5 Idyllic Aegean Islands for Car-Free Holidays

In Koufonisia, Arki, Kastellorizo, Telendos and Marathi you don't need any kind of vehicle. The distances are short and everything is accessible on foot or by boat.

1. Kastellorizo

Everything takes place in the gorgeous harbor: strolls, food and coffee, dives from the piers and off rocks. All against a backdrop of characteristic narrow-fronted houses with vivid colors. There are no beaches, so both the neighboring sandy islets and the famous Blue Cave are reached by boat. You will stroll through the alleys of the village and adjacent Mandraki Bay, follow the paved path that passes by the Old Mosque and the Kordoni, the 4th century BC Lycian Tomb carved into a rock and the 14th Century fortress tower.

One of the most beautiful places to visit is the fortress-like Monastery of Aghios Georgios of the Mountain. But even here, where a normal road reaches, the experience is to arrive by walking up the so-called “400 steps,” a cobbled path that climbs up the rock and offers the most beautiful view of the settlement, the sea and the Asia Minor coast.

2. Koufonisia

For many years the residents of Ano Koufonisi have watched visitors disembarking from the boat by car and laughed. They would park it somewhere in the harbor or outside their hotel if possible and not move it until they left again. It still happens, mainly for carrying luggage, however now everyone knows that in Koufonisi you don’t need any kind of vehicle, not even a bicycle. After all, it’s considered to be the smallest inhabited island of the Cyclades.

You can walk to the Cycladic settlement for a stroll, a meal or a drink in the well-appointed areas, and you can also walk to its amazing beaches which are lined up in the southern part; Foinikas, Fanos, Italis; or further away and east to Pori. You can also go by boat to the uninhabited island of Kato Koufonissi, if you want more isolation as well as more walking.

3. Arki

Like sailors discovering a secret island. That’s exactly how you’ll feel when you disembark on the small pier, probably from your boat, because that’s how it’s worth coming here: by your own means – so besides swimming at the beaches of Piso Patelia and Limnari (10 minutes and 20 minutes walk respectively), you can also visit the incredible Tiganakia, a cluster of beaches and islets in the southern part of the Arkia, to which there is no road.

There are no major roads on the island overall, only wild olive trees, olives, pine trees and cicadas, 40 permanent residents, two tavernas serving local meats and cheeses, a café and a gift shop. All imbued in a wonderful aura. Simplicity at its best.

4. Telendos

There are no roads on Telendos either, so no motorized sound will disturb your rest. There is also no boat docking area, only the ferry that will bring you here from Myrties of Kalymnos. A small harbor with fishing boats, a 1-kilometer long paved strip with a shady beach, the sandy beaches of Potha and Paradise – everything at your feet. Even the pebbly beaches of Chochlakas and Pnigmenos require no more than 10 and 20 minutes of walking, respectively.

In this microcosm, you can snorkel and see the underwater ruins of a city that existed here until the early Christian period, hike to the early Christian necropolis and basilicas, or if you like, climb magnificent cliffs. In any case, you will end up at the taverna Kapsouli (Tel. (+30) 22430.473.63) for excellent seafood delicacies and colorful stories.

5. Marathi

One beach, one pier, ten houses, three tavernas: that’s all there is on Marathi! And here you can spend the whole day, under the trees, in just your swimsuit. In fact, here not only do you not need a car, but nothing else either, since coming to this Dodecanese island probably means that you’re looking for total isolation and no superfluous luxuries.

You will, however, find good food, a café-bar and an experience that the locals are very proud of: the view of the red moon from on the dome of Agios Nikolaos, for which you will need to walk just 10 minutes.

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