How to Visit the Greek Islands on a Budget (2017 Edition)

The Budget Guide to the Greek Islands

Everyone wants to visit the Greek Islands at some point in their lives, right? I mean, how could you resist the urge to want to watch one of Santorini’s famous sunsets and visit the beautiful beaches of the lesser known island of Milos?

Many people are under the impression that it’s both difficult and expensive to visit the Greek islands. I’m here to tell you that it’s neither.

As a matter of fact right now is the best time to visit the Greek islands due to the economy and ease of travel from the U.S and Europe.

Budget Travel Guide to the Greek Islands

Greek Islands: Know Before You Go

When preparing for a trip to Greece and the Greek Islands your first priority should be to make sure you make a small investment towards your health and well being by purchasing a flexible and super affordable travel insurance policy for your trip.

Not only will this travel insurance policy cover you if your bags are lost/stolen and if your flight is delayed/cancelled, but you’ll also be covered for all medical and injury related issues as well.

Let’s face it. No parents, family or friends want to have to cover the cost of you getting Medevaced home from the Greek Islands. Bad things do happen. Especially when you least expect it.

Do yourself a favor and get your travel insurance coverage now so you can rest assured that you’ll be taken care of in the event of a serious emergency in Greece.

Note: You won’t believe how reasonably priced this travel insurance is!


Getting to Greece

Flying from the United States:

Getting to Greece is easy although it can be quite pricey depending on where you are flying from and which month you plan on traveling.

For those of you flying from the United States, one of the best tips for finding cheap flights to Greece is to look for flights departing out of some of the biggest U.S. hubs.

Example: LAX, JFK, ATL, BOS, IAD, MIA.

All of the above airports are examples of major flight hubs in the United States and are usually great starting points when looking for the best deals on flights to Greece.

Here are the two websites I use to plan all of my travels. My best advice is to use both to compare prices and find the best deal.


Use Uber in Athens

If you’ve used Uber in the past you would know that it’s hands down the most convenient and safe way to move around any city these days. Fortunately, Uber is now operating in Athens so you can be picked up from the airport and dropped directly to the doorstep of your hotel in the city. If you’re taking a ferry from Athens to the Greek Islands, you can take an Uber directly to the ferry port with ease.

Fun Fact: UberTaxi in Athens is more than 20% cheaper than a standard taxi.

If you’ve never used Uber before then there’s no better time to start. Why? Well, you can save €10 Euros off your first Uber ride by using the Uber Promo Code: UBERPTM

Note: This Uber Promo Code can be applied worldwide, not just in Greece. If you’re from the U.S. you’ll score a free ride of up to $20USD

Getting to the Greek Islands

Flying is the most convenient and efficient way to reach the Greek Islands. Already in Europe? If so, you’re already more than halfway there.

Flights from Athens to some of the most popular Greek Islands only take about 50-70 minutes while ferries take anywhere from 5 to 10+ hours. In other words, always start by searching for flights to the Greek islands before looking into ferries.

As I mentioned above, I recommend that you use both Skyscanner and Google Flights in conjunction with each other to compare prices and to begin your search to find the cheapest flights to the Greek Islands.

Depending on the season and the latest promotions, flights from Athens to these islands mentioned above can be found for as low as €40 round-trip.

The best flight deals to the Greek Islands are always found when searching for flights leaving from major European hubs and by using budget airlines such as Aegean, Olympic and RyanAir.

Example: ATH, LON, LHR, MUC, BCN, and FCO are just a few of the major hubs in Europe.

Greek Islands with Airports

Not all of the Greek Islands have airports therefore some islands require you to take ferries in order to reach them.

Below you’ll find a short list of the Greek Islands that do have airports.

  • Chios (JKH)
  • Chania (CHQ)
  • Corfu (CFU)
  • Heraklion (HER)
  • Ikaria (JIK)
  • Ioannina (IOA)
  • Kefalonia (EFL)
  • Kos (KGS)
  • Leros (LRS)
  • Lesvos (MJT)
  • Milos (MLO)
  • Mykonos (JMK)
  • Naxos (JNX)
  • Paros (PAS)
  • Rhodes (RHO)
  • Samos (SMI)
  • Santorini (JTR)
  • Skiathos (JSI)
  • Skyros (SKU)
  • Syros (JSY)
  • Zakynthos (ZTH)


  • Finding flights to some of the smaller islands can be quite tough due to intermittent flight schedules.
  • Flights to some of the more popular islands such as Chania (Crete), Heraklion (Crete), Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini and Zakynthos are very easy to find during the spring, summer and early fall seasons.

Ferries to the Greek Islands

As I mentioned earlier, great deals on flights can be found if you keep your eyes peeled. That being said, sometimes flights to the islands are far too expensive.

In this case, taking a ferry to the Greek Island of your choice is your next best bet.

One of the better greek ferry booking systems is powered by a company called Ferries in Greece, a major greek ferry booking hub that helps more than 35,000 passengers get to and from the Greek isles each year.

I’ve used Ferries in Greece to book ferry tickets in the past and I highly recommend you use them for your next Greek Island trip.


  • Ferry tickets sell out so don’t be surprised to find out your ferry is sold out if you leave it to the last minute.
  • Athens’ Port of Piraeus is hectic and very spread out. Be sure to figure out which part of the port that your ferry is leaving from prior to taking a taxi to the port.
  • The best way to get to Piraeus from anywhere in Athens is to use Uber as mentioned above. If you decide to use Uber, do yourself a favor and use promo code: UBERPTM to get your first ride free.

Finding a Place to Stay in the Greek Islands

When it comes to finding accommodations on the Greek islands, your options are just about endless. From hostels to cliff side hotels, resorts, short term apartments rentals and more, the Greek Islands have it all.

Here are three different approaches when it comes to finding accommodations on the Greek Islands.

Hotels in the Greek Islands

If for some reason I don’t find anything on airbnb my next recommendation would be to take a look on HotelsCombined. HC offers a wide variety of accommodations from budget hostels to 5-star hotels on the Greek Islands for you to choose from.

Booking hotels in the Greek islands will likely be more expensive than most airbnb apartment rentals in the islands but if you find yourself to be more comfortable in a hotel then do yourself a favor and reserve your room through HotelsCombined.

Fun Fact: There are currently more than 26,000+ property listings in Greece alone and the list is growing daily.


Airbnb in the Greek Islands

Renting airbnb apartments in the Greek Islands can be surprisingly affordable.

In my opinion, renting airbnb apartments in the Greek islands is one of the best bets and is also usually the best bang for your buck considering most airbnb rentals have very comfortable living situations which include en-suite bedroom/bathrooms, full kitchens, living areas and balconies. Some even come equipped with balconies overlooking the sea. Generally speaking, most airbnb apartments are usually centrally located and situated in some of the best parts of the islands.

Some people prefer staying in airbnbs over apartments Why stay in a box of a hotel room with minimal amenities when you can have a fully equipped private apartment of your own for much less than it would cost for a night in a hotel?


No Reservations

The most adventurous way to find accommodations on the Greek islands is to simply show up with no reservations at all.

Note: This option isn’t for everyone.

Those of you who like to plan, research and coordinate every little detail of your trip ahead of time should skip this section now.

Alright, so you’re prepared to show up to the Greek Islands without reservations?

Well, if you’re spontaneous enough and you’re not concerned with making reservations prior to arriving to the islands then a good way to find deals on accommodations in the Greek islands is to simply show up.

I know it sounds a little crazy but when you disembark your ferry on some of the larger islands, you’ll notice groups of hotel owners and family operated guesthouses lined up awaiting your business and trying to fill up their accommodations.

Start by speaking with some of the hotel and guesthouse owners and find out what they have to offer you. If you have any inclination and you’re not 100% sold on the first one simply move on to the next guy. If you don’t, you’ll quickly realize that all the other owners will have headed back to their properties with other tourists from your ferry.

Tip: Whatever you do, don’t forget to come prepared with your best haggling skills!

Another great thing about showing up to an island without reservations is that you can usually negotiate the cost of your accommodations based on how much time you are interested in spending on the island.

If you visit the islands during high season you might be surprised to see 25 or 30 different hotel and apartment and hotel owners approaching you from all angles wanting your business.

Santorini - Greek Islands - Greece

Which Greek Islands Should I Visit?

Most tourists struggle with deciding on which island best fits their wants and needs when it comes to a Greek island vacation.

Today I’m going to give you a quick breakdown on some of the top Greek Islands. You know, because there are just too many Greek isles to choose from!

The most popular Greek islands islands are Santorini, Mykonos, Ios, Corfu, and Crete with Santorini and Mykonos being the most popular with tourists from around the world.

Let’s start off with the most popular islands first and move along to some of my personal and lesser known favorites.

– Santorini

If you’re looking for a romantic stay or just want to witness some of the most famous sunsets on planet Earth, Santorini is an absolute must.

Santorini offers cliff side accommodations with mind boggling views of the caldera but doesn’t offer up too much when it comes to beaches as much of the island is built high up on the cliffs.

Santorini does have a few decent beaches (Red Beach & Black Beach) but they’re not world renowned like some of the other Greek islands.

Firostefani Caldera View Santorini
Santorini Sunset from Oia
Red Beach - Akrotiri Santorini

In reality, Santorini is more about the views, sunsets and romantic vibes.

If you’re really eager to see the beautiful beaches but don’t want to miss out on Santorini, I highly recommend you add the Greek Island of Milos to your itinerary and split your time between both islands.

Santorini Budget Hotel Recommendation:

Katefiani Villas – For around €30 per night (approx. $33 USD/night) you can score yourself a cozy room at Katefiani Villas, a small family owned hotel located in the village of Perissa.

This hotel is very clean, quiet and is located just steps from Santorini’s black sand beach, also known as Perissa Beach. The owner, Jacob, provides free transfers from the ferry port to the hotel when organized ahead of time.

Splurge Recommendation:

Dimitrios Cave House – Incredible cliff side cave home turned airbnb property located on the edge of the cliffs in Firostefani. If you’re going to splurge on one thing on your next trip to the Greek Islands, this is it.

WARNING: The Dimitrios Cave House is expensive and not budget friendly by any means but to be honest I wouldn’t bother recommending this place if it wasn’t worth every penny. I surprised my mother with a 3-night stay at Dimitrios Cave House last September and she still can’t stop talking about it.

Scooter & ATV Rentals in Santorini:

Scooter rentals go for 10-15 Euro/day. ATV’s are slightly more but a heck of a lot more comfortable if you’ve got someone riding on the back with you.

Recommended Santorini Tours:

If you’re not comfortable with traveling to and from the Greek islands independently, I recommend you take a look at these very reasonably priced 2 and 3-night tours to Santorini.

The beauty of these tours is that they cater to two different types of travelers; budget travelers and travelers that don’t mind spending a few extra bucks.

The tours include round-trip ferry transportation from Athens for the budget traveler (8 hours one-way) or a round-trip speedboat crossing (5.5 hours one-way) for those who want to enjoy more time on the island. You also have the option to choose from 2, 3, or 4-star accommodations on Santorini. It’s your trip. You choose.


– Mykonos

If you’re looking for great day parties, wild nightlife, white sand beaches and beach clubs with bumping music, Mykonos is your best bet.

Food, drinks and accommodations can be very expensive on the island but that’s the price you pay if you want to spend your vacation on the best party island in Greece.

Mykonos is known for its beautiful beaches, non-stop parties and is one of the most popular islands when it comes to the LGBTQ crowd.


– Milos

Milos is my favorite Greek island mostly due to the wide variety and uniqueness of its beaches. I’ve visited nearly 15 Greek islands at this point and none of them compare to the island of Milos. In my opinion, it’s the best Greek island to visit and it’s a place that I would revisit time and time again.

Fun Fact: There are more than 72 different beaches on Milos!

My advice to you would be to pair this island with a visit to Santorini that way you get the chance to experience the best of both worlds when it comes to the cliffs of Santorini and the incredible beaches of Milos.

Budget Accommodation Recommendation:

Mimoza Apartments: During my last trip to Milos, I stayed at Mimoza, a very centrally located apartment set back a few blocks from the port of Adamas. I highly recommend this apartment due to the location and the affordability factor.


Scooter, ATV and car rentals are very affordable and are a must if you want to truly explore the lesser visited parts of the island.

Another perk about visiting Milos is that you can take a short 15 minute ferry ride to a tiny little traditional Greek island known as Kimolos and check another island off your list.


– Rhodes

Rhodes is the 4th largest Greek island and an island that I think everyone should visit on their trip to Greece. I wrote an in-depth Beginner’s Guide to Rhodes that I think you’ll find to be really useful.

Note: If you’d like to knock Turkey off your bucketlist during your trip to Greece then Rhodes is a great island to visit as the round-trip ferry from Rhodes to Marmaris, Turkey can be done in a day and is relatively affordable.


– Symi

The Greek island of Symi is a small, quiet and lesser known island located in the group of Dodecanese islands just 41 km /25 mi northwest of Rhodes (fourth largest Greek island).

Symi is a great place to vacation if you’re looking for stunning views, a tranquil port, beautiful seaside hikes, shopping for hand-made leather goods and for those who are interested in getting a more traditional and genuine Greek island experience.

Please see my Beginner’s Guide to Symi for more information and trip inspiration!

Getting Around the Greek Islands

Unfortunately, Uber is not available on the Greek Islands. Renting a motorbike, ATV or car is the recommended way to explore the islands and is far more efficient than using public transportation on the islands.

There are public buses and other forms of transportation available on select islands although you should be warned that they can be extremely slow and quite intermittent.

Scooters, ATV’s and car rentals are plentiful on the islands but please be sure to research rental agencies before arriving on the island of your choice as some agencies are more reputable than others.

Average Costs:

  • Scooter rentals: €10-20 Euro/day depending on the shop and the engine size (110, 125, 200cc).
  • ATV’s: €25-45 euro/day
  • Rental cars: €40-50 euros/day and are usually equipped with a manual transmission.

Tips for Saving Money in the Greek Islands

Depending on where you’re staying or where you’re heading to on the islands, it can be pretty pricey to shop, dine out and more.

Here are some tips that will help you save money on the Greek islands.

  • Find yourself an airbnb apartment equipped with a stove top burner or full kitchen. You can save a lot of money by simply taking a trip to the grocery store with a few meals in mind. Save the leftovers for later and pack them for lunch before you head to the beach.
  • Small talk the local shop owners and try to get friendly with them. After a few minutes chat, you might be lucky enough to score some insiders information on local places to eat, drink and more which will in turn save you money.
  • Rent a scooter or car to make the most of your stay. Be sure to ask your airbnb host or hotel which rental agencies they recommend. Some hotel owners work with different car rental shops or have a friend that owns one that may be able to give you a deal on your rental.
  • Ask a local for restaurant recommendations. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick chat with a local to find a hidden gem on the island.
  • If tours are your thing, don’t settle on the first tour you see. Shop around a bit and you’ll be surprised to find alternative tour companies that offer the same packages as the big name companies and much lower prices.

Greek Island Wrap Up

A visit to the Greek Islands doesn’t need to break the bank.

Now that you’re well equipped with the knowledge necessary to enjoy a trip to the Greek Islands on a budget, go ahead and start planning your trip today.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts. Also, please do me a favor and share this with your family and friends.


Beginner's Guide to Rhodes Greece

Symi Greece - Greek Island of Symi

Zakynthos, Zante, Greece


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About the Author

Ryan Gargiulo is a location independent blogger, digital influencer and world traveler with a serious passion for the sun, the sea and adventure.

When he’s not out wandering the world, you can likely find him instagrammin’ from a paradisiacal location or hunched over my laptop, working away, somewhere along the coast of the Caribbean Sea.

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    1. That's very true Corinne. Thanks for mentioning that. Turkey is very accessible from the Greek Islands, especially Rhodes. We did not get to Rhodes, only Santorini and Milos. Thanks for the tip!

  1. We've gotten a bit behind on your travels, but are looking forward to catching up. Glad to hear you're having a great time in Greece! We haven't been to the islands yet, but we really really enjoyed Athens.

    We'll be reading your posts about Egypt closely too. There's a possibility we may head there for 3 weeks this fall. But we're still deciding between Egypt and a few other places. So many places to choose from!

    Happy travels, guys!
    My recent post <a href="">Where Do We Go From Here

    1. Hey Jess,

      Yeah we enjoyed Athens as well. Pretty cool city and it was around 35C every day so if you like the sun, it's the place to be!

      As for Egypt, it's an amazing place to visit. The only thing I would recommend is to make sure you stay there for at least 2-3 weeks because I don't think you can really immerse yourself in the culture and every day life without being there for a decent amount of time. One week in Cairo is a joke! There is so much to see other than the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum. Walk the back streets, eat where the locals eat, take the black (private) taxis but make sure you're ready to haggle, befriend the amazing locals, and learn to cross the roads on your own without having the tourist police assist you.

  2. Great information especially as I have been dying to make it to the Greek islands but can never seem to find a cost effective way of doing so.

  3. This is an awesome post with great advice. I am gonna have to come back to this for when I get to Greece on my RTW trip! Oh & the pictures are amazing. They make me wanna go right now!!!

    Thanks for the info!

  4. This is certainly great advice for anyone traveling to the Greek Islands. I wrote a post specifically about Mykonos, let me know what you think!

  5. Rhodes is an easy daytrip from Turkey, or longer of course! The Greek islands are marvellous, but can be expensive to visit, so articles like this are invaluable!

    1. Thanks Liv! Glad you enjoyed the article. Be sure to share it with your readers as I think they would probably be interested in this.

  6. When you go to Santorini you should visit the wineries… you can see the way the prodice wine, the pales with the old wooden barels and of course wine testing….

  7. In Greece , everybody says that Milos is a wonderful island.. but… if you go there as a couple.. after the end of the holidays you will break up… ;) or if you go alone you will find your soulmate… Anyway this islands has wonderful beaches and very quiet places to relax.

  8. Hum, quite happy to read this today:) We’re heading to greece in May, I’m bookmarking this! Great tips!

  9. Wow, I love this article! I’m from Poland and I’m going to plan my vacation trip on 2014 with your helpful information. Wish me luck!

  10. Ferries can be great and rather cheap in Greece but due to the economic crisis, the companies often halt operations – strikes are frequent. And getting stranded on an expensive island like Santorini for several days might not be the best experience for a budget traveler.

  11. Hi Ryan,
    I was thinking of booking into Jacobs hotel for 14 days and traveling from there to see the other islands perhaps by air, to save time but I have to watch the cost also, what would be your advise on that please, do you think its not a good idea to stay in one place for so long ??

  12. hi! can you tell me what ferry you used to get to Milos?? I can’t find tickets for less than 50 euros!! would it be cheaper to go from Athens to Santorini first, then Milos? or a then semi lost Santorini?

  13. Would you say your article holds true 5 years later? I want to go to Greece but I find it difficult to start organizing.

  14. Great Post… Stunning! So much more than just white-sand beaches. I’d love to visit the baths, it looks like such a cool experience.

  15. Hey!

    I have to distribute 10 full days between Athens and the islands. What is your recommendation on getting the most out of my days there?

    1. I would recommend spending 2 days in Athens and the rest in the Greek Islands. In Athens, be sure not to miss the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. Walk from Syntagma Square to Monastiraki Square on the shopping street. Take a hop-on hop-off bus to maximize your day in Athens.

    2. Hi your posts are very helpful. Well I needed some more information on travel in Greece or a 8 day programme for Athens _ Santorini _ Milos…..Thank You

      1. Thanks. Glad to hear you’ve found the information helpful. I would recommend 1-2 full days in Athens depending on how much history you want to take in, 2-3 days in Santorini and 2 days in Milos.

  16. hello! I plan on visiting Greece in late September with a friend. first off, is september a good time to go? we will stay there for about 15days. plan on doing hostels for the most part. What is the best way to get around from island to island? mykonos, naxos, paros, antiparos.. ? and cheapest/safest way? would really appreciate your help:) thank you.

    1. Hi Lianna. Yes, September is a great month to visit Greece! You’ll avoid all the high season/summer crowds. Best way from island to island is to book flights ahead of time. You can sometimes find roundtrip flights from Athens to the islands for less than a ferry ticket. Oh, and most flights are only 1 hour or less. If you want to avoid flying you could always check the ferries. Both options are safe and affordable when booked in advance. Hope this helps.

  17. Hello Ryan, what time of the year do the ferries NOT run? Trying to book for November but it just says no available dates?

    1. Hi Konstanze. Which island(s) are you wanting to visit? Let me know what your departure/arrival destination would be and I’ll do some digging for you. FYI: Greek Island ferries have somewhat limited schedules during the fall/winter months (aka low season) so some routes which are normally daily during high season might drop to 1-3 times/week in the off months. Some routes stop completely in the low season. It really comes down to which islands you’re trying to visit during these months. Let me know in a reply below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible with an answer.

  18. Very helpful information. If I decide on Greece, I will be traveling with my wife and 13-year-old daughter. Any tips for getting good prices as a family? Thanks

    1. Hi Dan. Thanks for the comment. When it comes to finding good prices for families, do you mean on flights? Accommodations? Activites (Acropolis, other major sites, etc)? Let me know and I’ll do my best to assist you.

  19. Thank you so much for this article. I just booked my tickets to Athens for a ten day trip.. This is the first time I will be traveling alone and I am trying to push myself to do it. This post definitely helped me get some basic clarity and not feel too stressed about it..

  20. Great article! I noticed not much info on where to stay in Mykonos does anyone have any recommendations on budget friendly hotels and apartments? I’m really leaning toward this island as my friends and I live the beach and nightlife any other island recommendations for great beaches , food, and young nightlife? Thanks guys

  21. Hi Ryan, love your blog! We are two retired couples wishing to explore Greece…mostly Athens & the Greek islands. We wish to see as much as we can in about 18 days! We wish to fly into Athens & explore the city & surroundings & then fly to 4 other islands. We will be renting a vehicle at each place. We are not people who stay on the beach too long however we do love snorkelling. Partying is not on our agenda…so I feel the island Mikenos could be omitted. Do you agree? Now we’ve narrowed it down to Santorini, Rhodes ( thinking of Turkey if it’s safe), Crete & Milos (because it’s your favourite). How many nights per island do you recommend per island? Should we look into different islands? How many nights in Athens? Leaving in September 2017! Appreciate your feedback, Carole Anne

    1. Hi Carole. Thanks for the comment and the kind feedback.

      Sounds like a great plan to me. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that Mykonos can be skipped this time around. I highly recommend Santorini (a must), Rhodes and you can take a round-trip same day ferry from Rhodes to Marmaris, Turkey if you have some time. Milos is another must visit (one of my favorite islands). I have yet to visit Crete so unfortunately I cannot give you too much info on it other than the fact that it’s a huge island and there is a lot to see and do there.

      Itinerary advice:

      2-3 Days in Athens
      3-4 Days in Santorini
      2-3 Days in Milos
      2-3 Days in Rhodes
      1 Day in Turkey

      I hope you find this helpful. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

    2. Hope you end up going to Turkey too! It’s absolutely safe for tourists, especially on the coast. Take a visit to Kas or stay up in Faralya (basically a road above a mountain near Fethiye which has incredible views) if you have time from Rhodes.

  22. Thank you, Ryan! This is a very helpful piece. Do you have a recommendation or two for the best islands for snorkeling? I’m mostly interested in being able to snorkel from the beach rather than go out on a boat Any info is much appreciated!

    1. Glad to hear it, Kimberly. Thanks for the feedback.

      As for snorkeling, I think some of the beaches in Rhodes might be good for that. That being said I wouldn’t say that the snorkeling is that great in Greece. At least nothing like the Red Sea, Caribbean and other famous places to snorkel/dive.

    1. The best and cheapest way to travel between Athens and Santorini is to start scoping out flights on RyanAir well ahead of time. Sign up for their mailing list to be sure you don’t miss a special promotion. I would check back to their site every few days using a private web browser so that it doesn’t track your IP address. You can find round-trips from Athens to Santorini on RyanAir for under 60 Euro if you hit it right. If not, you can still find decent prices with Aegean as well. Keep your eyes peeled! As for Santorini to Milos, you’ll need to take the ferry and you should be able to book directly through the link in the article. Best of luck and enjoy your trip!

      1. Hello Ryan! Thank you for your post! Very helpful!
        I’m coming around May 20th depends the availability of the flight! I will be with my son and daughter for 10 to 14 day to visit Santorini, Mykonos and want to know if we should see Crete too!
        Thank you in advance!

        1. Hi Manon — with 14 days you should have no issue visiting Crete. That’s quite a long trip and a great opportunity to see a lot of what the Greek Islands have to offer. Best of luck!

  23. Hi Ryan,

    My husband and I are planning a September trip to Greece. We want to spend about 8 days there, but want to know your recommendation of islands and time in Athens. Santorini is a definite on our list. What other islands if any, do you recommend in that short amount of time? Also, what part of Santorini do you recommend staying in?

    1. Hi Christina. Excellent. September is an amazing time to visit Greece so that’s a great start. 8 days should be enough for you to cover most if not all of what you’re interested in seeing/doing.

      Athens: 2 nights max to cover the must-see sights and experience the culture.
      Santorini: 2 or 3 nights – You’re going to fall in love the minute you land here.
      Milos: 1 night… preferably 2 nights as there’s a variety of beautiful beaches for you to visit and a sunset spot that can’t be missed.
      Athens 1 night before you head back home

      Places to stay:

      Athens: Use this map that I created to find places to stay as well as things to see/do in Athens. This is my private map with all my personal recommendations. You’ll love it!

      Santorini: I’ve stayed on the edge of the cliffs in Firostefani and I’ve also stayed on the west coast in Perissa Beach. If you want to stay within a reasonable distance of the action I would recommend Fira (main town on Santorini), Firostefani or Oia (home to the most famous sunsets in the world). You will visit Oia for the sunset at least one if not both nights you’re there so if you’d prefer to stay there I understand. If you want better prices, they can be found in Fira or Firostefani. Oia will be more expensive for sure.

      Milos: We stayed in Mimoza Apartments in Adamas town. Great little place (basic but sufficient) for the money and within short walking distance to the shops/restaurants. Here’s the link:

      I hope this helps!

      1. Thanks so much Ryan! One more question…would you recommend a cruise of the greek islands? If so, which one? We were considering a cruise which begins in Venice and includes Dubrovnik, Ephesus, Santorini, and Katakolon. My husband is a little worried about safety and we wondered if a cruise might be a better option.


        1. Hi Christina. Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for any Greek Island cruises as I’ve never actually been on one. That said, most cruises are a great starting point for figuring out which places you want to visit more in-depth the next time around. It’s like a sneak preview and then you can decide where your next trip will be dedicated to.

          As for the safety. What is your husband worried about? Independent travel in Greece? If so, please let him know there are no reasons to worry. Literally.

  24. Thumbs up for the great post Ryan highly appreciated! My fiance and i will get married on mid september and will go to greece on our honeymoon for about 7 days…. we would like relaxation, site seeing, partying… some action of each … are 7 days enough? and how would you recommend we plan our vacation ? thanks

    1. Yeah, 7 days should be sufficient. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend hopping around too much with that little time but you can definitely see some of the history in Athens and then the partying/sightseeing on the islands of your choice. I would recommend starting in Athens for 2 nights and then heading to Santorini for 2-3 nights.

      1. Ryan , i donno if i should expand our stay to 9 or 10 days … our options were: athens-santorini-mykonos-rhodes …so you recommend just athens and santorini?
        thanks a lot for your help really.

        1. No, I recommend all of the above. I have been to all but Mykonos. If you’re looking to party then Mykonos is a great place to add to the itinerary. Otherwise Athens, Santorini and Rhodes are all great options and I can personally vouch for all of them.

          1. Ryan, im sorry if im asking too much .. i just much appreciate your valuable info. Have you heard of volotea airlines? .. the flights seem incredibly cheap in a weiard way… I would highly appreciate it if you provide me with some help on the subject…

          2. Hi there. Never too many questions. I have heard of Volotea Airlines but have never flown with them so I can’t tell you too much about them. I would recommend you check their baggage fees here:

            If a flight is too cheap there’s usually limiting factors such as amount/weight of hand luggage, costs to select seats, etc. There’s no harm in going through the purchasing process to see how much fees actually add up.

            Best of luck!

  25. Hi Ryan, as a fellow travel blogger this article has saved me! Am planning a trip to Greece in May and trying to take in Athens, Santorini and Milos just as you have suggested but was struggling to find useful/recent information. One quick question, there’s a super cheap flight from Ath-Santorini with Ryan Air but it arrives in Santorini just after midnight. Do you think this would be safe even as a solo female traveller? And would there be enough transport around at this time?

    Cheers and happy travels, Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah. No problem. Glad to hear that you’ve found this article useful. I try to update it often to make sure everything is as up to date as possible.

      Yes, you will be absolutely fine in Santorini (even after midnight) it’s a super safe destination so you shouldn’t have any worries at all. Hop on that cheap flight while it’s still available! Taxis will be plentiful.

  26. Thanks for all the great info! My daughter and I are planning a combo Greece/Italy trip June 22- July16.(Greece then fly to Italy) I know it is the busiest time to go- but no choice. Anyway she has always dreamed of Santorini and really wants to visit Melissani cave on Kefalonia. I love quaint sea villages and beautiful not too overly crowded beaches. I am thinking about 10-11days in Greece but nothing is set yet. What are your suggestions for itinerary? Your suggestion of Milos sounds great.

    1. Hi Annette. Excellent! You are going to have a great time. I hear so many great things about Kefalonia. I have yet to get there. Please let me know how it goes.

      Athens – 2 days
      Santorini – 2-3 days of relaxation and exploring
      Milos (if possible) 2 days (amazing beaches!)
      Kefalonia – 2 days
      Athens – 1 day

      Best of luck!

  27. Hi Ryan,

    I’m headed to Greece in November to celebrate my 40th birthday. I know it’s low season…do you think there will be plenty to do? I have a room for one night in Athens and my heart is set on Santorini. Any suggestions on an itinerary? I’m arriving November 19 and leaving November 25th. Thanks

  28. So incredibly glad to have found this article! My husband and I are trying to plan a trip for 2018. We are struggling with deciding on June or September (we are definitely budget travelers) – do you have a preference for best time to travel between the two? We are hoping Athens, Santorini, and Milos ( 👈🏼 thanks to your blog!!) this will be my first international travel we are very excited! I love the enthusi you show in your writing it’s gotten me even more excited. Thanks for sharing!

    1. September is the better month in my opinion as far as crowds go. If June is a better month for you, then no worries. You will have no problems traveling to Greece in June. I will say that the first two weeks of June would be more ideal weather wise as it starts to heat up once its gets closer to July. On the other end, if you’re interested in visiting in September, the best time to visit is the last two weeks of the month.

      As for your itinerary — it sounds perfect! I’m so glad to put Milos on the map for you. Do yourselves a favor and rent a scooter/atv/car and drive out to some of the many beaches Milos has to offer. If I had to choose one beach to send you to it would be Sarakiniko Beach as it’s the most unique beach on the island.

      Feel free to leave another comment if you have any other questions.

      Best of luck!

  29. Hi Ryan,

    That was a mistake above! I would like to plan a 7-8 day visit to Greece with a 13 and 15 year old. Thinking Athens, Santorini and Milos (per your recommendation). What is the best way to get started? We will be leaving from LAX and flying into Athens. Book flight first, then airbnb in Athens, etc. How many days would you recommend at each location? We don’t travel much and wondering if it is easier on our own or going with a tour package that organizes for us. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Stephanie — Athens, Santorini and Milos is one of my favorite combinations!

      Best way to get started is to do the following:

      Search for flights here:
      Search for Airbnbs:
      OR hotels here:

      Note: I prefer Airbnb when possible.

      As for the tour vs. independent travel, it really depends on your comfortability. In all honesty, Greece makes everything pretty easy and streamlined for tourists. There’s a reason why 20-something million tourists passed through there last year alone. I can’t see why you couldn’t do it independently. If you decide to go the tour route, you’ll probably end up paying more but at the same time there is a comfort in having everything planned out for you. It’s totally up to you.

      Best of luck and safe travels!

  30. Hi Ryan!
    This post is amazing! Thank you so much!

    I recently decided to try and plan a last minute trip to Greece for my boyfriend and I. Probably around 9-12 days including flights. I am looking to go in like a month (around may 18th) and worry I won’t have enough time to plan my visit so I have been looking at vacation package deals. Any thoughts on those, or any recommendations on planning a great last minute trip?

  31. Hi Ryan! I am new to your blog, but I am loving it! I am going to Greece with two of my friends that last week of September (found like a $460 RT flight!). We will have 6 days (excluding travel days) and we arrive and leave in Athens. We are really torn on what Island (s) to visit in such limited time. We are all first time visitors, so we feel as though Santorini is a MUST. However, I just read your post on Zakynthos and I am wondering what you would recommend…Santorini/Mykonos or Zakynthos and Athens. We know it is not feasible to see Santorini, Zakynthos, and Athens in 6 days.

    1. Hi Raven. Thanks for the feedback!

      Congrats on finding such cheap flights. That’s an amazing deal (especially if you’re talking about flying from the US).

      While I love Zakynthos, it’s a little bit out of the way. I would recommend you check out Athens, Santorini and Milos or Athens, Santorini and Mykonos.

  32. Hi Ryan!
    Thank you for an amazing article!! So glad I found it!
    I will be going to Greece this August for 16 days by myself. I will fly to Kos and fly home from Rhodes so I want to visit the Dodecanese islands. Do you have any suggestion for itinerary?
    Also, I want to do the “showing up without reservation” but I’m a bit worried that it’s high season in August so that every place might be fulled booked and I might end up having to pay for some expensive place or not finding any place at all. What do you think I should do?
    Thank you in advance,

    1. Hi Kevin. Flying into Kos and out of Rhodes is a great idea. You’ll get the opportunity to see lots in between. You could even take a short ferry over to Marmaris, Turkey if you want to add a new country to your list. Marmaris has a beautiful port/coast and lots of charm/character. I recommend it if you have the time to do a day trip.

      Honestly, I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble finding accommodations on the eastern islands. Also, worst case scenario you could book a last minute airbnb or whatever. If you’re really worried about it, book places ahead of time. Just remember that’s going to cut into your spontaneity. Best of luck!

  33. Ryan,

    Really appreciate your post! My wife and I are planning a trip to the Greek Islands the last week of September. I had planned 2 days in Athens, 3 days in Mykonos and 5 days in Santorini. I am thinking of scrapping Mykonos and going to Milos instead. I think the beautiful beaches and scenery are more to our liking. I have read on other travel forums that Milos really shuts down after the first part of September and that it might be too slow, things shut down, etc. toward the end of the month. I see that accommodations are available and I found at least one boat tour operator still has a round the island tour running. Are most of the restaurants/ bars already shut down around that time?

    Appreciate any thoughts you have and thanks again!


    1. Hey Daniel. Your plan sounds perfect. As far as Mykonos vs. Milos goes the only real question is if you want to party. If you want the party scene, Mykonos is the place to be. If you’re looking to relax and go on adventures to amazing beaches then Milos is your best bet.

      Most Greek Islands start to slow down mid to late September. I can’t tell you for sure as far as what dates things start to really close.

      I wish you the best of luck on your trip. Please loop back and follow up about how your trip went!

  34. Thanks for this advice, I was really apprehensive on all the travels , but now Iam very excited to travel these Islands with my lovely lady.
    Thank you Ryan

  35. just found your page, its fab, my husband and I love Greece will be looking into it in depth as we would like to do the island hopping. We have done Santorini, Mykonos, Olympia and Athens on a Cruise. Was not impressed with Santorini where the ship docked not typical Greece for us very cosmopolitan but would love to try it again but different area. Loved little venice Mykonos.
    We go back to Rhodes September our 3rd time, we hire a car and go round the island looking at going to Simi this year. But looking at your blog i’m interested in doing a island hopper next year for our 50th birthday. So any advise would be gladly received.

    1. Thanks Donna — so glad to hear you’re headed back to Greece.

      1. Yes, I completely agree. Then again, usually just about anywhere a cruise ship docks ends up being the worst and most touristy part of the island. Sorry to hear that because Santorini is a gem of a destination when done properly.

      2. Like yourselves, I absolutely love Rhodes. I’m not sure if you caught it but I wrote a short guide to Rhodes a while back which you can find here:

      3. I highly recommend Symi. Coincidentally enough, I just published a guide to Symi today. You can find it here:

      4. Have you ever thought of joining a Sun Fun You voyage for a week at sea? It’s an amazing trip which includes island hopping, staying active, eating healthy and so much more. You can find them at:

      It’s a trip of a lifetime. This year will be my third year on board and I’ve done more than 4 voyages with them. I might even be able to score you a small discount if you’re interested. Let me know your thoughts.

      Best of luck and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

      Thank you so much for the feedback by the way

  36. Hello Ryan, thanks for the post!
    I have a doubt – are there ferries connecting Milos and Santorini in late november? I would like to visit both islands, just as you told, but I just can’t find in internet any information about ferries between these 2 islands in winter season. Could you help me? Do you have any informaton about it?
    Thanks in advance!

  37. Hello Ryan! Just found your page :) me and my friend are planning to go to Greece this coming September. And base from your suggestions I think ill suggest to my friends we will try the itinerary first from Athens, Santorini and Milos! But we only have 4 days. Can you help me breakdown how many days should we fit in 3 places I mention? our point of entry might be Athens first. Should we stay more in Athens? or santorini? could you recommend and good/cheap place to stay on those 3 places? hope you could help me, ryan! :) Thanks and looking forward to your reply! :D

    1. Hi Jen — Thanks for the comment.

      Congrats on your upcoming trip. I would suggest the following:

      1 Day in Athens
      2 Days in Santorini
      1 Day in Milos

      To be honest your trip is a little too short to fit all three but it can be done if you really hustle. I guess if I were you I would ask yourselves are you more interested in seeing the views/sunsets and charm of Santorini or are you more interested in exploring beautiful beaches (Milos)? That might help you choose between Santorini or Milos and give you some extra time in one of those destinations.

  38. Hi! Love reading you and all the comments, its great.
    We are family of 5 (kids:15-14-11 old) planning 17 days in Greece…on a budget!!! (june-july)
    We will be visiting our friends in the Messinia region for a week or so, but would love to visit Athens and Santorini to show the kids.
    I was planning on renting a car arriving at the airport for the entire stay.
    This is my question: Do you think we could travel “car free” the first week (Athens and Santorini) then rent for the second part of our trip which is to drive across to the Messinia region? I find that the car takes a big lump of $$$ of my budget!!!
    How would you play it?!!!
    I really appreciate your thoughts!
    Will continue reading!!
    Thanks, Cheers!

    1. Hi Jennifer. Thanks for the feedback!

      Yes, you can absolutely travel car free in both Athens and Santorini and as a matter of fact, I highly recommend doing it that way. Driving and finding parking in Athens is complicated and you won’t want to deal with either. Athens is a very walkable city and worst case you can always download the app called TaxiBeat to catch reputable taxis when you want to go somewhere that is a little further outside of the center. In Santorini I recommend renting a car but only for a day or two because you’ll want to explore some of the beaches (red beach, black beach) and also for heading to Oia to see the sunsets.

      Wishing you the best from Athens!


  39. Great informative post, Ryan. Any tips on where in Greece I should spend 3 weeks for Winter for a first timer? Around 1 week before Christmas through to New Year + 1 week after.

    1. Unfortunately, the islands are pretty quiet in the winter. So quiet that much of the island shuts down for the season. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a winter trip there due to the time of year, the weather and the amount of establishments that will be available to you.

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