Blessed with more than 6,000 islands – of which only some 200 are inhabited – glorious Greece has plenty of gorgeous sun-dazzled atolls where you can laze on golden sand beaches, lap up succulent food and enjoy spectacular cultural attractions – without the crowds.
Here are the five under-the-radar Greek islands you need to discover now.
Sister atoll to Skopelos – the Sporades Island where feel-good movie Mamma Mia! was filmed – Alonissos’ pristine waters attract divers who come here to explore Greece’s first underwater museum near the uninhabited isle of Peristera.
Renowned since ancient times for its health-giving herbs, Alonissos is also a paradise for hikers who can explore a web of walking trails leading to mediaeval castles, ancient churches and highflung mountain villages.
Tucked between Paros and Santorini, this charming Cycladic Island has a timeless quality which is best discovered in the spectacular cliff top capital Chora, where sugar cube houses linked by winding alleys lead to the island’s centuries-old Panagia church, home to a silver icon that’s said to work miracles.
This unsung atoll surrounded by mirror-clear waters is also famed for fabulous food: must-try dishes here include matsata, handmade pasta served with rooster or rabbit in a rich tomato sauce.
One of the largest islands in the Dodecanese Group, Kalymnos is known for its sponge harvesting trade – the only Greek island to be involved with it after the Second World War. However, it’s the water sports that the island is arguably better known for now with people flocking to Kalymnos for its scuba diving, rock climbing, mountain hiking and spelunking.
Walk around Pothia, the island’s capital, and you’ll soon be seduced by the cobbled streets and colourful buildings. Many of the grander mansions were owned by the sea sponge merchants of years gone by.
One of the lesser known Cycladic islands, Serifos has much of the charm of its more popular neighbours, without the crowds. White and blue buildings dot the landscape and sit beautifully against the azure waters of the Aegean. There are some incredible beaches, too.
The capital of Serifos, Chora, is split into an upper neighbourhood (Pano) and a lower one (Kato) with the town seemingly cascading down the side of the island.
The birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Kythera has inspired artists, poets and filmmakers for centuries. The southernmost of the Ionian Islands, Kythera boasts valleys that end on the seashore; mountainsides that can be green or rocky and barren; spring waters cascading down the slopes; wonderful beaches; picturesque little villages; and an architecture that blends the apparent Venetian influences with the style found in the south Peloponnese.