Solo Travel Destination: Athens & the Greek Islands

We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Melissa, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Melissa is from The Netherlands, and submitted the following report about Athens and the Greek Islands. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!

Solo travel rating: (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)

Languages spoken: Greek, English

photo, image, santorini

Spectacular Santorini, where sheer cliffs cascade into the Aegean.

Reasons to go:  Greece is a great destination for solo travelers. It’s safe in most areas, the people are laid-back (especially on the islands), street food is cheap and delicious (where else can you grab a souvlaki pita for €2.50?), and the sun shines far more than it does in Northern Europe, where I reside. Many airlines have direct flights from U.S. and European cities to Athens and Crete. Aegean and Olympic Air offer domestic flights from Athens to several islands.

Best of all, it’s easy to island-hop via ferry, especially in the off-season, when there’s no need for reservations. Traveling in mid-October, pensioners met me off the boat, eager to accommodate an independent traveler. They offered simple rooms with baths for €25–30―a fraction of July-August rates, when backpackers, sun-worshippers, and cruise travelers on port excursions flock to the islands.

After a day in Athens spent exploring the Acropolis and Monasteraki Flea Market, I hopped on a Metro to Piraeus, gateway to the Greek islands. In three weeks, I visited Ios, a tiny island (population 2,000) known for its wild nightlife and music scene (mostly shut-down in October); Santorini, where multicolored cliffs layered with whitewashed houses cascade into the azure Aegean; Crete, site of Knossos Palace, Venetian-style harbors, and The Mistral Hotel, popular with single Brits; Mykonos, known for its labyrinth of cubist-style homes, designer boutiques and world-renowned bars; and Syros, capital of the Cyclades and perhaps the most under-rated Greek island, where cruise ships don’t go and the true culture of Greece emerges.

After learning about The Mistral on Solo Traveler, I signed up for the week-long photography course. Our instructor was as knowledgeable as he was affable, but of 15 students only three of us seemed more than mildly interested in photography. While the hotel’s staff is gracious and the food outstanding and plentiful, I found myself with Brits who go back to The Mistral time and again (there are direct flights to Heraklion from the UK), hesitant to venture out of their comfort zone on holiday. Not really for me, but I enjoyed the Greek menus and photo excursions to Chania, Rethymno, and Samaria Gorge.

In the weeks before and after Crete, I traveled independently with no problem. Pensioners were happy to accommodate a solo traveler and eager to please with amenities like free WiFi and view terraces. On Syros, the least commercial island I visited, I rented a whole apartment with bedroom, living room, kitchen, bath, and terrace for €25.

Wherever you go in Greece, there are a few cultural differences you’ll need to get used to. You can’t drink water from the tap, but the bottled stuff is cheap and readily available. And you can’t throw paper down the toilet―a custom that takes some getting used to for Westerners.

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Mykonos’ Little Venice

photo, image, ios

Lovely Ios, population 2000.

photo, image, chania harbor, crete

Chania Harbor, Crete, a blend of Venetian + Byzantine architecture.

Solo Travel Destination Rating System

Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)

Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)

Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)

Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)

Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)


  • Dovile

    Hi, so where did u girls go in the end? Planning to go to Greek islands on my own and looking for some tips. I’m in my mid 20s, not looking for party rather yoga, exploring, sport etc…

  • Natasha Kennard Conran

    Hey, I am planning to do the same! :)

  • Lucy Pedrana


    Thanks so much for this. Found it v helpful :)

  • Guest of the World

    I just downloaded the Solo Traveler’s Accommodation Guide. Why don’t you have Greece in it at all?

  • john

    Come to Lesvos my friends!You can find anything you need,from amazing night life to amazing peaceful beaches and villages!Lesbos is definitely the place to visit in Aegean!

  • Hugh Roberts

    Just came back from Athens a month ago.Everything was perfect,i totally
    recommend it! I used this video guide site
    for anyone that needs tips for archeological sites and ofc
    beaches!Site has sub-sites for some islands too , like Santorini , Mykonos , Crete and Andros. Hope you all can visit Greece and have fun.Cheers!

  • LauraD

    Hi, I am a female solo traveller in my early 20s and am planning on going Island hopping in August. This will be my first ever solo trip so am feeling slightly anxious about it all. How easy will it be for me to travel via ferry and find accommodation at this time of year?

  • Jolanta

    Greece is very beautiful! Especially I love Lefkada island! <3

  • Janice Waugh

    Hi there,

    At the beginning of April we’ll publish the Solo Traveler’s Accommodation Guide. It will include recommendations from other solo travelers. Hopefully it will have suggestions for Athens in it.


  • traveller

    i am 19yrs old girl want to go to athens. any tips on where to stay and where to find cheap food. also how to get around to see places?

  • Travelbug1

    Thank you for the link. Looks lovely I want to go now …… especially that our winter cold has set in. Will put on bucket list for sure! And I for sure realize Mykonos is very commercialized.

  • MelissaAdams

    Mykonos is lovely, but very commercial. Think about visiting a less touristy island like Syros or far-off Kastellorizo ( for a real taste of Greece!

  • Atiya

    Anyone know where one can find a round-up of the best hotels to stay at being a solo traveller?

  • Travelbug1

    First solo trip was in Greece 1982. I loved it. Loved Mykonos. the white washed buildings and the deep blue ocean. I think maybe it’ll be time to revisit, no?