My daughter is studying abroad Spring semester and would like to visit some of the Greek Islands. What is the most economical way to visit them? Do they have hostels? Thank you!
Where is daughter. Athens?
I would suggest she look into Ferry schedules.. but a lot depends on when she expects to be able to go.. there is not much going on in the winter on the islands, I don't think it really starts opening up till late April or early May. Guess that also depends on which islands she is thinking of visiting. I suggest she do her homework and research on that possibility when she arrives for school there herself.
Have her get a copy of T. Cook's "Greek Island Hopping" so she can make an educated decision as to which islands to visit. Using the ferry system is usually the most economical way to visit. I say 'usually' because Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, both now operated as one company, do offer some very inexpensive promotional prices on their websites from time to time, although almost all flights between islands require a return to Athens for a plane change. Sticking to one island group to keep travel time short makes the best sense as far as convenient access and time management are concerned. The primary ferry port for departure from Athens is "Piraeus". Here is a fairly accurate map of ferry routes: http://www.sailingissues.com/yachting-guide/map-ferries.gif Once next year's ferry schedules are posted she can see them here: http://www.gtp.gr and here: http://www.openseas.gr Look for 2016 schedules in March or early April. The islands will be very quiet until about a week before Greek Easter weekend, which is May 1 in 2016. Until then most hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops and galleries will be closed. The sea will most likely be too cold for swimming until sometime in May. There are some hostels but not as many as you might think. She can check the hostel booking websites to see what might be available: http://www.hostelworld.com and http://www.hostels.com She can also use the filter system on http://www.booking.com to find affordable rooms on any island.
Websites such as this one, Lonely Planet, Fodor's and TripAdvisor are excellent sources of information from dedicated contributors once she knows more about where she wants to visit and can provide the necessary details.
The v. good T. Cook guide Lee recommends is no longer published, so like she would have to find a copy in a library or used, on Amazon. Another useful reference for the College Crowd would be LET's GO GREECE ... both of these are mainly focussed on midsummer travels, so activities, lodging etc. wouldn't be appropriate for anything before April. But they do give an idea of the "ambience" of the most popular islands. A more Thorough guide might be ROUGH GUIDE ... either new or Used.
Lee's absolutely right that she can get super advice on the 3 other forums mentioned -- they in fact have far more experienced Greece-travelers than RS, which tends to attract mostly Americans, mostly quite new to travel. The key to getting the best help is in his words "once she knows more about where she wants to visit and can provide the necessary details."
People respond less frequently when someone says, "I'm a student who wants to visit Greek isles next Spring; tell me what I need to know." That means working in the dark, guesswork, often wasted effort, when advice proves to be irrelevant.
The BEST advice results when someone can say something like:
"I'm studying abroad in Spring 2016 in (city/country) and am hoping to get away during (month or months) to see a few of the Greek Isles. I would have (x days) at a time. I'm hoping that I could do it, living very cheaply for (xx Euros) per day to cover 3 meals, a bed for the night, public transportation, and a few Euros for entry fees. From my research so far, the 2-3 islands that interest me, and are reasonably close together are XXX, XXX and XXX. Is this manageable on a trip of XX days?"
That kind of inquiry contains the basic information that enables experts to advise well.
I forgot to add, your daughter should look at a map of Europe focussing on the country/city where she will be studying, and its distance from ATHENS. She would probably have to FLY in, since the European train network is very sparse in Greece. There are European-based small bargain airlines that do fly from many European countries/cities in to Athens. In high seasons, some fly in to certain islands. But she's looking at low season. This may be a useful reality - check for her. Someone studying in Paris can easily manage weekend trips to London Belgium Holland Switzerland Spain -- Even, with stretching the weekend, to Austria or Germany. When you're talking Rome, Athens, or Greek Isles ... not so much.