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Island Hopping in Greece

  • By Finnoy Travel
  • Updated: 08/25/21 | February 10, 2020

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Table of Contents

  1. From an Island to Another by a Ferry
    1. Isn´t Flying Faster?
  2. Greek Island Ferries - Which Company to Use?
    1. Steps to a Successful Itinerary
  3. Greece Island Hopping Routes
  4. How to Move on the Islands?
    1. Car Hire on the Greek islands
    2. Organised Tours
  5. Best Season for Island Hopping in Greece
  6. Bottom Line

From an Island to Another by a Ferry

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 way 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 the cruising an enjoyable experience. It is not just moving from a 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 much space, restaurants, bars and shopping options. Of course, the selection varies between ferries. 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 theoritically faster. However, there are seldom direct routes so on many routes, you need to connect. Connecting flights requires hours of time and the total travel time becomes suprisingly long. Arriving early to a distant airport is also necessary. Ports are more centrally located and reaching them is less stressfull.

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 and good schedules available, flying from an island to another makes sense.

Greek Island Ferries - Which Company to Use?

In Greece, there are several reliable ferry companies. We think that a suitable schedule is more important than the ferry company itself. Greeks are experienced sailors and every company is able to take you to the destination.

Steps to a Successful Itinerary

  1. Choose the islands you would like to visit.
  2. Decide an entry and an exit point in the Greek archipelago. Compare flights to / from on your favourite flight booking site.
  3. Compare ferry routes between the chosen islands on Direct Ferries.
  4. Decide the final route based on the previous comparisons.
  5. Book first flights, then ferries and hotels.

Greece Island Hopping Routes

The first thing to decide is whether you start your island hopping from Athens or from an island. Athens is easy and affordable to reach by flying or even by a train but the first cruise leg may become quite long 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 carefully is recommended to find out which islands are suitable entry and exit points in your itinerary.

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. Arccordingly, Mykonos, Santorini and Samos are good exits points or vice versa. Between the islands, you can move easily with the ferries and visit a few of your favourite islands along the way.

How to Move on the Islands?

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

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

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 you will find interesting activities. You can book one from GetYourGuide from which we regurarly book ourselves well-organised tours.

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 whole islands.

Car Hire on the Greek islands

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 an extra insurance. You need to understand well your liability in a case of damages.

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.

We recommend to compare rental car prices on Discover Cars. Don't be afraid of local rental companies with good reviews. Discover Car Hire has a good information package about renting a car and they also rate the rental companies.

Discover Car Hire sells also an inexpensive Full Insurance with 0 excess.

Organised Tours

Not everyone loves driving. If you choose to attend local tours, the selection is unbelievably good on the Greek islands. However, tour advertising on the spot is aggressive and every seller claims to have the best 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 already before the journey. You may plan the program already at home and the holiday becomes less stressful. A good site to book tours is GetYourGuide.

Best Season for Island Hopping in Greece

A summer is the best time to do island hopping in Greece. Unfortunately, the summer months are also the most expensive ones and the islands may get crowded. The weather may even become too hot.

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 most likely too rainy and the winter season can't be recommended for island hopping.

How to Book a Ferry?

For easier booking, follow our simple checklist:

  • Compare prices on Direct Ferries.
  • Choose the most suitable connection.
  • Include extras, like a buffet. Paying services separately on the ferry costs usually more.
  • Decide if you need a cancellation cover.
  • Double check all the details CAREFULLY before the payment.

Bottom Line

Greek islands are 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, such as Oia, become crowded, the atmosphere is still relaxed and Greece is generally a safe country to travel.

Have you been to Greece? Comment below your best island hopping tip!

If you found this information interesting or useful, please remember to SHARE the article with your family and friends!

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Destination: Greece

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Book hotels from a reliable booking site

It is wise to book hotels on a reliable booking site. We recommend European booking.com that has good booking conditions, excellent customer service and offers the best prices.

Ensure your booking payments refundable

While there is always a risk that flights can be cancelled anytime by airlines, you should ensure your booking payments to be refundable in case of such cancellation. We use a reliable payment card which gives additional security and savings while travelling and so we recommend you getting your own Curve Card.

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 sight seeings and tours at your destination.

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