Which Greek island matches my wish list?

Old Feb 12th, 2020, 02:03 PM
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Which Greek island matches my wish list?

Hi! Thinking of a trip to Greece in early September and I am feeling overwhelmed by all the island options. I've researched and researched but am still unclear on which one would be the best fit. Here are the specs:

- Traveling with my husband, no children, for 7 days. We are both fairly active and enjoy hiking, history, good food, interesting small towns and beach life.
- Above all I am looking for clear, calm turquoise-blue water; peaceful, beautiful beaches; and great views.
- Classic Cycladic-style blue and white buildings
- No cruise crowds
- Enough to do that we won't feel stuck or get bored, but slow-paced enough that we can enjoy some lazy days at the beach too
- Nightlife is not a priority.

If it weren't for the "no cruise crowds" caveat I would say Santorini looks ideal, but it seems to be overrun. What island would you suggest? We could also split the time between two, if they're easy enough to access.

bamafam is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2020, 03:12 PM
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I think to find a peaceful island beach in Greece in early September you'd have to go somewhere right off the beaten track. The popular islands will be busy. Other than that, I'd suggest looking at Naxos or Folegandros. I don't know if the cruise ships stop there but they are both beautiful places to visit.

Mykonos is gorgeous but will be crowded with visitors and cruise ships but you can easily get to Delos from there which is full of history. If you can live with the crowds you could have two days on Mykonos and then ferry or fly to another island.

If you have 7 full days actually on the islands, you could choose two that are easily connected by ferry. Or try somewhere like Crete for the whole time - we loved Chania though it doesn't have that sugar-cube style architecture you are after. If the 7 days includes flying into and out of Athens, then one island would be better in the time left over.

KayF is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2020, 05:32 PM
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Thanks! Naxos looks intriguing. I've heard good things about Paros too. The trip would be 10 days total, 7 in the islands and the rest in/out of Athens.

I have seen photos of Othonoi that look spectacular, but that seems to be a different animal entirely.
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Old Feb 12th, 2020, 06:47 PM
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If y ou have just 7 days, then choose Naxos. about 5 years ago -- on a major survey of hte 10 best islands in the world to visit, it wa sthe ONLY island chosen in the Mediterranean-Aegean. Up til now, because the harbor cannot accommodate big cruise ships, and the airport can only take small prop planes about 3x a day, it has not been inundated... no package tour throngs. But go NOW, because alas it has been "discovered" and change is inevitable.

With only 10 days, it's wasting y our precious time to be in athens 2x. Because u need to be there anyway at the end of your trip, don't use up precious hours by going in/out of central athen TWICE. Instead, upon arriving, take the first available flight to your chosen island. Naxos has flights on Aegean/Olympic and Sky express. Since your trip is limited, I'd suggest booking a flight that is nonstop from N America -- either Delta/NY, AA from Philly, CanadaAIr/Toronto ... because these all leave late afternoon and arrive between 9 - 10 AM next morning... and you can get a 12:30 flight to Naxos or Paros... and thus, be in your swimsuit on a sunlounger, getting over jet lag, by early afternoon. Save Athens for the end -- either take a 6pm ferry, or do a flight (45 mins vs 5+ hours), and have 3+ days to enjoy the famous landmarks of Athens.

Theres so much to explore on Naxos -- fascinating port town, great beaches, dramatic inland landscape, ruins, museums, village wine festivals, 7 days will fly by. But if you can tear yourself away after 5 days, you can take ferry to Paros (1 hour) and a tieeny ferry for 15 minutes to Antiparos, just offshore, for 2 days. Totally walkable, fine beaches, tiny port, and you can also pop over in `15 minutes on little ferry to explore the port town of Paros. ... and to the nearby airport for back to Athens.

I would not advise just choosing something on the basis of photos you swipe on your smart-phone -- why not get a guidebook and actually learn something about the places not just go for eye-candy. For a more indepth look at pix, Here are some gorgeous albums by a gifted Naxophile, "Stanbr" who has been t here 15 times (and many other places too):
Trip around Naxos -
Week in Naxos 2014 -
Antiparos -
Athens Acropolis area -
travelerjan is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2020, 06:48 PM
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Mistake - perhaps -- This is the correct ANTIPAROS link
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Old Feb 12th, 2020, 07:00 PM
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I agree that Naxos would be a good fit.
If you haven't seen it, you might find some useful information in my trip report. The section on Naxos starts with post # 109
With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece
kja is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2020, 12:23 AM
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You can’t trust those “best islands” surveys. Travel + Leisure magazine readers in 2018 chose Paros the best island in Greece and Naxos didn’t even get a mention. In another list of best islands in the world, Paros was named the 9th best island in the world, the only Greek Island to make the cut:

You will be happy whichever of the two you choose. Naxos is a huge island, but nearly everyone stays in the small southwestern corner, which gets very crowded in high season. The rest of the island is mostly undeveloped, with picturesque villages scattered throughout the mountains. Paros has a smaller interior, but seaside villages around the entire circumference of the island. Antiparos, shown in one of travelerjan’s photos, is across a one mile strait from Paros, and that’s where I like to stay.
Heimdall is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2020, 01:39 AM
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Astypalea, Kythnos, Sifnos, Kymolos, Syros (but not Ermoupolis!), Southern Samos.....
neckervd is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2020, 04:13 AM
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I agree that Naxos is wonderful and ticks most of your boxes. Folegandros was mentioned above and if you want really quiet that would be it - I was there in July and almost felt like I had the whole island to myself. But actually for me it was too quiet, I'm glad I only had a few days. Unless all you want to do is lie on the beach 7 would be too much. But the architecture in the tiny main town and the views were amazing.

Sifnos might be a really good match for you. Lots of great hiking, nice beaches, really beautiful architecture in several small towns (as opposed to Folegandro's one).

I have photos of all those here: https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f320347206
And a trip report that includes Sifnos and Folegandros here: https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/blog/20...nd-folegandros
isabel is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2020, 01:09 PM
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You may want to consider with links to photos a I took:

Amorgos (Beautiful) https://tinyurl.com/y7bqwfma
Tinos (A Gem) https://tinyurl.com/y6w5ncb8
Chios (One of the most under-rated of the Greek Islands) https://tinyurl.com/ycgkrqza
Lesvos (Something for everyone without the tourist hype)
Astypalea (The most beautiful Chora I've been too!) https://tinyurl.com/y7mdg7rv
Ikaria (If you want something with a bit of an edge and little anarchy thrown in!) https://tinyurl.com/y4e5dsj6
crazyh is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2020, 03:49 AM
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I agree- so many islands!
Why not be different and go to the Peloponnese on the mainland ?- it's wonderful. [ and no crowds]
grantlyons4034 is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2020, 07:35 AM
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The assumption that all air routes to the islands revolve around Athens is misleading. Other European gateway cities offer flights directly to various islands. 18 months ago I flew from Marseille to Crete non-stop. That was on Aegean, part of the same alliance as Lufthansa and United, so there are lots of combinations to choose from. Researching with a multi-destination search function can expand your options.
That trip was in late September when there were still lots of European package-vacation tourists around Crete's main centres. But it is much bigger than the typical tourist island so offers more chances to explore and relax -- rugged mountains, long beaches in the south, somewhat different history and traditions.
Southam is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2020, 08:26 AM
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Southam, things would be clearer if Barnafam would have shared her place of origin, which I find thru sleuthing is the USA. There are no nonstops from N America to Greek destinations except Athens. Yes, from many major European cities, one can fly direct to an island... but perhaps she has to make a US domestic flight just to get to an airport that flies to Europe (i.e, Des Moines to Chicago). As I often say, a N. AMerican visit to a Greek island can become, not just a journey, but a Quest!
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 12:08 PM
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With the OP's avatar bamafam I'm assuming from Alabama? If not it would be good to know where they are flying from.

As stated if from the US there are only a handful of direct flights to Athens. Usually it's at least one lay over somewhere.

Many places in Europe will fly direct to an island so that may help IF the OP is from Europe.

I fly from Boston to Athens with one layover. Sometimes the layover is in New York City (JFK) or Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Many times it's been a layover in Europe.

Regardless it's still along flight from the US but once you arrive you quickly forget about the flight and start enjoying Greece and worry about the flight home later.

Sometimes a lot more info is needed when someone asks a question if they want a good response and/or recommendation.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 06:29 PM
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Southam has given advice that I consider to be excellent, as it not only allows the OP to explore options for THIS trip, but moreover, it is a strategy that should prove useful for ANY future trip! I am a firm believer in exploring unconstrained multi-city options (i.e., without assuming a routing through Athens, or anywhere else) -- who knows what will show up that might, for whatever, reason, suit the OP best? And again, a tool for the future, regardless of the choice on this trip.

And BTW, bamafam, you have NO obligation to divulge ANY information about yourselves -- including your current location -- on this site. While it might be true that some advice (trip specific, not generic) might be better tailored to your needs with more information, no one NEEDS to know ANYTHING about you. Share what information you think worth sharing; consider whether others actually need to know any information they suggest might be helpful (any some information really does matter -- like ages of one's group or particular interests); provide whatever information you are willing to share, and realize that others will reply in the ways that THEY think reasonable.

Hope that helps!

Last edited by kja; Feb 14th, 2020 at 07:28 PM.
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 09:10 AM
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I would add The islands of Paros and Antiparos to the list for consideration.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2020, 05:19 PM
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Thanks, all! Yes, I am in the USA and would be flying out of Atlanta.

You've given me a lot to think about. Naxos and Paros both sound like great options.
bamafam is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2020, 10:39 PM
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The problem is September many of the seasonal routes from Europe are either closed or starting to. The bigger islands will likely still have flights from someplace like London but that doesn't mean all the islands will. Not much better what flights that are still flying will be once a week or at best every other day. Connecting in Athens OTOH is a safer bet the further it gets into offseason.
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2020, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Southam View Post
The assumption that all air routes to the islands revolve around Athens is misleading.
I don't believe there is an assumption that all air routes to the islands revolve around Athens. We are always being told that Europeans go to Southern Europe for summer holidays, they have to get there somehow, they are not all funnelled through Athens. Additionally, several budget/charter airlines fly routes to some islands. You won't always find those options on multi-city searches, unless part of an alliance/code share etc.

Volotea for example have flights from Italy to various Greek islands, Norwegian fly from Stockholm to Kos, Kefalonia, Crete etc etc, they fly from CPH to various places etc etc etc etc.Ryanair even flies from Vienna to Santorini. Crete is a big island with mulitple airports, why wouldn't there be flights from anywhere else than Athens?

Flights could be seasonal, might not be good connections, they might only operate on certain days of the week, might not a good price and it could be only to the main/larger islands. But it is a good reminder for those from the US that they can fly to other gateways in Europe then take another direct flight to a Greek island, it is definitely worth investigating.

Odin is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2020, 07:02 AM
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ODIN is right for Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Kos, Rhodos, Karpathos, Skiathos, Samos, Corfu,Zakynthos, Kefalonia, Lefkas. These Islands have direct flights from all over Europe.
But for Paros and Naxos, everybody has to fly via Athens.
And as there are no direct ATL - ATH flights, the OP wull have to change somewhere in Europe (IST, LON, VEN, DUB,BCN, ZRH, AMS, STR or so)
neckervd is offline  

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