How to Visit Greece’s Most Beautiful Islands for Cheap With a Eurail Pass
Eurail’s history of making European travel pretty much hassle-free dates back to 1959, but just this year, the company announced a slew of updates that make its services more accessible than ever. With new routes, more carriers, and lower prices, Eurail now grants access to 31 countries total, including Great Britain and the Greek Islands.
While a train pass may not be your first thought for a trip focused on exploring the glittering gems of the Aegean, Eurail’s new-and-improved Greek Islands Pass provides ferry — rather than train — access between the islands. Operated by Superfast and Blue Star Ferries (two of Eurail’s carriers), the ferries make island-hopping easy, with Eurail upping the included-island count this year from 28 to 53 total. The Greek Islands Pass now connects the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the Sporades, the Saronic Islands, the Northeast Aegean Islands, and Crete.
Customize your Greek Island itinerary as you please — spots as varied as Santorini and Syros are now easy to hop between in one trip. While Santorini is one of the more popular spots in the Greek Isles, loved for its iconic white-washed buildings, sapphire seas, deep calderas, and life-altering Oian sunsets, Syros is lesser known but just as breathtaking. It’s one of the only places in Greece that experienced the Renaissance, so buildings like Ermoupolis City Hall and the Apollo Theater offer a twist on Greece’s usual Classical architecture and the Medieval feel of the Cyclades. (And you could get paid to live there as a cat caretaker.)
For an island that’s a little more lively, many travelers turn to Mykonos, with its up-all-night approach to the post-sunset hours (it’s the home of Lindsay Lohan’s infamous Lohan Beach House, after all). But Páros offers a similar experience, sans hype and high price tags. You can break up the party-hardy revelry with visits to cultural highlights like Panagia Ekatontapiliani (the Church of 100 Doors) or go windsurfing and sailing: the channel separating Páros from Naxos creates a wind tunnel with ideal conditions for wind-reliant sports.
Other popular routes with Eurail’s Greek Islands Pass include Kos and Rhodes; Patmos, Leros, and Kalymnos; and islands like Ios, Crete, Karpathos, Koufonisi, and rugged Sifnos.
The new Greek Islands Pass is available at two price points: $107 for five trips within one month and $207 for six trips within one month. Youth rates — offered to those aged 27 or younger — are lower, at $81 and $183, respectively. The five-trip option does not include international trips (as in, between Italy and Greece), only domestic service within Greece.
It’s important to note that the Greek Islands Pass only covers ferry trips within the Greek Islands. In order to travel within mainland Greece, you’d need to combine the Greek Islands Pass with an additional pass valid for Greece and beyond. In addition, Eurail passes are only available to non-European residents.