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Greece - 8 days - Recommendations please!

Greece - 8 days - Recommendations please!

Aug 2nd, 2017, 09:34 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2017
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Greece - 8 days - Recommendations please!

Hello,
I'm surprising my husband of almost 3 years with a birthday trip to Greece for 8 days - Sept 20 -27 (exclusive of flights). Never having been, I'd appreciate suggestions on how to allocate the time. We are mid-late 50's, active with no health restrictions. Interests:
- Athens
- 1 or 2 islands (suggestions have been Naxos, Mykonos, Santorini)
- suggestions for great places to eat/drink (not necessarily $$$, but views/good food)
- a boat tour
- where to catch a great sunset and sunrise (not necessarily the same place?)
Travelling from Canada, I hear of ferries as a mode of travel. Do I need to book these in advance, and if so, where can I find this type of information?
Thanks in advance for your help!
OneCanadian is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2017, 10:18 AM
  #2  
 
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No interest in Athens or the mainland? You will certainly need to allocate a day or two in Athens at the end of the trip to insure you don't miss your flight home. You won't need to book ferries, but will need to book flights. To get a running start on your holiday I recommend flying straight out to the island of your choice with a connecting flight as soon as you arrive in Athens.

Every Greek Island is less than an hour's flying time from Athens, so that opens up lots of possibilities, including Rhodes and Crete. Nearly everyone on this board seems to think first of the Cyclades Islands, and that would work too. Fly straight to Santorini for a few days, then move on by ferry to Naxos. From Naxos you can either take a ferry back to Athens (5 hrs) or fly from its small airport. There are lots of other islands in the Cyclades, so I am just giving you an example.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2017, 11:09 AM
  #3  
 
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Heimdall, first on her list was Athens. Other than that I agree with everything u say.
travelerjan is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2017, 11:50 AM
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Oops! You are right, TJ.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2017, 12:33 PM
  #5  
 
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Athens deserves 3 days minimum to fully experience and enjoy. Most people leave it for the end of the trip to ensure getting back to the airport in case of delays, strikes, etc.

If you can manage it go straight to a destination of arrival at the airport. It may be a bit exhausting but you'll end up Doing Athens twice.

Lots of recommendations for islands or the mainland:

Islands:
Sifnos
Milos
Naxos
Amorgos
Tinos
Chios
Skyros

and lots more. Depends on what you want for a Greek Island, over-the-top tourism or more laid back and tradition. September will be off-season so most islands will be quieter but the Big Name ones still can get crowded. Some can be combined but others can't.

If you do three days in Athens that leaves 5 somewhere else.

Maybe just one destination would be better rather than wasting time island hopping, especially with just 5 days left.

Nafplio in the Peloponesse is just 2+ hours away by bus/car and is one of Greece's loveliest towns and is a great base for exploring world-class archeological sites plus possibly a day cruise to Hydra/Spetses.

Lots of options, too many to say depending on interests, budget, how much stress you can deal with getting from point a to point b, etc.

Some islands have airports which make it very easy, others can get to only by ferry.

Check out Matt's Greek Guide for Athens & Islands:

http://www.athensguide.com/

http://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/
crazyh is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2017, 12:50 PM
  #6  
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Thank you everyone for your quick replies to-date! I will go read up on the guides crazyh provided links to. We are pretty laid back and non-stressing, and not great interest in over-the-top tourism. Love to explore, look around, and feel the place, vs doing the more cookie-cutter stuff, if that makes sense. I'll read up, and keep checking here, and will probably come back with more questions. Thanks again!
OneCanadian is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2017, 10:29 AM
  #7  
 
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Have you booked your flights yet? If you are flying Air Canada Rouge you will arrive in Athens by about 10:30 in the morning. If you are flying Treansatlantic to a European hub then on to Athens then you will be arriving sometime after 4pm to 6pm. Out advice may differ depending on when you arrive.

Most of us would suggest you get out to your first Island immediately on arrival in Athens. Leave Athens tot eh end of the trip so you are close to the airport for your return flight. We recommend this because Athens is hot dusty and chaotic and foreign. First tiem visitors can be overwhelmed by it. After a few days on the island and fully over jet lag Athens is much easier to experience as you are acclimatized to Greece.


As already pointed out you have several options that would suit your wants. Nafplio and the Peloponnese would be a wonderful ancient site experience. Perhaps throw in Delphi as well. The problem with this is a car is your best way to get around and you simply done,t want to be driving jet lagged so that may not be a good plan.

Whatever time your flight arrives there will be flights to Chania Crete. There is simply nothing like Chania in Canada. Its old city takes you right back into the 1400's as does its Venetian harbour. There is lots to do in and around Chania as it is a perfect base for day trips. You can do your 5 nights there very comfortably.

Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632115757899/
Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106
Chania http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632117917828/
Chania May 2016 https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...57671465596275


Then fly back to Athens for your last 3 nights.
Athens http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632121475515/

Or as Heimdall suggested you could look at the Cyclades islands. While Santorini is heavily promoted and can be very busy and expensive the views make it all worthwhile. Three days in Santorini is all my budget can take then we hop to another island. Normally that is Naxos but nearby Paros is very nice as well. Both will give you an authentic Greek experience which make them good companion islands wiht Santorini and they both will give your budget a break as they are half the price from Santorini.

The deciding factor might be can you get a flight back to Athens. Naxos is often sold out however they are now using larger aircraft from Paros so you might still have a chance to get a flight back to Athens.
Santorini http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632154800782/
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7634605629689/


While ferry travel is certain the norm on a short trip like this that 5 hour ferry ride is a huge use of time that is better used at your next destination.
stanbr is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2017, 10:43 AM
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stanbr - Did you have a car to explore Crete from Chaina? I looked at your pictures - lovely! Is there a beach near Chaina? or did you take a boat trip out to a beach? We actually stopped in Chaina as a port stop when on a cruise but I am thinking we might like to return there for an extended visit. Thanks! Sue
suec1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2017, 10:53 AM
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follow up - do ferries depart from Chania to any other islands?
suec1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2017, 11:09 AM
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I think Crete, and in particular Chania, would be an excellent choice for a one island trip. You could, of course, combine that with a couple of nights on Santorini, but that would mean travelling to Heraklion where the ferries depart. There are ferries from Rethymnon (closer to Chania) on Tuesdays and Saturdays if that fits your schedule.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2017, 11:44 AM
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We visited Athens a few years ago (our daughter and her family were living there for 3 months) and you can pretty much see everything in Athens in a few days - so as a tourist I would spend the rest of the time on some of the islands. We toured the Peloponnese (Mt. Olympus, and numerous other archeological sites but it is very large and spread out so we spent a lot of time driving in the car.

I would recommend staying on some of the more popular islands such as Crete or Santorini. But, because of daughter & family lived on an island one hour by ferry from the Port of Athens we had an opportunity to stay in Hydra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYxbEHrcU8g
nanabee is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2017, 02:56 PM
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suec1. We have rented a car for our first two stays in Chania. It gave us flexability to do day trips to some of the nearby sites like Aptera, Balso Gramovossa, Rethymnon to see the Fortezza, Falasarna Beach and Elafonissi beach.

On our two subsequent trips we just used the local bus KTEL. Fares are inexpensive the buses are modern and frequent and go to everywhere I mentioned plus the Lydian sea villages which are spectacular.

Ferry trip Libyan Sea https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...57653434073393
Crete Libyan Sea villages https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...7645487373222/

The only place you need a car is Aptera although a taxi drop off an pick up works as well.

Yes there is a beach in Chania. Its to the west of the harbour about a 13 minute stroll along the seashore. Its a good beach with a fishing village.
About 4km west is a string of resort beaches. Not my cup of tea but there is frequent bus transportation.
Here is west Crete.
Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632115757899/
Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106
stanbr is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2017, 11:48 PM
  #13  
 
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Suec1, When writing my last post I didn't see your question: "do ferries depart from Chania to any other islands?"

Ferries go only to Piraeus from Chania.

Twice a week (Tue & Sat) during summer there are catamarans from Rethymnon, near Chania, to Santorini. Otherwise you will have to go to Heraklion, which has daily ferry service to Santorini during summer, and a ferry that stops there a couple of times per week on a long multi-island route between Piraeus and Rhodes.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 4th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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I would recommend spending a night or so in Meteora. Like nothing else you will ever see!
joannyc is offline  
Aug 4th, 2017, 05:50 PM
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joannyc, perhaps you did not see that she only has 8 days and wants to see a lot of islands. Meteora doesn't make any sense for her, time-wise.
travelerjan is offline  
Aug 4th, 2017, 05:58 PM
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Travelerjan, OP does not state she wants to see "a lot of islands".

Why don't you let her decide where she wants to go?
joannyc is offline  
Aug 21st, 2017, 09:51 AM
  #17  
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Hello everyone, thank you again for your thoughtful responses.

Given our short time, I've narrowed this trip to three places: Athens, Naxos, and Santorini. Unfortunately, with the cheap flights I booked to get us over there I don't have a good option for going straight out to an island so we will start with Athens and brace ourselves for the adventure.

I'm thinking flight Athens-Naxos; ferry Naxos-Santorini (only choice I believe) and then flight again Santorini-Athens, although considering ferry here as well. I'm going to book airbnb for our stays. Questions now, please:

- would there be strong recommendations for ferry over flight Santorini - Athens?
- can you recommend restaurants where the food is great (not necessarily expensive and definitely true greek!) in each place that we should not miss?
- do I need book reservations ahead of time given our travel time towards the end of September?
- in particular, can you recommend a wonderful restaurant in Santorini - with "those views" for dinner, as we'll be there for our 3rd wedding anniversary and I want to make the evening special.

Thank you again!
OneCanadian is offline  
Aug 21st, 2017, 10:37 AM
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Strongly recommend a flight from Santorini back to Athens for two reasons:

1) The best ferry, Blue Star, takes 8 hours for the trip. There are faster ferries (maybe 5-6 hrs), but some highspeeds are very cramped and unpleasant in rough seas.

2) If you are starting with Athens first, you will need the most dependable means of transportation to get you back for the flight home, and that means a flight from Santorini. While ferries are also dependable, they are occasionally affected by bad weather, especially the fast ferries which are much smaller than Blue Star. Also, and I don't want to make too much of this, there are almost always one or two mariners' strikes in September when ferries can be stopped for two days or more.

You would be very unlucky to be affected by weather or a mariners' strike, but still, it could happen. That's why we always recommend saving Athens for last.
Heimdall is offline  
Aug 21st, 2017, 11:36 AM
  #19  
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Thank you, Heirndall. I would like to do Athens last, but given we don't land until 9pm on the Wednesday night I don't think I can get a flight out to an island that late. I do wish it were otherwise. Lesson learned for the next time we are back.
OneCanadian is offline  
Aug 21st, 2017, 04:51 PM
  #20  
kja
 
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I’d go for the flight from Santorini to Athens, because after an hour or two, I admit finding it boring to be on a ferry. YMMV.

For a restaurant in Athens, you might consider Kuzina. Reserve in advance, and ask for a table with a view of the Temple of Hephaestus. And consider the dumplings – awesome!
http://www.kuzina.gr

Other restaurants you might consider in Athens = GH Attikos (with its view of the Acropolis)
http://www.ghattikos.gr/en/
And I enjoyed the food, service, and atmosphere at Athinaikon
http://athinaikon.gr/?lang=en

In Naxos, the stuffed calimari at Ammos Seafood were delicious
http://www.naxosrestaurants.com/ammos/english/

I just wrote a trip report about my time in Greece, including each of the locations you plan to visit. It’s long, but searchable; you might find some helpful information in it.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-greece.cfm
kja is offline  

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