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Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

Livingston, NJ
Level Contributor
40 posts
9 reviews
Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

I have an opportunity to take a 10-night trip to Greece late May/early June, but with the short time to plan, I'm a bit overwhelmed and not sure if I can pull it off. My husband and I have never been to Greece. Can anyone please help me try to plan an incredible trip to Athens and the Greek Isles in a short amount of time? I don't want to book the air until I know I can pull this off.

I am budget conscious but also want to make the most of the trip. For accommodations, I care most about the perfect location, but then I look for deals for 3* or better accommodations (I try to pay around $100-$150/night USD). I also like to have a set itinerary. I'm not a happy traveler if I don't have reserved overnights. Can anyone help me plan a trip and tell me the best way to get around? I see that Aegean Air is running specials on domestic travel to/from Athens for 49/59 euros until May 8th. That just adds more pressure to get an itinerary set so we can actually make this trip happen.

Background info about us:

We're in our 30's, from NJ, and love to travel. We've been to Australia, British Columbia, Montreal, all over the states including Hawaii and Alaska, London, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Venice, Rome, Tuscany/Florence, etc. We like to treat each trip as though we may never have a chance to return so we plan pretty ambitious itineraries. We're very active and are willing to pack it in. We don't care much about the beaches themselves. We're more interested in experiencing the culture (whether that means visiting markets, climbing for views, or visiting the "sights"). Also, we're not big drinkers and don't do a lot of partying so low-key nightlife is fine.

Any ideas on how to get started???

I was thinking something like: 3 nights Athens, 2 nights Mykonos, 3 nights Santorini, 2 nights Crete? Or I've read that maybe we should skip Mykonos altogether and opt for another island like Naxos or Paros? Maybe 2 nights isn't enough to touch Crete. I want to make the itinerary such that we can productively get around without spending 4-5 hours on ferries between islands.

Camarillo...
Destination Expert
for Santorini
Level Contributor
24,011 posts
2 reviews
1. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

10 nights is not a long time. It will fly by.

Think about combining one island with Athens and another mainland destination. Crete takes a minimum of a week with a rental car just to scratch the surface. If you like the idea of Santorini you can fly there immediately after arriving in Greece, then fly back and make your way to someplace like Nafplion, the seaside city that was once Greece's capital. It's only a couple of hours by bus from Athens. After Nafplion you can return to Athens to explore the city's many sites before returning home.

There are so many island options to choose from. Another interesting choice would be Hydra, which is close to the mainland and easily reached from Athens. Hydra retains a lot of old world charm because no motorized vehicles are allowed.

I'm sure you're feeling the pressure caused by how little time you have left to decide. That can't be helped but if you can just decide on which island to visit the rest will fall into place.

Edited: 02 May 2011, 12:04
Birmingham, United...
Level Contributor
14,064 posts
15 reviews
2. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

Your user name suggests something like this, much better than anything based on M&S:

Get going on the first ferry to Amorgos.

Piraeus > Amorgos > 1-2 Small Cyclades(Any of Donoussa, Koufonisi, Schinousa, Iraklia) > Naxos > Piraeus, Athens a couple of days.

I've totally ignored 'flying around' the islands as artificial limits are of no real relevance, as are cheap fares on airline xyz.

Accommodation costs should be less than 40 € per night. All those ferries are cheap slow ones, even meeting your artificial limits except the initial one, to 'get going' to a distant point as it were.

Be a revolutionary try something different from the usual tourist trap route.

Sandbach, United...
Destination Expert
for Perissa
Level Contributor
7,001 posts
27 reviews
3. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

Radical words RH :-))

Martin

Newmarket, United...
Destination Expert
for Antiparos
Level Contributor
8,801 posts
4. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

"The Big Blue" — good film, and your user name indeed suggests Amorgos. :o)

New York
Level Contributor
100 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

What about Paros or Naxos, Santorini(oia) and then fly back to Athens. Paros, naxos and santorini are on the same ferry route.

Livingston, NJ
Level Contributor
40 posts
9 reviews
6. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

Thanks for all of your help so far. I am embarrassed to say that my screen name has nothing to do with Amorgos at all. My husband set it up, as he's a big fan of the New York Giants (football), otherwise known as Big Blue.

I've narrowed down the itinerary a bit and hope to gain some more insight.

Wed June 1: Arrive Athens - stay 3 nights

Sat June 4: Transfer to Paros (?) - stay 2 nights

Mon June 6: Transfer to Santorini - stay 3 nights

Thu June 9: Transfer to Crete - stay 3 nights

Sun June 12: Depart Crete for USA (connect via Athens)

I know it's got some touristy spots (sorry, brotherleelove), but I really want to enjoy the views of Santorini and my husband really wants history and ruins.

So here are the questions that remain:

1. Paros or Naxos? Or somewhere else like Folegadros? Keep in mind that it's only 2 nights so I don't want somewhere impossible to get to from Athens that eats up our first day entirely. And, is it somewhere we can get to Santorini efficiently?

2. In Santorini, do we stay in Oia/Ia or Fira?

3. What's the best way to get from Santorini to Crete to maximize our time in Crete? (I know I'm offending some of you by only staying 3 nights in Crete but I'm trying to do the most I can in the time allotted and I'm able to book flights home from Crete so that will save us having to get back to Athens.)

4. How would you recommend spending our time in Crete (2 full days plus what's left of our arrival day)?

5. In Crete, what town should we choose to stay?

6. In Crete, would you rent a car the whole time or just for a day or two, or not at all?

Thanks so much for all of your advice!

Edited: 04 May 2011, 10:15
Old Forge, New York
Level Contributor
2,313 posts
153 reviews
7. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

Do it! What ever you do, make sure you go..Active traveler here as well, and I think you might be well served by thinking of some mainland driving, and adventure. Crete is fab, but huge, and a week is not enough time..travel costs via planes, and ferries take a bite out of your time schedule, you might want to rethink it. I might fly in to Athens and try to get out on a flight to Santorini on a round trip or a one way.., even for 3 days. You could from there go visit Naxos via ferry, or fly back to Athens, after you have de jet lagged, and chilled in Santorini (try to get something cliffside, and throw the budget a bit here, it is so worth it, as a first timer.)..In Athens pick up a rental at the Airport, run North, go to Delphi or Meteora, swing back along the coast..OR head South to Nauplion, Mystras and Monemvassia then back to Athens for a final 3 nights. It is much easier and far more convenient to spend the "tail end" of the trip in exciting Athens... and if you seach the forums you will find some great road trips..fuel is expensive, rental cars plentiful, if you reserve Santorini and Athens, you really can do very well with impromptu, and inexpensive accomodations in lots of these places..but hey, plan a trip, ask for suggested hotels, and you'll get plenty..remember the dollar is weak, so Athens around a 100US is like finding a great room in Manhattan for that...but it can be done. Have fun!

Camarillo...
Destination Expert
for Santorini
Level Contributor
24,011 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

You'll spread yourself too thin if you try for 4 destinations in 12 days. Does 'doing the most you can in the time allotted' have to be about quantity instead of quality?

Stay in Fira if you want easy access to the nightlife. Stay in Oia if you prefer a mellower environment. It's the most beautiful village on the island as well.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Ljubljana
Level Contributor
2,440 posts
293 reviews
9. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

If I were you, I'd fly to Athens and then take the first plane/ferry to Naxos. Then, I'd stay on Naxos for at least a week. Naxos is the perfect holiday island. There's a lot to see: several wonderful archaeological sites (Demeter's temple, the kouroses, ...), many enchanting mountain villages, lively Chora with beautiful Kastro, almost infinite number of very good and almost secluded beaches. Then, I'd return to Athens and spend the last few days in the surrounding area (follow BLL's advice).

Livingston, NJ
Level Contributor
40 posts
9 reviews
10. Re: Itinerary help, please. Trying to decide on trip to Greece.

If I were to do just 3 destinations in 12 days...

Would you suggest I skip Naxos or Paros and do 3 nights Athens, 3 nights Santorini and 5 nights Crete (I know it's still not a week)?

Or would you do 4 nights Athens/mainland, 3 nights Paros or Naxos, and 4 nights Santorini?

Or would you do something else altogether?

And is everyone suggesting Naxos over Paros?

I do want to get to at least 2 islands so although I think jonnieb made a great suggestion of spending more time on the mainland, I would like to venture out to the islands a bit more.

Keep in mind that if we start or finish in Crete, I will be able to book my international flight out of there (connecting in Athens) saving me the time and expense of getting back to Athens on a separate travel day.