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With 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, island hopping is a popular way to experience Greece.

And as the main characteristic of Greece’s morphology and an integral part of the country’s culture and tradition, this is a great adventure for the people who love discovery.

If you’re dreaming of an island hopping adventure in Greece, the following tips will help you plan it out. 

Island Hopping: 5 Tips for Planning a Trip to the Greek Islands

Santorini_Oia_Church Greece

Choosing Your Islands

When it comes to island hopping in Greece, choosing your islands should be first and foremost. Each of the Greek islands has their different personalities and claim of fame. However, most of them offer the same ingredients of rugged interiors, coastal coves, fishing villages, and hotels.

Many of the Greek islands are uninhabited, though the most popular islands (Santorini, Ios, Mykonos) have sizable cities, or at least a small town, which allows you to set up for a few days and establish a base. 

When choosing a series of islands to hop between, you should research their specialty, and make sure it suits your interests and needs. The most common Greek islands are Santorini and Mykonos. These are well connected to Athens and this could be one of the reasons they are the most preferred.

The fact that Greek ferries pass from Athens to Santorini, Ios, Mykonos and Paros islands means that it’s pretty easy to plan an island hopping experience yourself. 

Beach Maldives

Planning Your Time at Piraeus

For those flying into Athens, you’ll likely take your first ferry at Piraeus. This is the largest seaport in this country, and hundreds of ferries head to the islands from this harbor during the day.

This seaport isn’t really an interesting place, so if you intend to stay overnight at Piraeus, you could spend a little more money to enjoy a touch of luxury. There really isn’t anything to do here during the day, so you might appreciate the facilities of an upscale resort. 

Find the Best Seats on the Ferry

Your ferry crossings are part of the island hopping experience too, so you should be mindful of finding the best seats on the ship. Most have both indoor and outdoor areas. 

The outdoor areas are shaded on most of the ferries and usually offer you the best views. You can enjoy the ferry ride while you sip ice coffees, eat feta pastries, or fresh spinach.

The ferries can get very crowded, so don’t dally when picking your seat; go straight to the outdoor area of the top deck so you can enjoy the best sea views.

Greece ferries

Greek Islands

Finding Accommodation

If you’re feeling adventurous you can definitely haggle for a room while at the port. You will find many local hosts ready to accommodate you for the night. However, this is not always the case for all seasons, and if you’re traveling in August, we recommend booking in advance. 

August is peak season, and you may struggle to find a suitable and affordable place if you just rock up without a plan. June or July is shoulder season – still a great time to travel, but with the benefit of fewer crowds.

Islands like Mykonos have more various accommodation options for travellers – from luxurious resorts to convenient city hotels. Check it out here: Where to Stay in Mykonos: Near the Beach or Town?

Be Loyal to the Bars Attached to Your Sun Loungers

You may decide to rent umbrellas and sun loungers on the beach. There are bars attached to these, and it is courteous to be loyal to these bars or hotels.

Always reciprocate the hospitality extended to you by buying drinks and snacks at the bars. The owners of the bars are actually very hospitable people and you will enjoy the relationship.

Pro Tip: Find the cheapest flights to Greece by downloading the free Skyscanner app. Click for:

Apple Store free download (iOS)  Google Store free download (Android)

GUIDES WE RECOMMEND FOR GREECE: CLICK PHOTO TO LOOK INSIDE ↓

Frommer’s Athens & Greek Islands

Greece, Athens & the Mainland

DK Eyewitness: The Greek Islands

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Featured header image by Luigi Cavasin. Santorini Oia Church by Green Global Travel. Line up of ferries by Cycling Man

    16 Comments

  1. I still haven’t been to Greek Islands, but I have a feeling blogging and Instagram definitely lead to an increase in tourism in those areas, since they are so stunningly beautiful. Think I’d like to visit a smaller, less touristy island. Thanks for sharing the tips!

    • Hope you have the chance to travel at some stage Katie! The great thing for tourism is that since the economic crisis, Greece has become fairly cheap, and you’re also benefiting from less tourism than the islands have previously seen.

      And because tourism is such a vital part of the Greek economy, you’re really helping the hospitality industry by spending money there too. Win for everybody!

  2. Thanks for all the tips and I could not wait for my next vacation in Grecce! Santorini would be my first choice and thanks for introduction the seaport, and some other islands in the Agean Sea. I found the tips for looking a seat applies to any scenic cruise… when there are too many tourists, too little seats. @knycx.journeying

    • You’re welcome – glad the post was helpful for you 🙂 You’ll love Greece – but yes, aim for a good ferry seat!

  3. I wouldn’t have even thought to make sure to be loyal to the nearby bars at the beach, thanks for the tip! My fiancé and I are thinking about Greece honeymoon wise but we’re a bit overwhelmed, your post has helped. Thanks!

    • Glad we could help Kayla, Greece is an amazing spot for your honeymoon! Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions we can help with 🙂

  4. I have fond memories of island-hopping with a friend via the ferry from Piraeus (we went to Ios and then Santoroni; years later I visited Crete, but got there by plane from Athens). Please note that due to the distances involved, some of the ferries that ply the Aegean are redeyes. When my friend and I took the ferry initially to Ios, we just slept sitting in chairs on the deck. I probably couldn’t do that today. 🙂 BTW, I’m pretty sure we haggled for accommodations upon arrival at both Ios and Santorini. Granted, this was in 1996, before it was easy to make instantaneous bookings online.

    • Sounds like you had a great time Island hopping Harvey! Great tip on the redeye ferries – I’m one of those people who can sleep anywhere too! I haven’t taken a redeye ferry in Greece but really good idea to check on what their rules are about sleeping spaces. I think you’re right that this could have changed over time – other ferries I’ve been on have had rules in place about sleeping in public areas.

      Instant online bookings make travel so easy nowadays, but it’s definitely a fun cultural experience haggling for accommodation at the port!

  5. Greece and its islands are so so charming. I remember a very popular Korean drama was shot in one of the islands and the view is breathtaking. I really want to visit it someday…

    • Mamma Mia was shot in the Greek Islands too – love that film! Such a beautiful backdrop!

  6. Hi Megan, thanks for your post I especially enjoyed the pictures! I am curious what the average cost of accommodation is? I recently spent a few nights in Athens and really enjoyed the greek food and culture. While I was there everyone told me that I need to checkout the Islands. What island is best for a single traveler?

    If your interested in my short stay in Athens I wrote a post about it here.

    • Thanks for sharing your post Kameron, glad you had a fabulous time in Athens!

      Average price of standard accommodation is around €110 ($129). But you can get hostel beds for around ten euros per night, and budget hotels from around twenty five euros upwards. Prices increase in peak season.

      Which Island you want to visit will more depend on what your interests are as opposed to being a single traveler – for instance if you like an energetic atmosphere, and being around people, head to Santorini. The best beaches are on Naxos and Paros, the best natural beauty is on Crete, college age partying, head to Ios.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing Christos – definitely advisable to check the weather in advance of a trip to know what awaits you 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed the post – the Greek Islands are incredible 🙂

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