Welcome heiho and Happy New Year:-) Eyewitness is a pretty good one..best to head over to your local Barnes & Noble or bookstore and start checking them out and see which one you like reading through..Loads out there but this one seems to be pretty accurate/up-to-date! Happy reading..EnjoY!
The Rough Guide to Greece seems to be pretty good too, it's certainly my favoured guide to the country, OK - it may not be full of glossy photos but it's compiled and updated regularly by writers who actually go there and written in a factual, no-holds-barred way, warts an' all.
I don't think there is currently a Rough Guide to the Cyclades group of islands, but there is a great one for Athens ISBN# 1-84353-773-7 and a general volume for Greece which includes all the major islands.
Oh yes, and for a street map to Athens, Rough Guides offer one as well. Very accurate, easy to read, and shows all major sights, churches, antiquities, bus and metro lines and much more. ISBN# 978-1-85828-717-1
I would second Rough Guide. Frequently updated, but unless you need it for prices, even an old copy can give you a lot of info. They tend not to move the countryside & historic sites around!
I use my copy for research, & get a latest edition from the library for updates on rooms, places to eat etc. When I eventually buy an update I shall chop the old one into sections so I can just take the relevant bits on holiday (with notes in the margins).
Last year prior to my 1st trip to Greece,I first checked out what was available at our local library and then visited Chapters, our big box bookstore, and carefully looked through their selection, then bought what I thought would be useful-this included Rough Guide, Let's Go, Eyewitness Travel (2 books-Greece Athens & the Mainland, & The Greek Islands), found an old Baedeker's Greek Islands & read Lawrence Durrell's The Greek Islands.
I just ordered a book from Amazon.ca(Canada) called Greek Island Hopping-17th ed.,The Island Hopper's Bible-at a bargain price & am looking forward to reading it.
I suggest that you take your favorite guide book with you on your trip as it can be very useful.
It is a big job planning a trip when so many islands are there to choose from, but the time spent with guides and going online and reading & using the great people on trip advisor is an amazing learning experience and only adds to your own trip experience when the time comes.
I think it was Jan who suggested I plan my trip by first looking at the Eyewitness guide to the islands. This was terrific advice, as the book gives a visual overview of each island and also a chart at the front tells you what types of activities are available on each island. The book is not very useful beyond that.
Second step in terms of a visual overview was watching the video "Visions of Greece." It's an aerial tour of Greece from a helicopter. Less than 2 hours long but still, watch it in small doses if you are prone to motion sickness. :) This is a PBS video and may be available at your library. Again, it's a great way to see what islands, regions, and ruins are most appealing to you.
Then, once I had narrowed my trip down to Athens and Crete, I started looking at more directed guidebooks. After looking at a few, I decided on the Eyewitness Top 10 Athens guide to take with me and either Lonely Planet or Rough Guide for Crete. I also found the Frommer's guide for all of Greece to be helpful for planning, but too big to take with, as there are only 2 chapters for Athens and 1 for Crete (there is also a chapter on the Cyclades).
I haven't gone yet so it remains to be seen how effective my planning was. :)
I just love the reading, researching, planning. So much so that when it gets to a couple of weeks before "take-off" I almost sort of want time to stand still, so that I can enjoy the anticipation a bit longer. When you are away time goes so quickly & it is all too soon time to head back home. SOB!!
The PBS 'Visions of Greece' series IS great:-)) Have watched it a couple of times but never ordered it! Great thought..keep enjoyin'!
Although I am not a back-packer, I would definitely recommend the 'Packpackers Guide the Greek Islands'. Very informative, with a description and map of each island (warts and all) plus street maps of the principal town(s). Also with ferry information, phone numbers for local offices, police, taxis, some hotels and other accommodation plus lots of other information. It is published annually but I am still using the one I bought for my first trip to Greece 12 years ago as a general guide.