Greece Island Hopping Travel Guide

By Direct Ferries Team
29 May 2024
Crete Island Hopping

As the summer draws closer, it’s about time that you began planning your holiday to Greece. But why spend it in just one place? Greece has so many islands within close distance, making it a perfect destination for island hopping. Before you embark on your Greek odyssey, here is everything that you need to know about the islands of Greece.

Which Greek island is best for island hopping?

Picking where to go in Greece can be a difficult choice. Luckily, we’ve narrowed it down for you. The most popular Greek islands are Santorini, Mykonos and Crete, attracting millions of tourists each year in search of a Mediterranean getaway. But why not visit all three islands?

There are ferries available from Mykonos, Santorini and Crete throughout the year, with increased sailings during the high season. With Direct Ferries, you can book your Greek island-hopping experience in just a few clicks by using our deal finder.

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What is the best way to hop Greek islands?

Looking for a ferrytale holiday in Greece? The best way to island-hop around Greece is by ferry. The most popular routes like Mykonos to Santorini are operated by high-speed ferry. These can transport passengers to their destination in as little as 30 minutes, depending on what route you are sailing. 

If you don’t have enough time to spare, you can take to the sky instead. There are domestic flights available between most islands in Greece including Mykonos, Heraklion, Corfu, Skiathos, Kos, Milos and Santorini. Travelling by plane is the fastest way of getting from the different islands of Greece, especially those which are located further apart. 

Don’t leave it too late. Please ensure that you book your tickets in advance to guarantee the cheapest prices and best availability, particularly as services get very popular in the summer.

Cyclades Island Hopping Route

Athens to Mykonos Ferry

Where better to start your journey than Athens? The Greek capital is known for being a central hub for ferry travel, with sailings departing from Piraeus Port and Rafina Port. This makes it a perfect starting point for anyone looking to explore the islands of Greece by ferry. 

Piraeus Port is the most convenient place for a ferry from Athens to Mykonos. It’s located closer to the city centre and has great public transport links including metro and bus. The first ferry usually leaves at 07:00, with ticket prices ranging from £37 to £306 for foot passengers. The Athens Mykonos ferry is available with SeaJets, Blue Star Ferries, Minoan Lines and Cyclades Fast Ferries, providing up to 30 weekly sailings.

But that’s not the only way of getting to Mykonos. Alternatively, you can book a ferry from Rafina to Mykonos. This is an ideal route for those coming straight from Athens International Airport. When you arrive in Mykonos, be sure to take a short boat trip to the island of Delos, the mythological birthplace of Apollo. Crown the day by watching the magnificent sunset at Little Venice.

Mykonos to Santorini Ferry

The adventure doesn’t need to end in Mykonos. Why not continue onward by taking the ferry from Mykonos to Santorini? There are up to 56 weekly sailings from Mykonos to Santorini available with 4 ferry companies including SeaJets, Golden Star Ferries, Cyclades Fast Ferries and Minoan Lines.

Climb aboard and sail to Santorini for as little as £65. When you reach Santorini, kick back and soak up the sunshine on Perissa Beach or visit the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri if you are feeling more adventurous. End the day on a high by enjoying some classic Greek cuisine while watching the sunset in Oia. Whatever you choose to do, Santorini offers something for everyone. 

Santorini to Crete (Heraklion) Ferry 

It wouldn’t be a Greek island-hopping trip without visiting Crete. The ferry from Santorini to Crete (Heraklion) is available with SeaJets, Blue Star Ferries, Cyclades Fast Ferries and Minoan Lines. There are up to 29 weekly sailings during the summer months. 

The Santorini to Heraklion ferry takes approximately 1 hour and 52 minutes. If you are impatient to get there, you can always book a high-speed ferry with SeaJets and arrive in 1 hour and 40 minutes. That way, you’ll have more time to sunbathe on the famous beaches of Crete and perhaps try the iconic souvlaki. 

Find yourself a bargain and set sail from Santorini to Crete for as little as £14. When you arrive, make your way over to the Palace of Knossos, an ancient Minoan palace that dates back to the Bronze Age. If you prefer a more relaxing experience, sunbathe on Amoudara Beach with its golden sand and shallow waters. You can even try your hand at some water sports if you’re feeling brave enough. 

Don’t want your holiday to end? No problem. From Heraklion, you have a wide range of islands to choose for your next destination. You can prolong your adventure by taking a ferry to Naxos or Ios. 

Dodecanese Island Hopping Route

Start your journey in Rhodes. Known for being the largest island in the Dodecanese, this Mediterranean paradise has a rich array of beach resorts as well as ancient ruins dating all the way back to the 10th century BC. The most famous of which is Lindos Acropolis that towers high above the island and provides panoramic views of the surrounding coastline. 


When you have ticked Rhodes off your checklist, why not catch the next ferry from Rhodes to Symi? This service takes only 50 minutes with Dodekanisos Seaways and runs throughout the year, with up to 46 sailings departing each week. Jump aboard and discover the charming island of Symi. This hidden treasure has many standout attractions to explore. Take a walk around the pretty harbour of Gialos or head over to Nos Beach to enjoy some fresh seafood at one of its waterfront tavernas.

Proceed onto the next stop of your island-hopping adventure by getting the Symi to Kos ferry. This service takes approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes with Dodekanisos Seaways and offers up to 6 sailings per week. Set off at 08:55 and arrive in Kos by 10:20, where you can stretch your legs on either Tigaki or Paradise Beach. While you are there, don’t forget to visit the Sanctuary of Asclepius (Asklepieion) where you can roam around the ancient amphitheatre nearby.   

If you cant get enough of Greece, you can always continue your holiday further. You can sail on to a variety of different islands including Patmos, Leros and Kalymnos. 

Saronic Island Hopping Route

If you are looking for a peaceful getaway, Hydra is a great place to start. This car-free island guarantees tranquillity with beautiful beaches and stunning architecture. You can find most of the island’s charm by walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of Hydra Town before stopping at a waterfront café to admire the view. Other notable attractions include the Historical Archive Museum and the Ecclesiastical Museum if you enjoy learning about Greek history.

Next stop on your tour of the Saronic Islands is Poros. Take the Hydra to Poros ferry and arrive in just 30 minutes. This service is available all year round with Hellenic Seaways and Alpha Lines, with up to 31 weekly sailings to choose from. If you like exploring, why not hire a bike and take a ride along the scenic coastal paths? Better yet, you can take a boat tour around the hidden coves of the island including the Russian Naval Base.

When you fancy a change of scenery, catch the ferry from Poros to Spetses. This breathtaking island is known for its lively atmosphere, charming seafront cafes and boutique shops. Explore the island in traditional style by taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the olive groves and along the scenic coastal paths. With 30 sailings departing on this route per week, you will have no trouble finding a ferry to suit your travel plans. 

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What are the best ferry operators for island-hopping in Greece?

When it comes to island hopping in Greece, there are many ferry companies to choose from. But which one should you pick? SeaJets typically provide most of the fastest routes between the Greek islands and operate throughout the year including the low season. Blue Star Ferries are also a great option if you are sailing between islands in the Cyclades or the Dodecanese. 

What are the best months for island hopping in Greece?

We all want to get away on holiday but picking a date can be stressful. If you are struggling to decide, the best time to go island-hopping in Greece is between May and August. There are an increased number of ferries during the summer, making it easier to travel between all the different islands of Greece. Another advantage is that you get to enjoy longer days of sunshine, water sports and lively beach parties. 

While these are typically regarded as the best months for island hopping in Greece, it's important to consider your budget, personal preferences and the specific islands you plan to visit. 

How many days do you need for Greek island hopping?

It’s important to get the most out of your holiday. But how long do you need for island-hopping in Greece? This all depends on the number of islands that you are planning to visit. As a rule of thumb, we suggest that you allow yourself at least 7 days if you are visiting 2-3 islands. However, you may require anywhere from 12 to 14 days if you are visiting 4 or more islands. This will give you enough time to fully explore each destination.  

Do you need a car for Greece island hopping?

Getting around Greece without a car can be exhausting. But no need to worry. Most ferry companies operating in the region allow cars onboard their ships. To make things easier, we have compiled a short list of routes which accept vehicles.

  • Athens (Piraeus) to Mykonos Ferry (SeaJets, Blue Star Ferries and Cyclades Fast Ferries)

  • Heraklion to Ios Ferry (SeaJets and Cyclades Fast Ferries)

  • Heraklion to Mykonos Ferry (SeaJets and Cyclades Fast Ferries)

  • Rafina to Mykonos Ferry (SeaJets, Golden Star Ferries and Cyclades Fast Ferries)

  • Heraklion to Naxos Ferry (SeaJets)

  • Santorini to Heraklion Ferry (SeaJets, Blue Star Ferries and Cyclades Fast Ferries)

  • Santorini to Naxos Ferry (SeaJets and Blue Star Ferries)

  • Heraklion to Paros Ferry (SeaJets and Cyclades Fast Ferries)

Although you don’t have to bring a vehicle, it can make island-hopping much easier. With the convenience of a car, you can easily travel to many of the best beaches in Greece that you might otherwise have missed. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to depend on public transport throughout your trip. 

So what are you waiting for? Take the wheel and embark on the island-hopping holiday of a lifetime.

How to get around the Greek islands without a car?

If you are travelling around Greece by foot, you don’t need to break a sweat. All ferry routes in Greece welcome foot passengers, giving you easy access to a catalogue of different islands. Whatever your destination, public transport is readily available throughout the year including taxis, buses and water taxis.

Please be aware that transport services can get very busy during the summer, particularly on the most popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini. To avoid disappointment, it’s better to book in advance. Here is a list of numbers that might be useful:

  • Mykonos Taxi: +30 2289 077786

  • Welcome Pickups: +30 21 1176 8284

  • Santorini Port Super Shuttle: +30 694 079 2211

  • Taxi Fira: +30 694 658 5189

  • Crete-Taxi-Services: +30 693 684 7951

  • Taxi Hersonissos: +30 697 713 5046

  • Paros Taxi Karousos: +30 694 413 8995

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