When the magical islands of Greece and the stunning coast of Turkey are just a stone’s throw away from one another there’s really no reason not to explore both on the same holiday. With fast and regular ferry connection and Gulet cruises connecting the area, island hopping on the Aegean has become increasingly popular among young travelers and holidaymakers.
Where to Start your Trip
Ferries depart from harbours all the way along the west coast of Turkey and some even leave from the Mediterranean towns of Fethiye, Kas and Marmaris. Among the best departure points is the resort town of Kusadasi due to its central location on the Aegean coast and daily Kusadasi to Samos ferry. The advantage of starting your island hopping adventure in this particular coastal resort is that you will have the chance to explore a little of the Turkish coastline before departing for Greece. Within an hours drive of Kusadasi are ancient historical ruins of Ephesus, Didyma and Pergamon, as well as sites of natural beauty like the Dilek National Park, and quaint winemaking and farming towns like Sirinice to explore. The resort has plenty of hotels to choose from and good transport connections to other coastal resorts and Izmir International Airport.
Islands to Visit:
Home to the idyllic beaches like Psili Ammos, very popular in summer for its white sands and clear waters, and Tsamadou, surrounded by lush green hills, with a separate nudist section. The island is also brimming with archaeological sites and ancient history. The islands hosts the Tunnel of Eupalinos, one of the 8 wonders of the ancient world, and the Temple of Hera. Samos is one of the most popular of the Greek Islands, with quaint fishing villages, rich nature and ferries to 8 of the other Greek islands, including Chios and Lesbos.
The third largest of the Greek islands remains largely unaffected by tourism compared to its Aegean neighbours. Lesbos is home to richly diverse flora and wildlife, with thick forests, pristine beaches, a petrified forest and hot springs. For the less outdoorsy the island is also home to fantastic fish restaurants, fine art museums and medieval castles. Ferries connect Lesbos to Turkey via Ayvalik.
At only 4 km from the Turkish coastline, Kos can easily be visited on a day trip from Bodrum, Turkey and is probably the most popular of the Greek islands. Kos plays host to a mixture of secluded beaches and quaint old towns, best to visit in spring or autumn as the summer can be a little overcrowded. The island has a combination of Ottoman and Venetian architecture, as well as Roman ruins and healing centres but Kos is best known for its vibrant nightlife and abundance of bars and clubs, it’s a prime spot for young travelers and party goers.
Independent Travel or Package Tour
There are pro’s and con’s to both independent island hopping and package tours and ultimately it depends on your personal travel preferences. If you don’t have a lot of time and would like to see a lot on your vacation then a package tour is a good idea to save you time and help you make the most of your trip. It could also be a cheaper option as local travel agencies will be able to find the best deals. The downside is that you compromise on flexibility so, if you’re a more laid back traveller with a looser time frame then you may prefer to keep you options open and opt for independent travel.
If you want to visit the Greek Dodecanese Islands from Turkey but don’t like the idea of jumping between ferries and lugging your suitcase to a different hotel every couple of days then another option if to take a Blue Cruise by gulet boat from the southwestern town of Bodrum, Turkey. Sail for 5 days to a week or even longer over the marvelous Aegean sea and sleep inside a comfortable cabin or on sunbeds under the stars. Blue Cruise routes typically make a circular trail around either the northern islands, including Patros and Leros, or the southern islands such as Symi, Rhodes and Kos, stopping at beautiful swimming spots and calling at seaside towns to explore the islands.
How to get your Ferry Tickets
If you’ve decided to travel independently then you’ll need to find out where to to buy your ferry tickets. The easiest way is to purchase your tickets online, some Turkish travel agencies have simple Online Booking 2017 Ferry Tickets so all your travel arrangements can be made before you leave for your holiday. However, if your style if more spontaneous then you could also head the harbour ticket office or pop into a local travel agency and book your ferries as you go.