When you look at a map, the islands just off the Aegean coastline look like they belong to Turkey. But they are actually part of the Greek islands. Travelers in Turkey can access the EU with a quick ferry ride.
Once belonging to the same ancient empires and rulers, the Greek islands have a messy mix of overlapping Greek and Turkish history. While you could say that the citizens living in either country are entirely native, you will find that most Greeks and Turks in the southwest of Turkey have a jumbled heritage of Greek and Turkish ancestors.
Today, the Greek laid-back Islanders and relaxed warm Turkish people of Izmir have a comfortable relationship that politicians could learn a thing or two about.
Alongside the history, travelers like to visit the Greek Islands for the ease of island life. Big cities like Rome and London also come with traffic and crowds of people. While we saw a few people from the ferry, tourist lines were never a problem on the Greek Islands.
When traveling to the gorgeously sunny areas of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, the Greek Islands of Chios (click here to listen to our podcast about Chios), Lesvos, and Rhodos, are the perfect international day trips from the Turkish coast.
But before you go, here are 8 tips for traveling to the Greek Islands from Turkey:
- Check your visa requirements! Rules still apply for entering the EU. Some islands have daily visa pass, but make sure your nationality can purchase them.
- Traveling to the island is best in the summer: May to September. The island comes to life with other travelers, and all the shops are ready to greet you. But if you are like us and want a more relaxed, getaway, consider coming in the off-months: October- April.
- Chios and Lesvos are relatively protected from the masses of cruise lines and craziness that comes with the hordes of tourists being dumped onto the island all at once. Rhodos, however, is another story. For a more enjoyable experience, consider checking out this island during the off-season or the edges of the summer season.
- Booking your ferry tickets online is easy. From the several websites I have used, I suggest www.marmarisferry.com provided the most diverse selection of routes and online payment.
- Chios’ daily departures in both on and off-season. Tickets are a flat one-way fee of 20 Euros (40 Euros round trip).
- Lesvos’ schedule is irregular in the off-season but picks up around the summer months. Tickets are a flat one-way fee of 25 Euros (50 Euros round trip).
- Rhodos charges 30 Euro extra per roundtrip (40 Euros for same day round trip) if you arrive and depart on different days.
- Rental cars are easy and cheap to rent for your desired amount of time. Even if you have a car, you will find that renting a car for a day or 2 will be cheaper than paying for your car ferry fee and the extra required international insurance on the island. Only if you plan to stay for longer than four days should you consider taking your vehicle.
- While I thought it was just a Spanish tradition, Greeks also honor a similar afternoon siesta from 1-3 PM. Most shops besides restaurants and cafes will take a break mid-day for lunch and rest. At 3 PM the shops reopen for shoppers until 6 PM or if in a shopping district, 8-9 PM. Also, if you want to travel around the island, make sure to see the big city when you first arrive.
- On Sundays, most non-food shops close, and the shopping areas become a ghost town. Thankfully, most shops near the water stay open for locals and the random tourists waiting for their ferry boats back to Turkey. If you are looking to grab some European products to take back to Turkey, Lidl and other supermarkets have a large, affordable selection of goods. However, they close on Sundays.
- While the refugee crisis has potentially affected some of the Greek Islands, we never saw any disruptive events or services during our visits. Besides the occasional beggar near the port areas, which is common in most cities, we saw none in the other regions of Greece.
I hope you enjoyed these 8 tips for traveling to the Greek Islands from Turkey. Have you traveled to the island? What tips do you have from your travels to the islands?
Now to you:
What Greek Islands have you traveled too?
What did you love about your travels there?
What are your tips for traveling to the Greek Islands?
Read more information about other islands we have visited: (coming soon!)
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