Greek Island hopping tips

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There are up to six thousand islands in Greece. Not all of them are inhabited, but most of them offer exactly what you need for a very enjoyable holiday in the sun.

Popular islands

Scattered throughout the Aegean and the eastern side of the Ionian Sea, the Greek islands are identified in clusters. The most renowned islands in the Ionian collection are Corfu, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Lefkada and Zakynthos. However, it is those in the Cyclades and Dodecanese groups within the Aegean which receive the most numbers of visitors. 

Each island has its unique flavour. Santorini is the sunset capital of the islands. Mykonos for the infamous Paradise Beach and parties. Zakynthos for the stunning colour of its beaches. And Corfu for its family appeal. Most of the larger islands are accessible by air, and water-based transport is the best way to reach the more remote archipelagos.

Go on a sailing holiday

Greek island flotilla holidays can be a lot of fun, and there are plenty of options available. If you don’t sail, or can’t be bothered to plan an itinerary and book your moorings, a skippered holiday could be the perfect option. These can be booked as a group or on a ‘sail by cabin’ basis. However, don’t expect a sailboat to be like a typical cruise. Space onboard is tight, and you will be with your skipper and fellow crew members for long periods. So choose your vessel carefully. Although the larger boats have private ensuite toilets and air conditioning, be warned a sailing holiday is not as luxurious as it seems. 

Use the local ferries

If staying in hotels and b&b’s is more your style. And soaking up the unique culture of Greece is important to you, then ferry hopping between the islands is a good solution. Peak season brings a welcome regularity to the Greek island ferry timetables. However, it also means scrambling with the masses to get a space onboard.

If you are venturing out on foot, apart from the restrictions of carrying luggage you should be able to get a seat. If you are travelling by car, you need to book ahead! And if you can’t prebook, set your alarm for an early start to avoid a long wait at the port. It’s not cheap with a car, but it is the most comfortable option if travelling with children.

Once onboard make sure you have lots of snacks, plenty of water and something to read or watch. Cabins are often available for longer trips, but they are expensive. Sleep isn’t an option on the uncomfortable plastic ferry seats are uncomfortable unless you can do it sitting up or are prepared to roll around on a dirty floor. So be prepared to rough it a bit.

Rent a boat or book an excursion

Alternatively, stay put on a Greek island that is amongst a group of islands. Book a week in a hotel or self-catered accommodation as a base and travel to neighbouring islands when you please. Local excursions by foot are fairly cheap or you could rent a boat for the day. If you have a powerboat licence, the bigger the engine, the further you can explore. Plus there are no mooring charges! And you can dive into the crystal clear waters when you please. Lefkada and Crete are perfect for exploring their satellite islands with amazing beaches, archaeological ruins and varied marine life.

Posted by Sam Stone

Sam Stone

Sam has been involved in the creative arts industries for over twenty-five years in both France and the UK, working with a variety of specialised businesses and publishers. She is a freelance writer, whose work includes travel blogs, web content and script writing.

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