6 islands to visit for Christmas

Our favorite islands for the holiday season

The winter break is approaching and every house, neighborhood and street is decorated with Christmas lights, creating a cozy atmosphere. At Ferryhopper, we love traveling all year round and we particularly enjoy traveling to the islands during the winter. So, we have created a list with our favorite islands in Greece, Italy and Spain to spend the Christmas break!

Here's our list of islands for the holiday season:

Learn more about how to spend your Christmas holidays on the islands and check Ferryhopper's Map of ferries for available ferry routes.

Ship and trees decorated with Christmas lights in Greece

Christmas lights in Greece

Spiritual Christmas Vacation in Syros

On the Greek island of Syros, the Christmas festivities last from Christmas Eve until the 6th of January (the celebration of the Epiphany), which is a great period to visit the island. During the holiday season, the impressive town of Ermoupolis is spectacularly illuminated and decorated. 

On Christmas Eve, the historic Apollon Theater usually hosts performances and concerts. If the weather allows it, it is worth walking across the town of Ermoupolis as you might encounter street performances playing Christmas songs.

Christmas fireworks in Syros, Greece

Ιmpressive fireworks over the church of Agios Nikolaos in Syros

Lively Christmas in Crete

Crete in Greece is a great destination for your winter break, whether you choose to spend the holidays in one of the beautiful cities or in one of the picturesque villages of the island. The year-round warm weather of Crete makes a Christmas break on the island a great choice for many international travelers!

The city of Chania with its old town and Venetian port is the ideal scenery for a romantic Christmas break. The climate is usually mild during this time of the year, which can be great for long walks and getaways to neighboring villages.

In Heraklion, you can have a joyful holiday as the city hosts many parties, DJ nights, seasonal bazaars, and live music events.

Crete is also famous for its cuisine! On New Year's Day in Heraklion, it is typical for people to eat bougatsa (custard pie) as a way to enter the new year with a sweet taste. During the Christmas holidays, you can also taste more delicious local recipes. We suggest trying apaki (smoked meat), christopsomo (sweet bread), diples (deep-fried dough with honey), and raki, the strong Cretan liquor. 

The Venetian Harbor of Chania in the evening

 Peaceful evening at the Venetian harbor of Chania 

Peaceful Christmas in Hydra

If you are looking for a getaway close to Athens for a quiet Christmas break, then Hydra is the ideal destination for you! An island without any cars, Hydra will remind you of fairy tales with how beautiful and magical it is.

Especially during Christmas, the decorations and lights create a charming atmosphere! We recommend strolling around the alleys of the main town and sitting at one of the traditional kafeneia for coffee and a Christmas snack.

Tip: explore more great islands for day trips from Athens!

Quaint square in Hydra

Quaint square on the island of Hydra, Greece

Christmas for all in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is one of the busiest and most cosmopolitan islands in the Canary archipelago. Spending your Christmas break in Gran Canaria means you can try hiking and trekking in awe-inspiring landscapes, such as the Tamadaba Natural Park.

If you prefer an easy-going Christmas trip, you can also spend time in Las Palmas, the island’s capital. Take your photo at the sand-made nativity scene in Las Canteras, visit the San Juan Bautista church or enjoy some papas papas arrugadas (boiled potatoes with spicy sauce) at one of the city's restaurants!

The church of San Juan Bautista in Gran Canaria

The impressive church of San Juan Bautista in Gran Canaria

Warm Christmas Holidays in Lanzarote

The island of Lanzarote in Spain is the ideal option for a warm, lively and out-of-the-box Christmas vacation! The main Christmas attraction of the island is the Navidad Isleña cultural program. It combines street performances, live music and Canarian traditions for all!

If you're also visiting Lanzarote for outdoor activities, its warm climate means you can enjoy diving at the family-friendly beach of Chica, explore the Timanfaya National Park or watch the starry sky from Peñas del Chache, the highest peak on the island.

Tip: have a look at our guide for more exciting things to do in the Canary Islands at Christmas.

Playa Blanca in Lanzarote at night

Romantic evening at Playa Blanca

Christmas Traditions in Elba

Elba is the third largest island in Italy and it’s famous for its beaches, history and natural landscapes. During the winter months, the island of Elba changes a bit and warms up with a different atmosphere.

One of the main Christmas attractions in Elba are the impressive nativity scenes scattered in various villages of the island. 

In the tiny village of Marciana Marina (16 km from Portoferraio, the capital of Elba) you can witness the most beautiful nativity scene on the island! It is a theatrical representation in which many inhabitants of the village participate, including adults and children. 

If you want to spend Christmas in total peace and relaxation with your kids or as a couple, Elba is a great choice!

Traditional houses in the streets of Elba

The picturesque streets of Elba in the winter

Where to book ferry tickets for your Christmas vacation

On Ferryhopper, you can easily book cheap ferry tickets for Greece, Spain and Italy! Choose your favorite destination, compare ferry companies and plan your trip with ease!

Book your ferry tickets