Island hopping in Greece is a breeze with a stylish base and a swift and strategic itinerary to make sure you tick off the best bits. The scattered layout of the Cyclades makes Mykonos an ideal pad for its location within easy reach of the surrounding islands.
Assuming you’re travelling for an extended weekend, covering at least four islands is achievable in this amount of time with this exclusive Citizen Femme guide. Here’s how to island hop in Greece like a pro and beat the crowds.
THE PACKING EDIT
The trick is to have a launch pad or two that will act as the base for all of that island hopping. Mykonos is a pragmatic choice being particularly close to a number of islands like Santorini, Naxos or Delos—a sacred site and mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The “party” island is a whitewashed Cycladic maze, crowded with hip hotels and hedonistic holiday makers seeking sun-soaked beach bars and pristine restaurants in a glamorous setting. Scorpios comes to mind, a beach-chic bar at the western end of Paraga beach, outfitted with glam sun loungers, a natural colour theme and sunset views worth sticking around for. History and culture also abound in the local fisherman villages and cosy tavernas so integral to Greek culture.
The Greek islands are contrasting enough to offer an alternative experience wherever you end up, letting you ditch the relentless partying for some much-needed history and culture, at least for a few hours. Just a 15-minute trip from mainland Mykonos, Delos island is an archaeological site shrouded in fragments of ruins and stoic statues eerily perched on hilltops in the distance. Explore the remains of amphitheatres and theatres dating as far back as 3000BC, and simultaneously admire the widespread coastal views from this corner of the Cyclades.
Rhenia Island & Beaches
Secluded sand beaches and private yachts surround Rhenia island, which was first inhabited approximately 7,000 years ago. It’s another archaeological site stippled with crumbling ruins and an ancient burial ground. The translucent water is as calm as a lake and a go-to spot for a quiet swim away from the bustle of the main party beaches, especially during peak season. Bring lunch and champagne, there’s a chance you’ll be here for a while…
A rugged and diverse landscape makes Naxos an exciting day trip from Mykonos. Adventure-seekers can look forward to an array of windsurfing, kitesurfing and hiking activities on the island. The beaches are excellent, surrounded by fresh greenery and towering mountains. There’s a wilder, rougher side heading south to Mikri Vigla. Climb to the top of Zas Mountain or bike around the lush valleys before a well-earned courtyard lunch at Platsa, a family-owned taverna with a refined menu of homemade Greek classics and a decent house rosé.
Hopping on the ferry from Mykonos to Paros takes around an hour and ferry times are frequent when the wind and weather are at bay. Immaculate beaches and rocky outcrops frame the hilly greenery and rural villages have maintained an untouched quality with spotless whitewashed architecture. The drive from the port swerves and snakes around winding roads, passing ancient ruins and villages that are more peaceful this time of year. Alfresco taverns abound in the nearby villages of Parikiá, Náoussa and Aliki, serving grilled meat or seared tuna with mezze dips and views of the sunset. The laid-back island of Antiparos is easy to get to by boat if time is on your side.
Where to stay
For afternoons spent by the poolside and lazy lunches prepared by a portfolio of extraordinary chefs, Villa Lopez is a stylish hideaway perched on a secluded hillside in Mykonos. The villa feels completely remote and off grid, but the island is small enough to always be in close proximity to the airport and beach parties. In the Playhouse, or main communal area, the cinema room is perched on a slant to imitate the layout of a theatre, and a small gym space is also available to complete the checklist. The pool and jacuzzi sit against far-reaching views of the sea and an assortment of islands in the distance. Sumptuous suites are all varied in style and offer a serene place to retreat after a peaceful swim or a dancing extravaganza at Scorpios.
Alternatively, base yourself at Paros’s Villa Senna for a night or two, a cosy five-bedroom retreat just a few steps away from the secluded cove of Tripiti. Bedrooms are inspired by French country furnishings painted with earthy creams. The whitewashed architecture so synonymous with the Greek colour theme runs through the rest of the building to complement the wide blue skies and abundance of plants. An elongated veranda leads out to a large swimming pool backed by greenery and the sea; the terrace is also sea facing, shaded by a handcrafted pergola. Learn how to make classic Greek dishes with the villa’s on-site chefs or pop out to Aliki fishing village for a late-night alfresco meal right by the sea. Mouragio restaurant is a seafood hotspot, offering perfectly cooked octopus and Greek salads topped with kalamata olives and creamy feta cheese.