Telegraph includes includes six Greek islands among the 18 best “secret” island paradises in Europe. The Greek islands, that the British newspaper distinguishes are Kastellorizo, Meganisi, Monemvasia, Kea, Koufonisia and Ios and it describes them as follows:
The smallest and among the prettiest of the inhabited islands in the Dodecanese, this island is reached by air or ferry from Rhodes. Boats run to beaches on neighbouring islets; otherwise you swim off rocks. The Blue Grotto rivals the one in Capri. Multicoloured, neoclassical houses ring the harbour. The award-winning Italian film Mediterraneo was shot here.
This is one of the smaller and more quaint Ionian islands, just off the east coast of Lefkas. You fly to Prevesa on the mainland and then have about an hour’s transfer by road and ferry. There are beaches, but the island is particularly popular with walkers. Look for a hotel near the attractive port of Vathy, where there are quayside tavernas.
“The lyrical loveliness of Ios is reviving,” says Bethany Hughes. “The epic poet Homer woke up to a ‘rosy-fingered dawn’. Well, Ios is said to be the island where the bard saw his last sunset. In the Pathos Bar beautiful people in minute swimwear serenade the setting sun here – not to Party Rock Anthem but with Nessun Dorma. Expect acoustic concerts, sculpture trails, a full-blooded celebration of the fruits of the Mediterranean. Epic enjoyment in both the ancient and modern sense.”
As the ferry manoeuvres in the narrow entrance to Kea’s one-horse port, Korissia, you won’t see a crowd of room touts on the quay, or a flotilla of tourist boats busking their beach excursions with Zorba the Greek. This is not the style of an island which missed out on – or cleverly avoided – the Greek tourism boom and is largely ignored by island travellers because it has no connection with Piraeus. Kea draws on a civilised clientele of Athenian weekenders and second home owners in retreat from the city.
Hidden away between the larger Cycladic islands of Naxos and Amorgos, Koufonissia (plural) is made up of two tiny islets, Ano Koufonissi (Upper Koufonissi) and Kato Koufonissi (Lower Koufonissi), which are separated by a 200-metre sea channel. The sandy beaches that rim Ano Koufonissi’s south coast give onto cerulean blue sea of a hue that seems confined to artists’ palettes, seemingly impossible in reality.
Rising dramatically from the sea, the medieval fortress town of Monemvasia (derived from two Greek words: ‘mone’ and ’emvasi’, meaning single entrance) in the southern Peloponnese clings to the face of a dramatic rock, which rises 320ft out of the water and is 1,000ft wide and more than half a mile long and was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in ad375. The upper town, home to the original fortress, is now a deserted ruin and ripe for exploration. Of special note is the well-preserved Agia Sophia, a 12th-century Byzantine church. Old Monemvasia’s remaining residents live in the lower town, a mass of car-free cobbled alleyways gradually undergoing restoration and home to a handful of hotels, cafes, restaurants and four working churches (there were originally 40), including Christos Elkomenos (Christ in Chains), the largest medieval church in southern Greece.