Time of the year we visited: September, 2018
Airlines Flown: British Airways
Airport we flown into: Santorini
Average cost of the flight: $500 roundtrip (we shared this fare)
Currency used: Euros
Note: this guide is very expansive and has lots of information. It took many hours to put together. If it helps you please share your feedback and your pictures. We hope you love it!
Yassas! (Hello in Greek)
This was our first time visiting Greece and we couldn’t be more exited to take in all of the culture, see the beautiful cave houses (also known as Cycladic houses) and the breathtaking beaches. For this trip, we opted to island hop instead of sticking to just one island. We also decided to visit some lesser known islands as we wanted smaller crowds.
Below we share our itinerary and tips for the following islands: Santorini, Naxos, Paros and Milos. We spent 2 days in each island and 1 day in between due to weather delays on the ferry. Be sure to show us some love on Instagram and/or Twitter if you find our guides helpful!
Where to Stay
We found a great deal through Airbnb (get $40 off your first booking here) for this home in Thira that was in the middle of the island, but still walking distance away from beaches and shopping areas.
Our host Rousettos, offered us transportation from the airport to the villa and when we checked out, he provided transport to the port to catch the ferry to our next destination. The villa itself was surrounded by mountain ranges and had a pool, 2 bedrooms, 4 (3 twins, 1 full/queen) beds in total and a futon that could be used as 5th bed. It also had a kitchen area, TV, AC and WiFi. The rental came with free breakfast every morning (between 9 and 10am) and a free rental car! This was a MUST to get around the island at our leisure. The host was super friendly and accommodating and also made some great recommendations for our stay.
Since we had a rental car provided by our Airbnb host, we did not have a need to book any additional services. For your visit, it is important to note there are many buses and taxi services available on the island, as well as car and ATV rentals.
To island hop, we utilized the ferry port to get to our next destination. We booked all of our ferries using Ferryhopper. If you are unsure if it’s more cost or time efficient to fly or do a ferry, you can use the application Rome2Rio to compare options (we have a Instagram tutorial on our “Travel Apps” highlights).
What To Do There are so many things to do and places to see on this beautiful island. We share some of our favorites below:
Gorgeous beach with its unique black sand. There are lounge chairs and umbrellas available for rent. Two 2 chairs and 1 umbrella will run you at about $12. The water is clear and although you will catch some waves, it is a must see. This was walking distance from our Airbnb. Restaurants and shops are in the vicinity.
This beach was beautiful and scenic. We hiked up the trail and took great pictures before settling down and enjoying the beach. There is one restaurant on the beach, a few are within walking distance.
This was another beautiful beach in Santorini, probably our favorite from the ones we visited. The water was much calmer here and the surrounding views were indescribable. There’s also a small restaurant by the beach.
We were the most excited to visit this town. This is probably Santorini’s most famous area for its breathtaking views and local architecture and it did not disappoint. We visited both during the day and night to catch some great views, get some shopping done and try some local restaurants. Come with your walking shoes, as you can get lost for hours walking through its many passageways and finding new things on every turn.
Where to Eat
Come here for seafood! It is also Vegetarian friendly.
Open 24 hours! This was our favorite spot to get our morning Frappe (iced coffees) and baked goods. We found ourselves coming here often as it was a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb. The staff was super nice and welcoming.
Would you like a side of views with that meal? Another great place for seafood
This was a beautiful restaurant for dinner (maybe even lunch) in Oia. It has a nice view overlooking the ocean, however it is quite dark after the sun goes down. The service was OK, and the food was good. Please note that this restaurant is very small, expect to be in tight quarters. There is also no reservation system, your party must be present while waiting to be seated.
This was a cute little spot right on the ferry port that offers, breakfast lunch and dinner. We stopped here for an “American breakfast” before we embarked on our journey to Naxos. The food was delicious and service was great.
Great wines, delicious food and great service.
After Santorini we made our way to Naxos which was a 4 hour ferry ride due to the stops it made. If you book ahead of time you can get the faster ferry which is normally 1.5 hours. It was approximately $16 per person, or you can book the faster option for about $50 per person (remember all of our ferries were booked on Ferryhopper)
This island is STUNNING! From it’s beautiful, deep blue Aegean waters, to the history and astounding ruins. This was a last minute booking (we had to skip Crete) and it surpassed any expectations we had going in. If Naxos was never on your list of islands to visit in Greece, you MUST add it now!
Where to stay
We booked a last minute stay through Expedia at Margo Studios in the town of Eggares (about a 5 minute drive from the port). This hotel was charming, small and the staff was extremely nice and helpful. We were greeted and immediately taken care of, they helped us with our luggage and offered us tips for our stay, including a detailed map with loads of recommendations.
We rented a car on the island for $42 per day from Naxos Rent A car and it was well worth it. In the Ferry port area you will find a large assortment of shops and restaurants. The hotel also provided us with free coffee in the morning (of course we chose the frappes) as well as baked goods. We would definitely recommend it! Plus they will pick you up/drop you off at port if needed.
What to do
Hang on tight, this is a long one as there is so much to do and see in Naxos.
A sandy, semi organized beach with crystal clear waters and beautiful views. The drive from our hotel was not bad, it was alongside the mountain side so it made for some great pictures. There is a restaurant (Avali) on the east side of the beach and you can rent chairs and umbrellas, but we opted to sit on the sand with our own towels.
This was truly a beautiful sight to see. The first ruins we saw on our Greece trip and they did not disappoint. Portara is located just a short walk from the port and it gets super busy at sunset so make sure you get there in time to catch it (you won’t want to miss it). You also get a beautiful view of the island from this point.
At Aliko beach you get more than just a beach. You get an abandoned resort that was never finished and has since become the canvas to some awesome works of arts from many artists including Wilddrawing. You will get some fantastic views from here, especially if you find your way to the top of the ruins. The beach itself was one of the nicest ones on this island with the clearest water we have seen.
A gorgeous small town, with lots of old town character. It is full of beautiful architecture, old homes and great local shopping. Bring your walking shoes and camera after the beach and enjoy this awesome town. There are also some cute restaurants you can grab a snack or meal from.
Another beautiful town in Naxos. There are also some great ruins to explore from here, but require a 1.5 hour hike (we did not get to do this due to time constraints). A charming little town with lots of greenery and restaurants galore.
These ruins are in the middle of the island and are surrounded by the mountains. The path leading up to the temple is lush and full of greenery. Enjoy your stop here and be mindful of the area (don’t litter and don’t smoke here). There is a small museum here we did not get to explore because it was closed. Bathrooms are open in this area as well.
We took the ferry from Naxos to Paros. The trip was approximately 45 minutes and cost $12 per person. Paros was probably our favorite island of the whole trip. It had magnificent beaches with crystal clear waters and plenty to do. We found ourselves the busiest while on this island trying to cramp as much as possible into 2 days. Because of this, we would recommend a minimum of 3 days here if you are planning to visit.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Aratos Hotel, which we booked through Airbnb. We chose this place because of its proximity to the port, the beach and shopping. We also rented a car on this island to get around at our leisure. The hotel offers 1 free breakfast and has a cute patio area to sit in and a balcony.
These 2 towns in Paros were some of our favorites because they had something for everyone. Both had ample restaurants and souvenir shopping, as well as old town feels and great architecture that you come to expect in Greece. Bring a good camera and strike a pose!
This beach was possibly one of our favorites! The water was calm, clear, blue, waist deep for what seemed like forever, and more. We loved it so much we ended up here twice. This beach has only one restaurant that’s within walking distance, but we did not visit it.
This was another amazing beach. It has both soft sand and rocks so enter the water with a bit of caution. Once you are in, you will vastly enjoy the water and views. You can either swim up or walk to the nearest beach Glyfa. On the walk between the beaches, we got some amazing shots!
Where to Eat
This was an experience. We found this restaurant because we wanted Asian food and it was amazing. We got there right in time to catch the sunset and it was gorgeous. Service wasn’t the greatest, but the food was.
We traveled to Milos from Paros via Ferry. It was about a 4 hour ferry ride due to stop. It was $12 per person.
We stayed at this Airbnb while in Milos. The apartment was spacious and well kept. It was big enough for 4 guest to stay comfortably. It also included a kitchen and a beautiful patio area. The host arranged to pick us up from the port, but we had our own rental car.
What To Do
By the time we made it all the way to Milos, we were a bit tired of all the traveling, but it was well worth it. Milos seemed a lot more laid back than the other islands we had visited. We spent most of our time at the beach, since the main area closed early and did not have as much as the previous islands. I would highly suggest you keep that in mind when planning your visit. If you want gorgeous beaches, this is your destination but if you are looking for activities and multiple things to do, this is not the island for you.
This was the first beach we visited while in Milos. It was a gorgeous beach with amazing mountainside views. The sand was clean and the people were nice. It was a bit windy when we visited, so the sand got everywhere. There are small hut-like apartments you can rent right on the beach. It also has a beach side restaurant.
This was our favorite beach in Milos. The waters were beautifully blue and the mountains surrounding this beach made it for a breathtaking destination. The beach has a bar/restaurant where you can get some drinks and small bites. It is a hidden gem and a bit difficult to get to, but it is so worth it.
This beach was an ADVENTURE to get to! You have to hike down a steep, narrow crack in the rock using just a rope to hold. I would HIGHLY recommend you do this barefoot or in hiking sneakers because sandals or flip flops won’t get the job done. USE LOTS OF CAUTION! It is worth it so get there early as it is super small. You could also get to this beach via boat tour, but we went the adventurous route.
This was an awesome restaurant right by the port. We got some good food for just €10 each! Be mindful, everyone smokes here! It’s a bit off putting but when you eat outdoors, you will be subjected to A LOT of second hand smoke.
Overall, our experience in Greece was beyond what we expected. We are so glad we decided to visit different islands and experience different parts of the country. I would highly recommend you spend a minimum of about 2-3 days per island if you’re going to island hop.
-Once you decide on the islands you want to visit, book a car rental! This will save you some money and hassle.
-Know that everyone in Greece seems to smoke- like we mentioned before, be prepared for this.
-Book your ferries ahead of time! Also to save some money, book early ferries with a few stops.
-Exchange to Euros when the dollar is strong by tracking it via an app such this one. You can do it via your bank if the service is offered. If not, then wait until you arrive to do it at a local exchange house. Always void ICE Currency booths.
-Use euros instead of cards when shopping for souvenirs, it’s easier to haggle.
-Get an international drivers license. Most places will not rent you a car if you don’t have one and if you get caught without one, be ready to pay a €1,000 fine!
Nelson GermanTravel Contributor