How to plan island hopping in Greece - Travel Eat Enjoy Repeat

How to plan island hopping in Greece

Most travelers to Greece often stay on 1 island. Think of Crete or Zakynthos. Tour operators like TUI offer these packages. You book a hotel and flight and stay at the same location for 1-2 weeks.

A bit of a shame since Greece has so much more to offer; the country has about 6000 islands of which about 300 are inhabited. This makes Greece the perfect country for island hopping. Below you can read how best to plan such a trip.

Choosing the islands

Greece consists of several island groups. The Ionian Islands are located west of mainland Greece and near Albania. The most famous islands are Corfu, Paxi, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. These islands are less connected by ferries and are also greener than most other Greek islands.

The Cyclades are probably best known for island hopping. This group of islands is located in the Aegean Sea near Athens. The most famous islands are Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, and Ios. The islands seem to lie in a circle around Delos, the most important island in classical antiquity.

The Southern Sporades or Dodecanese islands lie near the Turkish coast in the eastern Aegean Sea. The most famous islands of these are Kos, Rhodes, and Karpathos.

And then there are the islands of the Northern Sporades. These are located in the northwestern Aegean Sea and contain many lesser-known islets. Examples include Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos.

Because there are so many islands, the choice can be difficult. For example, you can combine 1 of the well-known islands such as Mykonos and Santorini with some lesser-known islands. Islands that are becoming more popular are Milos and Paros while islands like Sifnos and Naxos are less known. So which islands you want to visit and the itinerary will depend on what you want to do. The itinerary will also partly depend on the sailing times and sailing routes of the ferries.

The best time to go to the Greek islands 

During the summer the temperature in the Greek islands can reach 28°C. It is also the period with the most tourists from all over the world making for a very pleasant atmosphere. Because summer is so popular, it also means that this season is the busiest and the most expensive.

The best period to avoid the crowds but still enjoy nice temperatures is spring (April/May) or autumn (September/October). Prices are also a lot lower.

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Plan your island hopping in Greece 

Departing from where? 

As a starting point, you can choose to depart from Athens. From the main airports in Europe, there are several flights per week; you can search for flights via Skyscanner or Momondo.

But it is also always possible to fly directly to one of the islands (if there is an airport). For most flights, though, you’ll still have to transfer flights in Athens. Mykonos and Santorini are islands that both have an international airport.


Booking makes it easy to book hotels yourself. You can find hotels in all price categories, with and without breakfast.


Through ferryhopper you can easily book the ferries. There are passenger-only ferries and also ferries where cars are allowed. You can also see how long each ferry takes. The more expensive ferries are often the faster ones.



Renting cars on the islands

You can rent a car separately on each island or rent a car on the island where you start island hopping. Do check if this is possible, as not all airlines allow this. And should you leave the car on a different island than you left, there is a chance that you will have to pay a one-way fee. You can rent a car from AutoEurope.


How much does island hopping in Greece cost? 

It is an obvious question to know what island hopping in Greece costs. The cost depends largely on the season in which you go. We went in late May, so we can only give away with certainty what the prices were then. You spend the most on hotels, and transportation (rental cars and ferries). Most things to do on the islands are free!

  • Accommodations: we paid between €40 and €70 per night for a hotel with breakfast. You can take something cheaper with a kitchen and go to the supermarket yourself for your breakfast. 
  • Transportation: we paid between €50 and €70 per person for the ferries. For a rental car, we paid €30-50 per day.
  • Food: we love good food and go out to eat almost every day for lunch and dinner. We alternated cheap gyros with slightly more expensive restaurants. But the food is generally cheaper than in Belgium at restaurants.

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Our 2 weeks of island hopping in the Cyclades 

We went island hopping in the Cyclades for 2 weeks. We chose to focus on just 3 islands so that we could explore each one and not have to lug our luggage around too much.

In hindsight, maybe we should have spent less time on Milos and longer on Naxos.

Day 1+2 Athens (2 days) 

We spent the first two days exploring Athens. Tips on what to do in Athens can be read in this blog post.



Day 3-6: Milos (4 days) 

We took an early morning ferry from the port in Athens to Milos. To get to the port in Athens (Piraeus- take metro M1; the port is the end stop of the metro line. Be especially on time: the port is very big and several boats leave at the same time. So make sure you know which gate to leave from and the name of your boat.

We slept near the port the night before our departure. That way we didn’t have to take the subway in the morning and could just walk to the port.

You can read everything we did on Milos, where we stayed, and where to eat good food in the blog post about Milos. It is a much less touristy island than Santorini and Mykonos: perfect for enjoying beautiful beaches and villages without the crowds of tourists.

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Day 7-9: Paros (3 days) 

3 days we found sufficient to explore Paros. Of course, you can always choose to stay longer. In this blog post, you can read all about what to do on Paros.



Day 10-12: Naxos (2 days + 1 day Delos/Mykonos) 

From Naxos, you can take a day trip to Delos and Mykonos. You can also take the same excursion from Paros. Delos was interesting but because there are few signs with explanations, you miss quite a lot of information. Mykonos was extremely crowded and expensive, definitely not our type of island.

You can read everything you need to know about Naxos in this blog post.



Day 13-14: Athens

We arrived back in Athens only in the late afternoon and went straight to our downtown hotel. In the evening we enjoyed one last dinner in bustling Athens. The following day we visited the city further before flying back home.


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