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First time to Greece - Summer 2019

Old Jan 24th, 2019, 05:49 AM
  #1  
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First time to Greece - Summer 2019

Hello all -
I'll be traveling with my 20 y/o son this summer to Greece and am feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the options! We'll have 10 - 12 days and would like to see Athens and a couple of islands. I'm not a great sailor, but can probably deal with boats/ferries/ships for a couple of hours in terms of traveling from place to place. My son's idea of an ideal vacation is eating and hanging out, while I'm more inclined to visit areas where I can walk/run and take pictures. And day drink! I do not want to be constantly traveling from place to place and prefer to spend 3 nights or so at a minimum in each of my destinations. Of course, budget is a consideration but we're generally adept at keeping expenses down by booking accommodations with a kitchen for breakfast and quick meals, as necessary. Ideas and suggestions would be most welcomed. Thanks!
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Old Jan 24th, 2019, 05:56 AM
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May be you will have a look at https://www.greeka.com/greek-islands-guides.htm
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Old Jan 24th, 2019, 07:42 AM
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You are not alone - I am working on my second trip to Greece and I find the planning less enjoyable than other trips where we could take a train - reliable schedules published way in advance. The trip we took several years ago we combined Istanbul and then Naxos. We took the ferry (5 hours) from Athens (Pireaus) to Naxos and stayed 5 nights. I think it would have been easy to add another island in that area to the trip (Paros). Obviously some islands you can fly to, including Naxos now, but space can be limited - plan ahead!

We loved Naxos and there were many hikers there. This time I am thinking of a Aegina and Rhodes combo - ferry to Aegina, back to Athens, fly to Rhodes. I am hoping there is frequent flight service to Rhodes (anyone want to advise?) because I think it will be later this spring before we can finalize (hoping to go late August / early Sept.)

Another good site for help is Matt Barrett's Greece. I find the amount of choice a bit overwhelming and the connections a bit complicated. I have planned many trips to other parts of Europe and loved Greece but still sometimes I get a bit discouraged.
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Old Jan 24th, 2019, 09:04 AM
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There are numerous Greek islands to go to but beware that summer will find most islands filled with tourists and the Big Name Islands even more so. Prices for accommodations will also be higher. If budget is factor you may want to consider some of the lesser traveled islands.

You'll want to combine islands that are on the same ferry line. You may want to consider flying to an island if there is an airport and ferry to the next such as flying to Astypalea and ferry to Amorgos then ferry back to Athens. Worked like a charm for me.

These are the islands I've combined in the past:

Sifnos/Milos (ferry)
Astypalea /Amorgos (fly & ferry)
Tinos/Andros (ferry)

My favorite combination was Astypalea/Amorgos.

Two Island combinations I've considered are: Aegina/Agistri, very close to Athens making it easy to get to and from the mainland via ferry.

Most of the times I've stayed at one island, especially the larger ones like Chios, Ikaria or Naxos for my entire island stay.

Lots of combinations out there and I'm sure you'll get more recommendations.
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Old Jan 24th, 2019, 06:16 PM
  #5  
kja
 
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You have such a wealth of opportunities that it's hard to comment! But, FWIW, if you haven't seen my trip report, you might find some useful information in my trip report. My island stops (Crete, Santorini, Naxos, Delos) are near the start; my time in Athens is at the end. I think Naxos might be of particular interest to you.
With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece

Last edited by kja; Jan 24th, 2019 at 06:29 PM.
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Old Jan 25th, 2019, 03:54 AM
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Are you willing to fly as well as take ferry rides? If so, one combo that is often suggested here (for good reason, and it's what I did my first trip to Greece) is Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Piraeus (Athens). You want wherever you are flying home from to be your last destination so you don't need to stay twice and so you don't risk missing a flight due to a ferry cancellation for bad weather (which is fairly rare, but can happen even in summer). Also look into flying home from Santorini which has connections to many major European cities.



With 12 days I'd split the time equally so 3 nights each. More time is always better but that's enough to get a taste of each. When planning my first trip I was almost talked out of dropping one of those in favor of more time in the others but I'm very glad I did them all. I didn't feel rushed.


Another combo that I've done is Santorini-Folegandros-Milos-Sifnos (then to Athens, I went back to Santoroini to fly out, but Athens is actually closer). Folegandros and Sifnos are small and could be done in 2 days each.


My trip reports - From Santorini to the Peloponnese - Isabel's photos and trip report


Greek Island Trip Report: Santorini, Folegandros, Milos and Sifnos in July


Photos - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f320347206
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Old Jan 25th, 2019, 07:39 AM
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Thank you - this is definitely going to be helpful!
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Old Jan 25th, 2019, 07:40 AM
  #8  
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Someone else just mentioned Naxos to me this morning. It sounds perfect!
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Old Jan 28th, 2019, 06:56 AM
  #9  
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I feel like the trip is starting to take shape. I'll probably fly in and out of Athens which means we can either build a day or two on either end of the trip. I think I'd like to visit to other islands where I can book accommodations for 3 or 4 nights and take day trips to nearby islands, if we wish. I do not want to be on a ferry for more than a couple of hours when we travel between islands. I don't really do sailing/boats very well. So - which two islands would you suggest that are in proximity to Athens, have great beaches/hiking/running and are scenic and chill?
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Old Jan 28th, 2019, 09:37 AM
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Santorini and Naxos are only two hours apart by Blue Star, a large conventional ferry. Paros is another hour from Naxos, so makes a good combination for people who don’t like long ferry rides. There are day trips from both in small excursion boats to other islands. Paros has another island, Antiparos, only 7 (yes, seven) minutes minutes away. All except Antiparos have airports with flights from/to Athens.
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Old Jan 28th, 2019, 02:39 PM
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I just returned from Greece in November and always love it there! My first trip years ago was with my then-8 year old daughter and this last time I went with my brother. We thoroughly enjoyed it (I have yet to write my trip report!) and stayed in Athens. I would recommend taking a 3 or 4 day cruise on the Celestyal Cruise Lines to see the islands. Their port is in Piraeus in Athens and I was told by my Athens friend that these local cruise lines are recommended because it saves you from having to take lots of individual ferry boat rides back and forth. As I have taken both the 3 and 4 day cruises, I couldn't agree more on the convenience! https://americas.celestyalcruises.com/en/cruises?day=3 The 3 day cruise takes you to Mykonos, Ephesus/Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos, Heraklion (Crete), Santorini & back to Piraeus; while the 4 day cruise adds in Rhodes. Your boat accommodation is reasonable and all meals included. The distances between the islands were just a few hours cruising, some longer. The shore excursions aren't overwhelming, there is walking but you get interesting guides explaining the historical / political significance of each place.

In Athens, we stayed in the Plaka area near Syntagma Square at the Adrian Hotel, 74, Adrianou Street. It's a small, B&B type property with free continental breakfast on a terrace with views to the Acropolis. The location was terrific and very central and walk-able to all the area sites (Parthenon, Temple of Zeus, Hadrian's Library, the Agora, etc). Upon our return from the cruise, we stayed at the Electra Metropolis Athens at 15 Mitropoleos Street, also centrally located near Syntagma Square. It is a fabulous, modern property with an equally stunning rooftop restaurant with amazing views overlooking Athens and the Acropolis (free breakfast also included). While in Athens, we did the Athens Walking Tour which started at Syntagma Square in the Metro station, included Athens City area, the Roman and Greek Agoras (ancient market area), Hadrian's Arch, Library, etc and the Acropolis, ending at the Acropolis Museum. After seeing the magnificent Acropolis, the museum is really nice to fill in the gaps where many of the artifacts were taken to. We also went across town and took the funiculare (lift) up to the top of Mount Lycabettus. Some locals told us about it and I am so glad we went! I am sure you and your son would enjoy it. Once at the top, you can around and see amazing views of Athens, all the way to the sea. Seeing the Acropolis from that perspective was amazing because it is at a higher elevation than the Acropolis. There's a small church up there and a cute cliff side terrace with nice lunch options served with a view!Later that afternoon, we walked from there over to the original Panathenaic Stadium built for the 1896 modern-day Olympic games. It's an impressive site in the middle of bustling Athens. We did not have a rental car so we walked around everywhere and took buses in Athens the entire time. On another day we took a local company car hire/tour that took us to the more outlying areas outside of Athens: Corinth Canal, ancient Corinth, Mycenae, Nafplion, Epidaurus – all day tour was 10 hours with an 8 am pick up from hotel,returning approximately 6:30 pm. Cost of tour driver was 250€ + small entrance fees to various sites (Ancient Corinth, Mycenae, The Theater of Epidaurus). I could go on and on, but I will save that for my trip report! I am sure you and your son will have a great time!
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Old Jan 28th, 2019, 03:59 PM
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kja
 
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You might check whether it is possible to fly on to an island upon arriving in Athens, just to avoid two separate stays there. If you are flying any distance to reach Athens, you'll be tired, but you'll be tired whether you move on or not! Personally, I like pushing on and knowing that I can really relax once I do get to my destination. But maybe that won't work for you....
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Old Feb 5th, 2019, 06:06 AM
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Bought my plane tickets this morning, so things are getting real! We arrive in Athens on a Thursday morning in June. I'm planning to stay two nights in Athens and then head to Naxos for 5 nights followed by (I think) Paros for 4 or 5 nights. We'll finish in Athens with one or two nights before flying home. It just seems that we can do some cool day trips from these two islands, while also having the option to immerse ourselves in their culture. Does this sound reasonable? I'd like to see either Mykonos and/or Santorini but don't feel that I need to stay on either of those more touristy/trendy (?) places.
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Old Feb 5th, 2019, 06:34 AM
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Yes, that's a good itinerary. You can do day trips from either Naxos or Paros on one of two excursion boats, Naxos Star and Alexander. You spend less time bobbing around at sea from Paros, because the excursion boats pick up passengers at Naxos first and drop them off last.

Try to get over to Antiparos when you are on Paros, and stay in the evening to watch the sunset (just as good as Santorini and no crowds), then have dinner in one of the tavernas on the pedestrian main street or along the harbour. Ferries back to Pounta on Paros leave until after midnight.

You can also do an island boat trip from either Pounta Port on Paros or Antiparos itself. The trips go to the sea caves, stop at remote beaches, and include a bbq lunch: Captain Ben Antiparos Lazy Day ? Daily cruises from Antiparos and Paros Greece ? Boat trip arround the island
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Old Feb 6th, 2019, 05:02 AM
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Awesome information! Thank you.
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Old Feb 6th, 2019, 03:31 PM
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We will be staying on Paros for 3 nights. Has anyone rented moped or taken an island tour on mopeds? Have 6 young adults with us (17-27)and they want to take a tour upon arriving so they know where to go.
also any suggestions for “local””mom and pop” dining?
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Old Feb 6th, 2019, 11:45 PM
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Hi KOKIAS7,

The bus system on Paros is excellent, so were it me I would encourage the young adults to use it rather than renting scooters. The routes are the same year-round, and during the summer buses run frequently. Off-season the timetables are reduced.

If if you do want to rent vehicles, Greek law requires anyone without a driver’s license issued by an EU country to have an International Driving Permit (IDP), and that includes mopeds and scooters. Make sure you have good travel medical insurance for everyone.

There are are lots of family-run tavernas offering tasty and inexpensive Greek food. Walk around wherever you are staying and find a spare table. With a large party the waiters are usually happy to move tables together.

The practice in Greece is to order several starters to share around the table, just as you do at home. With enough starters you may be full before the main course you ordered arrives.

Last edited by Heimdall; Feb 6th, 2019 at 11:59 PM.
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Old Mar 25th, 2019, 02:07 PM
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Thank you for your question and all those who responde :-). Fodorites are the best++

I am finally going on my dream destination trip for 12 days at the end of April-beginning of May.. It is no where near long enough for what I had hoped but i am glad I am finally going! I've taken all your comments to nylilly and am going to use them as a starting point. Until I read this I would have completely skipped Santorini based on what I have heard (over run by tourists mainly) but am now going to do some research into it.

You guys always come through! Thank you!
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