Greek Island Hopping

Written on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 by Greek Island Hopping

The concept of island hopping around Greece isn’t new. As ferries are largely one of the only modes of transport between islands for locals, it became the way of travel for tourists to see different islands and became known as ‘island hopping’.  I have been island hopping in Greece for nearly 30 years and have observed how this flexible, spontaneous style of travel has changed and have a few tips that may add some value to your island-hopping experience.

Those who travelled the islands 20 years ago or more will tell stories of alighting the ferry at the port and being swarmed by lovely Greek ladies with albums of photos of their rooms to rent. You would negotiate a price and generally they would all offer you less as they fought over you until you settled on one and were taken off to a little taverna with rooms, or a house with 4 or 5 studios. With the internet and some changes from port authorities this practice has largely disappeared, so unless you want to spend your time carting your suitcase around the streets looking for accommodation its best to pre-book. The other advantage to pre-booking is that usually they will offer to come and collect you from the port for free. If you really want flexibility you can try and book a couple of days in advance, however I was trying this on my recent holiday and found it quite time consuming and expensive as I had to keep ringing properties. The Greek islands are full, September is not quiet, and the seasons on some islands are stretching into October. Unless you are a true backpacker, my tip is to pre-plan and pre-book, if you want to have flexibility, perhaps ask if you can book on a rate that can be cancelled last minute in case you love where you are and want to stay longer. We have access to a range of accommodations and can help you pre-plan your itinerary.

Pack light – it’s the islands, you don’t need much more than your swimmers, a few dresses or shorts and shirts for the fellas at night time. All the islands are casual (except perhaps Santorini and Mykonos) so you are often going from beach to dinner. Remember, you are carrying your luggage on and off the ferries and along the piers so backpacks are perfect or suitcases with wheels, but don’t overload them. There are plenty of places to shop and most accommodations do spring for a few amenities.

Inter-island flights – These are almost impossible unless you have pre-booked your itinerary in advance. There are a couple of routes between major islands and back to Athens. The planes are very small and usually booked out. The superfast ferries can get you from Athens to Mykonos in a couple of hours, however if you really want to fly then book as soon as you can. Ferries can be pre-booked if you know your itinerary, this will ensure you the best prices as like airline tickets they change with demand and increase as cheaper fares sell out. It is easy to book ferries as you go along if you want flexibility. Just remember ferries between the different groups of islands may not run everyday so you want to make sure you have a bit of an idea of schedules or you could be waiting for a few days to get off an island!

Organised beaches – these are beaches where you can rent a sun lounge and umbrella. Prices will change depending on the destination and demand. In some of the lesser known islands you are looking at around 10 euros for two lounges and an umbrella, in Mykonos it can be up to 30 – 50 euros for the day. At the organised beaches they will serve you drinks and food at your lounge and are linked to restaurants, so you generally have access to their facilities. There are still plenty of beaches that are not organised, so you can take your mat or towel, just remember there is little shade and the sun can be quite hot.

Transport – there are many transport options on the Greek islands. Some islands keep to the more ergonomic bicycle and foot, whereas others have cars, scooters, motorbikes and 4 wheeling motorbikes. Just remember to make sure you check your travel insurance to see if you are covered and ensure you have the correct license to be able to rent. Speak to your hotel about who is best to rent from and the most reputable operator. It’s better to pay a little extra.

Day trips – the islands have so much more to offer than just the beach, beer and souvlakis. With so much history in Greece you can learn and discover so much. The Naxos main town is built amongst old venetian ruins and if you want a more cultural experience, go on a day trip up into the villages of Chalva and Apparenthios where you will see more of the local life and less tourists whilst gazing at some beautiful landscapes. Amorgos main town Chora is up in the mountains, a completely different experience from the beach for a few days.

The options are endless for the islands. They were a little more expensive than 30 years ago, however, they are still great value compared to other areas in Europe. If you only have a short time, its best to plan out the trip to make the most of your time on the ground. Chat to us if the Greek islands are on your list, we’re here to help.

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