Smallest Greek Islands You Absolutely Must Visit

Greece has about 6,000 islands in total (the exact number is unknown), scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 are inhabited. You are never out of places to see and things to do in Greece – exploring Steni forest and Dragon Houses in Evia, watching Skyrian wild horses and transporting in time to ancient cities of Ioulida, Karthaia, Koressia and Poiessa to start off your journey. From island hopping to hills hiking, Greece is a paradise on Earth.

Under the wide open blue skies, and surrounded by an endless coastline, each day here melts into the next. It is because of this incredible ambience that Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and one of the most well-known.

While towns Santorini and Koufonisia are amongst some of the most popular destinations here, there are many lesser known and well-loved gem spots that are worth visiting.

We’ve travelled to the smallest and most picture perfect Greek islands to help you plan your next European holiday.

Symi, Dodecanese

Symi is a little jewel of a Greek island. It’s a part of the Dodecanese island chain, located about 41 kilometres (25 miles) north-northwest of Rhodes – a short ferry ride. It’s a gorgeous sight here every night, watching fishing boats slowly coming into the harbor on the sunset. The island is known for its unique shrimps here.

Having gone through its own history during the ancient and Byzantine period, the island was conquered in 1309 by the Kings of St. John. This is when a period of prosperity begins for the island with the development of shipping, sponge commerce, boat building, and other crafts. The island, along with the rest of the Dodecanese, changed hands several times throughout its history, each time shaping the culture of the local land. After being occupied by Germany during the World War II and then by Britain after, the island finally rejoined with Greece in 1948.

Since 1995, Symi has hosted the Symi Festival during the months of July to September. If this isn’t your cup of tea, take your time to walk through the main town here – it never fails to stun visitors. It’s a small and delicious town packed with upscale restaurants and fish taverns – you’ll be eating a lot here. And you should be – food is amazing here.

Check out the local Folk Museum – it’s a beautiful neoclassical building featuring Hellenistic and Roman sculptures and inscriptions as well as more recent carvings, icons and costumes.
And you absolutely must hike up 500 hundred marbles steps to get to the panoramic views of the hilltop village called Chorio. This will take your breath away.

Ithaca, Ionian islands

Ithaca charms visitors with its laid-back mode, the blue green water and the lush greenery. Worldwide famous as the home of Odysseus, Ithaca symbolises the return to the haven, the discovery and the fulfillment.

According to Homer, Laertes and Anticleia were the parents of Odysseus. He was married to Penelope and they gave birth to a son, Telemachus. Odysseus was king of Ithaca! Odysseus’s wanderings, adventures and recovery of his kingdom are the central theme of Homer’s The Odyssey, an epic in 24 books that also relates how he accomplished the capture of Troy by means of the wooden horse. Ithaca is a very special island in Greece!

Literature and mythology aside, Ithaca is a relaxing little island popular with families and serenity seekers. Here you can really enjoy some peace and quiet, swimming in the crystal water, walking along trekking paths, having your meal in fish taverns and chatting with the welcoming locals.

Take your time here exploring local mountain villages, seaside small towns and the capital harbour city Vathy because this is the perfect spot for hiking and exploring. And with all this walking here, make sure you rest enough and taste local food- try codpie, tomatoballs, savóro fish (fish fillet fried in vinegar, raisins, rosemary and garlic) tserepáto (red meat of chicken charcoal-grilled in a clay pot) and, as a desert, rovaní (ground rice with honey).

Ios, Cyclades

Ios Greece belongs to the Cycladic islands. It is particularly famous for the wonderful beaches, the picturesque village of Chora and certainly the intense nightlife that attracts mostly young crowds. There is so much to do in Ios, from never ending parties and celebrations to some of the most beautiful and peaceful natural getaways.

Take a dip at the Mylopotas beach, soaking in the Mediterranean sun, a beach with emerald-coloured water. After a nice and refreshing time by the sea, strap up your boots for an adventurous walk. Or more of a historical one. Homer was among the greatest poets in ancient Greek who wrote earlier mentioned epics like The Odyssey. Legend has it that it was here, where Homer took his last breath and now he lies buried in his grave at Plakoto – the northernmost part of the island on a hill. And what a view opens up from the hill! You can get to the grave by car or a motorbike. If you need more help planning your trip, give us a call.

The Odysseas Elytis Amphitheatre is another monumental sight you cannot miss here. Odysseas Elytis was a famous Greek poet. The Amphitheatre was named after the poet and is located at the top of the hill of Chora behind the whitewashed windmills that stand there. It is a colossal structure and can hold up to 1100 people at any given time. Every year, most of the cultural events of the island are held here including the grandest celebrations are that of the Homeria festival.

Meganisi, Ionian Islands

Just a short hop across the water from its bigger sister, Lefkada, Meganissi is a wonderfully unspoilt island that has a gentle, relaxing pace of life and relatively few tourists. The entire island covers just 20 square kilometres and is formed much like a flower, with a long stalk to the south and a clutch of petals, forming myriad bays and coves, to the north.

Although small, the island has plenty to offer, with lots of pebbly beaches to bask on, sleepy white-washed villages, such as Katomeri or Spartochori, to many good walking paths in the centre of the island.

Alonissos, Sporades

Alonissos is the furthest east of the three main inhabited Sporades Islands and perhaps because of this more isolated position, it is also the quietest. This is a peaceful getaway type of holiday for those of you seeking some rest time on your European adventure. The island is just 14km long and 4km wide and has some of the most beautiful beaches. This is paradise for swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers and sailors who can look forward to encountering several species of dolphin, whales, turtles and over 300 species of fish, not to mention the most important residents here: Mediterranean monk seals.

A narrow channel of water separates Alonissos from its nearest neighbour, Peristera. Archaeological digs here have found evidence of settlements dating back to Byzantine times, while remains of a shipwreck off its coast have shed more light on historical trade routes in the area.

About 13km southeast of Peristera is the island of Skantzoura, home to the remains of an ancient monastery. There are also couple of picturesque beaches worth visiting.

Kyra Panagia is the site of a 17th century monastery that sits just 7km off Alonissos’s northern tip. The Monastery of Megisti Lavra here is over 1,000 years ago old, back when the monks sought out this as a place where they could grow food and make wine for their community and those of other monasteries on the flanks of Mount Athos.

If you want help planning your Greek holiday, just reach out to us on 1800 242 353 or chat live online.