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Island Hopping in Greece by Ferry

  • By Finnoy Travel
  • February 10, 2020

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Travelling by Sea

There are countless ferry routes between the Greek islands and also routes to/from the mainland. Taking a ferry is one of the most convenient ways to travel between the islands for many reasons.

Distances are relatively short so cruising does not take many days but only a few hours. There are also faster ferries which reduce the required travel time even more. While islands' ports are centrally located, the total travel time stays relatively not too long and not so exhausting in every scenario.

The weather in summer is perfect for cruising on the sea. The sea is usually calm and it is pleasant to sit on an outer deck under the sunshine while enjoying summer drinks. The great weather combined with the beautiful scenery of the Greek archipelago makes cruising an enjoyable experience. It is not just moving from one place to another but also a valuable experience.

On longer routes, for example between Athens and the islands, you may stay overnight in a ferry. Cabins are inexpensive and there is no need to book a hotel.

Ferries are like small hotels. There is a lot of space, restaurants, bars and shops. Some of the ferries are super modern while some offer just the basic services. In every case, cruising on the sea is more enjoyable than flying.

A Greek island
From a ferry, you can see the beautiful archipelago of Greece.

Isn´t Flying Faster?

Flying between the islands is theoretically faster. For example, Volotea flies to many islands. There are seldom direct routes so on many routes, you need to connect. Connecting flights require hours and the total travel time becomes surprisingly long. Arriving early at a distant airport is also necessary. Ports are more centrally located and reaching them is less stressful. Airport on the Greek Islands are also small and do not offering many services like lounges.

Santorini Airport
Santorini has an international airport which makes the island a good entry/exit point for travellers visiting Greece.

If wish to visit also the mainland of Greece, flying from an island to Athens is a good choice. Flying directly between the islands is seldom possible. Only when there are direct routes, taking a flight from one island to another makes sense.

Best Season for Island Hopping

Summer is the best season to do island hopping in Greece. Unfortunately, the summer months are also the most expensive ones and the islands get crowded. The weather may feel too hot for sensitive travellers.

Travelling from April to May or from September to October is more peaceful. The weather is not extremely hot and the price level is also lower. The sea temperature in early springs may be too cold for swimming.

Read our story how we sailed from Rhodes to Santorini with Anek Lines.

Winter is the off-season and the cheapest period to travel. Unfortunately, the weather is rainy and the winter season can't be recommended for island hopping.

Planning Island Hopping Route

The first thing to decide is whether you start your island hopping from Athens or an island. Athens is easy and affordable to reach by flying or even by train but the first cruise leg may become quite long especially if you are heading Dodecanese islands. To save valuable time, it may be wiser to fly to an island directly. Investigating flight schedules and prices are recommended to find out which islands are suitable for entry and exit points.

If an island is your first destination, you need to choose a big island where there is an international airport. For example, Rhodes, Kos or Crete are good starting points because reaching them is easy. Accordingly, Mykonos, Santorini and Samos are good exits points or vice versa. Between the islands, you can move easily by ferries and visit a few of your favourite islands along the way.

Booking Ferry Tickets

In Greece, there are several reliable ferry companies. A suitable schedule is more important than the ferry company itself. Greeks are professional sailors and every company takes you to the destination in a pleasant way.

Follow these steps to make a booking in the right order:

  • Choose the islands you would like to visit.
  • Decide an entry and exit point from the Greek archipelago. Compare flights fares to and from.
  • Compare ferry routes between the chosen islands on Direct Ferries.
  • Decide the final route based on the previous comparisons.
  • Book first flights, then ferries and hotels.

Moving on the Islands

Choosing the island hopping route is only half of the planning. The second part includes the plan of how to move on the islands, where to stay and what to do.

Hire Car

On the Greek islands, hiring a car is a flexible way to travel around. The public transport networks are not that good and a car gives you much freedom. Rental cars in Greece are also inexpensive.

If you have never hired a car before there are a few important things to take into account.

Choose carefully only trustable rental companies and read some of their reviews beforehand. A big brand does not automatically mean the company is reliable. We have often used small almost unknown companies without any issues.

Make sure that the car has a Collision Damage Waiver (CWD) and a Theft Protection (TP). Consider reducing Excess with extra insurance. Examine the car well at the pick-up for any existing damages. Check especially tires, windows, and the surfaces. Photographing the car is strongly advised.

Volkswagen_Up on Santorini
This Volkswagen Up cost 40 euros / day including full insurance on Santorini.

Organised Tours

Not all people like driving in foreign countries. Another easy way to move around islands is to attend organised tours. In the summer season, the tour selection is good and we are sure that travellers will find interesting activities. However, tour advertising on the spot is aggressive and every seller claims to have the best tours. Booking in advance from GetYourGuide is recommended. We use this service regularly to find well-organised tours.

The sunset in Oia
There are many tours where you can see the beautiful sunset in Oia.

Our tip is to get familiar with the tours before the journey. You may plan the program already at home and the holiday becomes less stressful.

Public Transport

Budget travellers may save by using the public transport network. Then, we recommend visiting only the bigger islands where the public transport network is good enough to see the main spots.

Bottom Line

Greek islands are a perfect destination for people who love beaches, grand and romantic sunsets in addition to the great weather and beautiful scenery. And we should not forget the delicious Greek cuisine. Even though the islands are popular and the top sightseeing spots become easily crowded, the atmosphere is still relaxed and Greece is generally a safe country to travel.

Have you been to the Greek Islands? Comment below your best island-hopping tip!

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Destination: Greece

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Tips For Your Next Journey...

Book hotels and flights wisely

We recommend booking.com for hotel reservations. This agency has good booking conditions, excellent customer service and affordable rates. For flights, Skyscanner is one of the most popular tools to find the cheapest flights.

Relax at Airports

Make your journey a more pleasant experience. Head to an airport lounge and unwind before flying. Purchase single access from Lounge Pass or read our article about Priority Pass.

Don´t miss unforgettable activities and tours

Whether you are travelling near or far, make your trips more memorable by attending organized activities and tours. On GetYourGuide, you will easily find after sought sightseeings and tours at your destination.

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