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Table of Contents
Why is a Ferry a Good Choice?
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 a cruise 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' harbours are centrally located, the total travel time stays relatively not too long and so not exhausting in every scenario.
The weather in summer is perfect for cruising. The sea is usually calm, it is really warm to sit outside and enjoy your drinks under the sun. The great weather combined with the beautiful scenery of Greek archipelago along the way makes the cruising enjoyable 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 and very comfortable. There is much space, restaurants, bars and shopping options. Of course, the selection varies between ferries. Some of the ferries are really modern while some offer just the basic services. In every case, cruising on the sea is more enjoyable than flying.
Isn´t Flying Faster?
You may also fly between the islands. However, there are not many direct routes so in many cases, you need to connect. The connection requires time and the total travel time becomes long. Arriving early to a distant airport is usually needed. Harbours are more centrally located.
If you combine the Island hopping also with a visit to the mainland, flying from an island to Athens is often a good choice. Flying between the islands is more complicated. Only when there are direct routes and good schedules available, flying from an island to another makes sense.
Choosing Your Ferry in Greece
In Greece, there are multiple 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
- Choose the islands you would like to visit.
- Decide your entry and exit island. Compare flights to/from by Momondo.
- Compare ferry routes between the chosen islands on Direct Ferries.
- Decide the final route based on the previous comparisons.
- Book flights, ferries and hotels.
Greece Island Hopping Routes
The first thing to decide is whether you start the island hopping route from Athens. Athens is easy and affordable to reach by flying or even by a train but the first cruise leg may become long if you are heading Dodecanese islands. In that case to save time, it may be wiser to fly to an island directly. We recommend you to investigate flight schedules and prices well to find out which islands are suitable entry and exit points to your itinerary.
You should to start from 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.
How to Move on Islands?
Now you have an idea how to travel between the islands. However, moving around the islands is also important to make the trip smooth.
On Greek islands, hiring a car is really recommended. The public transport network is not so good on every island and a car gives you much freedom. Rental cars in Greece are also inexpensive.
We understand that not all people like driving in foreign countries. Another easy way to move around the island is to attend tours. In the summer season, the tour selections is good and we are sure that you will find interesting activities. You can book one from GetYourGuide from which we often book ourselves well-organised tours.
Budget travellers may use the public transport network. In that case, we recommend visiting only the bigger islands where the public transport network is good enough.
Rent a Car
If you have never rented a car before there are a few important things to remember.
Choose carefully only trustable rental companies and check their reviews from different channels beforehand. A big brand does not automatically mean the company is reliable.
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 case of damages and accept it.
Examine the car well at the pick-up for any existing damages. Photographing the car is strongly advised.
We recommend you to compare rental car prices on Discover Car Hire. Don't be afraid of local rental companies if they have good reviews. Discover Car Hire has a good information package about renting a car.
Discover Car Hire sells also an inexpensive Full Insurance with 0 excess.
Not everyone loves driving. If you choose to attend local tours the selection is unbelievably good on Greek islands. Advertising their tours is aggressive and every seller claims to have the best tours.
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. A good site to book tours is GetYourGuide.
When to Do Island Hopping
Summer is the best time to do island hopping in Greece. Summer months are also the most expensive ones and the islands may get crowded. Some people may feel the weather 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. However, 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 but the cheapest period to travel. Unfortunately, the weather is most likely 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.
Greek islands are extremely great destinations for people who love beaches, grand and romantic sunsets in addition to great weather and beautiful scenery and of course for Greek cuisine lovers. Even though the islands are popular and the top sightseeing spots can be crowded such as Oia, a heaven for sunset lovers, 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!