Dreaming of traveling to Greece but your budget is getting in the way? The good news is that these days your dollar will go along way here, even in the breathtaking Greek Islands – in fact, you’ll be surprised to find that there are a number of incredible yet budget-friendly trips that can help make your dream come true.
While some of the islands can be reached with a direct flight from Athens, and some other major cities, most are best accessed via ferry, which is cheaper and offers the chance for a scenic sailing adventure as well.
Serifos (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The small island of Serifos, offers an ideal mix of secluded beaches and stretches sand with plenty of excitement too. In fact, the island is even home Psili Ammos, once named Europe’s Beach of the Year, and nearby Livadi is no less impressive. The Holy Monastery of the Archangels in the northern part of the island was constructed in the 16th century to resemble a castle to provide a defense from invading pirates, while the main town, Hora, is considered one of the most charming in the Cyclades with its romantic whitewashed architecture, lovely churches and narrow alleyways. It also boasts outstanding nightlife, traditional cafes and affordable prices with rooms starting at only $29 a night.
Kythera (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Kythera is the legendary home of the goddess Aphrodite and has been an inspiration for artists and creatives of all types for centuries. As the island is situated at the tip of the Peloponnese Peninsula, it’s managed to remained relatively untouched and affordable, with rooms starting at just $36 a night, and even free camping in hidden coves. This is an ideal isle to choose when you’re trying to please the whole family as it has something for everyone: Venetian castles for the history lover, golden beaches for swimming and wooded areas for hiking. At Mylopotamos you can walk along the path around the Fonissa waterfall and jump right into the small, inviting pools.After dark, enjoy the busy nightlife at the bars along the seaside pedestrian street or kick back with live music and beer at Kapsali campsite.
Milos (Hotel Prices & Photos)
This volcanic Greek island is the southernmost island in the Cyclades. It’s known for its horseshoe shape and magnificent coastline, which boasts over 7o beaches of all types. The “island of colors,” as it’s sometimes called, is noted as such as the sands are incredibly diverse from white to black, pebble- and shell-covered beaches. The waters are always clear, and come in a variety of shades: pale or deep blue, emerald or vibrant green. Not only does is it home to countless gorgeous beaches and the striking white rock shapes of Sarakiniko, but its entire western half was designated a nature reserve. This is also the very spot where the famous statue, the “Venus de Milo” was discovered. All of this comes together to make Milos one of the best kept secrets in the Aegean – and hotel rooms start at around $40 a night, making it a lot easier to enjoy those white-washed Cycladic villages and fantastic fare.
Kos (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Kos is part of the Dodecanese, and due to its large size, it has an ideal balance of areas that are quite secluded, away from mass tourism, and others that are filled with tourist facilities. Come to soak up its stunning natural beauty with endless stretches of pristine sands, a fabulous ancient marketplace and charming whitewashed buildings at a low price tag with rooms starting at $24 a night. Sightseers will appreciate its ancient Agora, the Roman Odeon, medieval castle, and the famous Asklepieion. The southern part of the island is home to expansive golden beaches that sit at the edge of crystal clear azure waters that are ideal for swimming.
Symi (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Symi Island offers low hotel rates starting at $33 a night, along with eight major beaches, some of which are within walking distance of the port, while others can be accessed by water taxi. Take a stroll around the port’s bay area, alongside the moored yachts and small boats and you’ll find traditional cafes and fish tavernas, many of which hang fresh octopus to dry outside. Fabulously fresh fish and seafood is on offer throughout the island, with islanders enjoying a strong bond with the sea, diving for octopus, fishing for trawls and supplying those fish tavernas with fresh Symi shrimp. The coastline is incredibly diverse, with everything from fine sand to large pebble beaches – and snorkelers will find their own paradise in Nanou Bay as well as the chance to relax in the tranquil cove.
Rhodes (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While Rhodes has been traditionally been considered one of the pricier Greek Islands, these days, you can find a room for as low as $43 a night to base yourself and enjoy its 300 days of sunshine a year. In fact, Helios, the god of the sun, was said to have bathed the island with his own radiance and made it the most beautiful in the Aegean Sea. You’ll find evidence of Rhode’s long history scattered throughout the island, with numerous sights to visit, including the ancient Kamiros and Ialysos, castles Monolithos, Kritinia and Feraklos, as well as the Palace of the Grand Masters and The Acropolis of Rhodes, just to name a few. There are mountains with scenic hiking trails that offer breathtaking views, numerous culinary pleasures and a happening nightlife. And, of course, it is all surrounded by clear turquoise waters and magnificent beaches.
Icaria (Hotel Prices & Photos)
This is the island that was thrust in the spotlight a few years ago after word of the longevity of its residents was broadcast around the world. People here live much longer than the population on other islands and on the mainland. In fact, people here live on average, a decade longer than those in the rest of Europe and America, with one in three Ikarians living into their 90s and beyond. For now, it’s not been spoiled by relentless hordes of tourists looking for the secret elixir of eternal life, thanks to its remoteness. You can still enjoy hiking the mountains and lush green valleys, gazing up at wild falcons and taking a dip at Seychelles beach where the water is as blue-green, clear and warm as the isle in the faraway archipelago in relative peace – and cheap rooms that start at only $31 a night.
Thassos (Hotel Prices & Photos)
This Macedonian jewel has definitely been discovered by some package tour operators, but few travelers have managed to hear about it – yet. With nice hotel rooms that can be rented for less than $200 a week, this is a secret you might not want to let out. The Emerald of the Aegean is just a 30-minute ferry ride from the northern coast of mainland Greece, yet it’s largely untouched by mass tourism. The verdant island is renowned for its powdery sand beaches, clear blue seas, green mountainous interior, ancient sites, picturesque traditional villages and delicious cuisine. It’s also a haven for a variety of bird species, and on a hill just above the capital, there is an ancient agora, the ruins of temples and sanctuaries, an acropolis and a cave in which you can see an ancient figure of the Greek god Pan carved into the stone.
Naxos (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The largest island in the Cyclades is also considered to be one most beautiful and undisturbed. This peaceful island hosts numerous beaches, a rich history with ancient temples and Venetian towers to view and over 40 traditional villages where visitors can get an excellent glimpse at traditional life. Each one has a cafe or bakery and a village square where you’ll see locals sitting around the tables sipping coffee and trading tales. And the beaches? Agios Prokopios is one of the best beaches in Greece, but it’s one of many that can be found here. There’s also an extensive network of walking paths and hiking trails along with an abundance of restaurants to feed the appetite you’re sure to work up after a day of exploring. Best of all, the prices are just as good as the food. At many eateries, you can dine on a main dish, salad and glass of wine for under $10, and rooms start at just $20 a night.