Greek Island in September

Old Dec 25th, 2016, 06:33 AM
  #1  
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Greek Island in September

Hello! We are a couple based in Boston in our late 30s with two small boys - age 4 and 6. We would like to take a six day trip to a Greek Island next September. Our budget is about $5000 (basically our DCAP money).

Santorini seemed like a good first-time Greek island ... touristy but very scenic, but we are open. We are a little concerned about taking a ferry from Athens with the two boys.

I started looking around and found a flight from Boston to Santorini, one stop, for about $750 ($590 on Vayama but I'm a little scared to use them). For some reason, expedia etc. aren't working this weekend (or my computer is messed up), but some research indicates that I can probably get a hotel for between $200-250 per night.

Our needs are simple - we'd like to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere (and seafood!). My husband likes to stay in one place and relax, which is fine by me. Don't need anything too fancy. We don't want to have to rent a car. We'd like a place we can walk around or take public transportation. The kids will do what we do.

We're just starting our research and would love any suggestions.

Thank you! And if you have any questions about Boston, we would love to share!
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 08:11 AM
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Santorini has steep cliffs, not suitable for young children. There are beaches on the island's other side but they are nothing to go out of your way to visit.
Go to Naxos and/or Paros for better beaches and family experience. They will also give you a more Greek experience than over touristed, cruise ship tour crowded Santorini. We have been to Santorini in Sept. and couldn't wait to get away from the crowds there. We loved the rest of Greece!
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 08:35 AM
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My experience was only a cruise ship day, but we hired a private driver and toured a lot of the island, plus a good amount of walking. I would not take children that age to Santorini. It is not physically child friendly. Look at Corfu as a possibility. Is your total trip six days, or will you have six days once you are on the island?
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 09:07 AM
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Naxos St George beach area is the answer to your needs. It has lots of small family run hotels a good sand beach, shallow water and its part of Naxos town so you get a combination of urban and beach vacation. St George always has lots of kids.
By the way you should start to think in terms of Euros because that's the currency you will be using.

St George Beach Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632113170279/

Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632094558042/

Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7634605629689/
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 09:08 AM
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Did you choose Santorini because of the name recognition? It is definitely scenic, but does not seem to meet what you are looking for.

If you have concern about expenses, Santorini is not a good island. Accommodations and restaurants, especially with scenic view, are very expensive.

If you like to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere and seafood, the islands mentioned above, Paros/Naxos offer this at much lower cost. They both have the kind of beaches Americans look for. Just look at images of beaches in Santorini. Also Paros/Naxos are NOT on mega cruise boat routes. If you are in Fira or Oia on any day in Santorini, you get crushed by the massive number of huge cruise boat passengers landing there every day.

You don't have to take ferries to larger islands. You can fly from Athens. However, for closer islands such as Paros/Naxos, ferries offer an experience cruising the Aegean sea without adding too many hours to your trip when the sea is not rough.

Are those bargain airfares you found in Vayama the ones that come with awful layovers?
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 09:30 AM
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"Santorini has steep cliffs, not suitable for young children"

This statement implies your kids will be at risk wherever you are in one of the clifftop villages, Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. Not at all true. This would only happen if you were staying at a hotel right on the edge of a cliff and they climbed over a wall with a long drop on the other side. That scenario would only apply if your hotel was the furthest down over the cliff from the main pedestrian shopping and dining areas at the top, which are far from the worst-case dropoff to the sea, and that main area is not at all dangerous. Just look at any photo of the way the hotels and private houses are all interconnected by zig-zag paths and stairs. You'll see what I mean. Here's an example: http://tinyurl.com/gsu2cvg The danger is only in the lower right-hand corner of this photo.

Knowing that after subtracting $3000 for airfare you're left with $2000, which will probably cover your needs for 6 nights, but just barely, especially when you're paying up to $250/night for accomodations. Use the filter system at www.booking.com to search for the sort of accomodations you prefer in the village you choose. Your money will stretch the furthest if you stay away from the clifftop hotels with a caldera view, but there are plenty of other hotels in those villages that will work for you. Check the beaches, Kamari and Perissa. Also check Karterados and Messaria, which are inland but just a short distance by bus from the beaches as well as from Fira, the island's social/commercial hub. Some hotels will have dropped their prices by September so hopefully you'll find something nice with a pool.
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 11:49 AM
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Take a look at Crete. Chania has some nice beaches in the area, as does the southern part of the island.
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 02:08 PM
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Thanks all - super helpful. We started with Santorini because it was recommended to us (by my hairdresser) as a good first Greek island.

We were attracted by the scenery and the fact that we could fly straight there - the vayama flight was one stop with short layovers. It is $600 per person, one stop through Zurich. Booking direct on SwissAir is $750 and it looks like they don't allow changes, which is a little scary. Would like to keep things at one stop if possible - mo' connections, mo' problems.

I have to plan in dollars because that's my currency Considering booking things now to take advantage of the exchange rate. I did that in 2010 and had a ball in Barcelona, Vienna, and Prague.

Going to look at Naxos. I'm not sure what kind of "beaches Americans like" - America is a big place with lots of people who like different things! Ten years ago, we were on a beach in Nice when we spied our future - a young dad with two boys who looked just like him and relaxed mom. Hoping to recreate that family's vacation...
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 03:10 PM
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OK, so flights from Boston to Athens are around $600 in September but Boston to Naxos is $4542!!! What's the cost of a flight from Athens to Paros or Naxos normally?? Assume schedule aren't yet released....
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 06:48 PM
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Athens to Naxos should run around €100 and sometimes less if you catch a sale on the Olympic Air/Aegean Airlines website.
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Old Dec 25th, 2016, 06:51 PM
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for short hop flights, check skyscanner.com Low cost carriers are on their website. But keep in mind, alot of those have much stricter rules - printing boarding passes only at home, carry on size, checked bags etc.

We flew to Athens from NYC and then took a short flight on Olympic air to Santorini
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Old Dec 26th, 2016, 01:39 AM
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If you like beaches with volcanic grit and steep drop-offs, then Santorini is your island. If you prefer beaches with golden sand that are gently sloping (good for small children), I can't think of anything better than St George Beach on Naxos.

You could get a one stop flight to Naxos with a changeover in Athens. Do you know anything about Vayama? It may be reputable, but I've never heard of it before. I prefer booking directly with the airlines even if I have to pay more.
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Old Dec 26th, 2016, 01:52 AM
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Hi Overlt,

At first I missed your post about $600 flights from Boston to Athens. If I were you I would grab them without delay. Book the flight to Naxos separately. You could also opt for the Blue Star ferry, which will be even cheaper. Blue Star leaves Piraeus for Naxos every day at 7:25 am and 5:30 pm. Take either the X96 bus from the airport or a taxi to the Piraeus docks. Were it me travelling with two children I would take a taxi.

As brotherleelove wrote, Olympic Air flights to Naxos are about $100 because they are government subsidised. Paros has a new airport, and flights there are a little more expensive, but there is a possibility of seat sales in September. Sign up for the Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines (parent company) newsletters, and you will be advised of the sales.
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Old Dec 26th, 2016, 06:09 AM
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Glad I posted. The 600 fare means rebooking would cost 300 plus a fare difference. Yikes!
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Old Dec 26th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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I'm a little concerned about booking a separate flight to the island...are they helpful if your fight is delayed into Athens? Since our goal was the islands, not Athens, I'm less inclined to stay in an airport hotel for one night and catch the first flight out. That's why Santorini seemed appealing. When you can't travel very much, every detail is so important.

Any European airlines fly to Naxos or Paros other than the two Greek ones that fly out of Athens?

Is this a pipe dream? I guess we could just go to the Caribbean but I've never gone those places despite being so close. I dream of Greece because of the food. The only beach holidays we have ever taken are Acapulco (with family), Thailand, and Sri Lanka.
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Old Dec 26th, 2016, 07:55 AM
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You are over-worrying! Greece is a very easy destination for American travellers. Most people who deal with tourists speak excellent English, and many have relatives who live in the US. Once you get to Athens you can either change planes at the small and efficient Athens Airport, or hop in a cab to Piraeus and take a ferry. Nearly every hotel on Naxos will meet you with a van at either the airport or ferry port.

There is only one airline that flies to Naxos: Olympic Air, which is also listed on the Aegean Airlines website, its parent company. Actually until March 31st the airport is served by Sky Express, but Olympic Air has the contract for next summer.

The Naxos Airport has a very short runway, and only short takeoff/landing aircraft like the Dash 8-100 and ATR-42 turboprops can land there. Santorini has a longer runway, so planes like the Airbus A320 series can land there. I love flying on the turboprops because they don't climb as high, and you get a better view of the islands.

Most of the nonstop flights from the US arrive on time or even early, because even with a late departure the captain can make up time over the Atlantic. If you leave at least three hours layover time at Athens, that will be enough even if the flight from the US arrives up to an hour or so late. I'm not sure what advantage there will be in flying to Santorini as opposed to Naxos, except there are more daily flights.
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Old Dec 26th, 2016, 08:45 AM
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The advantage of Santorini would be one stop as opposed to two stops. There are no non-stops from Boston to Athens (that I know about). If I can find one, then that would be a different story!

We'd fly Boston-Zurich, Zurich-Santorini as opposed to Boston-Somewhere-Athens-Island. With two energetic boys, that seemed like less of a hassle. It's good to know that Athens airport is efficient. I'm concerned about managing two tired boys who have spent a night on a plane on a ferry for three to five hours.

Expedia and travelocity's flight search options are not working this weekend and kayak keeps sending me to vayama and third-party sites. Airline prices are much higher than kayak's right now.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 10:50 AM
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A friend who is Greek recommended Corfu. Wondered why no one here recommended it.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 07:11 PM
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My experience with Greek Islands is limited and many people love other places so I did not push it, but in the second post above, I suggested you look at Corfu as a possibility. My husband and I were there only for one long day on a cruise, but we both thought it would be a great place for a holiday with our Granddaughter. We did not swim, so can't vouch for beaches and safety, but it is certainly scenic, and the water is beautiful and would be great for boating. People were very family oriented with lots of children in the shops and restaurants.

We also liked Rhodes very much and returned for a brief visit. Even in November, the water was warm enough for me.

Santorini just isn't kid friendly, harder to let them run and jump around as they like to do at that age.

Since you have not been to the Caribbean, you might want to try it sometime. It is wonderful to go in winter and get away from that NE freeze. It has become a family tradition to go to St Kitts (not my favorite island so far, but it is lovely and our daughter lives there) or take a cruise sometime from late December to late March. We want water warm enough for swimming in winter, so go further South, but Bermuda is probably still warm enough in September. I have not been there yet, but friends love it. Out little granddaughter loves snorkeling and seeing so many fish in shallow water. She also loves cruise ships!
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Old Dec 28th, 2016, 02:33 AM
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Having an international airport, Corfu is very popular with northern Europeans on package holidays and charter flights. Inevitably that has a detrimental effect on some island resorts, e.g. Kavos:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...book-page.html

I'm certain there are still unspoiled parts of Corfu, but I prefer islands that don't have international airports and cruise ships. Most of us who write on Fodor's are older independent travellers who have found the Cyclades ideal for them.
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