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How to do Greek Island Hopping

Greek Islands ● 05 May 2018
Greece has literally numerous islands. A lifetime is not enough even for a resident of Greece to discover all the Greek islands. Thus, the only way to visit as many beautiful islands as possible and at the same time have a unique and amazing type of holidays is the Greek Island Hopping, exploring more islands during your vacation. Are you willing to plan Island Hopping in Greece? Learn here everything you need to know and get ready for the best summer of your life!

Why Greek Island Hopping?

Island Hopping in Greece combines two advantages that are not so easy to find in the world: innumerable stunning islands in a very short distance to each other inside the same island group. And when we say iinumerable, we literally mean innumerable as they are more than 5,000 (200 of them are inhabited)! Furthermore, these islands are located in island-clusters (archipelagon) very close to each other. For example, in the Cyclades, from Naxos to Syros you need less than one hour, the same from Andros to Tinos. In the Dodecanese, the distance between Patmos and Leros is about 1 hour by ferry, while in the Saronic islands, from Hydra to Aegina, the route by boat lasts one hour. And the examples are endless. That means you can visit as many islands as you want, even one per day! Distance and time are not matters that should worry you. Just take the boat or the ferry, and tame the seas.

But Greek islands are not only numerous. They are also wonderful and offer you top variety Are you searching for a romantic island? Santorini and Hydra are the best choices. Maybe an island with astonishing beaches? Choose Milos or Kefalonia. Islands with vivid nightlife? Mykonos, Zakynthos and Paros are ideal. Or family-friendly islands with delicious cuisine? Tinos, Naxos and Crete are waiting for you. Are you a history and culture fan? Visit Kos or Rhodes. Do you want to relax in an off-the-beaten-track undiscovered island? Tilos, Paxoi, Arkioi and Leros can offer you privacy away from mass tourism. Are you seeking the island with the most wonderful Chora? Symi, Santorini and Syros are exactly for you.

The short distance between the islands as well as their number that makes competition really hard has another great asset: the
low prices and deals. Quality hotels, hostels and rooms to let at unbeatable prices, cheap ferry tickets and food on a budget, especially on the untouched by mass tourism islands, are exactly what you want to save money and explore more destinations. Still waiting?

Where to go

The Greek islands are divided into island groups, and if you want to do Greek Island Hopping, we recommend you to stay inside one island group, where there are many ferry routes and the distance is really short.

Ionian Islands

The Ionian Islands are located in the western side of Greece, in the Ionian Sea, which is part of the Adriatic Sea near Italy. These islands are Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Ithaca, Lefkada, Corfu, Paxoi and Antipaxoi. They are distinguished by lush greenery, verdant nature, Italian-style architecture and long sandy beaches with turquoise waters.


Cyclades are located in the southern side of Greece, in the part of the Aegean Sea that starts in Athens and ends in Crete. Some of these islands, like Kythnos, Kea, Serifos and Andros, are situated in a short distance to Athens (1-2 hours by boat), while some other are located in the southern part of Aegean Sea near Crete, such as Santorini, Amorgos and Anafi. Western Cyclades are Sifnos, Milos, Kimolos, Folegandros and Sikinos, while in the middle of the Aegean Sea are located popular Greek islands all over the world, such as Mykonos, Paros, Antiparos, Syros, Tinos, Ios and Naxos. Around Naxos, you can travel to the subgroup of Small Cyclades (Koufonisia, Donoussa, Schinoussa, Irakleia), which has small untouched by mass tourism islands. Cyclades are characterised by dry and wild nature, strong winds, sunshine, whitewashed villages, rich history and significant archaeological sites as well as impressive beaches with turquoise waters.


The group of the Dodecanese Islands is located in the eastern-southern side of the Aegean Sea, near Turkey. These islands are Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, Kastellorizo, Chalki, Nisyros, Kos, Leipsoi, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Patmos, Arkioi, Telendos and Farmakonisi. The characteristics of these islands are the hospitality of the local people, their authentic and virgin character, the deep blue crystal clear sea waters, the neoclassical well-preserved architecture and the important historical sites in islands, such as Kos, Rhodes and Patmos.

Northern Aegean Islands

The islands in northern Aegean Sea are Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Ikaria, Fourni, Psara, Limnos, Agios Eustratios and Oinousses. Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Ikaria and Limnos are large islands with touristic facilities, while the other islands are unspoiled destinations for total peace and privacy. They have the same characteristics with Dodecanese islands and are also located close to Turkey.

Saronic Islands

The Saronic Islands are located in a close distance to Athens (1-2 hours by ferry or boat) in the Argosaronic Gulf. These islands are Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses and their characteristics are the crystal clear sea waters, the lush greenery with pine trees, important historical sites and neoclassical harbors.


The Sporades is the island group in the Pagasetic Gulf in a close distance to the town of Volos in Thessaly. These islands are Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos and Skyros. Their characteristics are that they have verdant nature, traditional towns and impressive beaches with warm sea waters.

How to travel between the Greek islands

Some Greek islands, such as Rhodes, Zakynthos, Mykonos, Santorini, Leros and Samos, have airport, and you can go there directly from your country. However, you may wonder how to travel between the islands during your Greek Island Hopping. These are your choices:


The safest and cheapest way to travel between the Greek islands is by boat. You won't feel nausea, you can sit on the deck and enjoy the sea view and the sea gulls following you. Its disadvantage is that you need many hours to reach even the closest island. For example, from Andros to Mykonos, you need 2 hours, while by ferry you need only half an hour. If calmness, relaxation and cheap ferry tickets are the most significant things you take into consideration, boat is exactly what you are searching for.


By ferry, you can go to your destination quickly, and during your Greek Island Hopping, you can go from one island to another in less than one hour. However, ferry is not the best option for those, who suffer from nausea. Moreover, you should sit inside at airport seats during the whole trip because sitting on the deck may be dangerous and is prohibited. If you travel in the off-season, consider the strong winds and be prepared that a route by ferry in autumn or spring may be cancelled. The biggest disadvantage of ferry is the high price of the tickets. The good news is that you can travel on a budget even by ferry if you choose the Cyclades for your island hopping. Greek Island Pass is a ferry pass when travelling to Cyclades. With Greek Island Pass, you pay the price of only one ticket, but you can do more routes and visit more islands with great flexibility whenever you want. So, if you are the type of traveler, who wants to reach the destination conveniently and quickly, but you wonder about the budget, this ferry pass is exactly your thing!


Sailing is an excellent way to discover the Greek islands, if you want to explore inaccessible beaches and caves as well as virgin islands. Furthermore, sailing is an interesting summer sport to have unforgettable moments with your friends. Renting a boat may be expensive, but taking into consideration that you don't have to book a hotel and ferry tickets, it can be a great option, if you want top flexibility and adventure, of course only if you have the sailing license needed to be a skipper.

Where to start

From Athens

Athens is the most obvious choice to start in regard to Greek Island Hopping. From Piraeus, the biggest port of Greece and one of the biggest in Europe, you can take several boats or ferries to numerous islands. Plus, Piraeus has many budget hotels to spend the night before departure as most ferries depart very early in the morning. Thus, you should start from Athens, if you want to visit Saronic Islands, which are located very close to Athens. Cyclades are also located in a short distance to Athens, and you can visit them from Piraeus. From this port, you can also take the boat to the Dodecanese, Northern Aegean islands and Crete (but not to the Ionian Islands!).

From Thessaloniki

If you take a flight to Thessaloniki, remember that near the second largest city of Greece there are not located many Greek islands, but only Thasos. Thus, if you want to do island hopping, you should drive two hours to Volos, the port of Thessaly, from where you can take the ferry to Sporades.

From Patras

From Patras, you can take the boat to the Ionian Islands, which are located nearby. However, Patras doesn't have an airport, so you should go there by car from Athens (2,5 hours drive) or Kalamata (3 hours drive).

From Zakynthos or Corfu

From these Ionian Islands that have an airport, you can spend island-hopping vacation in the Ionian Sea without having to drive from Athens to Patras port.

From Mykonos, Santorini or Naxos

From these Cycladic Islands that have an airport, you can do your island hopping on other islands of Cyclades.

From Rhodes

Rhodes has also a busy airport with many flights. You can spend a few days in Rhodes, and then visit the other Dodecanese Islands, which are located in a very close distance to it.

Tips for planning

Book a travel insurance

When you visit so many islands, you are the whole time on the road and you do many activities, it is wise to book a travel insurance. Thus, you can have medical support 24/7 as well as everything you may need in case of emergency. And all of these with high reliability and low prices!

Book early your ferry tickets

During the high season, it is wise to book your ferry tickets at least one month before departure because their seats are limited and there is always the possibility that you won't find a ticket if you haven't booked it. However, as mentioned earlier, you can buy the Greek Island Pass in order to make all the routes you want whenever you want at a price of only one ticket. It is your choice, but it is not a last-minute matter.

Book early your accommodation

If you are a risky traveler, you may think that you can book your accommodation when you reach the port of the island. Well, this might be a solution if you travel in the low-season. In July and August, this thought can cause your problems as many popular islands are fully booked and it is really difficult to find a room at reasonable price. If you do this, you may end up paying much more than you had in your mind. For quality and budget accommodation in the Greek islands, check our unbeatable deals!

Take care of your arrival at Piraeus Port on time

Most ferries and boats to the islands depart from Piraeus Port in Athens, the largest port of Greece. The distance from Athens Airport to Piraeus Port is 50 km and from Athens Center 15 km. You can go to the port by train, but, since the port is huge with literally hundreds of boats and ferries to the Greek islands, you may need a taxi to take you to the right gate. Especially at mornings, the traffic jam in Piraeus Port is so heavy that you can easily miss your boat if you don't arrive early, at least one hour before departure. Consider you may need half an hour by car for a distance of 2 km! In other ports of Greece, things are not that bad with so heavy traffic jam, but generally remember to depart early from your hotel. If you miss the boat, it is possible that during the high season you can't find another one to go to the island you want.

What to take with you

In your check list for the Greek Island Hopping, don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen protection because the sun, especially in July and August, can be dangerous and you have to take precautions if you want to avoid suffering from heat- or sunstroke. Thus, don't forget to have also an umbrella if you want to go to an unorganised beach, where there are no beach bars and taverns. A bottle of water is also needed in that case. A cream against mosquitoes is also essential during night at the beach bar or the tavern by the sea.

Where to Stay

Villa in Samothrace, Greece Villa Michalis
Villa Michalis
Kato Kariotes, 68002 Samothrace, Greece

Villa Michalis is located in the Kato Kariotes settlement, only a 7-minute drive from the Therma village. Chora, the capital of Samothrace, is 9 km away. Samothrace Port is 10.7 km away.

Hotel & Studio in Kalymnos, Greece Mary Popi
Mary Popi
Platys Gialos, Panormos, 85200 Kalymnos, Greece

Mary Popi is situated in a quiet location near the popular summer resort Panormos in Kalymnos, just 250 meters from Platys Gialos beach. Kalymnos Island National Airport is at 5 km, while the main port of Kalymnos, Pothia, is 7 km away from the property. The center of Panormos village can be reached within 10 minutes on foot.

Hotel in Kozani, Greece Tselikas Hotel
Tselikas Hotel
5th km Kozani-Larisas, Tselikas, 50100 Kozani, Greece

Tselikas Hotel is built on the outskirts of Kozani , approximately a 10-minute drive from the center of the town. The airport of Kozani is just a 4-minute drive away from the property.