When most people picture Greece, they immediately think of blue onion-domed buildings, miles of white sandy beaches and the beautifully blue sea. However, there is so much more to Greece than what you first expect.
The Greek islands are full of enough adventure activities and cultural experiences to last you a lifetime. Greece is an island nation, and has more than 6000 islets and islands making up the majority of the country. One of the best ways to make the most of your time in Greece is by Island hopping your way around. This is encouraged by the country and a number of efficient ferries and other transport types make it easy for visitors to easily hop from one island to another.
With so many different islands to fly into, it can seem a bit confusing about where is best to start, and most of the time, there isn’t one best place. However, one of Greece’s most iconic locations is Athens, the countries capital, so it makes sense that most people using this as a springboard to their adventure. Athens is home to a number of ferry ports, the most popular including Port of Piraeus, Port of Lavrio and Port of Rafina. It’s generally recommended to get to your port at least an hour before you are scheduled to set off, just to ensure you don’t miss your boat. If you’re heading quite far south, there are a number of overnight ferries that will take you to the southern islands. You can choose to pay extra for your own cabin or you can stay in less comfortable seating areas.
If you don’t really have a plan of where you want to head, it’s not unusual for people to play “ferry roulette.” You simply turn up at a local ferry port and see where the next boat is heading and jump on it. This is a great way to avoid the local touristy islands and really get into the heart of Greece. There is an abundance of accommodation options available on all the islands so you never have to worry about where you are going to be staying. When you compare the prices to the rest of Europe, it’s not uncommon to find basic accommodation for a week in Greece to be that of the same price as a nights’ accommodation in London.
Travel guides are useful but can often become a bit of a “crutch”. Why not use them as a basic guide but create your own path, speak to the locals and find out where they like to travel to and where they enjoy their real traditional Greek food. Greece is a relaxed and peaceful country and is known for having friendly islanders who welcome holiday-makers. Ask a Greek to tell stories about their country and you have a friend for life.
On a few of the islands you may stumble upon ruins from the English Crusades. If you’re heading to the Southern Dodecadese Islands, why not hike along old fortified walls that were originally built as homes for the English soldiers and to keep out invading forces. The island of Kalymnos has plenty of forts and also the city of Pathos, considered the “sponge diving capital of the world.”
An easy way to zip around the islands during your trip is to hire a scooter. There are plenty of hire hops doted around. Petrol is expensive throughout Greece so travelling around on two wheels will save you a lot of money on transport costs. It’s also a typically European way to see the sights of the city while soaking up the sun.
Europe is home to a variety of tasty different cuisines and Greece is no different. As you travel around the islands you will discover regional variations of traditional Greek dishes. Specialities include salted fish dishes, rich and flaky pastries and a cold cucumber soup, a great way to cool down in the hot Greek heat. If you’d like to try a famous local alcohol, opt for the traditional ouzo! A strong but tasty anise-flavoured aperitif.
Greek Island hopping is possible out of Athens or even from the Turkish Coast. So while it’s easy to predict where you will begin your adventure, the best adventures often end up where you least expect them!