I recently returned from an island hopping trip going from Lesbos to Kos, before returning to Athens for a couple nights. The first part - Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and Patmos - was a return visit from 7 years ago, so I was curious about whether I'd find them as appealing as I did the first time (short answer - yes). So:
We flew into Athens early in the morning and had a 12 hour layover before our overnight ferry to Lesbos. So we took the Metro to Monastiraki, left our bags at The Attalos, where we always stay, and wandered around the city before returning to the hotel to enjoy a glass of wine on the rooftop bar and then retrieving our bags to head to Pireaus and our ferry.
We finally made it to Samos and found a place to stay in Pythagorion for 3 nights. Had some great dinners on the beach around the bend from the harbor, and just rode around for a couple days enjoying the scenery. A great island, but not as impressive as Chios and Lesbos. Biggest disappointment was that the ancient tunnel wasn't open because of a strike. Maybe next time.
Then, on to Patmos.
We'd booked luxe cabins on the Blue Star Patmos and they were incredibly plush. I've only been on one cruise, but our cabin was far more plush than I'd hoped. And the a la carte restaurant was excellent as well.
Our transfer was waiting for us in Mytilini, and we were soon sipping a frappe in Molyvos, which IMO is one of the most beautiful towns in all of Greece. We stayed at the Sea Horse, with its incredible views of the harbor and toured the island from there. We rode scooters and were able to get to any place on Lesbos and back for drinks at Molly's by 6 with no problem. Some great meals - at Le Gran Blu, Mistral, and Betty's. The salted sardines (sardeles pastes?) are worth a return trip.
After a week, we ferried to Chios. Spent two nights in town - much more pleasant than most reviews would have lead me to expect - and ate both nights at Tassos', a very good grill house. Then 4 nights in To Pounti in Pyrgi. A beautifully restored medieval house not far off the square - tow rooms that we had to ourselves. With Toula's outstanding breakfast, a great deal at 60 euros a night per room. Toula also took us out to see how the mastic was harvested, just outside the village. Pyrgi proved to be a great base for touring the island, again on motorbikes.
We'd planned to take a ferry to Samos that Saturday, but it was cancelled so we had to stay another 3 nights. We ended up staying in Karfas - not the kind of place I usually stay, but really nice for a beach resort.