Finding Tranquility on Greek Ferry Journeys

Island Escape Finding Tranquility on Greek Ferry Journeys

Most Greek island destinations are connected by daily ferries. For those pushed for time, a domestic flight is also an option.

Large conventional passenger / vehicle ferries are the most common, but there are smaller high speed catamarans that can save you some time. On longer journeys, consider booking reserved “airplane” seats on the economy / deck level.

1. The Ionian Islands

Tucked into the western flank of Greece’s mainland, the Ionian Islands have long drawn travellers seeking Greek island charm. Big hitters like Corfu and Zakynthos have enchanted visitors for decades, but there’s a clutch of lesser-known islands that offer a rare sense of untamed beauty. Discover a tranquil escape on these island day trips from Athens and soak up the sun, sand, and sea vibes.

To make your island hopping journey as calm as possible, it’s a good idea to research the ferry types that operate on each route. Conventional ferries are the most popular option, and they typically have multiple decks with amenities such as restaurants, bars, and shops. Alternatively, high-speed catamarans are faster but don’t carry vehicles. For those on a budget, slow ferries such as the Zante Ferries run between Kimolos and Santorini and are ideal for anyone not in a rush.

No matter which island you’re visiting, be sure to sample the local wine and liqueurs. Enjoy a glass of white PDO robola from Corfu, red vertzami from Kefalonia, or refreshing kumquat liqueur from Lefkada while soaking up the emerald blue waters.

2. The Cyclades

A fabled island group that stretches like an hourglass across the azure blue of the Aegean Sea, the Cyclades are a dream come true for anyone who loves beautiful beaches, quaint villages, and a symphony of white and blue. From cosmopolitan Santorini to evocative Folegandros, this group of islands is packed with a variety of travel experiences.

In the small group of islands known as the Minor Cyclades, you’ll find unspoiled beauty on Iraklia, Donoussa, and Koufonisi. Here, long pristine beaches await where you may not see another soul and impossibly clear waters invite you for a swim. Hike secluded paths and you’ll discover a world of rugged, natural beauty.

A favorite among honeymooners, influencers, and celebrities, Hydra is a heavenly escape for those who want to get away from it all. Its picturesque harbor is a stunning sight, and its car-free streets are the perfect place to channel your inner explorer. Soak up the sun on the pristine beaches, stroll through art galleries and local boutiques, and enjoy delicious Greek cuisine in traditional tavernas.

3. The Dodecanese

While the sun-kissed beaches of Santorini and Mykonos may get all the attention, this far-flung corner of the Aegean Sea boasts its own enchanting beauty. From Rhodes’ medieval Old Town and ancient wonders to the slow-living island of Leros and dramatic hiking trails on Kalymnos, these islands deliver a tranquil escape.

The islands of the Dodecanese are brimming with local culture, heritage and gastronomy. Explore Rhodes’ majestic medieval castle, the ruins of Kos’ ancient temples and the monasteries of Patmos on this ecotourism destination.

Or hop aboard a ferry to the small, pristine island of Iraklia in the Small Cyclades. Here, you can find tranquility on a picturesque beach, hike through dense forests and dine on fresh seafood. It’s the perfect way to spend a quiet holiday away from the crowds.

Despite its tiny size, Iraklia is well-serviced by ferries and cruise ships. The largest operator in the region is SeaJets, who run a variety of high-speed catamarans and a fleet of large passenger / vehicle ferries. Check out their website for schedules and route info.

4. The Sporades

Located off Greece’s east coast, this ring of islands consists of 24 isles and only four are inhabited all year round. The Sporades are a naturalist’s dream with gorgeous hiking trails and lush forests meeting idyllic beaches, while still having their own brand of island life that keeps traditions alive.

While cosmopolitan Skiathos is a prime destination for those seeking a bit more excitement, Skopelos and Alonissos are the ultimate Greek island escape for nature lovers. The pristine beaches on these islands are a must, while hiking along the hills on the northern side of the island is an absolute highlight. Alonissos is also known for its first marine park that’s home to a small population of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal.

To explore the Sporades, catch a ferry from either Volos or Agios Constantinos in mainland Greece. From there, it’s a quick journey to Skiathos and Skopelos or up to five hours to reach Alonissos and Skyros. The ferries to these destinations run often, so you can easily do an island hop around the Sporades by ferry in just a week or two. If you choose to go with the highspeed ferries (like the Aeolis Express shown above), it can make for an even smoother trip, but be aware that these ferries tend to be more expensive than their slow cousins.