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Top Three Greek Islands for Backpackers

Crete ● Ios ● Santorini ● 15 December 2017

The Greek Islands are known for their relaxed, laid-back, and welcoming culture, making them the ideal travel adventure for backpacking. Backpacking, for the uninitiated, is the process of traveling through and around an area with the intent of exploring as much as possible on your journey. When backpacking, you don’t just simply buy a plane ticket to a destination. The experience of traveling itself - that is, getting from one city, town, or island to the next - is itself the destination. Backpacking is about “roughing it” a little bit, traveling mainly by taxi or ferry instead of cruise ship or airplane and sleeping in youth hostels, bed and breakfasts, or motels rather than luxury resorts.

Fortunately, the Greek Islands are close enough together that many visitors tend to hit a few different islands over the course of their trip, so they’re really the ideal experience for people to work their way through. The Greek Islands emphasize enjoying what life has to offer and living in the moment. You can expect friendly locals, great food and drinks, and lively music. However, if you want to make your backpacking experience as memorable and positive as possible, it’s best that you do research about which islands have a stronger tourist culture than others, meaning that more of the inhabitants are likely to speak English and more familiar with helping travelers. With that in mind, here are some of the best Greek Islands for backpackers:

● Ios. The island called Ios is known to be the least expensive to travel around, and as such, it is the main island that attracts young backpackers with limited budgets. The island is quite small, with one main town that you could easily walk across in less than half an hour one way. You might not be convinced to honeymoon here - certainly, there are other Greek islands with more palm trees, larger beaches, and higher-quality lodging. However, Ios is the ideal place for backpackers because its food, drinks, and lodging accommodations are notoriously inexpensive, but its community life and local lifestyles are exciting, friendly, and beautiful to look at. Ios has many spacious beaches famous for their soft white sands and crystal blue water. Since Ios is not super popular with well-established travelling families with higher budgets, these beaches are not likely to be as crowded as some that you would encounter on larger, busier islands. Overall, if you’re looking for an island with a fun party scene, a warm welcome, and that will go easy on your wallet, Ios is absolutely the place for you to do.


● Santorini. This island, also known as Thera or Thira, is another popular destination for young backpackers in addition to older couples who are looking to enjoy an easy retirement. The main towns in Santorini are called Fira and Oia, both of which will give you beautiful sunset views. The hilly island offers plenty of gorgeous photo opportunities overlooking the blue-rimmed houses, churches, and other buildings that Greece is so famous for. Santorini’s beach area, called Perissa, attracts plenty of visitors every day and is known for its sunshine and unique black sand, the result of the ancient volcano that is also a main attraction. In fact, the entire island is essentially the remains of this massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. There are plenty of bars and hostels that younger travelers frequent on a modest budget. Both towns have great restaurants, hot mud baths, donkey rides, and access to explore the sweeping cliffs and ancient ruins. In fact, Santorini also features a small yet thriving wine industry, so if you’re willing to splurge a bit you can get a true taste of amazing Grecian wine.


● Crete. Crete is one of the best-known Greek Islands, and as such is likely to be the most expensive on this list. Not to worry, however - Crete is no stranger to backpackers, passers-through, young travelers, and other individuals who have a budget to stick to. You can find plenty of budget hotels and youth hostels that won’t run up too intense a tab as long as you avoid the area during the peak of tourist season, especially July and August. You’re also sure to find a good amount of street food, so if you avoid sit-down restaurants - especially more high-end restaurants - you can save plenty of money on food, especially if you’re lucky enough to scrape a hotel that serves a complimentary breakfast. The Archeological Museum of Heraklion is a main attraction of the island, with admission only 6 EUR. There are also plenty of caves, gorges, and sites of ancient ruins for you to visit that are either free (because they’re outside in nature!) or fairly inexpensive to get into. Since you won’t be driving a car, you don’t need to worry about paying for parking or anything like that. Another main attraction for backpackers is the site of Rethymnon, with a dazzling 11 kilometer-long beach and its close proximity to the largest Venetian castle ever built. If you’re looking for a taste of history, Crete is certainly the place for you, while the other islands mentioned are more tailored towards having a pleasant vacation experience while keeping you busy enough to have a good time.


Where to Stay

Hotel in Zacharo, Greece Kaiafas Lake
Kaiafas Lake
Kaiafas , 27054 Zacharo, Greece

Kaiafas Lake is built just 3 km away from the center of Zacharo and 5 km away from Zacharo beach. The Archaeological Site of Ancient Olympia is a 30-minute drive away.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel
8.9 10
Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel
48, Syggrou Ave., 11742 Athens, Greece

Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of the historical center of Athens, just a few steps from Acropolis and Plaka, next to the new Acropolis Museum. Athens International Airport is a 40-minute drive away.

Studio & Appartment in Hersonissos, Greece Greta Apartments
Greta Apartments
Konstantinou Giampoudaki 9, Limenas Hersonissou, 70014 Hersonissos, Greece

Located in the popular seaside resort Limenas Hersonissou Greta Apartments are just 40 m away from the beach. Heraklion City and the main port of Heraklion are 25 km away, while Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport is at distance of 22 km.