21 Best Hidden Gems in Greece, the Greek Islands

Best Hidden Gems in Greece the Greek Islands

Many of these 21 hidden gems in Greece are probably well known to sophisticated Greeks, however the majority of foreign tourists wouldn’t have a clue about these fabulous destinations.

How many times have you seen a picture of spectacular Santorini in tourism ads aimed at getting you to think about taking a trip to Greek heaven? I’m guessing lots. That’s not a bad thing but it has blinded you to some of Greece’s best kept secrets.

The 21 hidden gems in Greece shown here will open your eyes to many of these wonders. There’s much more to Greece than you’ve probably ever realised.

These hidden gems will give you something else to consider like possibly extending a planned Greek vacation or going back one day. If you’ve never been to Greece before, then knowing about some of these hidden gems could even spark a desire to visit one day. Let’s take a look.

1. Lake Vouliagmeni – Athens Riviera (Apollo Coast) 

This is one of those hidden gems in Greece located only a short 20 km south of Athens city centre. You can find it in the classy seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni.

Secret Locations Greece Vouliagmenis lake

Most foreign tourists wouldn’t have a clue about this place. Who would expect to find a beautiful oasis like this so close to the concrete jungle of Athens?

Lake Vouliagmeni Athens Riviera Apollo Coast

The upscale suburb of Glyfada is located about 17km southeast of Athens. This marks the beginning of the Apollo Coast (otherwise known as the Athenian Riviera). It is a 50km stretch of beaches, resorts and nightlife all the way down to Cape Sounion, where the famous Temple of Poseidon is located.

The coastal road of Poseidonos Ave, often just called Paraliaki, leads from Glyfada to Voula, Kavouri and then to popular Vouliagmeni and also Astir Beach, often touted as the finest beach in the Athens district.

Savvy travellers often choose to make Vouliagmeni their Athens base. Vouliagmeni is an anchor point of the famed “Athens Riviera” which is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Athens.

The beauty of staying somewhere like Vouliagmeni or somewhere else on the Apollo Coast is that you still have easy access to Athens central.

Consider staying at the Divani Apollo Palace or the Astir Palace Hotel.

Vouliagmeni lake operates as a year-round spa. The refreshing water is fed by natural springs with a water temperature around 24ºC making it very pleasant swimming spot.

A visit here would make for a great half-day trip from Athens at the very least.

2. Polilimnio Waterfalls – Messinia

Polilimnio Waterfalls are located in the southern part of Messinia, north of Pilos, about 50 km (30 miles) from the city of Kalamata in the Peloponnese.

In Greek, polylimnio translates to ‘many lakes’. This hidden paradise contains 15 little fresh water pools, one of them being Kadoula Lake. In Greek, kardoula means small heart. This is a very popular place to go for a swim.

Gorgeous waterfalls drop into many of the stunning aqua blue water pools along the Polilimnio gorge. The highest and most picturesque of the waterfalls with a height of about 25 meters falls into Kadi Lake.

The falls carpark is located near Haravgi (Charavgi) village. The first two pools and falls are easily accessible by a footpath and bridge.

Secret Spots in Greece Walking to Polilimnio Waterfalls
Walking to Polilimnio Waterfalls, Source: Vassilis (Mods) – Flickr (left & right)

A more challenging hike, around 30 minutes, will take you to the highest waterfall. Keep an eye out for the little crabs along the trail.

This is a great spot to go for a refreshing cold swim. Be aware though that the water is freezing cold! You can even climb a rope ladder and courageously dive in.

Consider going on a guided tour of the Polilimnio Waterfalls and pools, also known as the Greek “blue lagoon”.

Route Length: 3 km (total)
Walking Time: 1.5 hours (total)

This secret paradise has to be one of Greece’s best hidden gems.

Hidden Gems Greece Polilimnio Waterfalls
Source: Vassilis – Flickr

Internet myth has it that Pegasus the flying horse used to drink in these pools. Good one.

Hidden Gems in Greece Beautiful Pool of Water
Source: Vassilis – Flickr

Tip: Wear some decent footwear and avoid flip-flops. It can get quite slippery on some of the rocks. Avoid wet weather as it can get very dangerous with falling rocks.

3. Pelion

Great natural beauty awaits you in Pelion.

In Greek mythology, Mount Pelion was the homeland of Chiron the Centaur, the tutor of many ancient Greek heroes.

Apparently, the Olympian Gods also spent their holidays in Pelion. It looks good, really, really good. If I only knew about the place, I would have gone there for sure.

https://youtu.be/KXTS_z19OGg

4. Pozar Baths (Pozar Hot Springs) – Loutraki

Pozar thermal baths are located in Loutraki in the Pella prefecture on the footsteps of Mount Voras (Kaimaktsalan).

This beautiful therapeutic area is situated 110 km from Thessaloniki, which is also known as the Nymph of the North. It is a couple of hours drive away from Greece’s second largest city.

Edessa, another top attraction is only 40 km away from the Pozar hot springs, which means you should plan on seeing both Pozar Hot Springs and Edessa Waterfalls during the same trip. Edessa Waterfalls are a top tourist attraction as well.

The word “pozar” means ember, burning coal. Expect to be in a pristine paradise with soothing rivers, hot springs, natural/private pools, fancy hotels, restaurants, natural/artificial waterfalls and green plane trees.

Trails connecting the thermal springs with Mount Voras (Kaimaktsalan) along the river will take you by 16 prehistoric caves hidden in the gorge. 

Open pools naturally shaped along the bank of the hot river give you the opportunity of bathing in a beautiful natural environment.

Pozar Baths Hot Springs
Pozar Baths, Source: jojo (Mod) – Flickr

A walk through nearby Black Forest is a must. It is one of the most beautiful forests in Greece. The forrest’s name is derived from the density of the trees as they block the sunlight from reaching the ground.

In ancient times, Nymphs offered the divine gifts of health and wellbeing in these waters.

The thermal water is a soothing 37⁰C making it an ideal year round destination.

5. Seychelles – Ikaria

This spectacular beach is located 25 km west of Agios Kirikos on the south coast of Ikaria.

It is located in the least developed area of the island where the high rocky mountains slope down to the ocean. This is where the road ends in the isolated village of Manganitis.

Seychelles beach Ikaria

Seychelles beach has to be one of Ikaria’s most intriguing and most exotic beaches, especially so considering it is named after the Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. It doesn’t get much more exotic than the Seychelles.

Beach Ikaria Island hidden gem secret
Seychelles Beach – Ikaria Island, Source: Vasiliki Theodoridou (Mod) – Flickr

Could this beautiful beach be the secret reason as to why the people of Ikaria live longer than people on other Greek islands and those living on the mainland?

6. Othoni – The Diapontian Islands

A group of islands known as the Diapontian islands are located 6km to the northwest of Corfu and about 8km away from Italian coasts.

The three main islands of the archipelago are Othoni, Ereikoussa and Mathraki.

Mathraki and Othoni Hidden Gems in Greece
Mathraki and Othoni, Source: Dreizung – Wikimedia

Othoni is one of a number of islands linked to the nymph Calypso. Apparently she lived in a large cave on the island of Othoni, which quite a few other islands seem to claim as well. Odysseus spent 7 years with Calypso. When he left the island on a raft on his way back home to Ithaca he supposedly washed up on Scheria, which is now known as the island of Corfu.

7. Kastellorizo

Hidden gems in Greece don’t get much more hidden than Kastellorizo.

Kastelorizo Island hidden gem Greece
Kastelorizo, Source: Papoutsis Travel (Mod) – Flickr

It lies about 2 kilometres off the south coast of Turkey, approximately 125 km east of Rhodes. It is pretty much the furthest island you can get to in that direction without completely leaving Greece.

Hidden-Gems-Greece-Kastellorizo
Kastellorizo, Attribution: Kostas Limitsios (Mod) – Flickr

Kastellorizo is the smallest of the Dodecanese islands. Foreign movie buffs should know that this is the island where the classic 1991 Oscar-winning movie Mediterraneo was filmed. What a great movie. I highly recommend this Oscar winner to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Make sure you also take a trip to the Blue Cave while you’re there, a dazzling grotto that can only be reached by boat.

8. Porto Heli – The Peloponnese

Porto Heli is a summer resort town situated on a bay of the Argolic Gulf, 40 km southeast of Nafplio, the one time capital of Greece.

The island of Spetses is located 6 km south of Porto Heli. There are ferry connections from Porto Heli to Spetses, as well as to Hydra, Poros, Ermioni and Piraeus.

Some of you probably think it laughable to consider this place one of Greece’s hidden gems, but I never knew anything about this place until my 30s.

Porto Heli looks like a top spot to visit especially when planning a visit to the island of Spetses. Had I known about it, I would have visited Porto Heli and Spetses for sure. This is what ignorance does, you miss out on great stuff.

Porto Heli Hidden Gems Greece
Attribution: Agnee – Flickr

9. Kassandra – Halkidiki

Halkidiki is a mecca for beach lovers with over 500 km of pristine coastline. It is one of the most visited destinations in Greece for those in the know.

Accommodation options are endless. Some of the best hotels and resorts in Greece can be found here.

Halkidiki is a 3 fingered peninsula found in northern Greece. The three peninsulas are Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos and all 3 have their own beautiful characteristics.

This spectacular region of Greece is part of mainland Greece and even though it is lesser known than the famous Greek islands, it is a wonderful place for a beach holiday. The nightlife is also considered to be excellent.

In Greek mythology, this is the birthplace of the Giants. It is also where the Gigantomachy took place, when the Giants tried to force the Olympian Gods out of Mount Olympus. 

On a clear day you can even see Mount Olympus across the vast Gulf of Salonica.

Kassandra is virtually an island, separated from the mainland by a narrow isthmus.

10. Neda Waterfalls

These waterfalls are named after Neda, a water goddess/nymph, entrusted to take care of Zeus.

You can stroll around the banks of the river and lounge around. The riverside ends up in the natural river pool like paradise. You will probably see a few nymphs around the place.

Hidden Gems in Greece Neda Waterfalls

Interestingly, Neda is a female name in Greek. The river Neda is one of only two rivers in Greece with a female name, the other being Arapitsa near Naoussa, in northern Greece.

11. Parga – Epirus

Parga is a Greek town with superb beaches and fantastic nightlife.

This is one of the most beautifully located Greek towns you could hope to visit. Krioneri beach, Lichnos beach or Valtos beach await beach lovers. You won’t be disappointed.

Parga Hidden Gems Greece
Parga, Attribution: plaskass – Flickr

Visiting Parga is often said to be like visiting several of the Ionian islands all at once, since it has characteristics similar to Corfu and Kefalonia.

Best Hidden Gems in Greece Hermis Greek Sandals
Source: Dimitris Siskopoulos (Mod) – Wikimedia

Looks great to me.

12. Acheron River

The Acheron river is 20 km away from Parga. It is close to the village of Glyki and is located in the Epirus region in the northwestern part of Greece.

This river is thought to have been one of the five rivers of the Greek Underworld.

The 52 km long river flows into the Ionian Sea in Ammoudia, near Parga. Tourists love walking through the shallow sections of the river.

13. Syvota (Sivota)

Syvota town is a resort town with numerous pristine beaches and several islets offshore. It is located about 27km north of Parga. 

Just offshore from Syvota’s coastline, you’ll find the small islands of Mavro Oros (meaning “Black Mountain”) Agios Nikolaos, Mourtemeno, and a few other even smaller islets.

The most famous beach in Syvota is Bella Vraka beach. You can reach it by walking over a narrow strip of golden sand from the mainland.

14. Canal D’Amour – Corfu

At one of the busier areas of Corfu Island, there is a little hidden gem that every unhitched lover should be curious about.

A short distance on the westside of town is Canal d’Amour (love), one of Corfu’s most unique spots.

Corfu Canal D'Amour
Source: Trip & Travel Blog (Mod) – Flickr

Local folklore says that any couples swimming through the channel will get married quite soon.

15. Lichadonisia – The “Greek Bahamas”

Lichadonisia is one of Greece’s most secret destinations. This exotic paradise has been likened to the Bahamas, Seychelles and even the Maldives. It is generally uninhabited so you will find it quite different to the busier Greek Islands.

You can find these 7 small islands and islets just off of Evia (or Euboea), the second largest island in Greece, which is connected to the mainland by a long causeway.

Lichadonisia (Lichades) is made up of Manolia, the largest island, and six other smaller isles including Strongyli, Mikri Strongyli, Steno, Vagia, Vorias and Limani.

 
You can get there by going on a scenic drive from Athens, which is about 200km away. It will take about 2 hours to get close by.

Getting to Lichadonisia (Lichades) will also require a small boat ride from Kamena Vourla from the mainland side, or Kavos on the Euboia side. Keep an eye out for any swimming seals.

This is one of the beaches to visit.

Lichadonisia beaches Secret\ gems in Greece Greek Islands

The beach in the picture above, the one at the bottom, is also shown below looking at it from a different perspective.

Lichadonisia Greece secret destination

In Greek Mythology, these islands were the remains of the body of giant Lichas. Lichas was an attendant of Hercules (Heracles) who brought his master a poisoned shirt after Heracles’ wife Deianira decided to give the poisoned Shirt of Nessus to her husband. The tragedy initiated due to her jealousy of Iole, the beautiful daughter of Eurytus, king of the city Oechalia.

The poison in the shirt penetrated the body of Hercules and caused him great agony. Before his demise on earth, Hercules in his anger and fury seized Lichas and threw him into the sea. That’s how Lichas became Lichadonisia (Lichades).

16. Gkiola – Thassos

Gkiola is a spectacular natural pool which has formed inside rocks, near the village Astris, on the island of Thassos.

You can either go for a swim or sun bake on the large rocks surrounding the pool. You can even dive in, but be careful as you never know how shallow it could be.

Getting to Gkiola is not that easy, making it an even better getaway.

17. Melissani Cave and Lake – Kefalonia

Make sure you visit Melissani Cave in Kefalonia, otherwise known as The Cave of the Nymphs, given the chance. This magical cave will transport you into another world.

The unique cave structure is home to an underground lake whose waters reach about 40 meters in depth.

Best Hidden Gems Kefalonia Melissani Cave
Melissani Cave, Attribution: Fæ – Wikimedia Commons

Some of you may think Melissani Cave shouldn’t be considered one of Greece’s hidden gems due to the fact that this is one of Kefalonia’s top tourists attractions, but look at how well hidden it is. This magical place has to be one of the best hidden gems in Greece.

18. Koufonisi Island – Cyclades

Koufonisia is actually a complex of two islands: Pano Koufonissi which is inhabited and has tourist facilities, and Kato Koufonissi which is uninhabited and often visited for beach trips.

It is located between Naxos and Amorgos.

19. Amoudi Bay – Oia, Santorini

Amoudi Bay is easy to miss when visiting Santorini. I missed it. What was I Thinking?

Best Hidden Gems in Greece Amoudi Bay-Santorini
Attribution: Winniepix – Flickr

I can’t believe I missed out on visiting Amoudi Bay. This has to be one of the greatest hidden gems in Greece, even more so because so many tourists visit Santorini. I bet many of them miss out on making their way down to Amoudi Bay predominately due to pure ignorance.

Octopus anyone?

Best Hidden Gems in Santorini
Attribution: Firelknot (Mods) – Flickr

Many tourists dive off this small rocky isle just off Amoudi Bay. This would be my top pick on where to go for a swim in Santorini. This place looks sensational.

Amoudi Bay Best Hidden Gems Greek Islands Santorini
Source: Jon-Eric Melsæter (Mod) – Flickr

20. Blue Caves – Paxos, Antipaxos

Top Cruise from Corfu Paxi Blue Caves
Attribution: Vince Smith – Flickr

21. Aggitis Cave 

Aggitis cave is located 23 kilometers northwest of the city of Drama. This is one of those hidden gems in Greece that hardly any foreign tourist would be aware of.

Looks like a must see attraction to me.

 

There you have it, 21 Hidden Gems in Greece that are awesome. I’m sure you would love to visit at least one of these places, who wouldn’t?

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The Best Hidden Gems in Greece Greek Islands