To see the best (and worst) times to visit, please read our reviews of our recommended places to stay
There is a regular ferry and hydrofoil network between the islands (reduced in winter), but it is impossible to get timetables far in advance. Of the islands we feature, all have daily ferries to their nearest neighbour and to Piraeus or Athens, except Folegandros which outside summer only has ferries every other day. If in doubt, ask the hotel when making your enquiry, or consult the ferry company. There is no need to book ahead unless you are taking a vehicle, or travelling over Easter or August 15th.
The following islands have airports with daily connections to Athens and in some cases to Crete, though not currently from one island to another: Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Syros, Milos.
If you're staying on an island without an airport, it's always wise to leave a day or two before your departure flight, in case the ferries are cancelled or delayed because of strong winds. Cancellations - issued by the port authority and called apagoreftiko - are actually commonest in midsummer (July-August) because that is when the meltemi wind blows hardest, but it rarely stays in force for more than a day.
A good first-time itinerary for UK travellers is to fly direct into Mykonos and out of Santorini, and use ferries to go:
Mykonos – Syros – Paros – Naxos – Santorini (or reverse)
To really get away from it, you can add smaller isles such as Folegandros (off Santorini), Antiparos (off Paros) or Donoussa and Schinoussa (off Naxos) – though in August even these little ones will be fairly busy.
A lovely alternative itinerary is to fly into Athens (which has more numerous flights) and take the ferry from Rafina port as follows:
Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Syros – Mykonos – Paros – Naxos – Santorini (fly back from there, either via Athens or direct)
We like this because Andros and Tinos are less visited, quirkier and wilder - to counterbalance the other more popular, classic, whitewashed isles.
• If you’ve seen Santorini, you could stop at Paros or Naxos and take the internal flight to Athens and home.
• If you’ve seen Mykonos, you can just skip it.
• If you’ve seen most of these islands, try Milos or Astypalaia!