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Any help in planning our Greek Islands trip is appreciated!

San Diego...
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Any help in planning our Greek Islands trip is appreciated!

My husband and I are traveling to three countries as part of our honeymoon (married Oct 2013) in May 2014. Athens and the Greek Islands are my biggest headache simply because we’d like to spend the majority of our time there but don’t know much about it! I am very overwhelmed by all the research so any help is appreciated!

Right now the plan is to fly from Tel-Aviv to Athens on May 9th (preferably in the morning) and then take a flight from Athens straight to Santorini or Mykonos. My husband would like to stay on one island and take days trips elsewhere but I would really like to stay on two islands and experience as much as we can. Then we would depart which ever island we are on by ferry or fast shuttle on May 15th in the afternoon and spend the night of the 15th and all day and night on the 16th in Athens to fly out May 17th in the morning to Brussels. I have been to Athens before and feel it is important for my husband to experience it as well but feel we only need a short period of time to see the sights. We’d like to concentrate on more time in the Islands.

My questions include:

What is the best way to travel between islands and the duration of travel times? I don’t really know much about all the smaller islands and traveling to them, although I have read that ferries are not very dependable.

We are in our mid to late 30’s and would like to sightsee as well as go wine tasting, spend a day on the beach, and relax. Which two islands would be best to stay on, or is staying on two, too much in such a short time period? We would have approx 7 days for islands staying and hopping. We are definitely foodies and enjoy a good local bar but are not really into a wild nightlife of clubs and 20 year olds. We’d like to be tourists one day and act like locals the next!

If we chose to stay in Santorini, what area of that island would be best? Same for Mykonos? Also would we be missing out by only visiting one of these two islands? How can I saw I went to the Greek Islands but never went to Santorini? Also we’d want to be within walking distance to restaurants, bars, and a grocery store if possible.

Because we are traveling to three countries budget is important. We’d like to spend roughly $100-$150 per night for lodging (or less) and I am considering AirBnB, because we really like the idea of having a kitchen and making some of our own meals. I am also considering arriving with no set accommodations and speaking with hotel owners that wait for you by the ferry. If we are flying in, is this still an option?

We weren’t planning to take any guided tours, but as Americans in a foreign place, should we? Are there certain sights that we would benefit from by taking a tour? Especially if we do not stay in a hotel with a concierge?

Any insight from anyone who has been would be very helpful! Also if there are questions you feel I should be asking but are not please comment as well. We have roughly two months till the trip and are overwhelmed by all the options! I really want this to be an amazing once in a lifetime trip for us!

Thank You!

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Skopelos
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37,502 posts
39 reviews
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1. Re: Any help in planning our Greek Islands trip is appreciated!

Hey and welcome Leslie C:-) You can check www.gtp.gr/ www.openseas.gr/ for ferry schedules which also give duration via arrival/departure times.. depending on ferry type:-)

Looks like you have 6 nights allotted for the isle(s) .. which basically boils down to 5 full days! Having said that, day trips to other isles are dependent on ferry schedules.. sometimes there are excursions that usually start up sometime in May depending upon demand;-)

Having said that, Ios would be the closest isle to Santorini.. but the ferry schedules don't usually allow for more than a couple of hours before you have to return.. and that's if they are even running convenient schedules while you are there! From Mykonos, you have a few more choices.. like Tinos, Naxos or Paros.. but again, ferry dependent.. and although there are excursions to these .. as well as Santorini.. they are far from daily.. an may not even be running that early in the Season;-)

If you're looking for jaw dropping views, wineries to visit.. the ancient site of Akrotiri.. possible excursion to neighboring Thirassia.. by all means, head to Santorini.. keeping in mind that the beaches here are not your smooth sand variety.. since the isle is volcanic, beaches reflect same.. volcanic ash/grit;-) If you are looking for smooth sand beaches and the opportunity to visit amazing Delos, then head to Mykonos;-) Bear in mind that early/mid May is a wonderful time but the Seas are still on the chill side;-) Which isle to opt for is really your call there.. although they are both as popular as they come.. it's like comparing apples/oranges;-) Although I agree picking one for the 6 nights is a great way to get into your environment.. get to relax and enjoy.. take in the vibe.. get to find a fave café or something.. I also get coming the distance.. so in essence, you can do an even split of 3 nights at each.. but again, that's a personal call.. up to your prefs/priorities.. and your travel style rules;-) Congrats on your Wedding.. and Happy Honeymoon planning.. always EnJOY!

Nanaimo, Canada
Destination Expert
for Chania Town, Naxos
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2. Re: Any help in planning our Greek Islands trip is appreciated!

Welcome to the forum. It sounds like you will be having a great time.

As you mention you have to watch your budget I should tell you that Santorini and Mykonos are the most expensive islands. Personally I think Santorini is a must see island and this is where you need to be prepared to splurge and get a hotel with a caldera view. Make sure it is caldera view not ocean view. You will have to stretch your budget but it is worth it to have that view. Best views are from Fira busy main town or just a short distance Firafesofani same view just less tourist crowds or Oia charming but also lots of tourists.

To take care of that budget you could leave Santorini after two or three nights and catch the ferry to an island like Naxos where you will get a more accurate picture of what Greece used to be like. You will be able to get a beachfront studio apartment for 50 to 60 euros and dining is inexpensive as well.(By the way you do need to start thinking in terms of Euros not dollars) If you chose and island like Naxos you will need to book your return flight to Athens asap as it is serviced by Dash 8 aircraft and they only hold 30 passengers. Of course you can always ferry back to Athens but that will take up much of the 15th of May

If you are brave and are willing to negotiate then get a hotel when you arrive at the ferry port. There will be hotel owners waiting for the boat and in May you will get a pretty good deal. I would suggest you stay at St George beach because it is a good beach directly attached to Naxos town so you get a beach holiday and all the activities of town. If you get your hotel from the ferry dock make sure the hotel owner is from St George and ask them for a picture from the hotel to the beach. That at least will give you a filter as you negotiate with them. I can recommend Studio Kalergis and Hotel Spiros but they don't meet the boats you would have to contact the owners directly.

Here are images of Santorini and Naxos.

Santorini

flickr.com/photos/…

St George Beach Naxos

flickr.com/photos/…

Naxos Town

flickr.com/photos/…

Have fun planning

Nottingham, United...
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3. Re: Any help in planning our Greek Islands trip is appreciated!

"We weren’t planning to take any guided tours, but as Americans in a foreign place, should we? Are there certain sights that we would benefit from by taking a tour? Especially if we do not stay in a hotel with a concierge?"

No need for guided tours on the islands. You can do these by yourself using buses, boat trips etc.. Just get yourself a good guide book.

I doubt very much you will find a concierge in a hotel on the Greek islands.

The thing to remember when visiting Greece is the Greek way of life. Very laid back. Don't expect to find the hustle and bustle like where you live or NYC, or London, more so on the islands.

4. Re: Any help in planning our Greek Islands trip is appreciated!

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