Island hopping in the Greek archipelago – this is how it works

See many islands in one trip

It’s easy to go on a self-guided exploration trip to the sunny Greek archipelago on cruise ships, circling from island to island. Island hopping is not only popular but also an easy way to combine several islands on the same trip, and finding your favorite island is easy when you can spend as long as you want on each island.

The ferry route network is dense, and there are plenty of ferries, especially to the popular islands. Even small islands can be reached quite easily, as most ferries stop at small islands located along popular routes. You don’t have to make plans very precisely in advance, but you can take the journey one day at a time, going wherever the mood takes you.

Spontaneous travel is facilitated by the fact that ferry tickets usually do not need to be booked in advance and accommodation can also be easily found on site. However, during the busiest tourist season, you should make a reservation well in advance – especially when there is no room for flexibility in your schedule.

The prices of ferry tickets may surprise the traveler, because especially in the summer season, ticket prices are quite expensive. An hour-long boat trip may cost up to 50 euros, so island hopping may not be cheaper than, for example, a package trip. You can conveniently buy tickets online before your trip, but you can also get them on the spot.

Inka KanjiIsland hopping in Greece
People often sit very close together on ferries.

Sailing in the Greek archipelago can be very rough in places, which is why you should be prepared for motion sickness, especially on long ferry trips.

Let’s go in a hurry

Greek shipping is regular and relatively punctual. However, delays are not unusual, and schedules are always subject to change. The ferries may be up to several hours late, so it is good to be prepared for that by leaving a sufficiently wide schedule at the destination. Ports often have good services, because in addition to a bus stop, they often have, for example, a small shop, tourist information and a cafe, but the selection can also be more diverse depending on the island.

Port waiting areas are often quite barren, and tourists waiting to board the ferry don’t always have even a roof over their heads. It is a good idea to prepare for long waiting times with sun protection, because the sun is scorching hot on the Greek islands, especially in the summer.

You should reserve at least a week’s time for island hopping, and many stay even longer. It is worth noting that there are not necessarily daily connections to the smaller islands.

Various ferries operate in the archipelago. Usually the price is reflected in the speed of the ship: the faster the ferry, the higher the price.

Those who prefer not to do it themselves can of course also book an island hopping trip through a travel agency and save themselves the time-consuming planning phase. Many cruises are also organized to Greece, which take you to a new port every day to explore new landscapes, but the overnight stay is conveniently handled in the ship’s cabin.

Mountain and seascapes in the Cyclades

The best starting points for island hopping are Athens, Crete and Rhodes. From Athens, you can head to the archipelago either from the port of Piraeus or Rafina, while in Crete the most departures are from Heraklion.

The most popular island hopping destination in Greece is the Cyclades archipelago. The area includes almost 40 islands between Santorini and Mykonos. The nature of the mountainous islands charms with its rugged beauty, and the archipelago has many historical sights dating back centuries.

Inka KanjiFolegandros, Greece
With island hopping, you can also get to know small, relatively unknown islands.

Distances are short, so it is possible to see many destinations in a short time in the Cyclades. There are plenty of options, from the beaches and hot springs of Santorini to the ruins of Delos and the quiet villages of the small islands.

On Naxos, the largest island of the Cyclades, the narrow quarters of the old town offer interesting things to explore with their taverns and small shops. In Paros, the traveler sees the Greek postcard landscape at its best: blue and white houses and wonderful sea views.

On the islands of Ios and Mykonos there is a lively nightlife, on Delos you can explore the ruins. Each island has its own character.

Experience the Dodecanese Islands

Another option for a vacation is the Dodecanese island group, whose largest island is Rhodes, known to all Finns. Despite its vibrancy, Rhodes surprises: in addition to holiday resorts, the island has beautiful natural sites and fascinating history. The popularity of this island is no accident. ‘

ShutterstockIsland hopping in Greece
In addition to holiday resorts, Rhodes has beautiful nature and interesting history.

The Dodecanese island group, consisting of a total of 12 main islands, also includes, for example, Kos, which is popular with young people, peaceful and mountainous Karpathos, and Symi, the friendly neighboring island of Rhodes.

Also in the Dodecanese islands there are pleasant islands for all kinds of vacationers. Travelers looking for peaceful islands can look for a Greek atmosphere on the islands of Kalymnos or Leros, for example.

Good connections from Finland

Connections from Helsinki-Vantaa to destinations in Greece are versatile. There are direct flights from Finland to, for example, Athens, Crete and Rhodes.

The best time for island hopping is outside the busy and hot season, when the temperature remains more relaxed and the ferries are more spacious. In Greece, it is pleasantly sunny and warm also in spring and autumn. Accommodation is also easy to find when the islands are not already full of summer vacationers.

>> Where do you travel by island hopping? Read more about the Greek islands!

Text: Riikka Krenn, Maria Hietala and Inka Khanji
Images: Shutterstock and Inka Khanji

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