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How to do Island Hopping with Kids in Greece
With more than 6,000 islands to choose from, Greece is a perfect destination for island hopping. From the Cyclades to the Dodecanese and the island of Crete, you can discover the wonders of Greece by ferry boat. In this article you will find everything you need to know about island hopping in Greece with kids.
If you plan well, island hopping is super exciting for families. All kids love an adventure and enjoying the big blue sea from a sunny deck can be very relaxing. Most of the Greek islands are well-connected with ferries. There are many route options and there is a large choice between ferry boats. If you are trying to determine how to travel between the Greek islands, then this Greek Island Hopping check list will help you plan and experience a relaxed island hopping vacation.
Choose your islands
Are you ready to discover the Greek islands? There is no island too large or too small for your family to conquer. There are islands that are more cosmopolitan and others that are pure and calm. Some have untouched beautiful beaches other are covered in old fortifications and whitewashed houses.
Greece’s islands are strewn over two very different seas; the Aegean and the Ionian. They are organized in groups and it’s best to first decide which of these groups you want to visit. The groups are families of islands that share similar looks, culture, history and climate.
Within your island group, choose a few to visit.
Is this your first island hopping trip? Choose islands that are close to each other and experience the ferry boat rides with your family. Starting with a long cruise may be tiring for kids and may discourage them from wanting more.
Plan your ferry boats
Ferries in Greece are a really effective means of transportation. They are usually on time, spacious and comfortable. Within the same group of islands a cruise can last from half an hour up to 3-4 hours.
This also depends on the ferry boat. There are 4 main types of Greek ferries.
- The largest (and most common) is the car/passenger ferry. They have cabins for overnight trips and many facilities. These are often called a car ferry.
- There are similar ferries that go faster, called high-speed ferries. Some of them also take cars.
- There are also catamaran ferries, the tickets for these fast boats are more expensive.
- Finally, on very short routes in calm seas, there are the so-called Flying Dolphins. Small vessels in the shape of an airplane cabins with airplane seats and limited luggage space.
Plan your route in advance by checking the timetables for the ferry boat connections in between the islands. Most islands in Greece are connected with a daily ferry service in the summer. This is different in the low season which starts in October.
You can use ferryhopper.com or openseas.gr for ferry boat schedules in Greece. We advise you to buy your tickets online in advance but you can also do this while you are in Greece at any travel agent.
For long ferry trips without a cabin, make sure you find a comfortable place on board. The large traditional ferry boats do not assign seats. Many of these large ships have lounge spaces with sofas and tables. As soon as you get aboard, find a corner where your kids have enough space to play, draw or nap. Some ferries have a play room for children. For longer trips avoid the sun deck because it can get too windy to spend the whole journey there.
Get your kids involved in your island planning. Get plenty of maps from local travel agents and plan your route together with your kids. As you go, tick off or circle the places you’ve visited and sail away!
On shorter routes your kids will be excited to explore the map and visit the ship. They will admire the spectacular views, or just stare at the sparkling blue sea.
However, if you are planning to take longer ferry trips, you may want to bring some entertainment. Think of LEGO blocks, some stencils and stationary, story books, cards and a tablet of iPad (not all ferries have Wi-Fi) You can also use what is locally available. Get a pile of travel catalogues from a local travel agent, a pair of scissors, glue and paper, and create a vacation collage using the cut-out photographs!
Happy Island Hopping!