Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note — CNN Travel’s series often carry sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Read the policy.
It’s no secret that Greece boasts some of the most stunning stretches of sand in the world.
While many of the Mediterranean country’s best-known beaches are often teeming with sunbathers, there are still plenty of gorgeous hideaways for those keen to escape the crowds.
But be warned, the more secluded beaches tend to be the ones that are hardest to reach.
Here’s our pick of 17 of the most secluded beaches when you travel to Greece:
1. Voutoumi, Antipaxos
The sheer difficulty and determination required to get to Voutoumi and neighboring beaches Vrika and Mesovrika almost amplifies their beauty.
This tiny island of Antipaxos (population 20) lies in the Ionian Sea, three kilometers south of the island of Paxos, itself a 90-minute ferry trek from the mainland port of Igoumenitsa.
Once there, visitors will find its jungle-like landscape appears more Brazilian than Greek, as the treeline reaches the shoreline and even the rocky outcrops are crowned with green tufts.
While excursion boats from Paxos are an option, book a water taxi for early in the morning if you want to avoid the midday sightseers.
2. Kalogria, Patras
Located 45 kilometers west of Patras, Greece’s third-largest city, Kalogria beach looks more like North Africa than North Peloponnese.
If you look towards the Corinthian Gulf, you’ll see dunes shaped by the western winds, Sahara-like sand and the kind of transparent waters that only appear in mirages.
But gaze inland, and you’ll catch sight of the national park of Strofylia, which boasts a primeval Mediterranean pine forest that extends for 22,000 acres.
Life is abundant here: foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, otters, owls, moorhens, herons are just some of the many creatures visitors may encounter.
3. Papa Nero, Pelion
The Greek chapter of the YMCA established its first campsite in 1924 by the sleepy port of Agios Ioannis in the eastern foothills of Mount Pelion.
The mountain, a secret that Greeks like to keep to themselves, rises on a narrow peninsula that combines superb alpine hikes with charming beaches.
Agios Ioannis has now grown to become a popular resort, but most visitors don’t bother crossing the pedestrian bridge to Papa Nero, the next beach along, a stunner that remains relatively isolated, even at the height of summer.
4. Karydi, Chalkidiki
This deserted stretch of sand in Sithonia, the middle leg of the three-pronged Chalkidiki peninsula in Greek Macedonia boasts a wonderfully rare landscape.
Here the unforgiving winter winds have chiseled the marble white rock headland into smooth stone and left the trees permanently bent and twisted.
The whole scene looks post-apocalyptic, especially in the summer when the calm, aquamarine waters and sweeping blue sky contrast heavily with the on shore scenery.
5. Gomati, Limnos
The island of Limnos doesn’t have any forests at all – winter winds and animal husbandry have stopped trees from growing.
But it does hold exceptional ecosystems like the idyllic dunes of Gomato beach.
Travelers can swim in an arc of super fine sand backed by dune lilies, woody thickets of beach vitex, bushes of lilac ,wild thyme and thickets of oleander.
You can also reap the benefit of those tree-denying winds, since Gomati is one of the best kite surfing and windsurfing spots in Greece.
6. Messi, Komotini
The beach of Messi (no relation to the famous Argentinean footballer) lies in northeastern Greece, a region that’s mostly visited by travelers from neighboring countries Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey.
Yet it boasts a string of uncrowded, pristine beaches like the lovely arc of white sand and iridescent water at Messi – a blue flag classic stretching next to the delta of river Nestos, a national park renowned for bird watching.
7. Eftalou, Mytilini
Although it’s relatively unknown in the wider world, Eftalou beach is famous locally for its thermal healing springs, which are high in natural radium.
The 17th century building opposite boasts seven provide bathrooms where visitors can enjoy a quick soak – 20 minutes is the maximum length of time the body can handle the 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures.
In a remarkable natural twist, the sea at Eftalou beach is perennially cold, however high the mercury rises in the summer. Some say it’s the steep drop of the seabed, while others blame cold currents.
Whatever the reason, there aren’t many other places where you can hop sauna-like from one of the hottest springs in the Mediterranean to one of its coldest waters.
8. Mavra Volia, Chios
The most remarkable landmark of the island of Chios is the southeastern beach of Mavra Volia (Black Pebbles,) which takes its name from the volcanic cobbles that cover its short, but dramatic curve.
Its red-hued rocky backdrop, marked by variegated strips of geological layers, lends an extraterrestrial character to the terrain.
Even the sea looks less blue and more purple as the day progresses and the sun turns orange at sunset.
9. Voïdokoilia, Messenia
Only from the nearby hilltop at Palaiokastro village, can the beauty of Voïdokoilia beach (Cow’s Belly) be fully appreciated.
The beach’s semi-circle shape is so unnaturally perfect, it looks as though it was drawn by a ruler and compass.
Dunes and shrubs provide a photogenic backdrop, while the constant chirping and cawing is a constant reminder that the beach lies within a wetland full of life. One of its surprise inhabitants is the African chameleon, whose ancestors are thought to have reached these shores from Egypt as stowaways on ancient trading boats.
10. Simos, Elafonissos
The island of Elafonissos isn’t easy to reach. Visitors have to commit to a four-hour drive from Athens to Neapoli in the southeastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula and a 15-minute ferry trip to boot.
Yet even Greeks who debate the merits of beaches like the French discuss the quality of vintages, speak of the island in hushed tones.
How its fine sand and azure waters remind one of the Caribbean; how the lack of tourist infrastructure provides for the ultimate digital detox; and how camping on its most famous beach, Simos, is a stargazing experience to be savored.
11. Kolona, Kythnos
Although Kythnos is only a two-hour fast trip from Piraeus, it almost feels like the 21st century is yet to arrive in this timeless, chilled out island.
Located in the Western Cyclades between Kea and Serifos, it claims many spectacular beaches including Kolona, a wide strip of a sandbank joining Kythnos to the islet of St. Luke.
After a long slog on a gravel road and a sun-blasted climb on a desolate promontory, setting eyes on this magnificent 300-foot-long tongue of sand is akin to a transcendental experience.