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12 Days in Greece in October

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I am starting to put together a basic plan to visit Greece next fall. It has been 18 years since I have been to Athens and the Greek Isles and I can only imagine how crowded it has become, hence my preference to travel mid to late October when most of the cruise ships have stopped visiting the islands and when there are less tourists around. This will be my husband's first visit to Greece and it is a destination he has talked about visiting for years.

Do you recommend this as a good time to visit, understanding that some tourist oriented shops and restaurants may well be closed? Are there islands where this time of year will have less of an impact on local life and activities than others?

We would like to visit 3 islands and then spend a few days in Athens prior to flying home. I remember very much enjoying Rhodes and will likely want to include either Mykonos or Santorini as well as one more island.

We are interested in food, wine, history and architecture and my husband is a photographer so stunning scenery is on the agenda, though I seem to recall there was plenty of that in all of the islands I visited (was on a cruise for that trip).

We really enjoy cafes and public markets and prefer to be active rather than sunning at pool or beach or simply relaxing and looking at scenery. For us, relaxation is best in small doses and that is not why we make the long and expensive trip to Europe.

Will the ferry's be running a reduced schedule at that time? Does it make sense to fly between any of the islands, if flights are running at that time of year?

Does it make sense to start in one particular island rather than another and then work our way from there?

I am thinking 3 nights in Rhodes, 3 in Santorini and then 3 on another island. Based on the time of year and our travel preferences, can you recommend what a good option would be for the third island?

Are there websites you can suggest that will assist me in my research?

Any guidance would be much appreciated!

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