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Please validate my assumptions regarding the Greek Islands(Cyclades)

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Hello - I have another post on the board already regarding options in the Ardennes or Prague. DH has thrown the Ardennes out and added in the Cyclades and Athens. We will try to go from approx October 11th to the 22nd or 23rd. I am assuming that 2-3 days in Athens will be enough to hit the high points....understanding that on previous trips to other major cities, we've easily spent a week. I am looking at Mykonos, Santorini and possibly one other island for the other 10 days (9 with a travel day on the back end). The "other" island could be Naxos or Folegandros but I'm open to suggestions. I am concerned that Folegandros won't have much open after 10/1 and we cannot do this trip any earlier. I'm also looking at flying from Athens to Santorini and then taking ferries from there to Naxos and Mykonos and then back to Piraeus. The duration of the ferry between the islands needs to be factored into the trip and getting from Folegandros to Piraeus looks to be around 9 hours?? If we plan 4 days on Santorini, 3 on Mykonos and 2 on the third island, is that adequate? DH will already be in France on business prior to me arriving on the 12th. Thanks much!

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    You should be able to do some justice to Athens in 2-3 days.

    Of the islands you've mentioned, we've been to Naxos and Santorini. Santorini is stunning and is probably a good option in October, as you're more likely to find restaurants etc open.

    We've been to the islands a few times over the years, either beginning of season (May/June) or end of season (September).

    On Naxos - which is great and highly recommended - things were starting to close up at some of the smaller beaches around the island in September, so I expect this may be a factor in October. Naxos is still big enough to have plenty of options for accommodation, food etc however.

    We love the smaller islands (Lipsi, Anafi etc), but I would be hesitant to recommend them for a short trip in October because of the out of season factor noted above, and the potential difficulty with ferry connections.

    You could consider other bigger islands to the south (e.g. Rhodes and Crete), but to be honest Santorini, Naxos and Mykonos sounds like a good line up.

    As to ferries, for the main tourist islands, there will often be a fast ferry/'flying dolphin' option. These cost more but are definitely the way to go - shave heaps off your travel time. Some of the bigger, slower boats can be an experience if you have time, but aren't worth it in your case - the Romilda appeared to be a bit of a local joke in particular.

    Enjoy yourself.

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    There are no Flying Dolphins operating among the islands you've chosen but there are some highspeed catamarans. However, they will stop their seasonal operation sometime in mid-October.

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    The problem with combining Santorini with Mykonos in late October is: you can't get between the two without going back through Athens. Links between these islands are by summer-only catamarans. FlyingCat 4 ends on 7 October (it continues to run between Santorini and Crete through the end of the month). You will still have Superjet, which runs until 18 October (unless it decides to end its season early due to low bookings), but that ferry has a poor reliability record. Naxos will be an easier option, as it has daily ferry connections with Santorini year-round. Crete would also be a good choice, as it has a large year-round population.

    I cannot understand why so many people overlook the mainland when planning travel to Greece. While the islands are dead from the end of September (Santorini an exception), mainland locations such as Nafplio are still humming. Nafplio, in the Peloponnese, is a coastal town with an island feel, only two hours by road from Athens, and has many of the most important archaeological sites of Greece nearby. There is no risk of being stranded by weather or ferry strikes either. To me it would be a no-brainer including it in a late October itinerary.

    For an October itinerary I would consider Santorini - Naxos - Nafplio - Athens in that order> :-)

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    Now I will step in in defense of Athens. If you have easily spend a week on other cities, why you think that 2-3 days are enough for Athens? I understand that due to stupid political decisions on the '60s and '70s many beautiful neo-classical buildings were taken down to build dull cement flats and buildings with not much charm, and there is some anarchy and architecture is not always as attractive as on other European cities, but there are still some nice areas to hung around, plenty to see and do and a cheap and very convenient public transport system.. Maybe mostly due to pure marketing, people tend to believe that there is only Parthenon to be visited,otherwise I can not find an explanation on this "2 days are enough for Athens" trend...
    Acropolis site ticket alone, includes 5-6 additional sites and museums, then there is the Acropolis museum on a different management/ticket and then there is the Archeological museum that can easily take a day its self. Then there are many other very interesting museums, some focused on antiquities and many not. Even if you are not interested much on museums, I strongly believe that you might want to spend some time walking around and soak in the ambiance and people watch and take it easy to get a minimum understanding of a new place. Some people report that Plaka is commercialized and full of trashy shops, when they have only be on a rushed walk in the most touristy part of it and never explored the charming back streets. People say that Athens is crowded and noisy(I never get this comment when talking for a 5 million citizens' city...) when they never tried to take a nice stroll at Areopagitou street at evening, or enjoyed a walk and a snack on National Gardens, or never tried to walk on Philopappou hill or hop on metro and go on nicer areas such as Kifissia, or Alsos Papagou or even Piraeus.
    I then do not get why to spend most time on islands end/off season if you do not have a specific reason/interest on been there, such as for example really wanting to see Acrotiri or Delos or hike on Naxos or similar. Most activities and charm on the islands are outdoors focused and mostly beach related, and anyway, lets face it, ambiance is just not the same on late October as it on summer. Experience is simply not the same. Please don't get me wrong, I often travel off season, so I do not want to sound discouraging, but the point is to know why you want to go on those islands and what is there to do and see on October and not to go just to be there. It will be a pitty to dream of busy lanes, blue sea and sun and run into deserted towns and gray sky (what are your alternatives in case of rainy days on the islands? Nearly nothing!)

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    Good point Mariha,

    I also don't always understand why people go to the same 3-4 islands over and over again....
    What sense doest it make to visit 4-5 Cyclades Islands in a row.. that are pretty much similar.. when there is so much on Mainland Greece to see and to do...

    I am always surprised when i read threads about Italy and Turkey where people rent a car and explore even the tiniest spot that one can imagine, but only visit the same 3-4 islands when they come to Greece

    Is it lack of information? I am not sure.....

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