7+1 sustainable activities in the Greek islands

More fun, less footprint!

Do you want to go to Greece this summer? Go green! The Greek islands are full of opportunities for ecotourism and environmentally-friendly activities.

On Ferryhopper, we have made a list of our favorite sustainable experiences in the Greek islands. Check out 7+1 options across Greece that are both eco-friendly and fun, and book your ferry tickets on Ferryhopper with no hidden fees!

  1. Diving in Alonissos Marine Park
  2. Turtle-watching in Zante
  3. Biking in Kos
  4. Hiking in Hydra
  5. Exploring Astypalea by e-vehicle
  6. Climbing in Kalymnos
  7. Farm volunteering in Skyros
  8. Exploring the waterfalls in Samothrace

Bay with green vegetation in Alonissos and two opposite islets, in the Sporades

The pristine waters and verdant landscape of Alonissos

1. Dive in Alonissos Marine Park

In the Sporades, the National Marine Park of Alonissos is a large marine protected area of great natural and cultural significance, as it hosts a variety of rare plant and animal species, as well as many historical and archeological monuments! It is also the special home of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)!

A sustainable holiday in Alonissos involves diving and exploring the underwater treasures of its precious seabed. As for the park’s uninhabited islets, such as Piperi, Peristera, Gioura, and Kyra Panagia, there you can observe the wildlife (where access is allowed) and discover shipwrecks, monasteries and churches dating back to the Byzantine Empire!

And in case you run into a seal, make sure you follow the seal-watching guidelines for visitors!

2. Volunteer for turtle-watching in Zante

You’ve probably heard of Zante (or Zakynthos) as a gem of the Ionian Sea, known for its wonderful beaches and intense nightlife. But would you like to truly make an impact during your holiday on the island?

Zante is the largest nesting ground for the Caretta Caretta sea turtle in the Mediterranean, as 80% of its population lay their eggs on the island’s beaches. The National Marine Park in Zante has been taking measures to protect the endangered species from human activity. Such actions include as installing kiosks at the southern coast of the island, keeping the lights out at night and keeping an eye on the turtles’ nests.

If you want to contribute to the protection of the Caretta Caretta, you can join a group of eco-conscious travelers volunteering with ARCHELON, the sea-turtle protection society of Greece. On the bay of Laganas, you will help monitor the turtle nesting activity, safeguard the nests and raise awareness. Moreover, you will possibly get to camp with the other volunteers at night!

3. Biking in Kos

In the Dodecanese, the island of Kos is setting an example for sustainable tourism. With mostly flat terrain, over 6,500 rental bikes available and a great cycling-path network, Kos has turned into the “cycling island” of Greece.

Cycling is a conscious, no-emissions way of transportation, also favored by locals in order to maintain pollution on the island in minimum levels. But it is also an awesome way to explore the island’s stunning scenery while staying active. So this year, pedal your way to the stunning beaches, castles and archeological sites of Kos!

Tip: interested in eco-friendly tourism in the southeastern Aegean? Find out all about sustainable holidays in the beautiful Dodecanese.

Two cyclists on a cycling path close to Neratzia Castle in Kos, Dodecanese

Cycling in Kos between palm trees at sundown

4. Hiking in Hydra

Did you know that there is an island really close to Athens where there are no cars? In fact, Hydra, in the Saronic Gulf, is a vehicle-free island, which makes it an important green destination in Greece.

If you are into outdoor recreational activities then here’s the plan: go on foot and leave no footprint in Hydra! There are over 80 km of well-marked trails and paths stretching across the island, so you have many options and difficulty levels to choose from. You can walk east to the Lighthouse of Zourva, west to Bisti beach, or challenge yourself with the hike on Mount Eros, where you can enjoy the best views from the top.

All the natural beauty of Hydra comes with a peaceful town with exquisite mansions, a rich maritime history and a handful of art to admire.

Tip: discover more small Greek islands for car-free holidays and conscious travelers!

5. Exploring Astypalea by e-vehicle

Who would imagine that the secluded “butterfly of the Aegean” would transform into one of the most sustainable Greek islands in recent years? Astypalea, the westernmost of the Dodecanese islands, has been “smart enough to shift to electric vehicles in order to preserve its natural beauty and authentic charm.

After 1,500 engine vehicles with around 1,000 electric ones, there’s all kinds of eco-friendly means to get around the island for both locals and visitors. You can now get around Astypalea by electric bus (ASTYBUS network), rent e-bikes, e-scooters and electric cars with the astyMOVE app, and even use an electric-vehicle sharing service (astyGO).

Visit the island’s whitewashed villages, Venetian castle and pebbly beaches leaving the minimum footprint behind!

And if you need more options, here’s another 5 Greek eco-friendly islands that have implemented sustainable policies to reduce energy consumption and the footprint of both locals and travelers.

The white-whashed Chora town of Astypalea island, built on a hill

The imposing Chora town and castle of Astypalea

6. Climbing in Kalymnos

Another island of the Dodecanese on the list, Kalymnos is actually one of most popular climbing destinations in the world! The island offers awesome natural rock formations, great safety standards, crags for all levels, as well as a stunning environment. As for the conscious climbers community visiting Kalymnos year after year, it has really helped raise environmental awareness on the island, initiate actions to keep the place clean and adopt the best practices to protect its biodiversity.

Apart from the climbing action, visiting Kalymnos for a climbing trip also means that you get to support local communities and businesses, enjoy excellent food and mingle with both the climbers and the residents. The island is not touristy at all, so respecting its traditional way of life is essential.

7. Volunteering at Mouries farm in Skyros

In the Sporades, the island of Skyros is the home to one of the rarest and most ancient horse breeds in the world: the small-sized Skyrian horse. Mouries is a non-profit farm and organization engaged in the breeding and protection of the endangered horse, whose work relies heavily on volunteers.

If you wish to have a wonderful holiday in Greece and love farm life and horses, volunteering Mouries is an ideal option. You will be hosted in the organized camping facilities at the farm’s olive grove and participate in daily tasks, such as feeding and watering the horses, leading rides for children, cleaning the fields, building fences, and more. Cultural exchange is also a very important part of the farm culture.

At the same time you get to explore the island’s large Natura 2000 reserve, hiking paths, stunning sceneries, and endemic animals and plants, as well enjoy fun evenings at Chora village. Just make sure to contact the farm and check guest availability!

Tip: if you are a nature lover and want to check more sustainable holiday options in the Greek islands, take a look at the top 10 Natura 2000 Greek islands.

3 Skyrian horses eating from a hay feeder

A party of pony-like Skyrian horses enjoying their meal

8. Exploring the waterfalls in Samothrace

Samothrace is northern Greece’s heaven on earth and a Natura 2000 area almost in its entirety. It is an island untouched by mass tourism, with wild and exceptionally diverse landscapes. Contrary to most Greek islands that stand out for their beaches, this verdant paradise is famous for its mountain tourism, even though there are so many more reasons to visit Samothrace.

If you follow the –pretty challenging, but coming out of a fairytale– hiking trails on mount Saos, you can reach amazing waterfalls shaped by streams that flow downwards from the mountain’s top. These waterfalls create natural pools, known as vathres, and are popular swimming and camping spots. Of course, the higher you hike (or climb), the more beautiful pools you are going to find! 

Tip: make sure to leave no trace behind and to always respect the island's flora and fauna. And if you run into Samothrace’s wild goats, say hi from us, always from afar!

Swimmers around a waterfall shaping a small lake in Samothrace

Hikers enjoying a stunning natural pool in Samothrace

You can easily chase your love for outdoor activities, animals and eco-friendly traveling in the Greek islands. What is hard is for you to pick just one of so many amazing destinations. Choose the adventure that truly speaks to your heart, and plan your trip with ferry tickets at the best prices on Ferryhopper!

Now, are you wondering if ferry traveling is a green option? Actually, traveling by ferry is more environmentally friendly compared to traveling by airplane. Find out how traveling by ferry can contribute to sustainable tourism!