Greece with its infamous white and blue infrastructures, beautiful beaches complete with turquoise water and long stretches of soft white sand. Home to Santorini, one of the most romantic destinations in the world and famous for its breath-taking sunsets. A Greek island hopping trip is on just about everyone’s bucket list and for a very good reason.
Someone once said:
“Greece fills the mind with the most exalted sentiments and the best feelings of which our nature is capable”.
I have put together a few tips for planning your very own Greek island trip so there’s no need to pay a “professional” to do it for you! My trip consisted of Athens, Sifnos, Santorini and Mykonos.
1. HOW TO GET FROM ATHENS AIRPORT TO THE PORT (PIRAEUS)
There are two options on how to get to the port from the airport, namely a taxi or a bus:
- Depending on the time you arrive in Athens, a taxi straight to the port will cost approximately 45 – 65 EUR. The journey will take about 1 hour.
- Alternatively if you have some time on your side, you can take the X96 bus which is 6 EUR per person. You will need to purchase your bus ticket at the kiosk (between Departures exit 4 & 5) before boarding. The bus’s last stop will be the port of Piraeus. Once there, look for the Gate number which corresponds to the one stated on your ferry ticket.
2. GREEK ISLAND: BOAT TRANSPORT
When purchasing boat tickets you can opt to have your tickets delivered to your home, collect from Athens Airport or collect from the port of Piraeus. If you choose the latter, try not to arrive at the port any later than 1 hour before departure.
We highly recommend you get a fast boat otherwise the journey can be anywhere between 3-6 hours long, possibly longer, depending on where you are travelling to. To be on the safe side, try to arrive in Athens as early as possible on the day to give yourself enough time to catch your preferred boat.
Important to keep in mind:
1. Athens also has two other ports Rafina” and “Lavrion”. However Pireus is the busiest and the only one you can reach easily through public transportation. But research the different options depending on what islands you plan on visiting
2. To pre-book ferries or not to book: It’s not always necessary to pre-book tickets, most ships have tickets available even on the last minute. However there are a few things to consider:
- Between mid-July and end August is peak season and therefore very busy! If travelling during this time it is recommended to pre-book
We were fortunate enough to have 2 full weeks to spend in Greece. The best advice I can give is do not try to see too many islands in a short time frame. Every island is different and magical in its own way. You will need at least 3 nights minimum at each Greek island (possibly even longer).
- Accommodation: One of the great things about Greece is that it is incredibly affordable. Depending on which Greek island you are travelling to you can find hostels for as little as 10-35 Euros per night. You can also find shared rooms or entire apartments on Airbnb in just about any price range, depending on what you are looking for. We used booking.com for our Santorini and Mykonos hotels and paid an average of 60 EUR per person per night for some really incredible accommodation which included Wi-Fi, a private room, air-conditioning, a television, a mini-fridge, and breakfast. Sifnos was a lot cheaper since it’s not as popular and we rented an entire apartment on the beach for 70 EUR per night. Athens is extremely cheap!
- Transportation: Of course if you are doing a Greek island hopping trip you will be dealing with a lot of boats. You can expect to spend an average of 60 EUR per trip for the faster boats during peak season and when following a similar course to us. The faster boats can cost as much as 20-30 EUR more but we highly recommend using the speed boat options as they can save you a lot of time. The last thing you want to do is spend most of your Greece trip travelling between islands. Bus fares on the islands are very reasonable and should cost no more than 2.50 EUR for a single trip. The cost for a car depending on the season can start from 30 EUR per day for low season. Expect to pay upwards from 35 EUR in high season. There are usually scooters or ATV rentals on the islands that cost an average of 30-50 EUR per day.
- Food: Mediterranean vegetables, fresh seafood, grilled meat, olives, bread, Greek salad, the food in Greece is everything that you have dreamed of! You can have a nice dinner out for 20 EUR, even at the more ‘expensive’ islands. A meal at the more luxurious restaurants will start from about 30 EUR. Athens is a lot cheaper and you could have an entire dinner for 15 EUR if you wanted to. If you are on a tight budget you can eat Gyros. It’s a traditional Greek kebab, it’s delicious, fills you up and costs as little as 2.50 EUR. You can also eat out at café’s where meals will cost between 8 and 12 EUR. Or you can cook your own meals as you can purchase food in grocery stores for a very reasonable price. It’s easy to eat on the cheap in Greece.
- Activities: Greece has a variety of activities to part-take in that won’t require a fee. We advise making a list beforehand of all the ‘touristy’ things you want to do, research the price and then set aside a budget depending on your choices. See (Greece guide) for more information on various excursions at the different islands.
5. BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO GREECE
We visited in mid June and we found it to be perfect. The weather is great, there is little rain and it’s outside peak season so there’s not as many people and prices are not yet at their peak. However it’s already quite crowded so if you are looking for peace and quiet May might be a better option. September is also a great time if you don’t want to miss out on the warmer weather but want to avoid the hordes of tourists.