Greece Guide: Island Hopping Tips

You could easily spend months leisurely roaming the Greek islands but not all of us have such luxuries. While I wished I could stay in blissful paradise forever, I only had one short week! One short week and 6,000 Greek islands to choose from! Yes you heard me correct…to my surprise, I discovered that there are 6,000 Greek islands. Luckily, only 227 of those islands are inhabited!

So without further-ado, I have complied a guide that contains general information about island hopping in Greece:

Choose when you want to go: Choose your season wisely. Greece can be overwhelming in its busy months and you’ll end up paying double for your trip. I was told the best travel seasons are Spring and Fall. During these months the weather is still warm, the sun is still out in full force, accommodation is half the price, and the crowds are controllable. The best months are September (when I went), October, May and June. The summer months may provide the best weather but the crowds are crazy and everything is double the price. If you want to travel during the months of July and August ensure that you book everything ahead of time!

Choose your islands: This can often be a difficult choice as there are many islands to choose from. Start by choosing what group of islands to visit. There are seven island groups: Cyclades, Northeastern Aegean Islands, Evia, Dodecanese, Islands of Argosaronic, Sporades, and Crete. Now you can start choosing the islands to visit in that grouping! If you only have one week I would recommend choosing a maximum of 3 islands. That will give a sufficient amount of time to explore each place. I chose to visit the Cyclades and the islands I chose were: Paros, Ios and Santorini. Luckily, most ferry routes depart from Athens to get to the different islands; however, there are some ferry routes that depart from other places in Greece. Do your research first if you plan on departing from Athens for your island hopping trip. Lastly, take into account the season you’re travelling in. For instance, I travelled to Ios 1 week before the island basically shuts down. During the slower months- typically November to March- a lot of hostels and hotels close their doors for winter. Of course this is not true of every Greek island but nonetheless make sure to check.

Start looking at ferry routes and tickets: This was surprisingly easier than I imagined. I used a booking site called Danae (danae.gr) to research my ferry route. Another reputable ferry site is: Greeka (greeka.com). You’ll need to check that the ferries to the islands you want to visit are available on your chosen days. The ferry routes are generally consistent but some only operate on certain days between certain islands. Make sure you secure a ferry route before booking any accommodation. There are different types of ferries available as well. The faster the ferry the more expensive the price. I recommend booking ferry tickets in advance! The ferry companies offer very limited options for receiving your tickets. Unfortunately there are no electronic print-at-home tickets. The options are: pick up at your port of call, pick up at the ferry office or have them shipped at an extra cost. The hostel I stayed at in Athens center happened to be close to the Danae office so I opted to pick them up the day before departure which was an easy enough process.

Know your port of departure: This is a simple step but really handy to know in advance! I made a rookie mistake and did not research how close my hostel was to my departure port and it ended up being quite far. That sucked at 5:30am. There are 3 main ports in Athens: Piraeus, being the main and largest port; Rafina, being closest port to the airport; and, Lavrio, serving the Eastern-Aegean islands and a few Cyclades islands.

How to get to Piraeus:

  1. From the center of Athens:
    • Taxi: 20 euros during the day and 25 euros at night. It was roughly a 30 minute ride.
    • Metro: Tickets cost 1.40 euros and the green metro line will land you right in front of the Piraeus port. The time will vary depending on where in the center you are departing from.
  2. From the Athens airport:
    • Taxi: 50 euros during the day and 65 euros at night. It is roughly a 45 minute ride but it can take 60 minutes in traffic.
    • Metro: the ticket price is 9 euros and you can take a metro straight from the airport. You take the blue line and change at Monastiraki to the green metro line. The journey takes 90 minutes.
    • Bus: budget friendly way! The X96 bus will take you directly to Piraeus for 5 euros. It takes about 90 minutes.

How to get to Rafina:

  1. From the center of Athens:
    • Taxi: 50 euros during the day and 65 euros at night. The approximate time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.
    • Bus: Tickets cost 2.40 euros. There is a suburban KTEL bus that leaves from Pedion Areos in the center and will take you to the port. It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
    • Note: The Suburban KTEL buses are not regular city buses. They are more similar to travel buses. Basically the KTEL buses connect people to suburban places around Greece and there are two stations in Athens.
  2. From the Athens airport:
    • Taxi: 35 euros during the day and 50 euros at night. Luckily the taxi only takes about 20 minutes to get to Rafina.
    • Bus: budget friendly way! Take a suburban KTEL bus. The cost is 3 euros and there is a bus that will take you from the airport to Rafina in about 30 minutes.

How to get to Lavrio:

  1. From the center of Athens:
    • Taxi: 65 euros during the day and 80 euros at night. The approximately time travelled is around 1 hour and 15 minutes. However, you can first take a bus from Athens to get you closer to Lavrios. The bus is from Athens to the stop Voula and take a taxi from there which takes about 30 minutes.
    • Bus: Cheaper and longer option. The cost of the ticket is 4.90 euros and it takes 2 hours. Suburban KTEL buses leave from Pedion Areos in the center and will take you to Lavrio.
  2. From the Athens airport:
    • Taxi: 50 euros during the day and 70 euros at night. It was roughly a 30 minute ride.
    • Bus: the ticket cost is 4 euros but you need to take two buses. Catch the suburban KTEL bus from the airport to Markopoulo, and get off at the town and take a new bus from Markopoulo to Lavrion.

Getting around the islands: The easiest and most efficient way to get around the Greek islands is to rent a quad or a moped. The standard price to rent a quad is usually 25 euros per day. If you aren’t interested in renting a quad or moped then you can always opt to take public transport. Bus tickets are typically 2 euros and take you to the popular spots.

Accommodation: Ever tried to book a hotel for a special event and notice that it’s double the price? Well, depending on the season in Greece, you may find yourself paying double for your accommodation. For instance, in the high tourist season months of July and August you can expect to pay a higher price for accommodation. Worst of all, it tends to be so busy during those months that you may not find accommodation if you don’t book ahead. So you probably know my next tip: book ahead! However, my recommendation is to avoid travelling in the months of July and August when the islands are overcrowded with tourists. I travelled to Greece in September and it was blissful. The islands still had a lively atmosphere and the weather was still beautiful but I paid half the price and didn’t deal with any crowds.

There are all sorts of accommodation on the islands: hostels, guesthouses, hotels, boutique hotels…etc. If you don’t want to pay the price of a hotel room but want the privacy, opt for a private room at a hostel. Private hostel rooms usually tend to be just as expensive as some hotels in most cities in Europe; however, I found just the opposite in Greece. My friend and I wanted privacy and we stayed in really nice private rooms for as little as 13 euros to 16 euros per person per night in September.

 

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2 comments

  1. This is a very detailed description and also very useful. Thanks for all the advices and information! You gave me some excellent ideas!

    Jan from Ljubljana 🙂

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