Greece Island hopping travel guide

Island-hopping in Greece is one of the best holiday experiences ever!




Because it’s the perfect mix of a spontaneous and an organized holiday. Just imagine hopping on a ferry from one island to another, staying for as long as you want, and then moving on to your next destination for a new adventure. With over 200 inhabited islands scattered across the Aegean and the Ionian sea, itineraries and possible island matches are endless!


Are you ready to start a Greek island hopping-adventure?


Read on to find out everything about island hopping in Greece, from the best islands and itineraries to pro tips and customizable island-hopping packages!


Greek island hopping tips & recommended itineraries

The most popular island group in Greece. It is located in the Aegean Sea, southeast of the mainland.

Hub islands: Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Ios, Sifnos, Milos, Naxos

1) Mykonos – Ios – Santorini 2) Kimolos – Milos – Folegandros -Ios 3) Naxos – Paros – Antiparos 4) Kea – Kythnos – Serifos

A verdant and exotic island chain located on the west coast of Greece. It is popular with families and groups of friends alike.

Hub islands: Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos (Zante), Ithaca, Lefkada

1) Corfu-Sivota-Paxi 2)Lefkada-Kefalonia-Ithaca 3)Paxi-Lefkada-Ithaca

A group of islands located in the south-eastern Aegean Sea. It is famous for its Medieval architecture and beautiful beaches.

Hub islands: Rhodes, Kos, Symi

1) Patmos-Leros-Kalymnos-Kos 2)Kos-Rhodes-Chalki-Rhodes-Symi

A small group of islands that lies in the Argo-Saronic archipelago close to Athens. They are a popular destination for day trips from Athens.

Hub islands: Aegina, Hydra, Poros, Agistri, Spetses


A group of islands located in the north-west Aegean Sea. It consists of four inhabited islands and several uninhabited islets, which makes it a great destination for island hopping off the beaten trail.

Hub islands: Skopelos, Skyros, Alonissos, Skiathos

1) Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos 2)Evia-Skiathos-Alonissos


Greek island hopping packages & tours


Island hopping in Greece: Travel options

When it comes to how you can travel from one Greek island to another, there are three options: yachting/sailing, a ferry, or a plane. Let’s break them down!


If you want to be fully independent and move from one island to another at your own pace, then a sailing holiday is a great option for you! In Greece, you can rent a yacht or you can opt for a yacht charter. The first option is ideal for those who are certified sailors and know how to navigate through the Greek seas. The second one is perfect for families or groups of friends who want to have a relaxing holiday on board, with a captain and an experienced crew taking care of the rest.


In Greece, you’ll find different types of ferries, which fall into two main categories: conventional ferries and high-speed ferries. Conventional ferries (closed deck car ferries and open deck car ferries) are slower, have an open deck and cabins, and are ideal for those who get seasick easily. High-speed ferries (high-speed catamarans and flying dolphins) are faster, usually don’t have an open deck, and can cause seasickness, especially if there are strong winds. As for the cost, conventional ferry tickets are cheaper, while high-speed ferry tickets are more expensive. In many cases, a conventional ferry ride can last for more than 8 hours, while a high-speed ferry ride lasts for only 3-4 hours, so it’s better to opt for the latter if you can.



If you’re planning to visit an island that’s more than 8 hours away from Athens, like Crete, Rhodes, or Kos, opting for the plane is your best bet. Oftentimes, air tickets are cheaper than ferry tickets, especially at the beginning or at the end of the tourist season. You can fly for as little as 20 euros in April or October, but you have to book your tickets well in advance, at least 3-5 months earlier. Our tip for smart trip planning is to opt for a combination of flights and ferry trips, depending on your destinations and the duration of each trip.


Useful island-hopping tips


  • Conventional ferry rides are often overnight, so, in that case, we highly recommend booking a cabin for a more comfortable trip -particularly if you’re traveling with kids.
  • If you suffer from seasickness, it’s better to opt for a conventional ferry. They might be slower, but they are more stable and offer plenty of outdoor space. Flying dolphins with no deck are not a good option if you get seasick easily, as they offer only indoor seating and often don’t have windows.
  • If you want to visit the most famous Greek islands, like Mykonos and Santorini, you should book your trip well in advance. These islands tend to get overcrowded and overpriced in peak season, so it’s better to avoid last-minute planning.
  • Don’t overdo it with the islands that you include in your itinerary. It’s better to visit 2-3 islands and stay three days on each one than to pack your itinerary with islands that you won’t have enough time to enjoy!

Which are the best islands to visit?

There are six main island chains in Greece: the Saronic, the Cyclades, the Sporades, the Dodecanese, the Ionian, and the Northeastern Aegean islands. Our tip for smart trip planning is to stick to one island group at a time and not pack your itinerary with too many islands. This way, you’ll have enough time to enjoy each destination and you won’t get overwhelmed by the number of options you have.


Cyclades islands

The most popular island chain in Greece is the Cyclades, which is home to superstar islands, like Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, and Ios. It’s also the most popular chain for island-hopping, as the Cycladic islands lie close to each other, making it easy to hop from one to another.


Saronic islands

The Saronic islands are also popular because they are close to each other and they lie near Athens. This makes them a super-popular destination for weekend getaways and day cruises. The Saronic islands are also a great option for a sailing holiday (even for the relatively inexperienced sailors), thanks to their ideal wind conditions and the small distance between the islands. The most well-known Saronic islands are Hydra, Poros, Agistri, Aegina, and Spetses.


Sporades islands

The Sporades lie on the east coast of the Aegean and consist of four inhabited islands: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, and Skyros. This chain is popular for its many uninhabited islands and natural beauty, so it’s a good option for those who want to go off the beaten tourist trail as well as for adventure lovers.


Ionian islands

The Ionian islands, which lie in the western part of the Greek mainland, are famous for their exotic beaches and verdant landscape. They are a popular destination for families and groups of friends alike. However, options are limited when it comes to island hopping due to the lack of connections between the islands. Although you can catch a ferry to the Ionian islands from the mainland (Kilini or Igoumenitsa), most of the islands are not connected with each other by ferry, which narrows down the island-hopping options.


Dodecanese islands

The Dodecanese island group lies in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea and consists of 12 islands, the most popular of which are Rhodes and Kos. Both islands have international airports that serve flights from Athens. Since the Dodecanese islands are quite far from the Greek capital, it’s better to reach them by air and start your island-hopping itinerary from there.


How many days do you need for island hopping in Greece?

Given that the ferry is a slow means of transportation, you should be prepared to spend quite many hours on board. However, some ferry routes are shorter than others. Ferry trips between the Saronic islands, for instance, last for 1-2 hours, while ferry trips between the Cycladic islands last for 4-5 hours. So, you should pick the islands you want to include in your trip having that in mind. We suggest spending at least 7-10 days on the bigger island chains, like the Cyclades, the Ionian, and the Dodecanese, and 4-6 days on the smaller island chains, like the Small Cyclades, the Saronic, and the Sporades.


Cyclades Islands

  • Capital: Syros

  • 30 islands

  • Rocky, scenic, volcanic

Most popular islands: Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Ios, Sifnos, Milos, Serifos, Amorgos, Folegandros, Antiparos, Andros, Syros, Tinos.


Small Cyclades: Naxos, Koufonisi, Schinoussa, Donoussa, Iraklia.


Highlights: The caldera and the volcano in Santorini, Little Venice and the windmills in Mykonos, Panagia Ekatontapiliani church and Golden Beach in Paros, Panagia Hozoviotissa Monastery in Amorgos, Apeiranthos village and Portara in Naxos, Sarakiniko beach in Milos.


Airports: The Cycladic islands with international airports are Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Milos, and Syros.


Tip: If you include Santorini in your island-hopping itinerary or your honeymoon, don’t forget to book a sunset cruise to the volcano and the hot springs!


Best itineraries in the Cyclades: 1) Mykonos – Ios – Santorini 2) Kimolos – Milos – Folegandros -Ios 3) Naxos – Paros – Antiparos 4) Kea – Kythnos – Serifos



Route Fast Ferry Slow Ferry Cost

Athens to Santorini

4 hrs 45 min

8 hrs


Athens to Mykonos

2 hrs 30 min

5 hrs


Mykonos to Santorini

2 hrs

3 hrs 45 min


Naxos to Paros

30 min

50 min



Ionian Islands

  • Capital: Corfu

  • 7 islands

  • Exotic, verdant, elegant

Most popular islands: Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos (Zante), Ithaca, Lefkada, Paxi, Kythira.


Highlights: Spianada Square and Achillion Palace in Corfu, Fiskardo village and Myrtos beach in Kefalonia, Navagio beach and Blue Caves in Zakynthos, Porto Katsiki beach and Egremni beach in Lefkada, Gidaki beach and Kioni village in Ithaca.


Airports: The Ionian islands with airports are Lefkada, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Kythira.


Tip: If you’re planning to visit the Ionian islands in spring, don’t miss going to Corfu at Easter. The island is famous for its Easter celebrations and customs!


Best island-hopping itineraries in the Ionian: 1) Corfu-Sivota-Paxi 2) Lefkada-Kefalonia-Ithaca 3) Paxi-Lefkada-Ithaca



Route Fast Ferry Slow Ferry Cost

Kefalonia to Ithaca

20 min

50 min


Lefkada to Kefalonia

1 hrs 45 min

2 hrs 30 min


Lefkada to Ithaca

1 hrs 30 min

2 hrs



Dodecanese Islands

Most popular islands: Rhodes, Kos, Symi, Patmos, Astypalea, Karpathos, Nisyros, Kalymnos.


Highlights: The Palace of the Grand Master and the Acropolis of Lindos in Rhodes, Asklepieion and Neratzia Castle in Kos, the Venetian Castle and Drakos Cave in Astypalea, the picturesque port with pastel houses in Symi, the volcano in Nisyros.


Airports: The Dodecanese islands with airports are Rhodes, Kos, Karpathos, Astypalea, Leros, Kastelorizo, and Kasos.


Tip: The Dodecanese islands are very close to Turkey. There are daily ferries from Rhodes to seaside Turkish towns, like Fethiye and Marmaris. You can use it to your advantage and include one or two-day trips to the Turkish coasts in your island-hopping itinerary.


Best island-hopping itineraries in the Dodecanese: 1) Patmos-Leros-Kalymnos-Kos 2) Kos-Rhodes-Chalki-Rhodes-Symi



Route Fast Ferry Slow Ferry Cost

Kos to Rhodes

2 hrs

5 hrs


Kalymnos to Kos

30 min

1 hrs


Rhodes to Symi

50 min

1 hrs 30 min


Patmos to Leros

50 min

2 hrs



Saronic gulf Islands

Most popular islands: Aegina, Hydra, Poros, Agistri, Spetses.


Highlights: The Temple of Aphaia and local pistachios in Aegina, the cosmopolitan port of Hydra, the Clock and the Love Bay in Poros, Aponisos beach and Dragonera beach in Agistri.


Airports: There aren’t any airports in the Saronic islands.


Tip: The Saronic islands are an ideal destination for sailing trips and cruises from Athens. You can either embark on a Saronic day cruise from Athens or opt for a yacht charter for a complete island-hopping experience!


The best island-hopping itineraries in the Saronic: 1) Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Spetses



Route Fast Ferry Slow Ferry Cost

Aegina to Agistri

10 min

20 min


Athens to Aegina

40 min

1 hrs


Athens to Hydra

1 hrs

2 hrs


Hydra to Spetses

30 min

45 min



Sporades Islands

Most popular islands: Skopelos, Skyros, Alonissos, Skiathos.


Highlights: Skopelos Town and Agios Ioannis Kastri (the Mamma Mia church) in Skopelos, Lalaria beach and Koukounaries beach in Skiathos, the National Marine Park and the Blue Cave in Alonissos.


Airports: The Sporades islands with airports are Skiathos and Skyros.


Tip: Evia, the second largest island in Greece is located very close to the Sporades chain. We highly recommend including Evoia in your island-hopping itinerary and spend a couple of days exploring its verdant landscape and exotic beaches.


The best island-hopping itineraries in the Sporades: 1) Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos 2) Evia-Skiathos-Alonissos


Route Fast Ferry Slow Ferry Cost

Evia to Skiathos

1 hrs 30 min

3 hrs


Skiathos to Skopelos

20 min

1 hrs


Skopelos to Alonissos

25 min

1 hrs 30 min


Evia to Skopelos

1 hrs 30 min

3 hrs 30 min



The best way to island-hop in Greece is to fly to Athens and then get a ferry from a port (Piraeus, Lavrion, or Rafina) to the Greek islands. This is the best option for the Aegean and the Saronic island chains. If you want to hop between the Ionian islands, your best bet is to start from the mainland (Kilini or Igoumenitsa). Alternatively, you can fly directly to an island that has an international airport and start your island-hopping trip from there. To save time and skip the hassle, it’s better to fly in and out of Greece from different airports. For example, if you want to island-hop between the Cycladic islands, you can fly to Athens airport and leave from Santorini airport.
The cost of a one-way ferry ticket in Greece can be from 10 to 100 euros, depending on the distance and the ferry type. This means you’re going to spend 30-50 euros on average for each ferry connection. So, if you want to cut down the cost, our tip is to visit no more than 2-3 islands located close to each other.
This depends on many factors, like the islands you want to visit, if you’re traveling with family, if you get seasick easily, if you’re on a budget, etc. Generally, the slow ferries are cheaper, bigger, more stable, and have decks, which means they are a better option for those who suffer from seasickness. The high-speed ferries are more pricey, faster, smaller, and usually don’t have decks, so they aren’t a good option for those who get seasick easily. Keep in mind that the high-speed ferry schedules are more likely to be canceled due to bad weather conditions, like rough seas. Slow ferry schedules are more reliable and less likely to be canceled.
Thanks to the small distance between the islands and the very frequent ferry connections, island hopping in Greece it’s very easy. What’s more, there are more than 200 inhabited islands in Greece, which give you endless options!


So, this was everything you need to know about island-hopping in Greece!


There are endless options depending on your traveling style and your budget. From the cosmopolitan Cyclades islands to the exotic Ionian and the Medieval Dodecanese, every Greek island group has something different to offer!


Did we miss anything? Comment below YOUR tips about island-hopping in Greece and your favourite destinations!

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