Island Whispers – Unheard Tales of Greek Ferry Routes

Island Whispers Unheard Tales of Greek Ferry Routes

From the Costa Book Award-winning author of The Lie Tree and Unraveller, with atmospheric illustrations from the double CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winner. This heartwarming adventure is a thrilling, spooky fairytale of family, kindness and finding courage.

When orphan Milo takes on his father’s role as Ferryman, he must carry away the Dead, pursued by a vengeful Lord and two sinister magicians. Can he navigate the perilous seas and untold dangers?

1. Ithaki (Ithaca)

The island of Ithaca, home to Odysseus in Homer’s epic tales, is a magical place. This small Ionian Island is a favorite destination for sailors and kayakers. Despite its diminutive size, Ithaca has a wealth of historical treasures. The best time to visit is during the summer holiday season.

The capital of Ithaca, Vathy, boasts one of the largest natural harbors and is a picturesque village with a distinctively Italianate architectural style. Ithaca was a kingdom-state during the Mycenaean period and the peak of its glory was around 1000 B.C.

Historians believe that Ithaca was the homeland of Odysseus and that his palace was located in the northern part of the island, near the village of Exogi. In 2010, ruins of the palace were found. However, it is still debated whether the palace actually belongs to Odysseus. At the Archaeological Museum of Vathy you can see ancient coins with the heads of Odysseus and Athena, as well as a model that depicts how the palace looked at its peak.

There is no airport on Ithaca but you can easily get there by flying to Kefalonia or Lefkas and catching the ferry from there. You can also book cheap charter flights to Ithaca during the summer holiday season from all over Europe. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Argostoli in Corfu.

2. Santorini

Santorini, a flooded caldera (collapsed volcanic crater) shaped like an inverted triangle, is one of the most breathtaking islands in the Mediterranean. Its cliff-perched villages, speckled with azure domes, look as though some fantasy painter dreamed them up. And don’t miss a visit to Akrotiri, a prehistoric city preserved beneath the volcanic ash that covered it in 1600 BC.

Frequent ferries and high-speed catamarans link Santorini year-round with Athens’ Piraeus port and many other Cycladic islands, including Mykonos, Sifnos, Naxos, and Milos. Check OpenSea for schedules and fares. A 4.5- to 6-hour ferry trip from Piraeus lands in Fira, with additional ferries to Oia and Imerovigli, a traditional village on the island’s western edge.

A slew of tour agencies on the island arrange winery visits, archaeology tours, and sunset-watching trips. Santorini is also known for its cushy resort hotels, with many offering infinity pools and panoramic views.

Cars are available for rent on the island, starting at EUR40 a day during peak season; an international driving permit is recommended. Buses run frequently between the main towns, but beware of crowded conditions. Scooters and 4-wheelers (quads) can be rented as well, starting at EUR15 or EUR30 per day, respectively. You can also walk or rent a donkey or mule to get around. But be aware that hiking is difficult, as the steep cliffs can be treacherous.

3. Mykonos

Mykonos is Greece’s second top holiday destination, drawing 5 million visitors each summer for its glam-packed beaches and party culture. There are many ways to get to Mykonos from mainland Greece, including ferry services operated by several companies. The best time to visit is July and August for maximum sunshine. However, June and September are also good choices since temperatures are still warm but the crowds have dispersed.

You can explore Mykonos by foot, enjoying its beautiful neighborhoods and stone-paved alleys. During your trip, make sure to visit Chora, where you’ll find 18th-century houses literally built over the sea. Another must is the windmills in Little Venice, which offer stunning views and sunsets. The neighboring island of Delos is also worth a day trip, as it was considered a holy place in ancient times and contains the remains of the Temple of Apollo.

Ferries to Mykonos operate from two ports: the Old Port in Hora and the New Port in Tourlos. When booking your tickets, make sure to choose the one that’s closest to your preferred departure location. You can stay updated on schedule changes and track your ferry in real-time with the Ferryhopper App!

As you disembark from your ferry at the Mykonos New Port, turn left and walk along the seaside path into Mykonos Town. You’ll see the Sea Bus water taxi sign and ticket booth on your right.

4. Sifnos

The Cyclades island of Sifnos enchants with its exquisite flavours, time-honoured customs and traditional villages. The island’s beaches and crystal clear waters are as enticing as its many chapels, windmills, and archaeological sites.

It is also a culinary destination with dishes like mastelo (goat or lamb marinated in red wine and dill, cooked in a special clay pot – called skepastaria – during Orthodox Easter) and revithada (chickpea soup that’s been simmered overnight). For sushi and other non-traditional fare visit the high-end Omega3 in Platys Gialos. The restaurant has been frequented by celebrities including Tom Hanks and Jeff Bezos.

Another must-try is the zero-waste, locally sourced menu at Cantina which has been visited by Barack Obama and Tom Hanks. The restaurant is dramatically perched on a rocky cliff overlooking Seralia Cove.

Sifnos is home to a host of literary and artistic figures from the 20th century, including the famous painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas. Its beaches and tranquil pace of life made it the original ’bohemian’ island for artists who blended their creative endeavours with a carefree lifestyle. Today the island still attracts a host of writers and artists who come to enjoy its beautiful scenery, charming villages and delicious food.