In September 2019, we decided to take a last minute flight to Athens and visit Greece and some of the cyclades islands for 3 weeks for a workation.
Our itinerary in Greece and the cyclades
We planned our trip a bit last minute, our main objectives for our Greek itinerary : hiking, beach and delicious food.
We settled on the Cyclades as we had a flight booked landing in Athens and the other archipelagos, like Ionian islands, are further than the little islands of the Cyclades.
- Athens – For a few days, we stayed in Athens to work and enjoy the food and the vibe of the wonderful and antique Greek Capital. Athens is a vibrant and very cool and young city, with many coffees, very delicious, traditional and high-ends restaurants and good Wifi. The latest was pretty important for us as we stayed and worked in Athens!
- Santorini – We could not visit the Cyclades without going to Santorini. This was a mistake, it’s extremely touristy with little interest but at least it’s done. Now, we do not recommend you to go there. Nevertheless, we stayed in an amazing hotel, and Santorini must probably be seen once in a lifetime even though we will never go there again!
- Amorgos – Quite the opposite of Santorini, one of the still wild and less touristy island of the Cyclades. Amorgos, the blue pearl of the Cyclades, famous for being the set of the movie “Deep Blue” shot by Luc Besson. It is an amazing island for hiking and wander. In Amorgos, we shot as well with our drone – our video to follow in one of the chapter of this article!
- Milos – One of the most typical and less busy island of the Cyclades as well. Milos is nothing like Amorgos : while the latest is very wild and windy, Milos offers totally different landscapes and amazing beaches. If you like Greece, you will fall in love with Milos : the food, the little villages, its beaches will enchant you beyond words. We’ve worked there for a week and features Milos in our list of the best place to work remotely.
How to travel to the Cyclades
From Athens, every island of the Cyclades is accessible through Ferry boat.
By boat from Athens
The main and cheapest option to travel from Athens to Santorini is by boat. The ferry leaves from Piraeus port and will take between 4 hours 40 minutes to 8 hours to reach Santorini depending of the boat type and the stop.
Amongst all the ferry option, we recommend SeaJets (https://tickets.seajets.gr/). They run a 7.30 am ferry between Piraeus and Santorini in a high-speed boat, allowing you to fully enjoy your first day in Santorini.
Make sure you book the ticket in advance, notably if you have a car. It is common for Greek ferries to leave late, arrive late and even to be cancelled due to too much wind in the Aegian sea. We had a few hours delay in each of our ferry trip and we consider ourselves lucky compared to the fellow travellers we met.
While we chose the ferry route, it is also possible to access Santorini directly by plane. This option will probably be favoured by anyone not visiting Athens before going to the Cyclades.
Santorini Airport is international – direct flights are possible from many of the largest European cities in United Kingdom, France, Scandinavia, … Mykonos also has another international airport, while the other airports in Naxos, Paros, Milos and Syros are national airport only.
From Santorini or Mykonos, the other islands of the Cyclades are accessible by ferry.
Travel between the Cyclades
After you reached one of the Cyclades island, your best (and often only) option to travel and hop between islands is by boat.
The same ferry companies operates from the Cyclades islands. Choices are more limited, eventually we always opted for SeaJets during our stay.
You can compare prices and schedules on : https://www.directferries.com/greece.htm and book with your favorite ferry company.
Be warned – the length of each trip is very different and can vary from simple to double as well as the price!
Santorini – White & Blue & Crowded
Where to stay in Santorini
While planning our trip to Greece, we knew already Santorini would be touristy. We decided to go for a bit of luxury, instead of our usual Airbnb and hostels and our choice went to Orabel Suite.
The bedroom had indoor jacuzzi and was very spacious. The hotel staff and notably the barman were very friendly and had very good advice. It is a few minutes walk from the beautiful and animated beach of Perivolos.
We used the hotel to organise all our tours and activities and rent a car. Everything was easy and we appreciated fully the greek hospitality.
If we have to go back to Santorini, we would definitely stay there again as this hotel was the highlight of our stay.
What to do in Santorini
Visit Oia, the white city
Oia, one of the famous village in the world. Oia is the picture you imagine when you think of Santorini. It is an iconic village with blue and white houses and it owns its reputation to it beautiful sunset.
We went to Oia on our second day, in the early morning before the buses and the cruise reached the village. In early morning, the village is truly beautiful, but let’s face it : tourism killed its spirit. After 9.30am, the buses arrive and the tourisms are flowing, and it never stops. You will find yourself in a crowd of photographer, instagramers and some of the most disrespectful visitors… lost amongst the souvenir shops and the overpriced café – only trying to escape.
Our only advice to visit Oia in Santorini : Get Up Early, Visit Quickly, Escape Promptly.
Go on a cruise
On our last day, we decided to go on a catamaran cruise to watch the sunset over Oia from the Aegan sea. We booked a tour with https://www.santorini-yachts.com/ and headed out early morning to the port.
The cruise included a decent lunch and a lot of drinks. The staff was very friendly as well and we enjoyed swimming around the catamaran.
However, even if overall the cruise was pleasant, the price was quite a rip-off for what you get (350 euros for a 5 hours cruise with so many other boats). You can totally miss that activity in Santorini and spend your hard-earned money elsewhere.
Travel around Santorini
The best thing about Santorini, as we found out are neither its cruise nor Oia. When you leave the main touristic places, the island is lovely and much more typical.
You can travel to the little beaches, eat in some very good restaurants, and enjoy a little taste of luxury of its less-known side.
Amorgos – The blue pearl of Cyclades
We left Santorini quite unhappy of our first impression of the Cyclades. Everything had been extremely crowded, expensive and nothing left a strong impression of authenticity. We headed out to Amorgos without much hopes but very quickly, our spirit went up.
After a few hours, we reached the port of Katapola and looked for a car to rent and entered the FM rent-a-car shop. We rented a cute Renault Twingo with an openable-roof (very pleasant when it get hot!). The rental price was also very reasonable compared to Santorini. In the end, the owner recommended us several places to visit and provided us with an umbrella and a map of the area.
We left the port to head to the south of the island, and our exploration of Amorgos began. Travelling through wild mountainous road, overlooking at the beaches and villages, we took the road to Aegiali.
We were about to find out that the Cyclades still offers jewel and that Amorgos was a real pearl!
Where to stay in Amorgos
While Santorini is a very high-end and luxurious island, Amorgos is wilder and quieter. For our stay, we decided to stay in an Airbnb on the other side of the island.
We stayed in Egialis, on the north side of the island. It was a great choice as lot of good hikes depart from there and several activities, such as scubadiving or boats cruise depart from there. Anyway, Amorgos is a pretty small island and you will be driving around – you can go anywhere by car so staying near the port is another option.
What to do in Amorgos
Film a drone video
Amorgos is the island where the movie “The deep blue” was shot. Unsurprisingly, its landscapes, beaches and its famous shipwreck offers some of the most gorgeous scenery.
Wandering around – our main activity while we visited Amorgos! Rent a car, and visit its beaches and its word-famous shipwreck beach!
- Chora : a traditional medieval village of Greece and also the capital of Amorgos. It is overlooked by windmills and is one of the most beautiful and postcards-like village of the Cyclades. If you visit Amorgos, you cannot miss it.
- The Monastery of Hozoviotissa and its cats : it is hanging on a cliff, 300m above the sea-level. It appears in our drone video, and you can see how impressive it is, and that the monk built one of the most incredible piece of architecture Greece has to offer.
- The Olympia shipwreck, appearing in the “Deep Blue Movie” (and in our less famous yet drone video). It is located in the south of Amorgos, and lies on a very cute little beach accessible with a few minutes of not-that-easy walk. It is as well one of the must-see from Amorgos (like all the above)
Trekking on the wild trails of Amorgos
Amorgos, beside its monastery and its beaches, is famous for its wild mountainous trails. It is not only until recently that the roads, practicable for cars appeared in the island and it is still possible today to hike the old walking path to travel the full city. Doing research, we even found out that many travellers are actually doing Amorgos only by foot!
While in Amorgos, we hiked a couple of the trails only as we were too busy with the drone video but we wished we had more time there to enjoy the longer trails. The only path we were able to walk fully was the Melania trail, departing from Aegiali. The landscape was gorgeous and crossing through a couple of traditional and quiet Greek village and we recommend hiking it if you are staying in Aegiali.
If you wish to hike – there is 7 main walking path. You can find all the required information on : https://amorgos.gr/walking-paths-amorgos/ and chose the path that suit you best.
If you walk in Amorgos, be warned : it gets hot. As there is not vegetation on the island, it quickly feels like hiking in the desert if you are travelling in summer. In September, it was still pretty warm and we were glad to have lot of waters and small villages to take regular breaks while hiking.
Milos – the untouched Island of the Cyclades
On our last day in Amorgos, the weather started to get choppy. We boarded a late ferry from Katapola to travel to Milos. We reached Milos after a not very pleasant 8 hours boat ride. In the end, we survived and it is all good memories now, but this reminded us that boat travel can be though.
We arrived to Adamas late in the evening and headed to our Airbnb.
In Milos, our holidays ended and we were back to remote work. We eventually loved it and wished we stayed there much longer. Milos is part of our selection of our favorite places to work remotely.
Where to stay in Milos
In Milos, we were not on holidays so we had to work in the day and could only enjoy the week-end fully.
We stayed in the main village, in Adamas, where the ferry port is located. The city offers lot of amazing options to eat (we did not eat that well neither in Santorini nor in Amorgos) and it is easy to travel to other places of the island from there.
As we were working, we rented out a flat with a good Wifi connection on Airbnb.
What to do in Milos
Rent an ATV – at your own risk (and not in Rentsafari)
To travel across and visit Milos, you need to drive and lot of its path are not easy to drive by car. We rented an ATV like many people did on the island but we ended up in an accident… The ATV we rented breaks were simply not working and we were lucky to only have a broken toe, some bruises an a bit of blood and a few hours visit in Milos hospital.
It is our only bad experience in Greece, but it’s a pretty bad one : the ATV sellers were clearly scammer. They tried to blame it upon us but eventually offered us a refund + 100 euros when we threatened them to go to the local police.
The company is called Rentsafari, it is obviously an organised scam with 2 stars average rating on Google as so many people got broken ATV and accidents. They nearly killed us so we strongly recommend : escape it and before renting any ATV or cars, check the google ratings and TripAdvisor.
Note – you can find good ATV/Scooter rental on the island check-out other blogs. To rent an ATV or a scooter, you will need an international driver license.
Rent a boat with Calypso boat
After our unsuccessful ATV day, we did not give up and rented a boat even though Francois’s toe was now entirely purple.
The weather for very good for boating, with an oil sea, quite a change from the stormy weather we had in Milos for our first days on the island. We rented the boat with https://www.milosboatrental.com/, and the boat was brand new (we learnt from our previous mistake).
We spent the day travelling around the west of Milos, which is not accessible by car. With the boat, we were able to swim almost alone in little bay and to enter with the boat some of caves of Milos’ coast. Francois has got his Boat Driver license since the summer before, and was extremely happy to put it to use. You can check out our little boat in our Instagram picture below this paragraph.
You do not need a boat license to rent a small boat in Milos. However, you will feel more comfortable with at least some previous boating experience.
That day was an amazing end to our adventure in Greece.
Other activities in Milos
As we worked 5 days out of 7 and Francois broke is toe in the ATV accident, we had not much time to explore Milos. Finally, our main regret was to not be able to see the famous white beach of Sarakiniko.