How to Travel Between the Greek Islands (Reliably and Affordably)

There is something completely magical about the Greek Islands and there are so many to choose from, you are almost spoilt for choice! The Greek Islands are divided into groups, with some islands more popular with travellers than others. While each island shares similar traits with others of the same group by way of culture, climate and historical backgrounds, it’s still a great idea to travel between a few of the different groups to ensure you get a well-rounded experience.


Travel to: Greek Islands


Cyclades

Santorini

So what’s the best way to get around and how much will it cost to travel between your islands of choice? The first step of your trip will be deciding which of the Greek Islands you consider “must-see,” after that, everything will start to fall into place.

We’re breaking down the list of islands by their groups: 

  •       Cyclades

o   Mykonos, Tinos, Sifnos, Syros, Serifos, Paros, Antiparos, Santorini, Kea, Andros, Koufonisia, Milos, Naxos, Amorgos, Ios, Folegandros and others

  •       Dodecanese and Samos

o   Patmos, Kos, Tilos, Symi, Rhodes, Kalymnos, Leros

  •       Argo-Saronic 

o   Hydra, Spetses, Poros, Aegina, Kilada, Salamina and Agkistri

  •       Ionian Islands

o   Corfu, Paxos, Levkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakinthos, Kythira

  •       Evia (Euboia); the second biggest island in all of Greece!
  •       Sporades

o   Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnissos & Skyros

  • Crete; the biggest island in Greece

o   The Northeastern Aegean Islands

  • Lesbos (Mitilini), Chios, Samos, Limnos, Ikaria, Samothrace, Fournoi, Inouses, Psara, Agios Efstratios, Thasos
Kos

Kos, Greece

Most Popular Greek Islands

It’s incredibly difficult to decide which islands to visit, so we think it’s always a great idea to go on personal recommendations from like-minded people. Most often people name islands such as Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Crete, Kefalonia, Hydra and Skiathos as being amongst their favourites.

Santorini and Mykonos are a part of the Cyclades islands, Kefalonia is part of the Ionian islands, Hydra calls into the Argo-Saronic islands and Skiathos is a part of the Sporades islands. These should all be considered a wonderful mixture of different island groups and by extension, divine and unique experiences with each one!

For anyone travelling to the Greek Islands for the first time, I would highly recommend taking the ferry between the islands. On my very first trip to the Greek Islands, we took the ferry to Mykonos, Paros and Santorini which was fantastic! The ferries are very affordable and you are able to book your journey online! Payment per trip is up to 15 euros as a foot passenger where you can sit anywhere on the boat, and slightly more if you would like to have a specified seat on the ship with a little more comfort! The ferries are comfortable and well equipped with everything you need for your Greek Islands journey. – Rebecca, The World As Bec Sees It

Getting to the Greek Islands

There are flights to some of the main Greek Islands, with international flights arriving and departing from Crete, Corfu and Rhodes, but for local flights from the mainland, you can fly into most islands on discounted flights through airlines like Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air.

Sometimes flights will be seasonal or chartered, so it’s best to check this in advance, and you’ll also have to keep an eye on their newsfeeds for updates about discounted flights so you never miss a deal. Inter-island flights are hard to come by, so it’s best to fly into your first port of call and then opt for alternative travel between the rest of the islands. Consulting Sky Express is probably your best bet for any available inter-island flights that can also be really reasonably priced.

There are so many incredible islands of Greece, some hidden treasures and some quickly becoming the new tourist hotspots. When planning to travel the islands, my advice is to see as many as possible on your first visit to get a greater understanding of the ones you love – and then visit those again and again whilst adding new ones to discover to the plans each time.
There are a few ways to travel the islands – you can hire a private yacht, take the ferries, go with a tour boat or fly. Ensure you research which islands have airports and which you’ll need to travel by boat. If there are both options, I would jump on a plane from the mainland and then opt for a ferry in between islands for a very comfortable and cost effective option. If you want to do things a little more luxurious, you can hire a yacht and cruise from island to island, and if you want a taste of luxury but it isn’t in the budget to hire a personal one, a lot of tour companies do island hops or day trips. Either way, boats are the way to go as you will have to worry about your luggage allowance by plane and distribute your weight between check in and carry on which can be difficult when you’ve packed more than 20kg!
A flight is great for getting to your first island, but once you’re there you won’t want to worry about distributing luggage/checking in and getting to and from the airports, which can sometimes be further out. You can take as much as you like on the ferries which leave from the main ports, and you can even take a hire car on board and drive straight off when you dock (at an extra cost of course!) If you are staying at a hotel, request a transfer from the port so you won’t have to wait around in queues.
Tips:
If flying on the small Greek airlines ensure you check in a couple of hours before the flight or you could be fined. With ferries, it’s best to price check and book in advance as sometimes morning can be more expensive than afternoon and vice versa. You can also upgrade for a small price difference to business class which is higher above sea level (recommended if you have troubles with sea sickness!) Sometimes even the days of the week can vary with the ferries, so although it’s nice to be spontaneous, a planned trip for the islands will save you time, money and frustration. – Olivia, Olympia

Ferrying to and Around the Greek Islands

Flights can add a hefty price tag to your travel plans if you don’t manage to get the discounted deals, so it’s good to have different options. The ferries from Athens to the Greek Islands and from island to island are really affordable, but the tickets sell out quickly so you have to book in advance.

Ferry timetables and routes can change so make sure you check up on your timetable (available online) prior to your date of travel. The only downside to ferrying is that the trips can be cancelled due to very bad weather conditions with no indication of when they will resume. This is a rarity with the standard ferries as they are quite robust and fit to challenge swells.

How to Travel Between the Greek Islands

Zakynthos

One of the most important planning steps for your trip to the Greek Islands determining how you will travel among them. Here are our recommendations:

Ferries – Enjoy shared and private accommodations, luxury cabins, and more depending on your comfort level. Enjoy cafes and bars open all hours of the day to accommodate all appetites and lots of entertainment options. Usually booked with tours, Island-Hopping Cruises are highly recommended. Enjoy booze, fishing, sailing, and other cruise styles. Accommodations are available, though with limited facilities. Depending on your travel style, this would be the best choice for those wishing a more scenic adventure than simply convenience. – Janine, Fill My Passport

The fastest and most comfortable transportation between the Greek Islands would be by flying. The views from the window seat will also blow you away…
But another good and also cheaper option is by boat/ferry. It does take longer but can be comfortable as well. You can walk around the deck, drinking frape,  have a tzatziki snack and enjoy the cool sea breeze in your hair. And ports are normally in the town’s center so as soon as you embark you are ready for exploration. – Nina and Simon, Nina Travels

Inter-Island Travel By Catamaran Or Hydrofoil

If you want to get on your adventure quicker, then catamarans and hydrofoils are your best bet, although they are definitely subject to more frequent cancellations as they don’t operate well in bad weather conditions. These are also not advisable for people who are prone to seasickness, as the ride can be very bumpy, and the rates are also more expensive than the standard ferries. But if speed is your number one priority, catamaran or hydrofoil is your best bet.

Regardless of which islands and transportation you’ve chosen, we wish you safe travels!