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Santorini + Naxos + Athens - not sure where to spend an extra day

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Aug 12th, 2018, 10:36 AM
  #1
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Santorini + Naxos + Athens - not sure where to spend an extra day

Five of us (me, husband, sister-in-law, and 2 friends) are headed to Greece the last week of May and first week of June 2019. I know where I want to go, just not too sure of how many days in each place, so I'm asking for some opinions from those who have been there.

Our original plan was a total of 15 days (includes travel daysl) flying out of Buffalo. However, we have now decided to depart from Toronto on a non-stop, much cheaper flight, and we are flying out on a Sunday and returning on a Monday, so I now have an extra day. While trying to figure out which location to spend the extra day in, I started questioning my original itinerary.

My ORIGINAL 15 day plan was as follows:

Day 1: Departure flight
Day 2: Arrive in Athens and fly out same day to Santorini
Days 3, 4, 5: Santorini
Day 6: Ferry to Naxos
Days 7, 8, 9, 10, 11: Naxos
Day 12: Fly to Athens
Day 13: Athens
Day 14: Athens
Day 15: Flight home (but the flight home will now be on Day 16).


My husband thinks we should spend an extra day in Athens as we will have had plenty of time on the islands. I was thinking an extra day on Santorini (just due to the sheer beauty). The rest of the group has left all planning up to me, so they don't care one way or the other. I decided on 5 full days in Naxos for a few reasons. We want to have some down time. I'm retired but everyone else has demanding jobs and they want some beach time. Also, I sense that Naxos has a little bit of everything for us. Mountains, beaches, a nice Chora, small authentic villages, ruins, etc. We will rent a car and spend a few days touring around then spending the afternoons on the beach.

I would appreciate any thoughts! Thanks.

Last edited by BuffaloGirl; Aug 12th, 2018 at 10:41 AM.
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Aug 12th, 2018, 02:51 PM
  #2
kja
 
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It really depends on your interests, but IMO, 2 days is very little for Athens -- I felt rushed with 4 full days there. You might find some useful information in my trip report -- Santorini and Naxos are near the start, Athens at the end.
With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece
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Aug 12th, 2018, 04:24 PM
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Buffalo Gal, first of all congrats on choosing what I consider the BEST time of year to be in GReece -- good weather, everything's open, nothing is crowde this truly is a case of having one's cake & eating it too... you can make husband happy & also give yourself a little more relaxin' time.,, something for everyone.

Some possible "tweaks"
SANTORINI -- Canada or US nonstops typically arrive in the AM from 9 - 10:30. This means on day #2 (arrival day) you can catch a NOON flight to Santorini, thus getting to your hotel by 2 pm or so... a half day to add to your total. I see that Days 3-4-5 are midweek, alas the Heaviest influx of monster Cruise ships w 2-3,000 passengers per ship invading, thus up to 9,000 cruisers cramming the narrow lanes - not much room for that "beauty"... so by day 6 (fiday) you'll be ready to leave! The 2 ferry options to Naxos are "ChampionJet"ferry at 10:45 - arr Noon with small outer back-deck you canstand on for departure views. OR stay a bit longer and take the 3:30 Large conventional BLUE STAR, where you can sit out on deck entire time.

NAXOS - Here's where I would ad that extra day... it's because there are so many options your group can split up & go different ways. ALSO, Naxos offers a day-excursion to Mykonos-Delos, and another to Antiparos, another to 3 small "beach islands." Somethng for everyone!! While mama lolls in a beach chair reading a mystery (PS if you are at St. George beach, look in the next chair, it's me, from June 3 - 8!).
ATHEN - Day 12 would be would be the extra day you would spend in Athens, but you COULD take a late-ish Aegean flight on Day 12(18:35= 6:35 pm)... takes just 45 minutes. OR if you group are "early birds" rather than "owls" you could catch the 7:20 flight on Day 13. Either choice would also give you extra time in Athens.

Last edited by travelerjan; Aug 12th, 2018 at 04:27 PM. Reason: typos
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Aug 12th, 2018, 05:34 PM
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kja - I will check out your trip report. travelerjan, thank you for the information.
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Aug 12th, 2018, 06:24 PM
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Buffalogirl, I have not recently done a trip report like Kja who spent a month in Greece this year, however there are a number of my Greece trip reports in the Fodors archives (cllick on my name) my most recent in 2010, along with 3,744 other posts on FF Greece forum since about 2004, as well as on forums of Trip Advisor, Rick Steves and Lonely Planet (Thorn tree).
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Aug 12th, 2018, 06:54 PM
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I love Naxos, but I'm going to weigh in in favor of Athens as well. There are so many great museums and neighborhoods to explore. have a great trip
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Aug 12th, 2018, 07:51 PM
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FWIW, my trip report should – of course -- not replace studying guidebooks or scanning the many extremely helpful posts about Greece by travelerjan or any other expert on that part of the world. I never meant to suggest otherwise. (Chill, TJ.)
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Aug 13th, 2018, 06:30 AM
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Spend the extra day in Athens.
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Aug 13th, 2018, 12:10 PM
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Thanks, everyone. I have decided that our extra day will be spent in Athens! This way we will have day of arrival (from Naxos) plus three full days (instead of two).

I think I will stick with my original plan of 5 full days on Naxos and 3 full days on Santorini. We arrive in Athens at 7:10 a.m. and will get a flight shortly after that to Santorini. That gives us almost a full extra day (albeit we will be very tired) so we will almost have 4 days there anyhow (thanks travelerjan).

Now I just have to figure out which town to stay in on Santorini and where to park ourselves for 5 days on Naxos and I'll be good to go. Once I have my accommodations in place, I'm sure I'll be back with some general questions.

Thanks again!
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Aug 14th, 2018, 07:59 AM
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Hi Buffalo girl - I'm so glad you decided to hold onto your five days in Naxos - we loved our hotel there - right on the beach, incredible food, room was spacious, great staff - and of course I'm spacing on the name but here is our trip report - should be towards the end Athens, Meteora,Delphi, Crete, and Naxos - the journey begins

we also had a great guide we hired for a day trip (Naxos sun tours I think - stavros was his name, drove us to the other side of the island and back. Have a great time
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Aug 14th, 2018, 09:49 AM
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Thank you, lauramsgarden. I will check out your trip report. I'm really looking forward to Naxos. I should have never questioned myself!
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Aug 14th, 2018, 12:10 PM
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In late May on Naxos, as I said, I always choose St. GEorge beach ... SO convenient to attractions of Port TOwn, yet it's quiiet & serene at night -- the frequemt busses take you to outer beaches, and you can rent a car for 1 days to swoop all around the island (NOTE: make sure someone in your party has an Intl. Driving Permit -- get it at AAA in 20 minutes -- and if you need automatic instead of stick-shift, wise to reserve online in advance). There's no need for a "pool hotel" since the sea is right at your feet, but if you must, Hotel Spiro is just a few hundred yards back from the beach and is a good value. For lodgings right on the sands or 10 yards back, with all/most units w. balconies with sea view, look At Villa Naxia, Ippocampus, Studios Kalergis, Hotel Asteria Hotel Palatia, and many others. to see locations google booking.com St George beach Naxos and put in your dates, then cllick map.

Last edited by travelerjan; Aug 14th, 2018 at 12:11 PM. Reason: typos
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Aug 14th, 2018, 02:30 PM
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Thanks, again, for the useful information travelerjan...especially about the car. I get the impression from some of my research that St. George is not the nicest of the beaches on Naxos. I've been looking around Agios Prokopios, Plaka, and Mikri Vigla. We are a group of five adults and were looking to rent a villa or hotel apartment near to one of those beaches. I will, however, take a look at the hotels you mentioned.
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Aug 15th, 2018, 07:15 AM
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Buffgirl, it is true that St. George beach In May-June or September has ONE drawback for swimmers ... at the shoreline it is shallow, and you must wade out about 100 yards, and then it drops off to swim. That is the ONLY drawback... as far as water purity goes, it is crystal clear... all the Naxos beaches get the "Blue Flag" award. The plusses for St. George is that when you stay there, you have the advantage of being just a 10-15 minute stroll to all the attractions of the port town, yet it's quiet at night for good sleeps, and you can wake up to a sea view right from your balcony & step right onto the sands. Another plus for me is that it's shady & green right up to the sands (see below). In High season st. G gets crowded but in May-June it's just pleasantly populated. An extra treat for a Mom like me is that in this season, St. G is a huge favorite with Scandinavian parents of pre-schoolers, and they just strip the kids and let 'em loose. I love lolling on a sunbed and watching little blonde toddlers waddling around with sand pails or building castles at water's edge. I'm willing to walk out to swim, at times like these, and several days during my stay, I also take one of the frequent busses out to a swimmer's beach like Plaka or Ag. Prokopios and spend a few hours there (I avoid Ag Anna from experience -- its beach is narrow, and much of it is lined with tavernas that blare loud music, and it's crowded even in May; not my scene)

If you're willing to drive or bus in to Naxos Town at night, for the best choice in restaurants, and for a bit of nightlife then yes, lodgings at the farther beaches are a good choice. Do remember that the road is not lit up at night, and not the best surface on the beach parts, so after a glass of wine or 3, the bus might be a good option; Naxos town departures til about 11 on weeknights in May. All 3 of those beaches have a different "look" from St. George. St. George is long-established, has lots of trees & greenery and has a shady feel; also the road is inland, so all along the beach it's walking only. At the others, the accommodations were essentially plunked down in strips at the edge of dry farming fields, and there's not much in the way of shade, and despite landscaping efforts, much is dusty & sunbaked. Also, in case of Ag. Pro, a lot of the hotels are actually back from the beach and you have walk downhill on the busy road to reach it. The road runs right along the beach so even at a "beach hotel" you must cross to be on the sand. At Ag. Prokopios, a place I've liked and recommended to many who did enjoy it, is Liana Studios, which at least has a bit of Greenery right at the front, and also has a pool - apparently has dropped its website but here's an aerial look -- https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Re...=7&ff=36120279 It has apartments, which Always fill up, but since you are starting early, you'll be able to choose (do remember that if you choose a slighty higher rate than the no-refund, Greek hotels let u cancel w.o. penalty up til 2 weeks bfore, so it's no-risk).

As for villas, unless you're lucky, usually will be back quite a way from the local beach, a long walk or even requiring a car. That's for historic reasons. In other countries, and in certain islands, there was always an affluent market to build villas for. However, when tourism emerged in Naxos, it was for a family & budget market, so all the lovely beachfront property was filled with small family-run lodgings with 8 -25 units, a few apartments. Then when Naxos started going upscale, all beachfront property was filled, so villas with luxe fittings & pools needed to be located inland, or at the far end of the Line of beaches. For example, Mikra Vigla has some v. upscale hotels & villas, but beyond the bus line, at least up until a couple years ago. Good luck with your search -- since you're wisely starting early, you'll surely find something to suit everyone.
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Aug 15th, 2018, 07:16 AM
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The hotel we loved it was Nissaki Beach hotel!
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Aug 15th, 2018, 08:19 PM
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Once again, thank you travelerjan and lauramsgarden. I am looking forward to my vacation planning. And I'm totally stoked about Naxos!!!
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Aug 17th, 2018, 02:38 PM
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BuffaloGirl, sounds like you have already made your decision to spend the extra day in Athens. I have never been to Naxos, but FWIW, I think the 3 days you have planned for Santorini is enough time (depending on your interests of course). I do think the way you have it planned now is a pretty balanced itinerary.

With regards to where to stay in Santorini, of course Oia is a very picturesque and convenient location and it appears to provide that quintessential Santorini postcard experience (white villas with blue domes). But if you are looking for something a bit more remote, we stayed in Messaria. I liked it. It was away from the hubbub and tourists (although you are going in May/early June which I believe is pre-tourist season. We went mid June and did not find it touristy). Here is an excerpt from my "trip report" on Messaria here:

Santorini https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14158415

Host: The host (Stefania) and her team made us feel very welcome and took care of all our needs and requests. They even drove us to Fira one day and back for a special Ladies Only Birthday lunch for one of our friends.

Location: The villas are in Messaria. It was scenic, remote and not really in the middle of all the “action”. So, if you are looking for something like a hideaway away from the tourist spots but still manageable to get to things, its perfect. We enjoyed quite a few relaxed, scenic, quiet walks in the neighborhood on the cobblestone streets and colorful walls. We saw a couple of houses with chicken coops too. We had rented a bus to transport us to various places on the island so it was not very important for us to be bang in the middle of tourist attractions. There were quite a few local tavernas and supermarkets at a 10-15 minute walk from the house.

Last edited by Manisha; Aug 17th, 2018 at 02:39 PM. Reason: Typos
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Aug 17th, 2018, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Manisha View Post
Santorini ... you are going in May/early June which I believe is pre-tourist season.
I visited Santorini in early May last year (2017), and I'm sorry to say that I found it was quite unpleasantly packed with drunken, rude tourists. JMO.
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Aug 17th, 2018, 10:18 PM
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Thanks for the information, Manisha.

We arrive in Athens around 7:00 a.m. and will fly directly to Santorini. We will arrive later morning I suspect, so that will give us a bit more time to enjoy the views. So we will have that day of arrival, plus 3 full days. I'm looking to stay in Imerovigli, but will take a look at Messaria.

kja, that is very disappointing to hear. I was hoping that by going in May that we would miss some of that. Oh, well.....I'm travelling far and may never get back to Greece, so Santorini is a must for us.
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Aug 17th, 2018, 10:35 PM
  #20
kja
 
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Originally Posted by BuffaloGirl View Post
kja, that is very disappointing to hear. I was hoping that by going in May that we would miss some of that. Oh, well.....I'm travelling far and may never get back to Greece, so Santorini is a must for us.
I understand completely. That's why I made it a part of my trip, too. Just be prepared! And hope for the best.
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