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Best Greek Island for Family in Late April

Best Greek Island for Family in Late April

Old Mar 12th, 2019, 02:14 PM
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Best Greek Island for Family in Late April

I'll be going to Greece with my husband and two boys (4 & 9) in late April and I am struggling with the second half of our itinerary. We arrive Athens on the afternoon of April 25 and plan to stay for three nights, then head to an island for three nights, then return to Athens the night before our return flight to Chicago on May 2.

I'm struggling with which island to go to and would very much appreciate your thoughts. Here's what we like:
- beautiful old towns to use as a home base with lots of good food and pretty views and a sense of history
- archaeologic ruins or some old castle that can serve as a destination one day.
- beach for play on (I know the water will be too cold for swimming, but we spend lots of time in Maine where the water is very cold and like the idea of being able to play on the beach, even if we're not swimming)
- beautiful scenery to take shortish walks (we do have four year old)
- we prefer not to rent a car. We don't mind driving, but our little one LOVES transit and we take trains and buses at home in Chicago just for fun. Taking a Greek bus around an island would be a real plus for him
- reasonable length ferry ride from Peraeus since we'll be on the island such a relatively short time
- my kids are easy going and don't need dedicated "kid" activities. The nine year old will be into the history, and the four year old will just love all being together as long as we don't try to pack too much into a day and have plenty of time to just run around and enjoy wherever we happen to be. That said, the peacocks I read about on one island, a day or half-day charter boat ride around an island, and a nature preserve for rescued animals, etc. would all be interesting and appealing to them.

I was originally planning this trip to go to Crete instead of Athens-and-an-island because it seemed to fit all of these items, but the air travel involved 2 stops no matter how I researched it, so we're saving Crete for a future visit.

Someone on the forum recommended Aegina, which seems to hit a lot of the desires above but I'm wondering how charming Aegina Town is? I had also considered visiting Nafplio instead of going to an island, but the idea of hopping a ferry keeps tugging at me as a lovely way to travel and arrive in a place. (We also considered going to Athens, Nafplio AND an island, but I realized with our limited time we would much rather settle into two places.) Finally, I considered Hydra since Rick Steves recommends it so highly, but it doesn't seem as interesting as Aegina and the main town doesn't sound any more charming. (I do know it doesn't have buses, but I think donkies would more than make up for that.)

I would love your recommendations on which island we should go to and, most important, why.

And before you ask, I also am considering putting all of Athens at the end of our trip so that we don't have to change hotels again the night before we leave, but there's something very appealing about ending our trip slowing down on an island, rather than with the sightseeing of a big city.

Wooh. Lots of detail. Thank you so much for your ideas and opinions.


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Old Mar 12th, 2019, 03:41 PM
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Have you checked the calendar? Have you read anything about Greece, their religion, their holidays? Their biggest and most important holiday of entire year -- EASTER -- is April 28 (I know I know, you think Easter is April 21, but now you are in the ORthodox world!!)... THerefore many things will be closed on Orthodox Good Friday, also closed or limited hours on Saturday, And of Course Sunday, NOTHING but Easter is going on, including ferries & planes -- So unless you want to confront a big city where everything important is closed, you had better switch your itinerary around... don't have time here to help with this, just to say get on it, & best wishes!
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Old Mar 13th, 2019, 12:32 AM
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Good point from travelerjan, especially about travel on Easter Sunday. Another point to consider is that ferries coming back to Athens will be very crowded just after the Easter weekend, which includes Easter Monday.

You will find things to do, even if it's just walking around seeing the sights. You may enjoy the Easter rituals in Greece, including the candlelight procession through the streets on Good Friday. The suggestions about one of the Saronic Gulf islands is a good one, because ferry rides are short. Were you to go to Paros or Naxos, for example, it would take 4-5 hours each way by ferry.

You mentioned Nafplio as a possibility. That would make a good base, especially for the nearby archeological sites. Roads and express buses to Nafplio will also be busy over the Easter period. There are two small ports near Nafplio (Ermioni and Porto Heli) with very short ferry rides to Spetses and Hydra, much shorter than going from Athens/Piraeus.
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Old Mar 13th, 2019, 01:48 AM
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<<a nature preserve for rescued animals>> One of the things about Greece that you'll notice, is the number of abandoned/stray dogs and cats there are, so there are many rescue organisations, many run by non Greeks. So you will find many rescues all over Greece, unless the type of rescue you are referring to is for wild animals as I can't imagine a dog/cat rescue being appealing, once you see their conditions.

I personally would not take a donkey ride in Hydra, for the same reasons I would not take one on Santorini.
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Old Mar 13th, 2019, 02:52 AM
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I don't know if it's worth creating a separate thread, but I'd like to ask for a quick word of Greek advice - if you had to choose between exploring Corfu & Albania and the mainland with nearby islands. What would you go for? I heard rumors that Corfu is full of rubbish and overall not the best island. True or false?

My friends and I are thinking to visit Greece in July.
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Old Mar 13th, 2019, 03:10 AM
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Yes, I'd say start a separate thread. This one is about Athens and an island at Easter. In your new thread add some details about your interests.
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Old Mar 13th, 2019, 10:19 AM
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Ah, Easter! I'm blushing very red right now. I know it's an important holiday but, yes, forgot to consider the Orthodox calendar. That said, I think it might work out really well. It looks like the acropolis opens at noon on Good Friday, so we could still visit that, ferries do seem to run to Aegina on Easter, and getting to experience some of the Greek rituals around Easter would be an unexpected bonus.

And Odin, yes, I've read about nature preserves for wild animals, not cats and dogs. That would indeed be a tough visit.

Thank you for the great feedback!
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 08:59 PM
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Hi GG,
Maybe check out the island Folegandros? It makes a fantastic 1-2 punch with more touristy Santorini.
I am done. The end.
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 11:55 PM
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Zebec, what was Folegandros like when you were there in late April? I was there once in late May and some hotels and tavernas weren’t open even then.
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Old Mar 16th, 2019, 08:40 AM
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We've been to Folegandros during March and September. March meant that many establishments were closed, but that was absolutely part of the charm. Loved it then, a peak experience, which for many years we dubbed as the single best trip ever.
GG, Folegandros would offer: spectacular cliff scenery, genuine farming culture at one end, a public bus (?!) plus taxi, good restaurants, sandy cove beaches (prob. not for swimming in April) plus what many feel is the most picturesque Chora in that part of Greece. In the event that you wanted to go high end, one of Greece's best splurge hotels is on Folegandros, with peerless cliff views.
Endahksi!
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Old Mar 17th, 2019, 11:41 AM
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Thank you! I didn't even have Folegandros on my radar. So many wonderful places to go in this country -- I'm so excited for our trip.

Thank you!
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Old Mar 17th, 2019, 01:09 PM
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We have been to Folegandros twice and will go again this year. One trip in late April/early May was great.....many restaurants and businesses open, weather lovely (but we live on a beach so do not look for that on vacation). The only downside was that our favorite hotel (Anemomilos) was not open yet. This year we will go early June!
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Old Mar 18th, 2019, 03:02 AM
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Easter time travel in Greece might be a hectic chaos.
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Old Mar 19th, 2019, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Heimdall View Post
Yes, I'd say start a separate thread. This one is about Athens and an island at Easter. In your new thread add some details about your interests.
Guys, if you are willing to help out another traveler dreaming about Greece, would appreciate any replies here: First time in Greece. Corfu or Mainland?
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Old Mar 19th, 2019, 09:43 AM
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Mykonos and Santorini are always a good choice
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Old May 6th, 2019, 06:28 AM
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I wanted to thank everyone for their ideas and input on our trip! We got back last week from a wonderful trip. Literally everything exceeded my expectations.This isn't a trip report, but in case others find this conversation when researching, I wanted to share a few notes. We began our trip in Aegina (flew to Athens, bus to Piraeus, ferry to Aegina) then ended in Athens.

* Easter was a fantastic time to be in Greece. We were in Aegina and loved being out on the street on Friday night when the congregations from four different churches in town processed down the street with candles, singing and big flower floats. Then fireworks at midnight on Saturday, and just being part of the experience of lambs roasting, easter egg smashing and tasty food on Easter itself was a lot of fun. Aegina was packed with Greek visitors, so many restaurants were open on Easter and we had no problem finding places to eat, and despite the number of visitors (our AirBnB host said it was more crowded than it ever gets in the summer) we had no issues getting tickets or seats on the ferries we wanted on the Thursday before Easter or Monday after Easter. We knew sights would be closed on Easter and it was a wonderful excuse to just take a nice walk and play at the beach.

* Aegina was perfect for us.The main town was definitely charming, great restaurants, the temple was really fun and there was plenty for our family to do. It felt bustling without feeling touristy. At least, not American touristy. I think we saw five other Americans the entire time were were there. It felt like the vast majority people were there Greek visitors having a great time, and it was fun to be part of that. I haven't been to Santorini or Mykanos and would believe that they are more post-card perfect, but not having been to those, we were thrilled with Aegina. And being a close ferry ride with frequent departures to Athens, as well as being very non-American touristy, were huge pluses. Not to mention the temple.

Thanks to everyone for their input. It helped make our trip so much better.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 05:19 AM
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Glad you enjoyed your time on Aegina. It has been an island I have wanted to go to but every year I end up somewhere else in Greece. Your wonderful report now makes it even more inviting. I'll get there yet.

I haven't been to Santorini but it's not an island I plan on going to. I have been to Mykonos but just part of the Delos/Mykonos day cruise with Delos far more interesting for me than Mykonos.

Aegina sounds more like a Greek Island that would appeal to me.
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