Crowded beaches, full restaurants and expensive accommodation - this is the price you would pay to visit the most famous Greek islands in high season. Moreover, it is no longer a surprise that the sunbeds of popular beaches in these destinations are not only big-budget, but also need to be booked in advance. And since July and August are the months when most people are on a holiday, it is hard to avoid the crowds both on mainland and on the islands.
If you are not really obsessed with the idea to see the windmills of Mykonos at the height of the season, or if you just want a calmer sea vacation, check out the following low-key destinations - sometimes they turn out to be the better choice.
Being in a secluded location somewhere between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese islands, Astypalea is still spared from mass tourism. It has a beautiful Chora with cascading white houses, traditional windmills and a castle atop. The beaches are predominantly pebbly and most of them without any facilities - one more reason for the lack of many people.
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The best way to reach Karpathos is by plane - its small airport serves only domestic flights but yet this option is better than spending hours on the ferry. The island has scenic inland villages and both sandy and pebbled beaches.
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Skyros may not be blessed with the most stunning landscapes of Greece but it has an imposing Chora, delicious local cuisine and at least a dozen of nice beaches to relax.
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Unlike its neighbor Kefalonia, Ithaca is still unknown by mass tourists. The island has only a few settlements by the sea and pebbled beaches with transparent blue water.
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Kythira is part of the Ionian islands but it shares no common things with the other representatives of the group. Its cubical white buildings would make you believe you are somewhere in the Cyclades. The relatively isolated location and the lack of soft sandy beaches still keep most travelers away.
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Lipsi is suitable for hikers - it has only one village and plenty of small blue coves which can be accessed either by car or on foot. Most of the island is hilly and not developed, and the beaches has no facilities at al. In the village you can find hotels, restaurants and small shops.
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The island of the centenarians - as Ikaria is known - is not the typical Greek island for a holiday. It is suitable for people who seek quiet beaches and mountainous villages where time has stopped. There are no historical sights, neither cosmopolitan towns, just you, the sea and the authentic local tavernas.
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Nevertheless being very close to Mykonos, Tinos is not a popular Cycladic destination because it is quite windy. But apart from that, the island is a jewel - numerous inland villages with authentic architecture and sea view, small tavernas with local dishes and a lively capital. You will not see crowds at any beach of Tinos probably because the constant wind keeps them away or because there are no fancy beach bars like on its glamorous neighbor.
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Alonnisos is the least known representative of the Sporades group and you can reach it via the ferry which first passes by Skiathos and Skopelos. The island has a number of beautiful beaches with vivid blue water but only one of them is covered with sand, the rest are pebbled and not everyone`s cup of tea.
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If beach time is the main accent of your holiday, then this island is not for you. Sikinos is one of the smallest inhabited islands of the Cyclades, with a handful of beaches and more churches than houses. But it would be highly estimated by those who look for tranquility and hiking. Besides, it allows easy island hopping to Ios and Folegandros.
Kimolos is better known as a one-day trip destination from neighbor Milos but it offers everything you need for a longer stay - hotels, places to eat and various beaches. The main village is a typical example of a Cycladic kastro (old fortified settlement).
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12. South Peloponnese
Peloponnese is the too large to get crowded, though you may expect to see lots of people around its archeological sites or famous places like Nafplio and Monemvasia. The south part of the peninsula ends with three fingers where you can find calmer destinations and enjoy spacious beaches, stone houses and delicious food.