When the only sound to break your thoughts is the solitary coo of a wood pigeon, you know you've discovered a place under the tourist radar. Swathed in silk aquamarine waters, far-flung, butterfly-shaped Astypalea is richly rewarding for walkers, campers and history buffs. An island hunter's ultimate escape; think mountainous meadows straight from the pages of Homer, and rugged beaches fringed in gas-blue turquoise. Chance of sighting a mermaid: fair.
The main settlement is hilltop Hora, which cascades amphitheatrically down to the fishing port of Skala in a tumble of Persil-white houses. Windblown and remote, there’s an undeveloped tourist infrastructure here, and 90% of visitors are Greek; the remainder being French and Italian. Fed up with the package crowd and fish and chips? You've come to the right place then.