Mykonos has long been a must-visit destination for backpackers and honeymooners alike, but as tourism escalates, many people are looking for alternatives. Luckily, there is no shortage of Greek Islands with crystal clear blue waters, white-washed buildings, sandy beaches, and volcanic cliffs.
Consider these 12 alternatives to Mykonos when seeking a getaway that’s budget-friendly and less crowded.
UPDATE: 2022/07/24 19:44 EST BY GABRIEL KIRELLOS
More Stunning Islands To Visit In Greece
Greece is home to countless charming islands that people should visit for an unforgettable vacation. This list was updated to include some additional islands with amazing attractions that everyone must see, such as the islands of Syros and Santorini.
Travelers seeking the white and blue Cycladic architecture and design of Mykonos without the partiers and crowds should consider booking their holiday in Naxos instead. Naxos is just over an hour away from Mykonos by ferry and maintains all of the desirable perks of visiting the South Aegean without the high price tag and dense tourist population.
Visitors can relax on the white sands of Plaka Beach or visit the hilltop castle, Kastro. The medieval white-washed homes in Chora are sure to make any traveler's Greek Island vacation dreams come true.
A quick ferry ride away from Naxos is the popular Cycladic island, Paros. While still a favorite among tourists, Paros is less expensive and crowded than Mykonos or Santorini, with all the charm. Paros boasts vibrant blue waters, romantic stone streets, and white-washed buildings with blue roofs.
Top attractions on the island include visiting Panagia Ekatontapiliani (a historic church) and the Frankish Castle in Parikia. There are also plenty of beautiful beaches like Kolymbithres Beach, Monastiri Beach, and Piperi Beach.
Milos is an up-and-coming destination for travelers as they seek out more affordable alternatives to Mykonos and Santorini. It’s still part of the Cyclades but is located west of the other popular islands in the area. The main settlement on the island is Plaka, but it's worth venturing over to Firopotamos Village for at least a day to experience life in a Greek fishing village.
A can’t-miss spot in Milos is Sarakiniko Beach, which features white volcanic cliffs that strike a beautiful contrast to the vibrant blue of the Aegean Sea. Many visitors come here for the thrill of cliff jumping.
Travelers willing to explore islands outside the Cyclades can enjoy a different side of Greece; typically this means lower prices and more local experiences. Zakynthos is an island on the Ionian Sea and boasts some of the best natural landscapes in the region.
Zakynthos is particularly famous for Navagio Beach, nicknamed Shipwreck Beach. This sandy cove is on the northwest shore of the island and is where visitors can see Panagiotis, the ship that washed up here in the early 1980s.
Heading back to the Aegean Sea, Ikaria is a unique choice for a getaway in the Greek Islands. Ikaria is one of the world’s five “Blue Zones,” which are regions where people statistically live the longest. One in three inhabitants of Ikaria lives past the age of 90, and it’s common for people here to live to 100.
Spending some time here can help travelers understand the secrets to a long life. There are valuable lessons to learn from talking to the locals and observing their way of life. In addition to being a Blue Zone, Ikaria offers beautiful beaches like Nas Beach and quality wine at Afianes Wines.
Rhodes is part of the Dodecanese Greek Islands and is closer to mainland Turkey than mainland Greece. The medieval city of Rhodes is the must-see attraction of the island and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The island’s landscapes are dramatic, with towering mountains and contrasting seascapes. Many visitors enjoy windsurfing and kite surfing on the southern coast of the island.
Located west of mainland Greece, Kefalonia is on the Ionian Sea. It has a dry landscape, limestone cliffs, and white sand beaches. The waters here are unbelievably blue, and the colorful buildings give the island a lively feeling that is different from that of the Cyclades.
Kefalonia is easy to get to from Athens since it has its own airport (Kefalonia International Airport Anna Pollatou). Direct flights from Athens are short, taking just over one hour.
A lesser-known grouping of islands off the coast of Greece is called the Sporades. The Sporades comprise 24 islands on the country’s east coast in the Aegean Sea. Travelers looking for a less-touristy Greek destination will love the Sporades Island, Skiathos. Skiathos has an open-air cinema for evening entertainment, cafés, and plenty of quaint shops.
The top attraction is Lalaria Beach which is only accessible by boat. Lalaria offers shocking turquoise waters and white stone cliffs rising from the sea. It only takes 40 minutes to fly from Athens to Skiathos International Airport.
Kalymnos is another island in the Dodecanese grouping and makes the perfect pairing with Rhodes for a one-week getaway on the Aegean Sea. Kalymnos was originally a sponge fishing village, with the industry supporting much of the island’s economy until the population of sponge fish died out. Between 1859 and 1967, Kalymnos lost over 90% of its sponge fishing population.
Today, tourism is blossoming on the island, and it's becoming a sought-after destination for adventurous travelers who enjoy rock climbing. The easiest way to get here from Athens is to fly to Kos and take a ferry.
Another Cycladic gem, Anafi, is located close to Santorini. It offers the same white-washed buildings and stone streets as Mykonos while getting travelers off the beaten path. Due to the limited tourist population here, there isn’t the same level of infrastructure as some of the other Greek Islands on this list. Therefore, one can spend a lot of time relaxing on peaceful beaches and enjoying the tranquility of this hidden oasis in Greece.
Visitors can check out the beautiful white-washed architecture of the Church of Panagia Kalamiotissa before heading to the beach. Livoskopos, Roukouna, and Katsouni are the most popular beaches on this small island.
Santorini is a famous destination for American and Chinese honeymooners who enjoy taking selfies as the sun sinks behind the flooded volcanic crater, the island's caldera. While this view is considered a romantic cliche, it's still worth experiencing it when visiting Santorini. Visitors to the island will also have fun taking a road trip to the hot springs at Palia Kameni and the crater of Nea Kameni. The places to stay in Santorini are concentrated in Imerovigli and Oia, but it's also worth checking out the unique village of Pyrgos on the island.
This enchanting Greek island is known for its prehistoric settlement, Agios Stefanos, and many more attractions worth checking out. If anyone is looking for a unique Greek holiday without noise and crowds, then Syros is the way to go. From hikes and secluded beaches to historical activities and archaeological wonders, people will never run out of options when visiting this island. They will enjoy exploring Kastri, Ano Meria, Gria Cave, Agia Pakou, Villa Tsiropina, Paralia Kini, and many more attractions on Syros.