Home to magnificent beaches and a warm, sunny climate, Greece is the perfect place for relaxing. Whether it's the chance of spotting a famous Santorini sunset or spending an afternoon swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Aegean sea, island hopping in Greece offers a host of unique experiences that you won't find anywhere else.
Hopping between the Greek islands really took off during the 1960s and 70s with the construction of large hotels and resorts and it's now one of the most popular ways to explore Greece and everything it has to offer. The islands, scattered throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas, all boast beautiful beaches, rugged architecture and charming little villages and, unlike in the 1960s, travelling between them nowadays is much easier: ferries operate all year round and are the most popular way to hop between the Greek islands. Or, if travelling to you is more about the journey than the destination, sailing from one island to another is an option to consider too.
The difficult part, of course, is deciding which islands to explore!
If it's beaches you're after look no further than the unspoilt sands of Syros in the Cyclades islands where the locals go to escape the mass tourism of larger islands and Skiathos in the Sporades islands where you can easily escape sunbed covered sands for smaller beaches like Kechria. For those who like exploring on two wheels, Evia's long country roads make cycling a dream or if you're planning to let your hair down a little more, Mykonos is still the number one party island in Greece.
Whichever islands you end up exploring, each will offer a unique adventure that you're definitely not going to forget in a hurry.
As with many places in Europe, peak season in Greece coincides with school summer holidays; from July until around mid-September. During this period everything from accommodation to ferries to food can increase in price and heatwaves are common.
The best time to go island hopping in Greece is either just before peak season (mid-April to mid-June) or just after (mid-September to October) when it'll be less expensive, there will be fewer crowds, and the temperature will be just right for a spot of sunbathing and sightseeing.
It can seem like taking the easy-going attitude of the Greeks is the best way to approach island hopping: it's not. Plan your route before you go to avoid disappointment; ferries can get booked up and accommodation on smaller islands can get full. Book ferry tickets before you go to avoid having to figure out the Greek system (and language!) as you go. Check out the Greek ferries website for schedules and booking information.
If island hopping in Greece has always been a dream of yours, it might be worth making your trip even more memorable by planning a few nights in a boutique hotel. The best ones are on the Dodecanese Islands of Rhodes, Lindos, and the gorgeous island of Symi.
You can't visit the islands of Greece without watching the sunset on the stunning island of Santorini. In the largest town on Santorini, Fira, take a walk through the winding streets, climbing higher as you go and find a spot along one of the walls to see the sun slowly slip into the Aegean sea. Or head to the town of Oia, home of those famous blue-domed churches, where the cliffs offer a brilliant vantage point to make sure you get that all-important sunset shot.
Discover Greece's rich history, make friends with the locals (whose zest for life and laid-back attitudes will almost certainly rub off on you), then settle down on a sunlounger. You're on island time now.
Beverley Reinemann is a freelance writer and founder of the travel and lifestyle blog, Pack Your Passport. Originally from England, she's a self-confessed Australophile and travel lover and spends most of her time drinking way too much coffee in east London, going to gigs and planning her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @PckYourPassport.comments powered by Disqus