Hello all. After my Rick Steves tour of Turkey I plan on heading out of the port of Kusadasi Turkey and exploring the Greek islands. My problem is many of the ferry schedules haven't been posted yet. My question is are the ferry services cut back or eliminated off peak? (I guess my answer to my own question is yes). Do I need to worry about it or do I just go for it.
Which islands do you hope to visit? Many places on the islands close from the end of September onwards and particularly by mid/late October, as tourists tend not to visit then due to the weather therefore the frequency of the ferry service also reduces.
If you are adventurous, I’d say go for it. You’ll get a ferry from Kusadasi to Samos, then can make your way to Athens and fly home from there. Check ferry schedules between now and your tour. They will be cut back but still running to most (if not all) islands. Familiarize yourself with the various islands, but don’t book hotels — bad weather can cause ferry cancellations.
When you get to Samos, plan to spend a couple of days to see that island and maybe visit a travel agent to brainstorm routes. Worst case, you could fly from Samos to Athens and spend your remaining time on the mainland and visiting the small islands (ie Aegina) near Athens.
You may run into rainy & cooler weather at that time of year — and the some islands may not have much in the way of hotels & restaurants— but you could also have lovely days. And certainly an adventure.
Just be sure to get back to Athens at least 3-4 days before your home flight, to give you a cushion in case of flight/ferry cancellations & to allow time to visit Athens itself.
There is a ferry leaving daily at 9am from Kusadasi to the island of Samos until the end of October.
There is no need to book in advance but if you want to do it, it's here:
Know that in Samos there are two ports. Depending on the island where you will go then it can be from one port or the other.
You did not specify from which city (country?) you will return home, and after how many days. It is therefore difficult to give you other indications.
In any case you will always find ferries whatever the time of year, they are essential to the economic life of the islands, even without tourists.
As Charlene told you, if you're in no rush to get home, you might as well not book anything at all. No accommodations or ferries.
Around September you will have a better view of the ferry schedules.
Check out ferryhopper.com or gtp.gr
gtp.gr has an interesting function in your case. It allows you to see all the ferry departures from a specific island as well as all the ports that will be served by these ferries.
So before you want to go from one island to another island, first check if it's possible:
And then double-check on the ferry company's website.
This is the website I used to find and book ferries in Greece. I did a quick test, no ferries showing from Kusadasi or Samos in late October or early November. There are ferries listed from Athens to Heraklion through Oct. 31. I believe ferries run all winter among the Greek islands. I suspect that ferries from Kusadasi are seasonal.
I visited 3 islands in October 2019. Early October on Crete, there were a goodly number of tourists, but nowhere was overwhelmed, everything - cafes, shops, restaurants, hotels, sights - were open. Santorini in mid-October was still too full of cruiseship daytrippers, but some services were beginning to shut down (my car driver said that was his last week before winter and my hotel was not full). Naxos was half shut down. There were only a couple of day tours still available, I was the only renter at my B&B, never saw a full restaurant and though the water was wonderful there were very few beachgoers. The only way to get from Kusadasi to a Greek island may be flying Izmir > Istanbul > Athens > island. I checked the wiki page for Heraklion's airport and there are no flights from Turkey.
As you have noticed, the schedules for this fall are not yet published or not reliable. Chani did not find a ferry at the end of October and that is normal, ferries.gr has not yet integrated them into its database. That's why you should always check with the company itself. In the case of Kusadasi-Samos, Meandertravel has published its timetables until the end of October 2022.
You will find them here:
I also want to warn about booking ferry tickets with ferries.gr.
This is one of the websites that charges extra fees when you use it to book your tickets.
For example about the Kusadasi-Samos route, it costs 31€ but ferries.gr will charge you 35€. That is about 15% more expensive
From Samos the choice of ferries to the Greek islands will be relatively limited. Maybe it will be easier to fly to Athens.
Please permit me to piggy-back on this topic. I'm planning our island hopping in the Dodecanese Islands, also leaving from Kusadasi, Turkey in mid-September 2022. This is a 2 week detour into Greece during our 9 week trip in Turkey.
I've planned the Greek Isles part of our trip as follows. Putting this together was quite the feat. I couldn't follow my original plan of days at each island because of the ferry schedule. In fact, one day we'll have to ferry at 3:25 am for 3 hours. Horrible, but it was the best of the poor choices!
I found this to be the most helpful (after looking at MANY) - I chose the "Island Hopping" and went from there.
I saw that someone said not to book your hotels in case your ferry is canceled due to bad weather, but I've just finished booking our hotels and noticed that the budget options are very slim for the last part of September. I suppose Oct & Nov would be less competitive.
I'm not sure if I should pre-purchase our ferry tickets or not? Any input on that? I tend to be a planner and think I might feel better if we have the ferries already scheduled....
Ferry Sept 19, Turkey Kusadasi to Samos Vathay, Meander Travel
Ferry Sept 21, Vathay Samos to Kos, Port, Blue Star Ferries
Ferry Sept 26, Kos to Symi, Blue Star Ferries
Ferry Sept 28, Symi to Rhodes, Sea Dreams
Ferry Oct 3, Rhodes to Marmaris (MAR) Turkey
In September and October it is not essential to book in advance.
You can possibly book the Kusadasi to Samos in advance as well as Samos to Kos (the 3:25 am ferry, sorry for you)
In Kos you stay 5 nights, you will have plenty of time to reserve the Kos-Symi when you are in Kos, as well as the Symi to Rhodes.
Same thing once in Rhodes to reserve the Rhodes-Marmaris.
The problem with Island Hopping is that the weather can change all your plans, the risks are low but they exist. But don't worry, in this season you will mostly of time find an arrangement with the accommodation that you have Booked and the ferry tickets are exchangeable at no cost.
Anyway in the event of a bad weather, even the day before your trip they will not be able to confirm if the ferry will navigate or not the next day.
So book 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 months in advance ....
Many sites including the one mentioned above https://gtp.gr/greekferries.asp and ferryhopper.com permit you to book ferries that are not running. I'm trying to plan a mid October hop and have found that many are curtailed or unreliable after September. Since we will be in Greece for a week post cruise we were hoping to see a couple islands. By these accounts this is not possible. Any suggestions? From goferry.com:
We put in the spotlight some of our favorite customer searches, combining desires with the availability of popular routes to the Greek Islands by Ferry.
Ferry Athens to Mykonos, Athens-Tinos, Athens-Paros, Athens-Naxos: daily departures with regular ferries, throughout the year. High-speed ferries from May to September.
Ferry Athens to Santorini: 3-4 weekly departures in the wintertime and daily regular and high-speed ferries from April to October.
Ferry Santorini to Mykonos: Multi daily departures with fast ferries from April to October. No ferries the rest of the months!
Ferry Crete to Santorini, Crete-Ios, Crete-Paros, Crete-Mykonos, Crete-Naxos: 3 daily high-speed and 1 regular ferry sailing from the port of Heraklion from April to October.
Athens to Zante, Kefalonia: There isn't any ferry connection from Athens. Take the daily ferry from Kyllini (Killini) in the northwest of Peloponnese, throughout the year. From June to September there is a daily ferry from Patras to Kefalonia and Patras-Ithaca.
To my knowledge all Greek ferry booking websites and Greek travel agencies use the same database: "Liknoss" which is roughly the equivalent of Amadeus or Sabre for flights.
So whatever internet service or travel agent you use, its information will come from that source.
Most Greek ferry companies send their schedules to Liknoss (and schedule updates with varying degrees of efficiency)
The difference will be in the way of presenting or managing this information (not to mention the overcharging made by some websites).
To go from one island to another it is useless to book a ferry in January for a trip in August, all you will get 9 times out of 10 is a ferry ticket which probably corresponds to the schedules of the previous year because the ferry companies do not schedule departures so far in advance.
However the morning departure times from Piraeus are quite stable from one year to the next.
If the ferries are essential all year round to economic and social life in the islands, those which connect Santorini to Mykonos for example are not useful for their inhabitants, if there were some out of tourist season they would be 95% empty of passengers , so there are few or none at all out of tourist season, you will have to go through Athens.