Legendary Landmarks and Iconic Stops on Greek Island Ferry Routes

Legendary Landmarks Iconic Stops on Greek Island Ferry Routes

Traveling between the Greek Islands by ferry is a flexible option—especially in the high season, from mid-June through September. However, crowds and prices are highest at this time.

On the island of Zakynthos, discover a famous landmark: Shipwreck Beach. Towering cliffs cradle this remote stretch of sand. It’s a postcard-perfect spot to relax and refresh.

1. Piraeus

The port of Piraeus has become Greece’s main hub for shipping and the economy. Once a small, deserted town, its transformation into the country’s leading seaport was spurred on by a series of transportation developments, including the construction of an electric railway line linking Piraeus to Athens.

Ferry routes run like a complicated star from the central port, connecting it to almost all of Greece’s island chains. Lines to Santorini, Patmos, Naxos, and Samos all depart from here, as do ferries to Crete and the rest of the Cyclades.

The ferries also make for an interesting sight in themselves. They often display their departure and arrival times on large, outdoor whiteboards, with ticket sellers using handwriting or numbers to mark up the boards.

2. Mykonos

There are hotels you book because of their location — and then there’s Santa Marina, a bucket-list-worthy resort that’s worth planning your whole trip around. It’s a short shuttle ride from the main town of Chora (Mykonos Town), which is word-famous for its photogenic labyrinth of laneways and churches and top-end boutiques and restaurants.

It’s a party island, and the hip and chic crowds spill out of hotels and fill loungers until sundown. But the place is far from egalitarian. Drop a few thousand on a big watch and Louis Vuitton bag, and staff will treat you like royalty. It starts with a free cocktail. Then the dinners come — and they’re spectacular.

3. Zakynthos

The famous Shipwreck Beach is what put Zakynthos on many travelers’ bucket lists. The secluded bay is framed by stunning cliffs and, in the center, lies a smuggler boat that ran aground in 1980.

The island’s capital, Zakynthos Town, offers a lively nightlife scene and plenty of local shops. Its largest church is beautiful, and a visit to the Bochali Venetian Castle is an educational experience.

Many locals also enjoy taking a boat tour of the secluded Blue Caves. You can even book a tour that combines this with a trip to the scenic Navagio Beach and a visit to the national park’s sea turtle breeding grounds. Those who don’t want to rent their own boats can hop on the plentiful buses, which are cheap and convenient.

4. Skiathos

The cosmopolitan island of Skiathos is a popular stop for Greek islands hopping. It is home to many beautiful beaches and a variety of restaurants with both local and Mediterranean cuisine.

The island’s capital, Skiathos Town, stretches around a protected bay and is surrounded by lush greenery. The beaches of Koukounaries and Banana are especially popular among visitors to the island.

There are a variety of hotels in Skiathos, from family-friendly to party places that attract young travelers. Many villages on the island also have quaint tavernas and bars where visitors can enjoy local cuisine or try some of the many cocktails available at the beach bar scene.

5. Skopelos

Skopelos is known for its dazzling beaches and natural ambiance, and was where many of the Mamma Mia wedding scenes were filmed. Its pine-studded forests and turquoise waters are breathtaking.

Ferries depart daily throughout the year from Volos on the mainland. Normally, the trip takes 2.5 hours but this can vary depending on ferry company and route chosen.

Most ferries will sail directly to Skopelos Town, but some may stop first at Glossa. This alternative option is ideal for visitors traveling with a car as they can easily drive to their final destination from here. Public buses are also available for getting around on the islands. Car rental services are also available for those who want to explore at their own pace.

6. Kefalonia

The largest island in the Ionian Sea, Kefalonia is home to world-class beaches and historical monuments. Make time for a tour of the castle of Saint George, a stunning fortress that served as the former capital of the island before an earthquake destroyed much of it in 1757.

Wine plays an important role in Greek culture, so indulge in a tasting session along the sweeping vineyards of Kefalonia. You could even take a geology tour to Drogorati Cave, a cenote-type of brackish water karst formation that holds two chambers with natural acoustics.

Ferry schedules can change with little notice. Track your ferry using websites like this one to help coordinate when to meet up with your hotel or Airbnb host.

7. Spetses

Unlike its sisters, this Argo-Saronic island has a long history of maritime glory and is one of the few places in Greece where traditional kaikis still sail. Its lush green beauty is complemented by aristocratic houses hidden behind thick white walls and gardens of bougainvillea, hibiscus, plumbago, jasmine and trumpet vines.

Spetses’ single road makes a 24-kilometre loop around the island; rent a bicycle (committed), e-bike (sensible) or a motor scooter (speed demon) and spend a day hunting views across the Saronic Gulf and chancing swims at hidden beaches. In the town, visit Laskarina Bouboulina’s house — she was a legendary Spetsiote naval commander and the first woman to rank admiral.

8. Crete

The showstopping Crete – Heraklion and Chania – offers a heady combination of iridescent beaches and ancient history. The palace of Knossos is a reminder of the Minoan civilization (3000-1200 BC) that thrived here, with other sites like Phaistos and Gortyna also worth a visit.

Crete’s hinterlands reveal a rugged landscape of pretty villages, neat vineyards and ancient olive groves. Spend an afternoon at a shepherd’s farm to milk goats and gather ingredients for a rustic cooking class, or learn how to make your own pots in a workshop.

Other islands in the Aegean to explore include Kos for its endless strip of brown-sugar sand, Skiathos vivid nightlife and natural ambiance, and Patmos for its ethereal quality as the spot where St. John received his revelations.