Help plan a month around the islands in May.....
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Dec 8, 2012 1:13 PM Last Post By: Tomkat
Nov 27, 2012 2:41 PM
Help plan a month around the islands in May.....In May or late April we are thinking to fly from Brisbane in to Crete possibly from Milan (Ryanair).
We're allowing a week for Crete and then fly to Samos and ferry to Chios and Lesvos. We really enjoyed our visit to Sifnos , Paros and Santorini last Sept. and would like to see more Cyclades islands, like Naxos and Folegandros, if they are fairly easy to access.We could fly home from Athens perhaps...
As you can see, we like it fairly quiet and beautiful with good food,swimming and ruins, and rent cars or scooters often. Long ferry rides and hikes are getting a bit beyond us (being in mid 60's)
We are aware Easter is in early May this year and if there was a great place to spend it in,but not too exhausting, that would be a bonus..
Any good advice on planning this route appreciated, also hotels,tavernas and sights (but no resorts). We are fairly cost-aware travellers but can splurge when necessary...
Nov 28, 2012 4:50 AM
1To clarify: you have about one month, and want to divide the time among Crete, Samos-Chios-Lesbos, and some selection of cycladic islands?
First thing to understand is to budget your time according to what you want to do. Someone can say "One week for Crete?? You can spend a month there!" True enough, but a person can also spend 2 days on Crete if the only thing they want to do is visit Knossos. So, rather than naming islands, you'll find it easier to research the places and short-list specific activities/attractions that catch your interest. In this respect, good food and swimming won't help you make choices. Water will be on the chilly side in May, 16-18 celcius, but warmer the further south you are. 'Ruins' will be helpful, and 'quiet' can determine specific islands or specific places on big islands ... although, except for Easter, May will be relatively quiet in most of Greece anyway.
Rough summary of Crete: western end is better for driving/wild scenery themed trip, eastern end (Heraklion east/south) is better for a historical/archaeological themed trip.
Other than that, about all you can do at this stage is to rough out the travel logistics. You're dealing with three different island groups. Flying from Crete will be the time-saving option. Ferries between Samos-Chios-Lesbos will not be of the frequency one finds in the cyclades (e.g., not every day), so you'll have to be either flexible with your on-the-spot planning or over-plan using ferry schedules that won't be published for several months anyway. Best you can do now is sketch out a rough itinerary with to-do list. Consult gtp.gr to at least get an idea of ferry travel times, it'll give you some idea of how you might have to structure the trip.
As far as combining three island groups in one month goes .. well, not my idea of a relaxing, quiet island holiday. It's a trade-off. Visit fewer places/islands and relax more, get into the liesure lifestyle, or visit more places/islands/attractions, and be on the move more often. Somewhere in there you'll find your own balance.
Nov 28, 2012 10:07 AM
2I suppose you know that you could also fly to Athens (for a few AUD more) or to Istanbul. The latter could make sense if you are interested in the many ancient Greek towns nowadays in Turkey: Assos, Pergamon, Ephesos, Priene, Milet, Perge, Side, Aspendos.......... (you may google for them)
Domestic Turkish low cost flights: http://bulucak.com/Default.aspx
Greek flights (to Istanbul and Milan too): http://www.airtickets.gr/
Local ferries from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek Islands:
If you want to fly via Milan Malpensa and go on with ryanair, you will have to change airports (2 1/2 hrs by bus) but you will probably have a very long layover nevertheless.
Bergamo dp with ryanair Monday 17.20 - Chania ar 20.55
May be the Aegeanair fllght MXP dp 11.00 - ATH ar 14.30 (60 EUR/pax) would be a better choice.
Nov 28, 2012 12:53 PM
3Thanks both....quality advice there.
We did visit in September for 6 weeks- Sifnos,Paros and Santorini before flying Athens - Rhodes and then Fethiye to Antalya in Turkey.
Flying 26 hours from Aus you want to make it worth all that time and money hence the temptation to see lots.....
We were planning to drive up to Samos but Korban Beyram holiday caught us out and so we drove the scenic way to Antalya and flew to Istanbul...
The flight Milan - Crete (though now thinking Crete - Milan) was so we could realise a wish to see Venice and avoid Athens twice. (it's not looking too good these days) on the way back home, so I can see us going first to Athens then maybe Naxos -Samos-Crete-Milan. This means first arranging flights in and out of Greece and then filling in the 4 weeks - with maybe half of that in Crete?.
Nov 28, 2012 1:55 PM
4If you go to Venice first (4 hrs by train from MXP), you can either continue from there by ferry up to Patras (Greece), or take a plane at Bergamo (as you planned) or at Bologna (2 hrs by train from Venice: 1 hr less than Bergamo).
It may not be easy to go from Naxos to Samos in May (without backtracking to Pireaus/Athens or at least up to Syros, where you would probably have to change ferries in the middle of the night, with a long layover). Actually, Samos ferries stop at Syros and Ikaria, whereas Naxos is on the line from Piraeus to Paros - Naxos - Santorini resp. Astypalea.
The Samos - Chios ferry runs actually twice weekly and continues to Lesbos - Thessaloniki resp Kavala.
Usually, weather in May is better and seawater is warmer in Southern Greece (Southern Crete, Rhodos) than around the North Aegean Islands
I mentioned flights via Turkey, because Samos, and Chios are both not too far away from Izmir airport.
I gave you the links to ferry and domestic flight timetables above.
In the case of a general strike or of an air controller strike, it doesn't make any difference whether you fly from Athens or from Chania to another place in Europe.
May be you check the risk if you cannot reach an airport outside Greece because of a strike. If you have a ATH - BNE ticket, the airline MUST you fly back, even 1 or 2 days later if you have been at ATH at the time where your plane should have left. If you have a MXP - BNE ticket and you cannot reach MXP in time because of a strike in Greece, you may have to buy a new ticket (depends on the tariff).
Nov 28, 2012 2:26 PM
5Great advice re. Venice routes....thanks.
If we planned to spend Easter (May 5) on Naxos and make our way through to Crete , which route would you choose?
(We never even thought of Astipalea!) We are thinking 4 weeks in Greece this visit...
I guess we can fly to say,Samos from Crete if we wanted to then....
Nov 29, 2012 1:19 AM
Nov 29, 2012 2:38 AM
7No , flights are direct with Sky Express. Cheap too..
We spent some days in Athens in Sept. and found it distinctly depressed, people sleeping on cardboard, boarded up shops, places unsafe at night , cops everywhere at the ready, etc. Quite ok, but not like a few years ago....
Nov 29, 2012 2:50 AM
8Naxos - Crete: You will most probably have to take a ferry from Naxos to Paros or Santorini, where you can board the catamaran flying cat 4 of Hellenic Seaways, Paros dp 15.55 - Santorini dp 17.55 - Iraklio ar 19.30. Timetables for May 2013 are not yet published, however.
Crete - Samos by plane: via Athens
Crete - Samos by boat: via Piraeus (2 nights on board and 1 day lay over at Piraeus; no luggage deposit at Piraeus)
Nov 29, 2012 12:01 PM
9I was not aware of this flight on May, sounds good if it's true.
I agree that Athens is not as it was a few years ago,but I disagree on places unsafe at night and cops everywhere. I agree that there are more homeless that there used to be and definitely more closed shops etc... I would still spend a few nights there,maybe exploring a bit outside the usual tourist places if you've visit before. Of course this is up to you, I just wanted to clarify this because many people have a wrong picture on Athens before even setting a foot there lol
PS: If you feel comfortable to hire a car, I honestly would give some though on spend part of the trip exploring mainland, there is plenty of ruins, swimming, nature and of course fabulous food there too.
Nov 29, 2012 12:55 PM
10Sky Express seems to be a really good airline doing it well.
We normally hire cars or scooters most places , but I think the mainland ,nice as it sounds including the closer islands like Skiathos etc. will have to wait for another time...
On arrival we are considering going straight to Piraeus to sleep off the 26 hr.flight from Oz.
So...now thinking what is the best way to go to Crete if we want to visit Naxos for Easter (May 5)?
I've heard there is usually a strike on May 1st. and that makes careful planning essential as we'd like to try to avoid overcrowded ferries taking people to their islands for Easter...
We're allowing 2 weeks for Crete ,( which might include a return flight to Samos for 2-3 days.)
Islands that might work for us are Ios,Folegandros, and another island that fits the ferry routes going to Crete....
Nov 30, 2012 12:31 AM
11What is your arrival date?
If my memory serves me right, there is once or twice a week a Lane ferry departing Piraeus going to Milos, Foleandros, Sikinos, Ios,Santorini then following reverse route to Piraeus.
There is the Western Cyclades ferry route that takes in Piraeus, Kythonos, Serifos,Sifnos,Milos, Kimolos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Ios,Santorini and v.v. Possibly there would be others too(?)
I am not a ferry expert, but depending on your arrival date, you may want to get a decent hotel in Piraeus for a couple of nights to recover from jet-lag, relax and explore Piraeus a bit (Piraeus Archeological Museum, Marina Zeas, Mikrolimano, Piraiki etc), then get a ferry to one or two of those islands before connect to Naxos through Ios or Santorini (Blue Star ferry).My only objection is it might be far too quiet on islands such as Folegandros or Milos or even worse Sikinos,Serifos and the like.
Nov 30, 2012 1:02 AM
I wouldn't say that there has been regularly a strike on May 1. There are usually demonstrations by the hard-core left wing. Last year I was in Chania and a waiter joked that this year's version drew quite a crowd .. 200-300 or so. In past years perhaps only 20 showed up. But for 2013?
It's not a bad idea to get your travel out of the way before the easter break.
There are small tweaks to the itinerary from year to year .. sometimes Naxos has been added.
Other routes, typically connecting to the Dodecanese, come and go from year to year. These are of the 2-3 times a week variety. The most common element of the routes is a stop at Santorini - a sort of transfer hub - (either to or from Crete, but they might stop at an eastern Crete port such as Sitia rather than Heraklion).
Folegandros is a smaller and less attractive version of Sifnos. It has the one main village, plus one or two smaller hamlets hardly worth the excursion.
You just have to be aware that, this early in the season, with hard-core sun-sand-sea beach holidays not a comfortable option, the smaller, less populated islands might be short of activities for you -- depends on what you want. I personally don't mind sitting around a village square all day, or wander back and forth along a sea-front watching the cats .. Naxos is larger but also has a lot more excursion possibilities.
My own experience over the years with the west cyclades ferry routes is that the details are very changeable from year to year as compared to other standard routes. There's always the core route Piraeus-to-Milos, with add-ons as far as Santorini. They're also relatively more subject to seasonal changes of routes and a number of milk-run routes that take in a host of smaller less-connected islands. All the more reason to keep an eye on gtp.gr to see what's going to happen next year. One thing is sure: there will be options for you, whatever you decide.
Nov 30, 2012 2:13 AM
Nov 30, 2012 2:32 AM
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