Greek Island Hopping: Discover the Best Islands to Visit in Greece

by 17 Jul 2023Europe, Greece

Hey there, fellow explorers!  Ready to dive into the heart of the Greek islands, where a world of unparalleled beauty and serenity awaits? Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or just looking to satisfy your wanderlust, Greek island hopping promises an array of experiences tailored to every traveller.

This guide will show you some of the best islands to visit in Greece, so make sure to grab a map of the Greek islands, as you’re about to embark on a journey you’ll never forget.


The Allure of Greek Island Hopping

Greece is a treasure trove of islands, each with its own personality, history, and beauty. With so many options, island hopping in Greece is the best way to discover the diversity and charm of these idyllic destinations. From the famous Santorini and Mykonos to the quiet Greek islands where tranquillity reigns supreme, get ready to fall in love with Greece, one island at a time.


The Quiet Greek Islands: Beyond the Tourist Trails

Venture beyond the well-trodden paths and you’ll find the soul of Greece on its lesser known islands. Naxos, with its rich history and stunning beaches, offers a blend of adventure and serenity. Paros will enchant you with its vibrant nightlife and quaint villages, while Milos, the “Island of Colors,” reveals dramatic landscapes and hidden coves. Last but not least, Symi promises a step back in time with its neoclassical mansions and serene beaches.


Sarakiniko Beach on Milos island


Naxos: the Cheapest Greek Island of the Cyclades Archipelago

Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades islands, boasts a blend of rich history, traditional architecture, and stunning natural beauty. Explore the labyrinthine alleys of Naxos Town, visit the impressive Portara monument, and indulge in the island’s delicious local cuisine. Head to the lesser-explored southern coast, where pristine Naxos beaches like Plaka and Agia Anna await, offering tranquillity and stunning vistas.


Paros Island: Nightlife, Culture and Nature at their Best

Paros, a Cycladic gem, entices visitors with its charming whitewashed villages, azure waters, and vibrant nightlife. Stroll through the narrow streets of Parikia, the island’s capital, and discover hidden chapels and traditional tavernas. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the stunning fishing village of Naoussa, with its picturesque harbour and exquisite sunsets. For nature lovers, a visit to the butterfly valley of Paros or the stunning Kolymbithres Beach is a must.


Milos: Holidays to Greece’s Island of Colors

Milos captivates with its dramatic landscapes and unique geological formations. Explore the captivating Sarakiniko Beach, with its lunar-like white rock formations, and uncover the secrets of Kleftiko, a hidden sea cave paradise accessible only by boat. Immerse yourself in the island’s rich history by visiting the ancient theater of Milos and the iconic Venus de Milo statue, housed in the Archaeological Museum of Plaka.


Symi: One of the Best Greek Islands for Couples

Symi, a hidden gem in the Dodecanese, exudes old-world charm with its pastel-coloured neoclassical mansions and picturesque harbour. To make your holidays to Symi island memorable, take a stroll through the narrow streets of Gialos. This is the island’s main town, where you can admire intricately designed facades. Afterwards, climb the 500 steps to the imposing Monastery of Panormitis, perched on a hilltop, and soak in the panoramic views of the island. Additionally, beach lovers should visit the tranquil Agia Marina Bay or the idyllic Nanou Beach for a day of relaxation.


Neoclassical buildings in Gialos, Symi.


Time Travel to the Islands of Ancient Greece

Greek island hopping holidays are not just about stunning landscapes. They are also a gateway to ancient civilizations. From the Minoan ruins on Crete to the sacred island of Delos, each site offers a unique journey through history.


Discover Minoan Culture in Crete

Start your historical journey on Crete, the birthplace of the Minoan civilization. Visit the Palace of Knossos, a sprawling complex that showcases the grandeur and sophistication of the ancient Minoans. Explore the archaeological site of Phaistos, another significant Minoan palace, and marvel at the well-preserved frescoes and artefacts that provide insight into this ancient civilization.


The ancient ruins of the Palace of Knossos in Crete.


Explore Ancient Delos

Delos, a small island near Mykonos, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a sacred place in Greek mythology. Take a boat trip to this historical gem and wander through the well-preserved ruins of temples, houses, and theatres. Stand in awe of the Terrace of the Lions, iconic marble statues that guard the sacred site. Delve into the mythological tales of Apollo and Artemis as you explore the island’s captivating history.


Unveil the History of Santorini Island

Santorini, known for its breathtaking sunsets and stunning caldera views, also holds historical significance. Visit the archaeological site of the Akrotiri ruins, often referred to as the “Minoan Pompeii.” This ancient settlement was buried under volcanic ash and preserved remarkably well, offering a glimpse into life during the Minoan period. Explore the prehistoric ruins, including well-preserved frescoes, intricate drainage systems, and multi-story buildings.


Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, boasts an impressive medieval city and ancient archaeological sites. Visit the Acropolis of Rhodes, perched atop the hill of Monte Smith, and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Explore the ancient city of Kamiros, where you can wander through the ruins of houses, temples, and public buildings, gaining insight into the daily life of ancient Greeks.


The historic Acropolis of Rhodes.


Culture and Tradition: The Heartbeat of the Greek Islands

The Greek Islands are not merely a destination; they are a tapestry of vibrant culture and enduring traditions. Wander through narrow, cobblestone streets in traditional island villages and witness the warmth and hospitality of the locals.


Celebrating with the Locals

Experience the lively festivities of the Greek islands by timing your visit to coincide with local celebrations. Join the locals in dancing, feasting, and merriment during traditional panigyria (festivals). These events are filled with live music, Greek traditional clothing, and delicious food, providing a glimpse into the heart and soul of the island’s culture. Whether it’s the Easter celebrations on Patmos or the Fish and Wine Festival in Paros, these events offer a unique opportunity to discover undying traditions of the best Greek islands there are to visit.


Artisans and Traditions

Engage in local craftsmanship and traditional arts by visiting workshops and studios. Witness skilled artisans create intricate pottery, handmade textiles, and unique jewellery, keeping age-old traditions alive. Learn the art of traditional Greek dances, such as the syrtos or the sousta, and partake in traditional dancing lessons offered by local Greek cultural centres. Embrace the opportunity to cook alongside locals, learning the secrets of Greek cuisine and indulging in authentic flavours.


A Glimpse into Greek Village Traditions

To truly understand the local culture, spend time in traditional island villages. Amble through the narrow streets of Oia in Santorini, with its charming white houses and blue-domed churches. Explore the picturesque village of Lindos in Rhodes, with its ancient acropolis and labyrinthine alleys. Interact with locals, savour traditional delicacies in family-run tavernas, and witness the customs and traditions that have been passed down through generations.


Cliffside view of the village of Oia in Santorini.


Nature’s Masterpieces: Greek Beaches, Caves, and Gorges

While Greek island hopping, you’ll see some of the best beaches in the world, each offering a unique slice of paradise. From the volcanic sands of Santorini to the turquoise waters of Zakynthos, nature’s bounty is on full display.


Santorini’s Beaches and Volcanic Treasures

If you’re looking for the most scenic Greek island, look no further. Santorini is renowned for its dramatic volcanic landscapes and picturesque beaches. Relax on the famous Red Beach, framed by towering cliffs and red volcanic rocks, or seek out the lesser-known White Beach, accessible only by boat. For a unique beach experience, also visit the Perissa and Kamari beaches, known for their black volcanic sand.


Get Mesmerised by the Best Views in Crete

Crete offers a diverse range of natural wonders, from rugged mountains to pristine beaches. Explore the Samaria Gorge, a stunning national park known for its impressive rock formations and breathtaking views. Relax on the secluded Balos Beach Lagoon, a paradise of white sand and turquoise waters. Hike through the rugged landscapes of the Lassithi Plateau, dotted with windmills and traditional Greek villages.


A panoramic view of Balos Beach in Crete.


Best Things to Do in Zakynthos

Zakynthos, one of the Ionian Islands, is home to the iconic Navagio Beach, often referred to as Shipwreck Beach. Accessible only by boat, this secluded cove features a rusted shipwreck stranded on the shore, surrounded by towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters. Embark on a boat tour to the Blue Caves, a series of sea caves with shimmering blue waters, where you can swim and snorkel in the tranquil surroundings.


Top Things to See in Kefalonia

Kefalonia offers a blend of stunning beaches and picturesque landscapes. Visit Myrtos Beach, famous for its turquoise waters and white pebbles, or explore the enchanting Melissani Cave, where a partially collapsed roof allows sunlight to create an otherworldly spectacle on the underground lake. Take a hike through the Ainos National Park, a haven for nature lovers, where you can spot rare flora and fauna and enjoy panoramic views from the summit of Mount Ainos.


Charting Your Course: Tips for Greek Island Hoppers

Ready to set sail? Here are some core tips to make the most of your Greek island-hopping holidays:


Plan Your Greek Island Hopping Itinerary

  • Start your Greek island-hopping journey from Athens, the historical capital of Greece. From there, you can set sail to the Cyclades, a cluster of islands known for their iconic white-washed buildings and stunning sunsets. Begin with the popular islands of Santorini and Mykonos, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant island life. Then, venture off the beaten path to the lesser-explored islands of Naxos, Paros, Milos, or Symi, where tranquillity and authenticity await.
  • If you prefer a different island experience, include the Ionian Islands in your itinerary. Begin with Corfu, known for itsVenetian architecture and lush landscapes. Continue to Zakynthos, where you can explore the famous Shipwreck Beach and the Blue Caves. Conclude your journey in Kefalonia, where stunning beaches and natural wonders abound.
  • For a taste of the Dodecanese, start your Greek island hopping adventure in Rhodes, with its mediaeval city and historical sites. Continue to Symi, a hidden gem with neoclassical architecture and picturesque harbours. Lastly, explore the tranquil beauty of Patmos, known for its spiritual significance and serene beaches.


View from the deck of a sailing boat.


Transportation between Greek Islands

While island hopping in Greece, you can opt to use ferries for an authentic experience or flights to maximise your time. Research transportation schedules, book tickets in advance, and consider the duration of travel between islands to plan your itinerary effectively.


Embrace the Adventure of Greek Island Hopping: Stay Flexible

Prepare to be captivated by hidden gems and unexpected delights on your journey. While a well-crafted itinerary is your road map to discovering the unique charm of multiple islands, allow yourself the freedom to be spontaneous. There’s beauty in the unexpected! Don’t hesitate if you find an island that captures your heart, compelling you to linger a little longer. Embracing flexibility can transform a great adventure into an unforgettable experience, filled with stories from the most beautiful Greek island that you’ll cherish forever .


The Best Greek Islands to Visit: How are You Travelling?

Depending on how you travel, make sure to include some of the best Greek islands to visit in your itinerary:

  • As a Couple: Santorini and Mykonos are among the best Greek islands for couples, offering breathtaking sunsets,luxury accommodations, and vibrant nightlife.
  • With Family: Crete and Naxos, with their sandy beaches, shallow waters, and plenty of activities, are considered the best Greek islands for families.
  • Lone Beach Lover: Zakynthos and Crete boast some of the best beaches, combining beauty and adventure with their stunning coastlines.
  • Budget Traveller: Ikaria, Naxos and Lefkada are some of the cheapest Greek islands you can visit, whereaffordable accommodations and experiences still promise a rich Greek island hopping holiday.


The famous Navagio Beach in Zakynthos.


Final Thoughts: A Love Letter to the Greek Islands

As our journey comes to an end, it’s clear that the Greek islands offer a world of discovery, history, and beauty waiting to be explored. Your Greek island hopping adventure promises not just a holiday but a journey through time, nature, and the rich tapestry of Greek culture.

From the cheapest Greek island to the most beautiful Greek island, each stop on your itinerary offers a world of its own. With Holiday Swap, finding cheap accommodation on the Greek islands has never been easier. Book today, pack your bags and set sail on an odyssey that will enchant, educate, and excite beyond belief.

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