If you want to explore the Greek Islands, what better way than by doing a Greek road trip? Each island has its own unique feel and when on the road, you’ll find hidden gems and picturesque views that would be hard to find otherwise. Driving around mainland Greece might be easy, but how do you plan a Greek road trip around the islands? Here are some tips on destinations to visit and how to get there.
There are four big towns in Crete that you might want to explore Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos, however there are interesting villages and small towns along the way. Driving is the best way to get around and explore the island. With relatively little traffic, if you find somewhere you want to explore, then stop, park, and away you go.
As you continue your Greek road trip to the southwest, make sure you stop at Elafonissi Beach, an exotic landscape of white sand and crystal clear waters. Also in the south is the popular Samaria Gorge National Park, where you can cross a gorge and hike through the rugged terrain.
Leave the car behind for a while and explore the small islands of Chrissi Island, Ierapetra, and Mikronisi. No cars are allowed here, but taking a day trip to explore the natural beauty is a nice break from your Greek road trip.
The best way to get to Crete with your car in tow is by taking the ferry from Piraeus, out of Athens. Catch a ferry directly to Heraklion, Chania or Rethimno. The journey takes between 5 and 8 hours, and booking an overnight trip is probably the best.
You can travel from Crete to Santorini from either Sitia or Heraklion, which takes about 7 hours. Once in Santorini it’s easy to get around. It only takes about an hour to drive from one side of the small island to the other.
If you are looking for the typical fairy-tale Greek Island views, then you will find it in Oia—which is probably why it features in traveller’s top spring destinations to visit. The village at the top of the island is a great place to start your Greek road trip while on this island, but you’ll have to park outside as the cobbled streets don’t accommodate cars. Fira, the main town here should be explored and is a good place for shopping and stopping for lunch. For more spectacular views, drive the winding roads to the Monastery of Profitis and find the red beach and relax.
Santorini can be explored in just a day if you don’t spend too much time in each place as it is so small. However, if you want a more leisurely pace, then you can stretch this out.
The ports in Santorini offer ferries connecting all over the Greek Islands, so it might be hard to choose where to go next. Examples include Piraeus in Athens, Kos and Rhodes Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Tinos, Skopelos, Skiathos and Thessaloniki.
Los and Naxos
These Islands are a popular choice from Santorini with the total journey time being around two and a half hours. Naxos town is a good place to start for a Greek road trip around Naxos and is a good base to explore the Island.
When there, you must visit the stunning Temple of Demeter, the last few hundred meters are a bit of a tricky drive, but it’s worth it! The marble temple is a great photo opportunity, like looking through a picture frame onto the mountainside. If you are looking for pretty villages, then stop at Apeiranthos and Apollonas. At Apollonas you will find the half-finished statue in the marble quarry, it’s a bit of a walk, but it is a popular attraction.
Two or three days exploring these islands is a fair amount of time to spent here. From Naxos, there are a few choices where to move onto next. Too many to mention here, but Mykonos is an excellent and notorious choice.
To reach Mykonos takes around an hour by ferry from Naxos, which means you’ll be there in no time. The roads in Mykonos can be a bit busy with visitors renting scooters or quad bikes to get about, but there is plenty to see.
If you want to hit a beach, then try Paraga Beach, the perfect place to get your tan. For history, take a boat trip off the Island to the tiny Delos. This place is uninhabited and full of ancient treasures to explore. Of course, the top sights to visit on the island are the Armenistis Lighthouse and the Windmills, or Kato Myli, which are the most photographed places here.
Mykonos is a great place to eat too. With lots of local cuisine being offer. A great places to stop is Little Venice and eat overlooking the canals in a romantic setting.
This rounds out the perfect Greek road trip, however this is just a sample, there are plenty more Greek Islands to explore.
Greek Road Trip tips on driving the Islands
Like most of Europe, driving is on the right-hand side of the road here. Most road signs are in both Greek and English, making it easy for tourists to understand. Road conditions vary across the Islands and like everywhere, are weather dependent. There are very few highways, so you’ll primarily find yourself driving on smaller winding roads, which makes a Greek road trip a lot of fun.
Having a car is the best way to get around and it gives you the freedom to go when and where you want. Instead of using ferries, there is the option to hire a car in each place you want to use it. However, this may bump up the costs, so it is best to check this out before you go.
Have you taken a Greek road trip around the Islands of Greece? How was it and what was your favorite place to visit?
A travel enthusiast, John Miller is an avid adventurer and travel blogger. Find out more on his blog at Pretravels.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links below.