Greece is easily identifiable on a map of Europe for its islands, of which there are over 6,000 in total. In antiquity, Greece was a land entirely shaped by this geography. The fact that it was a land of city-states is often lost on us when we consider the ancient Greeks as a civilization. And then we have great cultural works like the Odyssey, the story of a man wandering from island to island in a way that modern travellers might emulate in a rather more drunken fashion.
Nonetheless, only 227 of the islands are inhabited, only 78 have populations above 100 and of these, far fewer are actually names that are well known. Crete, Lesbos, Rhodes, Cephalonia, Corfu and few others can claim to be household names. This leaves many islands which are completely worth visiting, that have the benefit of fewer tourists and a more authentic experience.
ZakynthosWith rival islands like Cefalonia, Corfu and Odysseus’ Ithaca nearby, Zakinthos is easily overlooked among the islands of the Ionian sea. The third largest of the islands, it actually offers a remarkably balanced vacation experience: Whilst it has enough nightlife to keep the party tourists happy, things don’t get too messy. There is a lot to see on the cultural and historical side of the island instead. The mountainous south side features some great views and walks away from the hustle and bustle of the heavily populated north. Scuba diving is particularly recommended on the island – fish are perhaps not abundant, but the Keri caves and sea arch are fine landmarks to dive. The beaches are as pristine and sunbathe-worthy as you’d expect from an Ionian island. The Agio Nikolaos beach is considered the best on the island.
Image via Flickr user: spamdangler