Though Greece is one of the most well-visited destinations in the world, tourists generally tend to congregate in just a few spots throughout the country: mostly Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. However, as more travelers venture off the beaten path, some emerging destinations in Greece are enjoying a surge in tourism.
The Cycladic Islands will likely retain their hold on most international island tourism for a while. However, many travelers are attempting to have somewhat different experiences, to visit lesser known destination or even see what Greece is like in Winter. (Hint: It’s beautiful.)
Greek Reporter spoke to industry insiders who pointed out a number of fast-growing destinations throughout the over 200 Greek islands and mainland.
Peloponnese: Top Emerging Destination in Greece
Ioanna Dretta, of Marketing Greece, pointed to the Peloponnese as one of the fastest-growing regions of Greece in terms of international tourism.
According to Dretta, the Peloponnese “combines diverse natural landscapes, major cultural landmarks such as Ancient Epidaurus, Ancient Olympia and Mycenae, and is ideal for road trips.”
Regions usually under the tourist radar, including the rocky peninsula of Mani, the historic city of Nafplio, and the castle town of Monemvasia, are enjoying an upswing in tourism.
The Peloponnese retains a great deal of authenticity in its small towns, which lures many travelers to its regions. The peninsula also has exquisite, locally-grown gourmet delicacies, something many tourists value today.
Crete: Greece’s Biggest Island
In second place for emerging destinations in Greece we find Crete, the country’s largest island. Located in the southernmost point of Greece — and indeed, all of Europe — Crete is different from most Greek islands in several ways.
First of all, the Cretan culture is completely unique and carries its own proud history. Second, the island is so large that it makes for great road trips, and it has beautiful hikes and gorges for outdoorsy travelers to explore in the interior of the country.
According to Marketing Greece, Crete provides travelers “a wonderful blend of culture, food, mountain activities and sea adventures, as well as a unique way of life.”
Though select spots in Crete were always popular with British tourists — such as the town of Malia — the rest of the island is attracting a broader range of travelers. Chania and Rethymno, two of Crete’s major cities, welcome many Greek and foreign tourists every year.
Rhodes: The Medieval Island
Rhodes is enjoying a resurgence in popularity among foreign tourists of late. As the largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes has a great deal of variety in experiences and attractions for travelers to enjoy.
The top attraction is hands down the island’s Medieval Town. Rhodes also tends to attract higher-income tourists, as the area is renowned for its many luxury hotels and resorts. It is also one of the few Greek islands with a casino.
Tourists looking for a vibrant island city life, as well as quieter corners and sandy beaches to relax on, will find everything they are looking for in Rhodes. Frequent domestic flights and ferries from Athens also make Rhodes a very accessible destination.
Corfu: The Queen of the Ionian
Regarding the staggeringly beautiful and historic island, Dretta says, “with remarkable Venetian influence, lush countryside, tranquil coves ringed by sandy shores and unique flavors,” Corfu is definitely inching its way to the top of many travelers’ lists.
Some of the top historic sights on the island including the Venetian Fortress and the Achilleion, a palace built in the 1800s.
Tourists who make their way to the top of Angelokastro will also enjoy some of the best views of the island.
Thessaloniki: Greece’s Second Largest City is a Fast-Growing Destination
Of all the emerging destinations in Greece, Thessaloniki should come as little surprise to anyone who has visited Greece’s lively and beautiful second city.
One of the top attractions in the beautiful town has to be its food. The cuisine blends Byzantine, Ottoman, Jewish, and French influences to create a truly unique mix of dishes and ingredients.
The city is also renowned for its welcoming atmosphere, which makes travelers feel at home. The fun nightlife and beautiful waterfront only add to Thessaloniki’s charm as an emerging Greek destination.
Best of all, Thessaloniki is a great base from which to explore the many gems of northern Greece. Tourists can easily get to Mount Olympus for a challenging hike, enjoy the many sandy beaches of Halkidiki, or admire the UNESCO World Heritage Monument of Vergina, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.
Paros: A Mykonos Alternative
Nestled in the heart of the central Aegean Sea, Paros Island stands as a jewel within the Cyclades island group. Adorned with the quintessential white and blue hues characteristic of the Cyclades, Paros captivates visitors with its picturesque charm, offering an idyllic retreat to bask in the splendor of its magnificent beaches and savor extraordinary culinary delights.
Each passing year unveils new establishments, including noteworthy nightclubs and restaurants that vie for attention on a scale reminiscent of Mykonos. Paros still keeps its charm without the extremely high prices you might find on the more famous Mykonos – at least for the time being.
Beyond its culinary and scenic offerings, Paros also secures a coveted spot on the map for windsurfing enthusiasts, being hailed as an ideal destination for watersports. Boasting some of the finest windsurfing schools in Greece, Paros beckons adventurers to harness the Aegean winds and ride the waves in a setting of unparalleled beauty.
Milos is a stunning volcanic Greek island and is the south-westernmost island in the Cyclades group.
Because of its volcanic origin, Milos possesses a captivating colorful landscape with soft sandy beaches, underwater sea caves, and reddish cliffs and has more than 75 exotic beaches.
Standing out for its sublime aura, picturesque fishing villages, rich history, and mouth-watering food, Milos is an unfailing Cycladic treasure that will steal your heart with its dazzling beauty.
The diverse landscapes in Milos are surreal; you will always discover something new.
Home to the Venus of Milos statue, which was found on the island but is currently on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the beautiful white rock formations of Kleftiko and Sarakiniko beach, as well as the rich-colored Klima village and Plaka’s sunset, Milos’ beauty is unique and showcased in many ways.
Sarakiniko is the most photographed and famous beach on Milos island. A nice contrast is created by the landscape of volcanic rocks and the deep blue color of the sea.
When you are there, you will not believe such natural beauty could actually be real.
With an abundance of islands, beautiful towns, and natural beauty, Greece has a lot of places to explore many tourists have yet to discover.
Places like Meteora, Folegandros, and Koufonisia are fast becoming known to travelers around the world. It’s likely many even lesser-known Greek locales will be making their way onto “top tourist destination” lists soon.