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The wildest, most distant and least touristed of the inhabited Sporades, Alonnisos rises from the sea in a mountain of greenery, with stands of Aleppo pine, kermes oak, mastic and arbutus bushes, vineyards and olive and fruit trees, all threaded with perfumed patches of untamed herbs. The west and north coasts are steep and rocky, while the east is speckled with seductive aquamarine bays and pebble-and-sand beaches, all of it protected by the pristine 2260-sq-km National Marine Park of Alonnisos.

The original (now-restored) hilltop capital, Old Alonnisos, was rocked by an earthquake in 1965, after which locals relocated to Patitiri, now the quaint main port and island hub. The mellow village of Steni Vala, 11km northeast of Patitiri, is the only other real settlement. Things amp up a few gears in July and August, while many inhabitants decamp to Athens for the surprisingly harsh winter season