If you’re dreaming of charming Greek hotels, the pristine beaches of Santorini, or sailing through the Agean sea, then island hopping could be the best way to experience it all. If you plan a Greek island hopping vacation right, you’ll enjoy all the best islands Greece has to offer.
We’ve clarified how easy it is to island-hop in Greece, how expensive it is to hop between islands, which islands are best for every type of traveler, and possible island hopping routes.
Is it easy to island-hop in Greece?
The best way to experience Greece is traveling by sea. The crystal blue waters are unbelievable. With such a vast variety of islands to choose from, it’s hard to pick the best one! Luckily, hopping between the Greek islands is easy.
Island hopping has become a popular form of travel in Greece. Many of the islands are so close that a trip to the next one is a breeze. Each island has something unique to offer, so it would be a shame to miss out by staying on just one island.
The main things you need to consider before planning your Greek island hopping holiday are your budget, your timeframe, and where you’re starting from. There is an island-hopping itinerary suitable for every budget and length, making planning a Greek island adventure simple and fun.
Greek Restaurant on the Water
Is island hopping in Greece expensive?
Hopping from island to island can rack up a large bill. There are plenty of options for high-speed ferries, luxury hotels, and fine dining that will cost a pretty penny. However, island hopping doesn’t have the break the bank. There are ways you can cut down costs but still enjoy the luxuries of the Mediterranean islands.
The more you hop between islands, the more you will pay as ferry rides tend to be expensive, especially during peak season. If you want to hop between islands every few days, expect your costs to rise. Hotel prices on the islands vary but rise to high levels during the summer. A great option for getting the Greek island hopping experience on a budget is to travel during the off-season. You’ll pay lower prices for ferry tickets and hotels, as wells as benefit from fewer crowds.
Some people will take a night sailing to save on accommodation costs. A ticket is just a ticket to ride the ferry, if you want to get some sleep you might want to upgrade to a sleeping seat or cabin.
Best Greek islands to visit
Where do you begin when planning your Greek vacation? There are many islands to choose from, so it’s important to consider what is most important to you. There is an island for everyone, from families to couples to party-goers.
According to Visit Greece, there are approximately 6,000 islands and islets in Greece, with inhabitants on 277 of them. Here are some of our top choices to add to your island-hopping itinerary:
Best islands for families
Naxos is one of the best islands for kids. It offers beautiful beaches, fun activities, and family-friendly hotels. Take the kids on one of the many hikes on the island or head down to the beach for fun water activities.
Over in the Ionian sea, Corfu is another family-friendly option. Corfu is a fairly large island, so you’ll never run out of things to keep the whole family entertained. You can stay near the old town for a city vibe or explore the other side of the island for a more secluded vacation.
Best islands for party-goers
Mykonos is probably Greece’s most iconic partying island. Party-goers from around the globe flock to this island for its unbeatable nightlight. You can party at the bars, clubs, and even directly on the beach. Mykonos is also a hotspot for celebrities so you might have a brush with fame. Expect to spend the night dancing and having fun until the sun rises.
Over in the Ionian sea lies Zakynthos. This island is another hub for glamorous parties and nightlife. The main town of Zakynthos is full of bars and clubs but you’ll also find booming nightlife throughout the island all summer long.
Best islands for nature-lovers
If you’re more into hiking and exploring nature, then head over to Andros. The island is far quieter and more peaceful than some of the others. It’s jam-packed with hiking trails, with hundreds of kilometers to cover. Spend your vacation outdoors enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Known as the island of long life, Ikaria is another nature-lovers destination. The outdoor adventure opportunities are endless. Choose from hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, sailing, and more. You can even take a jeep tour or explore the island’s waterfalls.
Best islands for couples
Santorini is the ultimate romantic destination. Iconic architecture, delicious food, breath-taking beaches, and more make for the perfect couples getaway. You can stay at romantic hotels overlooking the Aegean sea so you can catch every stunning sunset.
Located between Mykonos and Santorini, Paros is a wonderful option for newlyweds and honeymooners. It’s not as heavily trafficked as its neighbors, meaning you’ll have a more secluded, private experience. With all the same stunning views and mouth-watering cuisine paired with lower prices and fewer crowds, Paros is the perfect pick for couples.
Greek island hopping routes
When planning your dream Greek island hopping vacation, you should first look at where you are starting from. Many visitors begin from Athens since it’s the main point of entry for foreign visitors. However, many islands have their own airports that you can fly to.
If you’re starting in Athens you can leave from the Piraeus ferry port. The Greek islands are categorized into main groups. It’s easiest to choose islands that belong to the same group if you plan on hopping between them easily and quickly.
1. Argo-Saronic Islands: Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, Spetses
2. Ionian Islands: Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Paxos, Ithaca, Lefkada, Kythira
3. Cyclade Islands: Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Folegandros, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Syros, Tinos, and Santorini
4. Dodecanese Islands: Astypalaia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kastellorizo, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Symi, Tilos, and Rhodes
5. Northern Aegean: Chios, Ikaria, Forni, Lesvos, Lemnos, Samos, Samothraki, Thassos, Psara
6. Sporades Islands and Evia: Skiathos, Skyros, Skopelos, Alonnisos, Skyros, Evia
7. Crete Islands: Crete, Gavdos, Spinalonga, Dia, Chrysi, Paximadia
How to island hop the Greek Islands?
Settling in for an overnight ferry ride on my Greek Island hopping adventure
Once you have decided on the islands you want to visit you will need to organise how you will get to them. As mentioned before, the best way to island hop is to sail. You could book a sailing boat and sail yourself, go on a cruise ship or use the extensive ferry service which will provide you with the most flexibility to visit many islands.
The best way to island hop the Greek Islands is by ferry. The Eurail Greek Island Pass is a unique pass that lets you discover magnificent islands like Crete, Mykonos and Santorini. Travel by ferry across the waters of the Aegean and explore seaside villages with whitewashed shores. This pass allows you to:
– Choose from no less than 53 Greek Islands.
– Travel on 4 or 6 days during your trip to the islands of your choice.
– Buy tickets for additional domestic ferry trips with a 30% discount.
Find out more details and to book your Eurail Greek Island Pass here.
Where will you stay on your Greek Island hopping holiday?
The Greek islands have a variety of accommodation options available. From budget hostels to villas with every other type of accommodation in between. Once you have chosen your islands to island hop to it is wise to book some accommodation ahead of your arrival. If you like to stay in hostels check out your options, pricing and to book at HostelWorld. If you would prefer a hotel room or apartment for time in Greece, the best options can be found at Booking.com.
Greece is such an interesting and beautiful place to visit. It has unique buildings, culture and food for you to experience on each island. I’d love to hear about your Greek adventures in the comments below.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.