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Help with Greek islands itinerary-which islands to pick!

Help with Greek islands itinerary-which islands to pick!

Sep 21st, 2017, 04:32 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2017
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Help with Greek islands itinerary-which islands to pick!


My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in the end of May/beginning of June 2018 (a later honeymoon). We are planning on going for about 8 days. We definitely want to do Athens for one day to see the sights followed by santorini (we were thinking 3 days) and then we can’t decide which other island to do. We’ve narrowed it down to Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Milos. We want beautiful beaches, preferably sand, beautiful sunsets, delicious food with views, white washed town and some exploring. We like a night life but are not huge “party-ers.” Which island would you recommend? How many days are ideal on each island?

Thanks for the help!!!
Jwolfe09 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2017, 05:43 AM
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We recently visited Greece for the first time. One full day in Athens was plenty for us.

Then we took the 'fast ferry' to Santorini for 5 nights. We could have stayed longer, it's so magical there. So, my advice is to stay there, on the caldera, near Imerovigli. Beautiful sunsets, gorgeous walkway along the caldera, little restaurants, white buildings spilling down the hillside, . . .. We stayed at Gold Suites and loved it.
MoBro is offline  
Sep 21st, 2017, 06:19 AM
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I would get rid of Santorini and indeed Mykonos, classic tourist traps. I stayed on around 20 Greek islands before bothering with those, never regretted that one bit.

There is better in the Cyclades islands.

Try originality, maybe something like Piraeus > Amorgos > Naxos > Piraeus.

Does not matter how you split the time, you don't have much time, seems to be about 6 days, so 3 days each is about it.
It rather too early in the season for nightlife it will be limited, perhaps with the exception of Mykonos.
Retsina is offline  
Sep 21st, 2017, 06:27 AM
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I am assuming that you are not counting your Departure day in that total -- otherwise it is only 6 1/2 days, not eight. If you ARE counting, you can only really do 1 island plus athens ... or a day-trip from athens to another island - such as Aegina (1 hr by ferry).

With such a cruelly-short visit, the standard advice of "Greece veterans" is to minimize the time spent in TRANSIT – & that means avoiding staying in Athens twice. You need to be in Athens area at least, the night before home-bound flight. Airport is 60 mins from Central Athens, & when u count check-in/unpack/pack/check-out, you can waste half a day. With your limit, every HOUR counts. Here's the tested strategy:

• ARRIVE in AM - Only 3 airlines arrive in AM - nonstops from PHL, JFK and Toronto. This may mean paying more but those with little time must spend a little money. Connecting in Europe to save $means mid-afternoon arrival & fewer onward options. Also, choose homebound flights no earlier than 9am; you must be in line 2 hrs ahead, 1 hr to airport -- thus, a 7 AM flight = rising @3am, = sabotage your last precious evening.

• FLY ASAP to 1st ISLE - That would be either Santorini or Milos (if that's your #2 choice). Allow 90+ minutes layover - time for passport line, getting bags, hitting ATM unless u have a few Euros; domestic flights are at other end of same building. NOTE: if u firm up dates NOW, there are "sales" going on at Aegean/Olympic right now for May-June -- a flight to Santorini (50 mins) could cost less than a 8-9 hr ferry ride.

• PLAN WISELY - Many people pick Santorini for famous caldera views, but know nothing more. Yes, Famous View is worth a visit, but do not expect sandy beaches (they are black grit), or wandering quiet lanes, quaint villages etc. It is monstrously OVER-touristed, on weekdays 3-5 Megaships dump up to 10,000 cruisers 9-4pm, cramming Oia & Fira to brim. Only luxe "gated" pool hotels on rim provide refuge, but then u are in an international "bubble." A good visit requires clever strategy:

• SANTORINI SCHEME - My tested advice (repeated often on this forum, forgive me readers) is - arrive day #1 by early afternoon, book rimside (pool?) hotel in Firostephani, cleverly in between 2 named towns, gets NO cruisers/package tours. Walk rim path to FIra Town, sightsee, if your hotel has sunset view fine, otherwise find good restaurant NOT in OIa. Next AM zip to Oia on EARLY bus, to enjoy village before cruise mobs arrive 10am. Rest of day, rent car & go to Akrotiri dig, climb Ancient Thira enjoy small villages away from crowds. Day #3, midday or mid-aft ferry to next island destination ... 48 hours in Santorini ... short & sweet.

• ISLAND #2 CHOICES - for nights #3-4-5-6 (fly back to ATH early AM day 7) -- MILOS = 22 wonderful beaches, sandy or sculpted rock, but u need to rent car; local bus sked very lame! For Nightlife stay in port Adamas but drive to beaches; great high town Plaka, ancient ruins etc. Dont-miss - a daylong boat trip around rim of island, stop in coves for swims, BBQs; boats line port at 6pm, talk to captains & choose. NAXOS - 12+ miles of golden sand beaches in a row, served by excellent bus service; fascinating port town, lively night life but not party-animal. 1-day car rental = zoom around entire isle; dramatic landscapes, ancient ruins, mountain villages.
PAROS - Many of Naxos' virtues, longer car-rental. MYKONOS. Skip.

• ATHENS FINALE - arrive noonish Day 7, option to visit Acropolis 5pm (crowds are gone); choose hotel v. close to Acropolis, walkable to all. Day 8, Acropolis Museum, Nat. Arch. Museum (u can do Top Ten highlights in 90 minutes) ... many many other sights & delights; save any souvenir-shopping for this, splurge for Acropolis-view terrace dining.
travelerjan is offline  
Sep 21st, 2017, 07:28 AM
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Traverlerjan has given you good advice. Most people keep Athens for the end of the trip (if possible) and go directly to their destination.

Bear in mind that Santorini/Mykonos are the two most popular, touristy and expensive of the Greek Islands. That may be good or that may be bad depending on what you want and am looking for.

Since you have only 8 days I would recommend one island and Athens. Every time you make a move it eats up time and time is money on holiday especially for stays as short as yours.

If I had to chose I would do Santorini/Athens.

However, there are numerous other islands that may offer you a more "Greek" experience other than Santorini but that's up to you to decide on what you want.

In the end quality is more important than quantity . . . limit your time with Athens and one other island.
crazyh is offline  
Sep 21st, 2017, 07:41 AM
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Take travelerjan's excellent advice, and spend two days on Santorini, then the rest on either Naxos or Paros. We are huge fans of Paros ( have just returned from yet another trip) mostly because it has gorgeous white sand beaches, sunsets, great food, and is cheaper/less of a party island than Mykonos.

IF you decide on Paros, check out Nauossa, a quintessential Greek village with storybook good looks, lots of seafood restaurants, boutiques, and a small town type village square overlooking the sea. AHHH....

May/early June is a perfect time to go before the summer crowds and heat.
Weadles is offline  
Sep 24th, 2017, 03:02 AM
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Thanks for all the great responses!!! We appreciate it!!
Jwolfe09 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2017, 10:00 AM
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You have good advice, from travelers who know.

One thing to remember-- the time of year you visit Santorini makes a huge difference. We were there in mid-October, when the crowds were gone. You will be there before they arrive. It makes a big difference to how much you will like it

We also stayed away from Fira, which is kind of tacky. Oia is more upscale, but can get overrrun with lemmings looking for a sunset. (Hint: go to Imerovigli for the same view and without the elbow-to-elbow crowd.)
MoBro is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2017, 02:54 AM
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Thanks for all the great tips! We decided on Milos because we think it will be the most picturesque. We need help on where to stay now! We’ll only be there for three full days. We want somewhere not too far out of the way with beautiful views and restaurants close by. We will be renting a car. Adamas, pollonia and Plaka seem to be the most popular. Any preferences?
Jwolfe09 is offline  
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