The Times: Five Greek islands you can visit all year round

The waterfalls of Pythara on Andros (Alamy)


Sure, Greece shines in summer. But come out of season and you’ll discover a new charm to its big-name islands and off-the-radar favourites

Most Greek islands shut up shop from October to April — hotel doors close, beach bars are dismantled and only a handful of tavernas remain open to feed the small local population. But some islands really come into their own after the summer heat and crowds simmer down. The largest, including Crete, Corfu and Andros, are not solely reliant on tourism. Their valleys and hills are full of sheep, farms and sleepy villages, while seaside towns thrum with students, live music, and café life all year round. There are plenty of smaller islands whose charms also run deeper than dazzling coastlines — from unsung archaeological sites to arts festivals, food markets and extraordinary architecture. And, while accommodation options are limited, off-peak prices can be half what they are in high summer. Greek winters tend to be mild, although winds can be fierce — so fierce that ferries are occasionally suspended and you might get stranded on islands without an airport. But really, the prospect of an extended stay is just another good reason to explore these enchanting isles off season.

5. Andros
Unlike most of its Cycladic neighbours, Andros is exceptionally green, incredibly diverse, and almost disdainful of tourism. Even in summer, most visitors are Greek and the mist-swirled peaks and dirt tracks that peter out at untouched beaches never feels crowded. Chora, the capital, juts purposefully into the Aegean, its stately mansions, museums, and municipal buildings a legacy of the local shipping fortunes amassed in the 19th century. Hippies have settled in the tiny hilltop hamlets; haute bohemians have dinner parties in lavish country piles inherited from their ship-owning ancestors; and in the hinterland, life goes on pretty much has it has for decades. Farmers still please passing ramblers with freshly churned goat’s cheese and dayglo jars of preserved fruits, the wetlands rustle with migrating birds and impenetrable forests chime with freshwater springs. Andros Routes is an excellent resource for self-guided walks along the island’s many waymarked trails.
Where to stay Citrus Orchard Estate, a tactfully modernised 150-year-old country house in the lush plain of Livadia. A hiking trail passes by the property, which comes with five bicycles and a pool for warmer days.



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