If your dream is just to grab a ferry and hope from one island to the other, from one paradise to the other, then I think Greek islands are what you are looking for! Here you find a complete guide for Greek island hopping!
But before starting let’s start with some basic information:
- Note that unfortunately, there are no ferry passes for Greece. Therefore, you will need to book ferry tickets for each leg of every itinerary and there is no discount for return tickets or multiple-stop tickets. There are many ferry booking platforms but the best one is the Let’s ferry. It supports multiple destinations, which makes ideal for island hopping!
- If you select some of the famous islands like Santorini, Mykonos, you have to book many months in advance.
- If you are looking for activities on the islands, I personally use Getyourguide platform, which has a variety of experiences.
- The best website for booking a hotel in Greece is Booking.com. From my experience nowadays Airbnb apartments are also included in Booking.com, which I find it easier and more reliable.
- My recommendation is – if you can, then fly into Greece and out of Greece from different airports to save yourself the time and money perhaps! The Greek islands with the most flights are Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Crete (both Heraklion and Chania airports), Rhodes, Kos, Zante, Kefalonia and Corfu.
- Affordable Greek Island Hopping: Ferry tickets in Greece are not cheap as they used to be. So, I think it would be better if you make fewer stops (2 – 3 islands) and explore them than visiting more without really enjoying them!
- Greek Island Hopping & Honeymoon: Believe me you have many choices when it comes to honeymoon. You can check some of our recommendations here!
Introduction to Greek Island hopping options
Main island hopping area in Greece is Aegean sea and secondly the Ionian Sea.
In Aegean, there are 4 main areas!
- Saronic Gulf islands
- Sporades island
Athens has 3 different ports. Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio.
Piraeus: It is the largest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe and it is connected with both rail and overground. Most of the islands are connect from Piraeus, so it should be your first choice!
Rafina: If you want to visit Mykonos and Andros, from Rafina the journey is quite quicker, but the connection to this port is only by coach. You can visit islands like Mykonos, Andros, Naxos, Tinos, Syros and a lot more
Lavrio: It is a little bit further from Athens, but it is less crowded port and an ideal if you save some time if you want to visit specific islands, like Kea (Tzia), Kythnos, Syros etc.
Our initial starting point for Greek island hopping in Aegean would be Piraeus and later we will check if you can mix the things even more! I will explain later!
Saronic Gulf Islands
Saronic Gulf islands are very close to Athens and it is ideal if you have limited time in Athens and you want to get a quick taste of the Greek Islands. Aigina and Agkistri are the closest.
Aigina isn’t so picturesque as the other Greek islands, but it is easy to go and has a lot to see (like the amazing Temple of Aphaea)!
Hydra – I think – is the best picturesque island, but it can get busy. Spetses is bigger and quite lively. No cars are allowed to both Hydra and Spetses! Poros is a little bit different with more options and you can get there by car and pass there with small boats!
Saronic Gulf islands are well connected with each other and it is quite easy to get from one island to the other!
Here you can find the iconic white houses with blue coloured windows with some exceptions. Here you have more combinations to choose from. We will recommend but then you can create your own routes.
The Route of Diamonds: Athens- Mykonos – Paros – Naxos – Santorini.
With this route, you can visit 4 of the most beautiful islands not only in Greece but in the world as well!!
Mykonos is famous for its amazing nightlife and its beaches. Lately, has become quite trendy, which means that it gets easily crowded and it is quite expensive.
Paros is my favourite choice as it offers choices for all the ages and also families! I have gathered all the necessary information here!
Naxos has beautiful beaches, excellent food and it is quite big to keep you intrigued and interested.
And there are more even choices if you want to explore more islands from Santorini. Find more information here!
You can, of course, add some more islands, like one day trip from Mykonos to Delos, which is or even Tinos which is a magnificent island under the radar of massive tourism. Or you can remove one island from the route, for example Naxos. As I told you above, it is totally depended on your preference, budget and time!
The Underrated Route: Kythnos – Serifos – Sifnos
Kythnos is relatively close to Athens. 1.40 from Lavrio port and around 3 from Piraeus. It is small with great hiking routes and still quite traditional.
Serifos is of my favourites islands and I cannot be objective as I have spent some summers there working locally. It is quite wild, with fantastic beaches and picturesque Chora village.
Sifnos has probably the best food that you can find and many, but really many small churches!
The route of Small Islands: Donousa, Koufonisia, Schoinousa, Iraklia
These 4 islands are called Mikres (=Small) the Cyclades and they are quite unique and have kept its traditional character.
From the 4 of them, Koufonisia has become quite popular the past years, but the other 3 are for now under massive tourism radar.
They are quite small so don’t expect big hotels and resorts. These are for travellers that prefer more wild and quiet places and experiences.
The Hiking Route: Naxos – Amorgos
Both islands provide beautiful trails, but Amorgos to my opinion is one of the two best islands in Aegean for hiking (in case you are wondering, the other is Andros!) Very wild island with one of the most traditional central villages (Chora)!
Kos – Kalymnos – Leros – Patmos
I like this route as it begins from one famous and busy island and goes through some more hidden islands in Aegean.
Kos is one of the most touristic islands in Greece with big resorts and sandy beaches. You can spend a couple of days there and then you can visit Kalymnos, which is one of the best destinations in Europe for climbing!! Except climbing, there are routes for hiking and some great one day trips to close small islands!
Next stop can be Leros is one of the most underrated islands. It is quite small and it has kept its character. Its Italian influence has given to the island a wonderful character.
And last and probably best is Patmos. One amazing island with great religious history and great beaches and beautiful architecture!
Rhodes – Symi – Nisiros – Tilos
Rhodes is very famous, with amazing history and beaches!
But I want to focus on the other smaller islands, like Symi. This picturesque island will provide you with remote beaches, great food and special moments.
Nysiros is another island (the other is Santorini) quite wild and it has an active volcano (but not erupting).
And Tilos is one of the small islands that you just become one with the locals and it has kept its traditional character.
The Green Route: Skiathos – Skopelos – Alonissos
You can start your Greek island hopping from either Volos port or Agios Konstantinos. If you are in the Volos area you can explore some of the best beaches there!
All 3 islands are green with great nature and amazing beaches. Skopelos was featured in the Hollywood movie Mama Mia and Alonissos has an incredible Marine Park!
On this part of Meditarennean, there is no single starting point for a Greek island hopping. It can be from Igoumenitsa or you can fly to any of the biggest islands (like Corfu) an start from there
Corfu – Paxoi – Lefkada – Kefalonia – Ithaca
This route is not so straightforward as it sounds. From Corfu you can visit Paxos, which has some of the most amazing beaches, using a boat from New Port – “Kamelia Lines”.
Now if you want to add Lefkada and Kefalonia. You can take the plane from Corfu to Kefalonia (which is cheaper and quicker than ferries and buses) or from Paxos (Gaios port) you goto Igoumenitsa. Then from there get the bus to Lefkada and then another bus to Nydri and finally you can use Ionian Sea Ferries and arrive at Fiskardo Kefalonia.
Do you have any question about the Greek Island Hopping?
Don’t hesitate to ask us or leaving us a comment below!