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 😂