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Greece - Rhodes, Santorini and Mykonos Suggestions for the Day

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Hi

My friend, a family of 8, is going to Greece off a cruise next summer. They will be docked in Rhodes, Santorini and Mykonos. The kids are 16, 17, 19 and 22 (and 3 year old twins - which may stay on the ship). They want to get the most of these islands. Which island do you recommend to do the following, beach going, tours and maybe just renting scooters or using local transportation?

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    WHEN exactly they plan to visit? This might influence their decisions as crowds, heat etc may vary... What their interests are? Is this a large cruise ship or a smaller one?

    I feel that children and teenagers will enjoy the medival architecture of Rhodes town, maybe visiting the Palace of Grand Masters and walking along the walls if this is allowd on day of their visit. Rhodes is a much larger and diverse island compared to Mykonos and Santorini but you have to choose one or two activities and focus on them. Other people might suggest a beach or a visit to Lindos but I feel Rhodes Town can keep one family very busy for a day.

    They could choose Mykonos for their beach day I guess, very scenic main town but not so much in terms of sightseen on this island. Ambiance on specific beach areas will vary, especially depending on dates of visit. Other people here are more familiar with Mykonos and might advice further on this.

    Santorini is somehow tricky in a way and quite possible they will have limited hours on the ground if they are on a large cruise ship. People have to be tendered ashore then wait to take a "teleferique" up to the hill where the main town is. Then be by back early enough to repeat reverse procedure. Beaches are located on the opposite side of the island and are black volcanic grit mostly. This is an island favorite for the caldera side,its architecture and mostly its views, but there is an important archeological site, Akrotiri, a minor one, Ancient Thira, and 2-3 small but interesting related museums. There are some charming inland villages and a few wineries to visit too among other things. I guess renting scooters might make more sense here (IF they really know how to ride one and IF they hold appropriate documentation to ride one!)

    Public transport on all those islands is very decent (and busy!) on high season, less frequent on shoulder season and might or might nor suffice depending on their specifics.

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    Rhodos has tons of good sandy beaches, some of them uncrowded even in high season (like Tsambika Beach), a interesting medieval city with museum and s stunning Greek temple at Lindos.

    Mykonos has good, but often windy and crowded beaches. The highlight for people somewhat interested in archeology is the boat trip to Delos.

    Santorini is extremely scenic, often crowded, with mediocre beaches.

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    They will be there in July and the ship is around 2,000 people. I have never been to Rhodes. Do they need a guide if touring Palace of the Masters?

    They will be in Rhodes 730a - 630p and Mykonos and Santorini 7a-6p.

    FYI... on the cruise they will be going to Ephesus and doing a side trip to Rome.

    They really want to get the local flavor in Greece. I know that is hard to do in one day. :)

    I was suggesting the beach on Mykonos. Which beach do you recommend and what form of transportation do you suggest to get there?

    They can rent a car if needed...but local transportation would be more fun for them to try.

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    "They want to get the most of these islands."

    Then why are they going on a cruise? A cruise is not about visiting places for reasonable periods of time, it's about a floating mediocre hotel and restaurant where you have a reasonable chance of food poisoning. Anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.

    It is quite easy to list at least 50 things to see and do on Rhodes by someone, depending on their interests. Beaches alone would be a list of a dozen or so each different in some way. Archeological sites such as Feraklos, Monolithos, Acropolis of Rhodes, Acropolis of Lindos, Kamiros, the Old Town, Filerimos, to name a few. Having a seafood lunch in one of the seaside restaurants at Kamiros Skala or at a beach side restaurant in Haraki.

    But they will have time for very little of anything. A walk around the Old Town is about as far as they are likely to get. It of course, is set up to quickly and efficiently relieve cruise ship passengers of as much money in as little time as possible. That is what cruise ship passengers sign up for.

    As for 'day tours' offered by the cruise line, they are even better at relieving people of their money. I doubt there is even one that doesn't stop at a 'Greek pottery' store where the bus driver and the tour guide get a commission on every plate you buy.

    Yes, I'm having a rant but I really gets up my nose when someone writes, 'get the most of these islands' when in fact a little common sense would tell you that that is the last thing you are going to get. It isn't 'hard to get the local flavour in Greece' in one day, it is impossible and obviously so.

    Here is what they should do with their one day on Rhodes. Get off the ship immediately and go for breakfast (I don't care that they have paid for breakfast on board already). Walk INto the central marketplace on Mandraki Harbour and find a little dingy taverna with wooden chairs, NOT wicker chairs at a restaurant on the OUTside of the marketplace, heed this warning. Order a greek breakfast of bread, cheese, yogurt, honey, figs, olives, cold meats and Greek coffee. That's a start.

    Then take a walk through the Old Town for a couple of hours. Pay no attention whatsoever to 'touts' trying to get you in to the shops to sell you tourist kitsch souvenirs. When they try, responsd as a Greek would with a quick lifting of the chin and back down, while making a 'tch' sound. It basically means, 'what do you take me for, a dumb tourist?'

    Wander off the main streets in the old town to see how people have lived for 100s of years and still do. It is the small side streets of the town that are worth seeing, not the tourist shops. If you get lost all you have to do is remember that water flows downhill. Eventually going downhill will always bring you back to the harbour.

    Head outside the walls and find a taxi down near the harbour. Negotiate a price for the rest of the day. Take the taxi to Kamiros and visit the ancient site there paying particular attention to how water was stored and distributed to each and every home. Then have your taxi take you to Kamiros Skala for lunch. You also buy his lunch. The best restaurant is the one to the right as you drive in to the parking area. Get a table right by the water. Go inside and pick a nice big fish for everyone to share. Order several mezes to go with the fish and ONE Ouzo for each adult which you will dilute with water. Ouzo goes with fish but is potent, do NOT drink more. Have a cold beer if you are still thirsty.

    Leave Kamiros and have the taxi take you to Monolithos, take a little walk up there. Have the taxi backtrack and go up to Embona. Visit the Emery winery for tasting and perhaps buy a bottle to take back to the ship.

    Time to head back to the ship no doubt. Resist all suggestions to stop and visit a pottery shop.

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    They will not be getting a real feel for Greece surrounded by 2000 fellow cruisers as well as many other large cruise ships disgorging their passengers at the same time. Sorry.

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    A guide is not necessarily needed on Palace of Grand Masters but to be honest I hoped you would mention a less busier time of the year. They will be like sardines in there and might ear drop guides anyway. July is a very busy time cruise ships on port or not and having addtional thousands of cruise visitors trying to roam old town and get into sites translates into making the town feeling like a zoo. July heat doesn't help either, but it is what it is, so they have to live with it.

    Of course they can not get the local flavor or anything visiting on a cruise ship on a few hours, this is common sense and usually those phrases are used as an exaggeration I believe.
    The only thing we can do here is to provide some ideas for a somehow structured itinerary. I think it would be wise of them to read a couple of guidebooks or something and see what THEY would like to see or do on each island though.

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    Well now that the negative nellies have weighed in I'll throw in my 2 cents. We have been on several cruises that stopped in the places you will visit. I will add that this past May we did a trip on our own so we could stay longer on a Greek island (and we chose Naxos where the ships don't stop) but even on a brief visit you can certainly get a taste of the charm the islands have.

    It will be HOT tho so your heat tolerance should be considered in making your plans! We have always visited in May or early Oct. and it was still warm!

    I like Sojourntraveler's itinerary tho it is a full day! So you may want to just follow his suggestions for wandering Rhodes old town. It is a great example of "the old stones of Europe" and quite different than Mykonos or Santorini. So if you want some history, as opposed to beach, Rhodes is the place.

    Now Santorini has logistical issues as yes, a big ship, or possibly several, will be in port. And thousands? of people must make their way from this tiny port area up to the main part of the island by either a cable car that transports a limited number a trip, or by walking, or by donkey. If you walk, and it's steep, you will be mingling with the donkeys and their droppings (sorry). For that reason you might want to take a ship's tour there as you will be let off at a different port and get to skip the scrum of the donkeys or cable car.

    OK time for a confession - we took the donkeys up to Fira. The cable car line was very long, the donkeys were no waiting. And I'll further admit, it was a hoot. We expected a slow plod but it turned out to be closer to a "Mr. Toad's wild ride". Our donkeys charged up that hill, careening around and thru the walkers - our legs were in constant peril of being scraped against a rough stone wall. I know that many folks are very opposed to the donkeys but on many of the Greek islands they are often used to transport very heavy loads.

    There is a wonderful walk that you can do from Fira to Oia along the edge of the caldera - now that is a long ways, you can also do a short version that takes maybe an hour or 45 minutes. But again, it will be hot so if you want to walk, get an early start. You could also take a local bus to either Oia or one of the beaches - on one trip we went to a red sand one and it was very pleasant. You can rent umbrellas and loungers for a reasonable price, the lunch at a waterside taverna. Or just go to Fira, find a restaurant on the edge of the caldera and enjoy a long lunch.

    Mykonos - if you want history then take an excursion to Delos. For info. on the beaches there, as well as more info on the other islands, google "Matt Barett's Greece" - much good info!

    But do eat on the islands - on our trip to Naxos our diet was Greek salad, whole roasted fish, lamb and eggplant in a variety of preparations. We found the house wines very drinkable and cheap!

    Going to these islands on a cruise could prove to be very dangerous - you will want to return and stay longer but for a first time sampling, you can have a great time exploring the different islands for a day!

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    I second suec1, we first went to the Greek islands on a cruise, then went again for a longer stay, chosing Santorini, Paros & Naxos. We were in Santorini on cruise again this June, this time we got off on one of the first tenders and took the cable car up to Fira, then picked up a rental car for the day. We drove to Oia where we had a glorious couple of hours before the crowds arrived. We then drove back to Fira via the Santo winery, which has what is probably one of the loveliest views of the caldera on the island. They aldos have free wifi, which was great for checking our email. Then back to Fira and the ship. Some of our fellow cruisers took a boat transfer to Oia, then bus to Fira and cable car down to the ship, you can check on your ship's Roll Call on cruise critic, I believe it costs 15-20 euros/pp. You'll also find signs advertising these transfers on the dock when you get off the tender at Santorini, but I think its better to buy the ticket online.

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    Geetika - Oh I don't remember that option of taking a transfer? from where the tenders docked to Oia, maybe that is something new - and an excellent option! So these transfers were run by the cruise line? or an island company? you found this info on your roll call? We may return to Santorini on a cruise again next Sept. and that sounds like the perfect plan to see Oia.

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    Rhodes. Old Town-Palace of Grand Masters, Street of the Knights. Arch. Museum maybe. Walk the walls-amazing views but check hrs. They are open first. OR Lindos-arch. site Temple of Athena. We spent time here at a small beach-St. Paul's Bay.

    Santorini. Santo Winery. Very nice views and we took a tour. Large shop for buying wine and/or gifts. www.santowines.gr. Oia everyone goes for sunset. Amoudi Bay there. Can take boat tour but don't know if you have enough time. Think you may be able to do one that includes volcano, visit hot springs, maybe the port of Thirasia. www.santorinisailing.com www.santoriniyachting.com. www.santorini-yachts.com Beaches there-Perissa, Kamari, Perivolos. This site wasn't open on our visit but if it had been I would have gone-Akrotiri with Red Beach being near there. We had 3 nights on Santorini so I am not the best one to tell you what you can see/do on a cruise layover.

    Mykonos. We had 3 nights here too. Some ideas. In town-the windmills, Little Venice, Panagia Paraportiani Church, excursion boats to Delos but not on Mondays, beaches-Paradise Beach/Kalafatis Beach. Buy some almond biscuits/cookies. Yum! Can rent scooters. I would not do this as we found it harrowing enough just to cope with Greek drivers with our rental car. Our experience was that most Greeks drive fast and we spent our driving time hugging the right side of the road. I also had read about several scooter accidents so I think you should do some research on scooter rentals. Can google scooter rental Mykonos and Santorini.

    I'm sure the cruise will offer excursions but they will most likely be pricey. Just for time logistics you could check to see what is offered in each port to get an idea of timing.

    Hope your friends have a great trip!

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    suec1, the boat transfer to Oia is by a local operator, I think one was NST, I believe there are a couple of them who offer this service, you see signs as you step off the tender. There are several threads on the Cruise Critic Greece forum, you might want to check them out. You basically take a speedboat to Amoundi Bay, then bus up to Oia. From there you have dedicated buses which leave every hour to Fira, you then take the cable car down. Not sure if the cable car is covered by this ticket. Several people from our RC did this, though we preferred to rent a car in Fira.

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