The Ionian islands of Greece are made up of six archipelagos namely Corfu, Paxi, Ithaki, Zakynthos, Lefkada and Kefalonia, apart from many other beautiful islands.
This southeast European country, as a result, has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world, and especially for those who like island-hopping and wish to learn about the life of an islander.
That said,it’s not the six Ionian island gems to tick off in your log book.There are a clutch of stunning islands and harbor towns enroute to the mainlands of western Greece that are equally attractive.
It usually takes 4-5 weeks to explore the six Ionian islands,so if you have just two weeks to travel you will have to choose between the Corfu and Paxos region or the Zakynthos, Ithaki,Kefalonia and Lefkada area.
We have therefore crafted a perfect two week island hopping itinerary of some of the Ionian islands for those looking for a trip to this part of Greece. But before that lets discuss the logistics.
The Ionian islands are located between the Greek mainland and Italy,just south of Albania.Corfu, Kefalonia and Zakynthos all have international airports and are well connected to most European countries. Athens and other parts of Greece are connected by bus and ferry.
When to visit
Summer inevitably brings high prices and big crowds,so visiting in the shoulder months of May,June and September is a better option. Be sure to book your Ionian villa holidays well in advance to avoid peak season tariff hikes.
Traveling between the islands
Regular ferry services connect the Ionian islands, especially the larger ones of Zakynthos, Corfu and Kefalonia. However, during the peak season,ferries run from Corfu to Zakynthos with stops at all the islands on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and back on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Traveling within the islands
Buses connect the main towns, but without doubt the best way to explore the islands is by using your own transport. Car rentals are affordable, especially if you are planning a two week trip. Not only do you travel in your own space but some of the views from the road are out of the ordinary.
Two weeks island hopping itinerary for the Ionian islands
This two week itinerary will not cover all the Ionian islands, but will provide an insight on some of the most scenic spots and activities to do on your dream Greece trip.
Day One,two and three-Lefkada
Lefkada is the only island connected to mainland Greece,so because of the easy accessibility it is best to begin your Ionian sea voyage from here. You can get a car transfer direct from Athens to Nidri in Lefkada or fly straight into the Akiton International Airport.
Nydri is the tourist hot-spot in Lefkada and a truly authentic Greek destination.There is a lot to see and explore in Lefkada, so during your three day stay consider renting a bicycle for getting around.
Cycling along the area is a wonderful way to get to the pretty beaches and the numerous waterfalls away from the town. Several shops on the main street of Nidri offer bike hire.
An unmissable attraction in Nidri is a visit to the Dimosari waterfalls,where you can spend the whole day enjoying a swim or having a picnic lunch.
Set aside a day in Nidri for a boat trip to some of the neighbouring islands like Kastos. Book well in advance as this tour sells out fast in summer.
For something romantic,go on a sunset wine tasting tour,a perfect activity to indulge in on a Greek island hopping holiday.
A no-brainer for staying in Nidri are the Aggelos Apartments which enjoy a superb location,providing stunning views with bright and airy rooms.
Days four,five and six-Meganisi
The beautiful island of Meganissi is just a pretty half an hour by ferry from Nidri,so make sure to grab the outside seats to enjoy the views.
The perfect place to stay in Meganisi is Villa Lydia,close to the restaurants and the bustling harbor.The Villa provides incredible views and is close to the fun spot of Vathy Bay town.
Meganisi has no public transport so you will have to either walk or hire a car to explore most of the attractions.That said,the island is quite compact and easily walkable.
Spend your first day exploring the two main villages of Meganisi,Spartochori and Varthy. They are both picturesque and can get crowded during the season with many yachts mooring up on the marina.
On the second and third day visit some of the famous beaches of Agios Ioannis,Spilla and Fanari.Here you will find secluded covers with crystal clear blue water.Meganisi is otherwise also very quiet compared to other Ionian islands and a great place to visit for those looking for peace and solitude.
Ithaca may be a tiny island,but this home of the legendary hero Ulysses,draws hordes of tourists from all corners of the world. Again it is not as lively as other islands but a perfect place to holiday away from the crowds.
To get to Ithaca,you need to return by ferry to Nidri and then catch another ferry to Ithaca.The whole journey can easily be done in a couple of hours.
You have four days in Ithaca, so set aside two days to spend in the lovely towns of Kioni and Vathy. Kioni,in particular,has long hiking trails leading to abandoned windmills and lots of other interesting things.
Ithaca has some of the most stunning beaches in the country,so we suggest you spend your next two days there.The best organized of all are Filatro and Sarakiniko to name a few beaches of Ithaca.
A few interesting sites are the ancient town of Alalcomenaeus on a hill and the smaller but modern Village of Piso Aetos to the south of the island of Ithaca.
The Family hotel is an ideal place, near the harbor and all the action, to stay in Ithaca.
Three days will be just enough to see this stunning Greek island(in fact, you can spend your entire two weeks here and still not see enough)if you hire a car and travel as much as possible.
Visit the world famous Myrtos beach and the pretty town of Assos with views to die for. Hire a motorboat from the chic town of Fiskardo and explore some of the secluded coves along the coastline.
Set aside the final day for a visit to the pretty town of Sami,known for its harborside restaurants and cafes, before heading for the Melissani Caves,known for their incredible crystal clear waters.
Nature lovers can go to Argostoli,where the sheltered harbor is a good spot to view resident turtles,which keep surfacing to feed on the scraps thrown from the restaurants.
The perfect way to end your Greek itinerary is by taking a sunset cruise to some of Kefalonia’s beautiful beaches and enjoy delicious food and wine on-board before flying back to your destination.