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There is nothing more magical, romantic, and adventurous than boarding a Greek ferry and sailing the sea to explore the unique beaches of Greece. The Greek islands are blessed with stunning landscapes and oftentimes feel like an authentic slice of paradise.
Although most of us just close our eyes and dream about the enchanting images of white Santorini, there are so many more Greek islands to choose from that you never know exactly where to start from when planning a trip.
The first thing you must know is that the islands are divided into different groups. As well as that, some islands are extremely popular among Greek island hopping tourists, while others, equally enchanting, are almost unknown and offer a great vacation spot for those looking for less crowded places… which often come with more convenient price tags too!
The Greek Islands
Let’s take a look at the islands of Greece:
These are the most popular islands in Greece. When you go island hopping in the Cyclades, you can visit gorgeous places like Santorini, Mykonos, Sifnos, Syros, Serifos, Paros, Milos, Naxos, Amorgos, Ios, Tinos, and Folegandros.
This beautiful slice of Greece includes islands such as Patmos, Samos, Kos, Tilos, Symi, Kalymnos, Leros, and Rhodes. The latter is a hugely popular holiday destination and often features on Greece island-hopping itineraries.
These islands are easy to visit when you’re coming to Greece from Italy, which is one of the many popular Greek island hopping routes. Some of the best-known Ionian Islands are Corfu, Lefkada, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Ithaka.
Easy to reach as they are relatively close to Athens, the most popular Saronic Islands include Aegina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, Salamina, and Agistri.
Crete is Greece’s biggest island. It’s a major destination on its own, a place where you could spend a week or more exploring beaches and ancient sites. However, Crete is also a much-visited destination among people who are island hopping in Greece. It is, for example, a great base from which to visit Santorini on a day trip.
Evia is the second biggest island in the country, also easy to reach from Athens.
Some of the islands in this group are Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Ikaria, and Thasos.
These beautiful green Greek islands include Alonissos, Skyros, Skiathos, and Skopelos.
Ferry Routes To The Most Popular Greek Islands
When it comes the time to plan your unforgettable Greek island-hopping adventure, deciding where to go first or how long to stay is a decision that will be subject to the Greek islands’ ferry routes, schedules, and your budget.
This article gives you a sweeping panorama of how to island-hop in Greece. Are you ready to start planning your Greek island hopping vacation? Let’s go!
First things first, though!
From Athens To The Main Greek Islands
Athens, the capital of Greece, offers access to all the islands, either by plane or by ferry routes to the Greek islands. Popular islands, including Rhodes, Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini, can be reached by flying out from Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.
Athens Ferry Ports
It’s also a popular choice to travel by sea. You can reach most Greek islands from the port of Piraeus, about 30 minutes from the center of Athens. However, it would help if you also kept in mind that there are other ports from which you can depart, too. Lavrio and Rafina are two smaller ports in Athens with regular ferry services to different Greek islands.
- From Lavrio: you can reach the islands of Chios, Lemnos, Andros, Folegandros, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Sikinos, Syros, and Tinos.
- From Rafina: instead, it’s possible to visit the islands of Crete, Andros, Folegandros, Ios, Amorgos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Sifnos, Sikinos, Syros, Tinos, and Santorini.
You can choose between fast ferries to the Greek islands that carry boat cargo on this route. These are ideal if you want to take your rent a car or motorbike with you.
Corfu To Santorini, Crete, And Mykonos
There are no direct flights from Corfu to Santorini, Mykonos, or Crete. Therefore, if flying is a must, the best way to get there is to fly to Athens and then take another flight to the island of your choice.
Other alternatives include taking the ferry from Corfu to the mainland and, from there, boarding a bus to Athens. Once in the capital, you can choose either a ferry or a plane to reach Crete, Santorini, or Mykonos.
Another alternative is to reach Larissa from Corfu and go on a train trip to Athens.
Crete To Santorini
There are no direct flights from Crete to Santorini, but a ferry route connects both islands during the high season with at least 2-3 daily ferry crossings.
The ferry times between these Greek islands range between 2 and 4 hours, depending on whether you take a fast or regular ferry. The cost of the ferry trip between Heraklion and Santorini is about 50 euros, and it can be a great day trip if you’re staying in Crete. In fact, this is one of the most popular ferry travel routes in the Greek islands.
Rhodes To Crete
The trip from Rhodes to Crete can be quite long on a ferry. That’s why most travelers choose to fly from Heraklion, Crete’s capital. The flying time is about 50 minutes, and prices tend to be considerably high, so booking in advance is a great idea.
The ferry route connecting Rhodes to Crete is covered by the sailing company Aegeon Pelagos. There are four weekly connections and the traveling times range between 11 and 15 hours.
It’s possible to board the ferry with a car, a motorbike, or a camper van. Since it’s such a long trip, the vessel offers facilities including restaurants, bars, and shops to make the journey more pleasant.
Mykonos To Santorini
The only way to travel between Mykonos and Santorini is by boarding a ferry since no direct flights connect the Aegean Islands.
You can choose to save some money traveling with a regular service (about 4 hours) or pay a bit more and cut off your traveling time by at least two good hours.
Since this is probably the most famous sea route during summer, it’s a great idea to book your ferry tickets well in advance. The trip from Mykonos to Santorini is among the best Greek island hopping experiences you can have.
Naxos, Paros, Ios To Santorini
The three islands are connected by ferry routes all year round, with a considerable increase in services during the high season.
The best way to travel among these islands is by boarding a fast ferry. The ferry travel times between these Greek islands vary from 2 hours to 45 minutes (Paros-Naxos).
The three islands can also make an excellent escape from the bustle of Santorini and are perfect options for a one-day trip or a weekend away.
Rhodes To Santorini, Mykonos, And Other Cyclades
The best way to travel between the Greek Cycladic Islands and Rhodes is boarding a ferry to Athens and, from there, boarding another ferry to any of the Cyclades (or Rhodes).
It’s not common to find ferries departing from Rhodes with a stop on the Cyclades, but if you manage to book a vessel making a stop either in Naxos or Paros, it would unquestionably be a winning choice. Check in advance with your ferry operator to find the best Greek island hopping route for your trip.
Italy To Greece
As we mentioned here, traveling from Italy to Greece, there are comfortable ways to connect both countries either by plane or with a ferry. Ferries depart from Italy’s main ports, and it’s possible to board most vessels with a car or a motorbike.
Some of the ports are Bari, Ancona, and Venice, and they usually connect Italy to the Greek ports in the Ionian Sea, including Corfu, Igoumenitsa, and Patras.
Of course, routes (and prices) increase during the high season, which in Europe goes from June to September.
Best Greek Islands For Island Hopping
Deciding which Greek islands to include in your Greek island hopping itinerary can be difficult. It depends on what activities you love doing and how you prefer to spend your vacation time.
Do you love sunbathing and swimming on sandy beaches? Do you dream of soaking in the whitewashed landscapes of Greece? Are you eager to climb mountains and fill your trip with incredible adventures?
There’s an island for every taste and every traveler… People usually choose to visit the most popular places either because they heard about them or because some other travelers suggested so.
People often flock to places such as Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Hydra, and Crete, not knowing that there are hundreds of other islands worth a visit in Greece.
If you’re visiting Greece for the first time and eager to discover some of the islands, the best thing to do is travel around with a ferry. As you could see above, tons of ferries connect the Greece islands, making it super easy to do some unforgettable island hopping in Greece.
This is not only the most convenient option when it comes to ticket prices, but it is also the favorite way to travel for locals. You will immerse yourself in the right atmosphere that will set the pace for a relaxing trip.
One of the best Greek island hopping tips we can give you is: don’t run against the clock. The most enjoyable way to visit Greece and the island is to take one place at a time and enjoy it to the fullest. When it comes to island hopping the Greek Islands, less is definitely more.
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