No trip to Greece is complete without exploring the islands where white-washed buildings meet crystal clear waters.
No-one truly knows the exact number of heaven-sent islands that Greece has, but of possibly 6,000 dots in the ocean, over 200 are hotspots for holidaymakers. During the European summer, thousands flock to them to bake on beaches, wander cobblestoned laneways, explore historical ruins and dance from sun-down to sunrise.
If you’re thinking of following suit, you’ll have to decide which to visit. As each island has its own unique character, landscape and historical monuments, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one – so island hopping is a must.
Where to book Greek island hopping tours
Most popular Greek island hopping itineraries
The Greek islands are broken into groups by location. Popular island clusters that many tour companies keep their sails to include the Saronic islands, the Cyclades and Crete and the Cretan islands. If you’re considering organising your own itinerary, focusing on one of these clusters is the best way to see multiple islands without wasting sailing time.
1. Cyclades island hopping tours
The Cyclades is a large cluster of islands southeast of the mainland. It includes some of the most popular islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, Ios, Paros, Kythnos, Syros, Amorgos, Naxos, Deros, Poliegos, Folegandros, Antiparos, Sifnos and Tinos.
Just looking for Santorini and Mykonos island hopping tours
Arguably the most popular destinations in the Aegean Sea, if you want these Cyclades highlights you can cover Santorini and Mykonos with these quick trips.
2. Crete and the Cretan Islands
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is surrounded by a network of Cretan islands such as Spinalonga, Chrysi, Gavdos and Dionysos.
3. Saronic Islands hopping tours
The Saronic Islands include Aegina, Poros and Hydra. They’re the closest islands to Athens which makes them ideal for visitors on strict time limits. We’ve included a longer trip below for anyone who has a little more time to spare.
Where are the Greek party islands?
Most of the islands offer their own style of nightlife, but Mykonos, Corfu (Kavos), Ios, Rhodes, Kos and Paros are most renowned for their thriving party vibe. During summer, they’re a hotbed for European students on holiday looking to unwind and have fun. In the resorts, they’re met with foam and popcorn parties, beachside bars and clubs that play music all night long.
If this is not your scene, you’re better off visiting quieter islands during summer or waiting until shoulder season to see these isles.
Many youthful tour companies such as Contiki, Intrepid, G Adventures and Travel Talk offer sailings through these islands and are a good option if you’re looking to party with fellow travellers of a similar age.
When is the best time to visit Greece?
On the Greek islands, the season starts as early as mid-April with the majority of resorts opening in full by mid-June. Things begin to slow down from mid-September and by the end of October the islands relax for the winter.
If you want to visit during the heart of the season, July and August are the best months to catch the summer sun. If you want to experience the islands without the crowds, September and October offer hot days, cooler nights and a much more relaxed vibe.