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best island day trips from Athens

Greek islands are magical. No matter whether you have a day or 2 weeks. When you’re in Greece, I think you have to visit at least one island. It’s the best way to enjoy the beauty and experience Greek traditions.

I visited Greece and many Greek islands several times. Sometimes, I went on a solo trip, and many years, I guided groups of travelers from the US. Everyone always loves the Greek Islands. So, if you’re in Athens and only have a day to visit one, I’ve compiled a list of the best island day trips from my experience so you can visit at least one.

Let’s enjoy the Greek islands together!

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List Of The Best Island Day Trips From Athens


best island day trips from athens me exploring the Greek islands on a ferry
Me exploring the Greek Islands on a ferry

Map Of The Greek Islands To Visit From Athens

Here is a map of the Greek islands I recommend visiting on a day trip from Athens.

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1. Naxos

Welcome to Naxos, the biggest of the Cyclades islands. The Greek god Zeus was raised here as a child in a cave below the highest mountain, Mount Zas, called Mount Zeus, as it’s mentioned in Greek mythology. 

It’s also the greenest and most fertile island, with growing agriculture producing many local goods. The most popular ones are potatoes, cheese, and Kitron lemon liqueur.

naxos island greece

While visiting, you can enjoy its beautiful beachestraditional villages, delicious food, kite surfing, hiking, and archaeological sites. One of the most famous is the Great Gate, a temple originally built and dedicated to the Greek god Apolo. Afterward, you can head to the Portara, the Castle of Naxos.

As for the beaches, I recommend visiting Plaka, Mikri Vigla, or Agia Anna Beach.

Naxos is as beautiful as Mykonos and Santorini but less crowded and more authentic. So, it’s the place to be if you want to avoid crowds.

Sightseeing In Naxos

πŸ”† Guided Tour With All Naxos Highlights
πŸ”† Cooking Class In A Local Tavern
πŸ”† Chora city
πŸ”† Portara – Temple of Apolo
πŸ”† Mount Zas
πŸ”† Apiranthos (flower village)
πŸ”† Apano Kastro – ancient castle
πŸ”† Vallindras distillery – taste Kitron liquer

best island day trips from athens by ferry Naxos
Naxos Island

How To Get To Naxos From Athens

The fastest ferry from Athens to Naxos is the Blue Star Ferries, takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes.

The last ferry from Naxos to Athens is usually around 6 pm. Alternatively, there is also an overnight ferry that leaves around 10:30 pm and is cheaper. You’ll then return to Athens around 5 am the next day.

You can also fly to Naxos, which will take only 40 minutes. However, it’s slightly more expensive.

PRO TIP: If you don’t mind the price, fly there in the morning, and take a ferry back to Athens in the evening.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Naxos via FerryScanner here.

2. Mykonos

Mykonos is everything you imagine a Greek island to be. White buildings with blue roofs, tiny pebble streets in the old town, great beaches, and stunning views. Mykonos has it all.

Any guesses why Mykonos has almost all houses white and blue? It’s not an accident. You might already know that white houses remain cool during hot summer months. It’s also the reason for casas blancas in Spain. But why blue?

Because the island has a set color code, which comes from the past. Sailors used to paint their doors and roofs bluefarmers in green, and everybody else used red.


Mykonos was a rather poor island, and its only resource was agriculture. So you’ll also see many donkeys. It was the main form of transport back in those times.

You can explore its Chora windmills or local monasteries. Afterward, head to Elias Beach and enjoy the vibes.

Mykonos also offers one of the best nightlife experiences in Greece, so stay for the night if you’re into it.

Sightseeing In Mykonos

πŸ”† Mykonos Guided Tour
πŸ”† Little Venice neighborhood
πŸ”† Chora windmills
πŸ”† Monastery of Panagia Tourliani
πŸ”† Panagia Paraportiani Church
πŸ”† Beaches – Kapari, Agios Sostis, Ornos, Lia, Paradise Beach
πŸ”† Cape Armenistis with its lighthouse

mykonos island greece best island day trips from Athens

How To Get To Mykonos From Athens

You can get to Mykonos by ferry from Athens within 2 hours & 30 minutes. One of the companies that operate this route is, for example, Superexpress or Worldchampion Jet.

Flights from Athens to Mykonos depart around 6 am, and you’ll be on Mykonos island in 50 minutes.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Mykonos via FerryScanner here.

3. Poros

Poros is another charming, rather small island close to the Peloponnese peninsula. It’s a great option if you just want to chill on a beach and experience a typical Greek atmosphere with its seaside town center, cafes, and bars. I recommend renting a bike, riding on the island for some nice views, and getting to nice beaches and the famous Love Bay.

The island is believed to be the home of Poseidon, the Greek god of the Sea. You can visit its sanctuary on the hill on foot.

πŸ‘‰ PRO TIP: If you’re a seafood lover like me, have lunch in the Poseidon Restaurant. The food is delicious, and I always come back to enjoy the seafood dishes here.

best island day trips from Athens by ferry Poros Greece
Me guiding travelers on Poros Island, Greece

Sightseeing In Poros

πŸ”† Poseidon temple
πŸ”† Love Bay
πŸ”† Clock Tower in town center
πŸ”† Monastiri beach – most beautiful one
πŸ”† Askeli beach

How To Get To Poros From Athens

Poros is the closest to Athens on this list. You’ll take the Flyingcat speed ferry, and just within 55 minutes, you’ll be on Poros island. It’s my favorite day trip from Athens because it’s fast to get there, and the island is small, so you can do many things within a day.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Poros via FerryScanner here.

poros island greece

Guided Tour Of Poros & Hydra & Aegina

Join this guided tour with a local guide, on which you’ll visit 3 beautiful islands on a day trip from Athens: Poros, Hydra, and Aegina.


4. Hydra

Hydra Island is mainly famous for its exciting donkey rides. It’s also called an ‘unspoiled island’ since there is no other transportation besides donkeys.

Its name translates to English as ‘water.’ It’s also believed that the island was home to a mean monster called Hydra.

Hydra has rather pebble beaches, among which the most popular are PalamidaMolos, and Kaminia. Besides, it’s also a great place for water activities such as snorkeling or scuba diving.

Hydra island belongs to the less visited, yet one of the closest to Athens on this list. It has a special vibe, so if you want to experience another authentic Greek island where life stops and you drive on donkeys, Hydra is your choice.

Hydra Island Greece
Hydra Island Greece

Activities In Hydra

πŸ”† Donkey Ride
πŸ”† Pebble beaches
πŸ”† Prophet Elias Monastery
πŸ”† Water activities

How  To Get To Hydra Island From Athens

Like Poros, Hydra is very close to Athens, so the best way is to take a ferry. You can take the Flyingcat speed ferry, which will get you to Hydra Island in 1 hour and 35 minutes.

It departs in the morning, so you’ll have the entire day to explore the island again.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Hydra via FerryScanner here.

5. Syros

Syros Island is famous for its numerous churches and stunning views from the main cathedral. From the cathedral, you’ll see other surrounding Greek islands, such as Mykonos, Paros, Delos, or Naxos, some of which are also on this list.

The island has two other names. So, if you spot the name Siros or Syra, it all refers to Syros Island.

Enjoy its center with cafes and small bars. Try local specialties such as salad with capers (Kaparosalata), Frisoura appetizer stuffed grilled squid (calamari Gemalto), or dessert Loukoumi. Then, get a delicious Greek ice cappuccino and return to Athens by ferry.

Best island day trips from Athens by ferry Syros Island
Syros Island, Greece

Sightseeing In Syros

πŸ”† Agios Stefanos Chapel
πŸ”† Kastri archaeological site
πŸ”† Ano Meria – best tavernas and calm environment
πŸ”† Ermoupoli cultural center
πŸ”† Gria Cave
πŸ”† Paralia Kini beach

How To Get To Syros From Athens

You can take a ferry from Piraeus port in Athens, which will get you to Syros within 2 hours. It’s the best way to get to Syros Island.

There are also flights from Athens to Syros, but only once per day. Unfortunately, it usually operates around 10 am or lunchtime, so you would get to the island in the afternoon.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Syros via FerryScanner here.

PRO TIP: I recommend taking the first ferry from Athens to Syros around 7 am. This way, you’ll be on the island around 9 am and have the whole day to explore it.

πŸ‘‰ READ ALSO: 27 Great Places To Visit In Europe In November

6. Santorini

Santorini is slightly further away from Athens, but it’s one of the most iconic Green islands that must be on the list. If you wake up early and want to see Santorini in a day, you can manage it. Some ferries take you there within 4 hours.

Santorini was originally a volcanic island. Back in 1600 BC, it experienced an eruption, which is believed to be the biggest one ever in the world. The island was torn down, and only the caldera, which you can visit today, was left. It’s also the only inhabited caldera worldwide.

The volcanic eruption also contributed to the extinction of the Minoan civilization living on Crete island, 110 km from Santorini.

santorini island greece best island day trips from athens

Nowadays, it’s still an active volcano, and you can swim in hot springs in the center.

As with other Greek islands, Santorini hosts beautiful white and blue houses. In the past, the island experienced severe cholera, and locals believed the limestone in the white color prevented the disease from spreading further.

Santorini has specific beaches that you won’t find on any other islands. They have particular colors because of their volcanic origin as well.

Sightseeing In Santorini

πŸ”† Fira – capital of Santorini
πŸ”† Oia – best place for sun set watching
πŸ”† Hike from Fira to Oia
πŸ”† Boat trip around the island to the surrounding smaller islands & hot springs
πŸ”† Sail on a catamaran
πŸ”† Visit beaches: Vlihada, Red beach, Kamari, Perissa, Agios Georgios
πŸ”† Do a wine tour
πŸ”† Amoudi Bay – charming fishing village

best island day trips from Athens by ferry Santorini Greece
Santorini Island, Greece

How To Get To Santorini From Athens

You can reach Santorini from Athens within 4 hours & 45 minutes, taking a ferry from Piraeus port. It’s the fastest way by ferry but also one of the most expensive.

Alternatively, you can fly, which is a pretty good idea if you want to visit Santorini for a day. The flight from Athens to Thira, Santorini, takes 50 minutes. So it’s the fastest way. You can fly for only 15 Euros if you get a good deal.

PRO TIP: I suggest booking a flight from Athens to Santorini early in the morning, around 6 am. That way, you’ll have the whole day to explore the island. Then, in the evening, you can take an overnight ferry back to Athens. This way, you’ll experience even the ferry and maximize your time in Santorini.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Santorini via FerryScanner here.

Santorini: Top Sights, Wine Tasting & Oia Sunset

Join this guided tour of Santorini if you want to see the highlights with a local guide within a day.


7. Sifnos

Sifnos is one of the busiest Greek islands thanks to its commercial activity. It’s also considered a ‘Green Island’ since agriculture is the main sector contributing to the economy here. Other than that, it’s also famous for silver and gold mining. Still, you’ll find quiet places to relax and admire beautiful churches with stunning sea views.

The island is mainly popular thanks to its churches. It’s an iconic Chrisopigi Monastery with beautiful views on the island’s edge. It has also been associated with many miracle powers from the past.

me exploring sifnos island

When I visited Sifnos Island, I sat next to the monastery for 4 hours, stared at the sea, and later watched the stars. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. So if you want a less crowded island with a special atmosphere, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Sifnos will also surprise you with its amazing beaches. It’s believed to have some of the most beautiful ones worldwide. You can visit, for instance, Kamareras and Faros Beach. They also have restaurants and bars on the spot to enjoy delicious Greek food.

Sightseeing In Sifnos

πŸ”† Chrisopigi Monastery
πŸ”† Agios Andreas Acropolis & Museum
πŸ”† Beaches

sifnos island greece monastery

How To Get To Sifnos From Athens

You can get to Sifnos island in 2 hours by taking the Seajet 2 ferry from Athens. It’s also the only way to get to the island. There are no flights. The ferry departs around 7 am, so you’ll again have the whole day to explore its beautiful churches and beaches.

The last ferry from Sifnos back to Athens is usually around 6 pm, which is great timing.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Sifnos via FerryScanner here.

8. Milos

Milos Island has been shaped by earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity. It’s also a part of the so-called South Aegean Volcanic arc created when the African tectonic plate moved under the Aegean Sea.

Thanks to the volcanic activity, the Milos coastline has beautiful rock formations. One of the most visited areas is the Sarakiniko beach, created by poured and frozen lava following a volcanic eruption.

You’ve probably heard of or seen the statue of Aphrodite, also known as the Venus of Milo. It resembles the Greek goddess of love and beauty and was discovered in Milos in 1820. Nowadays, it’s in the Louvre in Paris. You can also see its replica in the Archaeological Museum on this island.

Agios Ioannis beach Milos Greece
Agios Ioannis beach: Milos, Greece

Another interesting thing you must visit while on the island is Kleftiko Bay, the pirates’ paradise during the Turkish occupation.

Germany invaded Milos island during WWII. There are still bomb shelters below Adamas. It’s a network of tunnels, which you can still explore nowadays.

Sightseeing In Milos

πŸ”† Sarakiniko beach
πŸ”† Speed Boat Cruise To Kleftiko Bay
πŸ”† Ancient Roman Theater
πŸ”† Mandrakia fishing village
πŸ”† Roman catacombs
πŸ”† Gallery of Adamas – bomb tunnels
πŸ”† Archaeological Museum
πŸ”† Milos Mining Museum

How To Get To Milos From Athens

The best way to get to Milos island from Athens is by ferry. The first one leaves around 7 am. It’ll take you about 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there. You can also book a flight, which only takes 40 minutes. However, it’s over 100 euros per flight.

In the evening, there are ferries back to Athens. The last one is after 5 pm.

➑ Book your ferry tickets to Milos via FerryScanner here.

Practical Tips For Visiting The Greek Islands

To help you plan your day trips even more and navigate the ferries in Greece, I’ve go more tips for you. See from which port you’ll have to depart, how the ferries work in Greece, and where to buy your tickets:

How Do Ferries Work In Greece?

Many ferry companies provide transport all over Greece and its islands. Some are fast ferries, so you can get to all these islands within 2 or 3 hours. But these are also going to be the most expensive.

If you travel on a budget and want the cheapest ferries, getting to these islands will take longer.

Where To Buy Ferry Tickets In Greece?

You can buy ferry tickets on the port, in local ferry agencies (e.g. on the Monastiraki Square), or online. I always buy my tickets online via FerryScanner.

Some ferries might be fully booked, so if you want to be secure, get a ticket online.

When buying a ticket online, you have to make a check-in online and get a confirmation code that a guy will scan when you enter the ferry.

So don’t make the same mistake as me (when traveling on a Greek ferry for the first time), and make the online check-in before traveling. You’ll get an email notification for the check-in a few days before your trip.

greece ferries to the islands

Where Do The Ferries To Greek Islands Depart From?

The main port in Athens is Piraeus, where most ferries and boats depart. There are also other ports, but you’ll probably have to go to Piraeus.

You can take a taxi, which is not so expensive in Greece. Or take a local bus/train from the center of Athens (Monastiraki Square) directly to the port.

Popular Ferry Companies In Greece

The most popular ferry companies that operate trips from Piraeus port to these Greek islands are:

🚒 Superexpress
🚒 Blue Star Delos
🚒 Worldchampion Jet
🚒 Flyingcat
🚒 Highspeed
🚒 Santorini Palace
🚒 Seajet

BONUS: 10-Day Greek Road Trip Itinerary

If you want to explore more highlights of Greece, check out my Greek itinerary for 10 days. It’s a road trip that will take you through the most beautiful places in inland Greece. At the end, you’ll have an option to visit another beautiful Greek island.

So get my Greek itinerary by clicking on the image below:


I’ve also answered some frequently asked questions about the Greek islands. Check my answers below:

What Is The Best Island To Visit From Athens For One Day?

Poros is the best island to visit from Athens for a day. It’s only 1 hour away from the Piraeus port in Athens by ferry. So it’s very convenient to get there.

The island is beautiful, and you can do many activities, including water sports, biking, relaxing on a beach, eating delicious food, or souvenir shopping.

Can You Do A Day Trip From Athens To The Islands?

Yes, you can make day trips from Athens to the islands. The closest islands to Athens are Poros, Hydra, Sifnos, and Mykonos.

What Is The Easiest Greek Island To Get To From Athens?

Poros is the easiest Greek island to get to from Athens. You can reach it within 1 hour by ferry. The island is small; you can enjoy biking, water sports, beaches, sights, and souvenir shopping. Everything is within one day.

WRAP-UP: Best Island Day Trips From Athens

These are the most beautiful island trips you can make from the Greek capital. Each island is different and offers unique activities and stunning scenery. If you only want to visit a typical Greek island (small in size) without too much traveling, head to Poros or Hydra.

If you want to experience paradise and fewer crowds, I recommend Sifnos. If you’re a party animal and don’t mind the crowds, Mykonos is the perfect island. For all honeymooners, visit Milos or Santorini.

If you have any questions or need help planning your trip, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you.

Happy Travels!

More Tips For Greece Travel

Looking to visit more places in Greece? Check out my related articles:

Epic Greece Road Trip Itinerary For 10 Days

27 Best Places To Visit In Europe In November

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

GREECE: Interested in more articles for Greece?
Check out my Greece Travel Page.

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