The 10 Best Small Towns of Greece
Greece has an abundance of charming little towns and villages sprinkled throughout the country, particularly among its islands in the Aegean and Ionian seas. Traditional whitewashed homes, along with churches with white walls and blue domes, are a common sight in most of the southern Greek towns, while northern Greece does offer the rare spectacle of an alpine village or two. Still, cherry-picking among these, here's our selection of the 10 best small towns and villages in Greece:
A stunning clifftop settlement on the island of Santorini, some 1,300 feet (400m) above the Aegean Sea, with cable cars transporting visitors and residents up and down the mountain. The town has traditional, whitewashed houses and dome-topped churches lining its steep, narrow paths, along with scores of souvenir and jewelry shops, good restaurants and lively cafés, and a central square, Plateia Theotokopoulou, that is overrun by tourists during the summer months. There are also a couple of tour-worthy museums here, and gorgeous views from virtually every vantage point. Firá, by the way, is the capital of Santorini.
Small, scenic, typical Cyclades village, filled with white-walled houses and blue-domed churches, perched on a clifftop overlooking the Aegean and the tiny fishing village of Ormos Armeni. Narrow cobbled paths and passageways wind around the impossibly pretty Cycladic houses and provincial restaurants to converge on the main square. There are also cave houses here, carved into the rock face, and an iconic windmill at the edge of the cliff. The town actually encompasses the entire island of Therasia and spills over into the northwestern part of Santorini.
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Population: On the islands of Therasia and Santorini, in the Cyclades, South Aegean
Githeio is a lovely little town with an ancient port in the Peloponnese near the southern tip of Greece. It has a waterfront promenade lined with traditional two-, three- and even four-story buildings housing cafés, shops and restaurants. There are also some antiquities here from the Roman and Spartan era, such as the remains of the ancient walls of Gythium – as the settlement was originally named – and the equally ancient Theatre of Gythio. One of Greece's best known shipwrecks, Dimitrios, can also be seen here, just offshore from Valtaki Beach. The town actually sits on the Mani peninsula.
Location: Laconia, Peloponnese, southern Greece
4. Yialos (Symi)
Yialos, alternatively known as Symi, is a small harbor town with an adjacent upper town, situated on the mountainous island of Symi in the Dodecanese island chain. A favorite of British and Italian tourists, it has a well-known, early 18th-century Greek Orthodox monastery, a harbor full of sailboats, and a rich history that can be traced back to the Ottoman, Byzantine and Roman empires, with a place, too, in Homer's classic, Iliad.
Location: On the island of Symi in the South Aegean Region, just off the Turkish coast
A small, touristy town, dating from the Late Bronze Age, with an ancient port and a legacy tied to viticulture and olive oil production, Skopelos has several good restaurants, hotels and shopping and cultural venues, and a well-preserved ensemble of traditional whitewashed buildings with sloping ceramic or stone roofs and wooden balconies, windows and doors. The 11th-century Basilica of Agios Athanasios, the oldest building on the island, is well worth seeing.
Location: On the island of Euboea in the Thessaly Region, just east of mainland Greece
6. Mykonos (Chora)
Mykonos, or Chora, is the principal town on the island of the same name, and one of the loveliest and most authentic of the Cyclades villages. Here, whitewashed buildings, many of them clustered around atmospheric squares paved with blue and green slate, tumble down the hillsides to the brilliant blue Aegean. There are scores of good cafés and restaurants, and a lively nightlife that draws celebrities from around the world. The town also boasts one of Greece's most prized architectural treasures, the medieval Church of Paraportiani.
Location: On the island of Mykonos, part of the Cyclades, in the South Aegean Region
Small, picturesque town in the Pindus mountains in northern Greece, with a long tradition of cheese making – think Metsovone and Metsovela – and winemaking, and a popular ski resort to boot. Stone and slate houses built on steep slopes in an alpine setting make this one of Greece's unique villages with an occasional Swiss flair.
Location: In the Eprius Region in northern Greece, in the Pindus Mountains
8. Corfu Town
Corfu Town, on the island of Corfu, is another of Greece's party centrals, and a wildly popular travel destination. It has on it the Pink Palace, the world's premier backpacker party hostel with a 24/7 bar scene and toga parties and a sun-drenched beach. The town also has its fair share of architectural gems, mostly packed into its colorful, fortified old town, which is veritable labyrinth of narrow, irregular cobbled streets known as kantoúnia. There are good shops, cafés, restaurants and bars here to cater to visitors to the island.
Location: On Corfu Island in the Ionian Sea
Olympos is a tiny, remote village on the island of Karpathos, the second-largest of the Dodecanese Islands, situated in the South Aegean. It sits in the volcanic folds in the north of the island, adjacent to the port of Diafani, populated with traditional whitewashed homes, interspersed with a handful of shops and cafés, winding around steep, narrow streets. And like on the rest of Karpathos, the age-old customs, including dress, are well preserved in Olympos. There are also a few good beaches here, fringing a deep blue sea.
Location: On the island of Karpathos in the Dodecanese in the South Aegean
Loutraki is a hugely popular seaside resort town, famous for its natural springs and therapeutic spas. It also has one of the largest casinos in Europe, and a good store of notable buildings worth seeing, among them several handsome villas and the monastery of St Patapius which affords some of the best views of the town. Also, Loutraki's proximity to Athens makes it a good choice for visitors from the capital city.
Location: Corinthia, 65 miles west of Athens
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