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How to visit the Greek Islands on a budget

Scattered throughout the Aegean Sea and the Ionian Sea off mainland Greece, thousands of islands large and small make up the Greek Islands. Of these thousands, around a couple hundred are inhabited. It's these sun-soaked islands, with their sandy beaches, turquoise bays, rocky cliffs, and white and blue houses, that call to adventurous travellers.


From their natural beauty to their distinct culture and architecture, the Greek Islands are some of the most visited destinations in Greece. The most popular islands, like Santorini and Mykonos, annually welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors. So you may be wondering, is it too expensive to visit the Greek Islands? Not at all! Here's how you can island hop around the Greek Islands on a budget.

Can you visit the Greek Islands on a budget?

From travelling as part of a budget-friendly small group tour to visiting the cheapest Greek Islands to save money, you'll find that there are plenty of affordable ways to explore and discover the Greek Islands.

One of the best ways to explore the Greek Islands as a budget traveller is as part of a small group tour. For a low cost, we arrange and book all the basics for you, including hotels and activities.

You also get the best of both worlds as a traveller, visiting the most popular attractions as well as off-the-beaten-path treasures we've uncovered over the years.

How do you get from mainland Greece to the Greek Islands?

Lots of travellers head to the Greek Islands after arriving at Athens International Airport. But it's more affordable – and way more fun – to travel on one of the Greek Island ferries.

Departing from one of Athens' three ports on the Greek mainland, Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion, you can hop on a ferry to the nearby islands. Not only are the island-hopping Greece ferries more affordable than flights, but you can enjoy much better views of the ocean and islands.

You can also find affordable private boat trips around the islands. On our Greek Island Cruise trip, we charter a family-owned caique to ferry us between islands, giving you the chance to experience travelling on one of the region’s traditional sailing vessels. These smaller sailing boats are far more affordable than larger commercial vessels.

What is the cheapest way to travel around the Greek Islands?

Once on the Greek Islands, you can easily get around on a tight budget. With hiking trails through dramatic gorges and along white-sand beaches between towns and villages, islands like Crete, Andros, Tinos and Corfu are great to discover on foot on a walking tour. The towns themselves are also best explored on foot, to truly connect with the local culture. You can also catch a local bus if you need to give your feet a break. Car rentals and taxis are sometimes available but are generally more expensive.

When is the best time to visit the Greek Islands while on a budget?

By visiting the Greek Islands during spring orautumn, you'll miss the expensive and busy summer season. However, you can still explore on a budget during the summer by avoiding popular resort towns and islands and checking out the most affordable islands such as Andros, Tinos or Corfu.

How much should I budget for a trip to the Greek Islands?

You can plan a week-long trip around the Greek Islands for between £800 to £1,250. This is why the Greek Islands offer some of the best low-budget destinations in Europe. Our small group Greek Island trips start at £655 including accommodations and some meals and ground transportation (not including flights). By getting all the essentials taken care of, all you have left to budget for are extra meals, activities and souvenirs.


The best Greek Islands for budget travellers

If you're looking to travel around the Greek Islands on a budget, one of the best ways to save money is by visiting some of the lesser-known islands. True, everyone visiting the Greek Islands wants to go to Santorini or Mykonos. And while they are well worth visiting, you can also find beautiful beaches, sparkling blue waters, white-washed houses and delicious Greek food on other Greek Islands. Nevertheless, each island is still unique, with its own food, architecture, culture and history.

The most affordable Greek Islands to visit include Crete, Andros, Tinos, Corfu and Naxos. These cheap Greek Islands don't get nearly as many visitors as others, making everything from transportation to food and accommodations more affordable. And often, they're not even very far from the more popular islands. Andros is part of the Cyclades Islands, which includes Santorini, yet is often overlooked by the majority of tourists.

If you really want to check out the most popular islands like Santorini, you can still do so affordably by visiting outside of peak season, choosing cheaper accommodations and avoiding tourist traps.

Where to stay in the Greek Islands on a budget

Staying in small, family-run accommodations and local hotels will stretch your money even further. Not only are you supporting a small business in a local community, but room prices at these independent hotels are more affordable than at big chains. True, sometimes the hotel rooms can be simple, but they are cosy and comfortable. And as a guest in this kind of hotel, you have more opportunities to meet locals and connect with the local community. 

Our small group tours include accommodations in hotels like these for a more immersive, personal experience.

How to save money travelling in the Greek Islands

Here are some other ways to save money exploring the Greek Islands:

• Visit popular destinations outside of peak hours

• Always consider travelling outside of high season, but be sure to check seasonal openings and availability for things like hotels and ferries

• Opt for free activities like relaxing on some of the Greek Islands' many wonderful beaches, soaking up sun and views

• Book your trip early to guarantee the best rates

• Dine away from touristy areas for the best and most affordable food.



Become a Greek Island budget travelling pro

You can indeed live out your Mamma Mia fantasy of sailing around the Greek Islands and discovering their unique way of life without breaking the bank. By leaving the planning to the pros, like tour operators who can set up everything for you for the best price, your money will go even further.

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