Take a Break at These Quiet Greek Islands
Head to Greece to get away from it all, with a backdrop of olive groves and the gentle strains of the bouzouki
If peace and seclusion are your must-haves when planning a holiday, Greece is the perfect choice. Yes, it’s also home to party resorts and vibrant nightlife, but the country’s many islands are home to zen-inducing hidden corners, where tranquillity and calm are the watchwords. Here at Plum Guide, we know that holidays are meant to be an escape from the stresses of daily life (we know just about everything when it comes to travel). This is why we’ve put in all the legwork, to give you the lowdown on the quiet Greek islands that should be top of your holiday hit list. While visiting these non-touristy Greek islands, you’ll be sure to live out the meaning of the local phrase “siga, siga” (“slowly, slowly”, or “take your time”) - simply kick back with a Mythos or Alfa beer, and listen to the sound of the cicadas.
As Greece’s largest island, Crete has a distinct advantage when it comes to having a plethora of secluded spots. Thanks to the 650 miles of coastline, many of these blissful hideouts are beside the sea. Among the most idyllic is Elafonisi Beach, which feels like a slice of Caribbean paradise - thanks, not least, to its famous pastel-pink sands and wonderfully warm lagoon. In the tranquillity stakes, though, this near-tropical treat faces stiff competition from Preveli on the island’s southern coast - set at the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, where the river Megalos Potamos meets the sea, Preveli is backed by a lush palm forest and rugged cliffs. If connecting with nature is what helps you switch off, why not try hiking the magnificent Samaria Gorge?
Corfu may not be the first to spring to mind when thinking of quiet Greek islands, but rest assured that this Ionian isle is home to plenty of peaceful oases. For a laidback base for your trip, make a beeline for the charming villages of Paleokastritsa, Koloura, or Kalami - alternatively, staying near Nisaki means getting close to nature with easy access to a wealth of walking trails. Dreaming of a hidden beach escape? Make your way to little-known Kanouli, Kalami (where you’ll find the former residence of British authors Gerald and Lawrence Durrell), or the emerald waters of Rovinia Beach.
In spite of its starring role in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Kefalonia is always sure to get a mention when it comes to the finest Greek islands for relaxing holidays. To experience life in the slow lane, while still having the option of strolling down the beach into the larger town of Sami, make the charming village of Karavomilos (home to the spectacular Melissani Lake Cave) your Kefalonia home-from-home. Kefalonia's Kimilia and Dafnoudi have both been named among Europe’s best secluded beaches - simply walk through the verdant cypresses and olive trees to discover your own secret slice of Ionian paradise.
In a country as popular with holidaymakers as Greece, it’s refreshing to find a non-touristy Greek island like Lefkada. With a distinctly easy-going feel, it’s an ideal spot to both enjoy some R&R, and soak up some authentic local culture. For the ultimate getaway, explore the sleepy villages of the island’s interior, set amidst groves of olive trees. While for an away-from-it-all, relaxing Greek holiday, the fishing villages of Nikiana and Ligia will surely fit the bill. The postcard-perfect beaches of Mikros Gialos and Sivota - as relaxed as they are picturesque - are just two of the reasons Lefkada is destined to feature in any guide to quiet Greek islands.
Though not quite as renowned as its neighbours Mykonos and Santorini (which are unlikely to feature on a list of the quietest islands to visit), Paros is arguably a better bet for travellers in search of some of Greece’s most tranquil beaches. The silky sands and pristine waters of Molos provide a calm alternative for visitors who like their beaches a little more “peaceful” than “party”, while Tripiti is the ultimate hidden gem - and a must-visit for snorkelling enthusiasts. For a laidback and authentic yet nonetheless cosmopolitan feel, the harbour village of Naoussa in Paros’s northeastern corner is a safe (and very Instagrammable) bet, while inland Lefkes (the former capital) offers the chance to experience traditional Cycladic village life.
Dreaming of a trip to the Dodecanese? With beaches to die for, a rich history, and even an enchanting valley filled with butterflies, it’s not hard to see why Rhodes is a firm favourite with travellers looking for a relaxing break. Beyond the busier resorts of Faliraki, Lindos, and Tsambika, serenity-seekers will love the distinctly non-touristy vibes of pretty Kallithea (particularly popular with locals, and home to healing thermal springs) - the calm waters of Stegna, whose sand and shingle beach stretches two kilometres, will also more than do the job. To bring your holiday a dose of fairytale magic, explore the serene cobblestone paths, waterfalls, and ponds of Rhodes’s Valley of the Butterflies - keep an eye out for the distinctive black, yellow, and red butterfly Panaxia Quadripunctaria.