Mykonos in Summer Means Crowds — Go to These Other Greek Islands Instead

Milos Greek island alternative

White-washed houses dripping with bougainvillea, framed by bright blue sea and narrow, cobblestone pathways — the scenery on Greek islands is some of the most recognisable in the world. But with that means hordes of crowds descending on them every summer, jacking up the accommodation prices and flooding the beaches, restaurants, and streets.

Fortunately, you’ll be pleased to know, most tourists frequent the same handful of islands — Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete — missing out on the hundreds of others. The country is made up of around 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Greek Seas, 227 of which are inhabited.

So, where to go instead of the main tourist-saturated Greek Island spots? Ahead, we share some of the best alternatives. All of these are either Ionian islands or Cycaladic, close to the mainland and easy to get to.

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Kefalonia is the biggest Greek island in the Ionian Sea. Here, you’ll find picturesque villages like Fiscardo, on the northern side, and Assos, home to a 14th-century Venetian castle. You’ll also find beautiful caves like Melissani and Drogarati and, of course, shallow, calm-water beaches, including Lourdas and Antisamos.

Kefalonia Greek island alternatives
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Lying between the Peloponnese and Crete, Kythira is also among the seven main Ionian islands. It’s known in Greek mythology as the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite. Spend a few days here, wandering alleyways in the island’s ‘Hora’ (main town) in the south of the island, diving into the sea at pebbly beach Kaladi or Vlychada, or exploring the seaside village Avlemonas.

Image: Getty Images


The home island of Ulysses from Homer’s Odyssey, Ithaca is also part of the Ionian islands — the second smallest. Visit Filiatro or Gidaki Beach, charter a boat and snorkel off their shorelines or trek to the Cave of the Nymphs. Unfortunately, its entrance is closed due to safety reasons but you can visit the Archeological Museum of Vathi Ithaca to see artefacts from inside.

Ithaca Greek island alternatives
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Milos is a volcanic Greek Island, part of the Cyclades island cluster. It’s got more than 40 beaches and is best known for the otherworldly lunar landscape of Sarakiniko and the stunning, soaring cliffs at Kleftiko. Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, believed to be Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, was discovered in Milos in 1820 and now stands in the Louvre. Today, Milos has plenty of bars, lining the streets of its capital, Plaka.

Milos Greek Island alternative
Image: Getty Images


Another island of the Cyclades group, a 20-minute ferry from Mykonos, is Tinos. Imposing Church Panagia Megalochari is one of the most visited religious pilgrimages in Greece, frequented by people from all over the country. If you’re here on August 15, when the icon of the Virgin Mary housed inside is celebrated, you’ll be treated to various festivals around the island. The island is also home to about 80 windmills, around 1,000 artistic dovecotes, and roughly 50 active villages.

Tinos Greek island alternative
Image: Getty Images


Located between Paros and Santorini, Folegandros, also part of the Cyclades island group, has been relatively untouched by international tourism. Admire the Cycladic architecture in the village of Chora, visit its white-washed Panagia church at the top of a hill, and gaze at breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. Another must-visit is Kastro, a Venetian quarter which is the oldest place on the island.

Folegandros Greek island alternative
Image: Getty Images

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