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Questions about Crete and other islands of Greece

Questions about Crete and other islands of Greece

Old Oct 24th, 2010, 12:12 PM
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Questions about Crete and other islands of Greece

My husband and I will be going to Greece with good friends for the first time June 2011. They have a home on Crete in Chania and we will most likely be staying with them. Plan is to have 7 nights to explore Crete. We are excited to be able to see Crete with people who know it best. However, they are leaving it to me to make a list of other must sees and I'm not sure which islands to put on my short list. We will be spending time in Athens to see the Acropolis, etc. I'm thinking Delos, Santorini, Rhodes. Are there others we should not miss?? How many days/nights are necessary in these other islands?? We will probably be using the ferry system to get from place to place, only flying from Athens to Crete. Crete will be the base for the other trips. Total length of trip undecided as we may visit some other countries while we're in Europe. Thinking Italy and/or Egypt.

We are in our mid-late 60s. Husband would love to be able to do some snorkeling or better yet-some scuba diving if possible. I enjoy photography and am in love with classical/ancient Greece so places like Knosos would interest me.

Interested in any advice. Thanks.
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Old Oct 24th, 2010, 04:15 PM
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Delos is not an island where you can find a hotel and explore at your leisure. To visit Delos you must take an excursion boat daytrip from Mykonos, Paros or Naxos, so adjust your itinerary accordingly. Rhodes is way too far out of the way to be included with Santorini and Mykonos, Paros or Naxos.

Along with some other ferries, there is a reliable highspeed ferry between Heraklion on Crete and Santorini, Paros and Mykonos that leaves Crete daily except for a couple of Wednesdays every month. http://www.ferries.gr/hfd There are no ferries from Chania to another island.

Ferry schedules for next June won't be available until sometime in April. You can find all ferry schedules here when they're available. http://www.gtp.gr

"Crete will be the base for the other trips"....If you're thinking of using Crete for a base while you explore other islands you will discover that ferry schedules will not conveniently permit that. You can island hop then fly back to Athens from one of many different islands, including Santorini, Naxos, Paros and Mykonos.
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Old Oct 24th, 2010, 10:15 PM
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You can spend a full 7 days and still not see all of Crete...the Samarian Gorge takes a full day to hike and then take a boat and bus back to the start..Chania itself can be an all day affair.
The temple at Knossos is near Heraklion and the museum is in Heraklion. The western end of the island (Chania is in the west) is more remote than the eastern. Roads are extremely winding and driving is not for the faint of heart.
Some of the remote beaches on Crete are worth a trip.
There is an overnight ferry from Piraeus (Athens) that docks near Chania. There is an airport near Chania but most flights to other islands go through Athens. Heraklion is approx 90 minute drive from Chania so a day trip to Santorini while theoretically possible is a daunting prospect. The island of Crete is small but train service is nonexistent, buses are slow and driving is not quite as bad as Naples but close.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 05:51 AM
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I agree with DougP. My wife and I spent a week in Crete with a basis in Rethymnon, and a small Toyota Yaris rental, paying 100 E/night at a great hotel (by american standards, with breakfast buffet) and still was not enough to see the whole islands, much less enjoy it. But we managed to go to the knossos, drove around the island from rethumnon eastward-ly, and stops to knossos as I mentioned. Then to Ag. Nikolaos, paleochori, and around to the southern part of the island along the way to the 'nude' beaches, accessible only via a trecherous hike . Then on to Ierapetra, where the views of the Libyan sea from the hotels are great. Need to allow time for a visit to the part of the island (between Ag. Nikolaos and Heraklion) at the top of the mountain where is the only part of the island from which you can view simoultaneously both the Libyan sea as well as the Aegean sea.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 02:36 PM
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Guess I wasn't clear enough. Crete will be our base because we're staying with friends who have a home in Chania. Length of time- 2 weeks. Will spend several days in Crete, then go to Santorini, back to Crete for few days, then to some other islands, coming back to Crete in between. Does that make sense or is there a better way?? Open to all advice as husband and I have never been to Greece before. I don't think we were planning to do day trips from Crete to the other islands. I do know we have to leave from Heraklio/Irakleio to get to Santorini. Will spend 1 or 2 nights there and return to Crete.

brotherleelove2004-Should we ferry to Mykonos/Paros (which one?) for 2 nights with day excursion to Delos??

DougP-Once you enter the trail to hike the gorge do you have to do the entire distance?? MY husband will probably do the entire hike but I only feel capable of 3 hours max. Could I hike for an hour or so, turn around, and go back the way I came in??

yannis-Thanks for the suggestions. I love beautiful scenery so will definitel check some of places you mentioned.

I guess I need some help. What islands would you recommend to visit from Crete and why.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 02:43 PM
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"Husband would love to be able to do some snorkeling"

I have spent 42 years travellingto Southern Europe by the sea. Must have been over 100 times. I used to snorkel all the time and see maybe a couple of fish.

Two years ago, we went to The Bahamas for the first time. Now we don't even take your mask/snorkel to the Mediterranean. If you have snorkelled in other areas of the world, Europe can be a huge disappointment.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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yanumpty-Oh, that's too bad about the snorkeling/diving. Husband would agree with you about the Bahamas. He went on a shark dive the morning of our daughter's wedding!! We've done the whole Caribbean route so what you're saying is forget Europe. We are thinking about Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt if we go there just so he can dive. We will just have to enjoy Greece, Crete, the islands from above. Thanks for the info.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 03:52 PM
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You can enter the Samarian Gorge from the bottom and hike up part way in and then back out again, easy to do. Drive to Chora Skafion and take a ferry to Agia Roumeli,the town where the gorge ends. Also on Crete, try to visit Elafonisi Beach on the western coast.
We spent two weeks in Crete near Chania but visited the islands before arriving in Crete. If you keep leaving and returning to Crete ,you'll add a lot of extra travel time.
I would chose Paros over Mykonos; it's closer to Santorini too..Delos is facinating.
Hopefully, Akrotiri has reopened on Santorini.
You will love Chania!
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 04:28 PM
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I'd chooose Paros, too, combined with Santorni. And actually, Paros is closer to Mykonos than to Santorni by 1/2 hour on the highspeed ferry.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 04:46 PM
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I think all the travelling back and forwards from Crete will wear you out. I would suggest having time on Crete then visit one or two other islands then back to Athens and leave. Have you checked out ferry or flight timetables to see how long things take? We have been on a few trips to the Greek islands and love it there, but find it's not a particularly easy trip to plan because you can't always get where you want to go easily, so we end up choosing different islands that do work.

On one trip, we had a week in Chania and really enjoyed it, caught an overnight ferry back to Piraeus then visited Hydra for a few nights. Hydra is quite close to the mainland.

I would say Santorini is easily the most spectacular of the islands we've seen but I thought Mykonos town was very picturesque. We did a half day trip to Delos from Mykonos - just walked to the pier, paid our money and jumped on the boat. Delos was interesting but very hot and dry with no shade. No one lives there and facilities are extremely minimal.

Do some checking on timetables and see what will actually work for your trip, and remember an hour flight or 2 hour ferry ride can actually mean it takes all day, by the time you leave your hotel and check in at the other end. So having one night on an island makes no sense to me at all.

I haven't checked to see if this would work but you could have a week on Crete, then fly or ferry to Santorini, then ferry to Mykonos and day trip to Delos. Then fly or ferry back to Athens and leave.

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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 04:54 PM
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Roads are extremely winding and driving is not for the faint of heart.>>

30 or so years ago we rented a car in Chania, and set off to drive round the west and south of the island, following the alleged road marked on the map given us by the hire company. so far as I can gather, it STILL doesn't exist as much more than a dirt track. luckily we had rented a Renault 4 from "rent a wreck" and the high clearance saved us from a large insurance claim.

it was a lot of fun though! Crete is definitely worth a 2 week stay [and more] all by itself.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 07:33 PM
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First off, how wonderful that you have friends on Crete where you can stay!

I would agree with the other posts. Going to an island from Crete, returning to Crete and then going to another island doesn't make sense as far as best use of your time. I'd decide how much time you want to spend on Crete, start there and then work your way back to Athens. Santorini is a great stop en route to Athens, then pick one other island to stop on. To me, Delos is worth a visit, if you enjoy ancient sites. Of course, it's most convenient from Mykonos. You can also do a day trip from Paros and maybe Tinos? Depending on how many times you want to check in and out, you could stop on Mykonos for a night to see Delos and enjoy the town. It really is picturesque and the beaches are beautiful.
I guess the real decision is the number of nights on Crete, then you'll know how many nights are left to work back to Athens. It's a tough decision because there are so many islands. Just know that whatever you pick you won't be disappointed.
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Old Oct 25th, 2010, 07:53 PM
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Possible itinerary

Arrive Athens June 23, 2011
4 nights Athens
Fly to Crete June 27, 2011
7 nights on Crete
Fly from Crete to Rhodes 2 nights
Fly back to Crete
1-2 nights Crete
Ferry to Santorini 2 nights
Ferry to Mykonos or Paros or Naxos 2 nights, day trip to Delos
Ferry to Athens
Overnight near airport
Flight to Rome or Cairo

Greece trip around 21 days

Does this sound ok??
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 12:52 AM
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Just a couple of comments to add:

When planning the two days on Mykonos or Paros, consider that day trips from Paros to Delos leave only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and take about 8 hours. Trips from Mykonos leave three times a day except Mondays when the site is closed, and the boat trip takes 30 minutes each way. Trips from either island can be cancelled on days when winds are too strong. Get your days wrong and you could miss out on Delos.

Re yanumpty's comments on snorkelling: I've snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, but still bring my snorkel and mask with me to Greece. True, there is no coral or colorful tropical fish, but the water is crystal-clear. Snorkel around rock formations and you will see fish, perhaps even a small octopus. Manage your expectations, and snorkelling in Greece can still be fun.
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 04:43 AM
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Can you fly directly from Crete to Rhodes or do you have to go through Athens?
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 05:10 AM
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I believe during summer Sky Express (a Crete based airline) has flights between Crete and Rhodes. These are small turboprop aircraft with a 12.5 kg baggage allowance, so pack light.
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 06:22 AM
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Judy-Heimdall is correct. I found that Sky Express will fly from Herakio to Rhodes for around 100 euros one way per person with discounts for children. I really don't want to miss Rhodes.

Heimdall-Since it seems like there are more day trips to Delos from Mykonos we should ferry there instead of Paros?? Also the time is so much shorter. We probably will bring our snorkel gear so thanks for the info.

I know our friends wanted to take us around but now I'm wondering if my husband and I should look at taking a "tour" of sorts. Does anyone know anything about a company I found on the internet called greeka.com?? They can do a 19 day island hopping tour which also includes the 4 night classical Greece tour, staying at 3 star hotels for 2000 euros each. We'd have to get to Istanbul by ourselves. Includes 2 nights Istanbul, 2 in Kusadasi, 2 in Samos, 2 in Paros, 2 in Mykonos, 2 in Santorini, 2 in Athens, 1 in Olympia, 1 in Delphi, 1 in Kalambaka, 1 in Athens. We would do this first, then meet our friends in Athens on June 24-3 nights in Athens-fly to Crete-7 nights in Crete-fly to Rhodes for 2 nights-fly back to Crete for 1 or 2 nights-fly to Athens. With this amount of time we would not go on to Rome or Cairo as I'm thinking we will be ready to go home!! This company arranges all the transfers, the flight to Izmir, all the ferry tickets and port charges, several breakfasts, lunches, dinners, full day tours of Istanbul and Ephesus, 1/2 day Bosporous cruise, 1/2 day Athens tour after Santorini and all tours, etc. for the last 4 nights of classical Greece tour. Ferries include the sea jet, the flying cat, and the Blue Star. It sounds great and I read some reviews that seemed positive. You also can choose to stay in 4 or 5 star hotels for more $$$. What do you think about this??
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 06:41 AM
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Giving travel advice is hard and I think when any aspect of travel is "out the ordinary" good or bad, I usually advise on the bad and remain calm on the good. This is on the basis that if you buidl something up too much, it rarely meets expectations. However, is some aspect is lacking it is sometimes worth pointing this out so that travellers are aware of a potential deficiency.

For instance, I heard so much about the city of Vancouver that when we got there it was a bit of a let down. On the other hand I wish someone would have warned me about the food in The Bahamas.

My point about the snorkeling in Greece is simply don't expect reefs, many fish or any other sealife. I saw more in half an hour in The Bahamas than I had seen in 42 years in Europe.

We also love Rhodes but be careful as to which mass resorts to avoid. Most Greek islands suffer from the same blight and have small areas of over-developement which can be awful. Resorts like Faliraki are dire unless you are 20 and have an alcohol dependency.

Rhodes town has a lovely marina area and the old town still retains many of its Crusader architecture.

Crete is now up there with some of the most up market destinations in Europe. It has had huge amounts of investment to attract 5 star resorts. Incidently, we have found the south east of the island has some of the best snorkeling we have had in Europe. I am afraid you will not be feeding the nurse sharks by hand though!

Sharm el Sheikh

Haven't been but my father has snorkeling everywhere (and I mean everywhere) (sorry not the Maldives but everywhere else).
I rates it number 3 after GB Reef and Bora Bora. He found the hammerhead sharks a little too much.
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 06:44 AM
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Sharm el Sheikh

If you do go be careful of the dive operators. My father has been 4 times and some a them think safety is a major inconvenience to profit. One outfit nearly killed him though poor planning and supervision.
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 11:40 AM
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Hi Chris45ny,

Paros would be okay for a visit to Delos as long as you get your dates right. The excursion boats actually come from Naxos, but the trip is shorter from Paros because they pick up passengers at Naoussa after leaving Naxos, then drop them off first at the end of the day. Excursions from Naxos/Paros are only on Tue, Thu, & Sun.

If your primary reason is to visit Delos, Mykonos is a safer bet. Boats leave Mykonos harbor at 9, 10, and 11 am every day except Monday. Take the 9 am boat and you arrive on Delos an hour earlier than the Paros/Naxos tour boats, and before most of the cruise ship passengers arrive. During that golden hour you have the site almost to yourself. You can see what you want on Delos, then take any of the boats back to Mykonos harbor in time for lunch if you wish. The last boat returns to Mykonos at 3 pm, so you can spend as much time on Delos as you like.

Whether you have a company arrange a tour for you, or if you DIY, all those 2 night and 1 night stops will make for a very hectic journey. Recommend you whittle down your destinations so you have time to enjoy the trip. Otherwise you will spend too much time en route and checking in and out of hotels. Sometimes less is more. ;-)
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