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Athens and island trip

New York City, New...
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Athens and island trip

Thanks for the info. After doing a bit or research I think it makes sense to do Athens and only one other island and I've decided on Crete. Although didn't look into Rhodes and that Valley of the Butterflies sounds very cool. Crete or Rhodes??? Also have to deal with flights. The kids get off of school on June 26th so was thinking of leaving soon thereafter. Would that be a good time to go or should I go later in the summer? Looking for the best way to book flights to Athens and then to Crete. Wondering if we should transfer in Athens and go directly to Crete and then do Athens on the tail end of the trip or split Athens up. Do flights go directly to Crete? Any help on places to visit/stay would be appreciated. Can't wait to go :)

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1. Re: Athens and island trip

How long will you be going to Greece? In one week for example, you wouldn't get far counting in the travel days. If you have less than a full week I would pick Rhodos above Crete, simply because of the size of the islands. Both are beautiful islands, but don't make a choice for Rhodes only based on the valley of the Butterflies. Even though very lovely, those butterflies are all the same orange/brown moths. It might not be the flashing of colours you imagine it to be. Read up on both islands on what to see and to do, and make your choice keeping in mind how much time you have available and what exactly you want to see.

From your posting I get the idea you have your choice already made in favor of Crete. Very nice island, very large and a lot, really a lot to see and visit. If I would return I would most likely go to Rethimnon or Heraklion. I would not recommend Heraklion for a first time visit though, as it is very much a Greek working city. You'll have to have caught a certain 'Greek Bug', before you see the charm in it. Rethimnon is very charming, IMO the warmest sea temperatures of the island and a lively city, and certainly charming for tourists as well. Chania is also very, very nice to base yourself, or for a daytrip visit. Those are personal favorites, other people will have other suggestions, so keep your eyes and ears open and see what you find important in your base point on the island.

Things to do? Another list of favorites: Preveli, the monastery above the rock and making your way up through the gorge as far as you can get, in between palm trees and very cold mountain water. Francokastello, castle ruins and a beautiful beach! Matala, charming village and of course the rock. Phaestos ruins, Gortys ruins... Knossos, world famous Minoan palace, but IMO a bit overdone with restaurations. Walking the Samaria gorge. Do keep in mind this is a serious walk, not a stroll. If you never do a walk of 4 hours in your home country, than don't start on it overhere! Spinalonga, former leper colony, Lassithi plateau, very beautiful. I recommend you to get more informed on what to see/do in Crete and post a question on the Crete-forum. Lot of people knowledgeable about the island will not read the entire Greek pages, so get more specific.

Where it comes to transportation, I don't think there will be direct flights from NY to Heraklion (not certain though... Never been to NY...) The time of year you will be visiting will certainly be a good time to visit Greece. It will be hot enough, no doubt about it. It might even be a bit too hot for long walks for example. Much depends on what you are in to.

So I suppose you'll have to fly over Athens. Advice is to continue straight to Crete, there are several flights per day. Save the Athens-time for your last days. Certainly before an outbound flight, it's recommended to be at least a day before your flight back on the mainland. Ferries or flights can always be cancelled or delayed because of high winds or whatever. You don't want to be stuck on an island while your plane for NY is leaving Athens.

Hope this will get you started on your planning. Enjoy Greece!

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2. Re: Athens and island trip

Crete would be a good choice though you'll only see a part of it in a week. We all have our preferences, but I agree that Rethymnon would be a good base and from there you could get to Knossos, Chania (one of my favorite towns in all of Greece), the Akrotiri Peninsula, the ruins at Aptera, and even wander through the interior, stopping in Axos to visit the excellent Woodcarvers Museum. Rethymnon also has a great fort.

Agios Nikolaos would also be a decent base - a very pretty town though it doesn't have the Old World charm that Rethymnon and Chania have. But it is close to the leper colony of Spinalonga, which is worth half a day.

But there are dozens of other islands that would be good for a week, and maybe better because you wouldn't leave feeling you've missed most of what Crete has to offer.

I'm not very interested in beaches, but I found Karfas in Chios to be one of the nicer in the islands. And Chios is near the top of my list of Most Fascinating Greek Islands. The mastic villages, especially Pyrgi, are unlike anything I've seen elsewhere; there are abandoned villages, black pebble beaches, the Nea Moni monastery, and even a decent cave.

And then there's Naxos, with its great beaches and interesting villages and proximity to Delos...or Kos, from which you can visit the island of Nissyros and walk into a caldera of the volcano with its sulfur gases escaping through fumaroles. Because of its reputation as an island of All Inclusive resorts, I didn't expect to like Kos; I was wrong - it's a great island with one of the nicest harbor towns in Greece.

Wherever you go, here are a couple suggestions:

-as floevy says, go to the island first. And fly rather than a ferry unless you choose an island really close to Athens.

-rent a car.

-go as early as you can, or if possible wait until September that would even be better. I can't speak from experience, but my understanding is that once you get into mid-July, you're dealing with crowds

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3. Re: Athens and island trip

Thanks for all the great information, although now I'm really confused as to which island to visit. It is a good problem to have though!

4. Re: Athens and island trip

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