, forests and stone-paved trails, but is equally packed with whitewashed villages and over 70 sun-drenched beaches. It’s a near wild heaven.
Getting there: Fly to Athens, taxi to Rafina, then ferry to Andros (3 boats daily, 2 hrs). Check ferry schedulesbefore booking your hotel.
Stay here: Onar, meaning ‘dream’ in ancient Greek, is the perfect name for this cluster of cute cottages (sleeping 2-5) and just a leafy stroll from an ultra-secluded beach. Onar has a relaxed vibe, so if you’re looking for a digital detox there’s no better place. Prices from £145 per cottage.