Island hopping in Greece – it’s the ideal vacation, right? Overnighting in adorable blue and white houses, blissful naps on beautiful sand beaches interspersed with dips in what must be the bluest water in the world, gorging on fresh seafood and olives, backpacking cheaply from Greek island to island, and ferry rides off into the Mediterranean sunset.
At least that’s what I kept telling myself. But frankly? Oh my God, I was so bored.
It seems ridiculous to admit, and I’m even scolding myself as I write this – I mean, how spoiled do you have to be not to love a trip to Greece? When my family took a trip to Samos when I was ten, I had promptly declared that Greece was the most beautiful, most perfect place in the world.
So what changed?
I guess my travel priorities have shifted a little. Don’t get me wrong, the Greek islands are breathtaking and absolutely deserve all the hype, and all the tourists. Backpacking Greece is a thing for a reason – it can be a really great trip, especially for beginner backpackers.
Greece is set up to be the perfect tourist destination – beautiful places to stay along well-maintained beaches and sparkling white villages with fun activities like renting an ATV or sailing trips.
For me though, it was all a little too perfect, to the point of feeling bland. I missed having to struggle across language barriers to order food, having my hair awkwardly pulled by a woman who’s not used to seeing blondes, and somehow finding myself in terrible scrapes.
But the most painful part was probably the high prices. I had averaged $17/day in Albania and $13/day in Macedonia, but in Greece? I spent a whopping $53/day, eek! That wouldn’t have been so bad, considering this was a beach holiday, had I not a mere week earlier been swimming in just as beautiful waters and eating just as delicious food while in Albania.
Okay to be fair, Danielle and I had chosen two of the most popular and most touristed islands in Greece: Santorini and Paros. We had figured that if we were going to do the Greek island thing, we might as well do the big ones. I guess that might have been a bit of a mistake…
Still, all my whining aside, I had a pretty great time in Greece. I ate some delicious food, worked on my sunburn, and finally had time to finish reading Zorba the Greek (highly recommended read!), in Greece no less! And Greece really is stunning.
Backpacking in Santorini
When we stopped at this small food shop we were shocked and delighted when the owners brought out a huge tray of food and drinks for us to sample. Trying to backpack Greece cheaply? Eat the samples!
We rented an ATV to get around the island. Don’t worry, parents, I know we might still be your little girls, but we are old enough to drive!
Best Hostel on Santorini
Villa Manos is a bit outside of Fira (a 20 minute walk) so it’s most convenient if you have a car/ATV, but for the price it would be worth staying here even if you have to walk. It has a big pool and the vibe is really great. Check current prices and availability here
Backpacking in Paros
With most restaurant meals being a little out of our small backpacker budgets (Danielle and I had to share the plate of grilled sardines), we ate a lot of 2 euro gyros while in Greece!
Best hotel/hostel in Paros
If you’re visiting Greece on a budget, you should totally stay at Hotel Livadia. In fact, stay there even if you aren’t on a budget. The owners are really nice, and the balcony views are amazing. Check current rates and availability here
Okay just while going through these photos my heart has once again warmed to Greece. I’m sorry for complaining, Greece, you really are something special!