Island Hopping Greece
The ultimate guide to island hopping the Greek islands. Find out what I thought was overhyped or not based on my two week solo trip through Greece!
From the birthplace of Zeus in Crete, the scenic architecture in Santorini, the luxury playground of Mykonos, to the heart of ancient Greek history in Athens, Greece is a travelers dream! There are so many options for people and it all depends on your travel style! I wanted a taste of some of the most iconic places in the country and spent two weeks island hopping! Am I tired as hell? YES! Was it worth it? HELL YES! So, here’s my recap on Greece!
Crete is the largest and southernmost island and Greece! I started my trip here and wanted to work my way up to Athens, Greece with hopes to fly to Corfu and then take a boat to Albania which would have made 𝐦𝐲 𝟐𝟎𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐲! How crazy is that?! Anyway’s decided that there is no rush and I should spend the additional time in Crete because it is massive!
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐃𝐢𝐝:
🥐 : Kirkor is supposed to have THE BEST bougatsa in town! A few different travel blogs and reviews raved about the place so I wanted to see if it was overhyped or lived up to it’s reviews. It’s a small cafe right in front of Lions Square and its best to get there early because they were PACKED. The waiter had to bring out additional seats! A mix of locals and tourist which is always a good sign. I had the traditional bougatsa with the vanilla filling and a cup of Greek coffee and it was delicious! It’s not a super fancy place, but it’s perfect before starting your day! NOT OVERHYPED!
🧺: Heraklion central market is on 1866 Street, running from the Meidani to Kornarou Square. The street name refers to one of the most important Cretan risings to overthrow the Turkish yoke. Take a scroll and do some shopping or just take a look at the shops. They sell everything from food, clothing, to CBD. It’s also a good place to grab any items you may have forgotten while packing!
🥗: Veranda is a restaurant in Lions Square that has a nice view of the area. They have traditional foods and mainstream food on the menu. I tried it for lunch, but in my option it wasn’t giving what it should’ve gave! The food did not align with the view nor the prices. I recommend having a nice cocktail or wine there to experience the view and cool down from the heat during the last days of the summer season.
🌊: The Heraklion Bay is a pretty popular place to watch the sunset or take a swim. I purchased a book from the local bookstore and sat down at a bench near the bay to read near the ocean. It’s nice to take a walk and see at least once before leaving Heraklion if that’s your vibe.
🥘: Peskesi is another raved about restaurant in Heraklion. Again, I wanted to know if it was overhyped or not so I showed up a bit early and decided to stay for dinner. It’s definitely a beautiful restaurant with a nice modern and minimalist approach and the staff is sweet, but … I found it OVERHYPED.
🏍: I went to Crete with no concrete plans (see what I did there)! I met another solo traveler and we decided to rent and ATV for the day and get lost in Crete. It was actually one of my favorite days while in Greece as I love taking the offbeaten path. We made our way from Heraklion, Rethymno, and Chania, stopping at beaches, local restaurants, small villages, and exploring parts of the town, like Rethymno Old Town!
🏝: Bali … Bali, Greece of course! I was definitely confused when a local lady suggested that I try out Bali. “Yes, I use to live there for 7 months” I told her. “Here in Greece?!” she replied. Bali is a seaside village near Rethymno. It’s actually a popular tourism spot and if resort style travel is your thing it could be a nice place. The area has four beaches, all beautiful, but super crowded. I personally love a good remote beach, with no restaurants, beach beds, hotels, and music. I’d recommend this area for traveling families. Is it anything like Bali, Indonesia? NOPE!
🥘: If you do nothing else on this Crete recap list visit O’ Tempelis, and ask for the manager, Zachara! Loved it so much I went twice! What an incredible dining experience for a traditional restaurant. O’ Tempelis serves a variety of traditional Greek small bites if you want to sample different options. I let Zachara and team recommend me some options and I loved the food, especially the Stuffed Zucchini Flowers. You can tell they like what they do there, the food is awesome, and the location is perfect if you’re in Heraklion. Be careful if they like your energy! You’ll end up having too much free raki and stumbling back to your hotel like I did 🤦🏽♀️
𝐓𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐂𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐞:
There are many car, scooter and ATV rental options. Shop around before settling on a price. We paid 90 euros from Motor Club, which was overpriced as other places charge between 40-60 euro per day. Regarding rentals, do a test drive before driving off, take photos of the bike before you leave the rental office, and make sure your helmet is a fit. Check out my guide on driving in foreign countries!
The roads in Greece are beautifully curved through the mountains and whether you take local transportation or drive yourself it definitely gives VIEWS, BUT if you’ve never driven an ATV … maybe this isn’t the place to start. Some of the roads don’t have railings. Just sayin’!
If you want to visit the two infamous beaches, Balos and Elafonisi, it’s best to live in Chania. Chania and Heraklion are about 3 hours away and these beaches are still about an hour away from Chania. You can always book a tour to day trip to see the beaches. I visited Panormos and loved how chill it was. Can't say that it was the best beach in Crete, but it was the alternative beach to Bali, Greece beaches, which I found overwhelmingly crowed.
The ferry time table varies depending on season and island. It’s best to do your research before booking anything to make sure that the ferry transport makes sense, especially if you’re island hopping. There is only on ferry from Crete to Santorini on Mondays and two on Tuesdays and of course I missed my Monday ferry 🤦🏽♀️. My average ferry cost was €50 and sometimes can be more or less than a flight. Check both options, but you have to get on a ferry at least once! They are luxury ferries if I’ve ever seen one 😂
Santorini is one of the Greek islands and is best know for its picturesque blue and white buildings, infamous sunsets, and colorful beaches. I spent 3 days in Santorini on my Greek island hopping adventure and had a great time exploring Fira and Oia, 2 popular destinations in Santorini. I will say that in my opinion, just a few days on the island was enough as it’s easy to check everything off of your Santorini bucket list in just a short time.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐃𝐢𝐝:
🍸🕊: Wine tasting is cool and all, but have you ever tried an olive oil tasting? I would just go to the grocery store and pick up any ol’ extra virgin olive oil, but when in Greece, learn from the Greeks! Greeks consume more extra virgin olive than any other people in the world! Take a olive oil and honey tasting at Stoa Santorini! One of my highlight experiences on the island. This can be booked via AirBNB experiences.
🚤: There’s really no bad day on a boat, unless the wind, rain, or thunder decides to come out and play. Sail across Santorini on a 5 hour cruise onboard a Catamaran. Enjoy a freshly cooked bbq lunch paired with wine and soft drinks and swim and snorkel next to Red Beach and White Beach. You can’t miss a boat day in Santorini!
🌅 Greece is the sunniest place in the world and if you’re a sunset lover like I am you can’t miss the Oia sunset. It’s unbelievably beautiful and pictures will do it no justice. I took a day trip Oia from Fira on a 20 minute local bus for €1.60 and spent a few hours strolling through Oia’s small streets filled with shops and restaurants, walking down the 300+ steps to dine at Sunset in Ammoudi, and walking back up to catch the sunset from above. There isn’t much to do in Oia. I found it boring after a while as I like fast tempo travel. It’s more of a true tourist travel location and if your plan is to enjoy a hotel with a nice view, catch endless sunsets, shop, and dine then it’s the place for you!
🕺🏼Party in Fira! My favorite club in Fira was 2 Brothers Bar Santorini because the DJ was so up to date with his set. He also plays EVERYTHING for many different crowds. The first night I stayed here until 4am and my next night I club hopped with some people I’d met to places like Murphy’s, Stoa Bar, Tropical Bar, and Koo Club. Stoa and Tropical are perfect for a pregame and Koo Club is perfect for a upscale but upbeat experience. Everything is walking distance and only 3-4 minutes apart. Take a shot for me 🥂
𝐓𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐢:
Santorini had the most experiences on AirBNB and Get Your Guide. Search through and find some experiences that suite your travel style. I booked Olive Oil Tasting and the Premium Catamaran experience using these services.
While the Premium Catamaran is ideally a good experience it depends on weather. I lucked up and booked on a super windy day which made the water extremely cold. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to snorkel.
The Premium Catamaran experience does not actually go to the Red or White Beach, it goes near, but you cannot access the beach as the boat lets down the anchor in the middle of the ocean for snorkeling and swimming. You can stay on the boat and enjoy the views and included drinks!
If you’re on a budget, Sunset at Ammoudi is not the place for you. They are expensive, but hey, they have a beautiful sunset location overlooking the water!
Mykonos is known for being a luxury travel destination and it’s nothing short of that. It’s a vacation hub for the rich and the famous, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be either to visit! You can still enjoy Mykonos and live within your means! Beach and beach club options are endless in Mykonos; party, nude, gay, boho, family friendly, etc. Finding the perfect things to do in Mykonos completely depends on your vibe! Oh, and prepare to not sleep. Mykonos is a known party island, so beach side chill by day, make sunset dinner reservations, and dance by night to watch the sunrise 💃🏽😂
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐃𝐢𝐝:
🏝 Stand on tables and dance all night at Super Paradise Beach Club. If you’re looking to go crazy, the party there is where you need to be. You’re in for a wild night and a good laugh as the party host is quit the character. It’s definitely not a place for the faint hearted as he shouts out obscenities throughout the night. I loved him for that!
🛵 Rent a scooter and take the off beaten path of Mykonos. I wanted to chill with no music, relax, and sleep in a non crowded area. 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐚 𝐀𝐠𝐢𝐨𝐬 𝐒𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐚 𝐅𝐨𝐤𝐨𝐬 were a bit less touristy, which made them quiet and super relaxing for a day in the sun and recovering from Mykonos partying 🤦🏽♀️😭
✨Check out Principote Mykonos, a luxury beach club & restaurant. The service at this place was absolutely NEXT LEVEL. Best I’ve had in the world, literally. But of course you’re paying for that amazing service as the menu price ranges anywhere from €25 for small bites to €1,000 for a seafood platter.
🌊 Head to Paraga Beach and find tons of beach clubs. If you take a short walk along that beach you’ll find a beach club that works for you. I kept walking down to the furthest end and found Scorpios Mykonos, a chic and warm beach club experience. There is so much to say about this beach club, but I won’t spoil it for you. I had an incredible time and if you’re looking for a more upscale beach club that has a warm energy, is fun, and insanely beautiful, this place is a MUST SEE and at the top of my Greece list! Make sure you make reservations for Sunday, the most popular day there during the season!
💃🏽 Have your moment in a flying dress photoshoot! Santorini is popular for the infamous flying dress photoshoot in its most picturesque locations on the island, BUT Mykonos also has the same and it’s just as beautiful. It’s not as popular, but it’s possible. The average cost for one of these shoots is about €400. I’ll share some tips on how to have this experience on a budget on my website!
𝐓𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐌𝐲𝐤𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐬
Make reservations! During the season, Mykonos is very busy and things fill up fast! To avoid missing out on your bucket list places make reservations ahead of time.
Mykonos is a luxury destinations, which lands it as the most expensive Greek island and on the list of the most expensive islands in the world. It’s best to budget and plan before heading to Mykonos so you can get a full experience breaking the bank.
I didn’t find local transport or taxis that easy to navigate in Mykonos. Rent a scooter or ATV to avoid having to use a taxi or walk to the bus station for transport. Scooters are about €25/per day.
Athens is the largest and capital city of Greece. It’s the heart of Ancient civilization and if you’re into history and Greek Mythology it’s worth a visit! I spent 2 days in Athens and didn’t want to waste any time so I booked a few experiences.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐃𝐢𝐝:
🥘 Food is an unconventional history lesson while exploring countries. There is so much to learn about people and culture through food. I booked a 5 hour food tour with a local and tried traditional Greek dishes via AirBNB. It was an amazing experience learning about Greece through cuisine.
🎨 The sculpture of ancient Greece is the main surviving type of fine ancient Greek art as, with the exception of painted ancient Greek pottery, almost no ancient Greek painting survives. Discover your own talent and sculpt your own Greek sculpture with expert sculptor. This family designed for some big films and have so much to share! This also makes a nice souvenir!
🏛 With Athens being the heart of Ancient Greece it’s only right to take some time exploring the highlights and hidden gems of Athens; Dionysssious Areopagitou street, Acropolis Museum, Areopagus Hill, ancient Agora, Monastiraki square, and much more!
𝐓𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧𝐬
Do some research on where to live in Athens. I stayed near Theatrou which was mot the best neighborhood. As a solo traveler who prides myself on being fearless I found the neighborhood to be very intense and sketchy.
For a detailed experience learning about the highlights of Ancient Greek history I would suggest having a guide although you can purchase a package ticket yourself to explore the highlights.
All of these experiences were booked using AIRBNB Experience.
⛴ Island hopping Greek islands is very easy. The best way to travel between islands is by ferry. I used FerryHopper.com to book all of my ferry to and from the islands.
⏱ I didn’t even scratch the service of Greece. If you can, I’d suggest longer than two weeks or picking your favorite 1-2 places and spending a full two weeks exploring both.