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Researching possible Greek island trip and need help!

Researching possible Greek island trip and need help!

Old Mar 31st, 2010, 07:40 AM
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Researching possible Greek island trip and need help!

I have posted several threads on here about a May, 2011 trip (yes, I know its early but I am a perpetual planner). We are now considering Greece. At first we were considering the mainland but now decided that maybe the islands would be nice. However, I am at a total loss and it's giving me a headache, literally.

There are too many islands! Is there a nice website on Greek islands that kind of lists what each island has to offer so we can get a better feel for where we may want to visit? Trying to figure out which islands to visit, and how to go about getting between them, is a challenge. We would like to visit Santorini, just because it looks so beautiful. I would prefer if the next island would maybe be a little less touristy. We don't need nightlife. We do like history, beautiful scenery, and just strolling around little towns and taking drives/exploring.

Also, now that I'm thinking about it, does it make sense to even do a multiple-island trip with just a week? We would like to spend a day/night in Athens. I was thinking 3 nights in Santorini, 3 nights on another island, and 1 night in Athens before flying home, but I guess that would depend on what time we would get back into Athens on our final day. I do want time to see some of the sights. We don't mind taking it slow, and would be perfectly happy renting a vacation apartment and spending 5-6 nights in one place if that makes the most sense.

I will eventually pick up a Greece guidebook but will wait until we are definitely committed as there are a few other options we are considering as well. I usually don't have much trouble planning but the Greek islands has me stumped. I've attempted to plan a Greece trip a few years ago and ran into the same problems. I just don't know where to begin.

Thanks!
Tracy
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 07:43 AM
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One more thing; I noticed that some of the ferry companies have high-speed boats to the islands. This sounds appealing except for the fact that I tend to get motion-sickness and I read that these can be quite rough. Should I avoid them?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 08:08 AM
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Hi again, we seem to have similar interests. I planned for a Greece trip but then could not find an airfare I could stomach.
I have found the high speed boats better for me than the slow ferries, but that won't much matter because in early May there may be much reduced ferry routes. Every year, Thomas Cook publishes a greek ferry guide.
You could fly to Santorini and then ferry to Naxos or one of the other Cyclades islands (that was one of my potential plans). You could also bypass Athens entirely and spend a week in Crete (my first choice). Third alternative is Athens and the Peloponnese. Many more options of course.
This website may help: http://www.greecetravel.com/
Good Luck!
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 08:15 AM
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I'm sure some other posters will add some helpful advice but I just wanted to re-assure you, you are not alone. I have wanted to do a Greek trip for some time now but it overwhelms me too and always decide to do something else. We did take a cruise that stopped at several islands and it was nice but obviously not in depth. But lately I have been thinking of 2011 as maybe Greece again, for the first time - my goal is to read every Greece post on here this year! I have figured out, the islands are in groups and it is probably easiest to move about within one group. So I am thinking maybe Santorini and Naxos or Paros. The whole ferry thing seems so much more "fluid" than the main land trains (can you tell I'm a planner!) But I think a day or two in and out of Athens, then 3 or 4 days on Santorini and the same on another, more laid back? island would make a pleasant trip. I do think some of the other islands are "greener" than Santorini - both Corfu and Rhoades were very appealing when we sopped there on the cruise and they are both large enough that you could probably spend at least a week exploring there. Let's see what advice the other psoters give!
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 08:49 AM
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Better than a website and more in-depth is T. Cook's "Greek Island Hopping". See if your library or bookstore has a copy.

In my opinion, one of many, 2 islands and Athens in a week is too much. Considering the wasted time packing, getting to the ferry port, going to the next island (or back to Athens), finding your hotel and unpacking, you will lose a good part of one day. If Santorini is at the top of your list and you'd really "be perfectly happy renting a vacation apartment and spending 5-6 nights in one place" you could pick a much worse island. I also believe you will need at least 2 full days to explore Athens. Save Athens for the end so you build in a couple of extra days to get back to the mainland in case of unforseen delays/cancellations out on your island of choice.
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 09:15 AM
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Thank you all for your replies! Yes, we will definitely stay put in one location, as that makes the most sense. We have considered Crete in the past, mostly for it's history. Is Crete a pretty island? I'm also a little concerned about spending the entire time in Santorini because it seems so touristy, although obviously for good reason. Is there areas on Santorini that we could focus on staying that aren't quite as touristy, meaning away from the cruise ship docks and daytrippers? Is early May a good time to visit either of these islands? Is there another island we should be considering based on our preferences?

Thanks!
Tracy
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 09:21 AM
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When you list what you like to do, Crete and the Peloponnesean Peninsula fit. Santorini has beautiful views but was our least favorite place in Greece, packed with cruise ship tours, and our hotel in Oia had non-Greek staff and was full of Americans.It's pretty but we felt like we had left Greece. Go to Paros or Naxos or consider some of the other island groups. Rent a car and get into the hills,small towns and less populated areas along the coast.
We are independent travelersw but we used a GReek travel agent in Athens to plan
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 09:27 AM
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Imerovigli is quiet and far enough from the cruise ship crowds to give you the peace and beauty you seek as well as spectacular views of the caldera and sunset. May is an excellent time to go. The later in the month you go the better the weather will be.

Naxos and Paros are larger and are not on any cruise ship itinerary so they're not as hectic. Make your choice based on the sort of vacation you want. If you're the type of traveller that needs to be on the go all the time then Santorini might not be for you, although if you like to relax and laze around and read or take casual strolls, use your camera, etc., your days will not feel empty.

Highspeed ferries are fine if the water is calm.
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 09:44 AM
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yorkshire, thank you for the link! That is exactly what I was looking for. I'm going through his descriptions of the islands right now.
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 09:47 AM
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HappyTrvlr, I appreciate your thoughts on Santorini. That is my fear, that it will be overrun with tourists. I am pretty anti-crowd, overall, and dealing with lots of crowds every day would just stress me out.

brotherleelove2004, thank you again for your response. I'll check out Imerovigli and both Naxos and Paros. We don't have to be doing things all the time, but I'm not a "sit on the beach all day" kind of person either.
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 11:11 AM
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yorkshire, great link!

on another note, can someone tell me how expensive is greece and the islands? are we talking Paris-expensive? or "affordable" expensive?
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 11:45 AM
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Hi Tracy...

How nice that you are going to be getting a few days away on your own - it's really important to be doing that.

Anyway, I've only ever been to one Greek island, in the Ionian sea and well away from Santorini and those other well-visited islands.

But if you want somewhere really off the beaten track, quiet and with private beaches, then you could consider Paxos. This link is to an apartment owned by some friends of mine, I stayed there in 2001 before it was renovated - when it was really basic. When in the shower the view was directly across to the Greek mainland!

Anyway I loved it then, and my friends still go there 3-4 times every summer. They first visited Paxos on their honeymoon more than 20 years ago and loved it so much they've been back every year since and bought this apartment in 1999. They've only just put it with an agency and started to rent it out to others than friends and family.

When I was there the currency was still drachma. With the euro coming in prices have increased, and some of the restaurants are more expensive than others, but my friends tell me it is still 'affordable'.
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 11:50 AM
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Ooops, forgot to paste in the link...

http://domain360711.sites.fasthosts....ty/lemonia.htm

BTW, you fly to Corfu, take a taxi to the harbour, and then a lovely chap called Nikos takes you on his water taxi direct to Loggos harbour. There is a ferry that takes you to Gaios, the main town on Paxos, but then you have to get a bus or taxi to Loggos. You won't feel seasick on Nikos's boat unless the weather and sea are really unkind to you.
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 01:07 PM
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Here is another link that gives good succinct descriptions of the Greek Islands -- it's by a young Greek schoolmaster, which means it's a bit more youth-oriented than the Matt barrett Website (dear Matt is very Grey by now), and because this guy's a teacher, he knows how to present things effectively: http://www.greek-islands.us/

However, TC, I echo BrotherLeeLove in his urging -- Look at a Guide Book!! You have the time you are not going until 2011. And you don't even have to buy one; go to the library, Charlotte has a good one, if they don't have theone u want, they'lll get it on library loan. But don't try to wing it totally on the internet. Trying to find all the info you want on the internet, is like being thirsty and getting in the shower to have a drink.... You get wet all over, yet still don't quench your thirst. A guidebook is like someone pouring you a glass of water... you take it in at your speed, and get what you need.

Cook's ISLAND HOPPING shows where the main ferry routes go... here's an online map that does the same: http://www.greeceathensaegeaninfo.co...erry-chart.htm -- and here's a map of all the islands. Looking at these will keep you from the fantasy that some people have, of going to Corfu, then to Rhodes, in a week!
http://courses.cit.cornell.edu/his45...eece%20Map.gif

And try to make it stick in your mind: with 7 nights, you can do ONE island and ATHENS. Or you can fly to one island for 36 hours, ferry to another island for 48 hours, then fly back to Athens for 2-plus days... and end the week exhausted. It's your call.
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 01:58 PM
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Hey Julia! My mom offered to watch the girls so we can go on a trip. By that time they will be 1.5 years old and we'll need a break! And thank you for the information. I'll definitely look into it.

Jan, thank you for your advice. I definitely plan on picking up a guidebook at some point. We are still considering a few other options as well (although at this point Greece is in the lead) and wanted to wait until I had it narrowed down before I purchased or rented a book. Thank you for the links!

As I mentioned above, we will stay in only one location plus a few nights in Athens at the end. I prefer a slower pace anyhow. I'm just trying to figure out which island would the best fit for us. I've been perusing the Greek Travel website, as he has tons of information for the islands.

Tracy
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 02:24 PM
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Tracy

Another island to think about is Hydra. Travel time from Athens is only a few hours by hydrofoil.

Picturesque, some terrific architecture and a favourite of Athenians (and Princess Diana if I recall correctly!).

http://www.greekisland.co.uk/hydra/hydra.html

This would allow you perhaps an extra day or two in Athens, which is well worth it.

Bill
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Old Mar 31st, 2010, 05:51 PM
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Oh my goodness I have a small list of islands I am interested in and I haven't even made it through most of Matt Barrett's island section! But right now I am leaning towards Sifnos, although I also wrote down Milos, Naxos and Syros as possibilities as well.

I would absolutely love to see Santorini, but I know how I am with crowds and I think that, for me, it would take away from my experience. I remember visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia in November of 06. The town was pretty quiet until our last day there, when a cruise ship docked an the tiny town became packed with cruise shippers. Having experienced the two extremes, I was glad we were not there during a more popular time of the year and I just wanted to leave.

Off to do more research now that the girls are asleep!

Tracy
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 02:09 PM
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We love to visit seaside areas of the world but are learning to check and see if they are cruise ship ports first. I guess could say we use "cruise ship avoidance" as a planning tool. Of course some of our favorite large cities are cruise ship destinations too but not so heavily impacted.
We enjoyed Paros and Naxos in the Cyclades and Spetses near Hydra.
Also, check out Napflion on the Peloponnesean Penninsula too, a lovley small city surrounded by so much history.
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 08:22 PM
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Tracy, I know you said you want to avoid cruise ship crowds, but if you want to see a few islands, a cruise may be the way to go. We are going to Greece in September, and like you, being first-timers, were having a hard time figuring out which island(s) to visit. Most people agree that Santorini is spectacular, but I have also had friends tell me that Rhodes and Crete were amazing. I picked up at least 2 guidebooks and still had a hard time deciding! So we decided to do a 7-day cruise from Athens that visits 4-5 islands. That way, we get to sample a few islands - I compared it in my mind to ordering a bunch of tapas as opposed to one entree...I'm a foodie, I can't help it and the advantage of the cruise is, we only unpack once, and there are no hassles of running to catch early morning flights, ferries, etc. And the way we look at it, we'll get a little taste of several islands, and depending on which one(s) we like the best, we know those are the ones to spend a few days on for a return visit. So give that some thought. And by the way, do leave at least 2 days for Athens - we have 2 days planned there, and I am really thinking it won't be enough, but sadly, work calls!
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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 03:53 PM
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My husband and I and a friend are wanting to go do Athens, a few quiet islands and Instanbul, Tukey for three weeks in early June. I know it is crazy to do something this big with short notice but our friend received terrible health news and we need to do this trip now. We do not like to rush while traveling and we love the idea of peaceful, beautiful, quiet, Greek island(s)for relaxing beach time as well as sight seeing. Ideas? Where should we start? We looked at some cruises but they try to cover too much territory in a short time. Help please.
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