Greece/Turkey/Croatia Itinerary

May 8th, 2012, 09:17 PM
  #1  
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Greece/Turkey/Croatia Itinerary

We are in the very beginning phases of planning a trip to Europe. We can only manage to go every 5 years or so and want to make the of it which means a packed itinerary. We can rest when we are old!

My biggest challenge is my passion for all things Italian. Every trip I get lured in. Five trips now and I have yet to see Greece. So, I am soliciting advise on a Greek itinerary with Istanbal. I am completely ignorant about the Greek islands and all of Eastern Europe (which also accounts for my repeated trips to Italy and Paris). I am half tempted to do a cruise to take us from port to port so we can visit many places with no hassle. But then you lose the flavor of the city. We are 45 and very comfortable travelling without a guide. Fumbling through language barriers and bus maps is part of the experience.

We can swing 2-3 weeks in May or October. We do frequent beach vacations with the kids so we are looking to tour, not lay around on the beach.

Could an experienced traveller kindly point us in the right direction? I once found a great page on Fodors that started with "if you only have 3 days in France, spend them all in Paris..." but I couldn't find it. I thought that might be a good starting point for some of these "foreign" countries.

Or I could jut do Rome and Paris again! I realize this is a broad question. Thanks in advance for any advice.
Jill02 is offline  
May 8th, 2012, 09:46 PM
  #2  
 
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I'm not as experienced as most people on here... but I'd like to point out when considering greece and croatia in one trip to be careful, because transportation between the two is either difficult or overly expensive... doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, just make sure you know exactly what it will take before you decide on this combination of countries.

Also, I think last 2 weeks in september and early october are best for the islands because the water is warmer then in may. Since your mostly looking to tour, a cruise ship would probably be easier for you. Islands are mostly beach destinations, a short stop over on each of them will give you a good taste of Greece IMO. If you decide to travel on your own you can take ferries, catamarans, night ferries, or flights on Olympic or Aegean Airlines between the different islands and mainland Greece.
Todd_Jenkins is offline  
May 8th, 2012, 11:45 PM
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I think Croatia would go better with your next trip to Italy, but it's not impossible to get from Croatia to Greece, even if it means travelling via a third country.

Now, since you have no interest in a beach holiday, why concentrate on the Greek Islands when there is so much more to see on the Greek mainland? I go to the Greek Islands because I want a beach holiday but go to the mainland when I want to sightsee. Athens is worth several days in itself, but apart from that there are many things to see in the Peloponnese, Delphi, Meteora, etc. It's also easier to get around the mainland by car than from island to island by ferry.

Think about a cruise if you like cruising, but it's not the best way to see the Greek Islands. Port calls are usually limited to 6-10 hours, sometimes less, and part of that time can be taken up by waiting to be tendered ashore and then back to the ship.
Heimdall is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 01:11 AM
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I agree with Heimdall. Visiting mainland Greece and Turkey fits in with your interests quite a bit more.

I do not know about Greece mainland but Turkey has a large number of antique Roman cities (actually more than in Italy) and Istanbul has some interesting mosques built by Italian architects.

The Greek and Turkish food you will find will not leave you yearning for Italian, and you can get pasta and pizza in both of these countries also anyway.

Flights between Athens and Istanbul are plentiful and can be reasonably priced during the time you will be visiting. You may also be able to get an open jaw ticket, thus avoiding a return to the initial airport of arrival.

I recommend that you read some of the more recent trip reports on Turkey and Greece on the Fodor's forums and some of the questions and answers, get a map that covers both countries, or one for each and possibly two guidebooks. Get a feel for the sites and the distances.

Both May and October are the best times to sightsee. Good weather, not too hot and not peak tourist season.

I hope you enjoy your planning as much as we usually enjoy ours.
otherchelebi is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 11:05 AM
  #5  
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Hmmm. As usual, some really good food-for-thought. Hearing that Croatia is hard to get to is tremendously helpful - that idea can now easily be nixed. You hear things about travel destinations your whole life and some times you do not even know why you want to go certain places, you just do. The cruises are entincing but, since I am comfortable doing the planning, the $4,000 cruise fare would go pretty darn far in nice hotels, some great meals and train or ferry fares.

Maybe 3 nights in Athens, 2 nights on another Greek island then Istabul then... Cairo and Barcelona. That's reasonable! Hopefully I can just read a Greek guide book and get excited about places I have never heard of and focus just on Greece and Istanbul. We can fly into Athens and home from Istanbul.

I think I am only toying with the cruise idea because so many of the great Mediterranean itineraries FORCE you to go to Italy and end in Barcelona. I have no idea why Barcelona keeps popping up...

Thanks for the help.
Jill02 is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 11:27 AM
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Croatia Airlines is flying from Croatia to Athens.
Here is the link: http://www.croatiaairlines.com
clausar is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 05:57 PM
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Fyi - we did Croatia and Slovenia and it worked out really well. Istria, in Croatia, used to be part of Italy so you could get your Italian fix as well!
not_enuf_vaca is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 06:31 PM
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Rather than focus on Greece and just Istanbul, you might consider spending a lot more time in Turkey. Based on your interests, I think you would love it and find it amazing and very interesting. It has a lot of the vibrancy of Italy with ancient archeological sites, a wide variety of landscapes, beautiful architecture and wonderful food.
Sassafrass is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 06:45 PM
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By your own admission, you have been ignorant. There are so much more in Europe, especially the underexploered/underappreciated Eastern Europe than Paris and Italy.

We've just completed a Croatia, Greece trip and had a much more interesting, rewarding and fulfilling time than many other times we went to Western Europe. We flew SFO-ZAG, rented a car and drove Rovinj/Plitvice/Split/Dubrovnik. Then we flew Dubrovnik to Athens, then flew to Santorini before coming back home.

So it is easily done. Overcome your own inhibition and explore. That's also what you said you are willing to do.
coolcamden is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 08:27 PM
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Sassafrass
So does Greece !!
Greece is not just Athens, the Argolis and the 2-3 islands, that most people in this forum use to visit. Greece is much more...
The Greek mainland is amazing and very diverse with hundreds of archeological sites, byzantine and venetian castles and monuments and churches/monasteries.
The Greek islands are not always white cubic houses, there are so many different islands, that one could spend months exploring them....
clausar is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 09:35 PM
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Wow, Clausar I looked at your link for Croatia Air for October out of curiousity and the prices are a lot lower then last years and the bonus is there are flights from several islands to Dubrovnik, as well which would save money on backtracking back to Athens.

OP it looks like you might want to double check that Croatia/Greek option again to see if it will work for you. Good luck and don't discount the swimming in Greece the water is an incredible color down there.
Todd_Jenkins is offline  
May 10th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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Oh, of course, Clausar. It was just that the OP mentioned the country of Greece (not just Athens), but only the city of Istanbul, (not the country of Turkey). They could easily spend the whole time in either country. You would miss out in either country by focusing only on one city. So much world to see. . . sigh.
Sassafrass is offline  
May 10th, 2012, 10:57 AM
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Sassafrass, sometimes i wish i was a student again, when i was exploring Europe every summer for 2 months....
Back then Turkey wasn't a destination, as it is today, so i wish i'd have the chance again to spend 2 months exploring this exciting country...
But unfortunately this isn't going to happen.....
clausar is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 08:05 PM
  #14  
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Thanks for the great dialogue! Fodors is so wonderful that people are willing to contribute their vast knowledge and opinions. We are leaning towards a week in Turkey starting in Istanbull, ending in Kusadasi (or I guess you would say Ephesus).

I am now trying to figure out how to get from Kusadasi to Athens where we are considering a luxury cruise after a few days in Athens. The cruise samples a few Greek islands (Corfu, Crete) and Croatian ports which sound wonderful and yes, incidentally, ends in Venice. So it would be a week and half of nicely paced touring then the wham bam cruise ports of call method which is OK for some little ports. I end up being the tour guide and think I might be tired after 2 foreign countries and be ready to be herded around by a perky cruise director. I am not a huge cruise fan but Azamura sounds pretty nice and has 600 passengers. ... I would die if I had 5 hours I'm Rome or Athens as a port of call but that might be OK for Dubr
Jill02 is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 09:12 PM
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Kusadasi is very close to Izmir airport. So check for flights from izmir to Athens. You should find some direct ones. Pegasus, sun express, sky and others. The airline sites give cheaper rates than the brokers in most cases for this part of the world.
otherchelebi is offline  
May 19th, 2012, 06:25 PM
  #16  
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Found a flight on Pegasus! Only $200 and includes luggage. Thank you so much. Our trip is shaping up...

Free frequent flyer ticket from San Francisco to Istanbul on October 16-ish. About 4 nights then down to Izmir/Kusadasi/Ephesus area for 2 nights (still really fuzzy on this part since I have never even heard of these cities until a week ago).

Fly to Athens 2 nights before cruise leaving October 26.. 9 night cruise to Crete/Corfu/3 Croatian ports, end in Venice. Free ticket home from Venice via London. Cruise cost $4400.

Have hotel points for Istanbul and Athens hotels. Will need to pay for other Turkey hotel and for the London layover (we fly into London City, out of Heatherow). Might even hop on a bus for a little tour!

Lamenting a little missing other Greek islands but you can't see all of 3 countries in 3 weeks!

I will search older threads for tips on the Turkey part... And a good 2 hour London tour.
Jill02 is offline  
May 20th, 2012, 12:20 AM
  #17  
 
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i live near Istanbul. have been to Greece. Personally... I would recommend flying in to Athens, taking a night ferriboat to Crete from Pireaus (taxi or bus from the airport, but a ticket, it leaves around 7 or 8 pm, it is very "Greek" slow water way to get to Crete. Travel around Crete, take bus or more ferries West to Sitia, take ferriboat to RHODES, take ferriboat to Fethiye Turkey, see more Roman ruins, as said above, go to Cappadocia (amazing, central Turkey) buy a one way flight from Kayseri to Istanbul through Turkish air (thy.com) go to Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Little (Kuchuck) Hagia Sofia (also built in the 500's) explore Taksim, Beyoglu, take a commuter ferriboat for like a DOLLAR or 2 to the Asian side of the Bosphorus... Or from near old Istanbul - Kabatash, for 7 turkish lira (4$) you can take a ferriboat UP the Bosphorus toward the Black Sea and get off at Istinye or Sariyer... go back by bus or taxi... or spend 90EUR for a guided boat trip of same... then one way flight back to Athens
windscape is offline  
May 21st, 2012, 02:39 PM
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What are the 3 Croatian ports you'll be visiting?

I suggest look for another cruise that'll include Santorini. You can not miss Santorini.
coolcamden is offline  

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