Complete Guide to Island Hopping in Greece: Explore the Idyllic Greek Islands‍‍

Greek Island Hopping

Do you ever dream of a sun-soaked adventure, hopping from one picturesque Greek island to another? A voyage through the Greek islands will take you into the heart of the Mediterranean. With over 6,000 unique islands to explore, it’s no wonder that Greek island hopping has become a bucket-list adventure for travel seekers. 

To help you plan, here’s a guide to an unforgettable island hopping experience in Greece.

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Why Greece for Island Hopping?

things to do in Mykonos with kids
Mykonos, Greece.

Picture this: You are on an open ferry deck, feeling a gentle breeze on your face, and moving on to the next Greek island. Does that sound appealing? That’s the magic of island hopping in Greece. 

In short, Greece is the ultimate destination for an island-hopping adventure. The reasons are limitless!

Think of a rich history steeped in myth, a laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, and legendary landscapes that range from pebble coves to towering pine-clad mountains.

Best Time to Visit

Island Hopping in Greece
A high-speed ferry leaving the port.

Knowing the ideal time to visit is critical to making your Greek island hopping experience one to remember.

Generally, the best time to visit is between Orthodox Easter (typically in April) and the end of May or from September to mid-October. During this period, the weather is warm, amenities are fully operational, and the islands are less crowded.

Greek Islands in Spring

Island Hopping in Greece
Flowers blossoming over the Santorini Caldera.

Spring (from April to May) is a fantastic time to go island hopping in Greece. The temperatures typically rise from the high teens to the high twenties.

Plus, the summer crowds have yet to arrive, making it an excellent opportunity to visit famous islands like Mykonos, Santorini, and Hydra without the usual crowds.

Greek Islands in Summer

Island Hopping in Greece
Red Beach, Santorini.

The summer months, from June to August, are the most popular times to go island hopping in Greece. The weather is typically hot, with highs in the 40s and average temperatures in the 30s.

However, the refreshing crosswinds of the Ionian and Aegean seas make island hopping a breeze, even for novice sailors.

Island-Hopping in Autumn

Greek island hopping
Naxos, Greece.

Autumn in Greece (September to November) is also a beautiful time to visit. The temperatures are still warm, averaging in the low to mid-20s, and the rain seldom lasts until the end of September.

You’ll also love the relatively warm seas and the mountains painted in stunning hues of ochre and red.

Greek Islands in Winter

Island Hopping in Greece
Ferry travel in winter.

While island hopping in Greece during winter (November to March) is not entirely impossible, it can be challenging. Most tour providers don’t operate during these months, and the weather can be pretty cold.

Starting Points for Island Hopping in Greece

Island Hopping in Greece
Piraeus Port, Greece.

To embark on your Greek island hopping adventure, you have several starting points to consider. The most common is Athens, which is well-connected to the major ports in Greece and home to three harbors: Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrio. 

Piraeus is the largest port and offers connections to most islands. Rafina is far from Athens but provides faster access to islands like Mykonos and Andros. Finally, Lavrio is a less crowded port connecting islands like Kea and Kythnos.

Another starting point is Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, with ferry connections to the Sporades islands. Lastly, Patra and Igoumenitsa are ideal for reaching the Ionian islands in the west. 

Look in the air if you can’t find a suitable ferry connection. You could easily find a direct flight to one of the islands with international airports, like Rhodes, Mykonos, or Santorini, and start your Greek island-hopping itinerary there.

Island Hopping in Greece Itineraries

Island Hopping in Greece

Now that you know the main starting points, let’s delve into some recommended Greek island-hopping itineraries. 

1. Athens – Mykonos – Paros – Naxos – Santorini

Island Hopping in Greece
Naoussa, Paros.

This itinerary takes you through some of Greece’s most iconic and breathtaking islands. Start your journey in Athens and make your way to the vibrant island of Mykonos, known worldwide for its lively nightlife and crazy parties. 

From Mykonos, hop over to Paros and Naxos, two islands next to each other. Here, you’ll discover traditional villages, swim in alluring beaches, and walk through ancient ruins that will leave you in awe. 


Continue your journey to the magnificent island of Santorini, famous for its breathtaking sunsets and unique volcanic landscapes. You’ll absolutely adore the island’s delectable cuisine in the picturesque towns of Oia and Fira. 

2. Kythnos – Serifos – Sifnos

Greece - Sifnos - BEST BEACHES IN SIFNOS, Beach near Chrisopigi

This itinerary will be a treat if you prefer a more off-the-beaten-path experience. Start your island hopping adventure in Kythnos, a small island known for its tranquility, natural beauty, and other-worldly hiking trails. 

From Kythnos, go to Serifos, a relatively unknown destination with stunning beaches and picturesque villages. Enjoy the island’s laid-back vibe and discover its rich history and culture.

Island Hopping in Greece

End your journey in Sifnos, a gastronomic paradise with a vibrant food scene. Taste the delicious local cuisine and experience authentic Greek island life away from the crowds.

3. Naxos – Amorgos

Island Hopping in Greece

This itinerary combines two islands with incredible hiking opportunities. Start your journey in Naxos, a diverse island with stunning landscapes and hiking trails for all levels.

Above all, you’ll love exploring the island’s mountain villages, ancient ruins, and secluded beaches. 

Island Hopping in Greece

Next, head to Amorgos, a destination that will enchant you with its wild beauty and stunning hiking trails. Not to mention the island’s breathtaking cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and charming villages. It’s a paradise for hikers and natural enthusiasts!

4. Corfu – Paxos – Lefkada – Kefalonia – Ithaca

Island Hopping in Greece
Nissaki Beach, Corfu.

If you want to visit the Ionian Islands, look no further than this itinerary. Start your adventure in Corfu, a vibrant island with a rich history and stunning architecture. Explore the charming Old Town, admire the impressive Achilleion Palace, or relax on the island’s serene beaches. 

You can take a short ferry ride from Corfu to Paxos, a hidden paradise with crystal-clear waters and secluded coves.

Island Hopping in Greece

Continue your journey to Lefkada, which is famous for its vibrant atmosphere and stunning beaches, such as the renowned Porto Katsiki.

From Lefkada, head to Kefalonia and discover its breathtaking landscapes, including the famous Myrtos Beach. While enjoying the island’s picturesque villages, visit the captivating Melissani Cave and let your imagination go wild. 

Island Hopping in Greece
Fteri Beach, Kefalonia.

Finally, go to legendary Ithaca, home to unique archaeological sites, breathtaking trails, vivid mythology, and locals so friendly that they will make you feel at home. 

5. Syros – Tinos – Ikaria

reasons to visit Syros, Greece
Ano Syros.

Dare to combine two Cycladic islands with a trip to a completely different island in northern Aegean: Ikaria. This will offer a different experience, allowing you to taste the quintessential vibe of the best quiet Greek islands in Syros and Tinos while visiting the legendary Ikaria!

Start by heading to the capital of the Cyclades, Syros, where you will be amazed by the medieval settlement of Ano Syros. Then, explore Ermoupoli, the capital of Syros, and enjoy the vistas in the Vaporia district.

Island Hopping in Greece
Panagia Evangelistria Church, Tinos.

Early morning ferries connect Syros to Tinos, which is your next step on this itinerary. Over here, devote some time to visiting Chora and discovering the famous Panagia Evangelistria Church. Other two gems not to miss on the island are the Ursuline Convent and the Archaeological Museum of Tinos.

Regular weekly ferries connect Ikaria to Tinos and Syros. On Ikaria, you can visit the capital, Agios Kirikos, then head to Therma and relax in the natural hot springs.

Island Hopping in Greece
Seychelles Beach, Ikaria.

Alternatively, explore the island’s hiking trails, relax on one of the beaches, or visit the picturesque Armenistis village and discover the Cave of Dionysus.

Final Thoughts about Island Hopping in Greece

How to get from Heraklion to Santorini

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, beach lover, foodie, or simply looking to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun, Greek island hopping offers an adventure like no other.

With some planning and a spirit of adventure, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories on your Greek island-hopping journey.

Island Hopping in Greece

Written by Dimitrios Tsevremes
Passionate about travel, spirituality, and sports, Dimi divides his time between Chania (Crete) and other countries. Writing is a way for him to express himself and his creativity. You can find out more about him and his work here.

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About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the island. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.