If you’re thinking of traveling to Europe, island hopping in Greece is an absolute must (especially since Greece is planning to welcome tourists this summer)! Between the enchanting Mediterranean Sea, iconic white buildings and unbeatable food, trust us when we say, the Greek island experience is like no other. With so many islands to go to, it’s tough to decide which ones to stop at and which ones to skip. We’re here to help decide what’s best for you.
We recommend flying into Athens and staying there for a night or two so you can explore the city, visit the famous Acropolis and eat all the authentic gyros and spanakopita your heart desires. You won’t need more than 2-3 days there though, so once you’re done, pack up and get ready to hit the islands. If you don’t mind boats, ferries are typically the best and cheapest option to get you where you want to go. Most people catch a ferry out of the popular port known as Piraeus – less than a 20 minute drive from Athens. Here, you can get to most of the islands under eight hours on the slow ferry (take this if you like a bigger, more stable boat), or under five hours on a smaller, faster boat (take this if you’re crunched for time and don’t get seasick).
Top Greek Islands to Visit
What it’s known for: nightlife and lively, beautiful beaches
Things to do: Soak in the sun at Platis Gialos Beach (one of the most beautiful beaches on the island), take a coastal walk to Paradise beach and hit the wild beach parties there or head into town for a delicious Greek meal and some more drinks at the lively Skandinavian Bar.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Piraeus – if you take a Blue Star ferry, it will be about five hours while smaller boats can get you there in under three.
What it’s known for: Quaint Cycladic fishing villages and stunning beaches
Things to do: While it’s a more relaxed island, there’s still plenty to do here including paddle boarding and/or swimming in the crystal blue Mediterranean, go for a stroll in the former fishing village of Naoussa or shop around Parikia.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Piraeus – if you take a Blue Star ferry, it will be about four hours while smaller boats can get you there in under three.
What it’s known for: nightlife, watermelon pie and beaches
Things to do: Take a boat tour and visit all the best beaches, rent an ATV to tour the island, go for a hike and of course, bar hop.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Piraeus – if you take a Blue Star ferry, it will be about seven hours while smaller boats can get you there in under four. Ios does not have an airport so ferry is your only option.
What it’s known for: Sweeping views of the caldera, picturesque cliff top villages (iconic white buildings with blue domes) and world famous sunsets.
Things to do: Hike from Fira to Oia for some of the best views on the island, witness a gorgeous sunset in Oia and go swimming and cliff jumping in Amoudi Bay.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Piraeus – if you take a Blue Star ferry, it will be almost eight hours while smaller boats can get you there in under six. If you want to go directly from Athens to Santorini, another option is to fly. There are several quick flights throughout the day and you can typically find a good deal, especially during shoulder and offseason.
What it’s known for: Gorgeous blue hues of the water (known as the “Island of Colors”), amazing beaches and delicious food
Things to do: Climb up the volcanic rocks of Sarakiniko and go for a dip in the blue-green sea, hop on a boat to go see the natural wonder of Kleftiko or visit the Catacombs of Tripiti Village.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Piraeus – if you take a Blue Star ferry, it will be about seven hours while smaller boats can get you there in under four. If you want to go directly from Athens to Milos, another option is to take a quick flight.
*Note, if you plan on island hopping in Greece and want to visit all/some of the above islands in order, ferry rides will be much shorter.
What it’s known for: Authentic Greek cuisine, lots of history and hiking
Things to do: Hike through Samaria Gorge (Europe’s longest gorge), go for a swim in the crystal clear waters of Elafonisi and enjoy dinner at a local taverna – make sure you try Dakos, the local salad and Sfakianes pites, the island’s famous cheese pies.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Piraeus – if you take a bigger ferry, it will be about eight hours while smaller boats can get you there in about six hours. If you want to go directly from Athens to Crete, you can find a cheap flight and be there in under an hour.
What it’s known for: Mountains and greenery (known as the “Emerald Island”), olives, dramatic coastlines and lots of sunshine
Things to do: Sunbathe at Porto Timoni, arguably Corfu’s best beach, visit the small village of Palaiokastritsa (known to be a mythological site of Scheria) and see the famous Cape Drastis. Also be sure to try the local olives, feta and wine!
How to get there: Corfu is an island off Greece’s northwest coast, so there are no ferries from Athens. Since it’s not the typical stop for island hopping in Greece, the best way to get there is to either take an hour flight, rent a car and drive about seven hours or grab a bus which will take almost nine hours.
Ready to start island hopping in Greece? If you love crystal blue waters, great beach parties, unreal gyros and adventure, you’re in for one of the best trips of your life! Once you’re ready to book, check out our discount flights to Europe or if you want all the planning done for you, take a look at our tours.