There are over 6,000 Greek Islands lying on our shores, however, only 277 of these are actually inhabited. These Islands can also be categorised into 6 groups: The Ionian Islands, The Cyclades, The Sporades, The Dodecanese, The Saronic Islands and The North Aegean Islands. With over 300 sunny days a year, 10+ UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the sheer number of islands and uniqueness of each one, it means that they’re the perfect destination to enjoy an island hopping experience. Read this blog and be sure to feel more than ready to begin your adventure!
Island Hopping has quickly become one of the most popular forms of travel, and it’s easy to see why! In short, island hopping is the act of travelling from one island to another often in a shorter space of time than a regular trip. Island hopping allows individuals to experience the different cultures, food and history that each island has to offer whilst not having to worry about long travel days. The island hopping phenomenon can also be compared to backpacking and can be carried out on any group of islands, not just the Greek! The islands of Indonesia and the Canary Islands are other great examples of destinations perfect for island hopping.
When planning a Greek island-hopping adventure, it’s likely that the time of year will affect when you go and what you decide to do, so it’s important to know the best time of year to go island-hopping. As with most island hopping experiences, excursions and activities are a must, therefore a cooler temperature may be ideal. The best time to visit the Greek Islands is late spring or early autumn. This is when the temperatures are around 15℃ to 22℃ - perfect for taking a stroll or visiting a local attraction. There is also the benefit of having fewer crowds during this time. Most people decide to go on holiday to Greece during the summer months when children are off school and the weather is typically warmer, therefore, to avoid the masses, why not begin your island hopping journey in the months of April/May?
Stereotypically when you think of island hopping, most will assume that the best form of transport will be via ferries or trains, however, flying is slowly becoming the best way for travellers to hop between the Greek islands. Compared to travelling by boat, flying is a much faster and more efficient form of transportation when considering how to get around. Many hours may ordinarily be spent travelling 10+ hours across the sea, taking up valuable exploring time, so avoiding this might be a good idea. Catching a flight to the next island also significantly reduces the risk of being delayed or having a journey cancelled and there are often additional options for different connections, not to mention it can also be more scenic and economical in the long run.
Many of the popular Greek islands come complete with a local airport to transport travellers either regionally or internationally which is good news for those who are wanting to fly whilst island hopping. The main airlines that fly inter-island routes are Olympic Airlines, Aegean Airlines and Sky Express. Between these three airlines, the majority of the popular Greek Islands are covered by air travel, with Sky Express alone covering 34 destinations!
Additionally, the Cycladic Project by ifly operates scheduled flights to 9 of the Greek Islands on smaller, regional aircraft. Not as much information is known about this airline, however, they operate routes between islands such as Santorini, Rhodes, Crete, and Mykonos etc, so it’s worth checking.
Kefalonia, known as Ionia’s wine country, is part of the Ionian Islands situated just west of the mainland of Greece. The biggest island in the group and a popular holiday hotspot for many, Kefalonia is packed full of history, stunning landscapes, rich culture and most famously, picture-perfect beaches. With direct flights to both Athens and Zakynthos, this island is most definitely one to add to your island-hopping itinerary.
The island of Kefalonia is a vast green expanse that boasts beautiful beaches and glistening clear waters, perfect for those looking to take a dip in the sea or engage in some adrenaline-fuelled water sports. The island is also very mountainous which makes it an ideal location for hiking - great for anyone who enjoys a slightly more active adventure.
Santorini, famous for its white-washed buildings and cliff-side location, is situated on the south side of the Aegean Sea and is part of the Cyclades island group. The unusual site on which Santorini sits was formed during an enormous volcanic eruption around 1620BC, which paved the way for a unique island of black and red beaches, rocky terrain and breathtaking views. Daily domestic flights will get you from Athens to Santorini, and helicopter rides or ferries will transport you to/from the other islands. There are no direct routes to Santorini from the islands, therefore a connection at Athens is a must.
The most popular island in all of Greece, Santorini is picture-perfect in every way, making it a clear tourist hotspot. The beautiful village of Oia is the most photographed village in Greece and also the go-to place to witness one of the best sunsets the Greek islands have to offer, so why not pay a visit and enjoy a candlelit dinner overlooking the famous view?
The sheer number of visitors to Santorini each year has meant that the island has now become one of the top destinations in the culinary scene (exciting news for the foodies out there!). There’s a great mix of local tavernas and fine-dining restaurants, both offering traditional Greek food as well as other European cuisines, some of the best recommendations are Selene and To Psaraki. If off-the-beaten-track is more the vibe of the trip, a small fishing village called Ammoudi sits just at the bottom of Oia and is home to a harbour and traditional tavernas, perfect for boat trips and taste-testing the local food.
Perhaps Mykonos is next on the agenda? This stunning island is located in the centre of the Cyclades island group and has an international airport that caters for direct flights to/from Athens and other major cities in Europe. If Mykonos is a stop on your island hopping journey, a ferry or helicopter transfer is available to/from the other Greek islands. The charm of Mykonos is no surprise - witha luxurious, cosmopolitan feel, the island is great for those who are wanting to experience award-winning restaurants, luxurious boutiques and an overall expensive culture. This beautiful but lively island has often been compared to the popular Balearic island of Ibiza, so if that’s anything to go by, it’s set to be amazing.
Although Mykonos may be a quick stop on your island-hopping journey, there’s still plenty to see and do. The hub and heart of Mykonos is Chora, a lively town that provides all the entertainment you could want and more during your stay on this island, jam-packed with beach parties, clubs and bars. Top recommendations include ‘Cavo Paradiso’ and ‘Jackie O Seaside’, known by island hoppers, backpackers and residents alike to be one of the best clubs and beach clubs in the whole of the Greek islands.
Island hopping with your loved one? Little Venice in Mykonos is one of the most romantic destinations in all the Greek Islands. Constructed between the 13th and 18th centuries, this gorgeous, quaint neighbourhood is the perfect spot to watch the world go by with a drink or two and reminisce on your travels so far.
The island of Corfu is situated in the Ionian Island group, North of the Aegean Sea. This charming island has risen in popularity and is now a top destination for island hoppers and tourists alike. Throughout the island, there are influences from the French, Venetian and English cultures which create a real unique feel. Corfu’s international airport connects the island with Athens, Thessaloniki, Preveza and other European destinations making it very accessible.
If you’re looking for that buzzy atmosphere and a great hub for exploration, Corfu Town has it all! This historical hot spot has bags of character and plenty to see and do to keep an adventurer busy on an island-hopping excursion. Top recommendations include the Liston promenade, the Old Fortress and the Holy Church of Saint Spyridon, all within walking distance of each other and a great way to spend a day.
Venturing further away from the city centre, Corfu is abundant with locations that appear to be perfect for filming movies and tv shows. Classic films such as Bond’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’ and tv shows like the British series ‘The Durrells’ are among many that have been shot on the picturesque island of Corfu. Film fanatic at heart? Why not spend some time on an organised tour that explores these ideal locations? Corfu Walking & Food Tours may be a great option!
The Greek Islands listed in this blog are just a few of our top picks for island hopping, however, there are so many more that are worth exploring! Check out our other blog, ‘A Local’s Guide to the Greek Islands’ for more information on these beautiful island groups.
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