Destinations

The two best islands in Greece you’ve never heard of

According to Greek mythology, the Cycladic Islands of Greece came into existence after Poseidon, God of the sea, in a fury transformed the beautiful Cyclades nymphs into islands.

No less beautiful now than they were at their mythological forming, the Cycladic Islands plot the Aegean Sea to the revelling of tourists and travel agents around the world.

Known for Mykonos and Santorini, here are two of the Cycladic Islands in Greece that Tempo Holidays recommends visiting to beat the crowds.

Naxos

For a tailored two-week tour of this beautiful, hidden-gem of Greece, check out Tempo Holidays’ Charming Cyclades tours.

Along with extraordinary views that are the standard across the Greek islands, Naxos is also known for its charming city streets. Here, you can still find Greeks wearing traditional garb amid a wealth of ancient architecture and mythological history.
Along with extraordinary views that are the standard across the Greek islands, Naxos is also known for its charming city streets. Here, you can still find Greeks wearing traditional garb amid a wealth of ancient architecture and mythological history.

The Cyclades’ largest and lushest island, Naxos is highlighted by Mount Zeus – the highest peak in the region – green gorges, stunning seascapes and villages perched high on mountain tops, where tradition reigns supreme. 

Like the Sporades Island of Skiathos, Naxos was a centre of Classical Greek and Byzantine culture; the island also preserves its Venetian and Flemish influences.

The Portara or Temple of Apollo of Naxos Island, is believed to be the islet of Palatia - an important location in Greek Mythology.
The Portara or Temple of Apollo of Naxos Island, is believed to be the islet of Palatia – an important location in Greek Mythology.

An island of beautiful old churches, monasteries and Venetian castles, Naxos is a place where you can admire a unique blend of Cycladic and Medieval architecture; the island also, however, preserves remnants of its deep mythological history: be sure to visit the temple of Apollo on the islet of Palatia.

city of naxos
The islet is believed to be the site where Ariadne, the Minoan Princess, was abandoned by her lover Theseus, whom she led out of the Labyrinth with a ball of thread after his defeat of the Minotaur of Crete.

Paros

If crowds aren’t your cup of tea, while the charm of the Cyclades Islands is too hard to resist, Paros might be the perfect choice for a calm beach-side getaway.

Naoussa, Paros Island
Naoussa, Paros Island – Home to one of the Paros’ world-class dishes like gouna, consisting of sun-dried kolios (mackerel), and a wealth of other delicious eats.

But word of the sensational conditions for water sports on the southern side of Paros is beginning to spread, with Golden Beach and New Golden Beach becoming more popular with tourists for its wind surfing, trademark Aegean waters and golden sands: in a word, this region is utterly irresistible.

Panagia Ekatontapiliani, Paros -
The monastery of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, Paros – Found just a few metres from the port of Parikia, the capital of Paros, the church is one of the best-preserved Paleo-Christian monuments in Greece.

Although much of the charm of Paros lies in its proximity to the Aegean Sea – at less than a stone’s thrown from sapphire-blue waters – travellers may find equal delight in some of the island’s historical architecture, found further inland.

Along with a well-endowed catalogue of Ancient Greek artifacts found at the Paros Archaeological Museum, the Panagia Ekatontapiliani is one of the region’s most sought after sites of Byzantine-era architecture. According to legend, the original church was constructed by Saint Constantine, first Emperor of Constantinople, after the offering of his mother, Saint Helene.

Tourists visiting the brick byzantine historical church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani in Paros, cyclades islands, Greece
Ekatontapiliani, the Church with the Hundred Doors, was initially constructed in the fourth-century AD and further added to in the sixth-century AD by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian Source. Here, history lives on in Greece’s oldest Paleo-Christian monument.

In modern times, the Cyclades represent a group of picturesque Greek islands found south-east of the mainland, which include Mykonos, Santorini and Syros among others.

Santorini
Santorini, Greece.

The word ‘cyclades’ refers to the circular shape of the islands, and sitting at the centre of them is Delos – birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis, and, now, an uninhabited archaeological site in Greece.

Much of the modern fame of the Cyclades comes from the deserved reputations of Mykonos and Santorini, however, travellers are as equally spoilt by the nearly two dozen more other islands throughout the region, some of which arguably offer the same natural beauty, minus the crowds and party scenes.

The colours of Greece, white and blue, are found in all directions in Santorini, Greece.
The colours of Greece, white and blue, are found in all directions in Santorini, Greece.

With a tour off-the-beaten-track, agents should source travel options from a provider that is both a specialist in the region and a provider of flexible tailor-made travel options. For these reasons, Tempo Holidays might just be the perfect choice for booking your next low-key trip to the Cycladic Islands.

Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos, Greece.

All of the islands are within a boat-taxi’s distance from one another, so taking a pick-and-mix or lucky dip approach on an Aegean journey could serve you in good stead; with that being said its in your best interest to have a little insight into some of the hidden gems of the region.

For more information on Tempo Holidays’ travel options for Greece, click here.

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