Hidden Gems in Greece: Off the Beaten Path Spots

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When it comes to Greece, most of us picture its famous islands, ancient ruins, and sun-kissed beaches. Yes, it’s all of that, but while these well-known attractions are undeniably spectacular, there’s a whole world of extraordinary, hidden gems in Greece that may not be on the tourist radar but are just as remarkable.

In this article, we’ll explore ten destinations in Greece that aren’t as well-known as its iconic landmarks, but they certainly deserve your attention.

After all, travel isn’t just about ticking must-see sights off your bucket list. It’s also about delving deep into the heart of a place and its people.

Why visit the unique places in Greece?

The small rocky outcrop where the town of Monemvasia is, off the coast of the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece

Before we explore these hidden gems, let’s quickly discuss why going off the beaten path in Greece is a good idea.

Firstly, when you choose to go off the beaten path, you’re contributing to sustainable tourism. By diverting your attention from typically overcrowded destinations, you lessen the burden on their resources and infrastructure, promoting a healthier balance between tourism and native life.

Secondly, most places in Greece don’t see a lot of tourists and they desperately need the economic benefits that tourism brings. By choosing to visit lesser-known areas, you’re not only experiencing something unique and authentic, but you’re also making a positive impact on the local economy.

Thirdly, visiting unique destinations in Greece allows you to immerse yourself more deeply in the local culture. Instead of seeing the same sights that everyone else does, you’ll have the chance to engage with the locals, sample authentic cuisine, chat with locals one-on-one, and witness age-old traditions firsthand.

10 unusual places to visit in Greece

Greece is full of surprises, as we discovered on a road trip in the Peloponnese peninsula. Surprises await around every turn, with islands and villages tucked away in spots where few tend to wander.

Here are 10 captivating hidden gems in Greece, each with its own unique charm and allure. We’ll begin with the islands, and then take you to some of the best spots on Greece’s mainland.

1. Diros Caves

Stalactites and stalagmites in Diros Caves. Boat in the water in the distance.

The Diros Caves in the Peloponnese region of Greece offer a subterranean world that feels like something out of a fantasy novel. Far less crowded than the typical Greek tourist destinations, these stunning caves are a labyrinth of narrow passageways filled with stalactites and stalagmites, dramatically illuminated.

Visitors can explore the caves by boat, gliding silently through the maze of chambers that open into vast, awe-inspiring caverns.

For the perfect finale, bask in the beauty of Diros Beach, with its crystal-clear waters and pebbled shores, inviting you to a refreshing swim after your mesmerizing cave exploration.

 How to get there: The caves are located near the village of Pyrgos Diros in the Mani Peninsula. If you don’t want to drive, take a bus to the town of Areopoli, which is nearby. From there, you can arrange for local transportation to take you to the Diros Caves.

2. Loutraki

Loutraki seaside promenade and beach

Loutraki, conveniently situated near Athens, makes for an ideal day trip from the capital city. Its close proximity allows travelers to enjoy the beauty of the Gulf of Corinth and the town’s attractions without the need for an extensive journey.

Loutraki offers a diverse range of activities to cater to various interests. Visitors can partake in thrilling water sports along its long sandy beach, gamble at one of Europe’s largest casinos, or indulge in rejuvenating luxury wellness treatments at its renowned spas.

Moreover, Loutraki provides a unique opportunity to explore a more authentic and less touristy side of Greece. Here, you can immerse yourself in the local culture, savor traditional cuisine, and experience the genuine warmth of the community. You’ll get a taste of Greek life that differs from the heavily frequented tourist destinations.

This combination of convenience, diverse activities, and authentic cultural experiences makes Loutraki a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by those in search of a distinctive Greek adventure.

 How to get there: A bus or car journey from Athens will take you to this place.

3. Athos

A Mt Athos monastery as seen from the water

The Athos Peninsula, often referred to simply as Athos, is one of Greece’s somewhat untapped gems that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, spirituality, and ancient history. Home to the famous monastic community of Mount Athos (pictured), this region offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Orthodox monks who have preserved their traditions for centuries.

Located on the Halkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece, you must be a male to visit. Women have been banned since the fourth century, and even female animals are not allowed to enter the territory.

However, since it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mt. Athos has also become a popular tourist destination. This has led to the development of a thriving boat tour industry.

 How to get there: Book a Mount Athos excursion. Tour boats leave from the village of Ouranopoulis, at the tip of the Mt. Athos peninsula.

4. Zagori

Aerial view of Vikos Gorge, in the Zagori region of Greece

Picture yourself amidst the lush forests, deep gorges, and pristine rivers of northwestern Greece. This is Zagori, a region where 46 stone-built villages are connected by ancient cobblestone paths and bridges, sharing a strong community bond. Surrounded by natural beauty, Zagori boasts a rich cultural heritage and rugged terrain, and its UNESCO World Heritage statusi promises an unforgettable journey into Greek mountain life.

For adventure seekers, Zagori boasts hiking trails with awe-inspiring views of Vikos Gorge, one of the world’s deepest canyons. Amidst its timeless architecture, featuring slate roofs and stately mansions, you’ll unravel the region’s rich history and the enduring spirit of its inhabitants. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply in search of tranquility, Zagori promises a journey into Greece’s captivating hidden treasures.

 How to get there: Zagori is a nature lover’s paradise and is best reached by car.

5. Lemnos

Lemnos Island in Greece with colorful fishing boats and nice reflection

Situated in the northern part of the Aegean Sea, Lemnos is an island that tourism has yet to spoil. Known for its unique sand dunes, the island is also home to charming fishing villages and ancient ruins, including the Sanctuary of the Great Gods.

This island is perfect for those who want to enjoy Greece’s natural beauty in relative solitude. Perhaps try to keep this one a secret!

 How to get there: You can reach Lemnos by ferry or a short flight from Athens.

6. Spetses Island

Scenic old harbor on Spetses Island in Greece, with fishing boats and beautiful mansions

Another gem in the Saronic Gulf, Spetses offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. It played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence and boasts charming old mansions that are now museums. A visit to the Museum of Bouboulina, showcasing the personal belongings of the historical figure, is definitely worth it.

Beyond the cultural attractions, Spetses also offers stunning natural beauty. The crystal-clear waters, beautiful beaches, and scenic landscapes create an idyllic setting, whether you’re sailing around the island, exploring by bike or on foot, or simply relaxing on the beach.

The island is also famous for its annual Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta, which attracts yacht owners and enthusiasts from all over. If you’re there in June, witnessing this race adds to the excitement and charm of the island.

 How to get there: You can get to Spetses by ferry from Athens’ port of Piraeus. Once you get there, you’ll explore the island via horse-drawn carriage, as cars are rarely used here.

ⓘ PRO TIP: If you visit during the shoulder seasons or outside of the peak tourist months, you’ll have a better chance of experiencing a more serene and authentic side of this historic town.

7. Monemvasia

Entrance to the walled town of Monemvasia

Hiding on the back of a secluded island in the southeastern Peloponnese, Monemvasia is often overlooked by the hordes of tourists flocking to Greece’s more famous destinations. This rocky outcrop bears an uncanny resemblance to Gibraltar, the tiny British Territory on the Iberian Peninsula.

Welcome to the medieval marvel of Monemvasia, where history and charm converge. This captivating pedestrian-only enclave derives its name from its very essence: “single entrance.”

Here, you’ll find stone-built houses and Byzantine churches, all intricately connected by a labyrinth of cobbled paths. With so many nooks and crannies waiting to be discovered, its many staircases and winding pathways make it a magical place to explore.

I highly recommend staying in Monemvasia overnight; the experience was a standout highlight of our Peloponnese road trip and remains one of our favorite memories. Be sure to visit the Venetian fortifications at the top of the settlement; you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the rocky coast and the Mediterranean Sea.

 How to get there: To reach Monemvasia from Athens, you can drive, take a bus, or opt for a private transfer.

8. Thassos Island

Greek island of Thassos with boats and city view in the winter

Located in the northern Aegean Sea, Thassos is a haven of natural beauty with its marble beaches and dense pine forests. If that’s not enough, there are the ancient ruins that dot the island.

Beautiful nature, beaches with emerald-clear waters ideal for snorkeling, plus ancient history? Yes, please!

 How to get there: A ferry ride from the mainland will get you there.

9. Karpathos Island

Pigadia Village on the island of Karpathos, one of the hidden gems in Greece. Boat and clear water in foreground.

Lying between Crete and Rhodes, Karpathos offers a blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. The island’s traditional festivals are a spectacle not to be missed, especially from August to September. For adventure seekers, the windsurfing conditions are some of the best in Greece.

 How to get there: A flight or ferry from Athens will take you there.

10. Ikaria Island

Blue domes of a church in Xilosirtis, Ikaria Greece

What’s the secret to a long life? It’s more than just the Mediterranean diet, and the laid-back lifestyle of Ikaria can provide some insight. One of the world’s Blue Zones where people live longer than anywhere else, the residents of Ikaria are doing something right, because one in 3 people on Ikaria lives to be over 90.

Come for the longevity, stay for the local cuisine and tranquil beaches. If there is anywhere to grow old, Ikaria is the place, and you may never want to leave.

 How to get there: The island is accessible via a short flight or a ferry ride.

ⓘ FUN FACT: The other Blue Zones are Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica), and Loma Linda (California).

11. Meteora: For hiking and nature enthusiasts

Monastery of the Holy Trinity, atop a rock in Meteora, Greece. Surrounded by trees.

You may have heard of Meteora’s monasteries, perched impossibly atop rock pillars. But the region offers more than just spirituality. The otherworldly rock formations are also a paradise for hiking and rock climbing.

While some travelers choose to visit Meteora as a day trip from Athens, staying for a few days allows you to fully immerse yourself in its charm and explore its hidden gems. Whether you’re hiking the trails that wind through the breathtaking landscapes or climbing the rock formations for a bird’s-eye view of the rocks at sunset, the adventures in Meteora are truly unforgettable.

 How to get there: Meteora is easily accessible by train or car from Athens.

12. Delphi: The Navel of the World

Path leading through trees and surrounded by the ruins of Delphi Greece

The Oracle of Delphi might be Delphi’s claim to fame, but this mountaintop sanctuary offers much more. Wander among ancient ruins with the mountains as your backdrop, and you’ll feel connected to both history and nature.

Aside from the historical attractions, Delphi also boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Gulf of Corinth. The serene and picturesque surroundings add an extra layer of beauty and tranquility to your visit.

 How to get there: A bus or car journey from Athens will take you to this mystical place.

Final thoughts about going off the beaten path in Greece

And there you have it, my fellow globetrotters. A whistle-stop tour of Greece that doesn’t just stick to the well-worn tourist trail. We’ve swapped the bustling streets of Athens for the quiet charm of Monemvasia, exchanged the crowded beaches of Mykonos for the tranquil island life of Ikaria, and traded the well-trodden paths of Santorini for the breathtaking beauty of Zagori.

Remember, the beauty of travel is not just about ticking off a list of landmarks but also discovering those lesser-known spots that become your own little secret. And let’s be real: Who doesn’t love a good secret? Especially if it involves stunning views and delicious food!

Now, while I can’t promise that your Greek adventure will be free from the occasional lost-in-translation moment or a surprise encounter with a herd of goats blocking the road (hey, it happened to us!), I can assure you that these experiences will make your trip all the more memorable.

Until our next adventure, keep your wanderlust alive and your travel stories hilarious. After all, isn’t it the unexpected detours that make the best tales? Safe travels, or as they say in Greece, καλό ταξίδι!

The 8 Best Greek Islands to Visit in 2024
Top: Monemvasia rock as seen from the mainland. Bottom: Boats on an off the beaten path island in Greece.

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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