8 nights - how many islands?

Oct 11th, 2007, 03:34 PM
  #1  
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8 nights - how many islands?

Hi all,

DH and I are flying into ATH on May 4 and going straight to an island. We also plan on flying back to ATH from Santorini on the 12th of May. That leaves 8 island nights. I was toying with the following options. ANY comments or suggestions are appreciated!

Option 1
Fly to Paros
Paros 2 nights
Ferry to Naxos
Naxos 2 nights
Ferry to Santorini
Santorini 4 nights

Option 2
Fly to Naxos
Naxos 4 nights
Ferry to Santorini
Santorini 4 nights

Option 3
Fly to Paros
Paros 2 nights
Ferry to Naxos
Naxos 3 nights
Ferry to Santorini
Santorini 3 nights

The budget traveler in me says Option 3 - only 3 nights on Santorini for money saving purposes.

Also, I stuck pretty closely with the basic ferry routes, partially because who knows what will be available in May. Is there anywhere I can see what the ferry routes were last early May? Folegandros and Milos look interesting, but I'm worried about the connections.

Crete would be an easy substitution in this itinerary, but I think I prefer smaller islands. And I frankly haven't seen that blog, trip report or photo that makes me say "I want to go there!" Anyone interested in convincing me otherwise?

As always...
Thanks,
H
phieaglefan is offline  
Oct 11th, 2007, 05:32 PM
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I vote for #1, but pick the islands that most appeal to you, and don't be afraid of high costs on Santorini. There are plenty of places to stay that are very affordable. Check Stelios Rooms, Musses Studios/Casa Francesca, Anemomilos Hotel and Thea Studios, and these are just a few and are all in Oia. There are lots more in other villages. It all just depends on your requirements and budget.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2007, 10:21 PM
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Hi Eagles Fan, Philly Jan here!

BrotherLee and I are friendly sparring partners on these forums -- he's ALL Santorini with a small side dish of Paros, whereas I favor spreading things out more evenly, and I do think Naxos has so much to offer!

I think a lot of it depends on what your interests are -- I gather because you are going so early, you are not looking for a lot of swimming, perhaps just some sunbathing. Of course every newcomer to Greece wants to see the Santorini caldera -- but beyond that, what attracts you?

Small mountain villages, or lively nightclubs? Ancient ruins? Shopping? (Santorini has wonderful tho pricey jewelry, the 2 other isles are more varied, some traditional crafts).

All 3 islands have the famous Cycladic BLue & White architecture, and in May there will be flowers galore.. in Naxos & Paros they grow wild as well as in pots--Santorini is dryer, but hoteliers keep their gardens blooming.

Another Fodor Greece-Vet, "Stanbr" has put together a little slide-show of some of the delights of Naxos; take a look (tip: set time to 3 secs)
http://travel.webshots.com/slideshow/552001505EYxVYT

It gives just a taste of the place in sequence, from docking to departure.
travelerjan is online now  
Oct 11th, 2007, 10:24 PM
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I forgot to say that, if you have some very specific questions, just contact my e-mail and perhaps we can arrange to talk by phone, since after all, it's just a local call! (I live right by the Art Museum).
travelerjan is online now  
Oct 12th, 2007, 03:15 AM
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Thanks Brotherlee and Travelerjan!

Brotherlee, I like option 1 as I'd get to three different islands, but I wondered if 2 nights each - Naxos and Paros was too short.

Travlerjan, I actually saw that slide show, and another collection of photos, that really got me fired up about Naxos. Our timing in May was more about DH's schedule than anything else.

Last year, we took a long trip to Italy, and DH got a bit overloaded with sightseeing. I love ruins, sightseeing and museums. He loves sitting in a cafe, wandering interesting towns, and basically just absorbing. I am thinking for this trip, since I 'subjected' him to the high-powered sightseeing last year, we'll take a very casual approach to sightseeing.

We are in our 40's, so no night clubs. But we do enjoy a place to stop and have a drink with a view or some local entertainment. We like to shop, but mostly don't do alot of buying on vacation.

I really would like to go to Naxos first, but our flight arrives at ATH at 10:50 AM and the flight to Naxos isn't until 3:00 PM. We travel in coach and can't sleep on the plane. I am afraid that a 4 hour layover will kill us. There's a flight to Paros at 1:45. I suppose the flight times could change though.

By the way, it wouldn't be a local call! Unfortunately I moved from eastern PA after college to go to grad school, met my husband, and never moved back. I am stuck in Oklahoma City, land of Dallas Cowboys fans! I appreciate the offer though!

Thanks,
H
phieaglefan is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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Do doubt it's a matter of individual taste, but for me it would be a no-brainer: Option 2.

There's a certain irreducible amount of "overhead" time in traveling from one place to the other -- packing, checking out of the hotel, maybe buying a ticket, getting to the port or airport, then doing all those in reverse when you get there -- that stays constant whether you travel to fewer or more places. This means that the more places you go to and the less time you spend in each, the greater percentage of your time is taken up by this overhead. I've found that staying less than three nights in any one place is the point at which it starts to seem that I'm spending all my time dealing with suitcases, taxi drivers, ticket agents, and hotel clerks.

Another factor is that in most places, and especially in Greece, staying in one place for a longer time is rewarding in all sorts of ways.
boinky is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 10:57 AM
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Hi again, Eagle Fan!

Since u explain about your husband, there is even more reason to do Option #2. If he hates being "dragged around", why have 3 islands.

As so many people point out, changing islands can use up much of a day, even when the 2nd island is visible from the port of island #1. For example:

-- May 7 on Paros. Pack (40 minutes)
Check out (20 minutes). Get from hotel to Quay (20 minutes?) Wait for ferry & boarding (30 minutes minimum). Trip (1 hour). Disembark (10 minutes) Get to new hotel and check in (30+ minutes). For the 11:55 ferry, you could use up from after breakfast, roughly until 2 pm. And THAT's the shortest scenario, if u have hotels near the quay. -

I say,bite bullet & take 3 pm plane:
---by 10:50 land (IF on time).
---by 11:35 Retrieve baggage & go thru
passport line
---by 12 noon: use 'facilities' & ATM
---12:15 - 2 -- find one of the upscale restaurants & have a slooow meal in comfortable chairs.
-- by 2:15 -- find your way to gate
-- 2:45 boarding.

... so u see? not so much spare time after all. in 2006 we had a cancelled Crete plane so had from 9:10 arrival to 4:20 plane... now THAT was harder.
travelerjan is online now  
Oct 12th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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PS: The harborside cafes in Naxos, to my mind, are more relaxing for sitting and "people watching" than the one in Paros -- and I have been to Paros 4 times, so it's not a fleeing impression.
travelerjan is online now  
Oct 12th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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I agree that two islands would be better than three. As travelerjan and boinky point out, each island transfer wastes much of a day, so you would have little time to enjoy yourself with only two nights on Paros.

Before making your decision which two, Paros has as much to recommend itself as Naxos. Many people are put off by Parikia, the port town, but Naoussa, a beautiful old fishing port is a nice place to stay, and there are mountain villages to rival those on Naxos. You can take a day trip to neighboring Antiparos to see the cave and wander through its charming town.

Whether you choose Naxos or Paros, with four days you have the time for a day trip to Mykonos and Delos. Two different boats leave from Naxos Town and Naoussa three times per week on this trip, and I highly recommend it. Mid-May is a perfect time to visit Delos.
Heimdall is offline  
Oct 13th, 2007, 05:13 AM
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Thanks again for everyone's input. I am sure that two islands is probably the right thing to do.

I guess a few things were pushing me towards the third island. Mostly the longer layover to Naxos, but travelerjan made me feel much better about that.

Also, I guess I just want to see and do it all. Heimdall, you hit the nail on the head - Naoussa and an easy daytrip to Antiparos were some of the things I was really looking forward to on Paros.

Is it possible in low season (May) to do a day trip between Naxos and Paros? Is there one that's better suited to stay on, in order to visit the other?

Thanks again for your help!
H
phieaglefan is offline  
Oct 13th, 2007, 06:27 AM
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Yes, it is possible to do a day trip between Naxos and Paros, as there are several ferries each day between the two islands. Conventional ferries like Blue Star take an hour, and highspeeds about 30 minutes. You would have to check the ferry schedules carefully to insure you get one back home that afternoon.

>>Is there one that's better suited to stay on, in order to visit the other?<<

That's a hard question to answer. My first reaction was to say Naxos, but from there you would be hard pressed to include Naoussa and/or Antiparos in your day visit to Paros. You would probably be restricted to Parikia, the port town, but there is plenty to see there anyway.

Some of the sights in Parikia are the beautiful "Church of 100 Doors" and the nearby archaeological museum (closed Mon, as are most Greek museums). There is also the old town with its winding streets and castle, but I have to say not as nice as it's counterpart on Naxos.

If you stay on Naxos you would be well placed to explore the mountain villages of Filoti and Apiranthos, and to go to Apollonas to the north of the island. Boats to Delos leave from Naxos Town.

If you stayed at Naoussa on Paros, to get to the ferry port for your day trip to Naxos you would need to take a bus or taxi (20-30 min) to Parikia. You would also have to go to Parikia to get to Antiparos. From Naoussa you would be well placed to visit Lefkes, the mountain village, and other sights on Paros. Boats from Paros to Delos depart from Naoussa.

You can tell I am hedging a bit, as I honestly don't know which you would enjoy the most. I have to confess I prefer staying on Antiparos and taking quick trips to Paros when I want. If I had to choose between staying on Paros itself or Naxos, I would pick Naxos.
Heimdall is offline  
Oct 13th, 2007, 07:02 AM
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EagleFan, you just won't quit, willya?!? .

Since u want to do it all as you say, here's my FINAL suggestion ---

(1) Do option 3, and spend only 3 days on Santorini -- Brotherlee & I go back & forth on this, but after all, it's mainly the caldera view. He talks about relaxing in a quiet area of Oia and falling under the islands spell, but that is if u have 2 weeks there and lots of money for room with caldera view -- and you have a modest budget and don't even have time to unpack. BTW, if u want a hotel that's close to Fira Town but outside the busy-ness, look at this one (and it's just 75E in May):
http://www.santorini.gr-santorini.com/hotels/mamathira/

(2)Go to Either Naxos OR Paros first: the plane to Naxos is 3:30, to Paros 3:45. Same-o. Do NOT try "an easy day trip" to one or the other--too much time lost catching ferries, and schedule doesn't allow for a relaxed dinner at either end (last ferry is around 8:30 too early for dinner at one end--too late at the other!).

(3)In Paros, If u stay in Naoussa u need a car full-time, not only to tour the island sights but just to get to a nice beach. Remember, allow time to return car before your onward ferry.

(4) When in Naxos I have repeatedly advised people with short stays in May to stay at St. George Beach which is directly adjacent to town, and a 5-10 minute walk to all the harborside cafes and town attractions; you can stroll back to hotel after dining, instead of needing a car; U can rent a car for 1-day swoop around the island. Here's a website with full St.G Listings -- Galini,Glaros,Argos,St.George all have seaview patios & V. convenient to town.
http://www.thegreektravel.com/naxos/hotels.html

(5) If u can drive stick-shift u can rent a car in a minute---if no, you had better think about advance arrangements (and paying a lot more). None of the islands have many automatic-shift cars and they are all big 4-door ones.

(6) MOST IMPORTANT -- You and your spouse (Please don't call him DH I hate that) are not Joined at the Hip. You can do the island 1-day or half-day drive tour together. Then if YOU want to see Antiparos,or take the Delos excursion boat, or go up to the museum at the top of Naxos -- for hevvin's sake do it on your own and let HIM sit in a cafe with a newspaper and coffee and just watch the world go by! That way lies contentment for both.

Good luck and happy travels!
travelerjan is online now  
Oct 13th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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Travelerjan does make a good point. Doing a day trip from one island to the other has all the disadvantages of your Option 3 except packing and checking in/out of hotels. On a day trip you still have to get to the ferry docks, wait in line to board, etc, and you have to do it twice.

BTW, when I said I prefer staying on Naxos over Paros, that's mainly because of the beaches and the ease of getting around on Naxos (I am a single traveler and usually go by bus). Take beaches out of the equation, and I would choose Paros + Antiparos over Naxos any day. There is a 1:45PM flight to Paros, but you'll have to book early to insure a seat.

Ask three experienced Greek travelers which islands they prefer, and you will get at least four different answers. ;-)
Heimdall is offline  
Oct 13th, 2007, 09:54 AM
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Make that 5! ;-)
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:02 PM
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Heimdall, thanks for the specifics of day trips. I will make a note of your suggestions.

Travelerjan, Sorry! I didn't mean to push so hard! Regarding your suggestions, I like the idea of being able to have walking access to restaurants and bars/cafes. That is one of the reasons I have been favoring Naxos over Paros.

Thanks again to everyone for your input. I will definately let you know when we decide.
H
phieaglefan is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 04:59 PM
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I stuck pretty closely with the basic ferry routes, partially because who knows what will be available in May. Is there anywhere I can see what the ferry routes were last early May?

I'm also going to Greece in May 2008, and I've been wondering the same thing.

I have chosen to stay in Naxos over Paros, but it looks like there are many more ferry options to travel from Mykonos - Paros than Mykonos- Naxos. I am worried that there won't be any ferries from Mykonos to Naxos (and Naxos to Santorini) on the days that I want to travel.

I know that the ferry schedules change and the May 2008 schedule won't be available for months, but is there anywhere I can find what the ferry schedules were like last May? If I can't get from Mykonos-Naxos easily, I may choose to visit Paros instead.
cheryllj is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 07:15 PM
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I went from Samos to Mykonos to Naxos in 2006, and as I recall there was at least one ferry per day to Naxos. I know there is one every morning about 9 (it goes on to Santorini I think) ... and one either mid-day or evening.
travelerjan is online now  
Oct 16th, 2007, 12:31 AM
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Cheryllj, I believe tavellerjan is correct when she wrote that there is at least one ferry each day from Mykonos to Naxos, so you can go ahead with your planning based upon that assumption.

I don't have that worry, because when I island hop in May and June I never make advance hotel reservations. Therefore I can fine-tune my itinerary once I know when and where the ferries are running.

When I stayed at Hotel Argo in mid-June this year I called the hotel about an hour before the ferry landed on Naxos. They had a van waiting for me to take me to the hotel, and I got a very nice room for €20/night. I realize you may not want to do this, but it is a fun way to travel for those with a sense of adventure. There is a huge surplus of rooms in May on the islands, so you never have to worry about findng somewhere to stay.

Heimdall is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 03:18 AM
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That's funny Cheryllj, I just read your other post and I too was looking at the very same hotels for Naxos.
Great minds...

I am thinking of going with the Galini, and then spending a bit more for our lodging on Santorini. But I am quite sure I'll change my mind a few times before the trip!
Have fun planning, I know I am.
H
phieaglefan is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 06:49 AM
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The guide book Greek Island Hopping gives comprehensive schedules in each of its annual editions. These schedules aren't of course totally reliable -- they need to be checked against current schedules on the web or at travel agents. But they give a pretty accurate idea of how often boats run between any pair of ports. The book as a web site connected with it, but the schedules aren't on it. Anyway, I think this book is the best place to go for an answer to the question, what were ferry schedules like last year.
boinky is offline  

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