10 of the prettiest unspoilt villages in Greece

Monemvasia

A month or so ago we had an email from Afroditi, a blogger with a beautiful name who claimed to have a curse – she always ended up living in small places. Originally from a small village in Greece, she studied in a small town back there, did an internship in the smallest village in Lago Maggiore, Italy and for the past 2 years she has been sent out to all tiny places all over the UK. We asked Afroditi to choose her favourite unspoilt small villages in her home country.

Greece is not only sea and beaches – although yes of course, this is what Greece is arguably most famous for. You will also find pretty traditional villages hidden within high mountains where you can escape the scalding hot temperatures and admire glimpses of the sea from afar. Here are some of the most beautiful ones, far from the tourist crowds…

Chora Folegandrou – for sophisticated travellers

Chora Folegandrou

This is the capital of a merely 600 habitants island – a tiny village hanging dramatically on the edge of a cliff, 200 meters above sea level. Like a typical Cycladic island, walls here are white while the wooden balconies are colourful. Tourists only discovered this village recently which means the signs above every shop are still wooden and handmade. The oldest houses of the village are part of the castle and there are lots of churches with breath-taking views over the deep blue waters of the Aegean archipelagos. Arrange your visit around Greek Easter to watch all households open their doors as a picture of Virgin Mary is being carried through the village.

Galaxidi – for the fun-seeking traveller

Galaxidi - prettiest villages in Greece

One of those places that looks great in all seasons. In the past Galaxidi used to be a ship-building center and every family had some sailors or captains. Nowadays, it is a quiet fishing village with some very unique cafes and restaurants with fresh seafood. Waking around you can still see the mansions of the old captains and imagine the glorious past. But if you will only visit Galaxidi once in your life, make sure it is during carnival time (around February/March) when they celebrate it with flour-wars. The whole village participates, you will be given a large bag of flour in different colours by the mayor at noon (or you can buy yours from a local bakery) and the streets become a big war zone that carries on until the evening!

Zagorohoria – for the energetic traveller

Zagorohoria

Zagorohoria (from the words ζαγόρι, χωριό= village) consists of 46 villages and 3.700 habitants in an area of 1000 square kilometres. Even though I did not do my maths and I am purely copying someone else’s, this gives us about 4 people for every 1 km! This peaceful area in northern Greece is crossed by a river and one of the world’s deepest and narrowest canyons (900m deep and 1100m wide). If you still decide to walk along though you will be rewarded as it is one of the most scenic routes. Before modern roads were constructed, the villages were connected with stone arched bridges and cobblestone paths which are still there to remind us of the past.

Monemvasia – for the romantic traveller

Monemvasia - prettiest villages in Greece

Monemvasia (I like to impress you with all the Greek words –although coming to think of it, there is nothing impressive as I am Greek- so here it comes: μόνη έμβασις = single entrance) is a great rock in the sea in the south of Greece connected to the rest of the mainland with a narrow bridge. The medieval village is built inside a castle on this rock and its secluded position was a target for various pirates and enemies within the centuries. In fact, the first inhabitants arrived on that rock seeking a refuge from those who chased them and decided to stay on. Monemvasia is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece and it is a popular destination for honeymooners who take long walks in the sunset enjoying glasses of “Malvasia” – a local white wine.

Mani – for the history-lover

Mani

This is a well-preserved area in the south of Greece where the same families have been living there for centuries. They all carry memories of a historical past as Areopolis, the capital village was the place where the flag that signified the Greek revolution was raised in 1821. And it is because of those memories that the family stone towers with the small windows ready to spot the enemy, castles and churches have all stayed the same. The streets are stone-paved and they are waiting for visitors to start telling their stories. Nowadays, a lot of those family houses in Mani have been turned into small boutique hotels so it is a unique opportunity to live in a truly historical destination.

Molyvos – for the alcohol-lover

Molyvos - 10 of the prettiest villages in Greece

Molyvos (or Mithimna as it is now known) is a touristic village in the Greek island of Lesvos, a breath away from Turkey. Normally we are told to avoid touristic places but this is one that you must by all means visit. Tourists here return year after year (and this includes my parents) because they appreciate the hospitality of the locals, quality of life, tasty food and beautiful scenery. The traditional houses and shops surround the castle on top of the hill and go along the coast to one of the most scenic harbours in Greece. There you will find a lot of small boats that set out before the sun rises and come back with fresh fish and seafood to be devoured moments later in all the local homes and restaurants. If you try one thing, make sure it is ouzo as this island produces one of the best brands of this famous Greek alcohol and you usually accompany it with several small plates of food (mezes).

Makrynitsa – for the nature-lover

Makrynitsa

A traditional village situated on the mountains of Pelion about 600m above sea level. Makrinitsa is a very picturesque village with stone houses (if you happen to enter one, look up at the hand-drawn ceilings!) and cobblestone paths that lead out of the village and into quiet corners with colourful flowers and big shady trees. Don’t be tricked by the greenery though. Behind those trees the careful eye will find hidden monasteries, old churches, deserted castles and caves that will satisfy the most curious expediters. The most attractive place though which also granted Makrynitsa its nickname “Balcony of Pelion” is the main square where you can admire along with the locals panoramic views that reach until the sea and the city of Volos. As in every village in that area, the main square is also the social centre where all festivals, concerts and exhibitions take place throughout the year.

Nymfaio – for the wildlife-lover

Nymfaio

Nymfaio is one of the smallest and most secluded villages in Greece and debatably one of the most beautiful in Europe, situated 1350m above sea level on the mountains of Verno. The myth has it that Nymfaio owes its name to the vlach word “nevesta” or “nymph” that means bride because of its beauty and isolated position. So don’t you want to visit a place like that? Back in the day residents were partisans and fighters and later on into silversmithing, famous for their silverware all over the area for more than 300 years. If you are curious, there is a museum exhibiting some of those pieces. Nowadays, the area is mostly famous for the environmental centre Arcturos that protects brown bears and wolves. It is open to visitors and it is a 15-minute walk from the village – make sure to check it out!

Syrrako – for the foodies

Syrrako

Another village in the West of Greece, Syrrako is hidden on the mountains of Tzoumerka(would you ever think that Greece has so many mountains? No? Me neither!) built on a steep slope in a way so that it protects its residents from enemies of the past. A river separates it from the nearest village Kalarrytes and cars are not allowed inside the village so be prepared to leave all city comforts behind and lose yourself under old plane trees. Syrrako is not for glampers or picky travellers but it will reward the ones that choose to visit it. If you are looking for a place to stay, you can always check into some of the beautiful old houses that have been transformed to hotels maintaining their atmosphere.

Dimitsana – for the atmosphere-seeking traveller

Dimitsana Greece

Dimitsana is a popular winter destination for a lot of greek tourists but not equally known outside of greek borders. Due to its position near a gorge in the south of Greece, Dimitsana played an important role during the revolution. This is where most of the gunpowder and flour was produced in the water-powered mills. You can still find a few of them and a museum exists nearby to walk you through their story. You will also discover a historic library – most of its books were destroyed during the revolution as the pages were used to wrap the gunpowder. While you are there, sit in one of the village’s cafes or tavernas (restaurants) and enjoy some rakomelo (raki is a greek alcohol, warmed up with honey and spices) – the perfect remedy for cold temperatures and flus!

All words by Afroditi Katika

Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.

15 Comments

  • Leeann Williams

    10 June, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Such a great list of places to visit! My grandfather was born and raised in Armbuna, and I have yet to find where in Greece it is. 🙁 I’ve never been to Greece, never been out of the U.S., but I will someday. And I want to go to Greece, and take my daughters to see family there. Thank you for this article and I am adding them all to my places to see in this beautiful world!

    Reply
  • Agnes Salvanos

    25 December, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    I have travelled almost everywhere in Greece and I agree with most of Afrodites choices. Folegandros is unique and the Zagoria villages in Epirus are popular for both nature and food lovers all year round. You can go skiing, kayaking, horse riding , trekking or just take long walks along rivers and gorges. I would just like to add the old town of Chania in Crete but also the old Venician town of Corfu as well as the island itself. Green and variated, big but not too big, a town with two castles and two palaces, with the biggest park in Greece , beaches for every taste and many interesting day trips for those who have plenty of time. The magical Oia in Santorini is also absolutely worth it . And finally, for those who would like to combine amazing nature sculpture with history and religion , Meteora is not to be compared to anything else in Europe . Anyway, Greece is an easy destination meaning that it’s easy to find out how , when and where you need to go, people are helpful and kind and compared to Spain it is rarely fake.
    Go for Greece next time !

    Reply
  • Rebecca

    30 July, 2013 at 1:56 am

    This is such a great list! thank you so much! im keeping this one in my to do list bookmarks! I love posts like this with inside information of non-touristy towns!

    Reply
  • Barbara

    8 July, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    What a wonderful list of Greek villages and gorgeous photos of each. We have Greece on our travel list and this really helped us plan out some must see villages and what each one has to offer! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Brankica

    8 July, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Love this list. I love Greece no matter where I end up over there, but now I have to add at least a few to the list, cause they look amazing. Definitely need to organize a sort of backpacking trip next time to be able to see all this beauty. I love staying off the beaten path and seeing more that every country has to offer. Thanks for these recommendations.

    Reply
  • Monica

    2 July, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    These places look beautiful. It’s been a dream of mine for years now to backpack around Greece and island hop around all these gorgeous places. Hopefully I’ll be coming back to this for some inspiration next year!

    Reply
  • Arianwen

    2 July, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Wow! Absolutely stunning! Your photos are amazing! I’ll have to get myself to Greece one day! My parents had their honeymoon there and keep telling me I’d love it!

    Reply

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