This is a cluster of both inhabited and deserted islets between Naxos and Amorgos. Their unspoilt landscapes and exceptional beaches, mainly on Pano and Kato Koufonissi and Donoussa, make them ideal holiday spots for nature worshipers.
Iraklia (95 inh.) is a small fertile island with lovely beaches and translucent water. It has two caves, the more interesting being the cave of Polyphemus the Cyclop (Ai Giannis), which is among the largest in the Aegean. Its spectacular chambers measuring 2,000 sq. m in area contain stalagmites and stalactites of amazing beauty, as well as a little lake. Also with a few permanent residents are Donoussa (120 inh.), Pano Koufonissi (230 inh.), a former pirate haven, Kato Koufonissi (5 inh.) and Schinoussa.
All enjoy very good beaches. Amongst the uninhabited islands, Keros is the best known as having been one of the main centres of the prehistoric Cycladic civilization; the others are Antikeros, Dryma, the 3 Makaries and Daskalio. The main islands have regular ferry connections with Naxos, Amorgos and Piraeus.
Although Kythira is one of the most beautiful islands, its tourist development is still in
its infancy. You will be enchanted by the old traditional villages, now mostly abandoned to the ravages of time, the medieval castle at Hora with a view of Kapsali and to sea, the greenery alternating with ravines and the peerless beaches with crystal-clear waters.
Kythira will definitely not disappoint you, particularly if you take the trouble to explore. The best place to stay is in the southern part (Hora, Kapsali, Livadi) and take short trips from there to the delightful hamlets of the interior. Read more
A lovely island with 1,400 inhabitants. The dazzling white Hora perched on the ridge of a hill above the port is its main attraction, while there are exquisite white chapels scattered about the ruins of its Venetian castle.
The rocky coast is punctuated with small bays, the trees sprouting from its ravines streak the bare slopes with green ribs. Other sights include the Taxiarches monastery near the village of Galani, the 10th c. Byzantine church of the Panagia and the Cyclops cave at Koutala.
Serifos has no really spectacular beaches, but the coves round the island, mainly in the east, from Livadi to Agios Ioannis, or north-west at Sykamia, are more than just pleasant.
The holy island of Orthodoxy, where every August on Assumption Day thousands gather to make the pilgrimage to the Evangelistria church. Tinos has more than 40 villages today, about 1000 country churches, founded on slopes and hilltops, more than 1000 dovecotes, while masterpieces of local architecture and tens of derelict windmills are found in its gullies and valleys.
The scenery is lined by thousands of kilometers of dry stonewalls that make the landscape visually unique.
Tinos is full of superb examples of vernacular architecture and has produced a great number of notable sculptors, marble carvers and painters. Must visit the Costas Tsoclis Museum in Kambos , the Tinian Artists Museum in Tinos town, the Giannoulis Chalepas and the Marble Crafts Museum in Pyrgos. Among the island’s most characteristic features are the ubiquitous dovecotes which surround its charming unspoilt villages, such as Panormos, with its many marble craftsmen. The monastery of Kechrovouni, one of the largest in Greece, a masterpiece of Cycladic architecture.
The best beach in Tinos are Agios Ioannis Porto, Agios Sostis, Agios Romanos and Kionia you will find many other spots for a swim especially on the south-west coast from Stavros to Agios Ioannis and around the areas of Panormos and Kolymbithres to the north-east. Read more
The island took its name from Ikaros, who plunged into the sea when his wax wings started to melt after flying too near the sun. It was known in antiquity for its mineral springs (spas at Agios Kyrikos and Therma) and for its wines. In recent years more and more visitors are discovering the island’s formidable beauty and crystalline seas. In some of the mountain villages, one must adapt to the local rhythms of everyday life, since the islanders seem to sleep most of the day and stay up all night. Agios Kyrikos, the island’s capital and main port, is within walking distance of many beaches apart from the good town beach, while others are accessible by caique. The second port, Evdilos, on the north coast, is built on a promontory and has narrow alleyways and blooming courtyards. Up on the mountain are the villages of Messaria: Akamatra, Dafni, Steli and Petropouli, with wonderful views over the Ikarian sea. See the Byzantine castle of Nikaria in the village of Kosiki and visit the lush mountain villages of Mavrato, Oxea and Mileopo. There are other lovely villages to be seen on the Rahes plateau as you continue on to the fishing port of Armenisti. Pretty beaches line the coast; among them delightful Na with its river and its ruins and Mesakti. In order to enjoy the swimming even more, you can escape on a caique to quieter beaches. It is also worth taking a short trip to the island cluster of Fourni, about an hour from Agios Kyrikos, where there are other good beaches.
A fine spot for a peaceful holiday, Astypalaia’s architecture is more reminiscent of the neighbouring Cyclades. The charming Hora is well worth a visit, with its imposing Venetian castle lived in from the 13th to 15th c. by the Guerini family. Don’t miss the lovely scenery around the Monastery of Agios Ioannis with its spectacular view, gardens and mini waterfall. The best beaches are in the south part of the island.
Lefkada is connected to the mainland by two bridges which cross the narrow channel separating them. It is a mainly mountainous island, with a great deal of natural beauty, areas abounding with plane trees, historical and archaeological sites, as well as beautiful, verdant islets opposite the cosmopolitan port Nydri.
These include the famous Skorpios, the property of the late shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, Madouri, with the mansion of writer Aristotelis Valaoritis, and Meganissi, with its three caves. In one of these, the Papanikolis cave, the famous submarine of the same name concealed itself during World War II.
The island has pretty villages, like Agios Nikitas, and is not lacking in outstanding beaches, including the popular Porto Katsiki, with its white sand and turquoise waters, and Egremnous, where, although the beach is difficult to get to (250 steps), the sea is superb.
Worth visiting is the 13th c. Venetian fortress, next to the man-made canal, and the waterfalls in a gorge in the village of Rahi, 5 km from Nydri.
Read More: Best things to do and see in Lefkada
Ios (inh. 1,450) has plenty of facilities for its crowds. It became a legend in the 70s, a hippy’s paradise with lots of bars, beach bars, nudist beaches and an exotic nightlife. The Hora is picturesque with its 14th c. castle, cubist houses and small churches. Local tradition maintains that one of the graves found in the archaeological site in the vicinity of Plakotos was none other than Homer’s. On an island renowned for its beaches, the best are Mylopota, the string of sandy coves at Manganari bay and in the north-east (Tris Klissies, Louka, Kalamos) and Psathi, with its engaging taverna on the hill above.
A romantic small town 68 km north-west of Preveza, set in a picturesque environment, whose charms in summer are less obvious because it is overrun by Greek holiday-makers. Take a stroll through the back streets and visit the medieval district and castle. Caiques leave for the beach of Platys Gialos tou Valtou and go up-river against the current to the antiquities and Necromandeio at Acheroussia.
Beautiful Skopelos Town (Hora, 6,500 inhabitants) has the most distinctive architecture of the Sporades; its slate roofs, half-timbered upper floors and white walls are less austere but very similar to those found in nearby Pelion.
The island is well-wooded and famous for its many charming churches and fascinating monasteries. Take a stroll around the town’s cobbled streets, climb up to the Kastro neighbourhood with its splendid view, and visit the local potters’ workshops. The countryside inland is also worth a look with its characteristic two-storey stone cottages. And spend at least one day exploring the beaches and villages along the one and only road connecting Hora with Glossa, an unspoilt hill village at the other end of Skopelos. Although the beaches are nothing compared to those in Skiathos, every year more people find they are an adequate complement to the island’s pleasures.
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