Exploring the Lesser-Known Islands of Greece by Sail
Exploring the Lesser-Known Islands of Greece by Sail

Embark on an off-the-beaten-path adventure by sail and discover the lesser-known islands of Greece, offering unique experiences and breathtaking beauty beyond the well-known destinations.

Exploring the Lesser-Known Islands of Greece by Sail

Greece is a popular destination for sailing enthusiasts, with its crystal-clear waters, picturesque islands, and rich history. While many sailors flock to the well-known islands of Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete, there are countless lesser-known islands that offer unique experiences and breathtaking beauty. In this article, we’ll explore some of these hidden gems, providing you with an off-the-beaten-path adventure that you and your family will cherish for a lifetime.

Table of Contents

  1. Why Choose the Lesser-Known Islands
  2. Navigating the Greek Waters
  3. Island Hopping Itinerary
  4. Tips for a Successful Sailing Adventure
  5. Conclusion

Why Choose the Lesser-Known Islands

While the popular Greek islands have their charm, they can also be crowded and touristy, especially during the peak summer months. By choosing to explore the lesser-known islands, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Experience authentic Greek culture and traditions
  • Discover hidden coves, pristine beaches, and unspoiled landscapes
  • Enjoy a more relaxed and peaceful sailing experience
  • Support local economies and small businesses

Before setting sail, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the Greek waters and the unique challenges they may present. Some factors to consider include:

  • Weather: The sailing season in Greece typically runs from April to October, with the most favorable conditions occurring between May and September. Be prepared for the Meltemi winds, which can be strong and unpredictable, particularly in the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands.

  • Mooring: Many of the lesser-known islands have limited mooring facilities, so it’s essential to plan your stops carefully and be prepared to anchor in secluded bays.

  • Provisions: While the larger islands have supermarkets and shops, the smaller islands may have limited supplies. Be sure to stock up on essentials before departing and plan your stops accordingly.

  • Navigational Hazards: The Greek waters are generally safe for sailing, but it’s essential to be aware of potential hazards such as submerged rocks, reefs, and strong currents.

Island Hopping Itinerary

With over 200 inhabited islands in Greece, there are endless possibilities for creating your perfect island-hopping itinerary. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the lesser-known islands in four main island groups: the Northern Sporades, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Ionian Islands.

Northern Sporades

Located in the northwest Aegean Sea, the Northern Sporades are known for their lush green landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and charming villages. Some lesser-known islands to explore include:

  • Alonissos: This tranquil island is home to the National Marine Park of Alonissos, which protects endangered species such as the Mediterranean monk seal. Explore the island’s numerous beaches, hike through the pine forests, and visit the picturesque village of Chora.

  • Skopelos: Known as the “green and blue island” due to its lush vegetation and stunning coastline, Skopelos offers a peaceful retreat for sailors. Visit the beautiful beaches of Panormos and Milia, and explore the island’s monasteries and traditional villages.

  • Skyros: The southernmost island of the Sporades, Skyros is known for its unique architecture, wild landscapes, and beautiful beaches. Visit the Skyros Town, with its narrow streets and whitewashed houses, and explore the island’s numerous hiking trails.

Dodecanese Islands

Located in the southeastern Aegean Sea, the Dodecanese Islands are known for their rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture. Some lesser-known islands to explore include:

  • Leros: With its numerous bays and coves, Leros is a sailor’s paradise. Visit the charming villages of Agia Marina, Panteli, and Platanos, and explore the island’s fascinating history, including the Castle of Leros and the War Museum.

  • Nisyros: This volcanic island offers a unique landscape of craters, hot springs, and lush valleys. Visit the picturesque village of Nikia, perched on the edge of the volcano’s caldera, and explore the island’s ancient ruins and monasteries.

  • Symi: Known for its colorful neoclassical architecture and crystal-clear waters, Symi is a hidden gem in the Dodecanese. Visit the island’s main town, also called Symi, and explore the nearby beaches and bays, such as Nanou and Marathounda.

Cyclades Islands

Located in the central Aegean Sea, the Cyclades are known for their iconic white-washed villages, stunning beaches, and vibrant nightlife. Some lesser-known islands to explore include:

  • Folegandros: This small, rocky island offers a peaceful escape from the crowds. Visit the island’s main village, Chora, perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, and explore the island’s numerous hiking trails and secluded beaches.

  • Sikinos: With its unspoiled landscapes and traditional way of life, Sikinos is a hidden gem in the Cyclades. Visit the island’s two main villages, Chora and Kastro, and explore the ancient ruins of Episkopi, a Roman mausoleum.

  • Kythnos: Known for its thermal springs and beautiful beaches, Kythnos is a popular destination for sailors. Visit the picturesque villages of Chora and Driopida, and explore the island’s numerous beaches, such as Kolona and Apokrousi.

Ionian Islands

Located in the western part of Greece, the Ionian Islands are known for their lush landscapes, beautiful beaches, and rich history. Some lesser-known islands to explore include:

  • Paxos: This small island is known for its olive groves, crystal-clear waters, and charming villages. Visit the main town of Gaios, explore the island’s numerous beaches, such as Voutoumi and Kipiadi, and take a boat trip to the nearby Antipaxos island.

  • Ithaca: Known as the home of Odysseus in Greek mythology, Ithaca offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Visit the island’s main town, Vathy, and explore the numerous archaeological sites, such as the School of Homer and the Cave of the Nymphs.

  • Kastos: This tiny, unspoiled island is a perfect destination for sailors seeking solitude and tranquility. Explore the island’s beautiful beaches, such as Fyki and Kamini, and visit the charming village of Kastos, with its traditional stone houses and windmills.

Tips for a Successful Sailing Adventure

To ensure a memorable and enjoyable sailing experience, consider the following tips:

  • Plan your itinerary carefully: Research the islands you wish to visit, taking into account factors such as mooring facilities, provisions, and weather conditions.

  • Be flexible: Be prepared to adjust your plans if necessary, due to factors such as weather, mooring availability, or local events.

  • Respect local customs and traditions: When visiting the lesser-known islands, it’s essential to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and be mindful of local etiquette when interacting with residents.

  • Learn some basic Greek phrases: While English is widely spoken in Greece, learning a few basic Greek phrases can go a long way in making a positive impression on the locals.

  • Practice safe sailing: Ensure that your boat is well-maintained and equipped with the necessary safety equipment, and always keep an eye on the weather and sea conditions.


Exploring the lesser-known islands of Greece by sail offers a unique and unforgettable adventure for you and your family. By choosing to venture off the beaten path, you’ll have the opportunity to experience authentic Greek culture, discover hidden gems, and create lasting memories. With careful planning, flexibility, and respect for local customs, your sailing adventure in Greece will be an experience you’ll cherish for a lifetime.