Hop around Greece’s lesser-known islands with Sunvil

Take your time and discover the slower pleasures of Greece on an island-hopping escape…

Team Wanderlust
04 December 2023

The Greek islands are more popular than ever these days, and with good reason. A combination of ancient history, traditional villages set in picturesque landscapes and the infectious Greek love of life make them hard to resist – and that’s before you even mention the beaches. But rather than follow the crowds to Santorini or Mykonos, let Sunvil, with its 48 years of experience and in-depth local knowledge of Greece’s islands, create the perfect handcrafted escape to some of the lesser-known gems.

Tilos

The route: Kos, Nissyros, Tilos and Rhodes

The abandoned village of Mikro Chorio on Tilos (Sunvil)

Tilos isn’t far from the tourism heavyweights of Kos and Rhodes, but the difference between them is that on Tilos, nature rules. The first fully energy self-sufficient Greek island, it was also the first to ban hunting back in 1987, allowing its wildlife to flourish (including rare Eleonora’s falcons). There are only two villages here: seaside Livadia and hilltop Megalo Chorio, which is home to a museum that has on display the bones of dwarf elephants that once roamed here. Only birdsong interrupts the silence along the island’s 67km of trails, which pass ruined Crusader castles and country chapels, often ending at lone beaches. Don’t miss the Byzantine monastery of Agios Panteleimonas where falcons soar above the cliffs.

Sifnos

The route: Athens, Sifnos, Folegandros and Milos

The picturesque village of Kamares on Sifnos (Sunvil)

In many ways the perfect Cycladic island, Sifnos charms everyone who lands here. Think sugar-soft sandy beaches, elegant white villages and churches with blue bubble domes – some on mountaintops, others teetering over the waves. Ancient, recently restored trails meander over rolling hills and fertile valleys, seeking out whitewashed Venetian dovecotes, chapels and the island’s 50-plus towers – relics of a sophisticated signalling system dating back more than 2,500 years. Sifnos is famous for its pottery and food, particularly soups and stews slow-cooked in locally made clay vessels. Because there is no airport, this beautiful island never gets too overwhelmed, and you can count on Sunvil’s decades of experience to arrange the best locally owned beachfront accommodation.

Amorgos

The route: Santorini, Amorgos, Astypalea and Kos

Beautiful Amorgos is the most remote of the Cyclades islands (Sunvil)

Calm and pretty ‘Old Greece’ lingers on ruggedly beautiful Amorgos. The most remote of the Cyclades islands, its traditional spirit remains intact, down to the working donkeys, making it well worth spending the few extra hours getting there. Beaches are lapped by seas so clear that film director Luc Besson used Amorgos to shoot his free-diving flick The Big Blue. From capital Chora you can walk to one of the most astonishing monasteries in Greece, Hozoviotissa, built in 1088 AD into a sheer cliff high over the sea. The two ports, Katapola and picturesque Aegialis, where Sunvil’s holidays are based, were long linked only by boat or a spectacular mountain trail, but are now connected by a road and bus.

Lemnos

The route: Thessaloniki, Lemnos, Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Rhodes

Myrina is the main port of Lemnos (Sunvil)

Sunvil offers an extended island-hopping holiday that includes Lemnos, one of several large islands in the north-east Aegean sea. Greece’s eighth-largest island figures in plenty of ancient tales involving the Amazons (female warriors), Argonauts and the Trojan War, so perhaps unsurprisingly archaeologists have found one of the oldest settlements in Europe here at Poliochni. Myrina, named after the Queen of the Amazons, is the island capital, a bustling, old-fashioned Greek town set beneath a Venetian castle on a rocky seaside promontory with spectacular views. There are excellent sandy beaches nearby and lots more are found dotted along Lemnos’s 260km coast. Indeed, there is much to explore, including the ouzo-making village of Kontias and a mini desert at Pachies Ammoudies.

Skyros

The route: Athens and Skyros

Whitewashed Chora is the main town on Skyros (Sunvil)

If you’re visiting Athens and want to contrast the buzzing city with slower island life – one with more sheep than tourists – look no further than Skyros, an isolated Sporades island linked to the capital by small plane. Whitewashed town Chora is filled with shops and tavernas, and it forms a picture-perfect swirl under a lofty Venetian castle; there is also an excellent museum on Skyros’ unique culture. Below Chora stretches a series of long sandy beaches dotted with family-owned hotels. Boats travel to its remotest shores, and Sunvil can arrange a hire car for touring Skyros’ untouched landscapes. Explore from the wooded north to the wild south, where the poet Rupert Brooke is buried; you’ll also see Skyrian ponies – descendants of the horses on the Parthenon marbles – still roaming.

Spetses

The route: Athens, Hydra and Spetses

Villas and Neoclassical houses line the waterfront on Spetses (Sunvil)

As two of the closest islands to Athens, Hydra and Spetses are perfect for combining with a city break. Both played key roles in the 19th-century Greek War of Independence, especially Spetses, which was home to Bouboulina Laskarina, considered the world’s first female admiral. Her house is now a charming museum. Pine-wooded Spetses has been a popular spot for wealthy Athenians since the early 1900s and has a different vibe from other islands. Neoclassical houses and villas circle the waterfront and yachts bob near the old harbour. Cars are banned but horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, mopeds and boats will get you to the beaches.

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