Ok, let’s say you’ve seen the big three and the Cinque Terre, Italy’s travel training wheels that set you up to see the real deal, where there is a small danger of encountering waiters who don’t speak English and the larger embarrassment of suffering days unfilled with interlocking tourist tasks that leave you gasping.
So let’s say on your second trip to Italy you end up in Puglia. Good choice. You make a pilgrimage to Monte Sant Angelo and you try the celebrated bread of Altamura. Then, maybe you wander around crazily until the street signs become unintelligible because you’ve stumbled upon the villages of the Grecia Salentina”, Puglia’s Greek Quarter.
“Greece!” you shout to no one in particular.
Why in Athena’s name didn’t you make plans to go to Greece! The history! Those islands!
I have found a way to easily get to Greece from Italy. Perhaps you know it. Eurail offers a Eurail Greek Islands Pass. I’ve checked it out. It seems that it should save you some money.
Let me lead you astray for a minute with some facts and mathematics. The pass allows you a fast ferry trip from Bari or Ancona to Greece and a ferry trip back. The filling for this ferry cake is that it allows you four island hoppings while you’re in Greece. According to this post on the Eurail Blog, the pass also allows you to make the trip from the port in Patras, Greece to Athens as well (although I find Patras an interesting town to explore for a day or two, don’t miss the Archaeological Museum of Patras if you are fascinated with the past).
Let’s run through the numbers. You can purchase a First Class Eurail Greek Islands Pass for $259. The cost of a ferry from Bari to the port of Athens, according to Rome2Rio is $100-290 (prices vary by class and season). The cost of the ticket into Athens costs $24 to $29. So, if we take the cheapest price times 2, we get $248 for second class in the off season. Thus, by my calculation the island hopping is free with the pass and you get to make the international passage in first class.
Why is first class important? Because you get a sleeping berth, whereas in second class you get an airline seat. Who sleeps in those? Who wants to explore Greece in a zomby-like trance when the difference in price is nearly negligible?
What islands would I go to? Big ones like Crete and Rhodes, and a few smaller ones in the Cyclades like Mykonos and Santorini.
Plan Your Italy to Greece Ferry Trip
Note that you can get an extra day of island hopping if you purchase your pass before March 29, 2018, see the first link below: