Santorini island - credits: zabara123/Depositphotos.com
Santorini island - credits: zabara123/Depositphotos.com

From the famous Cyclades islands to the Saronic and the Ionian islands, the options and endless, but we’re here to help you out; here is a guide to island-hopping in Greece to ensure you make the best island combos in a time-efficient way and get the most out of your stay in your dream destination!

How to get to the Greek islands

aerial view of ios Aerial motion shutterstockIos - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com

Due to the high-frequency schedules of the ferryboats, especially during the summer, transporting from one Greek island to the other should be no trouble, especially if you’ve booked your tickets far in advance to avoid the crowds and ensure a place in the ferry of your choosing.

Flying is a viable option only if you’ve chosen the most famous islands; apart from Athens’ International Airport, there are airports in Corfu, Kefalonia, Crete, Kos, Leros, Mykonos, Lemnos, Lesvos, Paros, Milos, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Zakynthos, and Naxos.

However, if you have your eye on more secluded, off-beat, less-known Greek islands, ferries are the way to go; just keep in mind that ferry schedules can change depending on the weather conditions and busyness of the day, and your Greek island hopping dreams will come true.

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The best time to go on Greek island hopping tours

naxos island panoramic saiko3p shutterstock Naxos - credits: saiko3p/Shutterstock.com

Generally speaking, Greece's best time for island hopping endeavors is May through mid-July and September. Throughout August and all the high-season summer months, the weather is insanely hot, the Greek islands are extremely busy, and the airplane and ferry tickets are high.

Please keep in mind that the Greek Orthodox Easter traditionally marks the beginning of the tourist season in Greece, which ends in October when the weather changes.

We wouldn't suggest you pick the low-season months for your Greek island hopping as during the low-season, the ferries are less frequent due to surprising winds and rains. Many of the hotels and resorts are also closed down in winter and the islands become deserted.

How many Greek islands to visit 

kefalonia assos Igor Tichonow shutterstockKefalonia - credits: Igor_Tichonow/Shutterstock.com

The number of islands you should visit during your tour across Greece depends solely on your mood and the length of your trip. If you’ve got less or about a week at your disposal, we suggest indulging in only a few destinations.

If you’re staying for a couple of weeks, you may be able to fit three or four islands on your adventure. If you’re standing even more than that -say a month or more- the sky is your limit! Just make sure the islands you want to visit are in close proximity to one another and are being serviced by the same ferry line, and your Greek island exploration will be a smooth sail!

How to pick your Greek island group

ikaria Lemonakis Antonis shutterstockIkaria - credits: Lemonakis_Antonis/Shutterstock.com

Greece is dotted with over 200 different inhabited islands. However, developing some strategies to test what is best for you is a good idea. You should choose your Greek island hopping packages according to your need and preferences.

Depending on how many days you plan on spending in Greece, the Greek island hopping routes you choose can potentially make or break your Greek trip.

In order to find the best Greek islands depending on your preferences, you can read our blog post here.

Starting points for Greek Island hopping

koufonisia Aetherial Images shutterstock compressedKoudfonisia, Greek island hopping - credits: Aetherial_Images/Shutterstock.com

The major islands are located in the Aegean sea and the Ionian Sea. For that reason, the most famous Greek islands that happen to belong to these island groups are the most likely to provide you with a great starting point for your Greek island hopping adventure, as they will offer many more ferry routes.

Of course, in our opinion, nothing beats Athens as a starting point for your island hopping in Greece. Not only will you get to explore the incredible capital city and its rich heritage, but you will also be near Piraeus, one of Greece's biggest ports.

Both unknown and touristy islands are connected with Piraeus, and therefore you should choose this place for its variety in choice. Whether you're after an island hopping adventure across the popular islands of Greece, or the offbeat destination only the locals enjoy, you will be covered1

Sample Greek Island Hopping Itineraries 

Across the Saronic Gulf (Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Spetses)

Aegina island, Greek island hopping - credits: leoks/Shutterstock.com

A Greek island only an hour away from Athens, you say? Don’t mind if I do! The Greek islands that belong to the Saronic Gulf complex are in very close proximity to the Greek capital and therefore make for the ultimate short getaway and the perfect opportunity to get the feel of the Greek island vibes even if you’re on a tight schedule.

From closest to furthest from Athens, the Saronic islands that are worth a visit are Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses, and although they’re so close to Athens that you’d expect them to feel like an extension of the city, they’re beautiful destinations that have a lot to offer.

Aegina might not be the most scenic of islands. It is, however, a vibrant island with a lot of permanent residents year-round and fascinating attractions such as the archaeological site of the Temple of Aphaea and the famous church of St. Nektarios.

Agistri, the smallest of the bunch, is perfect if you’ve no transportation as everything is within walking distance. The beaches are great, and the various taverns lined at the cost offer mouthwatering traditional dishes.

Poros is less popular than the rest of the islands and, therefore, the quietest. The famous clock tower, built in 1927, welcomes visitors to the port and offers an incredible view during sunset. Visit the sacred monastery of Poros, explore the Temple of Poseidon, marvel at the artifacts the Archaeological Museum of Poros exhibits, and swim at the sandy beaches of Kanali, Monastiri, Love Bay, and Russian Bay. What more could you possibly want?

Last but definitely not least, the islands of Hydra and Spetses are the most picturesque and look like they’ve come straight out of a fairytale, while in both of them, cars are -thankfully- not allowed. While Spetses is bigger and offers a vibrant nightlife, Hydra is Instagram-ready and ideal for a romantic getaway!

Across the Cyclades (Paros-Naxos-Mykonos-Santorini)

Little Venice, Mykonos, Greek island hopping - credits: little- Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock.com

I bet that when you think of the Greek islands, you think of white-washed houses with blue windows and doors located in narrow cobbled alleys decorated by luscious bougainvillea plants. Let’s be honest, nothing beats the exquisite Cycladic aesthetic!

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This cult classic look is prominent across all Cycladic islands and is one of the main reasons why the Greek islands that belong to this island group are arguably the most popular islands not only in Greece but worldwide.

Try to combine the most favored Greek islands: Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, and Santorini, on a tour across the Cyclades that will take your breath away. 

Across the Ionian Islands (Corfu-Kefalonia-Ithaca)

Corfu, Ionian islands, Greek island hopping - credits: Vucicevic/Shutterstock.com

Less popular than the Cyclades but just as striking with luscious vegetation and crystal clear waters that are infamous for being on the cold side -some would argue they’re refreshing, and they’d be right- are the Ionian Islands spread as their name suggests across the Ionian Sea.

One of the most magnificent Greek islands and the setting ‘The Tempest’, Shakespeare's final play, is Corfu, the island with distinct architecture and allure. Combine the fascinating Corfu with the unique island of Kefalonia, a personal favorite destination that manages to stand out among the Greek islands through its excellent cuisine and its locals, who are rumored to be eccentric, sociable, and a little crazy!

End your island-hopping adventure with Ithaca, the island that, according to the most popular tales of Greek mythology, was home to Homer’s Odysseus, and discover the reason why Odysseus made his life-long mission to return to this stunning island.

Make combos depending on the theme of your holidays

hydra Romas Photo shutterstockHydra - credits: Romas_Photo/Shutterstock.com

Don’t restrict yourself to destinations close to each other and, therefore, on the same ferry routes. Although it is the most convenient, it may not be the best option for you, especially after holidays with a specific running theme.

If you’re after a romantic getaway -or even on your honeymoon- the best island-hopping route is the island group of Santorini – Milos – Folegandros.

If you’re a history fiend and would love to explore the ancient heritage Greece is known for, try Rhodes-Crete.

If you’re seeking to let your hair down and party like it’s 1999, the combination of Mykonos- Paros – Ios will blow your mind! Last but not least, if you want to take a dive on the best beaches the Greek islands have to offer, arguably Crete – Ios – Mykonos is the route for you.

FAQs

blue caves zakynthos Krivosheev Vitaly shutterstockZakynthos - credits: Krivosheev_Vitaly/Shutterstock.com

Which is the best Greek island for island hopping?

With the fact that Athens is the perfect starting point for Greece's island-hopping adventures in mind, the nearest Cyclades and the surrounding islands, which are located within three or four hours from Athens by ferry, are the best choice for island hopping in Greece.

Is it worth island hopping in Greece?

In our opinion, everyone must go to Greek Island Hopping once in a lifetime. The Greek islands are a sight to behold, and everyone deserves to island hop to at least one island group of their choice. In short, YES, island hopping in Greece is well worth it!

How expensive is Greek island hopping?

The price range of Greek island hopping is quite wide as it depends on the Greek islands you choose to visit, the accommodation you choose to stay in, the airplane or ferry tickets, and the establishments you choose to eat in.

For a more budget-friendly trip to Greece, select to hop between beautiful islands in the same island group and also on amazing gorgeous island hopping tours. Alternatively, you can keep the number of Greek islands you visit minimum and choose a slower open deck car ferry over a faster, closed deck car ferry.

Conclusion

kleftiko milos Martin M303 shutterstockMilos - credits: Martin_M303/Shutterstock.com

Spread across the Greek sea decorating the magical landscape like little diamonds on the sparkling waters of the Saronic, Aegean, and the Ionian Sea, the Greek islands make island-hopping a breeze and a must! Spend your time in Greece getting to know as many as you can, and you won’t regret it; if anything, you’ll come back to visit more!

There’s nothing quite like experiencing the island life like a local; the magical landscapes, the golden sandy beaches, the delectable cuisine, and the welcoming locals all get together to create the optimum adventure. Our handpicked Greek island tours are the best way to do so!

Get in touch with our travel specialists and design the ideal Greek Island Hopping trip to Greece!

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Photo credits leoks Shutterstock.com compressed