3 days alone-Which Island?

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Jun 29th, 2007, 07:54 AM
  #1
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3 days alone-Which Island?

I will be traveling through mainland Greece with a friend (my first time *not* traveling by myself) but she is leaving me in Athens and I will head to an island for three days. I have already decided just to stick with one accommodation on one island because I have a bad habit of running myself into the ground during vacations and am trying to learn to relax! Everyone I've spoken to IRL recommends Santorini because it has the best (sand) beaches. I am a beach person, and definitely prefer sand to pebble. I also want to see beautiful architecture and maybe some ruins/historical sites.

Is Santorini the ticket?

Any recommendations where to stay? I'd love a pool but my budget (hopefully around $150 USD/nt) may prevent that. This will be 10-13 Sept.

I love to hike. Do you think it would be OK to do this alone? Or is it too much of a risk that nobody will come along if I get hurt?

I enjoy nightlife when I am at home, but I don't really enjoy going to bars or clubs by myself so nightlife is not a priority.

Demographically speaking, I will be 33 (leaving for Greece on my birthday!), am female and in excellent shape, and have traveled alone to Italy and Scandinavia.

Completely off this topic, is it hard for vegetarians in Greece? I am reading of many wonderful vegetable dishes, but don't know if meat is often snuck in for flavoring without one knowning it.
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Jun 29th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Whoever told you that Santorini has the "best (sand) beaches" must not have very high standards. There are no idyllic white-sand beaches anywhere on the island. Santorini's beaches are black or red rock/pebbles/grit and are not what most people look for when it comes to great beaches. In fact it's not what most people go to Santorini to enjoy, it's the views of the sea from the cliffs overlooking the volcanic caldera. If you want good beaches consider Naxos or Paros, or if you want a more upscale environment check out Mykonos.

$150=111 euro. There are only a few places in that price range with the requisite caldera view. Focus your search on Oia, Firostefani and Imerovigli. Oia is the most beautiful village with the most to offer architecturally. If you want to stay at the beach your money will go farther. Focus on Kamari and Perissa Beaches.

A woman travelling solo has no need to be concerned as long as you use the same common sense you'd use at home. Exploring the hiking trails is no exception.

I'm a vegetarian too and I have never gone hungry in Greece! 'Sneaking' meat in for flavor is not an issue.
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Jun 29th, 2007, 09:46 AM
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At the end of each of my Greece trips with companions I take 3-5 days solo, going to an island or other site to unwind, and I also love beaches, hiking & ancient sites.

Is it 3 full days (starting early am? Monday, coming back in PM Wednesday, to fly out on Thursday??). It's important to know because of ferry schedules.

For islands that meet your criteria of lovely beaches/history/hikes, not too terribly far away, I'd suggest Sifnos or Naxos.

Unfortunately Wednesday is Down Day for the Sifnos-Serifos-Milos ferry lines.. nada. Thus I'd recommend Naxos, and get up way early to get to Piraeus.

A 7:30 am hi-speed ferry arrives 11:30, and if u arrange for a free pick-up at the port, you could be basking on the sand by 12:30. If you want to be able to walk to harborside cafes & town sights in minutes. and stroll home after dinner go to Ag. Giorgios beach... it's shallow, but nice sand and lots of budget housing. Frequent busses nearby get you to Ag Prokopios beach (15min), or Ag. Anna or Plaka beach (30min)

Naxos has the requisite Cycladic blue & white architecture with lots of flowers plus a winding uphill Agora to Venetian fortress quarter and a tiny museum full of priceless Minoan statuettes. There are hiking trails all over the island.. this year I walked from the port uphill to a monastery with stunning view of town & sea.

FOdorite Stanbr has a great photo album of Naxos,that shows the island's beauty from arrival to departure. The URL:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/552001505EYxVYT

Lots of good food for Vegetarians (get to To Kastro, fave restaurant of stanbr & me too, blut there are plenty!). It's got low-key nightlife, lots of independent travelers of your vintage, it's of course safe, very comfortable for people dining & hiking alone. And oh, yes,costs are WAY lower than Santorini -- we pay about 35E per double in May-June, Sept, probably about the same... you can get veg. meal for under 10E with a glass of wine.

On the 12th, you can get a full day of basking, and relaxing if you're willing to reach Athens late.Blue Star Naxos leaves at 6pm, a regular tourist fare ticket gets you a reserve seat indoors, sit outdoors until sunset if u like, have something to eat, you're in piraeus at 23:25. Not much time to sleep if u have an early flight, but you can sleep when u get home.

Howzat for an idea??

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Jun 29th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Thank you so much for the suggestions, brotherleelove and traveljan. Naxos sounds lovely, I will definitely look into it.

I have Monday to travel to an island and can leave early morning, all day Tues and Weds to be on the island, and my flight out from Athens is at 7:35 am on Friday (there were no later departures without a several hundred dollar price jump, alas), so I can stay all day thursday on the island if there are late ferry departures. Does the fact that I can travel on Thurs (thus avoiding the Weds ferry blackout) change your recommendation?
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Jun 29th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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I'll go along with traverjan on Naxos, but you may find Ag Georgios beach a disappointment. I was there just two weeks ago, and the whole beach was looking a bit tired, with a badly maintained boardwalk at the back. My favorite beach is Ag Prokopios, but Plaka is even better if you don't mind a walk to find the best patch of sand.

You may still want to stay in the St George area, though. I can recommend the Argo Hotel, which is run by a very friendly Swedish-Greek couple. The rooms are spotless, and priced very reasonably. See http://www.thegreektravel.com/naxos/argo/index.html. The hotel is only five minutes walk to the nearest bus stop for Ag Prokopios, Ag Anna, and Plaka beaches (you don't have to walk back into town - ask for directions from the hotel owners). Argo Hotel is also only 10 min walk from the harbor area of Naxos Town, where most of the shops and restaurants are located. Phone ahead and they will have a van meet you when you get off the ferry.
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Jun 29th, 2007, 07:17 PM
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Heimdall, you and I are not in conflict. I don't recommend Ag. Giorgios for beaching except in the Spring... I always say take the bus to Plaka, Anna etc (I tend towards Prokopios, because favor a beach that has at least a few sunbeds, because I like comfort and a sunbrella whilst I read! But that's just me). I DO favor St. George area for the convenience. So we agree!

With that extra day, yes you could do Sifnos -- longer travel time. A monday 7:30 fast ferry gets u there 10:50 am.
Going back on thursday, the car ferry is 12:35, arrives Piraeus 18:05 (loonng ride).The hi-speed leaves @18:35 (6:35) arrives 21:45 (9:45PM) so you wouldn't get into your hotel bed until 11 earliest--and u have to rise by 3:30 to get that early plane! Ugh. I know.

However, SIfnos is really special, and u might consider it; you have a little time to explore what it has to offer.. a bit harder to get around, post-season, but GREAT for hiking also. My best source of info is the VERY informative photo illustrated profile written by a Fodor Forum expert, NickolettaG (known as Eleni on some forums).. the URL is

http://www.igogreece.com/en/Greece.a...a=areas&id=127

She gives a wonderfully personal guide to the delights of sifnos-- where stay, eat, swim, hike. I agree with her that the place to stay is Appollonia up in the hills, at the Geronti's pension. Check out her description... the architecture beats Santorini in my opinion, and the ancient Chora is unforgettable.

So it's a win-win situation -- with slight edge to Naxos for more ease in getting around, less travel time. From Naxos to Athens on Thurs, there's the reliable Blue Star ferry at 9:45, gets in about 3 pm, or, th hi-speed (large ) at 11:45 that gets in at 3:45. (late boat's too late on THur).

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Jun 29th, 2007, 11:28 PM
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Traveljan, glad we agree! This year I traveled a little later than usual because May weather in Greece has been unreliable the last few years. So I was on Naxos in the middle of June. Even Plaka Beach was bedecked with sunchairs throughout its length when I was there, but there were still long stretches where you could spread out a beachmat and have a few yards of sand to yourself.

Nicegirl512, should you decide on Sifnos, www.gtp.gr is showing Highspeed 1 departing Piraeus for Sifnos at 0730 and returning at 1835 on the days you want to travel. The offical Hellennic Seaways website: http://tinyurl.com/23zgay shows sailings only through 9 Sep, so that could possibly change. You will have to confirm sailings closer to the date.

As you will already be in Greece before your planned trip to the islands, just check while you are there. You will have no problem whatsoever getting ferry tickets or finding rooms at the last minute that time of year.
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Jun 30th, 2007, 12:00 AM
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When I said "The offical Hellennic Seaways website...shows sailings only through 9 Sep" I didn't mean to imply there will be no sailings after that date, only that they haven't published their official timetable post 9 Sep yet.
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 10:26 AM
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You all are making this difficult on me! LOL When I thought I could only do Naxos I got really excited about it, but then I started looking at Sifnos too and am having a hard time deciding.

Naxos has some amazing things to see, but it's not clear that they're easy to get to without a car. A few people have mentioned a coach tour, which would be fine for me. A google search turned up http://www.naxostours.net/fsetexc.htm, which offers a coach tour, but it sounds extremely whirlwind. I will have just driven through mainland Greece and really won't want to drive. I hate driving in the first place.

Is Sifnos easier to get around on? I know the islands are all mountainous, but it seems a little flatter and therefore easier to bike. But it doesn't seem to have as many sites/sights to see.

My particular interest is in ancient sites, if that helps. I'm not an archaeologist, or even an amateur archeologist, I just like being amazed.
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 11:31 AM
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Okay, nicegirl, since your particular interest is ancient sites, then you should go to Delos. You can't stay there, but two excursion boats leave from Naxos on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in September. This is one of the most amazing ancient sites in Greece.

As for Naxos itself, should you want to venture from the beaches, there are buses to the mountain villages of Filoti, Apiranthos, etc, and to Apollonas. You can stay in the villages for a few hours, then take a bus back to Naxos Town. A car or scooter would be an advantage, but not essential. As a single traveler I always rely on the buses.
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 12:07 PM
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Thank you Heimdall! You are my tie breaker. It appears I'm going to have to go back to the islands someday and visit more of them and more thoroughly. ;-)
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Jul 2nd, 2007, 03:28 PM
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Good choice! More ancient sites on Naxos -- and more all the time! Last year, I think, they dug up the plaza in front of the cathedral and hey! Presto! Graveyard from the Bronze Age! The Naxians left it in place, covered it with glass block, and now you can gaze DOWN directly on libation bowls and purification basins exactly as they were left by pious Mycenean-era folk.

My challenge to you: stand on the Bluff at Grotta and see if YOU can make out the 3000BC walls just beneath the water -- people say they're there but I've never been able to discern them
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