A Taste of the Greek Islands – Hop around Greece via Cruise Ship
My husband and I aren’t huge fans of cruising. However, for some destinations, cruises just make the most sense. Greece, a country in southeastern Europe, has thousands of islands throughout the Aegean Sea. I had always wanted to visit Greece but wasn’t sure which islands to visit first. The Norwegian Cruise gave us the opportunity to explore several islands, and now I know which ones I plan to return to. Plus, it was lovely having our luggage in one place while hopping on and off at each island.
On my next trip to Greece, I will probably start on one island, stay for a few days and then ferry to the next. At the time of this vacation, which happened to be our honeymoon, we chose the Norwegian Gem Cruise Line, mainly because it was one of the more budget friendly options. The biggest drawback of large cruise lines is not enough time on each island. At best, they will stop at an island for a maximum of 7 hours. Most cruise lines are happy for you to stay on the ship so that you spend your money on-board and not elsewhere.
Without a doubt, though, I can say we got a taste of some of the most popular Greek Islands. Our Cruise debarked from Venice, Italy. (We did have 1 full day in Venice. Check out NannyBag to park your luggage for a small fee and go explore Venice!) The first stop in the Greek Islands was Corfu.
CORFU – first stop in the Greek Islands
Unfortunately it was pretty rainy and foggy during our time in Corfu, but it was still my 2nd favorite island. I’ve always been a fan of rugged mountains that meet the ocean and that is exactly how you’d describe Corfu. We drove to the top of one of the mountains that would have had a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire island. But because of the rain we couldn’t see very far. There were lots of little shops and a winery at the top. My favorite part was just driving around exploring the peaks and wine tasting all the local’s wines. This island will definitely be at the top of our list when we return to Greece.
Will sampling Mr. Corfu’s wine. He hadn’t yet seen the picture with Mr. Corfu in the wine barrel :-).
Our next stop was my favorite. Aaaahhhh Santorini! Some call Santorini the supermodel of the Greek Islands. The white buildings all melt together on top of the volcanic rock jutting out of the sea. It’s like nothing you have ever seen before. Pictures don’t do it justice…..although I have added plenty below for your viewing pleasure. With only 7 hours on this Greek island, we had to squeeze in as much as possible, quickly. We opted out of the donkey ride up the zig-zag trail at the entrance at the port. For the sake of time, we took the tram instead. Once at the top, we rented a four-wheeler and headed straight for Oia. Yes, Oia, Santorini is the more touristy area of the island but if you have limited time, you MUST squeeze it in. And if I had one tip for anyone visiting the island, renting the four-wheeler was totally worth every dime (I mean Euro). Once in Oia, we shopped, ate dinner, and watched the prettiest sunset I have ever seen in my life.
Since we were traveling in October it was somewhat the offseason for the “party atmosphere” that Mykonos is well known for. The beaches and bars were pretty quiet. We rented a car and stopped at a few of the popular beaches and checked out some tiny local bungalows for lunch. I really enjoyed the day, but again I felt like we didn’t have enough time to really soak in all there is of Mykonos. I definitely recommend renting a car if you are limited on time!
CRETE – Last stop in the Greek Islands
With only had 3 hours in Crete, including getting on and off the Cruise ship. Since time was limited, we grabbed a taxi and headed for the Knossos Archaeological Site in Heraklion to get our ancient ruin history fix. Our self-guided tour was lovely, but overall this was my least favorite island and I’m sure it mostly had to do with the ridiculous amount of time we had to explore. It’s a shame because with the 3 hours we did have, it was not enough to entice me to really want to come back to Crete.
Overall the 7-day cruise from Venice, Italy down through the Greek Islands was a lovely experience. However, I will definitely plan a different way to explore them next time. I’d spend more time on Corfu and Santorini and then try exploring a couple new Greek Islands that we didn’t get to see.
P.S. Quick tip for booking a cheap flight: Skyscanner has an app that you can set a price alert for a specific destination. I put in a few airports in Italy about 6 months before our Cruise left. I was able to score a flight to Venice for about 1/2 the price than if I had booked a flight at the same time I booked the Cruise. It alerted me when the price fell! You can download the app here:
Have you been to the Greek Islands? Which was your favorite?
Happy & Safe Travels!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means, if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I will earn a small commission. This helps keep my blog up and running but it won’t cost you a penny more! Thank you for your support! In no way does this persuade my decision to promote these products. I do not promote anything I do not stand behind.) Click here for my full disclosure statement
You might also like: 3 Day Road-trip Itinerary on the Almalfi Coast