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The Unspoilt Greek Islands of the Southern Dodecanese

Here at Nissia, we specialise in the unspoilt Greek islands of Halki and Tilos (since writing this, we’ve also added Nisyros to our portfolio). However, Greece has a staggering 6,000 islands dotted around its picturesque coastline, of which around 200 are inhabited. So there are plenty more islands to explore.

Some of our customers enquire about day trips or even island hopping to some of the other quiet islands of the southern Dodecanese, so here’s an overview of some of our favourite near-neighbours: Symi, Nisyros, Karpathos and Kastelorizo.


Magnificent Symi Town rises from the harbour like a natural amphitheatre, its neoclassical mansions decorated in a brightly coloured Mediterranean palette. The island’s barren mountains form an imposing backdrop, while in the harbour fishing boats bob gently in the water, which is so clear it seems like they’re floating on thin air.

The island’s only settlement, Symi Town, is divided into two: cosmopolitan Gialos, the harbour area, which oozes laidback glamour; and the old town, Chorio, which sprawls over the hill ridge beyond.

The rest of the island is largely deserted, dotted with tiny monasteries and surrounded by a handful of alluring coves and small beaches that can only be reached on foot or via boat. Outside the hot summer months, it’s ideal walking country.

If you visit Symi, make sure you sample the island’s signature dish – delicious Symi shrimps – and work your leg muscles with a climb up the infamous Kali Strata for a stunning view over the harbour.


The captivating island of Nisyros is unlike neighbouring Greek islands. It has a wild, natural beauty, with soaring mountains, verdant valleys and carpets of wildflowers. But the biggest difference? It’s an active volcano.

The high walls of the central caldera rise around the island’s perimeter, circling the wide crater floor, which is dotted with bubbling vents and infused with the signature smell of sulphur. It’s an eerie landscape.

Many tourists visit on a day trip, but those who stay are rewarded with a special experience. Agrotourism is popular here, there are numerous hiking trails, many around the impressive caldera, and the rich soil produces fine wines that must be sampled. The dramatic landscape provides inspiration for a number of artists, and the geothermal activity results in a scattering of hot springs, perfect to revitalise you after a day of walking.

Nisyros has a bewitching charm. And as for that volcano – it’s been dozing for hundreds of years and its occasional grumblings are monitored daily.

The crater of the volcano in Nisyros – Photo Credit: Helen Simonsson


Sitting roughly halfway between Rhodes and Crete, Karpathos is the third largest Dodecanese Island, yet it’s one of the least commercialised islands in Greece. A long narrow strip of land, Karpathos is divided by a high mountain range, the legendary birthplace of Prometheus and his Titans.

The southern part of the island is composed of picturesque bays and long, windswept beaches, which play host to an international kitesurfing competition each summer. Head north into the mountains, which are often shrouded with cloud, and you’ll find traditional Greek villages clinging to the rugged ridges.

Karpathos has a feeling of a land forgotten by time, but visitors are sure to remember its warm hospitality and wild beauty.


Kastelorizo is Greece’s most remote island. Despite that fact that its old name, ‘Megisti’, mean ‘great’, it’s the smallest island in the Dodecanese, though the largest in the tiny archipelago where it sits, a mere 2 km from Kas on the Turkish coast.

Despite its proximity to Turkey, the island is fiercely Greek and the tiny harbour echoes the appearance of Symi, though in a more understated, relaxed manner. There are no traditional Greek beaches here, but you can slip into the warm, crystalline waters from a number of floating platforms. Visit the crumbling red castle that gives the island its modern name, dive into the sapphire waters of the Blue Cave, the biggest underwater cave in Greece, and spend your evenings munching fresh seafood while watching the lights of Kas twinkle gently across the water.

Visit the Unspoilt Greek Islands of the Southern Dodecanese with Nissia Holidays

These four unspoilt Greek islands sit in the southern Dodecanese, along with Tilos and Halki. Although we don’t currently offer accommodation on Symi, Karpathos or Kastelorizo, we can assist you with finding accommodation and advise how to get there.

To find out more about accommodation on Halki, Tilos, Nisyros and the unspoilt Greek islands, contact Nissia Holidays on 01455 289421 or email us: info@nissiaholidays.com.


Jo worked on Tilos in 2006, as the last Island Manager for Laskarina. She now runs a travel writing business and travel blog, The Wandering Wordsmith, and spends much of her year travelling. But Greece, especially Tilos, will always hold a special place in her heart.

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