11 Days in Greece (Athens and Cyclades)

Jan 8th, 2013, 06:54 AM
  #1  
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11 Days in Greece (Athens and Cyclades)

My husband and I booked our flights in and out of Athens, arriving 9:15 AM on Thursday, June 27th and departing at 11:30 AM on Monday, July 8th. This gives us roughly 11 days on the ground. We know we want to have one full day in Athens, possibly do a day trip to Delphi on the second day in Athens, and visit Santorini as well as one other island. We have friends who went to Milos a few years back and raved about it because they loved the scenery and it wasn't too touristy. However, I haven't seen very much about Milos on this forum. What are your thoughts on Milos? If not Milos, which other island would you recommend visiting before or after Santorini? How much time should we alot for each place? Thanks in advance!
nspotz is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 07:17 AM
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Also, I have a logistical question regarding getting to and from the islands. People tend to advise flying straight to Santorini and saving Athens for last. I've looked up the flight schedule on the Aegean Airlines website and there are only three flights from Athens to Santorini: the first is at 5:30 AM which would be too early as we get in at 9:15, the second is at 10:00 AM which would only give us 45 minutes to change planes and would be too close for my comfort, and the third flight is at 7:10 PM which would waste our first day in Greece. Should we spend our first day/night in Athens, fly to Santorini the next morning and then plan on spending our last day/night in Athens as well? Just trying to figure out how to maximize our time. Thanks!
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Jan 8th, 2013, 03:20 PM
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Hi nspotz, Where your flight originates from might make a difference to your itinerary. I fly from the US so I like to spend a night in Athens to recover from jetlag and then move on. I would not want to hang out in the airport for a connection when I could be in Athens. Also saving a night in Athens on return is wise to be sure you can make connections. If you want to also see Delphi, you will need to add another day or two to either end. You could easily spend 3 days in Athens spending one day in Delphi. You will have to choose. Santorini is unforgettable, but you can accomplish seeing it in 3 days so maybe you can squeeze in a little more time in Athens. As for other islands, I (obviously) love Paros. There are so many islands and it always depends upon what strikes you personally as the "perfect" one. The days the ferry connects between islands will be a major factor, so look carefully before you set your itinerary.
parosblue is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 04:37 PM
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Check Olympic airlines. There's an 11:45 from Athens to Santorini
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Jan 8th, 2013, 07:32 PM
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Regarding Milos, I found it difficult to get around without renting a car and even then some of the roads were almost impassable. The boats due to winds did not go to the stunning rock formations you see when I was there. This was early June so maybe it is different later. If this is your first time to Greece you may want to consider Naxos as it has so much to offer. A quiet island close to Naxos is Amorgos.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 08:07 AM
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@Paros: We are coming from the US so jetlag is a factor, I was thinking doing two days in Athens up front and returning for our last night before we fly out in the morning. However, I did not think to check Olympic airlines (Thanks Quark!) If we can get on that 11:45 flight I may just want to head straight to Santorini. Is it wise to book flights to the islands this far in advance? What about ferries?
This is our first time in Greece. We are trying to get a "taste" for the islands with the hopes of coming back someday in the (distant) future. We don't want to go somewhere too remote but it would be nice to get away from the toursit crowds. Renting a car would not detour us from visiting Milos, we drove around Ireland and I think if we can survive those roads we could probably be ok driving in Greece! Probably the biggest priority for our second island is beautiful scenery.
Thanks for the suggestions! Keep them coming! I am working on rough itinerary and will post it soon for critiquing
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Jan 9th, 2013, 01:51 PM
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You don't see Milos much on this forum, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth visiting. It is slightly harder to reach than Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos and Paros, with fewer ferries, but does have a small airport served by Olympic Air (don't look for Olympic Airlines, the defunct company that went out of business a few years ago). Olympic Air has a modern fleet of aircraft, with most flights to Santorini on the new Q400s. Flights to/from Milos are with smaller Dash 8-100s.

I concur it would be best to fly straight to Santorini upon arrival. Why split your time in Athens, requiring you to check in and out of hotels twice? It's also better to save Athens for last to give you a cushion in case weather or industrial action delays your return to the mainland.
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 9th, 2013, 05:57 PM
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I am thinking about your arrival time - if you can get an 11:45 to Santorini it may be worth it to tough out the fatigue and go straight through. I am an advocate of stopping in Athens first to get a sense of place and pay homage to the Parthenon...Yet, getting in early means you still might have to wait to get into your room - we once got in at 6:30am, asked for early check in but still couldn't get into our room until after 1:30. We staggered around Athens in 104F heat going from one outdoor air mister to another. Now we plan to arrive in early afternoon to have time to rest and refresh, go out for a stroll and dinner, and get to bed for a good rest. I think I could keep going to get to Santorini if I had a short layover at Athens airport. And when you get to Santorini, you'll think you landed in paradise.
As far as your second island: Again, you will want to check ferry routes, at least to see if there are limited days you might get there from Santorini. Paros and Naxos will not a problem. Everyone seems to be partial to a certain island for personal reasons...there are so many choices - and you will certainly want to go back.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 06:02 PM
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My only hesitation with booking the 11:45 am flight to Santorini is if our flight to athens is delayed for some reason and we end up missing our connecting flight. It just makes me nervous But, I would rather be in Santorini that day!
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Jan 10th, 2013, 01:52 AM
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Usually transatlantic flights are timely, because pilots have ways of making up time when the flight departs late. You can check real-time arrival at Athens Airport on http://www.aia.gr/currentflights.asp?langid=2. If you are nervous about missing the flight to Santorini, suggest you book fully flexible tickets — they cost more, but worth the price if it relieves you of worries.

FWIW, it takes about the same time (45 minutes) to get from the airport to central Athens as to fly from Athens Airport to Santorini. Parosblue makes a good point about hotel check-in times. Few things are worse than arriving at your destination after a long flight, and then having to wait several hours to check in.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 06:54 AM
  #11  
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Booked the 11:45 AM Olympic Air flight to Santorini! Thanks for the suggestion!
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Jan 11th, 2013, 11:50 AM
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Ok, I have come up with a few proposed itineraries. They all start the same way:
Thurs, June 27th: Flight arrives in ATH at 9:15, Flight departs to Santorini at 11:45 (Both flights are booked)
Fri, June 28: Santorini
Sat, June 29: Santorini
Sun, June 30: Santorini

Option #1:
Mon, July 1: Another day in Santorini
Tues, July 2: Milos (or Naxos or Paros, I still can't decide!)
Wed, July 3: Milos
Thurs, July 4: Milos
Fri, July 5: Flight or ferry to Athens
Sat, July 6: Day trip to Delphi
Sun, July 7: Athens
Mon, July 8: Fly Home

Option #2:
Mon, July 1: Mykonos
Tues, July 2: Mykonos
Wed, July 3: Milos
Thurs, July 4: Milos
Fri, July 5: Milos
Sat, July 6: Flight or Ferry to Athens
Sun, July 7: Athens
Mon, July 8: Fly Home

I want to hear what you think! Have any of you done the day trip to Delphi from Athens? Is it worth it? We really want to see some historical sights (outside of Athens) while we are in Greece and I've heard Delphi is beautiful. Should we book a tour or rent a car and drive ourselves? Or should we forego this option and spend extra time on the islands?
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Jan 11th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Option #2: Have you worked out how you are getting from Mykonos to Milos?

Yes, Delphi is worth it!
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 06:06 PM
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This is interesting. I have been to Greece over 10 times and to dozen's of islands. At the top of my list for the 2 least liked islands, is Milos and Mykonos. To make you feel better, I was never inclined to go to Delphi even tho' I travelled by it several times. So please disregard me.
Chania is offline  
Jan 11th, 2013, 10:48 PM
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I do like Mykonos (in small doses) but mainly as the best place from which to to see Delos. I've only been there in May or early June before the crowds begin to descend upon the island.

Last year the catamaran Superjet had a stop at Milos after Mykonos, so if that ferry is running the same route again this year it will be possible to get between the two fairly easily. If not, there are conventional ferries a few times per week, and they are what I would rely upon anyway. The conventional ferries stop at many different islands, and Mykonos to Milos would take about 8 hours.

Milos will be a very different island from Mykonos. I'll admit I've never been there, mainly because the best beaches are accessible only by private transport, and I prefer not hiring a car when in Greece. The island would be more my style, though, with lots of remote beaches completely devoid of beach bars, sun beds, etc. On Mykonos it's hard to find an empty stretch of sand to spread your towel, as many are almost completely filled with sun beds.
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Jan 11th, 2013, 11:49 PM
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I spent four days in Athens and it was just about enough time to see everything. Yes, you can see the Acropolis and a few other things in one day, but you really need two to see the ancient sites, and the Acropolis museum. The National Archaelogical Museum was outstanding and needs at least a few hours to look around. Lycavittos Hill was amazing - time your arrival for not long before sunset so that you can also see them taking down the flag. Then there is all the other wonderful things to see - Syntagma Square, all the old cathedrals, take in an open air movie in the evening with views of the Acropolis, Monstraki (even the metro station is cool) and the list goes on.

I would suggest you leave Delphi for another trip and spend two days in Athens. Most of your trip to Delphi will be time spent on a bus.
hereandtherenz is offline  
Jan 12th, 2013, 04:12 AM
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That's just the problem, isn't it? So much to see and not enough time to do it in. With only 11 days on the ground you shouldn't be thinking about three islands, because you will lose most of two days just travelling between them, and another getting back to Athens.

Were it me I would go with option #1, but forget that extra day on Santorini and add it to Athens. If there is any way you can work in an overnight stay at Delphi that would make it a much better experience. Delphi is simply amazing — an archaeological site on the side of Mt Parnassos with views of the Gulf of Corinth.
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Jan 12th, 2013, 05:25 AM
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I agree, I would limit my stay to two islands. We spent a week on Naxos in 2011 and loved it. It has wonderful beaches, and is large enough to have a variety of things to do. You can also catch and easy and quick flight to attend, minimising transport time and maximising vacation time.
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Jan 12th, 2013, 04:45 PM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions, I think we will just do two islands. I was thinking about Mykonos but have decided against it as I think we would like our second island to be a little quieter/less touristy and the party scene isn't really our thing. I am hoping to find a B&B somewhere with a more remote beach. I was drawn to Milos after seeing my friends photos, it seems to be remote with some nice beaches and the "lunar" landscape looked pretty interesting. @Chania, I am interested to hear why you didn't like Milos. For some reason I am having a really hard time deciding where to go after Santorini, I spent the day browsing through travel books and still can't decide. No destination is really jumping out at me!
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Jan 12th, 2013, 05:25 PM
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I totally understand your dilemma - there are so many wonderful places to visit in Greece. That's why so many travelers keep going back! I think Delphi is a beautiful and mystical place to visit. If you drive up in the afternoon and stay over, you can get to the site first thing before the bus tours arrive, instead of being on a bus tour. Athens has so much to see - I really don't get it when people say you can "do" Athens in 2-3 days. I heartily second the idea of going to fewer places in order to enjoy more time in the ones you choose and avoid the less restful pace of checking in and out and catching transport. Mykonos has its own beauty, especially the beaches and the classic photo ops in town but it does get the party crowd in July - I really do not like that myself. I have been to numerous islands, but Milos has not been on a convenient route yet, although I'd like to go there. I of course can tell you all the reasons why I love Paros, but choosing your island depends upon personal tastes - read lots of descriptions.
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