Visit Greece's spectacular islands
Visit Greece's spectacular islands
The wondrous waters and whitewashed towns of Greece total up to 6,000 islands. These golden beaches that you’ve seen in movies and pictures lure in travelers who want to explore the islands from all over the globe. Experience the idyllic culture on your next holiday by island hopping in Greece.
To island-hop, pick a cluster of islands in a close vicinity. Greece’s islands are separated into six clusters. Of the six, the easiest to hop are the Cyclades. This collection includes Mykonos and Santorini, two must-see islands for first-timers. Greek island cruises offer a structured experience with daily set itineraries for different islands. If you want to explore the islands on your own, personalized time, plan on flights and ferries. These are the islands worth hopping in the Cyclades:
Fly into Athens and take a two-hour ferry to Andros. If you’re looking to stay fit on your trip, Andros has mountains to climb. While you’re there explore the 5 million-year-old Aladino Cave. After, wander the Neraidotopos, a scene of crystal clear waterfalls and ponds. Walk up 143 steps to the Pano Kastro built in 1200 that overlooks the Aegean Sea. Next, board an hour and a half ferry to Mykonos.
Although popular if you’re looking for a fun night with drinks, music and dancing, Mykonos also holds true to the relaxed nature of Greece. Stroll along the Little Venice neighborhood of colorful houses and watch the sunset from the famous windmills. Get to Paros with a one-hour ferry.
Paros is a mixture of every show-stopping Greek island: clear water, rocky terrain and Greek architecture. Panagia Ekatontapiliani, a Byzantine-era stone church in Parikia is worth a visit for the spiritual or architectural tourist. Then, tour the Agii Anargyri, a monastery with a holy spring that people collect water from. Eat in the fishing town of Naoussa. It is a short 45-minute ferry to Naxos.
Where the god of wine, Dionysus, grew up in Greek mythology, Naxos boasts with vineyards. Most of the island’s delicacies are also known for the island-produced cheese. Pair Graviera Naxou and Arseniko, famous island cheeses, with the local wine. Continuing the food theme, tour one of the many olive mills such as the Olive Mill at Demari, Naxos’ first motorized olive mill. Santorini is an hour and 15-minute ferry away.
Tourists are drawn to Santorini, a spectacle of Greece. Walk along a black sand beach or get lost in the white and blue villages of Fira and Oia. You will find shops, food and picture-perfect settings for sunset. Take a two-hour ferry to Milos.
Although famous for the Venus de Milo, placed in the Louvre Museum today, Milos remains one of the least-crowded islands in the Cyclades. You can’t go to Milos without a trip to some hot springs. One of the most popular mineral baths is Ta Loutra tou Lakkou, recommended for skin diseases, muscle and joint pain. Visit Sarakiniko beach to sunbathe on moon-like rocks. Board an hour and a half ferry to Serifos.
Get active on the hills of Serifos. Hike the mining trail called Megalo Livadi, where a mining industry once thrived, to find mining cars and tracks hidden in the mineral-rich island. Trek the terrain of Serifos to find the mythological one-eyed Cyclops Throne for a panoramic view. Finish the getaway with a two-hour ferry to Athens.
Although each island has unique features, there are common activities on almost every island. Some of the most popular adventures are windsurfing, horseback riding, sailing and scuba diving. If you get bored of archaeological sites, consider these excursions anywhere you go.
Good to know
- If you opt for a cruise, keep in mind that most cruises are going to stop at the most popular islands.
- Avoid the tourist peak in July and August. The spring, while still busy, will not be as crowded as the summer months.
- Do not plan on flying to each island. While some islands have small airports, most islands do not. Speed ferries are the best option. On average, ferry tickets can range from 5 euros to 40 euros.
- Plan your days around ferry times. Depending on what season you decide to hop, ferries may not be as frequent. Book your tickets in advance and plan your trips according to the ferry schedule.
- Booking tickets online is the best way to reserve seats. However, many online bookings only give you a receipt. Take your receipt to the ferry booths to pick up tickets.
- Pack light. Chances are you will be climbing many stairs and boarding many boats. Avoid tired arms by not packing large and heavy bags.
- Pick a few islands and spend more days on them, or hop several islands knowing that your time will be short.
- Renting a scooter or 4-wheeler for the day might be cheaper than taking buses or taxis around to sites.
- Most ferries have food and drinks. But, remember to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated in the sun.
- Snagging an outdoor seat on the ferry offers the best views of the surrounding sea. Most of the outdoor seats are shaded, but windy.
The idea of island hopping in Greece is dreamy. Each island is full of adventure and stories unique to its name. If you plan accordingly to visit the villages and volcanic islands, your trip can be as extraordinary as it seems.
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