Small Ship Cruises in Ionian Islands

A small ship cruise of the Ionian Islands gives you the chance to explore the mythical home of the Greek hero Odysseus which has been the subject of fascination and passion for writers and travelers alike since ancient times. The islands are varied, some with well-developed resorts and bustling cities and others tranquil and traditional in nature. What the islands have in common is some of the best beaches and the kind of clear turquoise waters that are a dream to swim in. A small ship cruise can take you to see the very best of each island and puts the dozens of special spots only accessible by boat within reach.

Best Ionian Islands cruises and areas to visit


A great deal has been written, filmed, and spoken of the magical island of Corfu over the years. The island has so much beauty from the top of its mountainous peaks, through lush forest, and down to the long white sand beaches that trim the coast. Corfu is a bustling and multicultural island with influence from both the East and West as well as strong cultural ties with nearby Italy; Venetian architecture and traditions can be seen all over the towns and the main city of Corfu. The island is the best developed of all the Ionian Islands, and plush resorts with beautiful, well-kept beaches are found all around. There are also several impressive historical sites and museums around Corfu town, including the remains of an ancient Doric temple to the goddess Artemis. That is not to say the island is without its secluded hidden gems. A glimpse into the Corfu from the writings of Lawrence Durrell can be found on the Diapontian Islands a clutch of tiny islands in the northwest of Corfu still very much living in the old traditional ways of the archipelago.


Also popularly known as Zante, this island has two sides to its wonderful personality. Luckily, a small ship cruise of the Ionian Islands will allow you to see both. The south of Zakynthos is a hub for nightlife and a party atmosphere with plenty of resort towns and popular beaches. The northern part of the coast enjoys a more peaceful vibe and some of the archipelago's most dramatic scenery. A small ship cruise can take you to some of the most remote and beautiful beaches, including the world-famous Naviago or 'shipwreck beach'. Only accessible by boat, this white sand beach is famed not only for its much-photographed shipwreck and dramatic cliffs but also for the crystal-clear turquoise waters that surround them. It is ideal for jumping off a small cruise ship and taking a dip.


Proving that small can be the most beautiful, the island of Paxos is one of the most untouched islands of the Ionian archipelago. The island's green coast is lined with long stretching sandy beaches and littered with tiny hidden strips of sand. A small ship cruise is a perfect way to find an isolated spot and explore the numerous small fishing villages dotted around Paxos. These small villages are home to quirky little souvenirs and art shops, restaurants and of course the traditional Greek tavernas. Paxos is, in general, a popular place to be on the water with many private yachts visiting the island. It is also popular for canoeing, paddleboarding, and water skiing, thanks to the beautifully clear and calm waters. Many small ship cruises of the Ionian Islands will stop off at the small neighboring islet of Antipaxos famed for its impressive beaches and untouched beauty.

Best time to cruise in the Ionian Islands

There is no bad time to take a small ship cruise of the Ionian Islands, the weather varies slightly with the seasons but is usually dry and pleasant. The peak of the season is from June to August when the islands can be quite busy, making your small ship cruise boat the perfect escape for a quiet evening drink. The weather is at its hottest during these months, around 30°C (90°F), and the clear skies offer plenty of sunshine and warm balmy nights. The months on either side of the high season May and September to October are also warm and sunny although the islands are less busy and you might find more options available, unlike the high season when you have to book well in advance.

How to get to the Ionian Islands

Flights to the Ionian Islands are numerous, particularly to the larger and more developed islands such as Corfu and Zakynthos. There are flights available to these islands from Athens which has direct flights from New York and connecting flights from many other US cities. Direct flights from major European hubs such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome also exist.

Ionian Islands Cruise Tips

  • As with much of Greece, these islands are extremely hot during the summer, and it is always wise to bring ample sun protection. Outside of the summer, the evenings can be cooler, which means despite warm days, evenings require warmer clothing.
  • Many of the islands have been an artistic and literary inspiration over the years. It is well worth checking out the works of Lawrence Durrell and Homer, which both feature the archipelago. They are perfect sundeck readings. Also, if you are looking for souvenirs or artistic pieces from a local painter there are many stunning pieces in the local shops.
  • The local food is a wonderful mix of Greek and Italian cuisine, in no dish is this more obvious than pastitsada a pasta dish with typical Greek meat and spices, a must-try for culinary enthusiasts.

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