There’s a classic Greek song that promises, “the smaller bottle holds the better perfume.” It’s the Hellenic equivalent of good things coming in small packages, and it holds true not just for fragrance but for Greek islands. Many of Greece’s most beloved destinations have satellite islets floating off their coastlines. In some cases, those satellite spots are uninhabited—but in others, the little sibling has everything the main island is known for, like stunning beaches, distinctive architecture, and vibrant local cuisine. Everything, that is, except the crowds. Here are eight mini-masterpieces to consider along with—or instead of—the greatest hits.
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Antipaxos, Ionian Islands
Less than 30 people live on Antipaxos, the three-mile large islet one mile off the coast of Paxos. But every summer day hundreds of visitors to Paxos make the 15-minute boat trip to spend a few hours swimming in the turquoise seas off of Antipaxos’s three main beaches, pebbly Mesovrika and Voutoumi or white-sand Vrika. You can swim or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters—or head to the nearby, even smaller islet of Daskalia to scuba dive, hike the hills, and eat in one of the island's four simple, delicious tavernas: Spiros Taverna or Vrika Beach Taverna on Vrika beach, Voutoumi Beach Bar and Restaurant on Voutoumi beach, or Bella Vista, on the hill above Voutoumi beach. The tavernas only serve lunch (which, this being Greece, can go as late as sunset)—as there isn't much of a dinner crowd given the lack of hotels on the island. There are, however, some villa retreats if you’d like to feel like you have the island to yourself after the beachcombers head home. You can find posh options on U.K.-based sites such as Condé Nast Traveler specialist The Thinking Traveller and Ionian Villas, and simpler homes on Airbnb and Vrbo. Just remember, if you book one, you’ll have to bring groceries from Paxos.