Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 03:56 pm

The Greek Islands in general need no special introduction, but how about the best Greek Islands without a car, those small slices of heaven that are easy to get around without a vehicle, offering you a sense of absolute freedom and utter relaxation?

We’re sure that some of the islands on this list you already know. Yet, we’re also positive that there are some you’ve never heard of before. On a couple of those islands, cars aren’t even allowed. On the rest, although you can rent a car or bring your own, you don’t need a car to enjoy a memorable vacation, as long as you’re a fan of walking and slow travelling.

What’s important to remember is that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are several other Greek Islands you can visit without a car. Yet, for us, it’s important to always keep it real and share our personal experience. This is why this list only includes the islands we’ve actually been to and enjoyed without a car.

We plan to visit more car-free islands in Greece, updating this list as we go. Therefore, do keep coming back to this guide for more. For now, here’s our list of the ten best Greek Islands without a car, the ideal destinations to enjoy carefree holidays without worrying about car rentals and similar mundane details.

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10 Best Greek Islands Without a Car

1. Donoussa

Many years ago, our relationship with Donoussa started as a love at first sight. It was on our way back to Piraeus from our beloved Amorgos Island when the ferry approached a little bare rock in the middle of the Aegean Sea. That was it. The small paradise that is Donoussa hooked us for life and made us vow to plan a trip there before too long.

Which we did only to fall even more fiercely in love with Donoussa upon finding out that the island is practically run by the fluffy cats that stroll around the whitewashed alleys, keeping you company on your morning or evening strolls.

This is a close-up of a beautiful cat in Donoussa, one of the best Greek Islands without a car.
In Donoussa, making new furry friends is inevitable

The main village in Donoussa is Stavros. It’s so compact that you can get anywhere on foot. In Stavros, you’ll find the vast majority of hotels in Donoussa. You’ll also find several options for quality traditional Greek food. And let’s not forget about Skantzoxoiros, the legendary bar café overlooking Donoussa’s port.

This is a panoramic view of Stavros in Donoussa. There are two clusters of whitewashed houses, one on the left side of the bay and one on the right. In the background, the Aegean Sea and other islands in the distance.
The quaint village of Stavros in Donoussa

If you want to venture farther than the main village, in the high season, a minibus connects Stavros to Kalotaritissa, a small village on the island’s northern coast. There’s only one main road on the island and it takes between 15 and 20 minutes for the minibus to get from Stavros to Kalotaritissa, with stops in between. There’s also a taxi on the island.

That said, with a network of five well-marked trails, dirt roads and low elevations, Donoussa allows you to explore the entire island on foot.

This image shows Maria hiking in Donoussa, an almost unknown island in the Cyclades.
We love hiking in Donoussa

Contrary to what happens on other islands where the best beaches are quite remote, in Donoussa, you don’t need a car to find a shore with insanely turquoise waters. An inviting sandy beach awaits right in the heart of Stavros. Alternatively, the pristine Kedros Beach lies a 20-minute walk from Stavros.

For the remote beaches, embark on Donoussa Magissa, a traditional fishing boat turned local ferry, that’s become a true symbol of Donoussa. There are daily trips to the island’s most secluded beaches, weather permitting.

Where to stay in Donoussa

Accommodation options are limited in Donoussa, so make sure you book way in advance. You see, Donoussa enthusiasts book their rooms for the following summer while still on the island for their current vacation. Our favourite hotel in Donoussa is Ammos in Stavros, a few steps from the beach.

How to get to Donoussa

The only way to get to Donoussa is by ferry. The ferry ride from Piraeus takes about eight hours. Donoussa is connected to Piraeus three to four times a week. Alternatively, you can get to Donoussa from Naxos, Amorgos, Koufonisia, Iraklia and Schinoussa by the legendary Skopelitis Express.

2. Iraklia

When the time came for our second trip to Donoussa, we decided to combine two islands on the same trip. Therefore, we hopped on the Skopelitis Express to explore another gem of the Small Cyclades, Iraklia. Utterly in love with Donoussa at the time, little did we know that a similar fate would await us in Iraklia.

From great food to raw landscapes to gorgeous sandy beaches, Iraklia has something for everyone. There’s no bank or gas station on the island but you’ll find friendly people and get acquainted with authentic local culture there.

View of Agios Georgios Beach in Iraklia, one of the best Greek Islands without a car.
The sandy beach of Agios Georgios in Iraklia

Although the largest of the Small Cyclades, Iraklia only counts 150 permanent residents in its three villages. Agios Georgios is the island’s main village and port, Panagia Village is the capital and Agios Athanasios is now an almost abandoned settlement.

Similar to Stavros in Donoussa, Agios Georgios and its heavenly beach is the perfect place to stay for laid-back holidays without a car. Agios Georgios is very compact but it’s also quite uphill. In the peak season, a minibus helps you avoid the uphill roads in Agios Georgios when it’s very hot.

The island’s only main road connects Agios Georgios to the nearby Livadi Beach, Panagia Village and Tourkopigado Beach. In the high season, you can get to all three places by bus from Agios Georgios. If you need a taxi, call this number: 00306988541377. Moreover, a network of eight signposted trails awaits hiking enthusiasts to explore the whole island on foot.

Maria is walking on Trail 7 from Agios Athanasios to Agios Georgios in Iraklia.
Hiking in Iraklia can be a bit challenging when it’s very hot

Where to stay in Iraklia

Be proactive regarding accommodation as options on the island are limited. We stayed at the spotlessly clean Villa Panorama with its perfect views of the Small Cyclades and we can’t recommend it enough.

How to get to Iraklia

Like most islands on this list, Iraklia is accessible only by ferry. There are direct ferry routes from Piraeus three times a week and it takes about seven to eight hours to get to Iraklia. The island is also well connected to Naxos, one of the major islands in the Cyclades, and the rest of the Small Cyclades by Skopelitis Express.

View of the Skopelitis Express local ferry docked at the port as seen from Agios Georgios beach.
Skopelitis Express at the port of Iraklia

3. Folegandros

Tucked away between the up-and-coming Milos and the vibrant Ios, Folegandros is one of the best Greek Islands without a car. To us, Folegandros is a mandatory stop on your Greek island hopping itinerary as it’s one of the most beautiful islands in the Cyclades.

Built on a plateau on the cliffs’ edge, the Chora of Folegandros is arguably the most beautiful Chora in Greece. It’s also the perfect base for a car-free vacation. Devoid of the cacophony of crowded tourist places, the simplicity of Folegandros is best expressed in its small whitewashed houses and quaint squares, the epitome of Cycladic beauty.

Get lost in the maze of Chora, discover the iconic Castle, taste Matsata, the local traditional pasta dish, and take the winding path that leads to the island’s jewel, the Church of Panagia, for jaw-dropping sunsets over the Aegean Sea.

Panoramic view of Folegandros Chora perched on the cliff with the imposing Panagia church above the hill.
The postcard-perfect Chora in Folegandros, one of the most picturesque islands in Greece

With a good bus service from Chora, you can explore the island’s main villages, Karavostasis, Agkali and Ano Meria. For taxi services, call 00306944693957. Similar to other Cyclades Islands, Folegandros has preserved its old traditional walking trails if you feel like exploring the island on foot.

The most accessible beaches in Folegandros are near Karavostasis, the island’s port, and Agkali, a seaside village. From Agkali, you can reach some great beaches on the south coast by boat. Katergo, the island’s most popular beach, is accessible by a small boat from Karavostasis or via a hiking path from Livadi.

Panoramic view of Vardia Beach in Folegandros.
Vardia Beach near the port of Folegandros

Where to stay in Folegandros

For a unique experience, book your stay at one of the best boutique hotels in Folegandros Chora.

How to get to Folegandros

In the high season, the island of Folegandros is well-connected to Piraeus and the nearby islands by highspeed ferries.

Under the shade of tall trees, the outdoor seating of a restaurant on a square in Folegandros Chora.
Sleepy Chora in the morning

4. Antiparos

Located in the heart of the Cyclades, Antiparos deserves more than a day trip from Paros, one of the most popular islands in Greece. Even though Antiparos became widely known when Tom Hanks bought a villa on the island, this small paradise remains untouched by the huge crowds of tourists.

With scattered splashes of colourful bougainvillaeas, the dazzlingly white Antiparos Chora is the island’s main town and port. While wandering around Chora, don’t miss the Venetian Castle of Antiparos and the mesmerising sunset from Sifneiko Beach. When the night falls, the town turns into a colourful nightlife scene with music and party vibes.

This is a photo of Antiparos Town. There are many cafés and brightly coloured bougainvilleas.
Walking around Antiparos Chora

Antiparos has reliable bus services. The bus will take you to most of the beaches, the fascinating Antiparos Cave and Agios Georgios, a fishing village on the south coast. One of the best things to do in Antiparos is to embark on a boat trip from Agios Georgios to explore the sea caves and the ancient ruins on Despotiko Island.

There are also taxis on the island. Call these numbers if you need one: 00306970624750 or 00306988848484. Antiparos is a relatively flat island, ideal to explore on foot. Near Chora, the beaches of Sifneiko, Camping and Psaraliki are easily accessible on foot.

This is a photo of one of the sea caves we visited on a boat tour. The rock and the sand are bright white and the water is emerald green.
At the sea caves near Antiparos

Where to stay in Antiparos

For a perfect car-free stay, pick one of the hotels in Antiparos Town.

How to get to Antiparos

The best way to get to Antiparos is to take the local ferry from Pounta Port in Paros. You can check the local ferry schedules here.

5. Elafonisos

A stone’s throw from the Greek mainland coast, Elafonisos is among the best Greek Islands without a car and the one with the most beautiful beaches on our list. It’s also a great place to get a taste of real Greek culture.

Elafonisos Town is the island’s port and the ideal base to explore the tiny island. Home to plenty of bars, restaurants and family-run hotels, the town also boasts a gorgeous beach with turquoise waters, perfect for laid-back afternoons at one of its family-friendly beach bars. A must-visit outside the town is the spectacular Simos Beach, one of the best beaches in Greece.

A ring road connects the main town with Simos Beach, Lefki Beach and Kato Nisi Village. In the summer, you can take the local bus that runs daily from Elafonisos Port. There’s also a taxi. Thanks to the island’s low elevation, walking or cycling along the ring road is one of the best things to do in Elafonisos.

This is a panoramic shot of Elafonisos Town on a sunny day with the church of Agios Spiridonas in the background.
Elafonisos Town on a sunny autumn day

Where to stay in Elafonisos

For a hassle-free stay, pick one of the family-run hotels in Elafonisos Town

How to get to Elafonisos

Unless you plan to explore the Peloponnese on a road trip, you can get to Elafonisos from Athens by KTEL Bus. The bus will take you to Pounta Port in Southern Peloponnese. From there, a local ferry will take you to Elafonisos in less than ten minutes. You don’t need to book your ferry tickets in advance, you can buy them on the spot. Check the ferry schedules here.

This is a panoramic shot of Megalos Simos Beach with its dunes on a windy day.
Megalos Simos Beach in Elafonisos

6. Agistri

A mere one-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Piraeus Port in Athens, Agistri is our favourite island for escaping the bustling Greek capital in the summer. After all, one of our top tips for swimming near Athens is to leave the car behind, forget about the packed Attica beaches and the endless hours of driving you need to get there, trapped in traffic, and hop on a ferry from Piraeus to Agistri instead.

Agistri’s architecture is not as easy on the eye as on other Greek Islands. However, the laid-back vibes, lush landscape and amazing beaches make the island a great choice for a relaxed vacation near Athens.

This image shows the sea on Skala Beach dyed purple and the sun setting in the background.
Sunset on the beach in Agistri

Skala, Agistri’s main port, is home to a long sandy beach that ends at the nearby Megalochori Village. Megalochori is the island’s second port, used only by highspeed ferries. Both Skala and Megalochori have plenty of accommodation options as well as restaurants and cafés.

Local buses run daily from Skala to Aponisos, with stops in between, while there are also taxi services. For hiking enthusiasts, walking around the island is one of the best things to do in Agistri as the hiking trails connect Megalochori to Dragonera, Limenari and Aponisos. The beaches of Skliri and Chalikiada are a short and easy hike from Skala. Another great way to get around the island is cycling.

Where to stay in Agistri

Choose among plenty of accommodation options in Skala or Megalochori.

How to get to Agistri

By ferry from Piraeus in just an hour and a half.

This image shows the public bus of Agistri as it passes in front of Agioi Anargiroi Church.
Public transport in Agistri

7. Spetses

Unlike the Cyclades, Spetses doesn’t boast spectacular beaches. However, Spetses is known for its traditional architecture and grand neoclassical mansions. Seaside promenades, sweet-smelling colourful flowers, elegant buildings and ornate balconies are some of the elements that compose the Spetses scenery.

The island played an important part in the Greek War of Independence. The Naval Battle of Spetses in 1822 can attest to that. Most Spetses attractions are related to the Greeks’ fight against the Ottomans, such as the Laskarina Mpoumpoulina Museum. If you happen to be in Spetses in September, don’t miss the Armata Festival, the reenactment of the Naval Battle of Spetses.

The car-free promenade in Spetses, one of the best Greek islands without a car. The promenade is lined with neoclassical buildings and small boats are moored in the harbour.
The promenade in Spetses is ideal for long relaxing strolls

Cars are forbidden on the island, making Spetses one of the best Greek Islands without a car. You can move around by motorbike, cycling or walking.

Sadly, another popular way to get around is by horse and carriage. Presented as a romantic way to see the island, it’s doubtful how well cared for the poor horses are. Therefore, please refrain from joining these rides to help eliminate animal mistreatment, one of the basic principles of responsible tourism.

The nearest beach to walk from the town is Kaiki. There’s also a bus that runs daily on two different routes. The first runs from Spetses Town to Ligoneri and Vrellos Beach on the north coast and the second to Agia Marina, Agioi Anargiroi and Agia Paraskevi on the south and west coast. If needed, click here for taxis and here for sea taxis.

Where to stay in Spetses

When in Spetses, you have the unique opportunity to stay in a gorgeous hotel that dates back to 1914. Apart from just another accommodation option in Spetses, the splendid Poseidonion Hotel is a landmark and a true symbol of the island.

How to get to Spetses

It takes three hours to get to Spetses from Piraeus by highspeed ferry or a short ferry ride from Costa on the Peloponnese coast. The latter is pretty convenient if you plan to explore Nafplio, Epidavros and the rest of the Peloponnese on a road trip.

View of Kaiki Beach. The waters are turquoisea and along the shore there are sets of sunbeds and umbrellas.
Kaiki Beach in Spetses

8. Hydra

Hydra’s picture-perfect port will instantly fascinate you. The enchanting island was a filming set for many old Greek movies for a reason. Nowadays, not much has changed and this is why Hydra remains one of the most popular places for a refreshing getaway from Athens.

Built on a slope, with captain houses lining cobbled narrow streets, the town of Hydra was a favourite destination among famous artists and writers, such as Pablo Picasso and Henry Miller.

Similar to Spetses, Hydra is yet another of the best Greek Islands without a car as driving a car isn’t allowed there. Neither is riding a motorbike. You can get around Hydra on foot. Yet, keep in mind, that, unlike Spetses, Hydra is hilly with steep rocky roads.

Unfortunately, like in Santorini, donkey rides are common for the transportation of people or goods in Hydra. Please refrain from riding the island’s donkeys for similar reasons you shouldn’t use the horse and carriage rides in Spetses. Also, watch your step while walking around Hydra. There’s donkey poo everywhere.

Panoramic view of Hydra's town overlooking the port.
Hydra is beyond words picturesque

Beaches are not the island’s strong point since most are just spots on the rocks to dive from. However, Mandraki, Kamini and Vlichos are proper beaches. Not the best, as they are slippery and rocky, but, still, they are beaches. If you ask us, the hike to get there is more worth it than the beaches themselves. Another way to explore more beaches in Hydra is by sea taxi.

Where to stay in Hydra

Live the unparalleled experience of sleeping within the walls of a neoclassical mansion at Cactus Hydra Art Apartments.

How to get to Hydra

Hydra is about two hours from Piraeus by highspeed ferry and it’s also connected to Ermioni and Porto Heli in the summer months.

View of docks on the rocks that are used for swimming and sunbathing from the path on the hill.
Walking in Hydra, catching splendid views along the way

9. Astypalaia

Boasting a dazzling architectural style similar to the Cyclades, Astypalaia belongs to the Dodecanese Islands. Also known as the Butterfly of The Aegean, Astypalaia Island features one of the most picturesque towns on the Greek islands.

Perched on a hill, the whitewashed Chora is crowned by the breathtaking Querini Venetian Castle and it’s the perfect place to stay in Astypalaia. From the windmills at the foot of Chora to the Venetian Castle at the peak, you will stumble upon traditional restaurants for delicious meze dishes and bars such as Castro Bar, a great place for sunset cocktails.

This is a close up of the golden castle as it soars above the whitewashed Chora in Astypalaia, one of the best Greek Islands you can visit without a car.
The photogenic Chora of Astypalaia

The best beach within walking distance from Chora is Livadi. With many options for amazing food and drinks, Livadi is perfect for spending a full day on the beach. There is a bus connecting Chora to Livadi and Maltezana. The bus route covers the island’s main points of interest, rendering exploring Astypalaia without a car easy.

Another beach worth visiting by public transportation is Steno. There’s also a taxi in Astypalaia. To reach the most secluded beaches, such as Kaminakia or the islets of Koutsomitis and Kounoupes, you can book a boat day trip.

This is a panoramic shot of Livadi Beach. There are sunbeds and umbrellas, while many shops line the beachfront.
Livadi Beach is the perfect place to relax in Astypalaia

Where to stay in Astypalaia

Our favourite accommodation in Astypalaia. Esperia Luxury Suites Hotel is a gorgeous boutique hotel with jaw-dropping views of Chora and the Aegean Sea.

How to get to Astypalaia

Although a small island, Astypalaia has an airport with direct flights from Athens. It’s also connected by ferry to Piraeus and other more popular islands, like Paros, Naxos and Amorgos.

10. Lipsi

Situated between Patmos and Leros in the Dodecanese island group, Lipsi is a small island off the Turkish coast of the Aegean Sea and one of the lesser-known islands in Greece.

Lipsi Port is where you should be based on the island. Stroll along the port’s charming seaside promenade and explore the small town’s narrow alleys. Among the island’s main attractions are the Ecclesiastical and Folklore Museum and Agios Ioannis Theologos Church.

With low elevation and one main road, Lipsi stands out on any list of quiet Greek Islands to explore on foot. A 20-minute walk from the town, the island’s highlight awaits, Panagia tou Charou Church. There, you can see a rare icon depicting the Virgin Mary holding Crucified Jesus instead of Baby Jesus.

Lientou and Kampos beaches are within short walking distance from the port. Other beaches are accessible on foot if you love walking or by the local bus or taxi. Also, boat trips depart daily from the port of Lipsi to the nearby smaller islands of Arkioi, Aspronissia, Tiganakia and Marathi for a fantastic swim in outstanding turquoise waters.

View of Lipsi port with traditional boats and the village in the background.
Lipsi Port
Photo Credit: ©Tzina Varotsi

Where to stay in Lipsi

Choose among the best family-run hotels in Lipsi.

How to get to Lipsi

Lipsi is connected to Piraeus by ferry once or twice a week. It’s also well connected to Patmos and Leros. The ferry ride from those islands takes only one hour. However, the easiest way to get to Lipsi is to take a direct flight from Athens to Leros and take the ferry from there to Lipsi.

(A shoutout to our friend Tzina, a blogger at Love For Travel, for granting us permission to use her beautiful photos of Lipsi.)

View of Lientou Beach. The beach has trees and facilities for people with disabilities.
Lientou Beach in Lipsi, one of the best islands to visit without a car
Photo Credit: ©Tzina Varotsi

Book Your Ferry Tickets To The Best Car-Free Islands in Greece

We’re Not Yet Done With The Best Greek Islands To Visit Without a Car

Although we love roaming around the world, exploring the Greek Islands has a special place in our hearts. This is why we don’t intend to stop until we’ve visited every one of them, including the very small islands. Which of the best Greek Islands without a car would you like us to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

WORDS & IMAGES: Katerina

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