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Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

Edgewater, New...
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Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

Hi Folks!

First time poster here, but long time reviewer of these amazingly useful travel posts.

My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe next year, and are trying to narrow it down to a few must- do's that we'd like to hit before we settle down and start a family.

Last year, we did Barcelona and Rome for 8 days in total, and found that it was ideal for what we were looking for: top site-seeing toured, great restaurants sampled and wonderful memories engendered.

This year, we would like to see Paris, Greece, and Istanbul. As with Greece, the two cities we would like to see are 1) Santorini and 2) Athens. I am looking at doing 14 days in total, including travel. As both my wife and I work extremely hectic jobs, 14 days will be the absolute most we can take off in one sitting from either of our jobs. So please take this into consideration.

Also, when viewing other posts on here where folks have requested feedback for their itineraries, the general response back from some of the TripAdvisor forum experts has been: "How can I tell you if you are spending enough time in a city, without knowing what your interests are and what you want to do there?" So for us on this trip, we will be looking into completing TripAdvisor's suggested travel guide itinerary of the top highlights of each of these cities in 2-3 days (i.e. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Guide-g187147-l496-Paris_Ile_de_France.html).

We followed these TravelGuides and mixed them a bit with Rick Steve's in Barcelona and Rome and found it to be suitable for our needs. For some added color on us, we are huge foodies, we love adventure, we are interested in learning more about history of these great sites, with particular emphasis on art, religion and culture. We are also fairly social people who strike conversation with others fairly easily. Also, exciting nightlife will be a part of the trip, but is not required every night.

So here is the itinerary I've been working on. Please let me know your thoughts of how it should be improved. If you think we've bitten off a bit more than we should chew, and this should be narrowed down a bit, I am open to suggestions as to what should be changed.

NYC -> Paris

Saturday (arriving in Paris at 9:45 am) - Wednesday (departing at 1:00 pm)

Staying in Peyris Opera

Paris -> Athens

Wednesday (arriving in Athens at 5:15 pm) - Saturday (departing at 10:20 am)

Staying in Athens Lotus

Athens -> Santorini

Saturday (arriving in Santorini at 11:05 am via plane) - Tuesday (departing at 11:45 am)

Staying Rena's Rooms & Suites (in Fira)

Santorini -> Istanbul

Tuesday (arriving in Istanbul at 3:15 pm via plane) - Friday (departing at 2:45 pm for NYC - Home)

Staying in Sultan House

So that's it. Does this look do-able provided someone is happy with seeing the TripAdvisor top sites in 3 days for each city?

Also, I've been able to find the intinerary listed above including all flights, hotel, transfers and breakfast for about $4,700 for 2. Does this sound fairly reasonable? I've been using EuropeanDestinations and they are the cheapest I've found. Can I expect these prices to drop more so in the New Year or should we be booking now?

Thanks in advance for your review, insight and positive feedback.

Edgewater, New...
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1. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

By the way, the desired time for this trip is early to mid-June. Thanks!

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2. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

I 'd try to make small changes.

First of all, these will be two weeks of heavy sightseeing, so you woj't have a lot of time to rest.

Paris is a brilliant destination but a very difficult one. Big distances, a lot of commuting, a myriad of thigns to see and lot of queues.

Athens is easier, the sites that may interest you in a first time visit are located in a rather compact area, but number of sites can be comparable to Paris. Both cities have a list of 8 - 10 things, sites and/or museums you should definitely include in a first time visit. The thins that are better with Athens is that you 'll be able to walk to many places if you pick a good location, in contradiction to Paris where you 'll have a lot of subway time + in Athens queus are minimal, nearly zero, compared to those of Paris, with the possible exception of Acropolis if you manage to go there the only time we suggest avoiding, which is between 10am - 1pm midsummer.

Santorini is probably your relax time. You'll definitely need that after two cities with a lot of sightseeing.

And then it's Istanbul which is another city with a lot of sightseeing and another great destination.

---------------------------------------------------

Overall, if it was me doing this itinerary i 'd try to eliminate one of the destinations. You have included three of the major sightseeing points of our planet, i mean Paris is huge, Athens has a huge cultural and historical weight, Istanbul also. . . each of thesedestinations needs at least 3 - 4 full days and then you have Santorini which is also greatly needed in this veru busy itinerary.

So, if it was you i 'd probably try to elimiate one of the destinations. Perhaps Paris which is, roughly speaking, a bit closer to you, so you can probably include it in a future trip to Europe having some of the cities in the Northern part of our continent, perhaps Paris and Brussels and Amsterdam woud make a lot more sense.

On the other side i do understand you may have limited travel time to dispose, so you probably want to fit more in.

So:

IF you keep this itinerary list ( if ), i 'd try to make some changes:

Paris:

3 days in Paris is quick, but hey! my first trip to Paris was 24 hours. I woudl not add more time at this point. This is a destination you can steal some time in the future, find some nice offer flight to Europe and do a 5 days.

-----------------------------

Greece:

a. Things are extensive here from a sightseeing perspective: Greece, from one point to the other is 2 times the size of UK; it's more than 220 inhabited islands, a pretty extensive mainland which is a gold mine of sites. Logically you have included Athens, understandably you have included one of the most photogenic, touristic and popular destinations ( Santorini ) but, including three major cities in this are in the overall duration you are skipping a myriad of towns and or islands that would give you a perspective of a more real Greece.

Naxos for example is a fantasitc island and you could immerse a bit more in "Greece" visiting it. Or some of the sites in the mainland.

I understand your trave; time is limites, but you should balance also the weight each destination has :)

b. I would definitely change the location of the Athens hotel. This is a 6m metropolis, which is different from area to area; you have pedestrian areasyou have noisy avenues; you have attractive area, you have less attractive areas. By all means you should target staying in an area that will be in the center, preferably near Acropolis Museum and Acropolsi pedestrian Ring, to be able to exploit Athens' most attractive thing: the ability to walk to the sites, walk back to yoru hotel exploiting the pedestrianised areas. Metaxourgeio, ther area where Athens lotus hotel is is not such an area. Take a look at this map: http://g.co/maps/2vym7

I 'd try to stay in the "green" areas or the "yellow" areas.

By all means do head to a more central area.

c. I 'd add one more day in Athens. 2 full days doesent' make justice in a city that has been here for 3,500 years. Personally i 'd get one day of Santorini, although i love it.

Overal lcomments:

I notice that your flight times are usually in the middle of the day. That gets you perhaps better prices but it eats up valuable travel time.

One vivid example is the 10.20am flight to Santorini. Or the lflight to Istanbul.

Can you search getting flights out at the very early am? This will mean easier airport approach in all cases, except Santorini and a nearly full day in the new destination. Most vivid example of this is the Paris - Athens flight which, including airport time eats up nearly all day. Cant' you request a flight in the early am, like 7am which would get you at Athens at around 2pm, having nearly all day in your disposal?

That's all i can think.

I 'd think of limiting the cities i ;d visit but if i was sure i want it all, i ;d tailor the itinerary to provide better travelling times. This would mean more actual ground time.

Otherwise, you 'll have 5 airport days in a 14 days itineraryand only 9 'real' full days. This means nearly 1 / 3 of the itinerary lost in airports.

9 full days for 4 destinations doesen't sound very good analogy.

I 'd try to have a minimum of at least 3 full days in each place ( think of the opportunities, Athens for example is a gold mine of sites + you can even take a day trip to a nearby island like Hydra, or Aegina ) + i 'd try to 'steal' some days by arranging flights better in order to have some 'almost' full days :)

And, yes, the more i think about it, i 'd keep it in 3 places and perhaps some quick escapes as day trips ( all destinations in your list offer such chances ).

Edited: 20 October 2013, 18:19
Edgewater, New...
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3. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

Nick,

Thank you so much for your detailed response. This was amazing and you helped us reconsider alot of what we were planning. If we go to Athens we are definitely picking another hotel. Some of the other choices in our budgetary range on the list were Athens Gate (increases overall trip price by $250); Art Gallery Athens, Melia Hotel, Amazon, Acropolis Select, Athens Center Square and Athens Cypria.

I think we are going to narrow it to three cities, just still deciding on which three would be best. My top choice of those listed is Istanbul; my wife's is Greek Islands. We'll have to regroup to decide.

Do you have any insight on travel costs, mainly if the the $4600 we've been quoted for airfare, hotel, transfers and breakfasts is competitive. It seems to stay at this rate if we narrow to three cities as well. Again, this will be for travel in June 2014 and we are getting these prices now in EuropeanDestinations (which i used for Barcelona and Rome last year, and was perfect). Should we wait, as they will drop, or will booking this far in advance engender the greatest savings?

Thank you again. I really appreciate your insights.

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4. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

From the list of proposed Athens hotels, Athens Gate has the best location and a great roof top bar / cafe; i am almost sure this is where breakfast is served too, so overall a great location and a very good hotel. I 'd pick this one, even if costs rise; you 'll save extra costs by not having to use taxis : )

I definitely think that limiting the cities you 'll actually get more.

For example, you can go to Delphi as a side trip from Athens ( here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi ) or Hydra island, or Aegina; all are great options. This way you get another place, without having to change hotels or fly.

I can't comment adequately on the $4600 cost, but i 'll give it a try in euros.

A hotel in Athens can be around 60 - 120 euros per night, including breakfast. It can definitely go more easily, but the list of hotels you refer to is around there.

I 'd tend to think of similar costs in Istanbul.

Santorini is more expensive location for accomodation, it's a very popular destination: hotels can easily go in the 120 - 150 euros range per night, while many will be even more.

Paris can be around 150 euros per night for a hotel; it's more expenive from both Athens and Istanbul.

So, according to your original plan, hotel costs will be around:

4 nights in Paris 600

3 nights in Athens 180 360

3 nights in Santorini 360 450

3 nights in Istanbul 180 360

an appx total of 1320 - 1770 euros, breakfast included. That's appx. $1700 - 2400 for hotels only.

And then it's airfare from JFK or Newark, which is appx. $1200 - 1600 per person at that time of the year.

And then you have 4 trasfers; i 'd say roughly speaking $50 each, so it's another $200.

That's a total of appx. $4300 - $5800 without estimating flights during the trip and it's a quick estimation from someone that is NOT a travel agent : )

To put it simply, cost initially sounds sensible and it is in a range i 'd expect, especially because it includes so many flights.

The only way to find if this is the correct cost is to explore costs for each flight and each accomodation place separately and then add costs; whether this can go lower is a doublie sided knife:

accomodation in usual does not fluctuate wildly; the big thing is the flights.

Which flight, how much is something that fluctuates wildly and depends on many factors. This year for example with the demonstration problems Istanbul had, fares to and from Istanbul collapsed around that time, so you could get through there for less costs. But, sincerely it's impossible to predict these things. One way or another, June is already high season, so i 'd not expect flights to be cheap. The only time tay re cheap is from November to March and this is for a reason: most people prefer visiting Greece duing summer and this is the time when all its beauty unfolds really : )

I usually travel for less but this is irrelevant to your request, he he : ) Thing is that we have 30 countries around here, at least 30:) to travel too and travelling seems easier and cheaper, but travelling to US is expensive, mainly because of the airfare. This is where the big chunk of the costs is from and this is something impossible to overjump.

Otherwise we 'd stay at our home and commute from home to work and maybe to the supermarket. I 'd be a very much less happy person if i had to to do this : ) Travelling is something relatively costly but up to an extent costs ARE sensible and travelling is a source of joy for all of us.

Please keep inmind the estimation above is not a professional one, but a very quick rought estimation. Overall cost seems sensible.

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5. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

You can probably make this a less costly trip by limiting the cities and adding one night in each of the remaining destinations.

Both Athens and Istanbul are really good value destinations, especially Athens where costs have shrunk during the last 2- 3 years. Site entrance costs are also very good, if you think that Acropolis Museum admission for example costs only 5 euros per person, which is a silly price for the museum experience and the artifacts in.

Checking the hotel costs i thin ki 'd add one night in each of Athens and Istanbul having in mind both are great destinations, either for the sites in the cities but also for the side trips offered, especially Athens.

I 'd really think of a 4 + 4 + 4 meaning 4 nights in each of Athens, Istanbul and Santorini. It seems to me a hugely more balanced trip.

Edited: 20 October 2013, 21:25
Athens, Greece
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6. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

( + you get an extra night to spend at one of them or a some other place: ) )

Edgewater, New...
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7. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

Thank you again so much! These insights are priceless. I really appreciate it.

Edgewater, New...
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8. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

Ok, I am thinking of altering the trip for 5 nights in Istanbul, 3 nights in Santorini and 4 nights in Athens. We will save France for another trip. Thanks again for your help.

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9. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

That sounds great.

France needs time indeed.

A 5 + 3 + 4 sounds a much more balanced trip.

I 'd suggest starting exploring these three destinations in guide books, before booking and locking down dates, except if there is a huge offer you definitely want to grab.

You don't have to spend a lot of time researching but some initial research will help making the very final decisions.

With 4 nights in Athens you definitely have time for a day trip. One day will be the major sightseeing, like Acropolis + Agora, one next day will be mainly related to one of the big museums, another day can be a day trip ( Aegina, or Hydra are good options / Aegina is a very frequently connected to Athens' main seaport, so you can start early, visit Afaia Athena Temple, get some beach time and then have lunch in the town, returning late afternoon and having some time for anything else in the city ).

With one day for ancient sites, one for museums, one for a day trip you certainly have another day to probably take one of the great walking tours, like this: http://www.athens-walks.com/ which gets great reviews here.

Similar to the Athens itinerary can be the one in Istanbulwith a day trip to the nearby islands / I 'd pick Halki island. Istanbul is a much more bustling / busy metropolis + you 'll definitely have all these days full in Istanbul. Athens is a bit more slow, quiet in the pedestrian area, Istanbul is a very very attractive, but ever moving place, so you 'll get the best of two worlds.

And then it's Santorini :) Play around with the dates and grab an early flight out, so you get 4 days, if you wish :)

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10. Re: Need Advice: 14 Days in Paris, Greece and Istanbul

Hi, We are doing almost the same trip this year. Do you have any favourite restaurants/places to stay that you can recommend in Greece/Istanbul? How did you get from Athens to Santorini? Plane or Ferry? Thanks!