Greek Island Hopping

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: May 24

Island Hopping Guides

The 2018 Guide to Island Hopping in Greece

Island hopping to the Greek island of Santorini.

Santorini: The most stunning island in the Greek islands.

Greek Island Hopping – Tips and Information

Island Hopping by Ferry in Greece

Island hopping by ferry is one of the magical things about a Greek island Vacation.

Greek Island Hopping Cruises

Greek cruises suck. Don’t do them. It’s much better to island hop on your own. The best websites for booking a Greek holiday are Booking.com (for hotels) • Kayak.com (for flights) • Ferryhopper.com (for ferries). It’s fun and easy to book your own trip – and much more rewarding.

Greek Island Hopping Packages

The same applies for package tours. You get better hotels, better choice of flights, better prices, and a better experience by booking hotels, flights, and ferries on your own. There are no ferry passes for Greece (though Eurail does include some ferry passes for some of their European train passes). Ferry tickets need to be booked for each leg of every itinerary and there is no discount for return tickets or multiple-stop tickets.

Greek Island Hopping Tours

I highly recommend doing a Santorini tour, Crete tour, or a Mykonos tour. These are day trips from or around each island. Smaller islands also have their own tours but are typically best booked after arrival. For Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete is usually better to book tours in advance.

Greek Island Hopping Itinerary

Your route is only bound by the ferry schedule. From late May to early October, there are ferry connections between most islands in an island group (the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Sporades, the Saronic islands, the Ionian islands) and from Crete to the Cyclades. But there are not ferries between every Greek island. To get from one island group to another requires a bit more planning. For example, to get from Santorini to Rhodes you may need to ferry to Mykonos and then catch a different ferry onwards to Rhodes. Once again, this is half the fun. The Cyclades – a collection of wonderful small islands that are connected by short frequent ferry routes – makes the best island group for first-time island hoppers.

Greek Island Hopping Honeymoon

It doesn’t get much more fun and romantic than bouncing from Mykonos (great nightlife) to Naxos (great beaches) to Santorini (jaw-dropping scenery). The Greek islands make an awesome honeymoon destination.

Greek Island Hopping from Athens

Athens makes a natural start or finish to Greek island hopping. The closest Cycladic island (the best island group for island hopping) is 3 or 4 hours from Athens by ferry – and from there the magic begins. If possible try to fly into Greece and out of Greece from different airports to save yourself the time, hassle, and expense of backtracking. For example, fly into Athens, ferry through the Cyclades and onwards to Crete, then fly from Crete to western Europe (and home) – there’s no need to return to Athens to get your return flight. The Greek islands with the most flights are Santorini, Mykonos, Crete (both Heraklion and Chania airports), Rhodes, Kos, and Corfu.

Cheap Island Hopping

Ferry tickets in Greece are not expensive but not as cheap as they used to be. The best way to save money is to make fewer stops (choose 2 or 3 islands and explore them more thoroughly instead of hitting a half-dozen islands each for a night or two). In high season the owners of small and budget hotels will meet most ferry arrivals with offers of cheap accommodations. These are nearly always legit, decent places to stay. The thing to watch for is location. Hotels will say, “yes, very close, we drive there together” and then once you get there you realize you’re not walking distance to the beach or main villages. Try to walk there with hotel owners, then you know for sure it’s within walking distance (though this isn’t practical on all islands).

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8 Questions and Comments

  1. Which Greek Island

    Hi Dave,
    We’ve narrowed down our islands to Naxos, Santorini and Milos. We’re able to stay 3-nights on 2 of those islands and 4-nights on 1 off them. Which island would you recommend to spend the 4-nights on? I’m thinking Naxos or Milos. Of those 2, what has more to do where an extra day would be beneficial? Thanks so much.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Of Naxos and Milos, Naxos definitely has more to see and do. Though Milos has more interesting boat tours.

  2. Best Way To Get from San Francisco to Greece

    Hi Dave.

    Quick question on how would you divide and route flying to Greece from San Francisco? 14 nights in Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos and would it be sufficient time to see most highlights of Greece. Thanks a bunch. Any info is greatly appreciated.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It of course depends on what flights are available which varies greatly depending on the time of year. But most likely you’ll need to fly via London, Paris, or Amsterdam. From these western European hubs I would recommend flying to Athens but returning from Mykonos or Santorini – or even Heraklion in Crete. For example, fly SFO to London, fly London to Athens, ferry to Mykonos, ferry to Santorini, fly Santorini to London, fly London to SFO. This does require a fair bit of flight searching to see what’s available on each route – but it’s worth the effort so that you don’t have to retrace your steps to Athens and waste time and money. 14 days is enough time to see some of the highlights of Greece – but all of them? Not even close. Focus on 3 or 4 destinations and don’t feel rushed.

  3. Best Greek Islands to Visit

    Hello, I am traveling from New York to Greece for the 2nd time. I traveled to Greece about 5 years ago and split my trip between Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. This year I’m in between Paros, Ios, and Crete and confused if I should all three or which to do and the order. Was hoping you can provide expert travel advice and let me know what would be ideal for us to do. We are looking to relax on the beach, nightlife, party, and restaurants. Have about 10 days. Thank u

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I’m thinking you love Greece and will likely make another visit in the coming years. If that’s accurate then visit Paros and Ios on one trip (best for the high season summer months of late May to early September) and Crete on the other trip (great in summer but also fine in the shoulder season of April, early May, late September, October, and early November). Both are good destinations for 10 days but visiting all 3 in ten days would be rushed.

  4. Greek Island Hopping Routes

    We are planning a honeymoon through the Cyclades. Our plan is to stop in Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Ios. Is there a “best-route” for these 5 islands. We have not booked any flights or ferries yet so are open to any itinerary. We’ll be flying from NYC and visiting London and Paris on the same trip.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      My recommended route would be
      • Paris fly to Athens
      • Athens ferry to Mykonos
      • Mykonos ferry to Paros
      • Paros ferry to Naxos
      • Naxos ferry to Ios
      • Ios ferry to Santorini
      • Santorini fly to London
      The reverse order is fine too. This has the quickest, most direct ferry routes and the largest choice of flights.

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