Simply put, a lifetime wouldn’t be enough to explore the 6,000 islands of Greece, only 227 which are inhabited. The Greek isles tend to draw global travelers for their whitewashed villages, sparkling blue-green sea, lively choras and fresh fare, but there’s far more to all that than what’s found on the touristy islands of Mykonos and Santorini. There are hundreds of other islands to visit in Greece where you can forgo the crowds in favor of untouched beaches, family-run restaurants and remote beauty—as well as activities that suit your travel style and interests.
In May, when Greece was one of the first EU countries to open its borders to US leisure travelers, it was just in time for Greece’s peak season, which typically runs from May to September. As a result, this summer was especially packed with American and European tourists alike: According to aviation consultancy OAG, planned international flights (largely from the US) to Greece were higher in August 2021 than they were in the record-breaking year of 2019, with nearly five million seats booked.
“People are eager to travel, as they have been restricted for too long and ‘unvacationized,’” says Stamatis Giannakopoulous, general manager of Aegialis Hotel & Spa on the island of Amorgos. “Even though we know that unexpected incidents, such as another outbreak or lockdown, could reverse the rising tourism, if what we have seen this July and August is close to normal and will continue, then we will likely see an extended ‘summer season’ through September and a good part of October.”
So with droves of tourists still apparently exploring Greece, now is the perfect time to visit an off-the-beaten path island where you can beat the crowds, experience quintessential seaside charm and satisfy your travel cravings. From the Cyclades to the Ionian islands, here are nine islands matched by travel type, whether you’re looking for adventure or wellness, romance or family time, history lessons or a digital detox.