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First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Stoke-on-Trent...
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First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Hello there :-)

I am planning a backpacking this year, primarily focussing on the Greek Islands.

I'll be flying into Athen at the start of July from Rome.

I hear island hopping is the best way and the easiest to see the islands?

I mainly want to know if accomodation is readily available when you arrive at the ports? And also what is the average cost per night? Can you barter them down?

Can anyone make any reccomendations on places to go or places that cater for the young, lone backpacker? Is it best to spend more time is less places or try and hop as many islands as possible?

I'm not particularly bothered about crazy drunken nights, just beautiful views, good walks and time to concentrate on my writing.

Many thanks,

Rich.

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1. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Hey and welcome Rich:-) Yes, island hopping via ferries can certainly be a great way to experience the isles.. keep an eye out at www.gpt.gr/ www.openses.gr/ for ferry schedules as time approaches;-) For the most part, yes.. folks do meet the ferries.. usually with some pics.. looking to get their rooms, hotels, whatever rented! Although you can barter, the prices are usually pretty reasonable to start with.. also depends on 'which' isles you're on.. early July is the beginning of the full season.. along with August but not at full peak in early July as it would be in August;-)

The issue of quality vs quantity comes up often enough.. bottom line, it's a personal call.. FWIW, bear in mind that changing (or hopping) isles, takes time.. usually can be a good part of the day from checking out of one place and into the next;-) Also, for a basic 'get the feel' of a place usually requires at least 3 days IMO.. which boils down to 4 nights.. of course, your call once again.. some don't mind a couple of nights and move on preferring quantity over quality.. if for no other reason than time constraints;-)

Having said all that, you do mention arriving early July.. but for how long?;-) A week, 2 weeks.. a month?! Allot depends on how much time you have and difficult to even start recommending places without knowing how much time you have;-) I could suggest some of the Dodecanesse as an example.. taking in isles such as Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos.. nice and quiter and pretty much fitting the bill on your prefs/priorities.. but without knowing a bit more.. I'd be hard-pressed to pick/choose any one isle without having a bit more info on your time allotment and travel style;) EnJOY!

Edited: 19 January 2013, 00:00
Stoke-on-Trent...
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2. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Thank you so much for your reply.

I'll be arriving early July and intend on staying until at least mid September, later if it is possible. It depends really on how easy it is to find places to stay. I'm a little jubious at the minute about it and worried that I'll arrive and be stuck.. although sleeping on the beach seems quite appealing!

Ideally I would be looking for a picturesque, relaxed island/islands that has great walks and a laid back atmosphere which would allow me time to concentrate on my writing. I'm not after party towns or particularly touristy places.

I am a big Leonard Cohen fan and have always wanted to visit Hydra? Any thoughts?

Cheers again,

Rich.

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3. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Hi Rich

Firstly, have a look at this for any Leonard Cohen fans/followers:

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g1189165-i12744-…

Secondly, you have so much time that you shouldn't have any problems at all - concentrate on islands with no inbound flights and take it from there...

Let me have a think about particular islands which may suit you - I'll come back on that.

Edited: 19 January 2013, 00:43
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4. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Hey again Rich.. and my pleasure:-) Well then.. appears you've got loads of time to take in quite a number of isles if you choose to do so.. only thing is.. and a major one at that.. August, epecially till about the 22nd thereabouts, it's absolutely full tilt and not a good time to go on the fly! The week/weekend surrounding the 15th is the busiest when most on the mainland also hit the isles.. huge holiday;-)

Having said that, you need to pre-arrange for a bit for that time-slot.. reason being, most places are sold out throughout the isles and finding anything last minute may prove a bit futile! If you haven't been to Athens, it's about as good a time as any to take in this magnificent City.. it's usually empty in August and a great time to find hotel deals and check the sites out! If you're set on the isles, I'd find an isle you decide you'd like to stay a while and book it for at least that busy time period... at least a week, possibly more! Then again, am guessing you'll come accross an isle that will capture you.. where you won't want to leave;-) Also bear in mind that this is also the priciest time for accommodations on the isles as well! If you head to a larger isle.. say Lesbos.. or Crete (which is so large it's a destination on it's own and can easily take up ALL your time) you'll probably have a better chance at finding something on the spot.. smaller isles.. less space.. less room;-)

Being a writer, I can see the attraction to Hydra.. known as the artist's isle.. it's close enough to Athens that lots of folks do it on a day trip;-) You have loads of choices.. check out all the various isles groups.. the Cyclades, Dodecanesse, Sporades, Ionian.. see which you feel best fit the bill;-) Once you nail down ones of interest, you can plot a 'rough' itinerary.. great thing about the time you have is that you can be flexible.. except in mid-August;-) Happy planning.. keep enJOYin'!

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5. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

It's a bit of a difficult one this, but I'd say - look at Hydra (of course) Spetse and Poros for a start. I don't know if you follow/are a fan (depending on your terminology) of John Fowles, but I have to say, seeing where he taught in Spetse was a good moment for me.

If you are looking for quiet islands, in the Cyclades or Dodecanese for example, then look no further than any with no airport.

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6. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Understand that you want to explore the Greek islands on long term, and write.

Island hopping might be easiest in the Cyclades.

In general terms, would suggest is that you visit couple of islands in July, such as Hydra, Poros, Spetses etc, or Cyclandes, and then head for the month of August, which is hectic (Italians and Greeks filling the islands to the brim, also accommodation expensive and hard to find), and stay put in one place, and write in peace.

As others previous stated, avoid like plague dates around 15 August, it is impossible to find anything as it is a huge religious holiday. September is fine, everybody going home, islands seem to change overnight, also the weather is still fine, so this might be your best month in Greece.

You might want to check Sifnos, which a compact island, easy to get around, and magnicifent views, also Sporades island group.

Happy planning !

Edited: 19 January 2013, 07:50
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7. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Hi my daughter and 2 friends are flying out to Athens on Thursday 13 June 2013 to tour the Greek island - are there hostels/ cheap rooms they can use - they are travelling on a tight budget . As time is getting nearer they are getting a bit stressed at the size of this task - also please advise on travelling from Athens airport to the harbour for ferries etc. - Thank you for your help - very anxious mum Lesley

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8. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

lesley2spring

The X96 bus goes direct to Piraeus port from Athens Airport. buy a ticket and validate in the machine.

Ticket agencies are at the port to buy ferry tickets. Ferries leave from about 07:00-23:00 depending on where you are going the choice is maybe 30-40 islands. Ideally get to the port by 06:30 for the ferry to popular islands, the later ferry maybe 17:30 so a long wait.

You can also get a bus from Athens Airport to Rafina and get ferries to Andros - Tinos - Mykonos.

On every island there are Rooms for Rent and small hotels which are easy to find on arrival, few if any hostels. On some islands the room renters are on the quayside, sometimes can be pushy so don't be pressurised.

Hi-season prices click in around mid-July, but up until then prices are reasonable with 3 sharing a room in a Rooms for Rent place it's cheaper than a hostel anyway.

There are no particular worries, Greece is pretty easy going in the islands, just remember Athens/Piraeus is a big city and take care there.

Edited: 08 June 2013, 13:08
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9. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly. My daughter was delighted with the information as was I. They have now booked accommodation in Athens for 1 night travelling the next morning. One other question if possible I am not sure if this is the correct format - the cost of the ferries to the various island can you help there too. No so anxious mum - I will be fine at the end of July- when my little chick is back in the nest!

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10. Re: First time backpacking/greek island hopping - Advice please

If they have time before they leave on the 13th June the best way to check the fares is to make a dummy booking on www.openseas.gr or on the individual ferry companies website if they know the route they want to follow.

As a rule the highspeed ferries are much more expensive than the traditional ferries. So unless the duration of the ferry journey is critical I would suggest they choose the slow ferries. These also have the major advantage of being able to get out on deck so they can enjoy the sun as they travel. Once on the islands they can check fares at the various ticket agencies.

I hope they have a wonderful holiday. We fly out to Athens on the 14th and catch our ferry on the 15th.