Greek Isles by Sea – A Photographer’s Dream Journey

Greek Isles by Sea A Photographers Dream Journey

Discover dazzling Greek islands by sea on this cruise that takes you to the Cyclades, Ionian Islands, and Dodecanese islands. Peek into ancient ruins, snorkel in secluded coves, and dine at different restaurants each night.

Island hopping by ferry ties you to ferry schedules and can require hefty carry-on luggage. Cruises avoid these hassles and are often cheaper.

The Cyclades

The 24 inhabited islands of the Cyclades are the archipelago’s most famous, and many of them are recognizable from the scenery in Luc Besson’s movie “Mamma Mia.” They feature white-washed villages, pine forests, sand and sun. Kea (aka Tzia), the largest island, is green with vineyards, olive groves and wildflowers. Its 81 km of paths showcase age-old traditions and historic sites. Amorgos (also known as Anafi) boasts a dramatic landscape of high cliffs, precipices and valleys. Its people produce wine, brandy and tobacco.

The most popular islands of the Cyclades are Mykonos, Santorini, Ios, Naxos and Paros. Each fulfills the Greek island dream, though they can be crowded during high season. On smaller islands, you can see brightly painted houses on Kassos, or visit the hilltop Chora of Astypalea, one of the most beautiful fortified towns in Greece.

The name “Cyclades” refers to the circle of islands that formed around Delos, the ancient god Apollo’s sanctuary. The earliest Cycladic settlements date to the early Neolithic period, and they are characterized by a distinctive style of grave goods—marble vessels and figurines that indicate some form of social ranking among these early Greeks. The Cyclades are also home to some of the most spectacular temples in Greece. Archaeological evidence shows that the islands of the Cyclades were an important trade center, exporting wheat, grapes, hides and pottery.

The Ionian Islands

Scattered off the western coast of mainland Greece, the Ionian Islands offer a rich variety of experiences within a compact geographical area. From the bustling nightlife of Corfu to the serene beaches of Kefalonia, and the azure waters and spectacular blue caves of Zakynthos, a well-planned island hopping itinerary can make for an unforgettable trip.

One of the most under-the-radar isles in the Ionians is Paxi, which was created when Poseidon slammed his trident on Corfu, chipping off this eight-mile-long chunk of chalky, olive-grove-covered rock. Unlike many of the other Ionian Islands, Paxi is not overdeveloped and attracts few tourists. Climb to the top of the 14th-century Venetian castle in the old town of Parga for sweeping views over glimmering blue waters and wide sandy beaches.

The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is a green oasis whose coastline blends into crystal clear seas in an azure color that makes it a beloved destination for beach lovers. This island is also steeped in history and culture, from the first Greek University that opened here in 1824 to the Ionian Academy, a museum dedicated to education and cultural tradition.

Kefalonia’s mountains are dotted with pine, cypress, and olive trees, and vineyards produce the renowned local Robola wine. For a different kind of natural beauty, hike to the Tripitos Arch at the southern tip of the island for breathtaking views over turquoise waters and shimmering white cliffs.

The Dodecanese

The rocky islands of the Dodecanese, including Rhodes, Kos and Patmos, lie in a strategically important location between Europe, Asia and Africa and have been used for centuries as an important center of trade. Their rich history is reflected in the many ancient and medieval monuments, churches and monasteries that are still standing.

A trip to this part of Greece can be a fascinating journey as you see the influences that have shaped the region over the centuries – from Roman emperors, crusading medieval knights and Ottoman sultans. Despite these historic influences, the islands of the Dodecanese remain quite distinct and have their own charm.

While the largest Dodecanese islands such as Rhodes and Kos can get very crowded in the peak summer holiday months, their smaller neighbors like Symi or Halki have a much more peaceful feel. They are ideal for those who enjoy exceptional architecture, a simple way of life and a visit to beautiful beaches.

Alternatively you can explore Corfu, where the Old Town is protected by UNESCO and has a buzzing city center. Nearby Kefalonia has a spectacular mountainous landscape, woodland villages and some of the best beaches in Greece. Zakynthos features the iconic Shipwreck Beach, and tiny Ithaka will fascinate Homer fans with its iridescent Blue Caves. Karpathos is another island that proudly retains its traditional character, while the cosmopolitan Kalymnos and the sponge divers of Leros are seeing increased visitor numbers.


The Ionian island of Zakynthos—also known as Zante—is a natural photographer’s paradise. From secluded beaches and mysterious caves to sapphire-blue water, dramatic cliffs, and enchanting villages, the island has something to capture with every turn.

Explore the narrow streets of Zakynthos Town to capture images of traditional Greek architecture and vibrant local life. Visit the Church of St Dionysios to admire ornate details and the sweeping views from Solomos Square. Zakynthos is dotted with picturesque villages, each offering a window into the island’s culture and traditions.

Take a boat tour to the Blue Caves, a series of mesmerizing sea caves along the northern coast of the island. These evocative locations play with light and shadow and every shade of blue imaginable. During the morning, the sun illuminates the cave walls, creating a magical interplay of color.

A boat excursion is also a great way to see Navagio Beach—also called Shipwreck Bay—from above. A freighter that was seized by the police after smuggling cigarettes and tobacco in 1980 crashed into the rocky shore of this hidden cove, leaving behind the rusting skeleton of the boat.

Early morning excursions to Navagio Beach allow you to capture the iconic shipwreck in soft golden light and capture captivating content without crowds. Another highlight is Marathonisi, a small island on the southern coast that serves as a breeding ground for loggerhead turtles.