There are places where you go for a vacation in a country when you visit from the outside. Then there are places inside a country – the well-kept secrets – that locals visit because they have an indelible charm. For Greeks, there are three islands, all of which are famous among locals as beautiful vacation spots, for entirely different reasons. This article looks at these places.
[caption id="attachment_1290" align="alignnone" width="461"] Monemvasia[/caption]
Monemvasia is one of these islands. A tiny island whose name means "one entrance," it literally has only one entrance via a fort door. The charm of the place is not in the available attractions – the main appeal is that it allows you to go into the past. The place has hardly changed for hundreds of years.
The island has only a few restaurants, but they have distinctive tastes and atmospheres that make them worth enjoying. At the summit of the island, it has a church called the Agia Sophia, the view from which is absolutely gorgeous, and the island's only bathing spot, the Portello, is a rocky bay where the current is strong but the swimming delicious.
[caption id="attachment_1291" align="alignnone" width="451"] Spetses[/caption]
Second of the secret islands is Spetses. A larger island, it has miles of coast as well as forests and hills, and it supports a population of 4000 that nonetheless swells to over ten thousand in summer. The island boasts a contrast between rustic and modern – you can find small restaurants serving traditional Greek dishes, and closeby fancier restaurants filled with posh clientele down for a break.
Apart from the sights to see, the coastline has many bays that you can explore using a motorboat and get lost in. The town is quite equipped with hotels and sightseeing spots that can fill your days.
The island has a rich naval history. A statue of the female sea captain Bouboulina adorns the harbor. In 1821, in the war of Independence, this fearless sea captain led the fleet of Spetses boats to victory. It is a reminder of the island's previous significant political importance.
[caption id="attachment_1292" align="alignnone" width="468"] Kythira[/caption]
Kythira is the third of the secret Greek islands, and it's secret because the inhabitants insist on keeping it that way. A large Ionian island in the middle of nowhere, it has broad beaches, extensive coastline, and lush greenery. The island is quite big, but it's hilltop capital Hora is quite a good place to start from.
Nearby is the cave of Agia Sophia, which was initially used as a church by the sailors. It has painted icons on the inside. The village of Mylopotamos is closeby, a scenic must see. Another location to see is the Neraides waterfall, which is just under the town and is gorgeous.
While transport on the island is best done by car, there are limited taxis. You have to bring your own transport across on the ferry. A single bus does meander across the island, but you have to run to catch it.
All these islands are worth exploring, especially if you want an authentic Greek experience and a time-travel into the past.