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Feedback Requested on 2 wk Naxos-Santorini-Athens Itinerary for Family of 4

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Jun 8th, 2015, 07:51 AM
  #1
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Feedback Requested on 2 wk Naxos-Santorini-Athens Itinerary for Family of 4

I would appreciate some feedback on a tentative itinerary that I put together for our Greece vacation. My husband and I are planning a trip for two weeks next June/July 2016. Our two sons, who will be 11 and 13 years old next summer, will be with us. This will be our first time in Greece.

A little about ourselves: When we are on vacation, we like to relax, take our time at different sights, have leisurely-paced meals with high-quality, healthful foods (all 4 of us are foodies!), and over the years have realized that we enjoy accommodations in areas that are less touristy or crowded. We prefer smaller hotels, instead of big resorts. My sons and I are very much into history, so we are planning to view some of the ancient sites. I love architecture. I could also see myself spending hours just staring out to the caldera on Santorini, taking in all the colors and breathtaking views. My husband would really like to stay right on a beach for at least part of our vacation. Our family is adventurous, and we like to stay active on vacations by exploring, hiking, beach activities, but we must also have our downtime to read and lounge. We hope to experience a taste of Greek culture. When searching for an "authentic" restaurant, we would look for where the locals go and not a tourist hotspot. We only have 2 weeks, but we would still like to immerse ourselves into Greek culture, beauty, history, food, and traditions as much as possible - and do this at a relaxed pace, where we return to the US feeling refreshed and grateful that we were able to spend quality time together as a family; we dislike the feeling of needing to take a vacation from our vacation.

Tentative Itinerary
14 nights total
Naxos - 5 nights
Santorini - 5 nights
Athens - 4 nights

Day 1: Travel from US to Athens and fly straight to Naxos; Naxos (5 nights, 4 full days); Stay at
Medusa Resort & Spa on Plaka beach
Day 2: Naxos - beach day and explore Naxos town
Day 3: Naxos - Naxos bus tour to explore island; olive and cheese tastings??; check out marble
quarry??
Day 4: Naxos - Mount Zeus hike
Day 5: Naxos - beach
Day 6: Travel to Santorini via ferry; Santorini (5 nights, 4 full days); stay at Athermi Suites hotel in
Megalochori
Day 7: Santorini - Drive/bus to Fira and hike to Oia; watch sunset at Oia (realize lots of crowds)
Day 8: Santorini - Drive around island and explore Megalochori
Day 9: Santorini - Day trip to Nea Kameni volcano and Therassia
Day 10: Santorini - beach/pool day; soak in Caldera views
Day 11: Fly to Athens (4 nights, 3 full days); stay in Koukaki neighborhood at Herodion Hotel
Day 12: Athens - Acropolis; Acropolis Museum
Day 13: Athens - Food focus thru Monastiraki Square and the central city market, Varvakios
Agora; Benaki Museum?? (free on Thursdays)
Day 14: Athens - National Archeological Museum; Syntagma Square; lounge at hotel
Day 15: Travel back to USA

Questions:
1. Given my family description, does this itinerary make sense?
2. How far advance should I book flights and hotels?
3. Are Megalochori and Plaka too out of the way?
4. Should I rent a car on Santorini and/or Naxos, given where we are staying on the islands?
5. What two museums in Athens would you recommend? We plan to visit the Acropolis Museum, especially since it's 2 minutes from our planned hotel. Are both Benaki and National Archeological Museum recommended? I'm concerned that my boys (really, my husband) may be a little "museum-ed out", even though they could spend several hours easily at any one museum. Or should we plan on both Benaki and National Archeological museum and perhaps spend less time at each?

Would love feedback from experienced travelers to Greece! Thank you!
cvilletravel is offline  
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Jun 8th, 2015, 08:37 AM
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Looks good to me.

Having a car on Santorni would be a good idea since you're staying a fair distance from just about everything worth seeing on the island. If you don't live in the EU or UK be sure to bring an International Driving Permit with you. If you live in No. America pick them up at your local AAA/CAA office.
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Jun 8th, 2015, 09:07 AM
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We stayed in Oia but visited Meglachori which we liked. However, it is not near the views you mention nor is on a beach. You'll be driving a lot.
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Jun 8th, 2015, 09:38 AM
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Thanks for the feedback! I'll be sure to go to AAA before we leave. Athermi Suites hotel in Megalochori appears to have Caldera views; based on traveler photos and reviews, it appears to be right on the cliffs. Perhaps, the center of Megalochori is a walk or drive from the hotel....

We are trying to find a hotel that is within our budget of $250-300 USD per night. Many of the hotels I viewed in Oia are significantly over that price. We liked the decor and location of Mystique, but it looks like the rooms go for about $1000 USD per night. We were also concerned with the crowds in Oia and lack of privacy. I was thinking Megalochori would be a compromise - Caldera views, privacy, clean and nature-inspired decor, but with the need to drive more.

If I stay in Oia, I could easily see myself renting a car anyway to explore the rest of the island and find more traditional Greek life.

I am trying to gauge whether Megalochori would be too much of a compromise. Would I be making our visit terribly inconvenient? It seemed that Fira is only about a 10-15 minute drive. Is parking easy to find in Oia, Fira or Imergovigli, though?
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Jun 8th, 2015, 09:56 AM
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Yes, Athermi is technically in Megalochori but is indeed on the cliff and does have an excellent caldera view. There's just not a lot around it in terms of shops and restaurants.

Parking in Fira is hit/miss between June and September because of the increase in vehicle rental use. Be prepared to park further out than you might expect, and walk the rest of the way. You won't know until you're there.

There are still a few places in Oia that are on the cliff and still affordable. In Oia check Olympic Villas, Old Oia Houses, Villa Marina, Fotinos Houses, Thea Studios (be sure it's the one in Oia) and Aspa Villas. There is a public-access pool in Oia that compensates for the lack of one on-site. http://www.lioyerma.gr is free if you buy food and/or drinks.
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Jun 8th, 2015, 10:35 AM
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Brotherleelove - thank you for the suggestions in Oia. And for confirming that Athermi is on the cliff.

Would love if others could address some of my other questions in the original post!

1. How far advance should I book flights and hotels?
2. Is Plaka too out of the way or remote on Naxos?
3. Should I rent a car on Naxos, given where we we might stay on the island (Plaka)?
4. What two museums in Athens would you recommend? We plan to visit the Acropolis Museum, especially since it's 2 minutes from our planned hotel. Are both Benaki and National Archeological Museum recommended? I'm concerned that my boys (really, my husband) may be a little "museum-ed out", even though they could spend several hours easily at any one museum. Or should we plan on both Benaki and National Archeological museum and perhaps spend less time at each?

Thank you!
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Jun 8th, 2015, 11:10 AM
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Demand for flights and accomodations start early, so book as soon as affordable flights come available. If you go to Santorini first you can sign up for the Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air email newsletters and be informed when they release some of their deeply discounted promotional fares, several months in advance of your arrival. Also just keep checking their websites for updates and make trial bookings so you don't miss anything. The cheapo fares go quickly so you have to be on your toes to get them.

For many hotels you have to wait until after the first of the year to book, but you can use the filter system at http://www.booking.com to find what you want and for price comparisons.

Plaka Beach is convenient to Naxos Town and there is a frequent bus available.

Just wait until you're on Naxos to decide if you want to rent. There are plenty of cars available.

Visit all 3 museums on your list. They're well-worth it, especially the NAT.
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Jun 8th, 2015, 11:22 AM
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You may wonder why I suggested going to Santorini first. It's one of the islands for which those promo fares are offered. Flights in and out of Naxos are on smaller planes and promo fares are seldom-if ever-offered.
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Jun 8th, 2015, 01:03 PM
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Thank you Brotherleelove for all your tips. Good idea to sign up for email newsletters! I'll definitely hop on that. Will wait to rent a car on Naxos - if we find we need it. Depending on the prices of flights, I might stay with Naxos first. Since we'll be traveling from the US, I know that we'll be tired and will want to simply relax on a beach. That seems easier to do on Naxos than on Santorini. That'll give us some adjustment time. And by the time we reach Santorini, we may be more energized to explore more (for example, for the hike from Fira to Oia, which I understand is about 3 hours on a path). Also, I've read that the ferry ride from Naxos to Santorini is simply breathtaking as you arrive to port. Though, I imagine that it's the same route going from Santorini to Naxos, just perhaps less of a dramatic arrival on Naxos. I really appreciate all of your insight provided.
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Jun 8th, 2015, 01:10 PM
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Correction: I meant NAM, not NAT!! (don't ask!)
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Jun 9th, 2015, 08:06 PM
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Since there are 4 of you have you considered checking out airbnb ?? I have friends & family that have used them & are pleased. We have a reservation through them for an apt in The Plaka that has 2 teraces that look at The Acropolis
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Jun 9th, 2015, 08:22 PM
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You should see the Narional Archeological Museum with treasures from the country's sites. There are frescoes saved from Santorini.

The Acropolos Museum of course.
The Cycladic Museum is small and since you're heading to the Cyclades may be of interest.
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Jun 9th, 2015, 09:22 PM
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In your itinerary of Santorini, do you have Akrotiri Archaeological site? Megalochori is so close to Akrotiri. Also, if you like wine, Athermi Suites hotel is practically next door to the Boutari winery that you can even walk to it. They give English tours at selected times.

In Athens, I went to the Acropolis Museum just before heading out to the Acropolis. You see the original sculptures in the museum and replicas at the Acropolis. I went to the museum at the opening time. It is a very popular museum and gets very crowded.

Regarding National Archaeological Museum, if you visit other archaeological sites in Greece, what you read over and over is the phrase "The original is in the National Archaeological Museum!" So you have it. If you want to see the originals of key archaeological finds, you go to the NAM. This includes the well known fresco from Akrotiri like the "Boxing Boys."
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Jun 29th, 2015, 05:16 AM
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We were just on Naxos for 6 nights, and spent one very lovely day on Plaka beach. I think I would recommend renting a car for at least some of your trip though - we loved driving around to explore the inland. But I'm sure you can wait until you get there to decide, we had no trouble with last minute car rentals (we were on the islands in the middle of June).

Plaka is a short drive to town - out of the way, but definitely not too far. There were also a number of tavernas along the beach, and lots going on in Agia Anna and Agia Prokopios which are the two beaches just north of Plaka. Based on our day there, we thought it would have been a very nice place to stay.
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Jun 30th, 2015, 06:23 AM
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Checking back in and what a pleasure to read the additional posts! We will definitely plan to visit Akrotiri on Santorini. Great to hear that we will be so close to a winery if we stay at Athermi Suites. Looks like there is still plenty at Plaka on Naxos, so that if we want to grab a snack or bite to eat, we can do so and not have to drive in town. We definitely enjoy more secluded, off-the-beaten path locations, so I think our choosing Athermi Suites in Megalochori, Santorini and Plaka Beach on Naxos will help us stay away from major crowds.

In Athens, we plan to visit the National Archaeological Museum for sure based on everyone's recommendations.

It looks like the Koukaki neighborhood in Athens is less crowded and less touristy than the Plaka section in Athens. The Herodion Hotel looks like it is very close to the new Acropolis Museum. I'll check out Airbnb, too. Is Koukaki a section that experienced Athens travelers would recommend?
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Jun 30th, 2015, 06:38 AM
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Koukaki is just steps away from the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum.

There are two metro stations, Acropolis and Fix -Syngrou.
Herodion is a short walk from the Acropolis metro station ( red line). It is quite area, but with cafes and restaurants especially in the nearby pedestrianized Drakou street.

Koukaki is a residential area, which Plaka is not, even though it has permanent residents.
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Jun 30th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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Just returned from Naxos so didn't see your post until now.
Plaka is our favourite beach in Naxos and you will really enjoy it. Plaka beach has two different sections. The first is along the bus route. There is a string of hotels in every price range along with several tavernas. You will find dining and transportation easy on this section.

Medusa is beyond the bus route road and is a bit remote. You are definitely going to need a car to get around.

It looks like you plan to take the round the island bus tour. While we rent a car to explore Naxos we did cross paths with this tour last year and I was impressed by the knowledge of the tour guide. Also I can attest that the driver of the car really doesn't get to see much as one had to have your eyes on the road all the time so the bus tour allows everyone to experience the Naxos interior.
Here are images of Naxos
Plaka beach. This album is the area along the bus route. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...57655106193251
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632094558042/
A week in Naxos https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...7645113682278/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7634605629689/
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Jul 8th, 2015, 08:57 PM
  #18
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Thank you clausar and stanbr for your tips and feedback! I appreciate it!
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