Guide: Greece – Know Before You Go

by Carrinicole

HOW TO PLAN YOUR ISLAND-HOPPING TRIP

Planning your first – second or third – trip to Greece can feel overwhelming. Most likely you will want to visit an island or two. There are over 200 islands you can visit! How do you choose which islands to go to or plan an island-hopping trip?

I think many people are overwhelmed by the options and defer to the most popular, the most familiar. There are so many islands to see than just Santorini and Mykonos. As a Greek who regularly goes to the islands, I haven’t been to either since I was a child because there are other options that deliver epic views, diverse beaches, and yummy food. A plus to going to some of the smaller islands is not only to get away from the crowds and the tourists, but they are more affordable as well. 

There are two methods to visiting islands in Greece: island-hopping or staying at one island. I prefer the latter, where I stay around five days, but there is an appeal to seeing more islands in a shorter amount of time. My recommendations below are based on island-hopping. If you do want to stay for longer periods at one island I would recommend doing so on Milos or Crete for your first couple Greece trips. 

PRO TIP: 

Save Athens for the end of your trip. You will be well-rested and over your jet lag, so you’ll have the attention an energy to enjoy the sights.

Check out my Athens itinerary HERE

GETTING THERE

The first choice you need to make in choosing what island(s) to go to is the method of transport to each island. There are three modes of transportation possible (and not all islands have them): 

  • Airplane
  • Hydrofoil (fast boat)
  • Ferry (slow boat)

WHERE TO GO

There are two strategies to visiting the islands: 

Only visit islands that have airports. Then you can either island hop at greater distances. If you do that, I would recommend Milos or Crete. Both islands have so much to see and do, you can spend days there. If you are set on going to Mykonos or Santorini, they both have airports too and you could spend a week on each easily. Here are all the islands with airports: 

  • Araxos
  • Astypalaia
  • Chios
  • Corfu
  • Crete
  • Ikaria
  • Kalymnos
  • Karpathos
  • Kefalonia
  • Kos
  • Lefkada
  • Lemnos
  • Milos
  • Mykonos
  • Mytilene
  • Naxos
  • Paros
  • Rhodes
  • Samos
  • Santorini
  • Syros
  • Zakynthos

Fly into the largest island, then take a boat to visit the surrounding islands. If you did that, here are a few different itineraries: 

    1. Fly into Mykonos, take a boat to Naxos or Paros.
    2. Fly into Santorini, take a boat to Milos, Ios, or Folegandros.
    3. Fly into Zakynthos or Corfu and take boats to the other west coast islands including Kefalonia or Lefkada.
    4. Fly into Rhodes, take boat to Kos. 

GETTING AROUND

Learning the primary mode of transportation for tourists around the islands is important too. On all islands you can rent a small car or mopeds/ATVs. All the islands have buses that you can take from the city to various beaches too. 

I prefer to rent a small car, so we have privacy, air conditioning, and can keep items in the car while we’re at the beach. But, depending on the island, some roads are more crowded and steep than others. Visiting the islands is supposed to be relaxing, and driving can quickly become stressful. I would research and look at online blogs to understand if it makes sense to rent a car or ATV.

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