Traveling In Greece Right Now – Scattered like pearls in the sparkling Aegean and Ionian seas, the Greek islands have attracted many travelers. From Jason and his Argonauts to the Frankish Crusades and
There’s nothing like seeing the coast from a sun-kissed boat or sailing in a vibrant harbor. In Greece, getting there is an important part of the adventure and luckily island hopping is a breeze.
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Although the Greek islands are amazing at any time of the year, aim to visit between Orthodox Easter (usually in April) and the end of May, or from September to mid-October. During these times, the facilities and services are functional, the temperatures are mild and the crowds are thin. From June until the end of August, you will certainly have warm sea water and warm weather, but you will be joining the masses, paying the premium, and
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(dry north wind) can play havoc with ferry schedules. In the low winter season, many ferry routes stop operating, and hotels and restaurants close up shop.
Depending on which Greek islands you hope to visit, it’s a good idea to also check local calendars
. These Greek summer festivals are unique cultural events that can be a lot of fun, but they can also affect ferry schedules, attraction opening hours, and generate crowds and parades that can make traffic difficult. The Panigyria in Ikaria, for example, takes place throughout the summer on various holy days, and some of the festivities run from dusk to dawn.
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It’s a good idea to plan the Greek part of your trip around the island, but leave room for flexibility © Ihor_Tailwind / Getty Images
Actually, it’s better to plan a little and leave a little to chance. A little planning can go a long way. By deciding where you want to go and checking the ferry schedule before you leave, you’ll get the job done on your vacation. That said, Greece is known for its laid-back nature, and it’s worth emulating this while on the island. Ferry schedules are always subject to change, even for pre-booked and pre-paid trips. Anything from windy weather to labor strikes can mean delays or cancellations at short notice. Building some flexibility into your schedule is smart.
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Evening in the port of Piraeus, the starting point of many trips to the Greek island © Milan Gonda / Shutterstock
You can definitely choose several options from several groups of Greek islands and create your own route; however, many ferry lines serve specific island groups, so planning can be easier if you live in one area. All flights lead to Athens – or so it seems – and arriving in the capital not only gives you the opportunity to take in its amazing views, but also brings you closer to the port of Piraeus with ferries to the Cyclades, Saronic Gulf. islands and more remote island groups such as the Dodecanese. Athens is also close to the port of Rafina for routes to the Eastern Cyclades and further afield. To visit the North-East Aegean islands, disembark in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city.
If you’re going to spend most of your time on a particular island group, it’s worth taking a domestic flight from Athens to get started – it’ll save you time and money. Apart from performance, there is nothing like landing in a twin engine at a small airport in the middle of a blue sea. Some island destinations are served by international flights in high season.
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Landing at the port of Fira at the edge of the caldera of the amazing island of Santorini in the Cyclades © Murat An / Shutterstock
The appeal of the Cyclades is undeniable, and it is here that you will find some of the most famous islands. Be prepared to share, especially in high season. From Piraeus, take a ferry to Mykonos, the most beautiful of the Greek islands. Ignore the windmills, you’ll come in contact with the famous as you explore the flower-filled streets and shops and cafes.
From there, it’s a day trip to the small island of Delos with its sun-kissed ancient ruins. Continue to Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades, with its seaside capital with a walled fortress at the top. Even further south, you’ll reach Santorini with iconic sunsets, black sand beaches, vineyards and Minoan landscapes. Complete the loop with a stop in laid-back Milos, which has plenty of beaches and charming villages to explore. At the end of the day, board the ferry back to Piraeus.
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An island hopping yacht docked on the secluded island of Kalymnos in the Dodecanese © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet
In the Dodecanese, you will see and taste the historical influences of the parade of past cultures, from the Romans and medieval crusaders to the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Think lots of pasta, sweet baklava, amazing minarets, walled cities and hilltop castles. A frequent catamaran service connecting the islands makes island hopping easy. Start by taking a flight to Rhodes, full of sandy beaches, ancient history and vibrant city life.
Visit volcanic Nisyros to hike through its lush forests and steam caldera, and Karpathos for its timeless hilltop village of Olympus. Kalymnos attracts climbers and divers with its underwater wrecks and limestone cliffs, while Patmose has an ethereal quality, where life resonates with the bells of the monastery and where Saint John received his revelations. If you are visiting for Orthodox Easter, Patmose is the place to be. Return to popular Kos for endless brown sand, nightlife, easy bike lanes and an airport with regular flights to Athens.
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The Ionian Islands on the Peloponnese coast in the Ionian Sea, have a mild climate, heavily forested mountains and countless groves of olive and cypress trees. From Athens, you can fly to Corfu where you will be bound by Parisian-style arcades, Venetian alleyways and Italian-inspired delicacies. Corfu is big enough to escape the crowds to the cypress hills, hilly villages and sandy coves.
The next island is the small Paxi, with beautiful harbor towns, hills and ancient olive groves. Visit Lefkada for its sandy beaches and Kefallonia for kayaking along the beautiful cobalt blue bays. Take Kythira forgotten during the construction of sugar and the unspoiled desert. Farther south, you can return to Piraeus by boat from here.
Travelers board a boat at the port of Aegina island in the Saronic Gulf © Rolf G Wackenberg / Shutterstock
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With a network covering all the inhabited islands, the Greek ferry system is extensive and varied. The dry, rusty lenses that once roamed the ocean are almost a thing of the past. Speedboats are becoming more common and cover more popular routes. Local boats, excursion boats and small private fishing boats (called
) usually grouping islands and neighboring islands. Meanwhile, green catamarans can significantly reduce travel time and cope better with bad weather. On a long boat trip, you can travel in great comfort.
Many ferry companies have online booking facilities. It’s no wonder that high-speed boats sell faster than slow-moving chuggers. For overnight ferries, it is best to book in advance. These resources are useful for planning and booking:
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A fishing boat loaded with nets in the harbor on the island of Lesbos, in the northeast Aegean © Tan Yilmaz / Getty Images
Make the most of your time in Greece with Lonely Planet’s list of travel guides. Be the architect of your own trip as you discover the best things to do in Greece with tips, suggested itineraries and helpful maps. The fictional world is always high on culture, food, outdoor adventures, art and beaches and islands. . As part of the borderless Schengen Area, it is incredibly easy to visit for many travelers from around the world. From booking in advance to local etiquette and health and safety issues when you’re there, here’s everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable trip to Greece.
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Your experience in Greece will vary greatly depending on when you visit. Summer is the peak of action, family fun and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, but prices are very high and advance booking is required for everything, as it is full. The shoulder seasons (spring and fall) are a joy – prices are low, and rooms and facilities are readily available. Winter offers a retreat for the senses and the budget, perfect for walks, hikes and quiet walks where you’ll often be the guest next to you. Remember that some businesses will close completely during the holidays.
Are you looking for a great tour, seeing the unmissable highlights throughout Greece, or would you like to focus your time on exploring your favorite islands or regions, such as the Peloponnese? The best way to choose from the confusing variety of options on offer is to focus on what is important to you – relaxing on beautiful beaches, learning more about the fascinating history and culture of Greece, museums and archaeology, a unique way. wildlife, or party until dawn – and plan accordingly.
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