Best 3 Islands to see in Greece

Aug 13th, 2013, 10:47 AM
  #1  
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Best 3 Islands to see in Greece

We arrive in Athens late in the evening June 10th, 2014. Taking advice from this forum, I plan that we start island hopping the next morning and end in Athens for an intense 2 1/2 days of touring . We are energetic and enjoy history, want a mix of beach and relaxation along with ruins. We love hiking and exploring. (and eating and drinking Help me find the best balance!!!
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Aug 13th, 2013, 11:15 AM
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Don't know about all of them, but one island we loved and have wanted to go back to over the years is Crete. It's large enough for a lot of hiking. World class ruins. Don't know about beaches, and the food is Greek, no better or worse most other places in Greece.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 11:24 AM
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Thank you, I've looked at Crete and its size and attractions make sense for it being one of our stops.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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Did you mean "2 1/2 weeks of touring"? If you really mean 2 1/2 days, you have time for only one island.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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How long and when?
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Aug 13th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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Sorry, just realized, June 2014. But how long for?
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Aug 13th, 2013, 11:55 AM
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Yikes, sorry. We have from early morning June 11th until late on June 19th when we return to athens
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Aug 13th, 2013, 12:10 PM
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That would be enough for Crete.

From Athens the easiest islands to reach are in the Saronic Gulf or the Cyclades. Typical tours of the Cyclades include Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos, and Paros, but there are many others. You would have time to visit two, or at a stretch, three islands in the time available.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 03:09 PM
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The top 3 Greeks islands is a tough question. As a Greek, I have been in most of our islands since we visit them every summer (right now I am texting from Lefkada) and I can tell you that every single island has its own unique Character, History, Cuisine, Landscape, Architecture, Dogma and even Dialect. Every Greek island is beautiful, seriously, there is one for every type of tourist and the characteristics that you recquest is the basis of every Greek island. The variety is enormous. So, lets start making you some suggestions:

Rhodes: It has the biggest inhabited Medieval City in Europe. The City of Rhodes is a mix of Greece (Ancient Monuments and Byzantine Churches), Turkey (Ottoman Mosques and Hamams) The Crusaders (The Great Castle and Walls of Rhodes and the Palace of the Grand Master) and Jews (Synagogues). All these civilizations formed one of the most charming cities in Europe. The whole city is protected by UNESCO. It always was a Grand City since antiquity. It was a very powerful city-state, and it was a "must" for the Roman Elite to study Philosophy in Rhodes during the Roman Imperial Period. Don't forget it hosted one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes. The island of Rhodes, has some great beaches, it has the Valley of the Butterflies, charming villages and towns. The City of Lindos is also gorgeous, it has not the cosmopolitan air of the City of Rhodes, but it is a beautiful typical Rhodian town, with its own Castle and Ancient Acropolis. It was one of the most important cities of Ancient Rhodes.

Corfu/Kerkyra: The Jewel of the Ionian Sea and the Gate to the Adriatic. The city of Corfu is the only Greek Island which never fell to the Turks. It was the most important colony of the Venetian Republic, and as a result, Corfu is a harmonic mix of Greek Neoclassical Architecture and Venetian Colonial Architecture. It has 2 Great Forts, wonderful Churches with Venetian High Bell Towers and the biggest park in Greece. The City is simply gorgeous, left in the period of Renaissance. The French and the British left their mark by building landmarks, Palaces, Mansions and gardens throughout the City. The legendary Austrian Empress Sisi had her own Palace, the Achilleion.
The whole City is also protected by UNESCO. The island of Corfu is the greenest island of Greece, with turquoise waters and some gorgeous Colonial styled villages. The Corfiots have Italian temperament, they speak quick, loud and singing and have added Italian words to their dialect. The cuisine is unique, it is influenced by the Venetian Cuisine and from the Cuisines of the Adriatic Sea.

Sifnos: One of the most charming islands of the Cyclades. If the first thing which comes to your mind when you think of Greece are the white washed houses with blue doors and windows and domed churches of the same colours this is your place. Sifnos is a sophisticated island, for quality tourists which search for a calmness and relaxation. The beautiful town of Kastro is the ancient capital of Sifnos, and is even mentioned by Homer itself. It was a powerful and rich Ancient Kingdom, which became rich by its Silver Mines. The Sifniots were so rich that they built a Treausury in Delphi which the Ancient Greeks believed it was the most beautiful Treausury in Delphi, even better than the Athenian. Due to its abundance in Silver which made the Kingdom rich, the beaches in Sifnos are shining because in the sand there is silver dust. Kastro is on a hill, fortified, looking on the sea and the little chapel of the Virgin "Panagia Poulati" on the sea rock of Kastro, is simply stunning. The atmospheric village of Artemonas gives you an idea how Cyclades looked like before the Hordes of the Tourists. The Church of Crysopigi with the legend of the Saracen Pirates is not to be missed. The island is famous for its excellent pottery, an Ancient tradition, and for its food as it is the birthplace of Tselementes, inventor of Moussaka and the most important cooker of Greece.

It is impossible to end that list with only 3 islands, so I will make you some brief suggestions which must not be overlooked:

Syros: A Neoclassical Masterpiece not far from Athens, Ermoupolis is home to the descendants of the Frankish Crusaders and thats why the City is divided into Orthodox and Catholic (The Franks).

Patmos: The Holy Island, is home to the Byzantine Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse in which the Book of Revelation was writen is protected by UNESCO. The Chora of Patmos is fascinating, crowned by the Byzantine Walls of the Monastery is a time travel to The Middle Ages.

Santorini: You know, Oia, Caldera, Fira the Volcano and the Akrotiri Museum.

Symi: It is so beautiful, you believe it is fake. Small Neoclassical doll houses are settled around the port like in a kids drawing. It is simply unique.

Kastellorizo/Megisti: Most tourists do no even know its existence, it is in a remote location right under Minor Asia. This island, is probably the most relaxing place in Europe. The Chora, is a small gem and it is all yours since as I said most tourists don't know its existence. Swimming eating by the sea walking in the Chora, Ancient Monuments and sleeping is what will you do all day. The crystal waters are extremely clean, ideal for swimming.

Crete: This is the Megalonisos (Great Island) there are so many things to do and see there that I can't number them. Also the Cretans are the most hospitable people of the world, seriously, it is a tradition in this island as the birthplace of Zeus (Which he was the God of Filoxenia/Hospitality). Don't miss Chania Rethymnon and the fabulous beaches like Vai, with the Palm Forest and the turquoise crystal waters which reminds you how close Crete is to Egypt.

I wish this article I wrote you seems useful to you, it took me far too much time to write it. And a tip, before go to Greece learn the Greek Alphabet, it will seem you very useful. Wish you the best and have great time in Greece
PetrosB3 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 11:54 PM
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Enjoy your Assumption Day holiday, Petros!

Those are some really great suggestions from Petros. Now you need to find three islands that are practical to visit together in one trip. Even Syros, Sifnos, and Santorini, which are all in the Cyclades, are on three different ferry routes.

Now let's get down to practicalities: June 11th and 19th would be mostly lost to travel, hotel check-in, etc, so you really have only June 12-18 for island hopping — that's 7 days. If you visit three islands you will lose another 2 days in transfers between them, and ferries don't always leave at the most convenient times. That leaves you only 5 full days to divide between three islands, and the last thing you want to do is pick three on different ferry routes.

If you want to visit Crete or any of the far-flung destinations mentioned by Petros, stick to just that one island (I'll bet Petros is spending his entire holiday on Lefkada, and there's nothing wrong with that). Otherwise, you may want to cut your islands down to two, and spend 3 full days on each. If you insist on visiting three islands, make sure they are convenient to each other. The classic island hopping trip is Mykonos > Naxos > Santorini. I know... that's what nearly everyone does, but it is the easiest option.
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Aug 15th, 2013, 02:05 AM
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I was glad to see Corfu mentioned here since there are few references to it on this board. I'm thinking (once again) of a holiday to Greece and wanted to visit one island and was thinking of Corfu. Then one of my co-workers tried to put me off the idea of Corfu. Corfu seemed the most logical if choosing one island for two days and it has captured my interest for some time.
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Aug 15th, 2013, 02:31 AM
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adrienne

Corfu is a very beautiful island, full of history and with a unique city, that is a Unesco World Heritage city.

Unlike the Cyclades which most people have in mind, when they think of Greek islands, Corfu is a very green island with a strong Venetian influence. ( even in the language of the locals)

Even though it seems to be lesser known to Americans, Corfu is one of the first islands that started receiving foreign visitors, and it is a popular destination in the UK and Italy.

Corfu is also famous for it's Easter celebrations...
In any case should you decide to visit it, stay away from Cavos, at the far South of the island, which is a party place for young Brits
clausar is online now  
Aug 15th, 2013, 03:16 AM
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Hi Adrienne,

Corfu is a very popular destination for Europeans, who can get direct flights to the island from airports in their home country. Most stay on that one island for their entire holiday. Go to the rival travel website Trip Advisor, and you will see an entire forum devoted to just Corfu, and even sub-forums for different parts of that island.

Fodor's posters seem to be mainly from North America and Australia, and all but a few arrive in Greece at Athens Airport. From Athens you can fly to any Greek island with an airport in less than an hour. Looking through the various Fodor's posts, most travellers who come to Greece from outside Europe want to visit more than one island, and the Cyclades and Dodecanese have the best inter-island ferry services. Go to the Ionians, Sporades, or NE Aegean and you will find island-hopping more difficult. That, I feel, is why most Fodor's posters end up in the Cyclades.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 15th, 2013, 03:21 AM
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With what I'm planning I don't have time for the Cyclades as I'd want to see more than one island and it takes lots of time to see all the islands I want to visit. For this trip I was thinking of flying to Athens, flight to Corfu, return to Athens for 4 days and 3 days for Delphi and Meteora. I'll post a separate thread with more firm plans. It all depends on the budget which is minimal right now. I will check TA for other info.

suehoff - sorry to hijack your thread but I got so excited to see something about Corfu!
adrienne is offline  
Aug 15th, 2013, 03:42 AM
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Adrienne, that sounds like an interesting holiday, and Corfu would fit well with your plan to visit Meteora. Rather than returning to Athens after Corfu, why not take the ferry to the mainland (Igoumentisa), then make your way by road to Meteora. That would be a much shorter road trip than going to Meteora from Athens. Then you can make your way down to Delphi and back to Athens.

Comments, clausar?
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 15th, 2013, 04:25 AM
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Heimdall that is an excellent idea.
The whole region between Igoumenitsa and Meteora is one of the nicest of Greece with high mountains and beautiful mountain villages . Highlights on the way to Meteora are the oracle of Dodoni, the city of Ioannina, located on the Pamvotis lake and the village of Metsovo.

There is a KTEL bus between Corfu and Trikala, even though it runs twice per week, from what i saw on their website.
From Trikala you can reach Athens again with a KTEL bus.
KTEL is a private coach company with an extended network, covering even the most remote village of Greece

If you would rent a car the itinerary could look like this :

Athens - Meteora - Ioannina - Corfu - Delphi - Athens

However i am not sure 6 days would be enough, since that would require a lot of driving...
clausar is online now  
Aug 15th, 2013, 04:28 AM
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Forgot to add, that if you take a bus, you will have to go to the city of Trikala first and change to a local bus to Kalambaka, where Meteora is located.
clausar is online now  
Aug 15th, 2013, 06:13 AM
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I'm going to start another thread as I feel guilty co-opting suehoff's questions and the responses here are very interesting.
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