Island Hopping in Greece

Island hopping in Greece has long been a popular way to visit the Greek islands and we look at what it involves and weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

A ferry in the Aegean Sea, Island Hopping in GreeceThe Magic of Island Hopping in Greece

Both of us behind Greece Travel Secrets enjoyed island hopping in Greece, long before we met each other. We even looked into getting married in Greece but couldn't make it work. Island hopping provided a happy and carefree time, back in the days before cellphones.

It was hard back then to get information and do too much planning ahead. If you were on one island for a few days, it was usually a case of finding out the ferry schedule, and deciding which island you fancied seeing next.

Ferries in Greece

Ferries in Greece has an excellent and very thorough website where, in addition to checking ferry schedules and times, you can also book tickets and get lots of useful information about travelling by ferry in Greece.

The Advantages of Island Hopping in Greece

The advantages of island hopping are many. It means that you don't have to do too much planning ahead. You can simply stay on one island until you feel it's time to move on, and then decide which ferry you're going to get and which island you're going to visit. Unless, that is, you're travelling in busy periods (see Disadvantages below).

The ability to be flexible also has other advantages. One is that you don't have to be bound by a set itinerary. If you find that the next ferry to your chosen destination is full, you can either wait for a later ferry or choose a ferry to a different destination.

Ferry in the Harbour on Syros while island hopping in GreeceFerry in the Harbour on Syros

Another advantage is that you can be flexible with your accommodation. Normally, if you've paid in advance for a hotel room then you're stuck with it if you don't like it, unless the owner will let you cancel and give you a refund. When you're island hopping, ferries will be greeted by people who have accommodation to rent. You can take a look first, and decide if you like it or not. If it's not ideal, you might decide to spend one night there for convenience, then look for somewhere else the next day.

We've had some of our best experiences when island hopping. Finding a room to rent in someone's house as you walk off the ferry is a hit or miss affair, but we've had lots of hits. Staying with a family can be a joyful experience. You have your own room, which is often simple but comfortable, and you can easily become a part of family life. We've found grandma knocking on the door with a bowl of fresh eggs for us for breakfast, or grandpa waving us over to share his bottle of raki. We've been invited to meals, and been taken to local feasts when we were the only non-Greeks present.

A ferry in the Aegean Sea, Island Hopping in GreeceIsland Hopping in Greece

The Disadvantages of Island Hopping in Greece

There aren't too many disadvantages to island hopping when you're in Greece. The main thing is to avoid busy periods, when ferries might be full and accommodation is hard to find. One such is Easter, and also most of August, especially around the national and religious holiday of August 15th, when many Greeks travel home.

Remember that Greek Orthodox Easter doesn't necessarily coincide with the dates of the Western Christian Easter. We discovered this when we decided to visit Hydra one year, not realising that it was the start of the Greek Easter weekend. The ferry was indeed jam-packed, but the worst thing was that when we arrived on Hydra there weren't the usual people waiting to greet the boat offering rooms to rent.

A ferry in the Aegean Sea, Island Hopping in Greece

Eventually we found the office of the Tourist Police, who keep notes of available accommodation, and we ended up sleeping on the balcony of someone's house! Luckily it was a warm few days, and after the weekend we were able to move to more conventional accommodation. But Easter is one of the absolute best times to visit Greece. We've experienced it several times - but always booking ahead!

It used to be that it was hard to book ferries in advance, and you simply turned up and bought a ticket at the quayside. Since the advent of the internet, though, more people are buying tickets in advance and the footloose traveller can find it hard to get tickets.

A ferry in the Aegean Sea, Island Hopping in Greece

Advantage or Disadvantage?

No matter how you're travelling in the Greek islands, your trip will come to an end sometime. For most people this means having to catch a flight home. This means having to be at the airport by a certain time on a certain day. If you have set plans, you might have no leeway in case something goes wrong.

If you're island hopping, you can adjust according to changes in conditions. Bad weather can easily affect ferry schedules, even in summer when strong winds can blow in the Aegean. A cancelled ferry could mean a missed flight. If your plans are flexible and you hear bad weather's coming in, you can make sure you catch an earlier ferry. 

In any case, if you're in the Greek islands our advice is to always plan to get back to the airport the day before the flight and stay overnight somewhere nearby. If your flight is from somewhere like Santorini, say, that won't be a hardship!

Cruise Ships in SantoriniCruise Ships in Santorini

Island Hopping Modern Style

Though it's nice to remember 'the old days' before smartphones and the internet came along (actually, not that long ago), these needn't take the pleasure away from island hopping. When you decide it's time to hop from one island to the next, you can check ferry schedules online, and book your ticket, and even find your accommodation using websites like Airbnb.

While we have fond memories of carrying a battered copy of the Rough Guide to Greece around, they did weigh a heck of a lot. These days you could have the Rough Guide to the Greek Islands on your Kindle for a few dollars. A Kindle with 100 Greek guidebooks on it still weighs less than one Rough Guide or Lonely Planet guide, and there are such enormous Greek resources online that it doesn't matter which island you choose to visit next, you can research it thoroughly online. However, we still prefer that feeling of walking down the ferry gangplank and not knowing what's in store. That, to us, is island hopping in Greece.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. A Holiday on Symi

    Mike Gerrard wasn’t sure what to expect from a holiday on Symi, in the Greek islands, but what he found was lots of local feasting, dancing, and music.

    Read More

  2. Our Feast Day on Astipalia

    Greece Travel Secrets helps celebrate a feast day on Astipalia in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece, for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven.

    Read More

  3. Easter on Rhodes

    During Easter on Rhodes Greece Travel Secrets publisher Mike Gerrard travels from Lindos to Kattavia to visit a monastery and spend Easter with a Greek family.

    Read More

  4. Walking on Paxos

    Walking on Paxos is the best way to discover this tiny island south of Corfu in the Ionian Islands, with its wooded hills and terraces of olive trees.

    Read More

  5. Easter on Symi

    Easter on Symi is a wonderful Greek celebration and one of the best times to visit the little gem of an island a short ferry-ride from Rhodes in the Dodecanese.

    Read More

  6. Best Time to Visit Mykonos

    The best time to visit Mykonos depends on if you want crowds or quiet, heat or cooler temperatures, all of which affect when is the best time to visit Mykonos.

    Read More

  7. Flying to Greece? Here’s What You Need to Know

    The rules that all international passengers must follow to travel to Greece have been extended until October 8, the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) said on Friday. The rules are part of the H…

    Read More

  8. Delta: Direct Flights from Boston to Athens in Summer 2022

    Delta Air Lines on Sunday announced that it will launch a new service from Boston in the United States to Athens, Greece, in the summer of 2022. Launching on May 27 next year, the new nonstop service…

    Read More

  9. UNESCO Calls on UK to ‘Reconsider’ Returning Parthenon Marbles to Greece

    UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is urging the British Museum to reconsider repatriating the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and to enter talks on the issue, Greek…

    Read More

  10. Mt Olympus Designated a National Park

    The epicenter of an entire religion and of the ancient Greek world, and a spectacular place of natural beauty, Mount Olympus is finally, officially, a National Park.

    Read More