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Help needed for visit to Cyclades (and maybe Crete)

Help needed for visit to Cyclades (and maybe Crete)

Old Jan 5th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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Help needed for visit to Cyclades (and maybe Crete)

Hello Fodoritia!!

I am looking for some input please on a trip to Greece this summer.

We are a couple with a 7 year old daughter. We love Greece and are trying to put together a trip that combines some old favourites with some new places.

We will be visiting Greece in August (yes, I know, but that's when we are free; we have been before in August and it was fine). What we would love to do is to see a few different places, some old, some new (to us), and to RELAX. We have about 2 weeks, maybe marginally more, so the plan would be to spend say 4/5 nights in each of 3 different destinations.

Some parameters:
- I am not a huge fan of boats, getting pretty seasick, but appreciate that on a Greek island hopping holiday they are a necessary evil. Still, if we could keep to a minimum that would be good, but not the major concern.
- We want to visit Santorini on this trip. We've been there before, in fact we got married there in 2004.
- We live in Dublin. There are direct flights from Dublin to Athens, and to Chania in Crete. The Athens flight arrives late at night, so if we fly in to Athens we would have to wait until the next day for a connecting flight / boat to the islands. Alternatively we can fly to Santorini via Manchester (I haven't checked flight times here yet, but let's assume that works). With a 7 year old ideally we want to make the travel side of things as easy as possible.
- I have never been to Chania, although have been to other parts of Crete, and have always wanted to go there. The direct flight from Dublin only opened up this year. However if it doesn't fit naturally into this trip there will be plenty of other opportunities.
- We have visited the Cyclades before and some places we have gone but don't want to revisit on this trip are Andros, Mykonos and Naxos.
- We have also visited Paros before, but a very long time ago, and would certainly be open to returning there.
- We want to go somewhere new on this trip. Some places that sound lovely are Folegandros, Antiparos and Chania.

Our big issue is trying to figure out something that will work and fit in with ferry routes etc without too much backtracking.

We thought about Amorgos but ruled it out on the basis that it does not have as nice beaches as some of our other options (correct me if I am wrong).

We also ruled out Ios even though it seems like a handy stop-off on the ferry lines, on the basis that it might be too party-orientated and we could end up staying in a place full of nightclubbers who will be up all night, again this could be a very out-of-date impression of the island and I'm happy to be corrected here.

Some options seem to be:

Option 1 - fly to Chania for 5 nights, travel to Heraklion and get boat to Santorini for 5 nights, boat to Folegandros for 5 nights (not sure how we get back from Folegandros!)

Option 2 - fly to & from Santorini (5 nights) - Folegandros (5 or 6 nights) - Santorini different resort (4 or 5 nights) - this would be easy but probably not as interesting as we've been to Santorini a few times

Option 3 - fly to Santorini (5nights), boat to Paros 5 nights, Antiparos 5 nights, probably then have to boat back to Santorini and fly home from there, or boat / fly (?) from Paros to Athens and home from there

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Has anyone who been to both Folegandros and Antiparos, and if so which one did you prefer and why? I have heard great things about both of them over the years, but don't have any feel for which would be better for a small family on a summer holiday. It may all just come down to what will be the easiest / most practical in terms of the ferry. Any guidance on good ferry routes between any of those islands would be most welcome. And if I've missed anything obvious, please do say!!

Many thanks in advance

Jane
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 11:31 AM
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FYI-On certain days in August there is an overnight large car ferry (slim chance for seasickness) from Piraeus to Chania that doesn't leave until around midnight, so if your plane arrives early enough you can get to Piraeus by Airport Express Bus in time to catch it. Since you'd be spending money on a hotel in Athens then flights the next day it makes sense to look into booking a cabin so you can sleep and arrive in Chania refreshed around 6:30am.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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I have been to both Folegandros (once) and Antiparos (more times than I can count). Both will be very crowded in August, so make sure you have rooms booked well in advance.

Folegandros is beautiful, especially in chora which is high above the sea. Antiparos, I feel, is more suitable for families with young children, as there are several nice beaches only a few minutes walk from town, and all are gently shelving, so good for a 7 year-old. Both Folegandros and Antiparos have many fine tavernas and restaurants in pedestrianised areas.

If you choose Folegandros you will more than likely need to travel on the sea jet, which is notorious for seasickness in rough seas. Some days there will be conventional ferries between Santorini and Folegandros, though. For Antiparos you can travel by the large Blue Star ferry from Santorini to Paros, take a taxi or bus to Pounta port, then the 7 minute ferry across to Antiparos.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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I totally agree w. Heimdall that Antiparos would be best for your family, vs. Folegandros. No car needed on Antiparos, and beaches are lovely. You do need to book well in advance, as lodgings are limited, but the upside is, that limits the number of tourists, even n high season.

I like the idea of direct flight to Chania for 5 days in Crete, then take the high-speed to Santorini for say 2 days, then ferry on large stable Blue Star to Antiparos. I assume your flight back to Ireland can be from Athens. Thus u could either take Blue Star from Paros to Pireaus or flight (2x daily).

Good budget spot just outside Chania, just off beach & w. a pool is http://www.lefka-apartments.gr ... on outskirts, right on a bus line so u need not rent car until u are ready to go exploring. my budget fave in Santorini is http://www.santorinivilla.com/ for a short stay; use of a pool, right off the rimside view, small, family-run, has a 2-rm apt + triple. A Gem!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 04:23 PM
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If you can fly direct to Chania that would make the most sense. Chania is beautiful and full of Character. We normally stay right in Chania town in the old part of the city near the harbour. With a child it may well make more sense to stay outside near a beach and with a pool. There is good bus transportation.
Indeed you will need to go to Heraklion for the ferry to Santorini but it is only a couple of hours on the high speed cats.
I would also suggest Antiparos. Take the bluestar ferry from Santorini to Paros. It is very large and stable. At Paros just to the left of the exit from Blue star there is several water taxi's to Antiparos another 15 minutes away.
Antiparos village is lovely and there are several good beaches less than a 15 minute walk away.
Chania http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632117917828/
Antiparos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632126687570/
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 11:16 PM
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( I see trip to Greece, I see mention of some new places, then all I see is islands, Crete + Cyclades again...

In reality other than "relax" I do not see how you envision this holiday exactly. Most people focused on the beach aspect and I guess you are after a beach holiday(?)
But why not to have a beach holiday on mainland? No ferries/sea sickness involved, no huge crowds or at least mostly Greek families around, better value for money, more interesting cultural side trips if you are interested...

Check this site for Messinia for example http://www.messinia-guide.gr/?cat=137&lang=en
Tons of interesting options, 2-3 hours bus ride from Athens.

Personally after doing the ferry thing a few times, I find staring at the sea hours after hours a tad be boring, especially every few days in one trip. I much prefer traveling over land, looking at varied scenery and interesting things...

Saying going to Greece and focusing on Cyclades again and again feels somehow like visiting Ireland and visiting only Kerry. Great destination but there are many other great spots to check out!

Just my opinion of course!
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:12 AM
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Thanks so much everyone for the responses, and the links to accomodation / photos / info. It is really good to see a consensus emerging as I was a bit lost!! Antiparos sounds like a good bet for us and we have seen two really nice looking places to stay there already, Kouros and Kastro.

Mariha, your points are well made, but in our case we have already visited the mainland and other islands on many occasions. For our 10th wedding anniversary we want to go back to the place we got married (Santorini) so this holiday is really geared around fitting that in. If we can visit somewhere new also that would be good, as although we don't do much on holiday we do like soaking up the atmosphere in somewhere different, and changing venue a couple of times rather than staying in the same place for the 2 weeks.

Holidays for me are about pool, sea, and staying in beautiful places with a vibrant atmosphere, eating lovely Greek food and exposure to Greece for my daughter as two of her grandparents are Greek although living here in Ireland. Not so much about sightseeing although if there is something well worth seeing near where we are we will make a point of visiting it.

It looks like the real options emerging now for us are:

Option 1 - Chania - Santorini - Antiparos, 5 nights each

Option 2 - Chania - Santorini - Paros (probably staying in Naoussa) and Antiparos. This being a 4-centre holiday reduces the time we can spend in different places and might be a bit too busy?

Option 3 - Forget Chania, just Santorini - Paros - Antiparos, 5 nights each.

Any views on the above?

Thanks all so much for your input

Jane
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:35 AM
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Kouros and Kastro are both good choices and have pools. I stay at Mike's Place right next to Kouros, and have to say it (Kouros) gets a bit noisy at times. Kastro is in a quiet location on the hill overlooking the sea and Antiparos, yet is only a five minute walk into the middle of town. One of the best beaches, Psaraliki II, is just down the hill from Kouros.

If you want somewhere quieter still, look at http://www.dolphinantiparos.gr. It's at the beautiful southern end of the island, with sandy beaches sheltered from Meltemi winds. If you stay there a car would be an advantage, although there is good bus service in August.

Another new hotel, known mostly to insiders, is http://www.thalasea.gr. It's a beautiful new development on the edge of town overlooking Psaraliki I beach, and run by the popular Yannis and Marianna, who also have a cafe in town.
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:38 AM
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I meant Kastro Hotel is "on the hill overlooking the sea and Paros..."
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:41 AM
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It's too early for summer schedules but for something different combined with Santorini you may want to consider Anafi. On winter Prevelis ferry coming from Dodecannese stops on Anafi on its way to Santorini and last August I believe Aqua Spirit connected Anafi with most of Cyclades too,while I believe there is some local ferry from/to Santorini almost daily.Ferry ride from/to Santorini ~ 2 hours. I believe a few times per week there was an Heraclion-Anafi schedule too, although I can not find reference right now. I haven't been there yet, but a friend rate it very highly and spends 4-5 weeks there yearly.

Re your other itineraries, I would not split any Paros/Antiparos stay. In 7 minutes you can step from P to A or v.v. No need to add an extra move on the trip. Personally I would skip Chania because I think city itsself fits a more active itinerary, you have to head outside town for what you want, so what's the point...?
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 01:59 AM
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It seems I wasn't proofreading very well. I should have written: "One of the best beaches, Psaraliki II, is just down the hill from Kastro.

I knew I should have had a cup of coffee before posting!
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 07:57 AM
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Thanks so much - Heimdall for all the valuable information and Mariha also - Anafi was not on my radar at all, I will have a look.

If we decide to do Chania-Santorini-Antiparos, then my only question is will we feel bad going so close to Paros but not staying there? I have fond memories of the octopus hanging up outside the Ouzeria at Naoussa harbour... Will we find a similar atmosphere on Antiparos or if we visit Naoussa from Antiparos do you think we will regret the decision to stay in Antiparos rather than Paros? I know we can visit Paros during the day and it's only a 7 min boat ride, but for me the real atmosphere in a place only comes out around and after dinner time. It's not the same going during the day.

I suspect I am over-thinking this
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 11:32 AM
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Having spent a middle April-middle November summer season on Naoussa a few years ago, I think August was my least favorite month there. Mostly because I feel that for Greeks Naoussa is turning into Mykonos wanna-be with wall to wall crowds, many staying there and as many visiting from other parts of the island. All those people added to foreign crowds, locals visiting family etc were a bit to much for a small place, situation was very chaotic on lanes, taverns, bars, not a quaint ambiance.
I think Antiparos is better on August, there is a more intimate ambiance, even local and international celebrities fit in nicely...
The only advantage I see on Naoussa is that if you feel you need a change, it makes a better base to explore around- for example taking the bus to many different locations or boat taxi to beaches around the bay. Antiparos has only 2-3 spots connected on a bus, mainly the cave and a couple of beach locations. There is a great boat trip around the island though and I do not think you seek a very active holiday so you'll be fine.
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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thanks a lot mariha. you are helping hugely!

Any other opinions out there?
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:16 PM
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The first option (Crete-Santorini-Folegandros) is the best. There is a ferry connecting Folegandros with Piraeus and Santorini so no worries.

I have been in both Antiparos and Folegandros, and I recommend you Folegandros with no second thought. Antiparos is actually a below average island, its not even an island, its an isle belonging to Paros (Antiparos means "Next to Paros"... On the other hand, Folegandros is one of the most beautiful islands of the Aegean, for me, the Chora (capital) of Folegandros is the most unspoiled and charming in the Cyclades, and believe me I have experience in the Greek islands (I am Greek, I go every summer). CNN, ranked Folegandros in the 7 most beautiful villages in Europe (Google it). 15th of August, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition of Maria and there are great celebrations all day long, in every church of Greece dedicated to Panagia (Maria) and luckily Folegandros has a church dedicated to Panagia so there will be traditional celebrations with food and dance.
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:21 PM
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Antiparos gets very busy during August as well, and evenings are a very special time there. Everyone promenades along the pedestrian-only main street, looking in shops (lots of clothing and jewellery shops), and maybe sitting down for a drink before dinner. I first started going to Antiparos for the beaches, but now value the evenings there more.

"I have fond memories of the octopus hanging up outside the Ouzeria at Naoussa harbour... Will we find a similar atmosphere on Antiparos...?"
http://www.flickr.com/photos/heimdal...57627739415280
http://www.flickr.com/photos/heimdal...57627739415280
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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Some people prefer Antiparos:

http://news.gtp.gr/2013/08/20/hollyw...n-antiparos-2/

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2011...-in-antiparos/

;-)
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 01:39 PM
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Oh! Heimdall... those photos... I am sold (sorry Petros!!! but thanks for your input)

After much deliberation we are now thinking of a new Option 4

Option 4: Fly to Santorini - Antiparos - Koufonisia and back to Santorini to fly home.

The ferries seem to lend themselves a bit better to the Santorini-Antiparos-Koufonisia-Santorini circle than any of the options above. Still haven't ruled out the others yet.
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 01:41 PM
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The photos of the octopus by the way, not of Tom Hanks
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 11:07 PM
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Yes, I thought the photo of the octopus was more attractive as well, lol! Just goes to show, the celebs relax like everyone else on Antiparos. Octopus fishing is a big business on Antiparos, and you see them everywhere, sometimes even hung on clotheslines next to the laundry. ;-)

Koufonisi is another island with beaches close at hand. If your daughter is a typical 7 year-old she will enjoy that. The island has a lovely little village, with sandy beaches strung out along the coast, the best being Pori, IMO. You can walk everywhere on that island, or take a shuttle boat to Kato Koufonisi, which is uninhabited, but has a taverna and more beaches. Like Antiparos and Folegandros, hotel rooms on Koufonisi are completely sold out in August, so get your booking in early.
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