I spent a summer working in a bar on the Greek island of Kos.
And no, Kos, with its well-developed tourism industry, is definitely not one of Greece’s hidden gems. Spending a summer here however did allow me to explore much more of Greece and discover some amazing places.
Greece obviously has many famous tourist attractions. Everyone has heard of the Parthenon and the Acropolis in Athens and Santorini is the island you have probably seen in dozens of travel magazines. However, Greece also offers many impressive things to see that are not listed in every travel guidebook.
These are 5 hidden gems worth visiting when traveling to Greece:
1. The island of Paros
Paros is an island in the Aegean Sea, south of the more famous Mykonos. I absolutely loved this cute, tranquil island. Paros is a great place to explore some of the local cuisine without spending a lot. Prices here are lower than on more touristy islands such as Mykonos and it all feels a bit more authentic. There is a wide range of bars and restaurants to choose from however and enough nightlife in summer. Often you will find live music being played on the streets, especially on weekends.
In the north of the island you can find a city called Naousa. This city has become known for hosting a series of parades which feature many different musicians and dancers from nearby towns. People who have experienced these parades say that they should not be missed!
If you take the ferry from Athens to Paros it will drop you off in the city of Parikia. Parikia is the capital and main port of Paros. It is one of the most typical Cycladic settlements with its narrow cobbled paths, old churches, small shops and adorable houses in blue and white. On top of that, it boasts gorgeous white sand beaches making this a perfect place to spend some time in.
There are many beautiful Greece tours you can go on, but a trip to Paros is definitely one I would recommend!
2. The Athens Riviera
Most people who travel to Athens are unaware that there are beautiful beaches really close to the city. While it is true that Athens is not famous for its beaches, that does not mean they are not worth checking out while you are here.
The Apollo Coast, also known as the Athens Riviera or Athenian Riviera, is a perfect destination if you want to escape the bustle of the Greek capital. It’s a gorgeous coastline along the sheltered Saronic Gulf stretching from the southern suburbs of Athens to the southernmost point of Attica, Cape Sounio.
And the good news is that these beaches are not hard to get to. Simply take a bus from one of the main terminals to the city of Glyfada. Walk around and enjoy the coastline with its green-blue water, organized beaches and rocky coves. Filled with five-star resorts, spas, esplanades, marinas, windsurfing and sailing, there is enough to do to keep you entertained! Combine this with a great climate and you understand why this is on my list.
3. The island of Kythera
Kythera is considered by many people to be the most beautiful island in the Mediterranean that is unknown to most travelers. However, that is good news for those who are smart enough to make the trek to check it out.
There are hardly ever any large crowds on this island, which allows visitors to soak up all of the natural beauty in peace and quiet. The island of Kythera is located to the south of Peloponnese and can be reached by plane or ferry.
Pirates would often take refuge on the island many centuries ago and to this day the island still looks much the way it did back then.
4. Ancient Messene
Ancient Messene is home to a wide variety of ancient ruins that are remarkably well-preserved.
This community is a major historical and archaeological site located in the Peloponnese region of Greece. It’s an incredible testament to the extraordinary design and engineering skills of the early Greeks. This 2,000 year old city for some reason is often overlooked by travelers though. But if you do plan on traveling to Greece I highly recommend adding this to your list of places to see.
5. The island of Aegina
Aegina is an ideal place to visit if you are looking for an island close to Athens. It’s an easy 40 minutes ferry ride from Athens’ port Piraeus.
Aegina is a beautiful, fertile island full of pine trees and olive trees, picturesque villages, nice beaches and interesting archaeological monuments. One of the big attractions in Aegina is the stunning Temple of Aphaia. It is reminiscent of the Parthenon, however, it is in much better condition.
Due to its proximity to Athens, Aegina attracts many Athenian visitors especially during the weekends and in summer. However, as with the other areas listed here, few international tourists know about this place. This makes it feel much more authentic and a definite recommendation.
Or, visit popular and beautiful Santorini.
One final tip: Not a hidden gem, but when you are in Greece, visiting the Meteora will definitely be a unique experience.
Greece is beautiful, its history and culture are incredible and its people very hospitable. So if you haven’t been yet, definitely add it to your bucket list!