A cruise to the Greek islands offers a unique opportunity to discover the natural beauty, rich culture, and delicious cuisine of Greece, all while enjoying the comfort of a cruise ship. The Greek islands are renowned for their spectacular landscapes, including golden sandy beaches, white cliffs, picturesque hilltop villages, and crystal-clear waters. Santorini, for example, is famous for its breathtaking sunsets. Greece is steeped in history and culture, and each island has its own unique history and traditions. During your cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to visit archaeological sites, museums, ancient churches, and savor delicious Greek cuisine.
The waters of the Aegean Sea are ideal for diving, windsurfing, kayaking, and other water sports, which you can often enjoy during your stops on some islands.
Greek cuisine is a highlight of any cruise to the Greek islands, with the chance to taste traditional dishes like souvlaki, moussaka, Greek salad, olives, feta cheese, and many other delicious treats.
It’s also interesting to combine a few days on the mainland to see sites such as Olympia, Delphi, and Meteora, along with a cruise in the Greek Islands to have a comprehensive tour of this wonderful country.
When to Cruise the Greek Islands?
The cruise season in the Greek islands stretches from March to November.
The peak tourist season is in the summer from June to August. This is the most popular time to visit the Greek islands due to the beautiful weather, warm temperatures, and pleasantly warm water for swimming. The islands are crowded during this period, so you may need to book your accommodations and excursions in advance, and prices can be higher.
Spring, in April and May, is an ideal time to visit the Greek islands if you prefer milder temperatures. The landscapes are lush, and the flowers are in full bloom. The islands are less crowded in spring compared to summer, so you can enjoy less crowded tourist sites.
Fall, in September and October, offers pleasant temperatures, warm water, and sunny days. It’s also a good time for swimming. After the peak summer season, the crowds decrease in the fall, making the visit more enjoyable.
Departure Ports for Greek Islands Cruises
Different itineraries allow you to visit the Greek Islands. The majority of itineraries that focus solely on the Greek Islands depart from the port of Piraeus, which is located near Athens.
Ports Visited During a Greek Islands Cruise
Popular itineraries often include stops on famous islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete, Corfu, and other lesser-known but equally charming islands. A stop in Kusadasi, which allows you to visit the archaeological site of Ephesus, is typically part of these itineraries.
Cruise Lines in the Greek Islands
The majority of cruise lines offer itineraries in the Greek Islands. Most of them combine these stops with a longer Mediterranean itinerary. Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian, and the local company Celestyal offer round-trip itineraries from Athens focusing on the Greek Islands.
Athens, the capital of Greece, is a captivating metropolis that harmoniously combines millennia-old history with vibrant modernity. At the heart of the city stands the Acropolis, an iconic archaeological site crowned by the majestic Parthenon, a symbol of ancient Greek civilization. The narrow streets of the Plaka district invite you to a picturesque stroll among neoclassical houses, lively taverns, and artisan shops. Athens is also a dynamic city with a bustling nightlife, a flourishing contemporary art scene, and exquisite Greek cuisine to savor in its traditional restaurants.
Mykonos, nicknamed the “Island of the Winds” in the Greek Cyclades, is a Mediterranean gem that captivates with its golden sandy beaches, whitewashed alleys, iconic windmills, and legendary nightlife. This cosmopolitan island attracts travelers from around the world with its trendy beach clubs, lively bars, and parties that last until dawn. However, Mykonos also offers welcome tranquility with its traditional villages, picturesque churches, and authentic taverns serving delicious Greek cuisine.
Santorini, one of the most iconic islands in the Cyclades, stands out with its breathtaking scenery. Its white cliffs plunging into the azure waters of the Aegean Sea, topped with villages with blue-domed roofs, create an irresistible image. The village of Oia, famous for its incredible sunsets, is a must-visit destination. Santorini also offers unique beaches and vineyards producing renowned wine.
Rhodes, the largest island in the Greek Dodecanese, is a destination rich in history and natural beauty. Its medieval center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a true treasure of medieval architecture with its cobbled streets, imposing walls, and the Palace of the Grand Masters. The island also offers numerous golden beaches bordered by welcoming Greek taverns.
Ephesus (Kusadasi), located in Turkey, is an extraordinary archaeological site that presents the impressive ruins of an ancient Greek and Roman city. It was once one of the largest cities in the ancient world and a prosperous cultural and commercial center. Today, visitors can explore treasures such as the Library of Celsus, the Grand Theatre, the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), as well as well-preserved paved streets and houses.