There is so much of Greece you can’t know even if you’re Greek. It’s already a secret place wherever you go, even if it’s somewhere huge like Athens or Corinth. The place enchanted me” ~ Joanna Lumley.
Ever wondered what the secret is to having the most enjoyable trip possible? Welcome to my “Be Invisible” series – your ultimate guide for how to avoid looking like a tourist on your next adventure and guaranteed to boost your entire travel experience.
Bursting with helpful tips and tricks, I’ve asked locals from particular destinations around the world to share their insider knowledge on the best ways travellers can become “invisible” when visiting their home and enjoy it like a local. If you’re ready to challenge travel stereotypes, overcome language barriers and embrace what I like to call invisible tourism, you’ve come to the right place!
|This local’s guide to things to do in Greece off the beaten path was written by Melissa Douglas from High Heels & a Backpack. As I have visited Greece myself and some cities can become very crowded, I am very excited to share her top places to visit in Greece off the beaten track and how experience this gorgeous country like a local.
If you’re planning a trip to Greece and want to blend in amongst Greeks, these lesser-known destinations from a local’s perspective will help you have a more enjoyable experience and know what to expect before you go. Read on for more!
Greece off the beaten path sounds like something of an oxymoron. It’s is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations and more than 33 million tourists visited Greece in 2018 alone!
Most people hear ‘Greece’ and they automatically think of the popular islands of Santorini, Mykonos, or Zakynthos. While these places are every bit as beautiful as travel media will have you believe, they are definitely not the only parts of Greece that are worth visiting!
Greece boasts more than 6,000 islands, each more idyllic than the last. It is certainly not difficult to find your own slice of seclusion and tranquility during your trip to Greece.
This guide to off the beaten track Greece will cover:
Places to discover in Greece off the beaten path
There are off the beaten path travel destinations in Greece to suit every taste and travel style – from lazy island vacations, to hiking adventures though the wilderness.
Northern Greece off the beaten path
Northern Greece is arguably the country’s least explored region. You can opt to use the city of Thessaloniki as a base to explore the areas of Epirus, Central Macedonia, and Halkidki,
Metsovo is a lovely little stone village nestled high in the Pindus Mountains. The culture here is quite different to the rest of Greece. This is because Metsovo is actually a Vlach settlement.
Over the last few years, Metsovo has emerged as a romantic winter getaway destination for Greeks from Thessaloniki and Ioannina. However, this charming village has escaped the radars of most international tourists.
Things to do in Metsovo off the beaten path
Ioannina is the capital of the Epirus region of north-western Greece. The city has a hip, youthful vibe on account of the large student population that resides here.
There are many interesting cultural and historical attractions in Ioannina. And again, the city sees very few tourists.
The crumbling remnants of Ottoman mosques, houses and hammams point to Ioannina’s history as an important Turkish city. Lake Pamvotida sits in the heart of Ioannina and is a lovely place for a bike ride or an afternoon stroll.
Things to do in Ioannina off the beaten path
Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city, and the capital of the country’s Central Macedonia region. Despite its size, Thessaloniki possesses something of a small-town ambiance making it a perfect offbeat Greece destination.
Locals here are some of the friendliest in the country and Thessaloniki is a highlight of any Greece travel itinerary.
Things to do in Thessaloniki off the beaten path
12 Helpful Athens Travel Tips to NOT Look Like a Tourist
14 Inspiring Reasons to Visit Greece in Your Lifetime
7 Annoying Reasons Why Mykonos is Overrated
42 UNESCO Sites in Europe to Add to Your Bucket List
Kastoria is the epitome of Greece off the beaten path. Very few international tourists have even heard of Kastoria. However, the city is a popular Fall and Winter getaway destination for Greek Nationals.
The word Kastoria means “place of beavers” in Greek. This name points to the city’s past as an important furrier town. In the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, traders hunted and sold beavers for their fur – something which unfortunately led to the beavers in this region being wiped out.
Many districts in Kastoria feel almost frozen in time and are filled with Byzantine churches and exquisite Byzantine mansions. Spas and luxury hotels that line the lake offer travellers the ultimate relaxation experience in a stunning setting.
Things to do in Kastoria off the beaten path
Central Greece Off the Beaten Path
Central Greece is characterised by its pristine nature, quaint traditional villages, and impressive monasteries. Most people only stop in Central Greece out of necessity while on a wider cross-country road trip. This is a shame, as this area has so much to offer.
The breathtaking town of Karpenisi is perched on the slopes of Mount Timfristos in Evritania, Central Greece. Many young Athenian couples drive up here in the winter months to stay in cozy log cabins and ski at the nearby resort of Velouchi. This area is known as the “Switzerland of Greece” on account of its incredible natural beauty.
Things to in Karpenisi off the beaten path
Volos is the eastern Greek port town where most people will transit on their way to the islands of the Sporades (Skopelos, Skiathos, etc).
Volos may not have the same concentration of cultural and archaeological sites as Thessaloniki or Ioannina, but it is a lovely place to simply hang out for a day or two. Sample the local delicacies at the many mezedopoleio places that overlook the Pagasetic Gulf and take a day trip out to the village of Portaria.
Things to do in Volos off the beaten path
Off the beaten path Greek Islands
You don’t have to go to the back of beyond to find an off the beaten path island getaway in Greece. The island archipelagos of the Cyclades, the Saronic islands, and the Argolic isles are all just one or two hours journey away from Athens. However. these places see a tiny fraction of the tourists in nearby Santorini.
Spetses, the Argolic Gulf
Spetses is an upscale island in the Argolic Gulf. The island has a population of just 4,000, and the town that surrounds the port area is the only one on the island.
There are no cars on Spetses; a popular way for visitors and locals to get around is by ATV or bicycle. When you leave Spetses town limits, the entirety of the rest of the island is basically one big national park. Consequently, Spetses is a perfect getaway for those that love the great outdoors.
Things to do in Spetses off the beaten path
Tinos, the Cyclades
Tinos is one of the smallest islands in the northern part of the Cyclades. The island’s tiny size is not indicative of what it has to offer. There are more than 40 adorable villages scattered through the hills of Tinos, an ideal off the beaten path Cyclades spot.
Things to do in Tinos off the beaten path
Folegandros, the Cyclades
This rocky island is one of the most wild and rugged Greek islands. If you seek outdoor adventure and exploration, rather than indulgence and commercial beaches, the beautiful Folegandros beaches will suit you down to a tee.
Just 700 people call Folegandros home. This unpretentious, unassuming island is just across the water from Santorini and Mykonos but the Greeks have mostly kept the secrets of Folegandros to themselves. Perhaps this is a reason why it’s one of the best Cyclades islands to visit.
Things to do in Folegandros Off the Beaten Path
Greece off the beaten path is more feasible than you may imagine. These are just a small handful of the islands, villages, and secret destinations just waiting to be discovered.
|Melissa is a British travel writer based in Athens, Greece pushing the boundaries of solo female travel through her blog, High Heels & a Backpack. Follow her latest adventures on Instagram and Twitter!|
Are you ready to plan your off the beaten track Greece trip?
I hope you found these 9 practically unexplored Greece destinations fascinating! Which of these will you add to your list of places to visit in Greece someday? Let me know in the comments below!
Are you thinking of spending more time in Europe? While you’re here be sure to check out all my articles on Europe to get your planning off to a good start, or check out more hidden gems I’ve covered around the world.
If you found this helpful or enjoyed being inspired, please share this article on Facebook or Pinterest or follow me on TikTok and Instagram for more Europe travel inspiration!
Until next time,
Like it? Pin it! 📌
This guide to visiting Greece off the beaten track contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and if you do, thanks for your support! This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. As always, I only recommend a product or service that I genuinely love and use myself!
Fantastic information! Thank you.
I’m so glad you found this helpful, Lori! Enjoy your time in Greece 😃🇬🇷