This page is a general overview of a few of the Greek Islands, how to get there and how to book hotels and transportation. For more information on
all the islands see my
Guide which gives a short description of each island and has
links to more detailed information, plus hotels,
travel agencies, stories and lots of photos. It
also tells you which islands have daily
connections from Pireaus (Athens' port city) and to each other. You can
read hotel reviews at Hotels
of Greece. Remember to come back to the top of the page to use these links below to other pages on this site. If you have somehow stumbled on this page on your own you should click on the link to Introduction below which will take you back to the beginning of my Greek Travel webpage. If you like using my
site please share it with your friends
on Facebook and Google+ by using the buttons here and on the bottom of this and other pages.
Visiting the Greek Islands
Booking Hotels on the
I strongly suggest using
the Greek travel agencies on my site to book hotels,
particularly if you plan on going to more than
one island and will need to make a ferry
connection. Many hotels on the internet are
offering special rates to book directly with them,
but they won't help you with the ferries and if
you can't get to the island because there is no
ferry you still have to pay for the room. If you
book with the agency, getting you to the island
becomes their responsibility. It makes traveling a
whole lot easier and a lot less stressful when you
don't have to spend hours searching for
ferry or flight
People who use the automated booking sites
often have problems connecting the islands they have booked hotels on to the existing ferries. Work with a
knowledgeable human at a reliable Greek travel agency and don't be afraid to ask
questions. There is no reason you can't stay in a
hotel that is perfect for you at a price that is
right and there is no reason for you to be
standing on a dock waiting for the ferry that
For those who are just booking a simple itinerary and are on a budget or like to put their itinerary together themselves without the help of an agency there are thousands of hotels and descriptions at www.hotelsofgreece.com and you can also use my hotel search site done in cooperation with booking.com. By the way I know you are wondering
the photo is the Volcano View Villas in Santorini.
More questions about Greece? You can e-mail me
to the Greek Islands
The best way to the Greek islands is by ferry boat. They are cheap and relaxing with restaurants,
snack bars and beautiful scenery. The boats to the
far Greek islands like Crete, Rhodes, Lesvos &
Kos leave in the evening. With a cabin it's like
going to sleep in a hotel and waking up in a new
place. The new ferries are like airplanes on the sea. You sit in comfortable chairs, they show movies on the TV, there are snack bars with decent food and some have pretty nice restaurants. Frequency of boats vary from island to
island. To get to the port of Pireaus from Athens
take the metro from the stop closest to you
(probably Monastiraki or Omonia) to the last stop:
Pireaus. The boats are across the street. There is
a map on the dock that tells you where to find the
ferries for each island. If you don't have a
ticket you can buy them at the boat too though if
you want a cabin you should get it in advance.
Also if you are traveling to the islands on the
days preceding Easter and the 15th of August or
any Friday in July and August you should buy your
tickets in advance. The same goes with returning
after those dates and on Sundays. If you are traveling the last day of July or the first day of August you may not find a ticket if you don't book in advance.
There's a shuttle bus in the harbor that can take
you to the further boats. Ferry Schedules can be found at Ferryhopper.com and it is very easy to book through this site and pick up your tickets at a ticket office in Athens or in the port right by the ferry.
Read my primer on
"How to go to a Greek Island"
which gives step by step
For more detailed info on the Greek ferryboats
see the Ferry Boat Page in my Athens Survival Guide
Important: Not every island is
easily accessible from another. You must keep in
mind when planning your Island itinerary that
moving from one island chain to another can be
difficult and in many cases you will have to
return to Athens to do it. Generally, travel within
an island chain is easy but there are times when
even a connection from Mykonos to Santorini has to
be done through a third island.
People have written that they have heard the ferries are unreliable. This is not true. But they can be delayed or cancelled due to mechanical failure and bad weather. For this reason you should save Athens for the end of your trip to give yourself a buffer period so if there are any problems with the ferries at least you won't miss your flight home, though there are worse things than being stuck in Greece for a few extra days. (Unless you have to wait
Domestic and International
Flights to the Islands
Do you know you can book a flight from your home
airport all the way to your Greek island
destination, with or without an overnight stay in
Athens? Well, not all islands have airports but
the main ones do, including Mykonos, Santorini,
Naxos, Paros, Crete, Rhodes, Lesvos, Corfu,
Skiathos, Chios, Samos, Kos, Kefalonia, Zakynthos..... and a few
more. Use my Create-an-itinerary form and ask about connecting flights to the islands. If you are staying that first night in Athens it may be easier to take the ferry from Pireaus the next morning, than to go back to the airport to fly to the island, especially if you are going to Mykonos, Paros or Naxos which are all within three hours by highspeed. With Fantasy
Travel's Greek Island Hopping Programs you can choose to fly rather than take the ferry to your first and last islands and that will give you more time on the islands. Plus if your first or last island is Santorini you may prefer to get there fast or get back to Athens rather than be on a ferry.
Island-Hopping and Combinations
traveling to the Cyclades (Mykonos, Santorini,
Paros, Naxos) and the more popular islands like
Crete and Rhodes, choosing an island package is
often the best way to go. On Fantasy Travel's
website you can pick your hotels and choose which
islands you want to visit. You can from packages of one
to five islands and they will take care of the
details of getting you from one island to the
next. These are not tours and you are not with a
group. You can also customize your trip to suit
your individual needs. For
Fantasy Travel's Greek Island Hopping Programs. They have a section where you choose from a number of islands in two-three-four and five island combinations. Or try their Classic Packages which are perfect for first time visitors. Also
to take a look at Dolphin Hellas'
Another great idea is the now famous
Create Your Own Itinerary page where
you click to choose the islands and the
number of days you want to spend on each, category
of hotels, days in Athens, land tours or whatever
and submit it to the travel agency. They come back
with a price within 24 hours. Actually not only is
this a great idea, it was my idea! See
Matt's Create and Itinerary Page and
save it in your favorite places and be sure to try it out. It is fun and you are under no obligation to buy and at the very least it will tell you what islands are possible to do together.
I have also put together a page of island combination suggestions at www.greektravel.com/suggestions which will make planning your trip a lot easier.
Far from the Maddening Crowd: In response to the travelers who don't really like cities and would like to see the islands but stay outside of Athens, perhaps on a beach, but close enough to visit the important sites of the city, at my request Fantasy Travel
has put together a 10-Day Athens-Mykonos-Santorini
package which includes a tour of Athens and all transfers and ferry
tickets. The package starts at 790 euros per person. What makes it unique is for the Athens part of the trip you will
be staying by
the beach in Faliron, just 20 minutes from downtown by taxi or 30 minutes by bus or coastal tram. Or you can stay in the leafy suburb of Kifissia or in one of the beautiful resorts on the Athenian Riviera.
For more information see Far from the Maddening Crowd
Economical Island Packages
I recommend Fantasy Travel's program The Pursuit of Pleasure which is 12 Days and 11 nights in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini including hotels, ferries, transfers, tours, admission to archaeological sites and breakfast starting at 940 euros per person. These are in good centrally located hotels in Athens and the islands. You can't beat this price for these hotels and this itinerary. Or
their 8 day package that includes a 4-day cruise plus Athens-Delphi-Meteora which starts at 595 euros per person. For these and more visit Fantasy Travel's Special Offers Page
*Note on Island-Hopping
Sailboats and Yachts
Of course you
won't have to worry about the ferry if you have
your own boat. As many people will tell you this
is the way to go and it is cheaper than you might
think. Throw in a
Captain and you have your own personal tour-guide
and translator. You can get together with a couple
friends or family and have your own boat or if you
are traveling solo or are a couple you can share
with other couples or soloists or even join a
*. Sound like
fun? It is! I did it one summer and it was the
best part of my holiday. Much better than a cruise
or dealing with the Greek ferry schedules because
of the freedom it gives you. Plus the boats range
from comfortable to luxurious. David
Econopouly has a company based in the USA
called GM Charters that works with several
sailboat companies and individual
skipper-owners in Greece to find the
customer the best and most suitable boats at
the best price. Whether you want to charter a
large sailboat with some friends with a skipper or
on your own, or join a group of boats called a
flotilla, he does the research and gives you the
choices. A great service and very helpful whether
you know little about sailing or are an
experienced skipper bringing a group and looking
for the right boat. He also does power yachts and
sail cruises. See Sailing
Note: What is a
Economical Cruise Packages
Some people think the best way to visit the Greek islands is by taking a cruise. I don't agree. It may be the best way to see the Greek Islands but not the best way to experience them. To do that you need a minimum of 3 days on an island, not just a few hours. However I don't want to discourage people who love cruises
from coming to Greece because as you know cruises can be a lot of fun and are a great way to meet people, particularly other people on the cruise. So I have written a page called Greek Island Cruises for you.
If you really want to do a cruise I suggest Fantasy Travel's Smart 7 Cruise, which allows you to spend 3 nights in Mykonos at the beginning of your cruise and 3 nights in Santorini at the end of your cruise. The cruise itself is 4 days and includes Kusadasi, Turkey, Patmos, Rhodes and Crete. See Fantasy Travel's Smart 7 Cruise and Island Holiday
You can get discounted rates for all the Greek Island cruises by going to Fantasy Travel's Cruise pages
Check out the Greek Island Cruise video below done by my friend Andy Emery on his honeymoon
Aegean Blue: Athens-Naxos-Santorini
This Special offer 10-Day program is available to book only until January 31, (though it can be booked for anytime during the season). It features 3 of the best hotels in Greece and many extras at a very low price starting at $1149 per person.
2 nights in Athens in 4-star Herodion Hotel
3 nights in Naxos in 4-star Iria Beach Hotel
4 nights in Santorini in 4-star Tholos Resort (Volcano-caldera sea view room)
Ferry tickets Athens – Naxos –Santorini
Air Tickets Santorini – Athens
Transfers roundtrip, Athens Airport – Hotel
Transfers roundtrip, Naxos port – Hotel
Transfers in Santorini Port-Hotel, Hotel–Santorini Airport
Caldera Sunset Sailing cruise
Athens Private Walking Tour (with professional guide, 4.5 hours duration)
See Fantasy Travel's Aegean Blue for more information
Part 2: The
This is sort of a short
version of my
Greek Island Synopsis
but on this page I will
list my favorite islands first and then move on to
the popular islands. There are a lot more islands
listed in the Synopsis so after you read this
don't forget to go there too.
This is a nice way to
start your trip to Greece. It's a quiet and
beautiful island that has retained its Greek
character where you can relax and get yourself
acclimated to Greek life. You may never want to
leave. And with the new High-Speed Cats you can be
there in a little more than 2 hours! I have spent
at least two weeks here every summer since 1984
and before that my parents used to go here. If you
are traveling with children and have read my article Traveling with Kids, you know that this is my first
choice for families with small children. The beach at Kamares is shallow,
with cafes and restaurants right there on the
sand so you can sit and drink coffee while your children happily play. Platiyialos is one of the most beautiful
beach towns in Greece. If you are young and of partying age or concerned that Sifnos may be a little slow, don't worry. The capital town of Apollonia is a beautiful whitewashed village that has plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants and nightlife. The photo is taken from the balcony of the Hotel Stavros, in the port of Kamares a
steps from the ferry and a long beautiful beach.
Stavros and Sarah both speak English (She's
British). They also rent cars and can help you
make connections and find accommodations on other
islands. Their Eleonas Apartments are in Apollonia, close to the restaurants and nightlife,
with a fantastic view of Paros and Antiparos.
See my Sifnos Pages for photos, hotel and restaurant reviews, beaches, towns and everything you will need to know about the island.
Aegean Thesaurus Travel Agency
What began as the island's only travel agency has now
become one of the most respected and reliable
full-service agencies in the Cyclades. Not only can
they arrange your trip and accommodations in Sifnos
but they can take care of your hotel needs in Athens
and on any of the other Cycladic islands. They will
have the best prices on hotels for Sifnos. For Info on
hotels, villas and holiday homes, car rentals, transportation, weddings,
honeymoons, cooking classes, helicopter tours, cruises and more visit Aegean Thesaurus Travel
Elies Resort Hotel: If you are looking for a beautiful resort hotel in a small island setting, the Elies Resort Hotel in the village of Vathi is unique and something special. Made up of individual Cycladic-style houses so you have plenty of privacy, it is like you are living in a Greek village. Not only does the Elies compare with
the world-renown resorts of Crete and Santorini, the village of Vathi is car-free. Drivers leave their vehicles in a parking lot at the entrance
of the village. Great place for families with
children, right on the beach and with an Olympic-sized
swimming pool right next to a kiddie-pool. Lots of excellent fish-tavernas in the village and bus service to the rest of the island make this in my opinion one of the best resorts in Greece. You can't beat the rates that Aegean Thesaurus Travel has either. See Elies Resort Hotel
LESVOS: More Than Just Another Greek
Lesvos is in my opinion, the most interesting and
beautiful island in Greece, almost a country in
itself. Food and accommodations are less expensive
then the more popular Cyclades islands. Lesvos is
fertile with pine forests, olive groves and an
abundance of fish. It is the third largest of the
Greek islands with a variety of landscapes,
including some fantastic beaches, mountains, and
two large inland seas that are rich in marine and
bird life. (It is one of the finest places in
Europe for bird watching with an amazing variety
of birds and wildflowers.) There are medieval
castles, ancient Greek ruins and Mytilini is a
very enjoyable city that is alive with cultural
events and a city market that is like a Turkish
Bazaar.The coast of Turkey is close enough to take
day-trips. But the best thing about Lesvos is the
people of the towns and villages who have not been
impacted by mass-tourism and are courteous,
generous and friendly. If you are looking for a
truly special holiday in Greece, this is the place
to go. Most people who visit Lesvos return. Many
make it a yearly trip and with hotels and food
half the price of Athens and the Cyclades it is a
Greek holiday destination that is affordable. If
you only have a couple days in Greece then it's
best to go somewhere else but if you have a week
to ten days to explore then Lesvos is the place
Sappho and popular with gay women, but it's also a
popular family and honeymoon destination.
Beautiful sandy beach and village, a wonderful
place, perhaps the best kept secret in Greece.
Hotels and apartments available as well as island
tours to Mytilini, Molyvos, thermal springs and
spas, monasteries, traditional villages, donkey
treks and day trips to Turkey. Excellent and
inexpensive restaurants on the beach where you can
watch the best sunsets in Greece (after
Santorini). Also very hip cafes, some nice bars and clubs and a very interesting community of spiritually inclined Greeks and foreigners. People who go to Skala Eressos usually come back again and again. You can find rooms and get travel information through Sappho Travel located right in Skala Eressos. For more information on one of my favorite places in Greece see my Skala Eressos Page.
For another true off-the-beaten-path destination check out the village of Sigri where there are half a dozen great beaches, some where you won't see another person all day long. There are two windsurfing schools and the world famous Petrified Forest Museum. There are several excellent fish tavernas,
perhaps the best on the island. The villagers say it never gets so hot that you need the air-conditioning so if you are the type who does not like the heat this may be the place for you. Try the spanking new Sigrion Villas, owned by a Greek-American family from Mississippi. These small houses share a pool and have wireless internet, just a short walk into town. If you have high-school
aged kids and want to give them a cultural/education
experience this summer send them to Hyphenology: an English language, academic/cultural program on Lesvos for teens. If you are traveling with children Sigri has the safest most child-friendly beach on the island and you may also find that when the rest of the island is full there will still be rooms in Sigri.
What else? A Medieval Castle! See my Sigri page for more information.
Aphrodite Beach is
run by a very nice Canadian family and is right on the beach
at Vatera, which at 7 kilometers has to be one of the longest and
most beautiful beaches in Greece.
This is another great family hotel
because there are lots of children around (English
speaking too!) They also have an excellent taverna
with live Greek music on select weekends, with tables and chairs right on the beach. They have
their own travel agency and car rental agency and
give discount rates to their hotel clients.
They also have a special Easter in Lesvos program in which they invite you to celebrate Greek Easter with their family.
They have a big beautiful swimming pool and a trampoline for the kids which keeps them occupied for hours, while you eat and drink in the taverna. This is a great place to stay and explore this part of the island. Visit the Hotel Aphrodite Beach website.
Support the People of Lesvos: Visit Lesvos
You have read about the flow of refugees coming to Greece, many of them landing on the island of Lesvos. The people of Lesvos have been helping the refugees, rescuing many at sea, giving them warm clothes and food as soon as they come ashore, and assisting them on getting to the administration centers
in Mytilini so they can be
registered and continue their long journey to the rest of Europe. You can support the people of Lesvos in a couple ways. You can donate to organizations like The Starfish Foundation who have been helping refugees from the very beginning. Or you can come to Lesvos and visit what I think is the most beautiful island in Greece, where you can eat, drink, swim and if you feel like it volunteer to help. Because of the negative press international tour
and cruise companies
have abandoned the island, which is silly. Lesvos is as beautiful and enjoyable as ever and the people of Lesvos don't deserve to suffer economic hardship because they have chosen to assist refugees instead of turning a blind eye. So consider Lesvos as the island to visit this summer and support the people who are actually helping the refugees. See my guide Lesvos: More Than Just Another Greek Island.
To make travel arrangements for Lesvos visit
my Lesvos Travel Agency Page or you can work with
Travel in Athens. Or go to my Create-an-itinerary Page and request Lesvos with any other islands you would like to visit.
Sifnos with Lesvos? Yes is can be done though it
takes a little research and a few phone calls from
a travel agent! See
Santorini: The #1 Destination in Greece
They say Santorini is the one essential Greek island and should not be missed. I don't think there is any one essential island. But Santorini is indeed spectacular and if you return
from Greece without going there all your friends who have been there will make you feel like there is something wrong with you because you didn't go there. Take the ferry and sail into
a giant volcanic caldera that is as dramatic, or
more so, than the Grand Canyon. Most people stay
in or near Fira where the nightlife is or Oia
where it is a little quieter, and go to the beaches
by bus, car or bike in the day. Others stay on the
beach where hotels are cheaper and the sea easy to get to, and go to Fira at night or to watch the
sunset. The sunsets in Santorini are like nothing
you have ever seen before and for that reason many
honeymooners want to stay in a hotel overlooking
the volcano in Thira or Oia or Firostefani or Imerovigli which are other villages on the cliffs. A car is useful but
not essential because there are buses and taxis.
Watch out for motorbikes. Santorini has some of the best wine in Greece and many people visit the wineries scattered around the island. It is also known for great food and a vibrant nightlife. Did I mention amazing beaches? Black sand, red sand, white sand and other sand in a variety of beach styles from popular tourist to remote and quiet.
OK. There are more reasons to go to Santorini than just peer pressure so see my very extensive Guide to Santorini for all sorts of information about the island.
Travel specializes in Santorini
and the Cyclades with discounted rates on hotels
and island-hopping packages so see their
on their Greek Island Hopping Page where you can combine Santorini with other islands like Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Crete or Rhodes, depending on how much time you have. Fantasy also specialize in
weddings in Santorini and honeymoons in Santorini.
I recommend Fantasy Travel's program The Pursuit of Pleasure which is 12 Days and 11 nights in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini including hotels, ferries, transfers, tours, admission to archaeological sites and breakfast starting at 940 euros per person. If you are a college student or on a budget I suggest Fantasy
Travel's Budget Greek Program
which includes Mykonos and Santorini. Fantasy Travel's Smart 6 is Athens and Santorini with a 4 Day Cruise, or their Smart 7 which is 3 days each on Santorini and Mykonos and in between a 4 Day cruise. See also Fantasy
Travel's Aegean Blue for a 10 day itinerary that includes Athens-Santorini-Naxos for a very low rate, available for a limited time only.
See the amazing
Volcano View Villas
(photo)on the Cliffs
of Santorini, with a swimming pool and a view so
spectacular you may never leave the
see the individual
Volcano View VIP
Villas which are luxury houses all with the same spectacular view and individual pools.
For a listing of Hotels on Santorini with photos,
descriptions and where to get the best rates see my Suggested Santorini Hotels Page or search Booking.com
where you can choose hotel by category, price, popularity and see photos and guest reviews. Santorini became very popular in the last couple years and if you want to go there in July-August-September you need to book well in advance, especially if you want a hotel with caldera view. My advice is to use my Create-an-itinerary form and choose Santorini and whatever other islands you want to visit and in the comments specify that you want caldera view.
For Houses and Villas on
my Santorini Villas Page.
For other travel agencies dealing with
accommodations, transportation and other services
contact Aliki at
Dolphin Hellas Travel or visit Giorgios and
Aegean Thesaurus Travel
Ether Traditional Houses
are in the
beautiful village of Oia with rooms for 115 euro and sometimes cheaper when
there is a special.
If you are on
a budget but still want a room with a view
this hotel is for you.
Fantasy Travel offers day and night half-dayt cruises by luxury catamaran. Its a great way to explore the caldera and it features a gourmet lunch or dinner in some beautiful setting. See Santorini Catamaran Cruises.
For backpackers and budget travelers there are plenty of cheap hotels and rooms at www.hotelsofgreece.com/cyclades if you look at the two-star hotels and the section below on rooms, apartments etc.
or search Booking.com and use the filter to find 2-star and un-rated hotels for the best rates. If you don't stay in a hotel with caldera view the rates are lower and if you stay in Kamari, Perissa or one of the beach towns they are cheap as well.
Mykonos: Elegant and Exciting
Mykonos has been
visited by just about every famous person on the
planet. White cube houses and amazing beaches where beautiful people in the most minimal of bathing suits, or none at all, lay in the sun like lizards, occasionally making their way to the sea or to the cafe bar for a bit of hair of the dog. Mykonos has best nightlife in Greece
and some of the best restaurants too though they tend to be on the expensive side. In the summer
this island never sleeps but in the off-season life
can actually be quite sane with many of the locals returning with the people who loved Mykonos in the sixties and seventies too. If you have dismissed
Mykonos as just a party-island don't be too quick to judge. The 20
minute boat trip to
give you more history and archaeology than you will find on all the
other Cyclades combined (with the exception of
Santorini). Mykonos is fun for honeymooners, families, divorcees, gays, straights, priests, zombies, college students, tow-truck drivers, scientists and Neanderthals. See my Guide to Mykonos
with lots of cool photos
Fantasy Travel has some great itinerary choices to Mykonos in combination with other islands and cruises
so visit their website
See the very lovely Princess of Mykonos
Hotel which has
low rates for June and maybe July and August too!) For those who want to stay in town I recommend the Hotel Adonis and ask about their special
rates through Fantasy Travel.
Great hotel with guests, some famous, who return year after year, just a 5 minute walk to all the restaurants, shops and nightlife of Mykonos town. It is also a 5 minute walk to Megali Ammos Beach
I recommend Fantasy Travel's program The Pursuit of Pleasure which is 12 Days and 11 nights in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini including hotels, ferries, transfers, tours, admission to archaeological sites and breakfast starting at 940 euros per person
For Budget travelers, backpackers and students you can still go to Mykonos and Santorini without spending
an arm and a leg with Fantasy Travel's Budget Greek Program. If you want to go on your own search Booking.com
and click the filter option for 2-star and un-rated hotels to find the least expensive. But be warned that my daughter booked a very cheap hotel on Paradise Beach which was a concrete hut with slits for windows and no air-conditioning which was more like a kiln than a hotel. Make sure your hotel has AC and Free Wireless!
Ios: Where Spring Break lasts all Summer
I know there are some of
you of college age who are going to Greece to get
a little culture, but mostly to meet similar young
culturally minded students, exchange ideas and
then party wildly every night in the bars and
discos. If that is your intention then Ios will
not disappoint you. Great beaches, great nightlife
and nary a human over 25 years old. If you thought
you had fun this past spring break get ready for
it to be eclipsed. It's the international Mecca
for youth. If you are traveling to Ios and are on
a budget or want to save your money for some of
the other things this island has to offer take a
look at the Markos Village Hotel in Ios Town, close to
the nightlife and still easy walking distance from
the beach or the Seabreeze Hotel Ios.
Or if you want to stay on the famous Milopotas beach try the popular Hotel Aegeon and the Deep Blue Rooms and Apartments. Check out Fantasy Travel's economical 4-Days in Ios Program or combine Ios with any of the islands by
to my Create-an-itinerary form.
Visit my Ios Page
f or information on restaurants, nightlife and beaches.
For backpackers and budget travelers there are plenty of cheap hotels and rooms on Booking.com's Ios Page
Rhodes: Where Summer lasts all Year
Rhodes has great beaches, bars, nightclubs and cafes packed with beautiful Scandinavian
women, not to
mention some of the most beautiful scenery in Greece.
Amazing history too. The old city is a walled fortress
and contains the famous Castle of the Knights of Saint
John. The time to visit Rhodes is anytime. Even in the
winter. Southern Rhodes, where the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas meet is like Mecca for windsurfers. The whole south-western coast is an endless beach with few people on it, while the northern beaches are like Rio. If you are on a cruise and only have a day to see the
island NICHOLAS & MICHAEL AXARLIS and their crew
of drivers can give you the most bang for your bucks
(or euros) See Rhodes Private Tours
but you have to book fast because they are in demand when those big cruise ships come to port. If you choose to stay in Rhodes town, which is really a city, I suggest being in the new part which is close to the best beaches, at least in town. I liked the Hotel Mediterranean, right on the beach. Hotels in the old town are in historic buildings and many are rated exceptional by travelers. But they are mostly
and you have to book them quickly if they have availability. Try the Kokkini Porta Rosa, the Spirit of the Knights Boutique Hotel for starters or if you are on a budget then the Domus Studios. In Lindos try Booking.com's
Lindos Hotel search. For Budget travelers, backpackers and students you can still go to Rhodes without spending
an arm and a leg. Check out the 2-star hotels and below at www.hotelsofgreece.com/dodekanese or search Booking.com's Rhodes Hotels. My suggestion is to see Fantasy Travel's economical Santorini-Crete-Rhodes
Program or their cosmopolitan Santorini, Crete, Mykonos and Rhodes Program.
For more info visit my extensive Rhodes website
Crete: Like Another Entire Country
beautiful island of Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands and almost a country itself. In fact it very nearly was a country of its own. Heraklion is a big city but you gotta go there to visit the ancient ruins of Knossos and if you are coming from the Cyclades this is where your ferry goes. My favorite part of the island is Chania so be sure to visit my Chania
Guide and see all the photos I took during my last visit and read about all the places I ate and drank and explored. Crete has some amazing beaches
and some of the best food in Greece. The
Porto Elounda Deluxe Resort is considered one
of the top resorts in the world. But if you are on
a budget there are also smaller and less expensive
hotels all over the island which you can find by using Booking.com's Crete Hotel Search. See my Crete Guide for more information and make sure you walk down the Samarian Gorge which is an essential hike.
Crete can be done relatively easily with Santorini and several of the other Cyclades from May through September but gets more difficult in the off-season when there is not a daily ferry connection. I would recommend Fantasy Travel's 7-day Santorini and Crete Program or go to their Vacation Packages page and combine Crete with any island
or islands you like.
More Greek Islands
There must be a reason the island of Paros is mentioned in the same
breath as Mykonos and Santorini, besides the fact
that nearly every ferry stops here. For one thing
it is the Windsurfing Capital of the Greek islands
and is famous for its water-sports. For another
reason it is a beautiful island with lots to do
and see sort of somewhere in between a popular tourist island and a more traditional island. We stayed in Naoussa, a former fishing village, now cosmopolitan town that will remind you have the back streets of Mykonos but with cheaper restaurants and hotels. Because so many ferries stop here Paros can be combined with just about any of the Cyclades Islands and also with Crete and Rhodes during the summer months. You can go to Fantasy Travel's Vacation
Packages page and combine Paros with any island or islands you like. If you want to book it on your own try Booking.com's Paros Pages. Because of its location between Mykonos and Santorini, Paros is one of those islands that the longer you wait the harder it is to find the room you want. But it is a great island to base yourself from so
have a look at My Paros Guide. Similar to Paros, and so close that they could almost be considered one island is Antiparos.
Naxos is also similar to Paros, though much larger, more agricultural and with much nicer beaches. Some say Naxos has the best beaches in Greece and I might have to agree. Naxos is the most popular undiscovered Greek island though they say that this is the year that will emerge and take its rightful place with the more popular Greek islands. See my Guide
to Naxos and also Fantasy Travel's Island Hopping Programs since Naxos can be combined with just about any island in the Cyclades because of daily connections to Mykonos and Santorini, at least in the summer. If you are just looking for hotels go to Booking.com's Naxos Hotel Search and stay in the best place you can find in Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Plaka or if
want to be able to walk into town Agios Giorgios. My best friend took his entire extended family to the Naxos Island Hotel and loved it. From Naxos you can also visit the so called Smaller Cyclades Islands.
The island of
is only an hour from
Athens by high-speed. What that means is that you
can make it your base to see the sites of the city
and still be home for dinner and a swim. It's also
a three minute boat ride from the
Peloponessos so you can also use it as your base to visit places like Nafplion, Epidavros and the Argolis where some of the most important archaeological sites in Greece are. Poros is one of the most popular stops for people sailing the Greek islands and it is on the same ferry route as Hydra, Spetses,
Aegina and Angistri. These islands are so close to each other that you can actually stay on one and do day-trips to the others which is difficult and expensive to do on the other island chains. And because it is so close to the mainland you can pretty much drive there if you dislike anything longer than a 3 minute ferry ride. See
My Poros Guide
(Check out their Easter
Celebration at the Saga Hotel).
The capital of the Cyclades, an island that does not miss a beat even in the winter when some hotels are full, as are restaurants, bars and cafes. Syros is one of my favorite islands and I visit here any chance I get. In fact it was the first place I ever went to in Greece I lived here all of August 1963, at the Hotel
Hermes, which is still one of my favorite hotels. The front has a view of the port and the back has a small stone beach. Cosmopolitan Hermoupolis will keep you occupied for days, shopping, eating, drinking and sitting in cafes as it is the busiest port in the Cyclades and was once the most important port in Greece. Architecture students have to come here to see a 19th century city almost totally intact. Nice beaches and villages too. If you can't snag a room at the Hermes, which is often full, try the
Syrou Melathron and swim every day on the stone platforms right below. Or if you like watching the ferries try the Hotel Diogenes which overlooks the harbor and is right next to the casino! For a more rural, Greek island beach experience search hotels in Kini and if you
one with availability book it now. Because of its location and because it has its own ferries Syros can be combined with just about any island in the Cyclades. But the ferries run a different route every day so it can be tricky so use my Create-an-itinerary form and get assistance from a professional travel agent. See My
The easiest island to get to from Mykonos and as different as two islands can be from each other. Tinos could be called the antidote to Mykonos, with traditional white cycladic villages, beautiful beaches, many of them empty, great food at lower prices and over one thousand churches. A great combination would be the quiet religious
island of Tinos combined with the jet-set Mykonos. We rented a car and explored just about every inch of the island from our base at the wonderful family owned Hotel Porto Raphael on the beach at Agios Ioannis Porto, as seen in the photo taken from our balcony. But you could be just as happy without a car and spending your days at one of several beaches within walking distance, especially if you are a family with small
children. The town of Tinos is to religion as Mykonos town is to hedonism and people crawl on their hands and knees to be blessed by the holy icon of the Virgin Mary for which the island is most well known. But there are also plenty of restaurants, ouzeries, bars and nightclubs and Tinos is one of those islands that people visit once and go back year after year. See My Tinos Guide
and if the Hotel Porto Raphael is full try Booking.com's Tinos Hotel page and stay in Agios Sostis or Agios Ioannis Porto which is so close to Mykonos you can see the ferries going in and out of the harbor.
Kea: So Close Yet So Far Away
The island of Kea is the closest of the Cyclades to Athens though most travelers don't know about it. That's because the ferries that go there don't leave from Pireaus. They leave from Lavrion near the Temple at Sounion, just 45 minutes drive from the airport and a short one hour ferry trip. Kea has the feel of a more remote island, still agricultural
without the large hotels you see in the more popular Cyclades islands. But travelers who have visited Kea have discovered a network of ancient paths that lead to remote beaches and the ruins of ancient cities. In the summer the island comes alive as Athenians with summer houses come for weekends and August. Great restaurants, cafe bars, and a couple popular clubs and a handful of small hotels make Kea an island that may remind you of Greece twenty years ago. See my Guide to Kea
Some of my other Greek Island
Guides include Serifos, Milos, Kythnos, Ikaria, Chios,
Samos, Hydra, Spetses,
Kefalonia, Lefkada, Kos,
Kythnos, Andros, Folegandros, Zakynthos, Patmos, Evia, Amorgos, Alonissos,
Skopelos, Karpathos, Ithaki, and
Skyros, with more on the way.
You can see them all in my Greek Islands Guide. Remember that if you
know which islands you want to visit you can use
Create-an-itinerary form to work out your trip
with the help of a reliable travel
For Budget travelers, backpackers and students you can visit these islands without spending
an arm and a leg. Check out the C-catagory hotels and below at www.hotelsofgreece.com and at www.greecetravel.com/hotels
Part 3. A few more Greek
Island odds and ends
Edipsos in Evia:
Health Spas and Therapuetic Hot Springs!
3000 year old health spa that combines the most
modern hydra-therapy technology with over 75
natural hot springs. Though unknown to many
foreigners, Edipsos was frequented by Winston
Churchill, Omar Shariff, Grete Garbo, Maria
Callas, Aristotle Onassis and the Byzantine
Emperors Constantine the Great and Theodosius.
It is only a 90 minute drive from Athens so many older Greeks go
there for rejuvenation. For more info on this
amazing place visit
my Guide to Edipsos
which includes a section
on driving in Greece and how to get lost in Athens
while searching for the National road.
If you are inetrested in hot mineral springs for healing and rejuvenation I also recommend you visit the Island of Lesvos which is famous for its healing baths.
There are bike-tours (as in bicycle-not motorcycle) of the islands through Cycle-Greece.
Greek Hotel Directory
I put this together with the help of the travel
agencies on my website and it includes all the
islands they recommend, plus those that I have
stayed at. It looks something like an
automated booking site but when you fill out the
form it goes to a human and the human replies and
you can ask him/her anything you need to know
about the hotel. Let's face it. If you had a hotel
and you were making a web-site wouldn't you write
everything good about the hotel and leave off some
of the bad things? Like if your hotel was on a
beautiful golden sand beach with clean azure seas
but it was next to a disco that blared music until
5am wouldn't you leave out the disco part? That's
why you should use a Greek travel agency. For
hotels in Athens and all the islands (well some of
them anyway...probably the ones you want to go to)
I have recently added a lot of hotels which can be booked individually without an agency and these are in all categories including hotels so inexpensive that the agencies don't book them because it is not worth it. If you go to www.hotelsofgreece.com and find your island chain and the island you are interested many hotels in the C-catagory and below are very affordable if you are on a budget.
Matt's Greece Hotel Search
You can also find hotels and search by category, location, amenities, and price by using Matt's Greece Hotel Search site which has excellent rates, photos and reviews.
You can find over 3000 hotels in Greek Islands by location, price, whether or not it has a swimming pool or is on the beach, and see photos, maps and customer reviews. Excellent
and many hotels
you can book and then cancel with no cancellation fee. For those who want to book without using a travel agency this is the best way to do it.
Greek Islands and Turkey
Planning to do the Greek islands and Turkey? You
can get daily boats from Rhodes to Marmaris, from
Kos to Bodrun, from Samos to Kusadasi and from Chios to Cesme and Lesvos to
The easiest way to see the Greek Islands and Turkey is on a cruise. See my Greek Island Cruise Page and also have a look at this short video: Greek Island Cruise. For information about what is on the other side of the Aegean
see my Guide to Turkey.
Information Overload Remedy
info here? Can't make a decision? Don't fret. You
are not alone. That is why I have created a page
for you. See www.greektravel.com/suggestions for what I suggest you do on your trip to Greece. Or see www.greecetravel.com/tours which is a brand new
page of itineraries that I have created because I
got tired of suggesting the same thing over and
over again by e-mail. They are not the typical
trips you will find in any package brochure. They
are a lot more fun and more interesting
you can just throw your hands up and send me an
e-mail and tell me what kind of person you are and
what you are looking for and I will tell you where
I would go if I were you. E-mail Matt
Travel Agents: An Endangered Species?
What is the best way to
book your holiday to Greece? Can you really save
by using auto-booking systems or by booking
directly with the hotels? Are Travel Agencies a
thing of the past? Read my article
Endangered Species about the internet and the
disappearance of the small personalized-service
Remember... if you book through a travel agency transfers to and from the port and hotels are included. But if you do it on your own here is my advice. You can take the metro to Pireaus or you can get a taxi through the hotel concierge or George the Famous Taxi Driver. See www.greecetravel.com/taxi
You made it through the fourth page. But there
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