So you’ve booked your ticket and you’re jetting off to Greece! You’re prepared for Athens, but now you need to figure out how to travel between a few Greek Islands. Here’s your complete travel guide to Greek island hopping.
Decide Which Islands To Visit
Greece has so many beautiful islands, so you really can’t go wrong. Because there are so many islands to chose from, it can be overwhelming. Each island has its own personality, so its up to you to decide which islands meet your need. Here are a few to consider.
Mykonos is a very popular choice, which has its pros and cons. There are a lot of good restaurants, bars and clubs and hotels, so you have plenty of options when booking accommodation and activities. However, its popularity means prices are higher and the streets become crowded during the summer season. Mykonos is best for people searching for terrific nightlife.
The next most popular island is Santorini. It’s known for is gorgeous sunsets over the Mediterranean Sea, and they are just spectacular. Santorini has the best of all worlds: resorts, postcard-worthy landscapes, a volcano you can hike, boat rides around the island, beautiful beaches. And I haven’t even mentioned the incredible breakfast crepes. Santorini is best for people who can only visit one island because they can accomplish it all here.
Milos is your beach-vacation destination. With over 40 beaches on this island, this is the perfect place for everyone wanting to relax on the beach and soak up the Mediterranean sun. I visited Sarakiniko Beach and it offers white rock contrasting against the deep blue water, great spots for cliff jumping, and even a ship wreck you can snorkel to. Milos is the island for anyone wanting to take advantage of sun tans and swimming.
This is another island known for its beaches, specifically one with a shipwreck on shore. There are beaches, wineries, hiking, and the port city is full of shops, restaurants and bars. There’s even a castle on this island! I know it’s on my list of islands to visit next time I travel to Greece. This is best for people looking light outdoor activities.
Naxos is a gorgeous island. It’s the largest Cycladic island, and has lots to offer. The port city is large and offers many shops and restaurants located right next to the water. Naxos is another island that offers it all. Beautiful beaches, fun nightlife, lots of history, and driving around the island is incredibly scenic. There is a large local population, so Naxos is the best island to experience traditional Greek life.
Rhodes is another island on my list of top islands to visit because it has so much history. Of course it has beaches and resorts, shopping centers and good food. But it also has an incredible history, and the ancient monuments to prove it. You can hike and explore the Acropolis of Lindos and visit the old Medieval part of town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rhodes is the perfect spot for history buffs.
Crete is Greece’s largest island, and it has plenty to offer. There are beaches (I’m sensing a common theme, aren’t you?) like the Balos Lagoon, as well as the White Mountains and National Park. This was the birthplace of the Greek god Zeus, so it has important ancient history. There are many outdoor activities like hiking through canyons and off-roading on 4×4’s. This is the island for someone who wants adventure.
Other islands to consider are Siphnos, Paros, Corfu Island, Skiathos, Kefalnoia, Symi. The list goes on and on. Don’t be overwhelmed by it! My advice is to choose a few islands based on location or activities. You can group islands that are close in proximity to each other, or you can choose the islands that are best for hiking or beaches or wine, etc.
Booking a Ferry Ticket
There are plenty of ferries you can book with. The most important thing is finding a ferry that will stop at each island you are wanting to visit. My recommendation is Blue Star Ferries. The boats are similar to cruise ships so there is plenty of space, they are very clean and the service is impeccable. I was so impressed, and I found that traveling by ferry was one of my favorite parts of my trip!
Tickets range from €20-€200 depending on whether you’re traveling economy or in a cabin or if you purchase a family ticket.
Important: The Super-Save Economy ticket which costs €20 and the Saver Economy for €31 cannot be booked online. I had no trouble booking my ticket from Naxos to Santorini in person.
You will see on the timetable that each ticket departs from the Piraeus. This is the port in Athens. Then it shows each stop until its final destination.
You can purchases tickets one way or round trip from any stop on the list. So, if you’re in Santorini and you want to travel to Kos and back, you will purchase a ticket and watch the timetable for when the ferry will stop at each destination. If you look below you will see it arrives in Santorini on Tuesday at 12:35 a.m. You will board the ship then arrive at 5:45 a.m. in Kos. On the return ticket the stops are reversed. So you’ll get picked up at 7:45 p.m. and arrive in Santorini at 1:25 a.m.
On the Ferry
The ferries are top of the line. There is plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors, so you can either enjoy the views and the breeze, or you can head inside a look out through the windows. The ferries are air conditioned, and you can even purchase wi-fi if you want to use it on board. However, I found that I was content without it for a few hours. It was a nice break to enjoy being on the water.
There are stations on the ferry where you can purchase snacks and drinks. I tried fun flavors of Lays chips and I had a few lemon Fantas. It was a blast!
Tip: The ferries also have stabilizers to help with sea sickness. However, I still recommend using a motion relief band if you’re prone to sea sickness.
Once it’s time to dock you will follow the directions and make your way to the exit on a lower level of the boat. This is where you’ll pick up your luggage and walk off. Just be cautious of car and trucks driving off the boat, and be careful of the crowds at the ferry station. Below is a picture of the crowds waiting to board at Santorini. It can be challenging to figure out where you’re going. Just stay confident and read the signs. If necessary, wait until it calms down and then you can make your way into town.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re on vacation. Relax and enjoy it, and get excited that you’re in Greece! No matter which island you pick you’ll enjoy it. They all have a lot of character and plenty of things to enjoy.