With their white washed buildings, brilliant blue water and mythical tales the Greek Islands offer an irresistible pull. Last summer myself and a friend succumbed to the charm and spent two blissful weeks hopping between islands, soaking up the sun and fulfilling my long held Mamma Mia dream. Here are my top 8 tips which I found helpful when planning the trip and whilst on the islands…
Before you go…
Pick an island group – With over 6000 islands, 237 of which are inhabited and each with their own unique charm, it’s fair to say there’s no shortage to choose from, the problem is how do you pick?! I’d recommend selecting one of the six island groups and travelling between those islands, there’s still plenty of diversity and it will save you both time and money. I found Matt’s Travel Guide a really helpful tool in the selection process.
Research the ferry routes and timetables – Easier said than done but essential to planning your trip and picking which islands to visit! No matter how hard I try I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand the Greek ferry system, it’s just one of those things that will always be a bit of a mystery to me.. There are however a few sites which really helped me out (Greek Ferries was my go to site), just bear in mind that you can often only see the schedule a few months in advance. For busy ferry routes between popular islands or to and from Athens you’ll want to book in advance.
Always book ferries before accommodation! – This is where we had a slight planning fail… After getting mind-boggingly confused by the ferries we decided to just hope for the best, assuming that the ferry would run everyday and just went ahead and booked accommodation. Upon arrival on the island and after a further 15 minutes of confusion talking to the lady in the booking office it turned out the ferry ran everyday except the day we planned to travel.. Lesson learnt, always confirm the ferry time before booking accommodation!
Pack light – The little towns are easy to get lost in and as charming as the endless winding streets are, the combination of cobbled streets, Mediterranean sun and a 20kg suitcase just isn’t going to end well! My advice is pack light and stick to a rucksack if you can.
On the island…
Hire a quad bike or moped – Hiring a quad bike is the perfect way to get off the beaten track and explore the endless charm, hidden beaches and untrodden paths that the islands have to offer. There are plenty of rental places on the islands so just shop around for the best deals. Just make sure to watch out for other drivers who half the time seem to make up their own driving rules as they go..
Makes friends with the locals – You can read all the guidebooks out there but they will never rival a locals knowledge and never have I travelled to a place where the locals are so willing to open their front doors to you and share their advice. Make friends with the locals and you’re sure to experience the very best the island has to offer.
Don’t rush it – Part of the island charm is the laid back approach to life so just embrace it and live life like a local, what better excuse to chill out and put your feet up?!
Food, food, food! – Does this one really need an explanation?! Make sure to fill up on lunch, if you’re on a budget souvlaki is the perfect choice costing between €1.50- €2.00 at most takeaway stands, as the Greeks don’t really consider dinner until 9.00pm at the very earliest!