Athens & Greek Islands Mid-May

Mar 18th, 2011, 03:27 PM
  #1  
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Athens & Greek Islands Mid-May

We are big on planning and researching trips, but not big on advance planning, and so it is that we're now thinking about going to Greece in mid-May. Only problem: we're overwhelmed by the amount of options. We were originally thinking a cruise through the islands, but having only been on one cruise in all of our travels and not especially liking it, we've decided to go it on our own.

Here are some preliminary thoughts:

Flying from NY to Athens (prices are all above $1,000 r/t - is this normal?)

We want to spend a few days (is 2 enough to see the prime sights?) in Athens and then head to the islands.

We've heard good things about Santorini and were thinking of that as a home base. Recommendations on places to stay would be great.

As for other islands, we'd love suggestions. We'd like to see some ruins, some beaches, and eat some good food.

We're thinking of 7-10 days.
trekker2 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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Well 7 to 10 days is about enough time to visit a couple of Islands. Santorini is a good first choice because of its spectacular views. Be sure to get a caldera view hotel for this one. It will be expensive but that is why everyone raves about Santorini.
I would suggest you try to catch a flight from Athens directly to Santorini when you arrive. I know it is a long haul but it is better to wake up on an Island than the hustle and bustle of Athens. Jet lag and culture shock.

You could plan on 2 to 4 nights in Santorini. When you are ready to move on catch a ferry back towards Athens. Naxos and Paros make very good companion islands to Santorini because they are far less expensive,less touristy and more authentic. You would probably only want to do one of these two islands. Plan a minimum of 4 days. My preference is Naxos but many here love Paros. You can't really go wrong with either. In May you will not need to have a hotel reservation on either Naxos or Paros so you do not have to get locked into when you plan to leave Santorini. Hey maybe you will love Santorini and decide to spend the whole time there.
As for Athens save it to the end of your trip. I would spend a minimum of 3 days there. Plan to find a hotel in the Plaka area near the Acropolis. It is quite delightful this area and all the antiquities and sites are all grouped together in easy walking distance. Do give Athens the time it is due. Here are some images.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/570719132pdjjHG
Have fun planning
stanbr is offline  
Mar 18th, 2011, 04:07 PM
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Hi,

7 days is not a lot of time but doable, 10 days is better. I remember a trip I took years ago. We rented a car and drove to Delphi, which is so wonderful. We stayed overnight there. Then drove to Nafplion and stayed for 2 nights. There are ancient ruins near Nafplion and the town is wonderful. Next we drove back to Athens and flew to an island for 3 days. Santorini is a good choice. You could skip Delphi and upon arrival drive to Nafplion and spend 3 nights and fly off to Santorini from Athens airport. Naxos and Paros are two islands that get a lot of praise here and there is ferry service from Santorini. I think Naxos and/or Paros have an airport. Someone will tell you. Fly back to Athens two days before you leave and see the sites.

Have a fabulous trip,
Yipper
yipper is offline  
Mar 18th, 2011, 04:42 PM
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You can't do Yipper's trip even f y ou skip delphi. You don't have time. On arrive fly to Santorini - 3 days, Island #2, 3-4 days, (either Naxos or Paros good choices), Athens 3 days. That about does it... you don't waste travel tme going in/out of athens twice. If from NYC thnk about it; if someone were flying into JFK, ultimate goal Chicago, would you say, take bus into Manhattan, spend nite, then go BACK to JFK, fly to Chi? No. You would say, stay in airport, fly to Chi.

A TIP: Decide what day you want to arrive in Greece (this will be day AFTER you leave NY). Let's say May 14. Then go to THIS website http://www.airtickets.gr/flights.asp?lang=en It has the flights for the 2 airlines, Aegean & Olympic, that serve Santorini. Check the flights avaiiable. THEN -- book flight from NY that arrives in time (2 hour layover is good) to connect with a plane to Santorini. Otherwise u may arrive at 9:30 am and have to hang around for 6 hours. NOTE: if you are doing a European connection to save $$$ and thus come in around 5:30 pm, you can go 10 minutes away to a little local B & B with a pool, http://www.stay-in-athens.com/ splash out your jet lag, and go back to airport crack o dawn to get first flight (which usually is much cheaper!).
travelerjan is offline  
Mar 18th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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Chat tours out of Athens does a good 2 or 3 day trip to Delphi,Olympic, monsteries, etc. if you don't want to rent a car. You can book them from your hotel.
southeastern is offline  
Mar 19th, 2011, 01:28 AM
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Greece is a country full of people who are "not big on advance planning", so you are going to the right place. ;-) Mid-May is a good time for sightseeing in Greece, but sometimes a bit cool for the beach. With such a short time available you would have to choose between mainland and islands, you can't do both.

I fully agree that with such a short time, your best alternative is to take a connecting flight to an island directly upon arrival in Athens. Since Santorini is on the 'must see' list of many tourists, that would be a good place to start. You can't use Santorini as a "home base", because there are no other islands within easy day trip distance. If you want to visit a second island, it would be best to pick one on the same Central Cyclades ferry route as Santorini (Paros or Naxos), or alternatively Mykonos, which has direct connection with Santorini by high speed ferry.

Mykonos gets criticised by some people on this board, but it's a delightful island in May, when still relatively quiet. It has arguably the prettiest town in the Cyclades, along with the caldera villages of Santorini. What draws me back to Mykonos is the archaeological site at Delos, an uninhabited island only two miles from Mykonos Harbor.

You could also see Delos on a full-day trip from Paros or Naxos, but the trips don't leave every day from those islands, and take up to 10 hours, much of it at sea in a small excursion boat.

Save at least two days for Athens at the end of the trip.
Heimdall is online now  
Mar 19th, 2011, 06:16 AM
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Try www.kayak.com to find flight deals. 10 days would be better.

day 1-leave home
day 2-arrive try to get early flight out to island of choice Myknos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, etc. If you pick Mykonos and want to do a day trip to Delos-it's closed on Mondays so have to take that into consideration when planning your itinerary.
days-3, 4 on island you would have 2 1/2 days to explore/relax.
day 5-ferry to other island
days 6, 7-other island again hopefully would have 2 1/2 days
day 8-flight to Athens earliest available spend remainder of day exploring Athens
day 9-Athens
day 10-return home this only gives you 1 1/2 days Athens would be better if you could add 1 more night to Athens

Since you're paying so much for airfare to get to Greece and it's a long flight IMO try to spend as much time there as you can. Once you decide and post your final itinerary the experts here can help with other questions specific to the areas you will be visiting.
chris45ny is offline  
Mar 19th, 2011, 06:24 AM
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Or you could skip the islands completely... there's much more to Greece than islands!

Spend 3 nights in Athens... pick up a car and drive to Meteora, see Delphi on the way back then a few days in Nafplion from where you can visit Mycenae, Tiryns, Epidaurus, Corinth ...

Santorini to me is just a blown up old volcano... I much prefer seeing the works of the Greeks of antiquity ...
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Mar 19th, 2011, 07:21 AM
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Yeah, and the Parthenon to me is just a hunk of broken marble.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2011, 07:32 AM
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Good comeback brotherleelove!
dutyfree is offline  
Mar 19th, 2011, 07:52 AM
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Yup! Much of Greece is in ruins! ;-)
Heimdall is online now  
Mar 19th, 2011, 10:11 AM
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Why did they always build the stuff on top of hills?? So inconvenient.
travelerjan is offline  
Mar 20th, 2011, 07:04 AM
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What are the pros and cons of Paros versus Naxos?
trekker2 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2011, 07:40 AM
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"As for other islands, we'd love suggestions. We'd like to see some ruins, some beaches, and eat some good food."

If these are your criteria, it's all pros.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2011, 07:56 AM
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What are the pros and cons of Paros versus Naxos?

Don't get us started on that one! ;-)
Heimdall is online now  
Mar 20th, 2011, 08:03 AM
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Both are goods choices. Both will delight you. I believe I said in my earlier post that Naxos is our favourite island Here's why.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/570...MsPF?start=108
stanbr is offline  
Mar 20th, 2011, 08:37 AM
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Naxos is my second-favourite island. ;-)

Seriously, though, I agree with stanbr that both are good choices. We all have our favourites, and those of us who come to an island again and again, spending more than a few days at a time, develop many close friendships.

Naxos is the perfect first-timer's island, because most of the tourist infrastructure is concentrated around Naxos Town, with several nice beaches only a short bus ride away. Most of us recommend staying at Ag. Georgios (St George), a beach area at the edge of town. Naxos also has some interesting mountain villages, easy to see in a day or two, especially if you hire a car.

Paros, with its smaller neighbour Antiparos, is a little more complex, making it more difficult to decide where to stay. The two main settlements are Parikia, the port town, and Naoussa, a former fishing village, now taken over mostly with tourism. There are other tourist centres all along the coastline, including Piso Livadi, Golden Beach, Drios, Aliki, and many more. The clincher for me is Antiparos, a beautiful little island separated from Paros by a narrow strait. From Paros you can take a day trip there to see the stalactite cave, walk around town, and go to one of the many beaches. There is also a round-island boat trip, which picks up passengers at Pounta on Paros.
Heimdall is online now  
Mar 21st, 2011, 09:03 PM
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Hi can you please tell me what website to go to for Greek ferries to all the islands. We want to go to Santorini with our motorcycle...are there restrictions what you can drive on the ferries?
wenday is offline  
Mar 21st, 2011, 09:15 PM
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wenday, you will get better answers about motorcycles if you start a new topic, many people who know about bikes will not open this thread and see your question

Best Website for Greek Ferries is gtp.gr.
travelerjan is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 01:45 AM
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Many people take scooters and motorbikes on the ferries — no problem. You can't take one on a passenger-only ferry, of course, but all the big ferries, e.g. Blue Star and Hellenic Seaways Highspeeds 4,5, & 6, have car decks. You can check ferry departures on www.gtp.gr. Unless travelling during high season or a Greek public holiday weekend you don't need to prebook.
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