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A Guide To Greek Island Hopping in the Cyclades [updated 2024]

Does your dream travel list include Greek Island Hopping in the Cyclades? But how do you start planning your Greek vacation with over 6,000 Greek Islands along its 16,000 km coastline to choose from, lucky for travellers there are only 227 that are habitable. In the Cyclades region, there are 250 islands, islets and reefs.

The Cyclades is a group of stunningly beautiful Greek islands that offer an unforgettable island-hopping experience. Each island in the archipelago has its unique character, history, and attractions, making it a traveller’s paradise. From the white-washed buildings of Santorini to the lively nightlife of Mykonos and the serene way of life in Paros, there’s something for everyone.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the most popular destinations in the Cyclades and provide tips on how to make your Greek island-hopping adventure an unforgettable one. Travelling with kids? A great trip for them is introduce Greece with a 10-day itinerary that includes Athens, Mykonos and Santorini.

If you are first-timers visiting Greece or returning visitors there are so many interesting facts about Greece that you may want to read up on to help you plan your vacation.

The most popular Greek Island hopping is in the Cyclades.  With short ferry journey times and more frequent schedules, the islands of Mykonos, Paros and Santorini are the best Greek Islands for island hopping.  We have done it and it was a breeze and definitely the best way to see the Cyclades group.

We have put together a guide to Greek Island Hopping in the Cyclades to assist you in planning how to island-hop in Greece.  When you plan your adventure in Greece you will also need to consider when is the best time to visit.

The best way to Greek Island hop is by ferry as there are few airports.

Love buying souvenirs when you travel? You will be spoilt for choice when shopping for Greek souvenirs and gifts to take home.

Need to book a ferry? Click here for full details.

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Greek Island Hopping
The lights of Mykonos Town

If you decide to island-hop in the Cyclades you are spoilt for choice for accommodation.  There are many places for rent in Greece and nothing beats staying in a villa with views over the Caldera in Santorini or relaxing at sunset by your private pool with a cocktail in hand with the twinkle of lights from Mykonos Town below you.

Greek Island Hopping
Villas with swimming pools overlooking the Caldera in Santorini

In Paros, our favourite area to stay is near the capital Parikia, with its seafront restaurants and charismatic cobblestoned streets and whitewashed churches and the iconic windmill by the Port.

Where are the Cyclades

The Cyclades are a group of Islands close to the capital of Athens in the Aegean Sea.  There are over 220 islands in the group.  The most popular ones are Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Ios and Tinos.

Cyclades Greek Islands Map

Greek Island Hopping



Greek Island Hopping Around the Cyclades

There are 6 popular Greek Island ferries:

  • Blue Star Ferries (we have experienced Blue Star Ferries when we travelled from Mykonos to Paros and then onto Santorini)
  • Golden Star Ferries
  • Cyclades Fast Ferries
  • Seajets
  • Small Cyclades Line

For bookings and more information click here.

We prefer to travel the Greek Islands by ferry that we have organised ourselves.  The ferries are very comfortable, all have restaurants, gift shops, ATMs and most offer Wifi on board.

Greek Island Hopping Tips: The Greek Islands are one of the most popular destinations in the European Summer and you will need to book your ferry and accommodation well in advance.  With ferry bookings as soon as they release their schedule for the year, we recommend booking.

If you are prone to seasickness it would be advisable to book a larger ferry such as Blue Star Ferries, the faster smaller seajets can have you reaching for that sick bag.

Also, the faster smaller jets may cancel  if the weather is bad.

Examples of ferry travel times between Greek islands

Greek Island Hopping

Athens to Mykonos

If you are considering travelling from Athens to Mykonos the fastest journey is with Seajet taking 2 hours and 15 minutes or Blue Star Ferries 5 hours 15 minutes.

Mykonos to Paros

Fastest journey with Hellenic Seaways: 45 minutes

Golden Star Ferries: 1 hour 15 minutes

Paros to Thira (Santorini)

Fastest journey with Hellenic Seaways:  1 hour 45 minutes

Blue Star Ferries: 3 hours

Mykonos to Thira (Santorini)

Fastest journey with Seajets: 3 hours

Golden Star Ferries: 5 hours

Greek Island Cruises

Greek Island Hopping
Cruise ships in Santorini at sunset

If you prefer to have your Greece cruise organised for you there are many options to travel to and enjoy the Cyclades. Greece Tours are popular and we recommend booking in advance during the summer high season.

A 2-day tour from Athens to Santorini and Mykonos

Tour description:

Early morning transportation to the port of Rafina. Embarkation on the ferry to Santorini. After a 6-hours cruise in the Aegean Sea, you will see the imposing scenery of the famous caldera rising in front of you, as the ferry approaches the port.

Upon arrival, you will meet our driver (holding a sign with your name) who will transfer you to your hotel in Santorini. Then you will have free time until the next  morning, when the driver will transfer you back to the port of Santorini where you will embark on the ferry to Mykonos.

Upon arrival at Mykonos, you will have free time to explore the picturesque settlement of the city or go shopping to the famous designers’ shops of Matoyanni neighbourhood and enjoy fresh seafood at the local restaurants by the sea!

In the evening, you will embark on the ferry that will bring you back to Rafina and from there our driver will transfer you back to your hotel in Athens.

What To Do In Mykonos

Map of Mykonos Island Greece

Greek island hopping






A visit to the island of Mykonos must include a day out in Mykonos Town. Those iconic shots of whitewashed buildings with colourful bougainvillaea draped over wooden balconies, busy restaurants full of locals and travellers alike enjoying a meal under grapevine courtyards and cobblestoned streets are what will greet you when you wander the back streets.

Greek Island Hopping
The windmills of Mykonos

The 16th-century windmills of Mykonos are a photographer’s delight and a major tourist attraction of Mykonos Town.

For waterfront dining or just a coffee or a cocktail at sunset head to Little Venice in Mykonos Town.  Little Venice is also popular for shopping and souvenir shopping. If you enjoy walking tours and learning more about Mykonos a walking tour with a local guide is highly recommended.

If Greek food is one of your favourite cuisines you can now enjoy a cooking class where you can learn the cooking methods and secrets of Mykonian food.

A perfect end to a day of dining and shopping in Mykonos is a sunset cruise, where you can enjoy a relaxing sail with a glass of wine or ouzo with some savoury snacks.

There is so much to see and do in and around Mykonos, you will be spoilt for choice, don’t forget to make time to visit many of the local beaches.

Our favourite area on the island of Mykonos is Ornos Bay, a short bus ride from Mykonos Town.  There are several restaurants to choose from and our favourite is Aperanto Galazio.

Top things to do in Mykonos Greece


For the top ten restaurants rated by travellers for Tripadvisor click the link below.

Greek Island Hopping

What To Do in Santorini

Map of Santorini

Greek Island Hopping

Santorini is our favourite Greek Island.  On our trips to Greece, we have spent over two months staying in Oia.  When planning a trip to Greece it is worth doing some research on where you want to stay, you could consider Imerovigli, Firostefani or Fira which are located overlooking the Caldera (a cauldron-like volcanic depression) with stunning sunset views.

Greek Island Hopping
Sunset Cruise Santorini

One of the fun things we did in Santorini was the Sunset Cruise with a meal.  Included in the cruise was time to swim and snorkel. A BBQ dinner was included, a perfect end to the day sailing the Aegean Sea with the stunning orange sunsets that Santorini is famous for.

We would recommend Oia and Fira for shopping.  There are the usual souvenir shops but also some local craft and jewellery shops which are worth visiting, not to mention the olive oil and wine shops.

Top things to do in Santorini Greece


Our favourite restaurant in Ammoudi Bay is the Sunset Ammoudi Taverna (reservations are required if you intend to dine at sunset).

Our favourite restaurant in Oia is Roka which is hidden down a back lane well from the tourist path with an excellent menu and great service. Reservations are required in the evening during the high season.

If you enjoy hiking we can recommend hiking from Fira to Oia or the reverse.  The best time to start is just before sunrise before the heat of the day.  You will visit the villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia along the way.  It can take anywhere between 2 and 5 hours and we highly recommend that you take lots of water with you. The return journey can be made by local taxi or local bus.

If you are in Oia spend some time wandering around the back streets of the village.  The scenic cobblestoned back streets offer many photographic opportunities.  If you love taking photos of doors,  geranium-filled window boxes and colourful bougainvillaea clinging to the sides of whitewashed cottages you will need to allow a couple of hours.

For the top ten restaurants in Santorini rated by Tripadvisor, reviewers click below.

Greek Island Hopping

What to Do in Paros

Map of Paros

Greek Island Hopping

Parikia (the capital of Paros) and the village of Naoussa are the main villages on the island of Paros. Most of the activities on Paros can be found here.  The two best beaches on Paros are Golden Beach and New Golden Beach.

Parikia has traditional Cycladic architecture.  If you wander through the back streets you will come across strikingly whitewashed cottages with bright pink bougainvillaea and blue-domed churches. On our afternoon wander we came across small groups of local men playing dominoes in the shade with their glasses filled with the local Ouzo.

Seafood restaurants line the waterfront. We spent quite a few lazy lunchtimes enjoying freshly grilled fish and our favourite dish – Greek Salad served with a chilled bottle of the local white wine.

There is a small castle that dates back to the 13th century in the town – it is known as the Kastro.  Today all that is left is a wall and a tower.  There is also a small archaeological museum that is worth a visit.


Greek Island Hopping
The village of Naoussa

The village of Naoussa, 10km away from Parikia, is a picturesque fishing village that has kept to its traditional way of life.  It is popular with beach-goers as well as party-goers as some of the bars are open until dawn.

Top tours to do in Paros Greece

For the top ten restaurants in Paros rated by Tripadvisor click below:

Greek Island Hopping

Flights to the Greek Islands

There are airports on Mykonos and Santorini.

Flight Deals to the Greek Islands

Find the cheapest flights with Skyscanner our go-to when researching and booking flights throughout the world.

Travel Insurance

We recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your flights and pay deposits on any cruises, tours or hotels.

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In conclusion, Greek Island hopping holidays is a truly magical experience that should be on every traveller’s bucket list. With its stunning beaches, picturesque villages, and rich cultural heritage, the Cyclades offer something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to party all night or relax on a secluded beach with crystal-clear waters, there are plenty of options to choose from. So why not set sail and explore this beautiful corner of Greece? You won’t regret it!



Thanks for stopping by and welcome to To Travel Too – Australia’s top Baby Boomer lifestyle and travel blog, with an international worldwide audience in mind, run by the married couple, freelance writers and full-time travellers Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith. Come with us as we explore the world. Our two mantras that we live by are 'chase time not money' and 'age is no barrier when it comes to travel'.

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