Greek Island Hopping in a Week

When I was researching our trip to Greece, I had a tough time finding suggestions for a short trip. We knew we wanted to get out and visit some of the islands (beause let's be honest…that's where all the magic is according to Google Images), but we only had a week to do it. Everything I researched on hopping the Greek islands suggested taking a month or more, otherwise you would be better off just picking a resort on one of the islands and staying there. Multiple forums said that it was next to impossible to see the islands with only a week.

That wasn't going to jive with us, so we did our best piecing together snippets from blogs and forums to come up with an itinerary that still allowed us to get a feel for the islands, but could still logistically fit within a week. And you know what they say about research on the internet: If you find there is a missing piece in the information, write about it yourself.

So even though I have blogged this Greece trip to death, I wanted to write one last post on the details of our trip so that others can see the Greek Islands, even if they only have a week too!

 

The Islands:

We decided to stick to the Cyclades Islands because they had the shortest travel time. It would have taken half our trip just in transportation to get to the other famous islands like Crete and Rhodes, so we definitely didn't want to do that. We also decided to only pick 2 islands because a major goal of this vacation was relaxing. If we had wanted to put the focus more on exploring I think we could have easily fit a third island in within our time frame, but that would have meant much less beach time so we were very pleased with our decision to stick with two.

We knew that Santorini was FOR SURE one of the islands we wanted to see (it's the classic Greek island and is pretty much on every Greek postcard) but we were stuck for a long time on which island to pick for our second choice. We narrowed it down to Paros or Naxos because they were both on the ferry route from Pireus to Santorini and according to much Googling they had some of the best beaches and a fairly local vibe. (The other usual top spot to hit, according to the internet, is Mykonos, but we weren't really on this trip for a party-scene or the nightlife, so we opted to skip it).

Paros is known for it's action-y water sports scene and Naxos is supposedly the most lush of all the islands. We decided since we had a baby along we weren't going to be doing much water sports, so we decided to go for Naxos. While Naxos didn't turn out to be lush, exactly, we were very pleased with our choice! Naxos was awesome!

 

Our itinerary:

I've broken down our itinerary by day so you can see how we fit it all in. Plus, I'm sure it'll be great to remember the nitty-gritty details ourselves when they start to get fuzzy. The prices are what we paid for travelling in September so they are subject to change depending on the season.

Day 1: Flew into Athens

Hotel: SoHo

$50 per couple per night

Day 2: Caught 7:25am ferry in Pireus to Naxos, arrived at 12:45pm.

Hotel: Marine Dream

$30 per couple per night.

Read more here

Day 3: Naxos

Hotel: Marine Dream

Read more here, here and here.

Day 4: Ferry at 12:45 from Naxos to Santorini (the same ferry that dropped us off before). Arrived at 3pm and spent the evening in Oia

Hotel: Villa Dmitris

$56 per couple

Read more here.

Day 5: Beach, exploring Fira, caught the 1am ferry back to Athens

Hotel: Spent the night in a cabin on the ferry (It was the most expensive “hotel” of the whole trip, but we thought it was totally worth it to get a good night's sleep so we could be ready for our big day exploring Athens the next morning.)

$94 each

Read more here and here.

Day 6: Arrived in Athens at 8am and spent the day in the city.

Hotel: SoHo

$50 per couple per night

Read more here and here.

Day 7: Flew home in the morning

 

Advice from our research that really helped us:

  • Don't take a ferry the same day you have a flight. The ferries get cancelled all the time for various reasons (weather, wind, strikes), so give yourself some wiggle room on either side.
  • Be early for everything. The best ferry seats go quickly so you want to get in line early!
  • Bring cash. Few places take cards.

 

What we would have done different:

Overall the trip was perfect! The only thing we would have changed would be to have done the trip in reverse with the night ferry from Pireus to Santorini and ending with Naxos. Santorini was more about walking and exploring and Naxos was more about relaxing. It would have been nice to have the relaxing part at the end of the trip after we had worn ourselves out exploring, instead of the other way around.

 

Some useful links:

Finding the right Greek Island – Lonely Planet

Which Greek Island is right for you?

Matt Barrett's Greek Island Guides:

Santorini

Naxos

Paros

Ferry Scheduler/booking agent – We used this website to plan our ferry schedules as it was a little bit more reliable and less confusing than the actual ferry website. We also booked our over-night ferry cabin through them and were very pleased with their service.

 

I hope this post helps someone out there realize their dream of visiting the Greek Islands, even if they only have a short time to do it! Good luck and na diaskedásoun to you, whoever you are! :)

 

 

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17 Responses
  1. O-Dad says:

    Chelsea,
    You could hire yourself out as a travel guide/consultant. And that’s no joke!
    Love ya, Mom :-)

  2. O-Dad says:

    Please translate na diaskedásoun into English. Google isn’t able to figure it out. ^_^

  3. Chris says:

    It should read να διασκεδάσουν which in Google Translated Greek means “Have Fun” :) Phonetically it sounds like na diaskedasoun

  4. Georgios says:

    it seems like you had a wonderful time and want the world to know about it. greek islands are so nice that I share the enthusiasm with you.

  5. lynda says:

    I have wanted to go now for 15 yrs, thank-you for sharing!

  6. Stephanie says:

    we’re going to the islands later on this year.. do you suggest we purchase the ferry tickets before or do you suggest that we buy the tickets from there before we embark it?

    Thanks for all your tips.

    • Hi Stephanie!

      Ooo! You are going to love it! We purchased our overnight ferry tickets in advance since we booked a cabin, but we bought the rest of the tickets just before we embarked. If you don’t purchase them in advance I would recommend getting there really early. We bought tickets about a half hour before departure and all of the cheap tickets were sold out and we weren’t able to sit together with our friends in the “airplane” seat section. It wasn’t that big of a deal for us, but I would still recommend getting there as early as possible so you can get the tickets you want!

      Best of luck in your travels!

      • Stephanie says:

        Hi ChrisandChelsea :)

        Thanks for the details.. just another question, if we purchase the ferry tickets online, you can just print them or collect them from an office near the port? How does it work?

        Thanks alot for your help..

        • No problem! Happy to share what we learned!

          We had to pick up our overnight cabin tickets in Athens at the office of the travel agent we booked our tickets from (Danae). It was easy to find so it wasn’t a problem, but it would have been easier to print them online for sure. I’m not sure how it works for normal ferry tickets or tickets booked through a different agent unfortunately. If you book through the main ferry website you might be able to just pick up the tickets at the booth right at the port. I think the ferries were the most confusing part of the whole trip!

          Chelsea

          • Stephanie says:

            Hey Chelsea,

            Great thanks alot for your help. Yes was seeing the tickets online from Danae’s website. So I think we’ll buy the tickets from there and we’ll go earlier. Hopefully we find it easy and no hassles for the tickets.

            Thanks once again all the details & for sharing your experience, it’s all been so very helpful.

            Cheers,
            Stephanie

          • Aww yay! I’m so glad it was helpful. That makes me so happy that you thought so.

            I hope you have a wonderful experience in Greece!

            Chelsea

  7. Priscilla says:

    Hi, I was wanting to book a cabin. It is just my bf and I. Do we each have to book a cabin or just one of us? It is very confusing. Also were the airplane seats comfortable or enjoyable. Debating if we should do the cabin or the airplane or deck seat. We are traveling from Athens to Mykonos and it’s almost 5 hrs. From 7am to 12pm. Any advice would help. Thank you.

  8. Liz says:

    We are heading to Athens tomorrow. Three days in Athens by Piraeus so we can walk to our ferry. I plan on getting our tickets there after hearing there are Neon signs and they have special prices..Not sure though We, then will go to Santorini for 4 days. Folagandros for 4 days, Milos for 5 days, Paros for 3 days then Mykonos visiting Delos close by. I will let you know how our ferry tickets go and hotels. In October it isn’t too busy so you don’t have to worry about booking hotels. We are taking chances on booking our ferries. We have 3 weeks to play around. We are staying in Athens for 4 days to rest and do more sight seeing. To be continued.

  9. Lissa says:

    I’m doing some research for my upcoming trip to Greece and ran across your blog. This has me so excited for this adventure! I’m glad to hear that the ports and whatnot are easy to find from Athens (which is where we’ll be starting our journey). Thanks again for sharing the ups and downs of a whirlwind trip to the Greek isles! :)

    Lissa

  10. Lisa geyer says:

    Going to Greece soon.. you have great info..
    Thx!

  11. Lisa geyer says:

    Greece woo.. great post

  12. Simonetta says:

    thanks for this, its convincing me we’ve done the right thing. We are going in July for 12 days, the plan is Santorini – Ios – Naxos – Paros and ending 2 days in Athens. We booked our ferries with directferries.com which i also thought was easier then the local ferry webstie. plus I earned airmiles on my booking.
    I used booking.com for the hotel booking. we decided that hotel had a better value then the available Airbnb’s on the island.
    initially i wanted to do Milos instead of Ios but the ferry times just didnt work out, so I chose Ios as it worked better in the schedule.

    Cant wait to go. need to read your specific blogs on Santorini and Paros for some more tips.

    thanks

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