Whether it’s your first visit or you’ve been there before, planning a vacation to Greece isn’t a casual task! There’s so much to see and do that you’ll likely need several vacations to visit all your dream destinations. But why not travel off the beaten path a little on your next Greek voyage?
Besides the famous historical landmarks in Athens, the Greek islands are popular tourist getaways for their soothing blue waters, golden beaches, and phenomenal cultural experiences. Since there are over 2,900 islands in Greece, a Greek island-hopping tour could have you exploring almost endlessly. Ready to see what we mean? Get started by checking out some of the must-see islands in Greece.
Santorini is a popular bucket-list Greek holiday destination. You’ve probably seen Instagram photographs of the area’s famed white-washed walls and blue-domed homes in the background. These homes, which are stacked against the craggy cliff-tops, are a sight to see. Some of the even house charmingly romantic places to stay.
Tourists freely stroll through the lovely, pedestrian-only streets, stopping by for refreshments at local tavernas. If you treasure your peace and your quiet siestas, find a room with a pool and terrace to avoid the cruise ships’ hustle and bustle throughout the day.
Corfu is a culturally rich area influenced by German, French, Italian, British, and Venetian traditions. Beachgoers from all over the world come to admire the island’s beauty. The green hills, noble houses, Venetian fortresses, and Greek temples make for the ideal backdrops for cultural exploration and romantic getaways.
Many travelers like to see the famous golden triangle of Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. Mykonos, in particular, feels more cosmopolitan than other islands. It has a vibrant party scene and ample opportunities for you to engage in a little retail therapy. The island has world-famous beach clubs and offers sunset cruises along the southern shores.
History lovers might want to consider a day trip to Delos Island, which is thought to be Apollo’s birthplace. Or, you can explore ancient monuments, like the famous Windmills, Paraportiani Church, and Ano Mera village.
Want to experience splendor on a budget? Paros could be the destination for you. It’s a wonderful mix of taverns, nightclubs, and classic Greek streets dotted with fantastic cafés and gelato shops. There are also several prominent tourist attractions here. These attractions include the Church of 100 Doors, the Archaic Temple of Athena, and the Venetian Port.
Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades Islands, has some of the nicest long, sandy beaches to visit. Its wide, shallow, and calm waters make it an appealing alternative to Mykonos if you’re aiming for a vacation that’s a bit more family friendly. Enjoy the picturesque white-painted villages and towns that make up its relatively small populated area.
The Best Island-Hopping Tour Packages
We’ve rounded up some of the best Greek island holiday packages and island-hopping tour packages to consider. Keep in mind that prices can change at any time, but these are great examples to help you start to budget for your trip. If you wish to create your own island-hopping plan to match your exact taste, feel free to skip to the next section.
11-Day Greek Island-Hopping Tour
- Islands: Athens, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Santorini
- Available From: Tourradar
What’s not to like about this tour? It takes you on an 11-day Greek island hopping excursion from Athens to Santorini and beyond! The price includes all accommodations, meals, transportation, and tour guide fees. You’ll only be responsible for covering flights and personal expenses like souvenirs.
5-Day Labyrinth of Crete Tour
- Islands: Heraklion, Spinalonga, Knossos, Crete
- Available From: Tourradar
For a more in-depth cultural experience, the five-day Labyrinth of Crete Tour is a good choice. History buffs will enjoy this specially designed excursion to Zeus’ birthplace. Keep in mind that the journey will begin and end in Heraklion, the capital of Crete. All prior travel arrangements are up to you.
10-Day Greek Island-Hopping Tour
- Islands: Crete, Santorini, Mykonos
- Available From: Trailfinders
A more flexible, exploratory tour to consider is the 10-day Greek island-hopping tour from Trailfinders. While the tour only covers three islands, each stop allows you to freely stroll about and learn about the local cultures and cuisine. With at least a full day at each location, you’ll have plenty of time to check off the items on your must-do list at every island.
Ultimately, a vacation package spares you the trouble of planning every trip detail. An all-inclusive Greece holiday package usually manages everything from organizing travel arrangements to booking accommodations. The only catch is that these packages have fixed itineraries — your package might include passing through an island you’ve already been to or aren’t interested in visiting.
Customizing Your Own Island-Hopping Plan
If you want more control of your island-hopping vacation, create your own itinerary. If you choose this route, you need first to identify which islands you want to visit. You should also look into all-inclusive Greek resorts to enjoy.
You’ll most likely use a ferry to island-hop throughout your trip. You can check into island-hopping ferry routes to take throughout your tour. Here are some examples of island-hopping routes that different ferry companies cover in each island group for your reference.
- The Argosaronic Islands – Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, Spetses
- The Sporades Islands – Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, Skyros
- The Ionian Islands – Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Ithaca, Lefkada, Corfu, Paxos
- The Western Cyclades – Folegandros, Milos, Kimolos, Sifnos, Serifos, Kithnos, Kea
- The Dodecanese Islands – Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, Kos, Karpathos, Kalimnos, Nisiros, Leros
- The Eastern Cyclades Islands – Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Amorgos, Iraklia, Ios, Santorini
- The Northern Aegean Islands – Samos, Fournoi, Ikaria, Chios, Lesvos, Limnos- Samothraki, Thassos
Finally, it’s best to have a “home base” on one island and make day trips to others. Your “home base” should have an airport where you may fly in and out from your island-hopping trip. Consider selecting the capital of the island to serve as the starting and ending point of your island-hopping tour.