Excellent choice of islands, though getting between them presents one or two challenges (they are not as conveniently connected like the Cycladic or Dodecanese islands so island hopping is not as popular in this island group). All three islands are served by airports with year-round connections to Athens and in the Summer with international charter flights from Europe. Let’s take the pros and cons of each island.
This 80-mile-long island is home to one of the oldest dive operations in the Bahamas. It hosts multiple shallow and deep dive sites, but is most well known for Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest recorded blue hole in the archipelago at over 600 feet. Friendly turtles and tiny sea horses come to the warm, saltwater pool for a break from the ocean currents, while the coral caves and sand banks on the side of the entrance harbor all types of tropical reef life, from colorful tropical fish to groupers and snappers. The western shoreline of  Long Island has soft, sandy beaches edged with rich green mangroves. With the Atlantic to the east, the island is also a fishing, sailing, and yachting paradise.
These groups are generally better connected among themselves than with other groups, so you are probably better advised to target them on this basis. As it’s your first time to Greece, you may want the full-on Greek island experience and you could easily fill your five weeks flitting from one island to the other in the Cyclades. You could start in Kea and work your way down to Milos via Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos then segue to Paros and Naxos. Dip down to Santorini, up to Mykonos and back to Piraeus. The map will also show plenty of other Cyclades islands to pick and choose from such as Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Amorgos, Syros, Tinos and Andros – yes! too many choices, but you will find that sticking to one group it will be easier to get between them. Realistically for a period of five weeks you will not want to be doing more than 6-8 islands.
Great list Matt! Indeed, there obviously there are some spots on this globe I have to visit. Can confirm the Maldives though. Has changed over time, but then again, the first time they were still “exploring” their “tourist economy” potential. Been there twice now and although definitely more crowded still holds its appeal. Be prepared for culture shock though. If you return to the “civilised world” you will wonder about the rest of the grubby world and catch yourself day dreaming regularly. 😉
These groups are generally better connected among themselves than with other groups, so you are probably better advised to target them on this basis. As it’s your first time to Greece, you may want the full-on Greek island experience and you could easily fill your five weeks flitting from one island to the other in the Cyclades. You could start in Kea and work your way down to Milos via Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos then segue to Paros and Naxos. Dip down to Santorini, up to Mykonos and back to Piraeus. The map will also show plenty of other Cyclades islands to pick and choose from such as Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Amorgos, Syros, Tinos and Andros – yes! too many choices, but you will find that sticking to one group it will be easier to get between them. Realistically for a period of five weeks you will not want to be doing more than 6-8 islands.
The next big island north is Corfu, the grandmother of all holiday packaged islands, but with plenty of other individualized retreats. Arguably the prettiest of all the islands, it is lush, green and clean though it can get a bit cluttered in high Summer. Pretty well all the options you want are on offer, but the best hikes and ramblings are to be had away from the central east coast. Author Gerald Durrell chose well in Corfu: his famous White House in the north-west of the island is at the little seaside village of Kalami.
We are wanting to hit 3 islands and have narrowed it down to Corfu, Crete, and Santorini. I was feeling pretty good about this but I haven’t seen a lot of hype for Corfu. I was thinking it would be more unique as compared to the other 2 with its proximity to Italy and Turkey and Albania. Am I missing something, do you have any insight you could provide, please?
Hi Dave! I’m planning my honeymoon for early September, starting from Santorini. I’d like to hit Naxos, Paros and finally Milos before returning to Athens. Is this order of islands doable? I’m most concerned about ferries being available to each of the islands, especially Paros to Milos. Are ferries routinely available daily in September? Also, for all these islands would three full days each be too much or not enough? My wife and I aren’t into nightlife, just looking for relaxation, great beaches, beautiful water and amazing food! Thanks!

Question: Is it worth taking the evening ferry on the 4th Sep to Crete (Heraklion) from Santorini, then the bus onto Chania so that we can do the Samaria Gorge on the 5th? Spending the full day in Chania on the 6th and taking the last flight out of Chania that night back to Athens? (or do you think this is trying to squeeze in too much in too little time)?
They are located north of Australia and east of Bali and offer stunning tropical scenery, a remarkable history, friendly villages, and some of the globe’s most pristine, biologically diverse coral reefs. The only way to reach them is to island-hop the Indonesian archipelago by small planes, ferry services, or eco-friendly cruises for serious divers but it is more than worth the trouble.
Nine weeks in Greece is a dream itinerary it certainly gives you lots of flexibility. As you seem to have Athens and the Peloponnese sorted, you just need to sort out your five weeks on the islands. What you need to realize, however, is that the islands are not all mutually interconnected, but rather they are ‘grouped’ – both administratively and from the point of view of transport routes. Here are the main groups.
We’re planning a Greece trip to celebrate our 25th anniversary in September 2017 We plan to arrive in Athens and directly take train to Kalambaka/Meteora (2 nights), then down to Delphi (hotel stay in Athens), a day to see sights in Athens, a day trip to Nafplio and then leave to explore islands. Our plan is to go to Naxos for 4-5 nights, then to Santorini (for our anniversary) for 4 nights, and then to Crete for 5-6 nights. I would like to see Delos and wonder if it’s possible to stop in Mykonos, do the tour to Delos and still be able to catch ferry to Naxos the same day?

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My sister (32 years young) and myself (28 years young) are traveling to Greece from 22nd Aug – 6th Sept 2017. This will be the first visit for my sister and my second visit so I am trying to show her my favourite places as well as visit new ones myself (i have only ever been to mykonos and santorini). Our trip starts in Athens for 2 days, Mykonos for 6 days, Santorini for 5 days and leaving us with 3 days to spare at the end of the trip. (4th Sept – 7th Sept) We fly out of Athens in the am on the 7th Sept so need to be back in Athens prior to this.
My husband and I are heading to Greece in July this year. We fly into Athens and then are connecting to Samos where we are meeting up for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration. We have 4 nights here and then another week to explore some other islands. We would love to visit Santorini although I know it is not close to Samos so not sure if that is the best option? We thought about Paros or Naxos for 3nts, and then Santorini for another 3nts. Then fly back to Athens and spend a couple of days here before we head for Dubrovnik. Do you know if there are ferries between these Island points and would that be the best use of our time? I guess we don’t want to waste too much time travelling between points! We are just playing around with ideas at the moment as Samos is the only part set in stone. Open to any suggestions as this is my husband’s first trip to Greece and my last trip here was with my parents about 35 years ago!

Hi Dave, going to Greece in September from the 3rd to 18th. Paros and Milos are pretty much decided but we are not sure about adding a 3rd island. We arrive in Athens early in the day from an overnight flight so will be jetlagged. My husband is staying on for an additional week near Thessaloniki. We have already visited Athens, Aegina, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, and Rhodes. My husband isn’t really a beach person and I love the beach so we do need a mix of things to do. We are pretty fit and enjoy being Active. Great restaurants are a must. Any suggestions?

Also, if there are any other suggestions you have in general for Athens and Santorini I would love to hear them. I would like to be able to leave Athens early morning on Day 3 so that we can have almost a full day on our first island. We would like to see as much as we can without feeling like we are running around from island to island the whole time. 

My fiancé and I are interested in the Greek Islands for our honeymoon in early August. I know it’s not the ideal time to go, but it’s right after our wedding. We are two women in our late thirties. We’d fly into Athens and then I was thinking Santorini for 4 nights and then possibly one other island. We’re into the beach, snorkeling/boat trip, maybe a hike or bike ride and amazing food. We’re not interested in the party scene, but definitely want to explore amazing restaurants. You know, the perfect amount of romance and relaxation combined with culture and epic scenery. Suggestions? Thanks in advance!
Between Nydri and the next main tourism centre is the little port and beach of Mikros Gialos (small bay) that is a great little base for individual travellers for a day or three. The port village of Vasiliki on the southern underbelly of Lefkada is a haven for windsurfers: see this page or this one for more information. The little village is very pretty and is a good base for general holiday-making (as are the two other places). From Vasiliki there is a regular local ferry that runs to Fiskardo on Kefallonia (via Ithaca/Ithaki).

I’m traveling to Greece for the first time, and I’m so fortunate to be staying for about 9 weeks (peak season, unfortunately, I’m an educator and it’s summer!). I have ample time planned in Athens, and the Peloponnese (with rental car). Here’s where I need some help and suggestions. I have 5 weeks saved for the islands and I’m still trying to figure out how to spend them. I’m not sure if I’d like to cover just a few islands and soak them in a bit deeper with longer stays…or to travel at a quicker pace covering several islands in each main area (the Cyclades, Ionians, Crete-Rhodes Dodecanese, Eastern Islands) I’m an easy traveler and enjoy diversity. I crave spending time with locals and interacting with families – home stays at times, I enjoy the water and I’m an avid diver, I like hiking and exploring. Also, want to perhaps relax a bit – food/wine tasting welcomed). I’m excited about the trip and my ideas are racing all over. Do you have some ideas and suggestions to share? A rough sketch itinerary for Greece? Thanks so much!

I would recommend Naxos over Mykonos and with 12 days you could easily add Paros too. With Santorini, Paros, and Naxos you’ll get a good mix of different delights and some ferry island hopping too which is fun in itself. 1.5 days in Athens is perfect for most – 1 day for the Plaka, Parthenon, Acropolis Museum area; and a half-day to visit the Archaeological Museum which is a short drive or walk from the Plaka but hard to fit in one day along with the other sights.


Another South Pacific island group (see a pattern here?), the Cook Islands are pretty far off the map. OK, not too far, but they are considerably less visited than some of their neighbors. These tiny islands are named after James Cook, the intrepid man who discovered them. With few amenities, this is the best place to find your inner castaway and escape modern life. The islands see similar weather to the rest of the area, with temperatures hot and humid all year round.
It’s a tough call. The good news is that whatever you decide, it will feel like the right thing after you’ve done it. You’ll almost certainly say to yourself, “I’m so glad we saw both islands” or “I’m so glad we had 6 full days on Santorini.” In deciding I would ask whether a return trip to Greece is likely or possible in the next couple of years. If so, then spend your 6 days on Santorini and explore that island, then return to Crete at some time in the future for a deserving 7 to 10 days. But if this is a one-time deal for the foreseeable future then do 3 days on Santorini and 3 days in Crete. (Whatever you decide don’t do a day trip to the other island as it’s not worth the time and effort.)
Fabulous site Dave! I am taking my daughter to Greece for 12 days in late May 2017 as a grad gift (yeah I know…, I think my Dad gave me a Timex watch, but I digress) and we are flying into Santorini expecting to spend 5-6 days there then ferrying over to Mykonos (not really sure why?) for a couple days. A couple days there and then flying into Athens for 2-2.5 days to inject some culture into what is otherwise somewhat hedonistic trip. I was wondering, after reading about other islands whether it is worth going to Mykonos. I’d love to go to Crete but it seems to be tough to squeeze that in. The original plan was to go to Istanbul for a couple days but it seems really sketchy right now. So is Naxos a better idea than Mykonos? Should we stay longer in Santorini? Is 2.5 days too much for Athens? Any and all info is appreciated.
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