The Greek islands offer a captivating fusion of traditional recipes and unique local specialties. A delightful way to experience this is through mezes, which are served at tavernas across the island.
On Folegandros, the birthplace of Aphrodite, a lunch at Balkoni tou Aigaiou is a treat. Its grilled seafood and homegrown vegetables are served in a taverna draped with grapevine leaves.
1. Fresh Seafood
Whether it’s the robust olive oils of Crete, the tantalizing seafood of Santorini or iconic cheeses of Naxos, Greek islands are culinary paradises. A ferry ride to a new island is not only an opportunity to take in the stunning scenery, but also to sample local delicacies.
For instance, in Sifnos, home to famous chef Nikos Tselementes (who revolutionized traditional cooking by integrating French culinary techniques), you’ll find a kafeneion that serves savory dishes like mastelo, revithada and chloro cheese as well as sweets such as domatokeftedes. A contemporary version of the traditional Shrimp Saganaki here is out-of-this-world delicious as are grilled shrimp and lamb dishes at a nearby restaurant named Treli Gaida, one block inland from the quay.
You can buy sandwiches, ice cream, chips and cookies onboard most Greek ferries along with wine, beer and soft drinks. If you’re travelling in the high season, it’s a good idea to arrive at the ferry dock early so that you can navigate the crowds to board on time and get settled. Also, make sure you have a spot on deck for the ferry ride because these vessels move at varying speeds, measured in knots. One knot equals 1.852 km / 1.15 miles per hour, which is faster than most conventional ferries. The speed of high-speed ferries can even exceed 40 knots.
2. Local Wines
Whether you’re relaxing at the beach or dining on deck, your ferry ride is the perfect opportunity to try a local wine. Many Greek ferries have onboard restaurants and cafes serving local wines. Just be aware that the prices are slightly inflated on board but still very reasonable. Coffees, snacks and meals are generally priced between 3-4 euros while a glass of local wine is around 5-6 euros.
Some routes are more frequent during high season (say, a half-dozen ferries per day during the summer between popular islands like Santorini and Naxos) while others are less frequently served in winter. Also, some islands in the same group are not connected at all while others may be linked only by a single ferry.
There are several companies that operate ferries in Greece including Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways, Minoan Lines, SeaJets and more. They run a variety of conventional and highspeed ferries that go to different islands in the Cyclades, Sporades, Argosaronic Islands, Northeastern Aegean Islands and Crete.
You can purchase your ferry tickets in advance online via our partners, or at the port on the day of departure. Arriving early will ensure that you get through the port smoothly, find your ferry and board with time to spare. When purchasing your tickets, you’ll need to choose a route and a specific date and time.
3. Traditional Dishes
A ferry ride offers a great opportunity to indulge in local Greek cuisine while enjoying the beautiful Aegean Sea. While the menus vary between ferries and routes, you can usually expect a buffet with traditional dishes. Some ferries also have cafes and restaurants where you can get lighter meals or snacks.
Ferry schedules can change with little notice, so it’s important to check them in advance. During peak travel season, it’s a good idea to book tickets 2 to 3 months in advance. This allows you to secure your desired connections and avoid disappointment, particularly when traveling to popular destinations such as Crete or the Cyclades islands.
Once you’ve settled on a ferry route, you can purchase your tickets online or at local travel agencies in Athens. It’s also a good idea to arrive at the ferry port at least 30 minutes in advance of departure. This ensures you’ll have enough time to navigate the crowds and find your boat.
There are dozens of ferry companies that operate in Greece, and most offer tickets and cabins for overnight trips. If you’re planning on island hopping, consider purchasing a Greek Islands Ferry Pass. This gives you discounted fares on a variety of ferry routes, and it’s especially useful for those who want to travel between multiple islands. The best pass for your needs depends on the number of days you’re visiting, the length of your trip, and how often you want to move between islands.
The Greek islands are known for many delicious traditional sweets. Some have been around for decades and are going strong, while others are just getting started. Visiting these small shops where they make and sell their goods is a wonderful experience for visitors.
Even the simplest old-man cafeneon has the ability to offer a selection of traditional mezedes. The family that owns Stamatis’ taverna in the village of Batsi on Lesvos, for example, also makes the gummy-bear sweets called loukoumia and sticky brown things with nuts called baklava and kataifi.
These are the snacks that were eaten before ice cream and gelato became so popular in Greece. They go perfectly with a glass of ouzo which is served on every island and at home in Athens.
All ferries serving the Greek islands have some kind of onboard restaurant. The large ones like the Blue Star or SeaJet ferries which carry cars have full service restaurants, while those that only transport people have snack bars and coffee-shops.