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-   -   GREECE EXPERTS PLEASE HELP (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/greece-experts-please-help-657107/)

seeall Nov 5th, 2006 08:36 PM

GREECE EXPERTS PLEASE HELP
 
I just purchesed our tickets for March 29th coming back on April 8th at 6pm. We arrive in Athens at 12:55 am Saturday March 31. Our plan is to visit Athens(2days), Santorini(3), and Crete(3).We are travelling with our 2 sons, 16 and 17 years old and we all love to drive around small towns and villages, meet local people and explore nature and eat local foods at small cafes. We have travelled around the world with our sons and they are up to driving around, walking around, taking the overnight ferry, trains, and in general good sports. PLEASE let me know in which order would you do this trip and do you recommend Mikonos over Crete? I appreciate all your input. Thanks.

seeall Nov 5th, 2006 10:18 PM

Mykonos.sorry abouth the wrong spelling.

Heimdall Nov 6th, 2006 12:50 AM

Don't apologise for your spelling - transliteration of Greek into the Roman alphabet produces many variations in spelling, and 'Mikonos' is one of them. :-)

There are so many beautiful things to see on the Greek mainland, I don't understand the point in concentrating on the Greek Islands during their off season when most things are closed. Why not think about Delphi, Meteora, Nafplio, Olympia, etc? You can still rent a car, travel around small villages, etc without the worry of getting from one island to another.

Santorini and Mykonos are linked in the summer by highspeed catamaran, but in March and early April you will probably have to travel back to Athens or Piraeus to get from one to the other. The same may be true of the link between Santorini and Crete, but someone else will have to come back on that one.

BTW, Apr 6-9 is Easter weekend, so be sure to have your hotel and transport arrangements firmed up well in advance.

seeall Nov 6th, 2006 09:17 AM

Heimdall:
Thanks. Kids are pushing to see the Islands. Do you think the ferries and the airline will be running on Easter weekend? Even with some of the shops and cafes closed, is there enough going on(or it will be a ghost town) in Santorini and Crete?

Heimdall Nov 6th, 2006 10:22 AM

The ferries will definitely be running on Easter weekend, which is the time when many Greeks return home for the holidays. Easter is more important than Christmas in Greece, and you may have an opportunity to see some of those festivities.

What I suggest is that you plan to visit only one island rather than hopping from one to another. Santorini would be my choice of island, and you can get there either by air or ferry. Then spend the rest of your time between Athens and some of the places on the mainland I mentioned before. That would give you the chance to drive around into small villages, and meet the local people where they live year around.

During the winter Greeks travel between Athens and the islands, but rarely island hop in the sense that tourists do in the summer. Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos are each on different ferry routes. In summer they are linked by passenger-only ferries primarily for the tourists, but those small ships are mothballed at the end of Sep or Oct until the following spring. One of these is Flying Cat 4 which, you can see on http://www.ferries.gr/hfd/, started sailing on 14 Apr this year. There is an outside chance it will start earlier next year because of Greek Easter, but you won't know for sure until the ferry schedules are published next spring.

Heimdall Nov 6th, 2006 10:34 AM

BTW, I would have expected more replies to your post. Did you specify Greece when you posted on the Europe branch?

saltymuffin Nov 6th, 2006 11:00 AM

I have a trip planned to Greece for early May, and am doing Athens, Santorini and Nafplion. It seems much easier logistically than island hopping.

We plan on visiting Athens for a couple of days including a day trip to Delphi. Then we'll take the overnight ferry from Athens to Santorini. We will fly back to Athens a couple of days later, and head to Nafplion for a few days to explore that area.

We wanted to limit our car time, so will only have a car in Nafplion. But you could make a nice circuit Athens - Delphi - Olympia - Nafplion and back to Athens if you like driving.

thanos_GR Nov 6th, 2006 11:36 AM

Two more for you heimdall: myconos and mycono. Both used often here.

Mykonos at Easter time is busy and more restaurants/shops open but only for few days. Many hotels remain closed as people coming to the island are returningn to visit family homes.

I have to say that travelling at Easter time on Greek ferry system is difficult for peoples not used to that special time. The ferries/catamrans will be full of peoples. Greek peoples. Two years ago we had some friends from Canada who could not take ferry to Mykonos. I hate to think it true, but they felt ticket priority was given to Greeks, not visitors.

Mainland Greece is beautiful at this time of year and if your kids really want some islands to visit there are daily boat tours, winter and summer, from Athens to some Saronic islands like Aegina, Poros, Hydra

thanos

sheila Nov 6th, 2006 01:01 PM

I can't give you any guidance on the order of places, but I loved Easter on Crete, in Chania specifically

janaturner Nov 6th, 2006 02:05 PM

saltymuffin - we're doing almost the same trip as you but in late May! We'll be in Athens for a few days (boyfriend's family live there), then we'll rent a car to go to Nafplio and Monemvasia for 3-4 days, fly to Santorini (staying in Oia) for 5 nights and spend the last few days in Athens.

Sorry to hijack your thread seeall! I do agree with other posters though that it will be hard to island hop in March/April - especially with your limited time. Why not fly to Crete and spend the 6 days there? It's certainly large enough. Or fly to Santorini for 3 days and spend a few days in the Peleponnese like saltymuffin and I. :) I think the suggestion to look at the Saronic islands is a good one too. You could spend 4 days in Santorini and add the other extra days to Athens for day trips to Hydra, Aegina, Poros - or Delphi.

seeall Nov 6th, 2006 02:52 PM

Thank you all for your suggestions. What do you think about this plan:
arrive in Athens at 1:00 am go to our hotel in the center(any suggestions on AVA Hotel), explore the area all day and at night take a night ferry to Crete, rent a car and stay for 2 days in Chania. Fly to Santorini and stay for3 days.Fly or take a ferry back toAthens for our last 2 days. Is this doable? I don't mind paying for flights if it will make the plan work better. Also this is our 25th anniversary too so deep inside I want some Island romance here and there too!
Thank you again for all your suggestions.

Weadles Nov 6th, 2006 04:51 PM

I don't think there are any flights between Crete and Santorini. I'm pretty sure that you would have to fly back to Athens, then connect on another plane back to Santorini.

seeall Nov 6th, 2006 05:53 PM

Heimdall:
I did post under Greece. Thanks for your detailed info. I e-mailed all the ferry companies listed for the Islands to see if they are available for that time we are there. I AM A BIT NERVOUS ABOUT THIS.

GBC Nov 6th, 2006 06:28 PM

I'm wondering if this will work and provide better travel connections. Arrive Athens and proceed on to Crete by air. Stay three days and four nights on Crete. Ferry to Santorini for three nights. Ferry or fly to Athens for one night which would be April 7. Explore Athens during the day of April 8 and fly home at 6pm.

In any case I would omit Mykonos. We have traveled the Greek ferry system over the Easter holiday. It can be done but you must buy your tickets far, far in advance. As has been noted, the ferry will be full of Greek families on holiday.

Do NOT try to travel from anywhere INTO Athens on April 8. The congestion is extremely bad. Traffic is quite possibly at a standstill for hours.

seeall Nov 6th, 2006 09:18 PM

GBC:
Thank you. I think this is a smart way to plan it but may be be in Athens for 2 nights at the end. Have you ever bought airline tickets online from the
their main Airline? is it reliable? I mean, can I count on a sit that I reserved.Thanks for all your suggestions.

Heimdall Nov 7th, 2006 12:33 AM

Seeall,

I'm glad you are getting more responses so you will have a range of opinions.

First of all, I agree that two days in Athens at the end of your trip would be the best plan.

You can, indeed book flight tickets online at http://www.olympicairlines.com/ or http://www.aegeanair.com/aegeanen/home/. A flight from Crete to Santorini would involve flying back to Athens and waiting for a connecting flight to Santorini. Do you really want to spend so much time at Athens Airport?

GBCs recommendation to ferry from Crete to Santorini may not be possible that early in the year. The Flying Cat 4 didn't sail until Apr 14th this year, and I couldn't find any other ferries on www.gtp.gr that sail the route during what is still the winter season.

Bear in mind that the Greek islands are at their best in May-Jun and Sep. Most people visit for the beaches, but you are unlikely to have sunbathing weather that early in the year. Temperatures will most likely be in the 50s and 60s. The Greek mainland is good year-round, and in Mar-Apr you would have a chance to see the major attractions without heat and crowds.





seeall Nov 7th, 2006 09:03 AM

Heimdall:
Thanks. As long as the weather is not too cold, we will be o.k. We live by the beach in California and our boys are still going to the beach in Nov. So it is o.k. if it still is cold to swim when we get there. I am just concern that there is enough life and activity for the boys to be happy. All the ferry co. I e-mailed have sent the same response to me that I just have to wait till the schedule is out for next year.Many thanks for all your suggestions.


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