With just a 28ltr backpack, a strong supply of sun cream and enough bikinis to dress all of the Victoria’s Secret Angels between the five of us, we took off.
We spent our days sun worshiping and exploring in equal measure. And over the two weeks we managed to make our way around Mykonos, Ios, Naxos, Santorini and back to the mainland. Along the way, I picked up a few tips that might make life a bit easier if you were thinking about doing a similar trip.
So here’s my tips on how to island hop around Greece!
Plan your time in Piraeus
If you’re flying into Athens, you will most likely be taking your first ferry from the town of Piraeus. Piraeus is Greece’s largest sea port and hundreds of ferries leave from the harbour each day heading to the islands and also further afield to Croatia, Italy and Turkey.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the nicest part of mainland Greece and it can give you a terrible first impression. If at all possible, plan your day and first ferry so that you spend as little time here as you can! Or if you have to stay overnight, it’s worth it to pay a little extra for touch of luxury, as there’s very little in the port to do during the day and you’ll be spending your time in the hotel.
Get the best spot on the ferry
For some of our ferry crossings we had huge ships that had both an indoor area and outdoor decks at the back and sides of the boat. We loved sitting in the outside shaded area, eating fresh spinach and feta pastries and drinking iced coffees. A four-hour ferry ride goes by pretty quickly when you have beautiful sea views to look at. But the ferries can get crowded, especially if you’re not on the first port on the journey. Don’t dally when you get on and head straight for the top deck outdoor area to bag the best spot!
Our favourite crossing were always with BlueStar Ferries for being cheap and with plenty of outdoor space. It’s worth checking online if they have a route that suits you.
Haggle in the port for the best accommodation
We started our island hopping trip in June and at each port there was hoards of local hosts offering accommodation for the night. If you don’t have your hotel/hostel booked, you’ll definitely find something suitable in your arrival port – just remember haggle as some hosts might take advantage of your free-spirited (cough, unorganised!) ways!
A word of warning: My friend returned to Mykonos in August and found it near impossible to find somewhere to stay. She described it as ‘the island was completely booked up’ and ended up paying a lot more than she expected for a short notice room. If you can, plan your Greek island hopping trip around June or July when it is slightly quieter.
Be loyal to your sun loungers
Greeks are some of the most welcoming people I’ve met, and I felt the local hospitality, especially on the island of Naxos, was wonderful. If you’re renting sun loungers and umbrellas on the beach, be loyal to the beach bar that’s attached to it.
In Naxos, we went back day after day to the same beach bar. The owner was so lovely and grateful for the business he reserved us frontline loungers in the morning, gave us a round of sundowners most evenings on the house and when we had a random downpour one afternoon, free piping hot and creamy cappuccinos to warm us up! And ‘efcharistó’ is how you say thank you…
Bakeries save you money
I usually don’t need an excuse to tuck into a fresh pastry, but in Greece I had found my heaven! Some tavernas and restaurants, especially in the smaller islands can be expensive, as their business depends on tourism during the high season. We managed to save money by heading to the local bakery in the morning and picking up a piping hot feta and spinach pastry and saving it for lunchtime. You don’t know real heaven until you’ve bitten into one of those while sitting under a sun umbrella and drinking a pineapple daiquiri!
Have you been to Greece? Share your favourite moments or best tips from your Greek island hopping trip in the comments below!