Island-hopping Greece: Here’s how to do it

Island-hopping Greece can be tricky if you want to do it alone, but this guide will help you to enjoy your vacations in Greek islands and have the best time alone or with your family. Greek islands are known for their sandy beaches, warm climate, delicious traditional food, and big parties. Why spend your holidays on one island when you can hop from one place to another and have a wonderful time with the locals? Island clusters, like the Sporades, Cyclades, and the Saronic have many opportunities for island hopping, as in each cluster the islands are close to each other.

In this guide, we can see how to successfully island-hopp Greece and get a glimpse of many little heavens on Earth.

When is the best time to visit the Greek islands?

Generally, you can visit Greece all year round. The choice of the month you visit Greece depends on how you want to spend your time in this Mediterranean gem. Some months are preferable to others, especially if you want to explore the majestic beaches, avoid the large crowds, or spend your days and nights partying on islands like Mykonos.

We believe the best time to visit Greece and its islands and do island hopping is during the shoulder seasons. These seasons are from April to June and from September to October. During these periods, the weather is warm but not too hot. Usually, temperatures range from 24°C to 28°C. Also, there are fewer tourists around. Take the chance to explore the islands in your freedom and spend some relaxing time on the beach!

What are the best Greek island groups for island-hopping?

island hopping in zakynthos navagio greece vacation

Greece has around three thousand islands and islets all over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. 227 of them are inhabited. Some are in the Ionian Sea, on the west part of the mainland. But the most are in the Aegean Sea, on the south and east part of the mainland. The groups of islands are as follows:

Ionian islands

The Ionian islands are the northwest gateway of Greece to the Adriatic and the rest of Europe. Historical fact: this island cluster had many foreign invaders and rulers, originating from Venice, France, Britain, Russia, Austria, and many others. The biggest island is Corfu, known for its eclectic main town and green landscape. Other Ionian islands that are ideal for island hopping are Kefalonia and Zante (Zakynthos in Greek).

Saronic Gulf islands

The Saronic Gulf islands, named by the locals as Argosaronikos, are between the Peloponnese and Athens. It is a cluster of graphic and small islands that will help you to escape from the stress of everyday life. Their proximity to Athens can save you time from traveling. Poros, Hydra, and Aegina are some small heavens completely worth visiting.

Sporades islands

East of Athens, the massive island of Evia dominates the Sporades Islands, joined to the mainland by a bridge. The Sporades are a well-liked and practical weekend escape for Athenians because they are densely forested and see fewer foreign tourists. Skopelos, Skiros, Skiathos, and Alonisos are some of the most popular islands.

Cyclades

These picturesque islands are between Athens and Crete. The locals consider them the “prototypical Greek islands”. Their main characteristics are the white-washed homes with vibrant entrances and windowsills and the stony, sun-drenched scenery. Also, you may know them for their charming beaches and the vintage white windmills crowned with shreds of grass resembling disheveled hair. The most popular islands among them are Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Mykonos, and Santorini.

Dodecanese islands

Located near the sunny south-east tip of Greece, the Dodecanese Islands are less developed and more rustic than the Cyclades. They have a mixed Turkish-Venetian flavor due to their proximity to Turkey and historical ties to Venice. The largest of these islands is Rhodes, a charming old town that reminds you of medieval times. Other popular destinations are Karpathos, Kos, Kalymnos, and Astypalaia.

North Aegean islands

The North Aegean islands are relatively remote. They lie between Turkey and Thessaloniki. The southernmost of these, Samos, is a springboard for Turkeys, as it is very close to the port of Kuşadası. Other destinations for North Aegean islands include Ikaria, Lesvos, Xios, and Psara.

How long do you need for island-hopping Greece?

It would take you a little over a week to visit some islands if you were to spend at least two to three nights on each. This time is ideal for discovering Greek life and culture and creating many memorable adventures.

Is island-hopping Greece costly?

Prices for island-hopping Greece depend on how much money you want to spend on your holidays. There are prices on every island for every budget. Generally, it will be around 150-200 euros per day for your accommodation, food,  transportation, and other activities. If you want to travel on a budget, remember that most tourist destinations are cheaper during the off-season.

How to get around the Greek islands

ferries for island-hopping greece

There are many easy ways to get around the scenic islands in Greece. Some of the most popular ways include:

Ferries

The ferry is the most convenient way to visit Greek islands. There is a 45-minute to 2-hour travel time between them. Purchase your ferry tickets at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled departure. However, you must make your reservations at least ten days in advance for dates like Greek Orthodox Easter, Christmas, and around the 15th of August. These dates attract most of the tourists. They are also the holiday period for the locals. The cost of a ticket varies with the distance and the route. Contact us to help you book your tickets and help you organize the perfect island-hopping trip!

Renting a car

If you’d like to see more of the places you visit, renting a car is an amazing alternative. You can have a more enjoyable Greek vacation whether you hire a car or bring your own to each island. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind, like:

  • You must be at least 21 years old and have had your license for at least a year.
  • To drive in Greece, you must have an international driver’s license, excluding EU citizens.
  • In the city, the speed limit is 50 km/h, and on the roads, it is 120 km/h.
  • Drunk driving has a zero-tolerance policy.
  • Using a mobile device while operating a vehicle is prohibited.
  • Remain on the right side of the road.

Taking a bus

All of the major Greek cities are accessible by bus from Athens, and there are two major bus terminals: Kifissos and Liossion. Buses to Greek cities and the Ionian islands depart from the bus station in Kifissos. The towns of Northern Greece, the island of Evia, and the Sterea region are all accessible from the Liossion bus stop. Also, there are many local buses on every island. These buses have everyday itineraries to beaches and monuments. 

Island-hopping Greece can guarantee you the best time of your life and the creation of many memories. Ionian islands, Cyclades, Sporades, and Saronic Gulf islands have their own story, making your holidays astonishing. Contact us to help you plan the perfect trip to Greece!