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please critique my itinerary for Turkey and Greece

please critique my itinerary for Turkey and Greece

Old Oct 26th, 2023, 08:20 AM
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please critique my itinerary for Turkey and Greece

Hello helpful people!

I am planning a trip to Turkey and Greece for next May/June for myself and my husband (in our 50s, fit and active). After much research and planning, I have come up with the itinerary below and I would love feedback. We are interested nature and hiking; ancient ruins (but not an overload); and beautiful villages. We enjoy late afternoon beach time too, when it's available.

I am quite confident in the itinerary in general. Just a bit nervous / unsure about the Greek Islands portion. I cannot yet find ferry routes for next June and am worried it might not be quick & easy to get from Sifnos to Santorini. The dates of this itenerary all revolve around being in Santorini June 7 & 8 which (according to the cruise ship port schedule) have miraculously few cruise ships in port. I know I will get criticism for this, but "avoiding the cruise ships" worked for us in Croatia (there were certainly lots of individual tourists in places, but not huge groups of tourists en masse), so I am hoping to use that strategy again.

For us, 3-4 overnights in one place is a perfect pace. I try to avoid 1-2 night stays, but sometimes it is necessary.

Here we go:

May 17 - leave home (we'll get ourselves to whichever East Coast US airport has a reasonable direct flight to Istanbul)
May 18 - arrive Istanbul; go straight to Capadoccia. Overnight Capadoccia
May 18 - 21 - Capadoccia (planning to stay in Gorem, but I am not wedded to this)
May 22 - fly to Istanbul
May 22 - 26 - Istanbul
May 27 - fly to Athens, pick up car at airport, drive to Meteora. Overnight Meteora
May 28 - Meteora
May 29 - drive to Delphi. Overnight Delphi
May 30 - drive to Athens. Overnight Athens
May 31 & June 1 - Athens
June 2 - ferry to Sifnos
June 2 - 7 - Sifnos (or might have to leave June 6 if it is not possible to get to Santorini by mid-day June 7)
June 7 & 8 - Santorini (or arrive on June 6 as per above)
June 9 - fly to Athens late in the day
June 10 - depart Athens for home mid-afternoon

If we are feeling very cheeky about being away from work, we could possibly add 2-3 days in the Pelepponese. This would be added between Delphi and Athens and we would simply start the whole trip 2-3 days earlier in May.

All thoughts welcome! (hotel, restaurant, and don't-miss activity suggestions also welcome)
Many thanks in advance.
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Old Oct 26th, 2023, 09:50 AM
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You have a wonderful itinerary planned! There is a change I would make that would free up an extra day for sightseeing. Firstly, I wouldn't drive into Athens because that would be very stressful. Also, you are wasting time by going into and out of Athens twice. You should save your visit to Athens for the end of your trip since you have to be there at the end to fly home. But this means you would be in Santorini earlier than June 7 and 8. Are there other dates when there will be fewer cruise ships in Santorini? It would be best if you could spend all of your time in Athens at the end of your trip. Only you can decide what is more important to you. I do understand the desire to avoid as many cruise ships as possible.

Just thought of something. Why do you have to fly from Santorini to Athens on June 9? And then fly home on June 10? Look for flights directly from Santorini to your home airport. This means you will most likely have a layover in a European city. This should be all on one ticket. For example, in May 2022 we few from Boston to Santorini on Swissair with a layover in Zurich. This means we didn't have to worry about our luggage until we reached Santorini. And if we missed our connection in Zurich, the airline is responsible for putting us on the next available flight. So you could do an open-jaw or multi-city from your home airport to Istanbul and then from Santorini directly to your home airport. This way you don't have to return to Athens for an overnight stay. You could fly from Santorini to home on June 10. Then you have an extra day either for Santorini or elsewhere in your itinerary.

Hotel, restaurant and sightseeing recommendations:
Santorini:

We loved our stay at Blue Dolphin Apartments in Firastefani on Santorini. Price is reasonable ($230 per night) for a room with a balcony overlooking the caldera. Firastefani is quieter than Fira and Oia.
Restaurants: Aktaion - one of the best meals of our trip
Restaurant Remvi - another delicious meal
If you have the time, I highly recommend renting a car to travel around Santorini. We visited the archaeological site of Akrotiri, Red Beach, and Black Sand Beach.

Athens:
Airotel Parthenon - located around the corner from the Plaka, 5-10 minute walk from the Acropolis; very reasonable at $140 per night. Included breakfast buffet is mediocre but there are plenty of restaurants nearby.
Restaurants we liked: The Old Tavern of Psarras and Geros Tou Moria.
In addition to the "typical" sightseeing, we enjoyed the Monastiraki neighborhood, the Athens Flea Market and the Athens Central Market. The Central Market is fascinating with its fish market and meat market. There are several restaurants in the Central Market where we had a delicious lunch of fresh fish, mussels, and calamari.
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Old Oct 26th, 2023, 10:40 AM
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Thank you, Karen, for looking at my itinerary so thoroughly and for your very helpful suggestions! I struggled between “put Athens last” and “don’t be there any later in June that necessary”, and I went with the latter. We were thinking Athens might be slightly less crowded and hot the end of May rather than second week of June. I would love your – and others’ opinions on this! The Santorini dates are set, but we have flexibility with the start and end of our trip, so we could indeed put Athens last, and just start the trip later.

Regarding flying, I am so glad to hear that you were able to fly home from Santorini! That was my first thought, but when I looked up the flights from Santorini – Raleigh, it was a completely unreasonable price, I guess maybe they just hadn’t published the “real” Santorini flights yet. When I look today, it is somewhat more reasonable 😊. That would definitely be our first choice option so I will keep my eye on those flights!

Thank you extra for the hotel, restaurant and touring suggestions! This is all incredibly helpful.
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Old Oct 26th, 2023, 11:35 AM
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I probably wasn't clear in my post about our trip. We visited Santorini first, so we flew Boston/Zurich/Santorini on Swissair. We had an open-jaw ticket. Athens was the last stop on our itinerary, so we flew home from Athens with a layover in Toronto.

Regarding the heat in May vs June - it's hard to say. I don't have enough experience but I would assume it would be hotter in mid June than late May. Maybe only a few degrees hotter? We visited from mid-May to end of May in 2022. Started out in Santorini which had comfortable temps during the day and cooler temps at night. Wore a lightweight jacket at night. Then visited Naxos and Nafplio, and by the time we arrived in Athens, the temps were in the 90's. I remember after touring the Acropolis we had to stop for a cold drink and find shade. Hopefully others will chime in about late May vs mid June.
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Old Oct 26th, 2023, 12:30 PM
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Athens is a huge, bustling international city. Don't think that you will avoid crowds by getting there early on in your visit. Depending on how much flexibility you actuall have, save Athens and everything else on the mainland for the end and you will not regret it. When you first arrive from Istanbul, fly out to Sifnos, then ferry to Santorini, then return to the mainland for the rest of your time in Greece.
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Old Oct 26th, 2023, 12:39 PM
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Turkey and Greece are two of my fav countries, youíre going to have a fabulous vacation!

Do stay at a cave hotel in Capadoccia and donít miss the hot air balloon ride, an absolutely thrilling experience. Capadoccia will be a great place to get over jet lag, just chill and relax the first day. Lots of hiking options there, youíll also certainly visit the Goreme open air museum, underground cities, etc. We stayed at the Kelebek Cave Hotel, but that was almost 20 years back and I have no idea how it is now.

In Istanbul we always like to stay in Sultanahmet, the old city, with all the monuments within walking distance. We like the Uyan, a small boutique hotel a block away from Four Seasons. They have a lovely terrace with sweeping views of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofya, etc. We love to sit up there with our breakfast every morning, would go up there in the evenings too some days. Lots of similar small hotels in the area, almost all of them very good.

Apart from the old city sites try and visit the Chora Church, one of my favorites. A Bosphorus cruise, perhaps stopping at one of the islands if you have time.

Like Karen I would also put Athens at the end, unless you find a flight back home from Santorini. We stayed at Olympic Villas in Oia, they also have cave rooms with a small terrace overlooking the caldera. Itís a little outside Oia, so very quiet, but easy to walk into town, we paid Ä230/night with breakfast.

Rent a car for a day or two to see the non-caldera part of the island. The ancient site of Akrotiri, the red and black sand beaches, etc. Drive down to Amoudi Bay for a swim, also some of the freshest fish meals you could ask for.

Another vote for Akaiton, youíll need to book a couple of days ahead. Ask for a table outside for stunning sunset views.

Itís good idea to avoid cruise ships, we had one day when there were any. But we were away from Oia during the daytime, went into town early morning and late evening. Check the cruise shop schedules to see if there are other days which work with your dates/itinerary.

We didnít make it to Meteora, but Delphi was magical, youíre lucky to overnight there. Do try and fit in the Peloponnese, we spent 4 nights in Kiveri near Nafplion last year and loved it. Epidaurus, Mycene, Nemea, Corinth, so
many magnificent sites. Return your car before going into Athens, you wonít need it there.




Last edited by geetika; Oct 26th, 2023 at 12:43 PM.
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Old Oct 26th, 2023, 12:40 PM
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LJturco, I think your sequence is fine as it is. Do NOT start the trip later... from my experience you are in the "sweet spot" temp-wise, crowd-wise, price-wise. With your longer time-frame, I like the Athens break in the middle ... and it helps with your switch-over from driving to ferry. Your Sifnos timing is perfect -- have you chosen accoms yet? I have some recommends. I think u should be able to get to Santorini OK on desired day... by mid-Spring u will see the fuller ferry service. BTW, I'm happy to say I advised Karen and am SO glad her trip worked out well, including the hotels. If hers are booked, I have further thoughts for all your stops except Meteora (somehow in 13 trips I haven't been fascinated to go see where men built highplaces to escape the temptations of women! A good UTube video does it for me).

Final thought: when u return to ATH aft before going home, no need to stay o'nite at pricey Sofitel in bleak flat treeless airport area ... 2 options nearby are Hotel Avra, 25 mins away (free shuttle there & back), overlooking beach 200 yds from Rafina town square & tree-shaded cafes - https://www.hotelavra.gr ... or St. Thomas B & B 10 mins away, little Greek manse in olive grove, w. pool, sumptuous breakfast buffet - https://www.stay-in-athens.com ...tell Janet that Janet from Philly sent you.
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Old Oct 27th, 2023, 05:55 AM
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Thank you all for the great feedback!

KarenWoo – thanks for clarifying. I am just thrilled to find out that it is possible to fly in/out of Santorini to International locations for less than the $2,000 + that I was seeing initially.

There definitely appear to be conflicting opinions regarding “don’t stay any later in June than necessary” and “go to Athens last”…I think my strategy will be to try to find a flight home out of Santorini and if that fails, bump the trip out by a few days and go to Athens last. The Santorini dates are not likely to change.

I looked at the cruise ship schedule for the whole month between mid-May and mid-June and there is ONE other day that has a low number of cruise ships – May 24. I fear this is just a bit too early for us as we would like slightly warmer beach weather, and it is only one single day. For our June dates, it is June 7, 8, 9 that has low cruise ship traffic. By saying this, I will probably jinx myself and they will change the schedule!!

Geetika – thank you for all the great recommendations! We are planning to stay in a cave hotel in Capadoccia. Kelebek was my first choice but it is beyond our price range. Luckily there are lots of cave hotel options. I will definitely look at your suggestions for Istanbul.

We got extremely lucky for accommodation in Santorini. A good friend is giving us hotel points to stay at a gorgeous luxury hotel on the caldera in Oia. I think we will end up going to Santorini a day early, and we will take your advice to explore the other part of the island. We will really enjoy that!

Travelerjan, thanks for your encouragement. I am really excited about Sifnos. I struggled with “which Greek island is for me” and I am really happy with my decision. I think we will love it. I would welcome recommendations about where to stay!! Not just on Sifnos, but everywhere. Thanks for that offer! Also, great suggestion about hotel if we do have to return to Athens for flight home.

Everyone’s advice is so helpful and I know it will help me plan a trip that is right for us!
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Old Oct 27th, 2023, 06:36 AM
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ljturco, lucky you getting a fancy hotel in Oia! Donít worry about the crowds, most of the cruisers come there around 10ish. Suggest you walk around earlier, then head out to other spots, to return early evening. That way youíll miss the worst of the day trippers.

We had dinner one evening at Lotza, on the main street in Oia. They donít take reservations, but were able to seat our party of 7 in about 20 minutes. Food was good, though Akaiton was much better. Beautiful caldera views, but we couldnít catch the sunset as it was overcast that evening.

Kelebek was quite reasonably priced when we went in 2014, rates seem to have gone up from what you say, though Istanbul hotels have been more or less the same.
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Old Oct 27th, 2023, 10:38 AM
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if you really like to hike (in May), you should check the Lycian Way.
You might fly to IST, stay there for a few days, then fly to Nevseshir, visit GŲreme/Ilhara Valley, etc. go on by bus to Aksaray - Konya - Antalya , visit the huge ancient ruins, temples and theatres around (Side, Aspendos, Perge) and hike the portioin of the Lycian Way you like best, board a local ferry at Kas and a Rhodos - Kos - Piraeus (Athens) bound) overnight ferry at Kastellorizo. Change ferry at Rhodos for Santorini.
As an alternative, you may fly from Kayseri to Izmir, go on by bus to Kusadasi, by local ferry to Samos and by Greek ferry to Mykonos - Piraeus. Change ferry at Mykonos for Santorini.
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Old Oct 27th, 2023, 05:27 PM
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Quick drop and run since I can't type a ton on my phone! But we stayed two years in a row at Aydinli Cave Hotel in Goreme. They were such lovely people I actually felt a lump in my throat when leaving. Although it's been a decade, a quick glance at their reviews seem to indicate their standards are still high.
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 10:51 AM
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PegS - thanks for the recommendation! I will look at the Aydinli Cave Hotel.

Neckervd - The Lycian Way would be fantastic! That and the Western and Southern coasts of Turkey, plus the Greek Islands off of Turkey's coast, will have to be saved for our next trip! I also had to "give up" Ephesus for this itinerary. Turkey is just so big and travel distances are not quick. I'm sure I will start planning Turkey and Greece Trip 2 shortly after this trip!
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 11:14 AM
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Yes, so much to see in Turkey and Greece you need multiple trips! Donít forget Pamukkale next time, and Aphrodisias. And a gullet trip from Kas, something I have always wanted to doÖ
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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by PegS
Quick drop and run since I can't type a ton on my phone! But we stayed two years in a row at Aydinli Cave Hotel in Goreme. They were such lovely people I actually felt a lump in my throat when leaving. Although it's been a decade, a quick glance at their reviews seem to indicate their standards are still high.
We just stayed at the Aydinli Cave Hotel this past June and I also highly recommend it. My daughter and her fiancť had a mild bout of food poisoning that left them out of commission for a day and a half. The hotel serves a full breakfast and when they saw me picking up bananas and some bread rolls to take back to their room for them, they said they would boil potatoes and deliver other foodstuffs that would be ok for their upset stomachs to their room. The owners and staff really go out of their way to be helpful and friendly.
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Old Jan 12th, 2024, 06:44 AM
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Hi all,
After a couple months off from trip planning, I am back to my Greece and Turkey itinerary and I have some more questions, especially for @travelerjan who so kindly offered to provide suggestions for hotels etc. Is it best to continue with this thread or post a new one? I will start here and then can move it to a new thread if that's better...

We are ready to purchase our out-bound flights. Good fares on Turkish Airlines right now, so I'm going to go for it! Due to rates being lower mid-week, we are adding two days to our itinerary. I am hoping to get suggestions on how to spend those extra days.

Here is our itinerary now:

May 15 - leave home (Eastern USA)
May 16 - arrive Istanbul, transfer immediately to Cappadocia
May 17 - Cappadocia
May 18 - Cappadocia
May 19 - Cappadocia
May 20 - mid-morning flight to Istanbul
May 21 - Istanbul
May 22 - Istanbul
May 23 - Istanbul
May 24 - Istanbul
May 25 - fly to Athens airport, pick up car, drive immediately to Meteora
May 26 - Meteora
May 27 - Delphi (1 overnight)
May 28 - Athens
May 29 - Athens
May 30 - Athens
May 31 - add extra day to Athens for day trip or something else?
June 1 - add extra day to Athens for day trip or something else?
June 2 - ferry to Sifnos
June 3 - Sifnos
June 4 - Sifnos
June 5 - Sifnos
June 6 - ferry to Santorini - need to find moderate-priced accommodation for one night
June 7 - Santorini (hotel reservations made at Mystique luxury resort, Oia)
June 8 - Santorini -same hotel
June 9 - fly home from Santorini or one night near Athens airport

My questions:
1. What should we do with our two extra days? I can add them anywhere in the itinerary, including Turkey if that's best. My thoughts are:
a. stay in Athens and do day-trip to Hydra or even do two overnights in Hydra;
b. stay in Athens and do day-trip to Corinth, Mycenea etc;
c. spend two nights in Peleponnese
d. between Sifnos and Santorini, add an island - perhaps Milos for two nights - would this help with the ferry route? I am struggling to find a ferry from Sifnos to Santorini on June 6 and perhaps Milos will be an easier connection.
2. In Sifnos, I think we have decided to stay in Kamares. We really do love to take a dip after a day of hiking / sightseeing. Any hotel recommendations that are on the beach? My husband is a nature enthusiast, so I was thinking Hotel Boulis. Any thoughts on this?
3. I have added a day in Santorini so that we will have two full days there. With the ferry schedule (which I can't figure out), I was worried we would arrive too late the first day to be able to do anything. Our priorities in Santorini are the hike from Fira to Oia and an afternoon/sunset catamaran excursion. On our extra day, we would like to explore Akrotiri or some smaller cities. Any recommendations for a hotel for this one extra night? It does not need to be near the caldera, as we already have two nights in a luxury hotel on the caldera in Oia (given to us by a generous friend). OR, if it is possible to arrive in Santorini before noon on June 7, then we could use June 6 as another extra day (to add to the two above)
4. we would love to have an AirBNB for one section of the trip - maybe Athens - to save a bit of money on food and do laundry. Any recommendations for an AirBNB that is centrally located? We try to stay under $150 / night on accommodations but understand that some areas are higher.

All other suggestions / critiques are also welcome!!!

Thanks!
Laura




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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 03:28 AM
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May be you ckeck whether it's cheaper to buy a ticket from your home airport directly to Nevsehir (with plane change at IST) or to buy 2 separate tickets.
Furthermore, it may not be more expensive to fly directly fron Cappadocia (Kayseri, Nevsehir) to Athens and to visit Istanbul at the end..
There are tons of possibilities
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 11:12 AM
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Would it work for you to add a couple of nights in the Peloponnese between Delphi and Athens? Nafplio is obvious but there is also accommodation in Nea Epidauros (coastal town) or Mycenae.

In Nafplio, we stayed at the quirky but adorable apartment Archontiko Kolokotroni, three bedrooms and with a washing machine. There’s your laundry wish sorted.

Extra night in Santorini? We really liked Hotel Mylos in Firostefani. Steps away from Aktaion so same marvellous views.
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 11:25 AM
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For the extra night in Santorini, we loved Blue Dolphin apartments in Firostefani. This is one of Travelerjan's recommendations. Price was about $230 for a lovely room with a balcony overlooking the caldera. About a 5-minute walk from Aktaion, the delicious and affordable restaurant that Travelerjan also recommended.
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 07:16 AM
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"Price was about $230 for a lovely room with a balcony overlooking the caldera"
That has absolutely nothing to do with prices on traditional Greek Islands.
But it's justified by the fact that hordes of American and Asian touristss overrun Santorini, even in low season.
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 09:14 AM
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Add a stay in Napflion!
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