Beyond Backpacking: Luxury Travel Experiences on Greek Ferries

Taking the ferry is a must for island hopping, but it’s best to book excursions well in advance. In high season, ferries sell out quickly.

A two-week trip is enough to thoroughly explore the Cyclades, Greece’s most famous island group.

1. Santorini

Whether you’re island-hopping in the Cyclades or headed to Crete’s archeological goldmine, you can make your way between Greek islands with ease by taking a ferry. A fleet of high-speed vessels run between more than 55 destinations in the archipelago, including the famous party island of Mykonos and the ancient archaeological paradise of Santorini.

If you’re planning to visit several Greek Islands, Eurail offers a ferry pass that lets you save money while eliminating the stress of planning individual ferry tickets. The pass can be purchased for either four or six days within a month.

There are plenty of ways to save when you book your ferry tickets, but it’s important to choose a reliable and reputable company to guarantee a comfortable trip. For example, Blue Star Ferries has the largest fleet in Greece with ships ranging from luxury catamarans to state-of-the-art ferries.

The most popular destination for a ferry ride to the Greek Islands is Santorini. The crescent-shaped island is known around the world for its breathtaking sunsets, but it also offers plenty of other attractions. You can find an abundance of whitewashed villages nestled into cliffs, or visit Estate Argyros for tastings of its award-winning wines. Santorini’s main port is located in Athinios, where most of the hotel shuttles start and end, but there are also buses and taxis at the central bus station in Fira.

2. Mykonos

For luxury travelers who want a mix of beach, culture and nightlife, Mykonos is the place. The wild and cosmopolitan child of the Cyclades is a celebrity favorite known for its party atmosphere, sandy beaches, and upscale resorts.

Whether you’re staying in a traditional Mykonos villa or the 5-star Cavo Tagoo, you’ll have access to some of the best beaches in Greece and an experience that’s sure to be unforgettable. You can also experience the island from the air with a helicopter tour, which provides a stunning bird’s-eye view of the beaches and crystal clear water.

A sunset yacht cruise is another way to see the island from a different perspective and enjoy its breathtaking scenery. The light transforming from gold to a golden yellow diffuser across the landscape is out of this world, and many cruises include added extras like a glass of champagne to sip while you’re taking in the beauty.

Ferry tickets to Mykonos can be difficult to find during peak season, so make sure you book yours in advance to ensure your ferry is available when you’re ready. Check out the ferries at Ferryhopper to compare schedules and rates, and to book your ticket with peace of mind. With no hidden fees, you can get your ferry to Mykonos at a price that fits your budget.

3. Crete

Crete, the largest island of Greece, offers a plethora of luxurious experiences. With its illustrious history and stunning beauty, the island beckons with exclusive cultural experiences. Private tours of ancient archaeological sites lift the veil on the mysterious Minoan civilization and offer insights free from crowds. Meanwhile, scenic drives and cruises unveil the island’s most breathtaking landscapes and natural splendors, from the awe-inspiring Samaria Gorge to the picturesque sands of Elafonissi Beach.

Travelers looking to forge a deeper connection with Crete can enjoy an array of gastronomic and winery tours that highlight the island’s famous olive oil and wines. You can also take in the island’s natural beauty with a hike along mountainous terrain and pristine beaches.

Taking the ferry from Crete to Athens is one of the smoothest ways to get around Greece’s islands. However, as with any ferry journey, it is important to arrive early. If you’re unsure of where your ferry is, ask the port officials. They are usually very helpful and will assist you in lining up at the correct vessel. You can also check with the ferry company directly to see if your journey is on schedule. Be sure to let them know if you’re traveling with any pets or other assistance animals as well. Lastly, don’t forget to bring sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes.

4. Zakynthos

The island of Zakynthos (Zante) is home to some of Greece’s most iconic beaches. The most famous is probably Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Beach which is known for its crystal clear waters and evocative cliffs. This is also a place to witness sea turtles swimming in their natural habitat.

The Blue Caves on the northern coast are another highlight of the island. These magical locations are a photographer’s dream as they play with light, shadow and every shade of blue imaginable. For a more family friendly experience, head to Marathonisi, the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and spot the loggerhead turtles Caretta-Caretta in their natural habitat.

If you are looking for some luxury on your trip to Zante, consider booking a stay at the five-star Xenia Hotel Zakynthos. This luxurious property is situated in an olive grove ten minutes from Zante town and has 93 guest suites and gourmet restaurants. The property is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the noise of the city center.

The best way to get to Zante is to book a ferry from the mainland port of Kyllini. Ferries depart multiple times a day throughout the summer and take around 2.5 hours to reach the island. If you are planning on island-hopping in the Ionian Sea, the Kyllini to Zakynthos route is ideal as it’s a hub for other great destinations like Cephalonia and Lefkada.