Skip Greece Islands or Not?

Feb 13th, 2007, 09:56 PM
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Skip Greece Islands or Not?

I am considering to take my 70 year old mother on a 9-day escorted tour that starts in Istanbul and travels south through mainland Greece and finally ends in Athens. My mother has a body of a 50 year old and has no issues with walking and is in great physical shape. She can keep up with me on long walks (I'm 34 years old).

The tour starts on Mar 25 and ends on Apr 2. I've heard the Greek islands are not to miss so I'm thinking of extending our stay 2-3 more days to visit one of the islands by ferry or high speed boat. From researching the islands, it looks like the favorite by far is Santorini so I picked that place.

I want to know whether it is worth spending the extra 2-3 days to take this side trip from Athens by ferry considering the time of year (1st week of April).

Please give me your honest opinion! Should I skip the island(s) all together and explore the mainland Greece and Athens only? I want to take my mother to see it but we don't like cold, windy weather but not sure if that will be a problem during the first week of April. The beaches are not so important to us since we are more interested in sight-seeing.

suezan is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:16 PM
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I would be inclined to use the extra days in Athens and Istanbul depending on how much time you have planned for each. There is much to see and do in both cities. An island option near Athens is a day trip to Hydra island - I have quite a few notes for Istanbul. If you like a copy email me on [email protected]. Happy travels.
worldinabag is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 12:38 AM
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Should you decide to visit Santorini, recommend you fly. I don't think the highspeeds from Piraeus to Santorini are running that early in the year. The next best option, Blue Star Ferries, takes 7― hrs to reach the island, so you would spend much of those extra days just getting there and back.

When you reach Santorini you will find it is still off-season. Of course the views are there year-round, but there is much to see on the mainland as well. A day trip to Hydra or one of the other Saronic Gulf islands would be enjoyable.
Heimdall is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 09:42 AM
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Your time is so short (9 days) I would just skip islands entirely. Honestly, I don't understand this fixation so many people have with greek islands, there is so much to do and see on the "mainland" (Crete is so large I dont think of it as a typical "island").

Even if you were to extend your trip by 2-3 days, I'd use that time to head south of Athens, into the lovely Peloponesses.
tom_h is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Suezan-you post a good question, unlike the post above, I love the Greek Islands, and specifically Santorini-but it is based on my enjoyment of the beach and greek island lifestyle. Unfortunately you will not experience that on such a short trip and at the time of year you mention. Given the distance to travel for such a short time, (this coming from someone who loves Santorini), I would pass on it for this trip. If you do decide to go, fly as you would spend a huge portion of your time traveling.
hotnphoenix is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 11:35 AM
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Thanks for the replies so far, they have been extremely helpful! I will likely skip Santorini then but I'll check on prices for flights first to see if they seem reasonable.

Which airlines go there from Athens? Also what closer islands would you recommend near Athens to spend the extra days? I see Hydra mentioned a couple times. Anywhere else? THANKS!
suezan is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 12:17 PM
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Suezan, the airlines flying to Santorini are and Of the two, you are more likely to get a good fare from Aegean.

Hydra is one of the Saronic Gulf islands you can do on a day trip from Piraeus. Others are Aegina (the closest), Poros, and Spetses (the furthest away).
Heimdall is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 05:13 PM
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Rhodes would be a great place to stay for a couple of days. Very relaxing, and interesting. Good place to walk and explore.
kenbob6571 is offline  
Feb 14th, 2007, 05:13 PM
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Sue, I think it's great you & your Mother are doing this trip, and (much as I love the Cycladic Islands) I think that in APril it will be too chilly & windy. May I (as someone who's more her age than yours) suggest something she'd really love?? Nafplio!

You go straight from the port to the bus station for a 2.5 hour comfy reserved-seat bus ride (over Corinth Canal) through orange groves to the bay of Argolid. Taxi up to Hotel Diaskouri, overlooks the whole town & bay. Return busses go 6 or 8x a day, so an easy trip, you can have a lovely time staying 2 nights, then final night(s) in your Athens hotel.

Nafplio (a World Heritage site!) is on a peninsula .. amazing views, stairstep streets garlanded with flowering vines (even April will be blossoming)... architecture is lovely; it was Greece's first modern capital (1827) -- a central plaza entirely floored in Marble, super architecture. Don't take my word for it; Google it under "Image" and see what I mean.

PLUS, its a great town for unique and tasteful shops, thus it's super for wandering around if you have a rainy day. . Greeks call it their honeymoon town -- they never publicize it because they want it to themselves. In Nafplio you'll be totally among savyy, cultivated Greeks enjoying life.
travelerjan is online now  
Feb 15th, 2007, 05:34 AM
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I would highly recommend two days in Santorini. I was there on a cruise stop with my elderly mother and sister. We took a tour from one end of the island to the other stopping at a winery and doing some shopping. We also took a bus to the beach to relax for a few hours. You could use a few relaxing days and Santorini would be an ideal place for it.
sesjazz01 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2007, 07:07 AM
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So you go to Greece. And not to a greek island? Everybody will ask you during years why you didnīt visit the smalest island? Why, why why? I can hear it. Make at least the one day cruise Aegina-Poros-Hydra. And maybe you will stay a night on Hydra. Or Aegina. An other option is Andros.
Gaspard is offline  
Feb 15th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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Andros is an interesting island and not to far from Rafina by ferry. Some holidaymakers yes but also many peoples from Athens visit.

Gaspard, you may enjoy to know that the name Andros is a very ancient name and is from the kingdom of Polycandros, a young king from Crete with ancestors back to king Minoa. He also give his name to the island Folegandros like this P(f)- ol- y(e)- c(g)- andros.

A rough translation of Andros is Isle of Man.

thanos_GR is offline  
Feb 15th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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How much time are you spending in Athens?
Dukey is offline  
Feb 15th, 2007, 09:50 PM
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Hi Suezan. I think it all depends upon what you are interested in doing. You sound a little unsure about the islands so I would suggest that you go with your instincts and visit one...Santorini. Definitely fly. It's cheap on Aegean Air. Two nights on Santorini is enough. The mainland of Greece is often overlooked. Meteora is amazing. You may be seeing that on your tour. Delphi, Olympia and Napflion are the three other blockbuster sights on the mainland. To visit the three places, you will need three nights minimum. Napflion is beautiful and there are many sights nearby. You could easily spend a couple of days there.
dgg is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 03:34 AM
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Dukey has asked what I was also about to ask, suezan. How many days do you intend being in Athens? That might help us with some suggestions.

Thanos, it might interest you to know that the UK also has an Isle of Man. Weirdly, on it's flag is a symbol that originated in ancient Greece.

joe4212 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 10:46 AM
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I'm going to the Greek Isles on a cruise ship. A lot of the excursions say you need to be able to walk a mile or more over rough terrain and cobblestones. Many to recommend to the elderly.

Take her health into consideration.
BrendaJean316 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 10:35 PM
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Travellerjan, just interested! I'd also recommend Nafplio - we love the Hotel Leto, and you've also spoken highly of it in various posts. But you've mentioned the Hotel Diaskouri more than once - I don't know it, is it even better?
NikolettaG is offline  
Feb 18th, 2007, 03:10 PM
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Thanks again to everyone who have put in a few words.. =)

The Gate1 Travel escorted tour goes through several cities which include Istanbul, Kavala, Thessaloniki, Kalambaka, & Athens. Other cities I see on the itinerary are Alexandroupolis, Vergina, Meteora, and Delphi. The trip already includes 2 nights in Athens. I am thinking to extend the trip at the end a couple more days to visit a Greek Island (which is the subject of my original post).

I was thinking the same as Gaspard, how can I visit Greek without going to a Greek island. I don't want to regret it later. As for dgg's comment, I'm more interested in sightseeing since I'll be with my mom. Spending a lot of time at the beaches and "party" nightlife aren't as important to me for this trip.

I also heard from a friend that spending 2 days in Athens is enough so that's why I want to extend the trip another 2 days more to visit an island.
suezan is offline  
Feb 19th, 2007, 08:59 PM
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I think you should include at least one island, the islands are so much a part of Greece. One option, being as your time is short, would be to extend your time in Athens and do a daytrip from there to Aegina or Poros (both very close), or take a day cruise (more expensive) to Aegina, Poros and Hydra. The cheap option is just an hour or so on the ferry and is well worth the time. I particularly like Poros and Poros Town is very pretty with winding streets and whitewashed houses.

Carolina is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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I'd second Carolena's suggestion - you can certainly experience the 'feel' of a Greek island if you take a trip to one close to Athens. Aegina is beautiful - there's the ancient temple of Aphaia, and the monastery of Saint Nektarios is also worth seeing. Hydra would also be a good choice - no cars, and in March-April, few tourists. I'd concentrate on one island,though: the three island cruise wouldn't give you as much flexibility. If you go to an island which is much further away you could spend most of the time travelling. You should certainly plan to be in Athens on the day before your flight, especially at this time of year, when ferries (and even sometimes planes) can be cancelled because of bad weather. (And after your tour you may want to revisit some of the sites in Athens, or explore some different ones - I would NOT agree with the idea that two days is enough!)
NikolettaG is offline  

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