The Greek islands are fantastic, but some of them can get very busy. Here are some of the best quiet Greek islands in the Cyclades, where you can escape the tourist crowds.
The best quiet Greek islands in the Cyclades Greece
Every year, thousands of people visit the famous islands in Greece, like Santorini and Mykonos. Some visitors complain about the crowds and mass tourism. Which is somehow ironic, as these are two of the most touristy islands in Greece!
Greece has 119 inhabited islands, of which 24 are in the Cyclades group of islands. Many of them are still relatively untouched, and if you visit you will feel that you have stepped back in time.
Here are six of the best quiet Greek islands in the Cyclades that you can visit if you are looking for quiet holidays and authentic experiences. You will find secluded beaches, beautiful nature, pretty villages, and a relaxed, laid-back vibe.
1. Tinos – Religion, tradition and authentic villages
Tinos is the third largest of the Cyclades islands, located very close to Mykonos. It is an incredibly picturesque island, with dozens of beautiful mountainous villages, impressive landscapes and pristine beaches. It is also an important religious centre in Greece.
Villages in Tinos
Tinos is a fantastic island to visit if you are into photography, as it has over 30 small traditional villages. Some of the best villages to visit in Tinos include Pyrgos, Kardiani, Ysternia, Volax and Agapi.
Each village in Tinos has its own unique character that sets it apart from the others. Just drive around, and you will discover dozens more villages that are all worth stopping by.
As you are going around Tinos, you will notice hundreds of pigeon houses, or dovecotes. This is a peculiar trademark and unique feature of Tinos.
Churches in Tinos
Tinos is an important pilgrimage centre for Christian Orthodox people.
The main church in the Chora, Our Lady of Tinos Church or Panagia Evangelistria, is particularly rich and impressive. On the 15th of August, you can witness the celebrations of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, a unique religious event.
Tinos is one of the few places in Greece where there are not only Orthodox, but also many Catholic churches and monasteries. I don’t think I have ever seen as many churches, chapels and shrines anywhere else in Greece!
Museums and culture in Tinos
Tinos has a rich tradition in marble crafting, and there are many beautiful artworks in many of the villages.
Pyrgos has three museums explaining the importance of marble craft for Tinos. Do not miss the impressive Museum of Marble Crafts, which is a little out of the village. Also, swing by the cemetery, which is full of unique marble tombstones.
Visitors should also spend some time in the museums in the courtyard of the Panagia Evangelistria church, and the small archaeological museum in Chora.
The ancient ruins in Kionia area are rather unimpressive. However, the site was very important in ancient Greece – as it was the only place around the Cyclades exclusively dedicated to Poseidon, the God of the Sea in Greek mythology.
You can see a much better preserved site dedicated to Poseidon close to Athens: The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.
Beaches and outdoors activities in Tinos
Tinos has many beautiful beaches, with crystal clear waters. Even if you visit during the windy Meltemi season, you will always find at least one sheltered beach.
My favourite beach is Kolymbithra, to the north, with its impressive sand dunes. Here you can swim, relax, or try some watersports. The more remote Agia Thalassa, close to Ormos Panormou, is also lovely.
Hikers will love the many hiking paths in Tinos, which are kept regularly maintained. If you are looking for something more extreme, look for rock climbing and bouldering activities in the Volax / Exombourgo areas.
Tips on how to visit Tinos
You can get to Tinos in just a couple of hours from Rafina port in Athens. The island is also directly connected with Andros and Mykonos.
You can check all ferry routes and book your tickets on Ferryscanner.
If you are not planning to rent a car, it might be best to stay in Chora. However, I would recommend renting a car and staying anywhere on the coast, like Agios Ioannis Porto, Agios Sostis or Kionia.
Although it’s an upcoming destination, Tinos is still rather quiet. It gets busier during the summer, and especially around the 15th August. If you are planning to visit at that time, make sure you book your accommodation in advance.
2. Andros – Art, culture, and fantastic sandy beaches
Andros is the second largest Cyclades island, and is very close to Athens. If you like beaches and hiking, it might be your next favourite Greek island which you haven’t heard of. Its beautiful, green nature will take you by surprise, especially if you’ve been to some of the driest Cyclades.
Andros is famous among Greeks for its rich naval history and culture. Chora, the capital, is one of the most culturally-rich towns in the Cyclades, boasting a few historical and art museums.
Museums and culture in Andros
Andros has a lot to offer in terms of culture. If you are into art, start with the famous Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kydonieos Foundation in Chora. Then ask around for any temporary exhibitions, which seem to happen frequently.
Other museums in Chora include the Archaeological Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Folklore and Christian Art Museum.
For a unique and authentic experience, visit the Olive Oil museum in Ano Pitrofos, a small private museum founded and run by a passionate architect.
Finally, if you have your own vehicle, head all the way up to Panachrantou Monastery. There are several other monasteries in Andros, but this is quite unique. Getting there is a lot of fun too!
All in all, there is lots to do Andros, which explains why so many Greeks return every summer!
Beaches and hiking in Andros
One of the main reasons why people visit Andros is its fantastic coastline. Apparently, there are over 170 beaches in Andros, many of which are easily accessible. There are also plenty of hidden beaches that you can reach by driving on steep dirt roads.
Some of my favourite beaches on Andros include Korthi, Fellos, Kourtali, and the more remote Vlychada and Pyrgos. I didn’t visit the famous Zorkos, Ateni or Achla on the north coast, as the Meltemi winds would have made it impossible to swim.
The beautiful island is also ideal for watersports and other beach activities. You can get in touch with the knowledgeable team of WeSurfin on Kypri beach for advice and windsurfing lessons.
For people who like nature, Andros is paradise. There are 18 hiking trails covering over 150 kms. You could literally stay here for weeks and explore the island!
The landscapes are magnificent, and while hiking you will see bridges, windmills, chapels and monasteries. You will also come across a goat or two 🙂
Tips on how to visit Andros
Andros is just over an hour’s ferry ride from Rafina port near Athens. This makes it a popular destination with Greek families, particularly during August.
Regardless, you can always find last-minute accommodation, and therefore it’s possible to visit Andros spontaneously, even on a day trip. Chora and Batsi, a coastal town close to the port, are both good places to stay, but you can find accommodation all around the island.
In fact, it’s strange that not too many foreign visitors have discovered Andros. But I won’t complain, as it has kept an authentic vibe and laid-back atmosphere!
If you want more information about Andros and Tinos, we have written an extensive travel guide available on Kindle and paperback. Check it out!
3. Schinoussa – Small, stylish and quiet Greek island
Schinoussa is a small, flat island close to Naxos and Amorgos. It has about 200 permanent residents, most of whom live in the main town, Chora. It belongs to a subgroup of islands called Small Cyclades, of which the most famous is Koufonissi.
Due to its naturally protected bays and coves, Schinoussa attracts a large number of yachts and boats sailing through the Aegean Sea. Therefore, the ambiance is authentic, but there’s a sophisticated vibe.
Beaches in Schinoussa
Schinoussa is an fantastic quiet island for anyone who loves swimming in the sea. Even though it’s tiny, there are many amazing beaches, beautiful coves, and sea caves worth exploring.
If you are going to Schinoussa during the Meltemi season, July or August, you should expect some strong seasonal winds that come from the north. It’s easy to avoid them in Schinoussa, as you can always find a beach near you on the south, west or east coast.
Some of my favourite beaches in Schinoussa are Livadi and Psili Ammos, on the north-east. I also like Aligaria, Kambos and Gagavi beaches, to the south – you’d need to bring your own shade though.
Food in Schinoussa
In terms of Greek food, Schinoussa will literally blow your mind away. Every single meal we had in Chora was superb.
Make sure you taste the local fava beans and the home-made cheeses. Or just be adventurous and try a bit of everything. Order anything you can get your hands on, and you can’t go wrong!
Tips on how to visit Schinoussa
There on a direct ferry from Piraeus to Schinoussa a few times a week, stopping at Naxos first. Otherwise, you can get the local Skopelitis Express ferry from Naxos or Amorgos.
Another option is to take a sailing trip to Schinoussa and Iraklia. This is the best way if you have limited time, or if you want to explore multiple beaches.
Visitors can stay anywhere around the island, as each little area has its own charm. Most of the accommodation is in the island’s main town, Chora, and on many of the beaches.
The tiny island is flat, and you can easily walk around everywhere, or perhaps hire a bicycle. Alternatively, you can get to the furthest beaches on “Aeolia” boat.
4. Iraklia – One of the quietest Greek islands
Iraklia is another one of the quiet islands in the Small Cyclades subgroup. The small, mountainous island is close to Naxos and Ios.
The island’s population is fewer than 100 people. Most of them live at the port town, Agios Georgios. It’s one of the best Greek islands to visit if you want peace and quiet, and a true hidden gem in the Aegean.
This is my favourite quiet Greek island, and I am a bit torn writing about it. That said, most people will find Iraklia too quiet. This is exactly why it has a special place in my heart!
Beaches in Iraklia
Iraklia might be small, but it has several lovely, secluded beaches. The easiest option is the port beach. The nicest is Livadi, a lovely, long, sandy beach, which is however exposed to the north winds.
Other beautiful, empty beaches on Iraklia include Alimia and Karvounolakkos, which you can only reach by a boat ride. Alimia is great for snorkeling and diving, as there is a sunken German plane from WWII!!
Hiking in Iraklia
Iraklia is a true paradise for hikers, due to its mountainous terrain and small size. There are eight hiking trails – the most popular routes pass by Panagia, the second main settlement, and the cave of St John, or Agios Ioannis.
A special time to be in Iraklia is on the 28th August, during the feast of St John. On that day, a candlelit mass is held inside the cave. It’s unlike anything you have ever seen!
This massive cave is not officially open to the public, but you can explore it regardless. Unless you are visiting on this special day, you might prefer to go with a local guide. The entrance is hard to find, and you will have to crawl to enter the cave.
If you feel like trekking, you can also reach Iraklia’s highest point, Papas. From up there, you can enjoy the superb views over the Aegean. Eat your dust, Santorini!
Food in Iraklia
For such a small island, Iraklia has a number of excellent tavernas where we’ve had some fantastic local food.
Apart from Akathi, you should also try Eolos and Maistrali, and definitely go to Surfin Bird for a drink. This open-air bar has some of the best views you will ever come across as you are island hopping in Greece.
Tips on how to visit Iraklia
Iraklia is on the same direct Blue Star ferry with Schinoussa. It runs from Piraeus port a few times a week and passes by Naxos on the way.
Alternatively, you can catch the Skopelitis Express ferry from Naxos, Amorgos, or the other Small Cyclades.
You can check out all ferry routes and book your tickets on Ferryscanner.
The main settlement, Agios Georgios, is right on the island’s port. This is where you will find most of the island’s rooms for rent and tavernas. There are also a couple of mini markets and an ATM.
That said, it’s best to pick up everything you want, including sunscreen and any medications, from Athens or Naxos.
To get around the island you can ask if the municipal bus is running, or rent a motorbike. Other options include hitchhiking, walking, hiking and taking a tour with “Anemos” boat.
If Iraklia or Schinoussa have appealed to you, we have a Kindle book on Amazon about Schinoussa and Iraklia. Check it out!
5. Kimolos – Wild landscapes and an impressive capital town
A stone’s throw from the better known Milos, you will find the sleepy Kimolos. Often overshadowed by its larger sister, it’s one of the best quiet islands in Greece. It has a distinctive landscape, and is surrounded by wild beaches with crystal clear waters.
Kimolos is a favourite destination among Greek people who are after relaxed, authentic vacations. The wild nature, impressive main town and friendly locals make it a fantastic destination to include in your Cyclades island hopping trip.
Visit Chorio, the capital of Kimolos
Not many quiet Greek islands have as an impressive main town as Kimolos. With its traditional Cycladic architecture and ruined Venetian castle, Chorio, the island’s capital, will steal your heart.
Everywhere you walk, you will see dozens of white-washed Cycladic houses with colourful doors and windows. Bougainvillea trees, colourful flower pots and blue-domed churches complete the picture.
The highlight in Chorio is the Venetian Castle, or “kastro” in Greek. Originally built somewhere between the 14th and 16th centuries, it is mostly in ruins, but that doesn’t take away any of its charm.
Look out for the movie projections in the castle, organized by a local voluntary group, Kimolistes.
Explore the beaches in Kimolos
Kimolos has many natural, quiet beaches. With a few exceptions, don’t expect umbrellas, loungers and loud beach bars. Instead, get ready for some long stretches of mixed sand and pebbles, and cedar trees for natural shade.
The port beach, Psathi, is close to the main town, and easy to visit on foot. Visitors love the photogenic Prassa beach, to the north east of the island – though it can get crowded, by Kimolos standards
Aliki, Bonatsa and Kalamitsi on the south are the best beaches for families, are they are protected from the winds and there are a few great tavernas.
For the best sunset on the island, head to the wild Mavrospilia beach, and stay for the evening.
Hiking in Kimolos
Kimolos is yet another island that will appeal to hikers. The various paths are well-signposted. As Kimolos isn’t too big, serious hikers could explore the whole island on foot.
One of the best attractions in Kimolos is Skiadi rock, a unique, naturally sculpted landmark. You can hike all the way from Chorio, or drive up the mountain and hike a shorter path.
Here is more information about outdoors activities in Kimolos.
Tips on how to visit Kimolos
You can easily reach Kimolos by ferry from Milos. There are routes from Adamas, the main Milos port, and also from Pollonia, a coastal resort a short distance from Kimolos.
There’s normally a bus service to some of the beaches in Kimolos – check out the timetables when you arrive. However, if you want to be independent, it’s best to either rent a vehicle, or to hike.
Alternatively, you can take one of the sailing tours around Kimolos. These boat trips often stop at the nearby Polyegos, an uninhabited, unspoilt islet with magnificent beaches.
For more information on Kimolos, check out our Amazon Kindle / paper book on Milos and Kimolos!
6. Sikinos – The ultimate Cycladic island for a quiet holiday
Sikinos is one of the least known quiet Greek islands in the Cyclades, even among Greeks. Located between its neighbouring islands, Ios and Folegandros, it’s truly a hidden gem in the Aegean.
The remote island is definitely not for everyone. There is very little tourist infrastructure and just a handful of beaches. Moreover, the ferry port is super exposed to the winds – which means your ferry might get seriously delayed.
With that said, people who like non-touristy, relaxed Greek destinations will fall in love with Sikinos. Here’s why.
What there is to do in Sikinos
Sikinos is one more of those quiet Greek islands where there isn’t too much “to do”. It’s an ideal island to take it easy, relax, read a book, talk to the locals and contemplate life.
Kastro, the small capital up on the hill, is a traditional Cycladic village with the typical white-washed buildings. Walk around the narrow streets, and head up to the Zoodochos Pigi / Chryssopigi Monastery, taking in the views on the way.
Further up on the mountain, you can visit the quaint temple of Episkopi. Originally a Roman mausoleum, the monument was transformed into a Christian church in the 17th century. It was under restoration when I last visited Sikinos island in 2020.
Finally, one of the highlights in Sikinos is the Manalis winery. You can visit just to taste their wines, or to have a meal with an incredible sunset view. In my opinion, this totally beats the famous Santorini sunset!
Beaches in Sikinos
Sikinos only has three beaches which are easily accessible. Alopronoia is the port town beach, and seems to be popular with the locals.
Dialiskari is a small, pebbly beach with no facilities, that you can reach by car or through a hiking path.
Finally, Agios Georgios is a beautiful sandy-and-pebbly beach, with crystal-clear waters – snorkeling here is simply delightful. There is a small taverna here, where you can get a coffee or a meal.
Tips on how to visit Sikinos
If all this sounds appealing, you can easily visit Sikinos island on a short ferry ride from Ios or Folegandros. Allow extra time for any delays.
People who enjoy walking and hiking can get around Sikinos on foot. There is also a local bus connecting the main towns, attractions and beaches. You will find timetables for the buses on notice boards at the bus stops and central areas on the island.
Best time to visit the Greek islands for a quiet holiday
While these six islands are generally quiet, they still get relatively busy in summer, especially in July and August, and during the local festivals.
If you are after peace and quiet, June and September are better months to visit. With that said, some people may find the smaller islands a little too sleepy during that time.
If you are visiting the smaller islands during peak season, make sure you reserve your accommodation well in advance, as there aren’t too many options.
As for Santorini, if you want to escape the crowds, you can consider visiting Santorini in winter . It won’t be beach weather, but you’ll be able to enjoy the stunning landscapes without the heat – plus, sunsets in winter are more spectacular!
Frequently asked questions about the Greek islands
Here are a few questions people travelling to Greece often ask:
Which Greek island is the least touristy?
There are many Greek islands that are not touristy. Some examples are Tilos and Kasos in the Dodecanese islands, Ithaca in the Ionian islands, Sikinos in the Cyclades and most of the Northern Aegean islands.
Where in Greece is not touristy?
While Greece is a popular country, there are plenty of areas that are not overly touristy. The whole regions of Epirus and Thrace, most of the Northern Aegean islands, and the smaller Dodecanese islands are among the least touristy destinations in the country.
What is the quietest Greek island for a holiday?
Some of the quietest islands in Greece include Iraklia, Sikinos, Lemnos, Alonissos, Kalymnos, Kasos and Pserimos. These remote islands might still get busy in August, so it’s best to visit very early or very late in the season.
How many islands does Greece have?
According to the census in 2011, Greece has 119 inhabited islands, 24 of which belong to the Cyclades island group. Some of the larger and lesser known islands, like Chios, Lemnos, Samos and Lesvos are in the North Aegean Sea, close to the Turkish coastline.
Which is the prettiest of the Greek islands?
Greece has so many islands with stunning beaches and beautiful, picturesque villages. They are all pretty in their own way, so it’s impossible to choose just one!
Have you been to any of these quiet Greek islands?
I am curious to know if you have heard of these islands, or if you’ve ever been there 🙂 If you want, leave a comment down below!
You might also be interested in reading:
- What to Pack for Greece – The Ultimate Guide
- 2 Weeks in Greece – Travel Itineraries for a Greek Vacation
- Should I visit mainland Greece, or the islands?
- Warmest Greek islands in October
- OXI day in Greece
- Useful words and phrases in Greek
- Coffee in Greece
Hi! I am Vanessa, a travel writer from Athens. I love Greek summers, especially snorkeling, swimming and driving around the Greek islands! I’m a huge fan of the quieter Cyclades, and I hope you’ve found this guide useful. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, or get in touch on the Real Greek Experiences FB page and FB group.