By Rick Steves
In Greece, if you can name it, it's touristy. Get off the beaten beach. My favorite Greek escapes are the remote island of Lipsi and the fishing village of Finikoundas, on Greek's Peloponnesian Peninsula.
Studded with the famous rubble of ancient Olympia and Corinth, the Peloponnesian Peninsula is ringed with fishing villages, overlooked beaches, and bathtub-warm water. Visitors savor it without the tourist crowds that plague the much scrambled-after Greek Isles.
The tiny village of Finikoundas, located on the southwest tip of the peninsula, is just right for a sleepy Greek sabbatical. Finikoundas is big enough to have a few restaurants, rentable rooms and shops, but small enough to escape the resort traffic, crowds, and concrete. The little bay beyond the rock breakwater has the best beach. The swimming is fine even in October.
In your spare time, discover a Greek island. Tourists seem stuck on the same broken record of high-profile islands. But for your own private beach and a family that welcomes you as a guest rather than as part of the economy, choose an island that has no promotional budget. Hop off the boat at an island with just enough commerce to keep you fed and watered.
Catch the daily boat from Patmos or Samos to Lipsi. The few families who rent rooms will greet you at the port with invitations to follow them home.
Lipsi's closest neighbor, the island of Samos, offers an ancient stockpile of Greek ruins, easy connections to Athens, and best of all, a daily boat to Turkey. When the only color in your life becomes tan, and souvlaki is as monotonous as hamburgers, hop on the boat to Kusadasi, Turkey. A day trip isn't enough. Try to get inland to see the heartland that beats beyond the cruise ports.
The island of Crete entertains its many visitors well. Crete's grandest gorge is the Gorge of Samaria.