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Help with 2 week Istanbul and Greece Itinerary

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Oct 18th, 2012, 01:46 AM
  #1
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Help with 2 week Istanbul and Greece Itinerary

Hi there

I am planning a 2 week honeymoon to Turkey and Greece next year September. Finding this quite daunting as its our first time booking and planning everything on our own (we normally do it through a travel agency). Would appreciate any suggestions please

This is our proposed flight route on Turkish Airways:
Durban, South Africa > Istanabul, Turkey
Istanabul, Turkey > Athens, Greece
Athens, Greece > Santorini (by ferry or plane, still deciding - any suggestions?)

Basically, we would like to start our honeymoon in Santorini as we will be quite jet lagged, so this will be the perfect place to just relax. We would like to spend 5-6 days here. We would then take a ferry back to Athens to spend 1/2 days there. And finally fly back to Turkey to spend the remaining days 3-4 days. Heard that Istanbul is busy and there is lots to see and do, which is why we have kept this for last. Would then leave for Durban from Istanbul.

I know its white a short time to to see so much, but its what we have available. Just so you get an idea of what we are like -> We are the type of couple that like to relax and spend time on the beach, but we cannot sit still for a very long time! We like to make the most of the country we are in. We love sightseeing and exploring different cultures. Do you think that we are using our days wisely? Should we leave out Athens and spend more days in Greece or Turkey?

Here are a few more questions I need help with please:

- Is it easy to get taxis from the port/airports to our hotels? As I mentioned previously, our travel agent normally arranges all the transfers for us. Which is why I ask, don't want to find ourselves stranded somewhere with all our bags!

- Any recommendations for places to stay in Santorini? We are still deciding between
Fira and Oia. Good nightlife is important to us as well as a central location so we don't have to spend a lot on travelling.

- I would really like a guidance of what can't be missed in Santorini apart from the beautiful beaches?

- We plan to stay in Athens for only 1/2 nights, so time will be limited. What are the must see attractions? And where should we stay, so that we don't have to travel too far? Or should we leave out Athens all together?

- What are the must see attractions in Istanbul? And where should we stay, so that we are
central?

Thanks in advance Look forward to all of your suggestions!

Jae and mike
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Oct 18th, 2012, 03:14 AM
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I am not familiar with Turkey, so concerning Greece:

- Is it easy to get taxis from the port/airports to our hotels?
Athens airport is a modern one and easy to navigate, and transport options from/to Athens city center are plenty. I do not see a reason to rely solemny on taxis if public traznsport is convenient, but it is your call. There is a taxi rank outside arrivals in Athens and there are always plenty of taxis around, unless than in an unusuaol event such as a strike on public transport that will increazse demand for taxis....
http://www.aia.gr/pages.asp?pageid=981&langid=2

Ferries to Santorini arrive on Athinios port, not enough taxis to the island to serve demand on high season, so there might or there might not be ebough taxis waiting by the port. There is frequent bus service timed with ferry arrivals though and hotels can arrange private transport too, either on their mini-bus if they have one, either a taxi waiting for you.

- Any recommendations for places to stay in Santorini? We are still deciding between
Fira and Oia. Good nightlife is important to us as well as a central location so we don't have to spend a lot on travelling.

Oia is maybe the most photographed and promoted town of Santorini, very scenic, but its nightlife consist of a few low key bars or an extended late dinner with a glass of local wine on hand. If vibrabt nightlife is a must, I would stay in Fira. Fira is the bus hub of the island too. From Oia you will have to go to Fira and get another bus to go on other parts of the island. Oia to Fira is about 20-30 minutes drive. So maybe Fira for you?...


- We plan to stay in Athens for only 1/2 nights, so time will be limited. What are the must see attractions? And where should we stay, so that we don't have to travel too far? Or should we leave out Athens all together?

Personaly I think that many people under-rate Athens : ((( Would you ever concider going to France for first time and spend only 1/2 days in Paris? I do not think so... Of course it is your call. On my honest opinion, you need at the very least 3 nights/2 full days in Athens, but anyway, here are some must-sees for me:

1) Acropolis . And I do not mean only the Parthenon. Acropolis consists of many different sites. An Acropolis site ticket covers entrance to Acropolis site and to those:
- Temple of Zeus,
- Kerameikos site and Kerameikos Museum,
- Ancient Agora and Agora Museum,
- Roman Agora,
- Hadrian's Library,
- South slope and Dionussus Theater

This is the only available ticket to enter the Acropolis site, so if you get your ticket at the booths there, this is the ticket you 'll get anyway but it is also available on the ticket booth of any of the accompanying sites, but you 'll have to ask for it, because there are individual tickets too to these sites. The Acropolis ticket can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/AcropolisTicket
Segment on the right is for the Acropolis visit and the rest at the left are for the accompanying sites.
2)Acropolis Museum .
Note that Acropolis Museum is located outside the Acropolis site and entrance is not included in the Acropolis ticket. Entrance currently costs 5 euros per adult, on a separate ticket.
3)Archeological Museum.
Should be better kept, there is shortage of staff so some rooms remain closed, yes, but this is an absolute must not only for people visitng Athens, but people visiting Greece in general. Many collections of Athens and of various locations in Greece, you could spend days and not seen everything. Many finds, including wall-paintings from Akrotiri, Santorini and hoted there!
4)Allow some time for a nice walk around. Plaka/Monastiraki area (away from the two touristy main streets with tacky shops). There are some great neoclassical mansions in the surrounding area and of course it worths to visit the Anafiotika area with its Cycladic architecture. I would strongly suggest to head either for Philopappos either for Lycabettus hill to enjoy aerial views of Athens and blen in both with visitorsd and locals taking their daily exersise... There is a great pedestriane way surrounding Acropolis hill itsself, I would definately walk at least this route, Dionisiou Areopagitou etc.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 03:18 AM
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PS: This comment "- I would really like a guidance of what can't be missed in Santorini apart from the beautiful beaches? "
is confusing to me.
Most people do not go to Santorini for its beaches. Due to the volcanic nature of the island, beaches are rock/pebbly/gritty and not the best. Fira and Oia are located on the caldera site of the island, so high on cliffs, no neach there. Beaches are to be found on the other flat side of the island, eg Kamari, Perissa etc.
I am not sure how well you have researched this destination and if you have a correct idea for the place?
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Oct 18th, 2012, 06:01 AM
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More comments later, but can you fly to Athens first? That cuts out a stop on your way to Santorini. And by the way, I would try to time it so you can connect to Santorini after landing in Athens.

I really prefer Oia to Fira because it's a lot more scenic and less commercial, but yes, if you are looking for nightlife, not much to do.

Agree with the poster above who suggests more time in Athens. Half a day in Athens is not even worth it. Depending on the season/time of day, you may spend much of that in lines waiting to see the sites. You need at least two, maybe even three days to really get an overview.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 07:44 AM
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The traditional sights in Istanbul are collected in the Sultanahmet area of the city. That is, Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, and not so far away, the Spice Market.

The center of the club district is across the Golden Horn in Beyoglu.

Istanbul is a big spread out city. Where you stay depends on your priorities.

Back in Greece, I'd take a day or two off Santorini for Athens. The main activity in Santorini is staring at the view. Admittedly the view is breath-taking. But more clubs, more nightlife in Athens. And more sights to see.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 09:06 AM
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Athens is a fabulous city, and quite under-rated in my opinion! Try to spend 3 nights, 2 full days there to really even start to get a feel for it.

We took this full day tour of Athens and loved it:
http://www.athenswalkingtours.gr/The...is-Museum-Tour

It gives a really good overview of the city.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 09:14 AM
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If you are looking for good beaches, choose another island. Santorini's views are beautiful but 5-6 days seems a bit long. Another vote for Athens..
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Oct 18th, 2012, 05:53 PM
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Hi Jae and Mike,
There is good advice already posted. I cannot help but wonder why you are rushing through two countries on this trip. I'd say choose one. The sights in Istanbul are amazing - worthy of a week. The Sultanamet area has much of the historic sites you will want to see, but it closes down at night. For nightlife, I prefer the area near Taksim Square - there are nice hotels in that area and lots of good dining, nightlife, and Istikal Caddesi, a busy street to stroll. Take a boat ride up the Bosphorus. It is easy to take public trains to the various areas. You could spend one week there and a second week down the coast of Turkey to visit beaches and historic sites.
Athens - again, it warrants more time. The sites mentioned by above posters should not be missed yet there are many more. Definitely go to the new Acropolis Museum along with the Acropolis and the Plaka. And of course there are lots of side trips outside of the city.
Santorini - breathtaking beauty - quiet at night except for Fira but I would not recommend staying there. Plus the beaches are disappointing - it is all about the experience of the view.
As for beaches - there are many more islands with much better beaches, plus fun nightlife. Depending upon how long your flight to Athens is, you could fly straight through to the islands. We always stop for a rest night in Athens as we fly a long haul to get there. Here's my recommendation of a lovely honeymoon experience:
Fly to Athens, 1-2 days
Santorini, stay in Oia and have a lovely romantic 3-4 days
Ferry to another island to experience a different style of island life and great beaches. Paros or Naxos would be good choices for 5-6 days. You could take a day trip to another island, like Antiparos. Or, since you say you don't like to sit still for long, spend 3 days each on Paros followed by 3 on Mykonos. But remember you lose a half day in transport between islands.
Ferry back to Athens, spend 3-4 days exploring the city,
Choose between the two countries and save one for a future trip. Savor the one you choose-you won't regret it.
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Oct 20th, 2012, 07:09 PM
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Wow -I would definitely go either to greece or Turkey, not both. Since you have to fly to Istanbul,
I recommend some fabulous romantic hotel on the Bosphorus. There is toms to do in Istanbul. Then fly to Cappadoccia which is incredible and do not miss the balloon flight - then go direct to one of the great beach resorts by the sea and you wil get all the gorgeous beaches you want.

Or in Greece you can do 2 islands -one with a beautiful beach plus Santorini, the Athens if you can fly home from there.
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Oct 20th, 2012, 10:41 PM
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GoKim is right on. If you like to stay busy, Turkey is great! Beautiful, wonderful food, incredible sights, Beaches, nightlife, etc. Hot air balloon flight in Cappadoccia is a highlight for many - really romantic place.

If you can't spare more than 1/2 day for Athens, then don't bother. It would be too rushed.

Santorini is pretty, but just a place to sit and relax. You might be bored.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 12:27 PM
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Congratulations and 2 weeks will be good to focus on two countries and fewer locations if you get good logistics for transportation. Oia is b y far the best part of Santorini.

Enjoy your honeymoon,
Murat
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