10 of the Cheapest Greek Islands for Budget Travelers
Ready for an island-hopping adventure but worried about the cost? Learn about the cheapest Greek Islands and start planning your trip now.
Often when we think of European travel, money signs start flashing. Then when we picture Greece, glitzy images of Santorini and Mykonos pop into our heads along with more money.
Island hopping doesn’t have to be expensive if you visit the cheapest Greek islands!
You can still experience the paradise beaches, mesmerizing turquoise waters, ancient ruins and incredible Greek hospitality without blowing your budget.
With a staggering 6,000 islands, chances are, you’ll find a Greek island that suits you.
We’ve put together a list of the best cheap islands in Greece so that you can plan a budget-friendly island-hopping adventure.
How to Travel the Greek Islands on a Budget
Even if you’re visiting an expensive destination, there are always tips and tricks to make it cheaper. Here are a few budget-friendly ways to travel through the Greek Islands:
A large proportion of your budget will likely be spent on accommodation, so finding any way to reduce this is a win. Opt for hostels. They can cost as low as €10 ($11) per night and sometimes offer free activities.
If hostels aren’t your vibe and you prefer a private room, try to book your accommodation in advance when prices are usually lower. Visiting outside the high season (July and August) when prices are at their highest will also save you money.
Taxis are going to be the most expensive form of transport. If you have no option but to get a taxi, try to find other people to share the ride and cost with you.
Exploring by foot is free and often leads to finding hidden gems. For longer journeys, hop on public transport.
And for island hopping in Greece, pick islands closer to each other or have cheap transportation links.
Pro tip: Slow ferries take more time, but they’ll save you money.
Find out more about the best ways to get around Greece.
Often, the best way to save money on food is to cook it yourself, but will you be able to resist delicious Greek food? Maybe. But you shouldn’t!
To find cheap places to eat in Greece, head away from the touristy areas and the main square. These are often tourist traps, charging a lot more money for mediocre food. Ask a local where they eat.
Explore the Cheapest Greek Islands
Crete — The Largest Island in Greece
Often we assume that popular islands are going to be the most expensive. Crete, despite its popularity, is one of the cheapest Greek Islands to visit and the largest.
With its size comes a plethora of things to keep you busy, including hiking, lounging on idyllic beaches and exploring ancient ruins.
The island was once home to the ancient Minoan civilization that predated the Greeks. They left behind fascinating ruins like the Palace of Knossos and the Malia Archaeological Site.
And once you’ve worked up a sweat exploring these ruins or hiking Samaria Gorge, you can go for a refreshing dip at the famous pink beach of Elafonissi.
Pro tip: A great way to save money there is to use public transport. The public transport in the north of the island is frequent and easy to use. Journeys can cost anywhere between €1.60 and €7 ($1.80-7.80), depending on the length.
Unfortunately, if you’re in the south or east of Crete, bus services usually only run twice a day, if that!
Naxos — Greece’s Adventure Island
If you’re a water baby, the island’s windy climate makes it the perfect place to try kitesurfing, windsurfing or sailing.
And for those who fancy a little less adrenaline, it is famous for its endless white-sand beaches backed by luscious greenery and irresistible beach restaurants serving traditional dishes.
Prefer to have your feet on dry land? Take on Mount Zas, the highest mountain in the Cyclades, standing 1,004 meters (3,294 ft) high. Once you’ve completed that one, your next challenge of Mount Fanari will be waiting. Both are ideal spots for mountain biking too!
Naxos remains a cheap Greek Island as many of its activities are free. One of the most popular landmarks, Portara, is free to visit! It’s an unfinished marble gate dedicated to the god Apollo. It’s on the islet of Palatia, which is the perfect place to watch the sunset. An ideal free activity to end the day.
Kos — Vibrant Nightlife and Rich History
As years go by, Kos is getting more and more popular. But it remains one of the cheap islands to stay in Greece.
The streets come alive after the sun sets, offering a lively nightlife with plenty of bars and clubs. Budget travelers flock there to enjoy it all.
But that’s not all the island has to offer.
It is rich with history dating back to ancient times. Having been home to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines, it is overflowing with ancient ruins, medieval castles and the famous Plane Tree of Hippocrates—the spot where the father of modern medicine is said to have taught his students.
Rhodes — Popular but Affordable
Rhodes might also be a surprising addition to this list as it’s another well-known island. Still, it is one of the cheapest Greek Islands for holidays. The island has a large number of hotels, creating competition that, luckily for us, drives down the prices. Hotel rooms start from €25 ($28) per night for two people.
On top of that, Rhodes is one of the cheapest Greek Islands to fly into, with frequent flights from major European cities. Located near the coast of Turkey, it boasts a rich history, stunning sandy beaches and a melting pot of cultures.
Pro tip: Rhodes has a large number of resorts and all-inclusive hotels that are relatively cheap.
If you visit in the shoulder seasons (May, June and September), one night in an all-inclusive for two people can start at around €75 ($83). That’s the majority of your costs covered for the day!
Ios — Greece’s Cheap Party Island
Ios is another one of the cheap party islands in Greece. Young travelers flock to the main village of Chora to dance the night away in cheap bars and clubs.
The island also has a more tranquil side, with traditional villages like Mangari and Paleokastro offering a glimpse at authentic island life.
While watersports aren’t often the cheapest of activities, there are plenty on offer — windsurfing, paddle boarding, jet skis, wakeboarding and scuba diving. Or, a brilliant free activity is simply finding a shady spot on one of its beautiful beaches, reading a book or going for a swim.
Pro tip: Check out the shepherd’s paths up to the island’s highest peak, Pyrgos. It’s a great free activity on Ios.
Samos — An Overlooked Island One Mile from Turkey
Samos is an island often overlooked by most tourists. Luckily, tourism hasn’t driven up prices, and it remains one of the cheapest Greek Islands.
The beaches are some of the best you’ll find in the country. They are never overcrowded, backed by luscious greenery, and the vibrant blue shallow waters are paradise.
Samos boasts a fascinating blend of both Turkish and Greek culture. It’s also home to renowned mathematician Pythagoras and ancient ruins like the Temple of Hera and the Eupalinos Tunnel.
Lefkada — A Beautiful Island Connected to Mainland Greece
Visiting Lefkada almost feels like you’re cheating since it’s connected to the mainland via a bridge. But that ease of travel makes it one of the cheapest Greek Islands to travel to from the mainland.
Its proximity doesn’t diminish its beauty. The beaches are regularly featured among the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. The vibrant waters contrasted against the white cliffs really are a sight to see.
The island has remained largely undeveloped as protected areas have kept several beaches free from hotels and resorts. Escape to the mountains and discover rustic villages and plenty of hiking opportunities.
Pro tip: Lefkada is a relatively cheap island in Greece to fly to. First, you’ll need to fly to Aktion Airport in Preveza, which has tons of cheap flights from European cities. For example, you can fly from London to Preveza for under €50 ($56) even in August! From there, all you need to do is hop on a bus which will cost you only €3 ($3.30).
Lesvos — Home to Incredible Petrified Forests
Lesvos, also known as Lesbos, is famous for its petrified forest. Millions of years ago, a volcanic eruption covered the island and preserved the ancient trees as fossilized remains. It’s such a remarkable landscape that it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
That’s not the only thing it’s famous for. Its cuisine is to die for! The island uses a lot of local produce to create high-quality and delicious dishes at local prices. This makes the island one of the cheapest Greek Islands to eat and drink.
You can dine like a king or queen without splashing the cash. Some local specialties you must try include sardines, sweet pastries, and ouzo, all from the island.
Spend your days in Lesvos hiking, relaxing on the beach, exploring quaint towns, or scuba diving. There are some great shipwrecks nearby!
Zakynthos — More than Just a Party Island
Zakynthos, commonly known by its English name, Zante, is one of the cheap party islands in Greece.
Many people between 18 and 30 head to Laganas, where you’ll find an entire strip filled with bright lights, pumping music and party-goers holding (or spilling) buckets of alcohol. A pint of beer will cost you around €2 ($2.20) here.
Despite its party reputation, Zante is one of the most beautiful Ionian Islands. And it’s home to the iconic and jaw-dropping Shipwreck Beach. Here you can explore tiny villages hidden in the rolling hills.
Pro tip: Public transport helps to make it one of the cheapest Greek Islands. Any bus route from the Central Bus Station in Zakynthos Town will cost you only €1.80 ($1.97)! And the bus network is pretty extensive, taking you to places like the airport, Shipwreck Beach and plenty of other villages across the island.
Aegina — A Day Trip from Athens
Aegina, in the Saronic Gulf, is just a short ferry ride from Athens. You can get there in under one hour, making it a brilliant day trip from the mainland and one of the cheapest Greek Islands for ferry prices from Athens.
Many daytrippers will explore the spectacular Temple of Aphaia or wander around the main town, also named Aegina. The picturesque harbor town is full of narrow streets and lively waterfront cafes. Grab yourself a coffee and simply watch the world go by!
Remarkably, it’s managed to maintain a laid-back island vibe with cheap prices despite being so accessible from Athens.
Weather in Greece
The best time to visit Greece is during the summer when the country is blessed with warm weather and long sunny days.
Between May and October, temperatures range from 25°C (77°F) and soar to 35°C (95°F) in July and August. Visitor numbers are highest during the peak summer months of July and August. So, if you don’t like crowds, visit in the shoulder months of June and September.
Don’t worry, the weather will still be great then!
Winter begins in November and lasts until the end of March. During this time, the average temperature hovers around 13°C (55°F).
Packing List Essentials for Greece
Chances are, you will visit Greece during the summer when the temperatures are high, and the sun is shining.
Here are a few essential items that you’ll need in your suitcase:
- Cool, loose-fitting clothes
- After sun lotion (just in case)
- Hat and sunglasses
- European plug adaptor
Map of Greece’s Cheapest Islands
As seen on this map, Greece is in the most southerly part of the Balkan peninsula. The country comprises a large mainland portion and over 6,000 islands and islets.
How to Get from Mainland Greece to the Greek Islands
When traveling between mainland Greece and the islands, you really only have two ways to travel—by plane or ferry.
Ferries can be more of an adventure and are better for the environment than flying. Faster ferries tend to be more expensive than slow ones.
If you’re looking to save money, hop on an overnight ferry. It will be slower, but they’re often cheaper, and you save on accommodation.
Final Say: Can Greece be Visited on a Budget?
Yes, Greece can definitely be visited on a budget, especially if you plan your trip around the cheapest Greek Islands and manage your spending.
Planning and choosing the cheapest transportation routes around the country will also help you save money. Check out our most popular routes in Greece.
Compared to other European countries, it’s one of the most affordable countries to travel to, especially if you choose cheap islands in Greece to visit.
If you’re on a budget, you can spend as little as €50 ($56) a day. Stay in hostels, eat at local restaurants, and enjoy free activities.
Prices soar during the peak months of July and August. Travel in the shoulder months (May, June, September and October) when accommodation and transportation prices can be lower.