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!
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How to get to the Greek islands
Due to the high-frequency schedules of the ferry-boats, 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 popular Greek island destinations; 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, 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.
How many Greek islands to visit
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 would suggest indulging in only a couple of 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!
Sample Greek Island Hopping Itineraries
Across the Saronic Gulf (Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Spetses)
Aegina island - credits: leoks/Shutterstock.com
A Greek island only an hour away from Athens you say? Don’t mind if I do! The 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 the visitors at 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 - 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! This cult classic look is prominent across all Cycladic islands and it is one of the main reasons why this island complex is arguably the most popular among visitors worldwide.
Across the Ionian Islands (Corfu-Kefalonia-Ithaca)
Corfu - 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 the distinct architecture and distinct 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
Don’t restrict limit yourself to destinations that are in close proximity to each other and therefore on the same ferry route. Although it is the most convenient it may not be the best option for you, especially if you’re after holidays that have a specific running theme.
If you’re after a romantic getaway -or even on your honeymoon- the best island-hopping route is 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 in the best beaches the country has to offer, arguably Crete – Ios – Mykonos is the route for you.
Spread across the Greek sea decorating the magical landscape like little diamonds on the sparkling waters of the Saronic, the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, the Greek islands make island-hopping not only a breeze but 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-sand 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!