Here’s a look at ferry trips in Greece, covering what you need to know about Greek ferries and how to book ferry tickets before you go.
Imagine the allure of the Aegean Sea, sun-drenched and dotted with picturesque Greek islands. The question though, is how do you go about planning ferry trips in Greece?
Here are some useful insights and tips for planning your next ferry trip in Greece.
Greek Ferry Trips
Planning a Greek island hopping route can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Here are some tips and popular routes to consider:
- Choose Your Starting Point: Athens is a common starting point for island hopping, with many ferries departing from Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrio ports. For example, to travel from Athens to Andros, ferries depart from Rafina Port, offering nearly 30 crossings a week during the summer.
- Select Your Islands: Focus on a specific group of islands to make travel more manageable. For instance:
- The Cyclades: This group includes popular islands like Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, and Ios. These islands are known for their iconic architecture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife.
- The Sporades: Including Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos, these islands offer lush landscapes and are easily accessible from each other and the mainland.
- The Ionian Islands: Known for stunning beauty and rich history, this archipelago offers a unique experience. However, island hopping here is less straightforward as no single ferry route covers all the islands. Sometimes, it’s easier to return to the mainland and take another ferry to the next island.
- Plan Your Route: Decide the sequence of islands based on ferry schedules and distances. For example, in the Cyclades, you could start at Mykonos, then move to Naxos, followed by Paros, and end at Santorini.
- Check Ferry Schedules and Book Tickets: Use websites like Ferryscanner to check ferry routes, schedules, and book tickets. Remember, the availability of ferry services can vary based on the season, with more frequent services during the summer. It’s recommended to book ferry tickets in advance, especially during the busy summer season.
- Consider Travel Time: Travel times between islands can vary significantly. For instance, the ferry from Paros to Andros takes 2 to 5 hours depending on the service. Similarly, the ferry from Syros to Donoussa takes around 3 to 5.5 hours.
- Choosing the Right Ferry Port: Some islands have more than one ferry port. For example, Skopelos has Skopelos Town and Glossa ports. Consider which port is closer to your accommodation and the destinations you plan to visit.
- Accommodation and Activities: Plan your accommodation in advance, especially during peak season. Utilize platforms like Booking.com for hotel reservations and Viator for booking day trips and activities.
- Travel Light and Flexible: Island hopping can involve frequent transfers, so travel light. Also, be prepared for schedule changes due to weather or other unforeseen factors.
- Explore Beyond the Popular Islands: While popular islands like Santorini and Mykonos are must-visits, don’t hesitate to explore less crowded but equally charming islands like Donoussa or Alonissos.
- Book ferries online at: Ferryscanner
Understanding Ferry Types and Services
A journey through the Greek seas for island hopping adventures presents a variety of choices. With numerous Greek ferry companies offering services, comprehending your options becomes paramount.
From the vast car/passenger ferries like the huge Blue Star vessels on the long routes such as Heraklion to Piraeus, to the swift flying dolphins that champion speed, the Greek seas are well-equipped for your island-hopping plans. High-speed ferries and SeaJets offer quick connections, ensuring that your time is spent exploring the islands rather than on transit.
However, comfort and speed are not the only considerations. For passengers who are prone to seasickness, bigger ferries offer a more steady ride, making the journey as enjoyable as the destination. Moreover, the type of ferry and route chosen can significantly impact the overall travel experience, with amenities varying across ferry types.
Choosing Your Vessel: From Speed to Comfort
Selecting the ideal vessel for your Greek ferry trip involves weighing several factors such as speed, comfort, and budget. Some options to consider are:
- High-speed ferries and flying dolphins, which get you to your destination faster but might be a bit pricier than regular ferries.
- Regular ferries, which offer a more affordable option.
- These vessels also offer modern travel experiences with various ferry services, including indoor seating options spread across different levels.
The large traditional Greek ferries, on the other hand, offer a more leisurely journey. These vessels might be slower but are also steadier, making them a good option for those who get seasick.
Comfort levels also vary across different ferry types. For instance, on regular ferries, you can choose from different budget and VIP areas, and there are cabins with different bed options for a comfortable journey.
The Importance of Ferry Schedules
Keeping up with the ferry schedules is as vital as selecting the right vessel for your Greek sea adventure. Accurate and up-to-date ferry timetables are your best friends when planning your island-hopping itinerary. They ensure you make the most of your time on the islands and less in transit.
However, do keep in mind that Greek ferry schedules are not set in stone. They change annually, with the summer ferry schedule usually released by March. Moreover, the Greek seas can be a bit whimsical, with strong winds and rain leading to potential cancellations. Strong meltemi winds can affect ferry crossings in August.
Staying in the loop about the latest ferry timetables and weather conditions can ensure your Greek island hopping adventure goes smoothly.
Essential Guide to Booking Ferry Tickets
Having decided on your vessel and understood the ferry schedules, you can proceed to book your individual ferry tickets purchased for an enjoyable ferry ride along your chosen ferry route.
Booking ferry tickets can be done conveniently online through sites like Ferrscanner, which not only provide updated ferry services and schedules but also allow you to compare prices with no hidden fees.
It’s recommended to book your ferry tickets a few months in advance, especially for popular routes like Mykonos to Santorini. This not only ensures you get a spot on the ferry but also allows you to secure the best prices.
Best Time to Book: Avoiding Ferry Cancellations and Delays
Timely booking of your ferry tickets can ensure a smooth island-hopping experience, avoiding potential logistical challenges. The high season, July and August can see ferries fully booked on the most popular routes. Booking your tickets a few months in advance can help you avoid disappointment during this time.
Crafting Your Ideal Island-Hopping Itinerary
Popular islands like Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete are must-visits for many people on their first Greek island-hopping adventure. However, the timing of your travel between these islands can also play a significant role in your overall experience.
Often times the cheapest ferries also have the slowest travel times. If time is more valuable to you than money when on vacation in Greece, consider ferry trips that will minimize travel times.
Mapping Out Your Journey: Popular Routes and Trip Duration
Taking into account popular routes and trip durations while planning your journey can contribute to a flawless island-hopping experience. Go-to routes include Athens to Mykonos and Santorini, and between the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands.
However, keep in mind that direct connections between every Greek island are not possible.
Maximizing Your Experience: Multi-Daily Departures and Inter-Island Connections
As crucial as planning your journey is, making the most of your travel experience is equally important. Choosing ferries with multi-daily departures offers flexibility and convenience. With multiple departure times to choose from, you can plan your island-hopping adventures to maximize your time exploring..
Departure Points and Connectivity
Your Greek island-hopping adventure starts at the ferry departure ports in the Greek islands. The main ferry departure ports in Greece are Piraeus and Rafina in Athens, and the ports of Heraklion and Chania in Crete.
Reaching these departure ports is made easy with various transportation options. For instance, you can take a direct bus from the KTEL Attikis bus station to Rafina port or opt for a taxi or a private transfer for a quicker and more comfortable ride.
Getting to Your Ferry: Transportation to Departure Ports
A smooth start to your journey is secured by organizing transportation to your departure port. If you’re in downtown Athens, the metro can take you to the Piraeus ferry port in about 20 minutes.
While planning your commute to one of the many ferry ports, it’s important to aim to arrive at least 20-30 minutes before the ferry leaves. This gives you enough time to board without any rush.
And once you arrive at the port, facilities like bathrooms and free Wi-Fi at Piraeus, or luggage storage lockers at Rafina port, ensure your comfort and convenience before you embark on your island-hopping adventure.
Onboard Amenities and Accommodations
Boarding the ferry marks the beginning of your onboard experience. Greek ferries offer a range of accommodation options, from the Deck category and Airplane-style seats to private Cabins. These options cater to different comfort levels and preferences.
Overnight ferry trips from Italy to Greece are best enjoyed in a cabin for more comfort. And for economy class passengers on big car ferries like Blue Star, reserved seats are recommended.
However, if you’re in first class or business, you’ll get more spacious seats in a quieter environment. And let’s not forget the outdoor deck seating available to anyone on big car ferries like Blue Star – perfect for soaking in the Aegean sun.
Dining at Sea: Food and Beverage Options
The onboard experience encompasses more than just seating and accommodation; it also includes food and beverages! Greek ferries offer a range of yummy and affordable options, including:
- Cheese pies
- Ice cream
- Soft drinks
And for something more filling, self-service restaurants with Greek and international dishes are available.
Catering to different dietary requirements, Greek ferries ensure that everyone’s palate is satisfied. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available, with pastas and pizzas made gluten-free to accommodate passengers with dietary restrictions. And if you prefer to bring your own food and drinks, you’re welcome to do so.
Planning for the Unexpected: Weather and Seasonal Considerations
Even with meticulous planning, Greek island-hopping adventures can sometimes hold unforeseen surprises, often due to weather and seasonal changes. With a Mediterranean climate, Greece experiences hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. This climate, while generally pleasant, can sometimes lead to ferry cancellations, especially during the windy months of July and August.
To be ready for unexpected weather changes, here are some tips:
- Book tickets during less volatile seasons
- Stay updated on weather risks
- Pack for changing conditions
- Keep your communication devices charged
- Ensure you have enough travel insurance coverage.
Popular ferry trips in Greece
- Athens to Crete Ferry
- Athens to Milos Ferry
- Athens to Mykonos Ferry
- Athens to Naxos Ferry
- Athens to Paros Ferry
- Athens to Santorini Ferry
- Crete to Athens Ferry
- Crete to Santorini Ferry
- Mykonos to Santorini Ferry
- Mykonos to Athens Ferry
- Santorini to Athens Ferry
- Santorini to Crete Ferry
- Santorini to Milos Ferry
- Santorini to Mykonos Ferry
- Santorini to Naxos Ferry
- Santorini to Paros Ferry
In conclusion, island hopping in Greece is an adventure that requires some planning but offers an unforgettable experience. From understanding the various ferry services and booking the best tickets, crafting your ideal itinerary, to planning for the unexpected weather conditions, each step of the journey contributes to an enriched travel experience. So go ahead, embark on your Greek island-hopping adventure and let the Aegean Sea charm you with its mesmerizing beauty.
Trips By ferry In Greece FAQ
What is the best company to book ferries in Greece?
The best company to book ferries in Greece is Ferryscanner for advance tickets and online booking. It provides a convenient way to plan your ferry travel in Greece.
What is the best way to island hop in Greece?
The best way to island hop in Greece is by ferry. It might just about be possible to travel by plane, but you would end up transiting through Athens multiple times.
How much does it cost to island hop in Greece?
Island hopping in Greece can be very cost effective. Some local ferries cost just a few Euros, although popular routes like Mykonos to Santorini can be much more expensive.
What types of ferries are available for island hopping in Greece?
In Greece, you can choose from high-speed ferries, conventional ferries, catamarans, and flying dolphins for island hopping, each providing a different travel experience. Enjoy your island adventure!
When should I book my ferry tickets to avoid disruptions during the high season?
You should book your ferry tickets a few months in advance, especially for popular routes like Mykonos to Santorini, to avoid disruptions during the high season.