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Santorini, Crete, Athens and ? General itinerary ?s (sorry)

Denver, Colorado
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Santorini, Crete, Athens and ? General itinerary ?s (sorry)

I've OVER saturated myself with books, websites, etc. Over saturated to the point where I'm not quite sure what to plan. This post will have lots of questions (and I have looked at and will continue to look at the FAQ sections). Any info / guidance/ advice would be helpful.

This is a honeymoon trip for myself and future wife (I'm 41, she's 31). My first time to Europe, coming from the U.S. We arrive on 8/21 and leave 9/1 (11 total nights). We realize this is the 'high season', but have to come at this time period.

Our interests: some beach time for a couple of lazy days, snorkeling, lots of history / archaeology, a small smattering of night life (not really into a crowded "Cancun" type of experience), a couple of light hikes, photography, charming old towns, and hopefully to experience some real Greek culture (i.e., some quiet time away from the crowds in a small village, if that's possible).

Our budget for the rest of the trip (including everything - transfers, hotels, meals, tourist trinkets, etc.) would be no more than an additional $7000. This is independent of the international airfare to/from Athens.

1) Only want to spend a couple of nights in Athens to hit some main attractions and then head out. My thought was to have this at the end of the trip, so we can just catch our flight back home without having to worry about a connection from one of the islands. Good idea? Or should I plan it differently?

2) Santorini and Crete are definitely on our list. 3 nights sufficient time to experience Santorini? (beach, boat excursion, history site, shopping). I'm anticipating large crowds and not a lot of quiet areas or time.

3) I'm thinking Crete seems like it would lend itself to more opportunities to find some secluded quiet spots (beaches, small villages, or otherwise). I'm attracted to the Western part of the island - Chania town looks very interesting. Good base for us (renting a car) to travel to various beaches, attractions? We do want to hit Knossos, possibly Arkadi monastery (which actually are in Central area, right? how much travel time am I looking at from Chania?). I was thinking 5-7 days here. Should we stay in one town, or is it worth it to split time (East vs. West)? Which leads into . . .

4) Should I try to add a third island in here? That would obviously cut into the time on Crete. I was considering adding either historical Rhodes (which may not be feasible, based on distance) or a smaller, less touristy island to get a little peace, maybe one of the islands ending in "os"? (Naxos, Sifnos, or Paros look appealing) If I added the third island, it would probably have to create a 3 - 3 -3 - 2 night split (2 being Athens). Anybody done this kind of schedule? Did it feel too harried? Would you do it again that way, or spend more time on only a couple of islands?

I would try and fly between islands or do a hydro-foil to save travel time where I could.

Any responses to questions or general advice on where to go, what to see, that may fit this honeymoon are greatly GREATLY appreciated. I figure once I've got this generally planned, I'll start contacting travel agents (and hit you guys up with another question about recommended agencies).

Sorry about so many questions. I'll shut up now. Thanks for reading. :)

Sale, United Kingdom
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1. Re: Santorini, Crete, Athens and ? General itinerary ?s (sorry)

Hi Seegeezy and welcome

So many questions...!

A few answers...

Definitely do the Athens trip at the end, as you correctly say, you don't want to worry about any connection problems

3 nights on Santorini means 2 full days, probably just about enough. Beach resorts in Santorini are black sand (Kamari and Perissa) and on the other side of the island from the caldera (only 30 mins by bus). Where are you thinking of staying? You may wish to do the boat trip one day, have a hike from Fia to Oia the other day, and leave the beach bit till later.

Crete - Chania sounds like a very good base. Stay in the town, there are enough good beaches either in town or a short bus ride or drive away (Stavros, Agia Marina, Agii Apostoli).

Arkadi monastery is about 35 km the other side of Rethymnon - probably about 1.5 hours drive from Chania. Heraklion and Knossos are about another hour further on. I think the decision you need to take is if you want to split your time in Crete between Chania and somewhere east/central, and fly into Chania and out of Heraklion, or stay the whole time in Chania and make day trips to Knossos etc.

I would not try and get a third island in - it will be too much of a rush - and you are on your honeymoon!

Hope this helps, come back with any more questions you may have.

Steve.

Washingon DC area
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2. Re: Santorini, Crete, Athens and ? General itinerary ?s (sorry)

With only 5-7 days, you might be better off staying in one location. Chania is arguably one of the most beautiful towns in Greece (which makes it one of the nicest in the world), and is a great base for exploring villages and beaches.

If antiquities is a really high priority, then the East side would be better. But as a first time visitor, you won't find Iraklion very appealing. Better bases would be either Sitia or Matala (yes, I know it's, as Joni Mitchell put it 40 years ago, a "tourist town", but it's a really great one, and close to some excellent Minoan and Roman ruins).

If food is important, then you can stay anywhere. Unless you're a vegetarian, try the pork with celery; it didn't sound all that great, but it was delicious and I've been trying to replicate the recipe since I got back. Also, if you stay in Chania, you can get some great grilled lamb in Vrises, which is also reputed to have the best yogurt in Greece. And be sure to try the grilled octopus; it tastes a lot better than it looks.

Sale, United Kingdom
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3. Re: Santorini, Crete, Athens and ? General itinerary ?s (sorry)

Hi again

sorry, typo in my first post, Arkadi is about 20km from Rethymnon not 35! Also I should have made it clear that Arkadi is not on the way to Heraklion - if you go there on the same day, it will be quicker to go back down to the coast and get back on the national highway, which will add about 20 minutes to your journey. However, Rethymnon is definitely worth a visit, so you would probably do best by combining Reth. and Arkadi for a full day from Chania, possibly taking a detour to Georgioupolis or lake Kournas either on the way there or back.

Denver, Colorado
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4. Re: Santorini, Crete, Athens and ? General itinerary ?s (sorry)

Thanks much for the responses so far. It's still a toss-up as to whether or not we want to add in a 3rd island (if we did, we may lean towards Milos).

At any rate, the insight into Crete is very helpful.

BTW - Any areas in Crete you would recommend for snorkeling?

ETA - And as I think this through, dare we omit Santorini? Maybe do a Crete/Milos type of thing? Or is Santorini an absolute must?

Edited: 06 February 2012, 04:12
5. Re: Santorini, Crete, Athens and ? General itinerary ?s (sorry)

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