Amalfi Coast vs Greece

Jul 20th, 2014, 11:03 AM
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Amalfi Coast vs Greece

We're planning a trip to Europe in late september and are torn between Greece and Italy. We're looking for a combination of archeological sites, cool small towns and some good R and R. One option would be to fly into Rome, spend a couple days there and head south to visit Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Positano, Amalfi and Paestum. The second option would be to fly into Athens where we would stay for 2-3 days. We are considering 2 different itineraries for the rest of the trip. A) Crete and some of the islands in the Cyclades (Santorini, Paros?). or B) Hydra and the Peloponnese (Napflion and surroundings, and Olympia). We would love to hear your advice. Thanks.
ocanada is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 11:52 AM
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How many days will you have in Europe (not counting arrival and departure days)?
artsnletters is online now  
Jul 20th, 2014, 12:08 PM
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8 full days + 2 half days (morning arrival, afternoon departure)
ocanada is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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Hmmm, no idea what about Italy, but on Greece I do not think this time frame would work, at least not for your A) plan. I know that people will tell you Crete + Santorini has longer season or some islands are fine on October, blah blah blah but I am against a first time visit on the islands if this is very late September too.
Your B) could work depending on specifics...
mariha2912 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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I live in Italy and love it and I would pick Greece because it is just such a thrilling country (not to mention a fraction of the cost of Italy). And to combine Italy and Greece I would sooner fly into Naples and spend some time there and in Paestum rather than spend time in Rome.

Others will disagree but I don't think the towns of the Amalfi and Capri fit the description of "cool small towns". They are tourist villages. For Greece, I would probably pick your B option, or any number of combinations of Greek islands plus Athens.

It is also possible to fly from other airports in Italy to Greek islands and Crete. You don't always need to transit through Athens.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 01:17 PM
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I think late September is fine for a Greek vacation, though you may find some accommodations closing for the season. The weather is still good, and you'll find plenty of open seats on the ferries if you choose to travel that way between islands.

To maximize your time, try to connect upon arrival in Athens to an island. For a first-timer, I think Santorini is a really good choice. There's simply nothing like that caldera view, and it's a stunning place to recover from jet lag for a few days.

Santorini is on the same ferry route as Paros/Naxos, or in the other direction Crete. But with only 8 days on the ground, you'll have to decide how rushed you want to be.

A possible itinerary for the islands:

Santorini: Three days

Naxos or Paros or Crete: Three days

Athens: Two days

The benefit of leaving Athens until the end of the trip is that you minimize backtracking, and don't leave yourself open to unexpected delays coming from the islands.

BTW, if you wanted to cut one of the islands short and head back to Athens, it is possible to visit Hydra as a day trip. It takes about 2.5 hours on the hydrofoil from Piraeus (port in Athens). Keep in mind that it is a very small carless island, and not much to do there, but a lovely place for a long walk and great food!
WWK is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 06:18 PM
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thank you to everyone who has responded. Sounds like Santorini is a must. Would it make sense to just do 1 day in Athens in order to get additional time on the islands?
ocanada is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 08:18 PM
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Hi ocanada.
I have to admit having a bias to Greece. Having said that we have been to Italy and essentially did your Rome Amalfi option. it was a great trip particularly your inclusion of Paestum. imagine three Greek temples sitting in a filed in Italy.
Having said that when we went the Canadian dollar was 1.20 to the Euro. This year it is 1.5 to the euro. Combine that with sandralists comment about the cost in Italy, where it is at least 30% more expensive for everything then I would respectfully suggest Greece is your best option.
If you can arrange it fly to Santoirni as soon as you arrive in Athens. You probably don't want your first jetlagged experience to be Athens. Santorini is perfect. The stunning views will make you forget jet lag.
Now Santorini is about the most expensive place in Greece but it is worth it provided you get a Caldera view hotel.
Three nights will probably give you everything you need and for most of us then it is time to leave and find more of a true Greece experience.
I would suggest Naxos a short 2 hour ferry ride away. A true companion island to Santorini. Naxos has the same white and blue buildings but has great beaches, a lovely main town not crowded by cruise ship passengers, mountain villages and a few antiquities all at about half the price of Santorini.
Trip around Naxos

If you want more in the way of ancient sites then you can't do much better than Nafplion

Nafplio and Peloponnese

Once you make up your mind we can give you much more specific thoughts on where to stay and what to do.
stanbr is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 01:55 AM
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How much time to give to Athens or the islands really depends on your interests and what's in your comfort zone when it comes to how much you move around and how soon once you've reached Greece. Different travelers would (and should) do it different ways.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 11:41 AM
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It's not even close. Italy>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Greece.
lmhornet is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 06:08 PM
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thanks everyone. we're leaning towards the following itinerary. fly into athens and immediately transfer to Santorini by plane. 3 days in Santorini. 3 days in Naxos. Ferry back to Athens. 2 days and 3 nights in Athens. Feel free to make hotel and activity recommendations for these locations. thanks again.
ocanada is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 06:58 PM
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Hi ocanda, I just posted basically the same questions as you did a few hours ago. I am looking to go away for 10-12 days in May or June. I could not decide on the Amalfi coast or the Greek Islands. I think after reading all of these suggestions than I am going to also pick the Greek Islands. Santorini is a definite for me. Did you think about Mykonos? I don't want to highjack your thread but would like to following along with you as you decide upon areas of each island and hotel recommendations. Best of luck planning!
hudsonguz is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 07:05 PM
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Hi Hudson
Santorini is an absolute must see for first time Grece visitors. Santorini and Mykonos are the two most popular islands because they get all the publicity.
Mykonos however isn't unique like Santorini. You can get the same ambiance at half the price which is why an island like Baxos is so highly recommended as a companion island to Santorini. if you have an unlimited budget then combine Santoirni with Mykonos. If value for money is important then set your sites on Naxos.
Here are more images of Naxos. These are different from the earlier post.
A week in Naxos
stanbr is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 07:56 PM
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Hi ocanada,

Looks like a great itinerary, with one minor tweak. I'm not a fan of the ferry ride from Naxos-Athens. It's too long and can be fairly nauseating, depending on water conditions. I'd fly, but if you do, book the flight as soon as you can. There are only a few flights between Naxos and Athens each day.

For hotel recommendations, we need to know your budget.
WWK is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 11:12 PM
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I agree definitely fly back to Athens !
jamikins is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 06:59 PM
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Thanks again everybody. Our flight is scheduled to arrive in Athens at 9:00. What is the earliest time we can schedule our flight to the islands? Not sure how long it will take to clear customs and make our way to our gate. There's a 10:30 flight to Santorini (150 Euros), 10:45 to Mykonos (60 Euros) and a 1:40 to Naxos (100 euros)

As for hotel recommendations, would love to keep it under 100$ per night. Which parts of Santorini, Naxos and Athens should we be looking in for lodging? Thanks.
ocanada is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 07:55 PM
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I don't think you will find a place with a caldera view on Santorini for $100 USD per night. We went in 2011, stayed in Oia at a traditional cave house with pool and caldera view. We had 3 nights at around 250 euros per night. Breakfast included. We also rented a car from Spiridakis Car Rental. We arrived to Santorini via ferry from Mykonos. Make sure you visit a winery on Santorini. There's also a lesser known path for the sunset viewing other than the one that is mobbed by all the tourists. There were bus loads of day trippers for the sunset but the path/area we found we had practically to ourselves but then we drove to it. You could walk but it's going towards Fira.

Firostephani area

Oia area

I don't have any suggestions for you for Fira as we never considered staying there. If you want a more lively area you may want to check it out. Oia was just right for us.


We stayed at the Athens Gate and loved it. Had a great view of the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch. We had a huge terrace too. They also have rooms with a view of the Acropolis. The area where they serve breakfast has an amazing view of the Acropolis too. Good location. We could walk to lots of sites like the Acropolis, the newer Acropolis Museum, Parliament where we saw the changing of the guard and the tomb of the unknown soldier, Temple of Zeus, shopping streets, plenty of good restaurants. But in 2011 I think we paid 195 euros per night.
Some others to check-

What I did when planning our trip was to check reviews from properties on TA forum.

There's probably a website for Blue Star. We bought our tickets at the ferry office in Athens not far from our hotel.

We took Blue Star from Athens to Mykonos, Flying Cat 3 from Mykonos to Naxos, Blue Star from Naxos to Santorini. We flew Olympic Air from Rhodes back to Athens before flying home. We stayed for 1 night right across from the airport at the Sofitel as we had a very early morning flight the next day.

Hopefully you will get some feedback from more recent travelers to Greece. We loved Greece!
chris45ny is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2014, 09:03 PM
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In Naxos we really enjoyed the Hotel Grotta, walking distance from the main town, Hora:

Simple decor, very friendly and helpful hosts, excellent breakfast buffet with lots of Greek specialties, lovely views over the town and the water, with great sunsets, informal, nice! And all for less than 100 euros a night.
aprillilacs is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 12:46 AM
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Tough choice, but I would go with Italy. If you are dead set on Greece, see if you can skip Athens unless it's absolutely essential that you see the Acropolis. You have a very short time to spend on this trip. I agree that Santorini is an amazing place to visit, but it has gotten expensive, partly due to the decline to the U.S. dollar.

In 2010 I was in England and flew non-stop from Gatwick to Santorini, took a hydrofoil to Mykonos and flew back to Gatwick non-stop. Take a look at Easyjet to see where they fly.

I recommend you stay on the caldera side of the island as it is breathtaking and it is no longer possible to wander through some of the hotel areas any more unless you are a paying guest. That being said, you can still see quite a bit from the path. I think Firostephani is a good location on the caldera as it is close to the main town of Fira and easily walked. If ever you would splurge on hotel accommodations, this would be the time to do it.

I've been to Santorini three times. The last time I stayed in Fira in an inexpensive hotel (that I liked), but I can't say there was anything romantic about it. But it was cheap. If you would like to read my journal and see my photos:
luvtotravel is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 01:35 AM
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For what it's worth, here is my trip report and photos from Capri and the Amalfi Coast when I was there in 2009. I just love Italy.
luvtotravel is offline  

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