Solo Travel Greece Mid 30s

Old May 9th, 2017, 10:58 AM
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Solo Travel Greece Mid 30s

I'm planning a trip to Greece at the end of August and have no travel plans yet. I was hoping to go to two Greek Islands, but would love some input from experienced travelers.

Ideally I'd like to...

- avoid large swaths of tourists (as a former New Yorker think less Times Square more Brooklyn)
- Seeking Local Culture/Arts (in California speak less L.A. more San Francisco)
- Fabulous Food (avoid the chain restaurants. I'd like to hit where the locals dine)
- Beaches!!! (in terms of US coasts less Miami looking for more Cape Cod)
- Coffee Shops (to get lost in a book)
- Bars (looking for a fancy cocktail with a rooftop view)

I realize this might be a tall order but thought I'd put it out there.

Originally I was leaning towards Santorini but not sure I'm interested in getting stuck with tourists and honeymooners, so now leaning towards Crete to explore the pink beach and foodie lifestyle. Also was thinking Rhodes, since I have family in Bodrum Turkey I might visit.

Thank you in advance for your input! I'd love to get any feedback/suggestions.

nazaremba is offline  
Old May 10th, 2017, 08:15 AM
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I have absolutely no way to relate to your examples of US destinations. I can however say that you are not going to find anything like Times Square, Brooklyn, Restaurant chains.

If you don't want too many tourists ( keep in mind you are traveling in High season when most of Europe is on vacation)then you probably want to avoid Rhodes and Santorini. I found both to be touristy and busy in May.

Crete is pretty large and can absorb lots of tourists. having said that in August even the remote villages on the south coast will be pretty full.

Dining in Greece particularly on the islands tends to be small casual family run tavernas. Dinner is late between 8 and 11 O'clock. The food will be prepared fresh daily and once you are seated you will not be rushed to finish your dinner. It is expected that you will order several small dishes and take your time.

Greek beaches can often be pebbles so you would need to do some research to find out where the good sand beaches are. The sand beaches are tan brown no white sand. Crete has lots of good sand beaches but also has its share of pebbles. Naxos is blessed with great beaches. It is a little hard to get to so it doesn't attract cruise ships and huge crowds.

As for coffee shops I have not seen too many however virtually any bar or taverna is happy to serve you with coffee and a glass of water. It is common for people to sit for hours with a cup of coffee.

For bars rooftop views generally not the thing, its waterfront sea views. The islands will have waterfront promenades where people congregate in the evening. There will be lots of nice bars.

Is there any chance you can change your time and go in early September. The weather will still be great but the crowds will be significantly reduced.

Places to consider
Chania May 2016

Western Crete

Plakias Crete

Crete Libyan Sea villages

Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos
stanbr is offline  
Old May 11th, 2017, 01:46 PM
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I agree with stanbr on Crete and Naxos - they are both beautiful islands to see and consider and with amazing character. And they both have excellent food.

Northern&Western Crete have some of the most amazing beaches I've ever seen. The good news is that although Crete has many tourists, it is large so you still have air to breathe.

For places to consider in Crete I would also suggest Palaiochora in Chania and Triopetra in Rethymno (if you want your peace and quite).

Naxos is also a great choice - especially if you wish to go island-hopping and explore the Lesser/Small Cyclades that are just a short ferry trip away from Naxos(I would definitely suggest to visit Donoussa or Koufonissia - they're paradise). If you choose do so, you can easily book your ferry tickets online - I can suggest a few options if you want.

Finally, another cool destination that combines a lot of the things you're looking for is Kea (or Tzia). The island belongs to the Cyclades but it's really close to Athens - the ferry ride is about 2 hours. This is a popular destination among Greeks in their 30s-40s so it can get a bit crowded over the weekends. And it is a bit pricier than Naxos and Crete as it is considered more cosmopolitan.

The beaches are pretty nice (mainly sandy) - I would reccomend Xila and Koundouros (Koundoros is one of the most popular ones on the island).

In terms of culture, you can visit the ancient town of Karthea - which you can reach either by foot (hiking) or by boat. Note that Kea is also known for its hiking and trekking paths, most of which are covered in cobblestone.

The food in Kea is also really tasty, lots of fresh fish. You get your fair share of greek tavernas and restaurants. And the nightlife is cool too. For a more relaxed time, you can choose to go out in one Ioulida's (the island's capital) bars. If you feel like partying or having a drink by the sea, then I would suggest Vourkari. In general, Vourkari is the hottest spot around the island in terms of food and nightlife.

Where to stay: I would suggest Korrisia (the port) or Otzias.
phyllis_21 is offline  
Old May 12th, 2017, 01:16 AM
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During the last few days of August crowds have mostly disappeared on Naxos and other Cyclades islands, with the exception of Mykonos and Santorini, which have longer seasons. If you are staying into the beginning of September, that is just about the best time to be on the Greek Islands. There is still a pleasant buzz, and seawater is the warmest of any time in the year.

As far as "where the locals eat", many (who aren't too busy serving their own customers) prefer out of the way places without a view. After the season is over the locals come out to play.
Heimdall is offline  
Old May 12th, 2017, 06:04 AM
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Paros is great. Nice beach, wonderful cocktail bars, good food and atmosphere. I suggest you head to Santorini for a few days as it is picture perfect and should be seen. Then get the ferry to Paros. A great place to relax and enjoy yourself.
Tamika is offline  
Old May 12th, 2017, 09:01 AM
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As many has stated you'll be in Greece during the High Season when many areas of Greece . . . mainland/islands . . . will have high numbers of tourists.

However, you can avoid the massive crowds, congestion, high prices if you avoid the Big Name Islands.

Check out Amorgos, Astypalea, Lemnos, Skyros, the Small Cyclades, Kythira, Ikaria, Fourni, Chios, Samos and a number of other off-the-tourist-zone islands.

In addition the Peloponesse, especially the Mani Peninsula can provide you with a very Greek Experience that most people don't know about. Kardimyli, Stoupa, Aeropolis, Gythio and many other areas of the Peloponesse don't see the huge numbers of tourists that Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, and other well-known Greek Isalnds see.

Check out Matt's Greek Guide for more help:

There are many areas of Greece (mainland/islands) that don't get the over-the-top tourism/travel agents version of Greece.

You need to do more research, ask more questions if you want, and seek out the more traditional Greek areas of the mainland and/or islands.

We travel to Greece in October (off-season) and even the touristy islands tend to be quiet but still, we want Greece, not Disneyland Greece.
crazyh is offline  
Old May 12th, 2017, 04:12 PM
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Although my trip report features traveling with 13 year olds... we had a great trip and even in touristy areas, managed to get off the beaten track. ... only ate at one tourist trap and that was because everything was pretty much closed on Easter except touristy restaurants. But we went off season. And remember, that there is a REASON tourists go to certain destinations--they could be important historical sites or just really beautiful. But we were in Peloponnese and only one island.

I agree, it can be a bit overwhelming to be in a location where cruise ships are dropping off thousands of people or busload after busload. BTW I live in BROOKLYN not Manhattan. Ate well every place we went.
RubyTwins is offline  
Old May 12th, 2017, 04:34 PM
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For even fewer tourists than the Pelopponnese, head to northern Greece. I visited Thessaloniki, Kastoria, Ioannina and Meteora on the way to Athens. Meteora will have tourists, but tourists in the other places will most likely be Greeks. Then add an isand for beaches, if that's your thing. BTW, I found the coffee uniformly disappointing...
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Old May 13th, 2017, 12:37 AM
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Kastoria and Ioannina are beautiful cities, and ideal for day trips, even though they are actually more winter/fall/spring destinations.

Another area that i find very interesting is the coast of Epirus.
Parga, Preveza and Syvota ( near Igoumenitsa) have terrific beaches and a nightlife ( with the exception of Syvota, which is more quite).

You can do day trips to Paxoi/Antipaxoi and perhaps also to Corfu ( not 100% sure about Corfu), or rent a car and drive to Ioannina as a day trip that you can combine with the archaeological site of Dodoni, and perhaps go past Ioannina to the mountain village of Metsovo.

I did that day trip from Syvota, and loved it.

Coffee was disappointing in Greece ? What kind of coffee did you drink ? Greece has an excellent coffee culture...
Apart from Greek coffee that is losing on popularity, Greeks drink the frappe, and espresso & cappuccino, which is the same you would get in Italy. Greeks also invented the cold version of them, freddo espresso and cappuccino, both THE hit allover Greece...

It sounds as you might like the so called " filter coffee" or "french" coffee, which is not very strong usually.......
clausar is offline  
Old May 13th, 2017, 03:41 AM
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"It sounds as you might like the so called " filter coffee" or "french" coffee, which is not very strong usually......."

Or even worse, "Nes", short for Nescafe, which Greeks call instant coffee. If you just ask for a cup of coffee, you may get Nes.

I agree with clausar—you can get excellent coffee in Greece, and (horrors) you don't have to look for a Starbucks! In just about any cafe you can get a good espresso, cappuccino, or freddo, but you may not find one of those flavoured concoctions sold in the American and British coffee chains. Greece is a paradise for coffee lovers.
Heimdall is offline  
Old May 13th, 2017, 05:45 AM
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Maybe the coffee situation has improved since 2006. Back then even Matt Barrett complained about the coffee. (And I drink espresso and espresso macchiatos, NOT horrible Starbuck's concoctions.) Actually, he still doesn't sound too enthused:

And there is no way I am going to drink a frappe, whether or not it is made with Nescafe.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 13th, 2017, 06:13 AM
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Matt Barrett and his opinion doesn't mean anything to me... ( never red him except for what thurdaysd posted, but all i can say is that even the tiny cafe around the corner where i live makes superb espresso and cappuccino from Haubrandt with big professional Haubrandt machines under the supervision of Haubrandt...

I happen to be 1/4 italian, everytime italian relatives from Trieste ( the city of Haubrandt and Illy) are in Athens, they are happy to drink the espresso they drink at home....

The freddo version is my all time favourite for hot summer days, something that doesn't exist in Italy ( yet)...
It became so popular in Greece, that Illy is selling epcial freddo espresso and cappuccino glasses on line

To me Frappe and everything made with instant coffee ( where NesCafe is it's best version) is just horrible....
clausar is offline  
Old May 13th, 2017, 06:25 AM
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I remember getting excellent coffee in Greece every since I started travelling there in the 90s. The lady whose rooms I stay in on Antiparos always serves me a Greek coffee while we chat when I first arrive on the island, after that it's espresso or cappuccino for me.

I have a La Pavoni espresso machine at home, so my standards are high.
Heimdall is offline  
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