suggested culture/island itinerary for two weeks?
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jul 15, 2012 4:53 AM Last Post By: Misanthrope
Jul 10, 2012 4:29 PM
suggested culture/island itinerary for two weeks?Hello,
My wife and I are looking to spend two weeks in mid-September seeing a few Greek islands, along with Athens. I've looked at the Lonely Planet "suggested" itineraries for some guidance, but it's hard to tell how many places you could comfortably fit into two weeks. We're trying to stick to a bit of a budget and obviously don't want to spend all our time in transit. Ideally, we'd like to see a bit of culture, maybe in Athens and Delphi, and then some islands for some beaches, nice eating and drinking - lively, but not crazy 20-something partying. Any advice on must-see islands that we shouldn't miss? And is it just as easy to loop around, starting and ending in Athens, or should we try to fly directly to an island and then out of Athens? If anyone has some suggestions, I'd be grateful. Thanks.
Jul 10, 2012 5:46 PM
1We are doing something similar and wanted a cross section of islands for variety. the ferries run in certain "loops" so it's good to work in with that or risk getting stuck. We've come up with ferries to Sifnos,Paros and Santorini for 3-4 days at each. then fly back to Athens.
As we are going on to visit Turkey we'll fly Athens -Rhodes, but this is a good option to get to Rhodes anyway. We'll fly home from Istanbul, have you considered this?
Jul 10, 2012 10:48 PM
Do as #1. Go to one of the musts if you must, but mix it up with 1 or 2 of the non-essentials, just to have some experience with a Greek island.
Jul 11, 2012 5:37 AM
3if you spend some days in the mainland for Athens, Delphi etc then you don't really have much time for many islands.
and do return to Athens a few days earlier before flight home and do the most mainland sightseeing at the end of your stay.
so you are left with a week and a little more for islands, which is ok for just 1 or 2 stops, max 3 and this only if you enjoy the adventure of moving and seeing more but resting much less.
nightlife is low after August 30th...
you could do the loop fully by boats but do search the ticket booking websites to get a feel of your combinations.
Santorini is top don't miss it.
On the way, you could pick one from Paros, Naxos, Syros, Andros, Myconos etc -many more good choices with individual character each.
For short breaks from Athens you can visit Aegina, Hydra, Spetses, Poros, even as daytrips or stay a night here and there
All these are great - happy travels!!
Jul 11, 2012 7:49 AM
Wow. I'm blown away. That's is some great advice. I was worried I was being too general in my question, but there are so many islands it's a bit overwhelming and hard to get a grasp of where I might want to visit. We sort of want to explore nice towns and places, but also be able to chill out on a beach with some good seafood and drinks. What we don't want is the package-tour crowd. We like being independent.
I'd been looking into starting in Crete, but it seems far and perhaps not worth it. I don't want to spend ALL of my time getting sea sick on a ferry. But it does sound like Santorini is a good place to start and I think I can fly directly there from London, then return from Athens. That SHOULD give me some flexibility in between, right?
Tomkat, we've been to Istanbul already so will give it a miss this time.
Travelerjan, that was wonderful information. Was going to spend the last two weeks in September there - is that usually still warm, decent weather? Was in Sicily around the same time and it was perfect last year.
Thanks again, everyone. If you have any further advice, I'm all ears. I hope ferries, etc, are still OK given all the cutbacks in the country. Will I need to reserve far in advance for hotels, etc?
Jul 11, 2012 8:44 AM
5Miz, glad to be helpful.
About Santorini -- being able to fly there directly from London is a BIG advantage. And it does have the (recent) plus that the famous Minoan-era Archeological site of Akrotiri has finally re-opened, after SEVEN year closure ... BTW, people tell us that the signage there is minimal, so study beforehand, or taking a tour there really will enhance experience.
About Crete -- This would take thought. To get much out of it, one really needs to spend at least 5 days -- at least that's been my experience. If you want to do it, and if you tend to get seasick, don't take the long ferry voyage. Your sequence would t hen be:
• Fly direct to SANTORINI (3 days)
• Daily fast-ferry (2 hrs, 17:30-19:30) to Heraklion in CRETE. Stay 1 night only, next AM see Museum, rent car, drive to Knossos (just outside), drive west on main north-shore highway to Chania (stay in Old Town, explore... 2 nights? Good nightlife). Final option... drive south to Sougia? SW to Pakeochora? West to Falassarna beach? Return to Chania airport drop car, fly to Athens. Note: latter 3 beach areas will be VERY quiet by then, some tavernas closed, not perhaps the nightlife u seek.
About timing -- Whatever itinerary, I would prefer the middle 2 weeks of September, weather more reliable, and less of a "closing-down" feeling in towns & villages. Athens of course will be humming & vibrant in September. Nafplio is a fave weekend getaway year-round for chic athenians, so the shops there are chic, also good tavernas and nightlife... Tolo's sandy beach, 15 mins away by local bus, will be uncrowded in Sept.
Edited by: travelerjan
Jul 11, 2012 11:14 AM
You're plans sound similar to a trip i've just done. I also went for 2 weeks. Flew into Athens, did Delphi for a day, ferry to Santorni for 1 week, Ferry back to Athens and Thessaloniki for 3 nights. Was brilliant. Santorini is a touristy place but it was great, not a mad party place either, that's saved for Mykonos and Ios i've heard.
Jul 14, 2012 4:43 AM
So, I'm back after a bit more research with some more questions. We're looking at departing around Sept 13 for about two weeks, want to keep hotels/hostels to under 50 euros a night, hopefully, and can't rent a car because I don't have a license right now. I've been looking into some of the suggested places, but found that to fly into Crete from London is about half the price of flying to Santorini (65 pounds vs 128). We could spend a few days in Crete (Hora and Hania sound nice) then take a ferry to Santorini, then... somewhere on the way to Athens, I guess. I'm wondering if Crete is worth the time, or if there are better places instead? Sounds like it's pretty easy to get to Santorini by boat. Any suggestions?
Are there decent deals to be had on the islands this year when it comes to food, hotels?
Jul 14, 2012 8:13 AM
8Misanthrope hello --
You need to start making up your mind. And you have come this far without giving 2 vital pieces of info: your lodging limit and no-driving. In future, remember, for the best advice, give fullest information -- we regulars never say "TMI!!" but rather, too little. For instance, what do you mean by "decent deals"?? For some people, a decent deal is anything under €120 per night, or dinner under €25 per person. Me, I try to get rooms under €50, and routinely enjoy hearty taverna dinners for €12-14 per person, including 2 glasses of wine.
Before deciding on flights, you need to compare the FULL price of fares, such as
(1) Canada to Athens to Santorini, (then flight? ferry? back to Athens area) - then Athens to Canada
(2) Canada to London -- London to Santorini (then ferry to/from Crete???) -- Santorini to London - London to Canada
- remember, if you get that bargain london round-trip, you will have to return to Santorini to get it ... you might consider other options:
(B) take o'nite ferry from Piraeus to Chania (ticket thus covers transport PLUS hotel for the night); ferry Heraklion to Santorini -- fly to Athens, and bck to canada.
We cannot decide for you; you need to decide before asking us to provide complete details on an array of islands so you may choose among them.
Regarding Crete -- if you only have, say, 5 days there, without a car you can only scratch the surface. You can do it by bus if stick to north shore mainly: i.e., local bus to/from Knossos, then 1 nite in Heraklion, then 2.5 hr bus to Chania (3 days); in Chania there are day bus excursions south to Palace of Phaistos and Matala beach, or to other areas. Early on the last a.m. (5:30 bus from Chania back to Heraklion (station is right on the pier for ferry). The biggest question is.... what do you know about Crete? You are trying to make decisions without doing any homework ... you say you are interested in "culture" but have you done any exploring into ancient history aspects? Does any of that appeal to you at all? Crete vs. "better places" ??? How can we advise if something would be better if we don't know what "better" means to you. So, please share more, if you want the best advice.
You are aiming low for lodgings in Santorini or Athens. I'm guessing you are not 30 any more and will not really be happy with hostel dorm rooms. You DO need to book ahead for Athens, and probably Nafplio if you go t here. Elsewhere, whether to book ahead depends on factors we don't know. How comfortable are you with landing somewhere with no lodging booked for that night? Are you willing to walk up to 3-5 places and walk away if the price is not right? A compromise is often to have a short-list of places you want, and telephone the day before you are going to that destination, and keep phoning until you get the room, and the price, that you want.
SANTORINI -- Villa Fotini is my TOP bargain place, in Firostephani at edge of Fira town... only 75 meters from the rimside path & view, great small place family-run, includes pick-up at ferry, breakfast, use of neighbor hotel pool. about €40 double.
HERAKLION -- no great choices; try Mirabello, 50? ... Hotel Kronos is about 60, but sea view ...
CHANIA -- a Casa di Pietra (5 rooms, about €35, no bkfst but coffeemakers & you buy pastries/yogurt night before) , Hotel Palazzo, wonderful about €50-55 including breakfast, Pension Nora, Hotel Hera, Iason studios -- (all choices are on or just off Theotokopoulu street, the flagstoned no-cars lane by West wall, totally picturesque & great!)
ATHENS -- HOtel Phaedra in HEART of Plaka (its website is erratic, but check booking.com and Trip Advisor reviews) ... about 62€ w. discount if you book directly, online, or with booking.com .... and Hotel Metropolis -- another great locale --on Metropolis sheet half way between Syntagma Square & Monastiraki Square, easy walk to both -- rates: no-view rooms w. shared bath, €45 ... higher floor rooms w great view of acropolis & Metropolis square = €60-70. Breakfst costs extra, but u can bring your own to free rooftop terrace... also can bring your wine & snacks for sunsets there.
Jul 14, 2012 11:19 AM
Thanks for your help. I realize I've been a bit vague. I was looking to see if anyone would jump in and strongly recommend a certain town or island as being atmospheric or special in some way to them. I've found some good places that way. I've done a bit of leafing through the LP (I've actually been to Greece before, too). There are a lot of islands and it's not that easy to get an idea of what they're like just from reading the write-ups in the guide book. Hence my soliciting further opinions. Everybody seems to agree that Santorini is worth visiting, so I decided to shape my itinerary around a visit there, ending in Athens. Naousa sounds nice also. I like having a rough idea ahead of time, then I keep things flexible. Don't really need any info about flights. I thought I mentioned about flying from London - I'm not sure why you thought I was flying from Canada?!
But about Crete, in reading LP it's hard to get a good idea about what it's like. It mentions all-inclusive resorts, which I hate, but there seem to be a couple towns worth visiting, too. Then there's a boat to Santorini. I like moving around a bit. I figure I could probably visit Crete for four days, Santorini for three or four, then maybe one other island or place or maybe two before landing in Athens for a couple days. I have roughly 14-16 days or so.
Thanks for your help!
Jul 14, 2012 7:21 PM
10I said canada because when one clicks on your name, it says "Country: Canada." So I thought you were looking to fly from Canada to UK in order to get a cheap flight to Santorini. Understandable mistake, given the fact that you asy you are from Canada.
I gave you my thoughts on how you could see a bit of Crete in 4 days without hiring a car. When you say "Naousss" do you mean the town at the end of Paros? It's pretty, tho in MHO not that "real" ... a fishing village turned tourist haven. If you like beaches at all, problem with Naoussa is that it has no good beaches right there, and you really need a car to get to those. If you want a really laid-back visit, look at Antiparos ... the island is Totally for walking, and v. small, you can stay in a wonderful hotel overlooking the port (Hotel Dimitra) for about 30-40E in Sept, and walk to several nice beaches. I went there last year to unwind for 3 days, after a VERY energetic adventure with 4 newcomers (!!!). It was sheer bliss. And you can take a ferry for 15 minutes, goes every 30-45 minutes, to visit Paros' sights.
Jul 15, 2012 4:53 AM
Can't thank you enough for the info. That's great stuff. Antiparos sounds really cool. We've decided to fly directly to Crete, spend up to five days or whatever we feel like, then go to Santorini for a few days, then perhaps Antiparos and maybe (or maybe not) another stop before spending a couple days in Athens and returning home. I'm really curious to have a quick look at Crete. And it sounds like there are enough buses to make getting around relatively easy. Looking forward to having a laid-back adventure. I keep comparing it in my mind to Sicily.
ps I didn't realize it indicated Canada when I was posting. I'll go into settings and fix that!
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