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Today, Crete; Tomorrow, Everywhere Else: An Island Hopping Guide

Crete ● Karpathos ● Kassos ● Milos ● Mykonos ● Rhodes ● Santorini ● 18 December 2017

The Greek Islands are one of the most popular destinations in the world. Each island has something unique of its own to offer, but all of the islands offer you a similar array of gorgeous beaches, amazing tavern seafood, and a welcoming, tourist-friendly atmosphere. Whether you’re trying to simply lounge on the beach for a week or if you want to jam-pack your days with activities, exploration, and sightseeing, the Greek Islands are sure to have something that suits your fancy.

Crete is known as the “main” island, attracting the most tourists and visitors per year. In fact, a large portion of all of the flights to the entire country Greece make a stop in Heraklion, the capital city of the island. Since that’s the case, many couples, backpackers, and even older couples start their journey across the islands from Crete and the city of Heraklion. So, if you’re planning an island-jumping adventure of your own, Crete is the perfect place to start. Each island has plenty of things to keep you busy, so it’s wise to plan your trip carefully in advance. Here are is a guide for your island-jumping journey that can hopefully help you come up with some ideas to help you approach the age-old question: now that you’ve made it to Crete...where to next? The answer, of course, depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s how to tackle your journey.


1. Make sure you’re committed to the island-hopping lifestyle. There are plenty of hotels, shops, museums, historical ruins, beaches, restaurants, and natural beauty to keep you busy in Crete alone for weeks if not months at a time! There is nothing wrong with sticking to one island at at time instead of jumping from place to place for shorter amounts of time. If you’ve never backpacked or island-hopped before, make sure you’re comfortable traveling light, won’t get motion-sick on boats or small planes, and don’t get too attached to new places too easily, because you probably won’t have time to spend more than a couple nights in each location.

2. Santorini should be your first stop after Crete, simply because this is the closest highly-developed, tourist-friendly island. This will be the easiest island for you to reach, especially during the peak of tourist season, due to the near-constant ferry traffic. Located on the south side of the Aegean Sea, Santorini is known for its romantic pebbled beaches, charming little villages, and famous caldera.

3. Santorini gives you plenty of opportunities to travel to several other islands, but we would recommend the island of Milos if you’re on a more romantic trip. Certainly every island has something special to accommodate couples with, whether it’s candlelit restaurants, gorgeous beaches, or private hotel suites. However, of the all the Greek Islands, Milos has the reputation of being the “island of lovers.” Here the accommodation is best for couples. If you’re trying to catch some beautiful volcanic sunsets with your loved one, Milos is the place to do it. Even if you’re not on a honeymoon or romance-oriented trip, Milos is still filled with amazing history and art museums for you to explore.

4. Whether you stopped in Milos or skipped over it, we recommend that your next stop be Rhodes. On the southeastern side of the Aegean Sea, Rhodes is an extremely popular vacation destination, combining a modern, commercialized lifestyle with natural history, scenic landscapes, and classic Greek culture. Rhodes should be easy enough to get to by ferry during tourist season, especially from one of the more popular islands like Santorini or if you go directly from Crete. Rhodes is a bit smaller, so you might prefer this change to the larger islands.

5. Now it’s time to explore Mykonos, the perfect party island if you’re looking for music, drinks, and fun. Dance clubs feature world-famous DJs, so you can relax and enjoy yourself partying with the locals after a long day of viewing iconic 16th-century windmills, the world-renowned Archaeological Museum, and the Mykonos Biennale, which screens original short films and has a constant rotating exhibit of art pieces on display.

6. Usually only accessible by a ferry directly from Crete is the smaller island of Kassos, which you’ll likely find offers a stark contrast to the party-hard lifestyle of Mykonos. Kassos is mostly made of small villages and beach land, with a calm, peaceful, retirement-friendly vibe. Kassos is a great place if you want to just chill out, have had your fill of visiting ancient ruins, or want a break from all the dance clubs. Kassos is a usually a popular ferry stop on the way to larger islands so it makes a great intermediate if you want just a night or two of relaxation.


7. Karpathos is located in between Rhodes and Crete, so should be easily accessible by ferry from either one of those larger islands. The south side of the island of Karpathos is extremely tourist-friendly, having only developed in the recent decades, with a strong emphasis on beach relaxation and - you might be surprised! - windsurfing and other water wind sports. By contrast, the north and central sides remain natural and scenic, with the village of Olympos standing out as a traditional rural Greek village uncorrupted by American commercialism. Karpathos is an ideal destination especially for families and hikers, as there are many beautiful beginner-friendly trekking paths across the island leading to gorgeous views over the crystal blue sea.

Where to Stay

Appartment in Agios Nikolaos, Greece Villa Minoas Apartments & Studios
Villa Minoas Apartments & Studios
Istron, 72100 Agios Nikolaos, Greece

Villa Minoas Apartments is located in the beautiful village of Istron, close to the sandy beaches of Agios Panteleimon, Golden Beach and Karavostasi, which are all accessible within a 10-minute walk. The lively town of Agios Nikolaos and the port with a ferry connection to Piraeus, Athens are at 12 km. Nikos Kazantzakis international airport in Heaklion is 70 km away.

Hotel in Sitia, Greece Hotel Petras Beach
Hotel Petras Beach
Petras, 72300 Sitia, Greece

Situated right opposite the beach, Hotel Petras Beach enjoys quiet location just 1 km from the center of lively Sitia Town. Sitia Airport is at 7 km, while the port in the center of Sitia is 3 km away from the hotel. Agios Nikolaos port connecting Crete with Piraeus, Athens is at 70 km. The historic and busy capital of Crete, Heraklion, is 135 km away from Sitia.

Hotel & Appartment in Rethymno, Greece Elina Hotel Apartments
Elina Hotel Apartments
153, Kountouriotou Ave., 74100 Rethymno, Greece

Elina Hotel Apartments is situated in a central location in Rethymno, just a 2-minute walk from the long, sandy beach. The port of Rethymno is a 6-minute walk away.