Warm weather. Impossibly clear water. Incredible sunsets. And a never-ending supply of Greek salads.
What more could you possibly ask for from a destination?
Well, the Greek Islands offer all of these things and more. It's no wonder that many people dream of island hopping through the Aegean. But, with literally thousands of islands to choose from, how in the world do you decide which ones to visit?
The best way to plan an island hopping itinerary in Greece is to pick a set of islands and stick to those for your trip. This will translate to shorter travel times and therefore more time to enjoy each island. For this sample itinerary, we'll focus on 5 islands in the Cyclades.
Known for: its nightlife and gay-friendly scene
Why you should go: If you're into wild beach parties and thumping techno clubs, then Mykonos is definitely the place for you. However, even if you aren't interested in these things, this island still is one worth visiting. It has a traditional white-washed town center, good restaurants, and even better shopping. Mykonos is also just a short ferry ride away from Delos, the island that is the mythological birthplace of the Greek god Apollo and the historical birthplace of the Delian League.
Known for: being quiet and traditional
Why you should go: Syros is not a major tourist destination in the Cyclades and since it doesn't depend on tourism, the island is generally pretty quiet. It is therefore a perfect place to visit if you want to experience the islands without the crowds. You'll still find the blue water, fresh seafood, and slow Greek pace of life here – just without the partying and cruise ship crowds.
Known for: its parties in the summer months
Why you should go: Ios is party central during the summer. But, during the shoulder season, the island becomes a completely different place – the beaches empty, the Chora (main town) becomes quiet, and the island takes on an altogether rural feel to it. You can traverse most of the island on foot, appreciating the contrast between land and sea.
Known for: its mountains and focus on agriculture
Why you should go: While Naxos IS well visited during the high season, it is NOT a touristy island. Naxos' economy is focused on agriculture, not catering to tourists. This means a much more “traditional” Greek island. Naxos is also the largest island in the Cyclades, offering up a lot of things for an adventurous traveler to do. Yes, there are beaches and seafood and a historic old town to explore. But Naxos also has small villages up in the mountains that are well worth visiting.
Known for: its postcard-perfect villages and incredible sunsets
Why you should go: For the above, of course! Because, even though Santorini can be quite touristy and crowded (especially during the summer months), it is still an amazing place to visit. The blue-domed churches and rust-red cliffs of Oia alone are worth a stay on Santorini. Then, on top of those you have black-sand beaches, some nice hiking trails, and even a wine trail. Yes, Santorini is popular – but it's popular for a reason.
Out of these Cycladic islands, which one would YOU want to visit?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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