Island Hopping in Greece on a Budget
Explore the Greek islands without breaking the bank
· 5 min read
Have you always dreamt of exploring the stunning Greek islands but worried about the impact it might have on your wallet? Well, fear not! Island hopping in Greece can be an affordable adventure if you plan wisely and make smart choices along the way. In this guide, we'll share some tips for budgeting, getting around, and discovering the top affordable Greek islands. So, let's dive in and discover how you can enjoy a Greek island getaway without breaking the bank!
Island Hopping in Greece
With over 6,000 islands and islets, Greece offers an abundance of options for island hopping enthusiasts. From the world-famous Santorini to the lesser-known Dodecanese and Ionian islands, Greece caters to all kinds of travelers. With each island having its own unique charm and attractions, it's no surprise why many travelers choose to go on an island hopping tour when visiting Greece.
But island hopping is not cheap. Taking a ferry is one of the best ways to get from island to island, but the cost of the ferry rides are not exactly cheap. And if you are planning to cover numerous islands, this cost can add up to a rather significant amount.
Best Time to Visit
Timing is everything, and this holds true for planning an affordable island hopping trip too. The peak tourist season in Greece is generally from July to September when prices soar. The islands are packed with tourists, and both accommodation and transportation costs can skyrocket. To save money and avoid the crowds, consider traveling during the shoulder seasons of April to June or late September to October. The weather is still pleasant, and you can enjoy the islands at a more leisurely pace.
During the shoulder seasons, you can take advantage of lower prices on flights, hotels, and ferry tickets. The islands are less crowded, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy a more authentic experience. Plus, you'll have a better chance of finding available accommodations and getting the best deals.
Choosing Your Islands
With the abundance of Greek islands, it might be tempting to want to cover as many as possible. But instead of attempting to cover as many islands as possible, consider narrowing down your options and focus on immersing yourself in each island instead. With each island having its own distinct characteristic, of course, you would want to visit the islands that appeal most to you. But there are some additional tips that you might want to consider when deciding which islands to visit.
Choose islands in the same island group
Broadly speaking, the Greek islands can be grouped into six main island groups, namely the Cyclades Islands, Ionian Islands, Saronic Islands, Dodecanese Islands, Sporades Islands, and the North Aegean Islands. Aside from the six island groups, there are also two standalone islands that are very popular amongst travelers - Evia and Crete.
As a general guideline, traveling within the same island groups would be cheaper than if you travelled across island groups. Since the islands within the same island group would be in closer proximity to each other, transport costs to get between the islands would naturally be lower than if you were to travel across island groups. You will also get to save some time traveling, meaning you will get more time to actually explore the islands!
Minimise your ferry rides
Now, even if you have selected islands in the same island group, you should note that not all islands have direct ferry connections. Similarly, when choosing your islands, it would be more time and cost efficient for you to choose islands that have direct ferry connections. If your selected islands do not have direct ferry connections to each other, plan your itinerary such that you have the least number of ferry rides.
Choose budget-friendly islands
Greece offers a great variety of islands, each catering to different budgets. While Santorini and Mykonos are undoubtedly stunning, they can be quite expensive. The picturesque white-washed buildings and breathtaking sunsets come with a hefty price tag. However, there are alternative options that offer similar beauty and experiences without breaking the bank.
Consider exploring islands like Crete, Naxos, or Corfu. These hidden gems boast stunning beaches, charming towns, and rich history, all at a more affordable price. You can find budget-friendly accommodations, from cozy guesthouses to family-run hotels, and enjoy delicious local cuisine without burning a hole in your pocket.
Saving on Transport and Accommodation
Now that you've selected the islands, here are some essential tips to help you stay within your budget:
Research ferry prices and consider purchasing island hopping passes, which can save you money if you plan on visiting multiple islands. Check the available routes and prices on Ferryscanner to help you find something that falls within your budget. Of course, the faster ferries with the best timings are likely to be more expensive. So if you are not in a rush, consider going for a slower one, or even an overnight ferry!
Keep an eye out for island hopping packages or bundled deals, which often include discounted transfers between specific islands. These packages not only save you money but also provide a seamless travel experience, allowing you to explore multiple islands without the hassle of booking individual tickets. With a well-planned itinerary and a bit of flexibility, you can island hop to your heart's content, discovering hidden gems and creating unforgettable memories along the way.
Depending on which islands you are going for, flying could sometimes also be an option to consider. But, do note that not all islands have airports (in fact most don't), so you would likely also have to factor in additional transport costs to get to the island of your choice.
And once you are on the island, as much as possible, travel around on foot or on public buses, instead of renting a car! No doubt renting a car or vehicle comes with more convenience and flexibility, but if you are on a budget, you could probably do without this convenience!
Saving on Accommodation
To save on accommodation costs, consider staying in budget-friendly options such as guesthouses, hostels, or even campsites on some islands. These types of accommodations not only offer affordable rates but also provide an opportunity to connect with fellow travelers and share experiences.
If you're traveling with a group, renting a villa or apartment can be a cost-effective option compared to individual hotel rooms. This way, you can split the cost among your travel companions and enjoy the comfort and privacy of a home away from home.
Eating and Drinking on a Budget
Greek cuisine is famous for its deliciousness, but dining out can add up quickly. To save money, opt for local tavernas and small family-run restaurants that offer authentic Greek dishes at more affordable prices. Not only will you get to savor traditional flavors, but you'll also support local businesses and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Be sure to explore local markets, where you can buy fresh produce and prepare your own meals if your accommodation allows it. This can be a fun and budget-friendly way to experience the local food scene.
Don't forget to sample some delicious street food too! Greece is known for its mouthwatering street snacks like souvlaki, gyros, and spanakopita. These tasty treats are not only affordable but also provide a quick and convenient way to satisfy your hunger while exploring the islands.
When it comes to drinks, consider opting for local wines, beers, or refreshing traditional beverages like ouzo or raki. These local drinks often offer excellent value for money and allow you to indulge in the flavors of Greece without straining your budget.