Greek Island Ferries

My husband and I are traveling from late september to mid october. We have a flight into and out of Athens already booked. We have not committed to any hotels or flights elsewhere as of yet. I am wondering if we should stay overnight somewhere convenient to the port of Piraeus/airport to travel to Santorini by ferry/plane on our first day or if we should stay in Athens for 2 days and see some of the sights. The next question is how do you get from Santorini to Ikaria? Are there any ferry routes that can accommodate? Are there islands in between that are a must visit? I'm having a hard time figuring out the ferry routes. We also talked about going to Turkey as well. Can anyone shed some light on easy travel routes? We know we want to see Santorini, Ikaria and possibly Crete and Turkey. We want a very relaxing itinerary if possible.
Thanks for any insight!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Samantha, Have a look at the excellent www.greecetravel.com website as you may find the answers you need there. Could you clarify the duration of your trip? Late September to mid-October is only about two weeks. Visiting Athens, Santorini, Crete, Ikaria and Turkey in that time frame could be "challenging" due to transportation times. Travel by air to Santorini would be the quickest method. Have a look at Aegean Air or Olympic Air for details on the flights. I haven't checked flights to the other locations you're interested in. Happy travels!

Posted by Samantha
Los Angeles
9 posts

Thank you for the reply. We have 3 weeks exactly to make it from Athens to the islands and possibly Turkey and back to Athens. We aren't set on anything but Santorini and Ikaria outside of a few days in Athens to visit the archeological sites. Of course we'd like to see more if it's possible. We are open to keeping things very loose but in order for us to do that we need to make informed decisions. Since we will arrive around Sept 24, and the prices are high in Santorini until October 1, I was thinking it may be a good idea to go somewhere else until October. Is this making sense?
I have yet to look into the surrounding islands to see the timelines/frequency of ferries or flights and our interest in what they have to offer.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
915 posts

Samantha .... We always try to fly out of Athens to our furthest island, immediately upon arrival, if possible. It makes a long travel day but then you wake up on an island, which is wonderful. So here's one possible itinerary: Arrive Athens 9/24, fly to Ikaria (there's an Olympic Air flight at 2 pm; you can easily make this if your US flight arrives before noon). We always try to arrange transport from the airport to our hotel that first day (you're really tired and probably wouldn't want to drive). Spend 4 nights on Ikaria. Then take a ferry to Samos; spend 1 night, then ferry to Kusadasi, Turkey, to see Ephesus. You'll probably need to spend 1 night near Ephesus (Izmir?). Then bus or fly to Istanbul; spend 4-5 nights. Fly from Istanbul to Santorini (you'll need to go through Athens). Spend 4 nights. Ferry back to Athens. Spend 2-3 nights. Fly home. I'm not sure if these are the places you wanted to see in Turkey. Obviously you have a couple of extra days, and you could add another stop. But this at least gives you a place to start. Check http://www.skyscanner.com/ for flights, and http://www.gtp.gr/ for ferries.

Posted by Samantha
Los Angeles
9 posts

Charlene, Thank you for the info. That is a great start to trying to plan a trip to a place I know virtually nothing about. Thanks!

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2381 posts

A different route from what mentioned above would be to take the ferry from Ikaria to Naxos, then to Santorini. From there you could get to Crete then fly back to Athens. It leaves out Turkey, but for comparison, you will chew up at least 4 days, maybe 6 in travel just to see Ephesus. Maybe just concentrate on Greece.

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1638 posts

There is no ferry that travels between Ikaria and Naxos. I suggest you fly out immediately to Ikaria and then take a ferry south to Samos, and from Samos you can get into Turkey to see Ephesus on a daytrip Return to Samos then take a ferry to Mykonos, then another to Santorini and on to Crete. From Crete you can fly or ferry back to Athens.

Posted by Samantha
Los Angeles
9 posts

We have decided to stay in the greek islands for the entire 3 weeks. I think the islands of Paros and Andiparos look interesting. I will do some research about Samos. We are ok with just getting to Ikaria and taking it from there with no real plan. I'm not looking into booking every stop of the trip because of the lack of information. We are looking to make the trip as slow and relaxing as possible. Thanks for all of the info everyone.
:)

Posted by wayner
stevens point, wi, usa
186 posts

Hi,
Don't be surprised if you can't find ferry schedules for your trip. They tend to post only the current season's departures and arrivals. This can make planning difficult as you can't be certain if there is a ferry out on a particular day. Going to bigger islands and more touristed islands makes this easier. wayne iNWI

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
915 posts

That will be fun. When we travel that way, on the night before we leave an island, we call for a hotel on the next one. We usually take a Lonely Planet "Greek Islands" book with us. On some islands, people will meet the ferries with rooms available, but you can't count on that for every island. So we like to book ahead. A good reference book, which shows how all the islands are connected to each other, is Thomas Cook's "Greek Island Hopping." The ferry schedules in any printed book will likely be out of date, but they at least give you an idea of what might be possible. By mid-October, the islands will be nearing the end of season, and ferries may be less frequent. But it's a beautiful time of year to be there. Paros and Antiparos are great. From Ikaria, you may need to go to Samos to catch a ferry to Mykonos and then Paros. As long as you're in Samos, you might want to do the day trip to Ephesus. You'd need to spend the night in Samos but it's well worth it. Be sure you get back in Athens at least a couple of nights before your flight home, in case of travel delays.