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Santorini, Naxos, Athens - itinerary input and a few other questions

Santorini, Naxos, Athens - itinerary input and a few other questions

Old Aug 9th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Santorini, Naxos, Athens - itinerary input and a few other questions

Hello:

I am planning an anniversary trip for my husband and I to the Greek Islands, Athens (brief), and then a few days in Amsterdam. We arrive in Athens on May 24th and - thanks to helpful information from Brotherleelove - our plan is to fly to Santorini that same evening. We are looking for a relaxing trip that incorporates a little of everything - hiking, beaches, wine, dining, maybe some nightlife (but not at all a priority), and mostly soaking in the local culture, views, and getting to know the area and its people. Our preference is to avoid crowds and concentrated touristic areas (though I am well aware that Santorini will have lots of visitors!). We are very fit and do not mind long walks or stairs etc. (As an example, we typically walk 5-10 miles on any given weekend day exploring our own community in and around San Diego).

Tentatively, we are planning to stay four nights in Santorini (May 24th - we'll get in late - until May 28th) and then six nights in Naxos (May 28th-June 3rd). We would take the ferry from Santorini to Naxos and then most likely fly back to Athens the morning of June 3rd (hopefully there is a flight in the a.m.!) Then we'll have one full day and night only in Athens, before departing for Amsterdam on the morning of June 4th. I am a little hesitant to have only one day in Athens, but my spouse has traveled there previously and did not love the city. He feels he would like to avoid the noise and crowds etc. and spend more time relaxing on the islands instead.

So, first, our itinerary.

Originally I thought of adding another island, e.g., Paros. But it seems that there are potential opportunities for day trips, e.g., from Santorini to Anafi, or Naxos to Paros or Antiparos, etc.. In general, we prefer to spend more time in fewer places so we can really get to know them and not feel rushed. However, I'm uncertain about this - would anyone recommend adding another island instead, so we can see a greater diversity of sights? If so, would Paros make the most sense?

If we do visit only Santorini and Naxos, does our division of time look reasonable? I see that the ferry departs Santorini for Naxos at around 4:00 p.m., so this would give us 6 days in Naxos and 4 in Santorni. Alternatively we could spend 3 nights on Santorini and 7 on Naxos.

Second, where to stay on the islands?

On Santorini, I am considering Imerovigli, in order to be in a quieter location on the island that still has beautiful views. I can see we will be able to walk to Fira easily, but I'm not sure about Oia. Is it walkable between these two locations? I see that there are buses as well, and we could also consider renting a car or scooter or moterbike for all or part of the time. I've contacted several hotels in Imerovigli and also Oia so this isn't finalized.

In Naxos, we will most likely stay at Kavos Naxos, which is in Agios Prokopios. This seems to be a good location for us since it's not in the crowded port area, but it does seem possible to walk to restaurants and beaches. Also it looks like their accommodations are fairly spacious, which will be nice for our extended stay. We will most likely rent a car for the week we are on Naxos, since it's a large island and we want to see a lot of different things.

If anyone has thoughts about our itinerary and other issues I would welcome your input. Thanks very much!
vanessa21 is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2010, 10:58 AM
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REgarding NAXOS --Kavos --- while a lovely luxury accommodation -- is in the "stelida" area, which is not all that convenient ... the beach you see from the hotel is not good for swims, and it's more of a trek than you might think to Ag. Prokopios and to restaurants. Kavos rather disguise this in their website, but reviews say "it would be a long hot hike to the beach" ... a 10-minute drive. Just be aware, you'll be in the car to go anywhere.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 11:22 AM
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Thanks Jan, helpful to know - you are right, that's not clear from the website. We would really like to be able to walk to restaurants, beaches, etc. at least some of the time, even though we do plan to have a car. I'll keep looking.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 11:34 AM
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Have a look at The Nissaki Beach Hotel which is right on St. George beach. We stayed there in June, and it was really outstanding, and a very short walk into town. The hotel does offer a few suites, so if you are looking for lux, that could be the way to go. All of the rooms are quite nice, and the kitchen is famous for turning out some really excellent food, all beachside with candelight tables. AHHHHH.....

About your other question: We also visited Paros and had a wonderful time there. We stayed just outside Naoussa in a friend's house, but really loved the town of Nauossa, and Golden Beach, which is famous for windsurfing. I think Paros is absolutely worth a few days of your vacation, but only you can decide if you want to split your time.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 11:40 AM
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Thanks Weadles. We are also considering the Nissaki Hotel - it looks very nice, though it's a little steep. But still under consideration!

I do like the idea of visiting Paros, I've just been looking at some information about the island and it certainly looks beautiful. We could reduce our time in Santorini to 3 nights, spend 4 in Naxos, and 3 in Paros. I would like to be able to fly back to Athens (so at least I can see the Acropolis and Parthenon before leaving!), and I would guess that would be feasible from Naxos but perhaps not Paros. So if we revise our itinerary in that manner, we would probably ferry from Santorni to Paros (assuming that is possible!) then to Naxos, and then fly back to Athens. I'm curious, were you happy that you visited both Naxos and Paros? And do you think 3 nights on Paros and 4 on Naxos would be a good division of time? Thanks again!
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Hi Vanessa,

Actually flying back to Athens from Paros is even more feasible, because it has three flights per day, one early morning, one early afternoon, and another late afternoon. Naxos has only one flight per day, but in the morning, so that would suit you as well.

Ferries run frequently between Naxos and Paros. Conventional ferries take an hour, and highspeeds about 30 minutes.

A 4/3 split between Naxos and Paros would be a good division of time. Both islands have much to offer, and from Paros you can take a day trip to Antiparos, my favorite island, which is only 30 minutes by excursion boat from the Paros port. That said, don't sell Athens short - it has much to see. Also recommend you return to Athens the day before your outbound flight just to be safe.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 01:19 PM
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While on Naxos you could also consider Naxos Resprt Beach Hotel which is about 200 meters down the beach from Nissaki but it is about 50 meters from the beach while Nissaki is directly on the very end of the beach.
You could also consider Hotel Galaxy. It is slightly lower star than the other two but last May it was only 100 euros. It is about 100 meters from the beach but does have ocaen views.
Here are pictures of both hotels.
Naxos Resort
http://travel.webshots.com/album/577946187UCiqtL
Galaxy
http://travel.webshots.com/album/577938219xWoGvP

These hotels are in St George beach area which is just adjacent to Naxos town. The proximity to town provides you with lots of diversions and is only a short 10 to 15 minute stroll away. St George will not be crowded when you are planning to be there.
While it is a great idea to rent a car Naxos town has so much to see and do you will be spending days when your car simply is not used. It is much better to just rent the car the night before you want to explore the island. here are some pictures of Naxos to show you what to expect.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/552001505EYxVYT
You can easily spend the 7 days in Naxos but Paros is very nice as well so the 4/3 split will also be a good choice.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 02:21 PM
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That is good to know about the flights from Paros via Naxos, thank you Heimdall. We will definitely be returning to Athens the day before our flight departs. I agree that we could spend some additional time there, but will have to negotiate this with my spouse!

I'm still uncertain, though leaning toward 3 nights in Santorini, 4 in Naxos, and 3 in Paros.

Stan, thanks for the additional hotel ideas, and the amazing pics.! Good idea about renting a car on some days only, especially if we do stay in the St. George area. The Galaxy hotel looks nice and it seems the rooms have recently been updated, based on the review on Tripadvisor. Naxos resort, I guess this used to be the Royal? Reviews are somewhat mixed, but it's always tough to know what to make of this (especially since some are older).
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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Imerovigli is perfect for avoiding the crowds. Just be aware that unless there's a bus or taxi or rental car in your future it's an uphill walk of over a mile back to your hotel if you're in Fira.

The clifftop hiking distance between Imerovigli and Oia is about 6 miles. You can easily make it in about 3 hours. Be sure to take water, sunscreen, hat and a snack.

If there's a possibility that you might rent a car be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required. If you live in Canada that's the CAA office.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 05:59 PM
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Thanks Brotherleelove, it looks like there are some really beautiful places to stay there. I think we would enjoy the walk to Fira, and would walk to Oia at least once. We will also probably rent a car one day.

Also, I'd be interested in your (expert) opinion regarding the question of 2 versus 3 islands - i.e., if you were me, would you add Paros on to the end of the trip, and trim some time from Naxos?

Thank you!
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 06:01 PM
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Naxos resort is only a few years old. I understand that it has had some mixed reviews. This summer when I visited these hotels to take pictures the staff at Naxos Resort were quite suspicious but the staff at Galaxy were very welcoming and invited me to take pictures wherever I wanted. If I were to choose between the two I would do Galaxy because of that and of course it was about 80 euro a night cheaper.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 07:51 PM
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If I understand your timeline you get to Santorini the evening of May 24 and return to Athens on the morning of June 3, so you actually have 9 days for the islands.

My opinion has always been that visitors should spend a minimum of 4 days on any island. I'd actually choose Paros over Naxos so I could daytrip to Antiparos. You can also take a daytrip excursion to Delos and Mykonos from Paros and Naxos.
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 12:17 AM
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That is good to know about the flights from Paros via Naxos...

Did you mean Paros versus Naxos? They are two separate flights, and you will have to choose one or the other.

BTW, in a separate thread I wrote there was no real advantage in flight over ferry from Paros, but in your case, with limited time in Athens, a flight will save you a precious hour or two, and with the early flight get you there in the morning.
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 07:00 AM
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Sorry Heimdall, I did mean Paros versus Naxos! And I agree, an hour or two would be ideal.

I will give more thought to Naxos versus Paros. In reading more about Antiparos, it does sound very special!

Thanks all-
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 08:16 PM
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If you're going to spend a day in Antiparos, you might want to add another day on to your time in Paros. Admittedly, we didn't have a car in Naxos, so couldn't explore as much as we would have liked, but we found that three days there was plenty. We didn't feel that way in Paros, but probably because we had a car available.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 07:30 AM
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Weadles, you would have felt the same way about Naxos if you have rented a car there ... and unlike Paros, you can get to all the best Naxos beaches via frequent bus, so you need only rent a car when you wish to go exploring around the island.

I have done both islands repeatedly (Naxos 10x, Paros 5x), and with/without car on each. Only place haven't made it to yet is AntiParos and it's on my list for 2011, Heimdall.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 07:52 AM
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 08:50 AM
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I stand corrected and humbled, travelerjan. I also think our experience in Paros was better because we were staying w/friends who could really show us the island. Anyway, next time/next year (?), hope to rent a car and spend several more days in both places!
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 11:18 AM
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I'm one who finds Paros more interesting than Naxos, so don't feel humbled, Weadles. ;-)

Naxos is a perfect first-timers island, though, with most of the best beaches within easy access of Naxos Town, and lots to see in the town itself. Paros is a little more complex, with several tourist centers scattered around the island. I've never rented a car on either island, because they both have excellent bus systems, and that gives me one less thing to worry about. I do enough driving at home, so it's a pleasure to leave that behind while on holiday.

Jan, it's obvious you've never been on Antiparos, since you still don't know how to spell it! ;-)
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 12:14 PM
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Hi Jan,

My remark may have sounded harsh, but it wasn't mean't to be. Antiparos is very much an independent island, and any suggestion that it is just another part of Paros wouldn't go down well with Antiparians. The name of the island in Greek is Αντιπαρος, and in English Antiparos - no hyphen or capital P, which would suggest that it is part of Paros.

I hope you do visit Antiparos in 2011 - it is a very special island. But if you do enjoy it, please don't hype it up. We regulars are very protective, and like it just the way it is!
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