The Greek Islands are some of the most magical destinations on earth. They are filled with the kindest people, mouthwateringly fresh food, and picture perfect views. I traveled to Athens, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos and Santorini in late September, with 5 of my girlfriends and was amazed by the beauty and accommodations that were offered for all different types of travellers. From honeymooners, to late night partiers, all the way to adventure seekers – these islands have it all.
With regards to seasonality, mid-June to early-September sounds like madness, especially with soaring temperatures and a massive amount of tourists. Therefore, I would recommend visiting in late-September. At this time of year the weather is still beautifully warm and sunny, and the crowds have cleared enough to see every attraction with ease!
1. Busses are significantly less expensive than taxis. Typically costing between €1.60-€2.00 per ticket. The bus systems are incredibly easy to figure out and will take you to every place that you’ll want to see.
2. ATVs are a popular way to explore the islands! A few benefit of renting ATVs are that you are not wasting any time waiting for busses, you have full freedom to explore wherever you like and at your own pace. Typically costing between €20-€50 for a full days rental.
3. The easiest way to travel between islands is by ferry. The companies that I used while island hopping were Sea Jets, Blue Star Ferries and Golden Star Ferries – I found Blue Star Ferries to be the best of the three since it was cleanest, largest and had a beautiful open deck that you could sit out on throughout the ride!
1. Food is relatively inexpensive for the large portion sizes and abundance of high quality, fresh vegetables and seafood present in many dishes.
2. Try as many authentic dishes as you can! These were my favourites that I know I couldn’t get the same quality of while at home in Canada: Grilled Octopus, Lamb Souvlaki, Chicken Gyros, Moussaka, Greek Salad, Tzatziki with Pita and Dakos.
3. Must Try Fresh Foods: Olives and Olive Purees, Tomatoes, Honey, Greek Yoghurt, Tzatziki, Cheeses, Octopus and Squid.
4. Unique Drinks To Try: Greek Wine, Ouzo and Mastika.
5. They eat dinner very late on the islands! The restaurants are packed between 12-1am with dinner crowds.
6. Dairy is in almost every dish, therefore if you are lactose intolerant or vegan, be aware of this. However, there are many shops which supply freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.
WHERE TO STAY
There are many options for accommodations on the islands, with the most popular being honeymoon suite hotels, Airbnb’s and hostels.
If you are traveling with a small group or your significant other, I would recommend a suite hotel since the sweeping views and disappearing edge pools will not disappoint!
If you are travelling with a larger group, as we were with 6 girls, Airbnb would be a perfect choice! You will be able to get a house right in the action with a low cost, if split amongst everyone. Hostels are another option for larger groups, however in the Greek Islands seemed to be different than in other parts of Europe. Instead of being large rooms of bunk beds with lockers, the hostels were referred to and felt more like suites/apartments. With private rooms throughout, personal bathrooms and fresh towels and sheets daily.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
1. You will need to pay for beach chairs on almost all beaches, anywhere between €9.00-€20.00 per chair.
RECOMMENDATION: buy a beach towel at the beginning of your trip, use it throughout and leave it behind/gift it to someone else before you leave. This will save you packing space and money overall.
2. Many of the room keys are also the power sources for the room, so be mindful of this, if you remove the key from the wall the power will go out after 1 minute.
3. You don’t have to pay to use the toilets, unlike in other parts of Europe. Toilet paper is also not flushed in Greece, instead it is disposed of in the garbage bin.
4. They have siesta on some of the islands between 2-6pm. This is the best times to take photos, since the street are peaceful and clear of people!
5. There is wifi is everywhere, therefore a phone plan is not necessary.
6. The islands are incredibly safe. They are small, well-lit at night and always buzzing with some atmosphere, there were never feelings of fear throughout our travels.
Stay tuned over the next few week for my upcoming additional Greek Island blog posts:
Mykonos Travel Guide
Naxos & Paros Travel Guide
Santorini Travel Guide & Packing Guide
If you have any comments or questions I would LOVE to hear from you!