So you want to go to the Greek Islands but maybe you’re totally overwhelmed by planning an itinerary. I mean, there’s only like 6,000 of them, so it shouldn’t be that hard to decide, right? But let’s say you want to avoid crowds without having to go in the off season because you want great weather. There are two islands in the Cyclades group that I think you shouldn’t miss which are the best Greek islands to avoid crowds: the hidden gems of Milos and Folegandros.
- 1 Why Milos?
- 22.214.171.124 4) The Lack of Tourists I’m not saying there are none, but they are pretty much all at Sarakiniko (the white rock beach). So if you go anywhere else, chances are it will be fairly quiet. The island just felt like a small town with more locals. No one is fighting over spots to view sunset here.
- 2 Why Folegandros?
1) The Rock Formations of Milos
There’s no where like it. There are so many places in Milos to see the rock formations. One of the “cannot miss” activities in Milos is to take a day trip around the island by boat to see Kleftiko and snorkel the caves. There are many different companies, but Excellent Yachting was wonderful and has great reviews. It is a large boat and they provide an excellent lunch, snacks, unlimited drinks, the crew was wonderful, they lead you on a fun snorkel trip through the caves and they even bring a little dingy boat for cruising the caves so you can actually take pictures. This is one trip where you will want a GoPro and a GoPro dome! Seriously.
2) The Beaches
Milos is known for it’s beaches and awesome landscape. It’s a small enough island that you can explore lots of them in just a few days. Besides a boat trip to Kleftiko, Sarakiniko is an awesome spot that you can’t miss. It is a smooth white rock beach with cliffs and swimming holes. It is amazing at sunrise, but can get very busy during the day.
My favorite beach to relax, and the most sandy perfect beach, is Firiplaka. It’s a bit of a drive and rather remote, but it’s wonderful. I imagine during the high season it can get quite crowded. There is one little snack shack and a handful of sunbeds for 10 Euro a pair. The far side of the beach seemed very nude friendly.
Another gorgeous looking beach is Tsigrado but we didn’t make it there. Papafragas is popular and right off the main road but the best thing about it is the name, in my opinion. One of my absolute favorite spots was Kastanas Beach. In the Northeast corner, it was a bit of a drive, even from Pollonia along a road with mines and tons of heavy equipment and trucks on the roadway. So be very cautious. There is a dirt road with a sign for Kastanas on the left, which was not in accordance with the directions Google provided, but it worked (there were many times when Google offline maps failed us with bogus routes). It was a bumpy dirt road that led us to a beautiful rocky beach that we almost had to ourselves.
In comparison to Santorini and Mykonos, you will find hotel rooms and food to be a little easier on the budget. Drinks are at least a couple Euros cheaper, and same with food prices. Renting a scooter was about 5 Euros less per day. We stayed at Salt Suites and it was absolutely stunning and perfectly located. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.
4) The Lack of Tourists
I’m not saying there are none, but they are pretty much all at Sarakiniko (the white rock beach). So if you go anywhere else, chances are it will be fairly quiet. The island just felt like a small town with more locals. No one is fighting over spots to view sunset here.
For the awesome round towel (shown in above pic) that I took everywhere in Greece, click HERE.
1) The Lack of Tourists
I sound like a broken record, but it has to be said that Folegandros is where you go to feel like you’re a local. You go there to see what real, old fashioned Greek life must’ve looked like. Your scooter rides across the island can be done in a day and you’ll see herds of goats, donkeys, local farmers, beautiful old churches, and almost no other tourists will be around. It feels a bit like you’ve time traveled and you’re experiencing old Greece.
2) The Beaches
Turquoise blue water, pebbly beaches, and perhaps no one else around, many beaches require an adventure and some energy to hike down and back up the dramatic coastline. We stayed at the beautiful Blue Sand Hotel and Suites perched above Agali Beach which is beautiful and has a sandy beach. I would highly recommend this spot for solitude, great boutique vibes, and excellent service. And breakfast views = Wowza. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.
3) Chora Town
The main town in Folegandros is picture perfect and tiny enough to walk all over. It is perched on the cliff above a truly stunning coastline and blue water below. There are tons of awesome restaurants, and similar to Milos, the prices are better compared to Santorini and Mykonos. There are cute little shops to stroll, and overall, this was one of my favorite towns in all the Greek islands we visited.
Sunset is a big event in all the Greek islands, however I found it to be most impressive in Folegandros. There is a zigzagging pathway leading to a church perched high above the picturesque town. It faces the sunset and the views of the dramatic coastline are to die for. The trek looks daunting from below but it was not nearly as hard as we thought it would be. Start about an hour before sunset to be able to take your time and see the church. It was a bit windy and stormy for us, so we were kind of cold, but it was totally worth it.
If it’s your first time to the Greek islands, maybe you still want to see the more popular islands like Santorini or Mykonos? Awesome! I think you’ll love them; it’s hard not to. You can easily combine a few days of those islands with some less touristy islands like Milos and Folegandros to get the best of both worlds. When I told locals who asked about our island itinerary, the constant response was, “Good job. You chose the best islands!” Admittedly, I got some good advice from a local Greek who holidays in the islands often.
Travel Between Greek Islands
All the islands are easily connected with ferry services that range from slower big ferries to faster, small ferries. There are a number of websites that sell all the same tickets for the same prices. Literally just google “Greece ferry tickets” and a number of sites come up. I used a combination of different websites and different ferry companies for all my island hopping, and they were all easy and similar. Examples include www.ferryconnection.com, www.directferries.com, and www.greeka.com.
I hope you’ve been inspired to finally plan that Greek getaway. I put it off for far too long. Now I just want to go every year and explore new islands. I hope you consider exploring less popular islands for a chance to experience the “real Greece” and a slower pace of life. You won’t regret it. Milos and Folegandros are the best Greek islands without crowds.
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