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Greek Islands

Perth, Western...
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185 posts
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Greek Islands

My husband, myself and our 13 year old son are visitng Greece next April. We are planning to travel from Athens to Mykonas, then to Santorini, then to Crete via fast ferries/catamaran (not the slow ferries, but the ones that take about half the travel time between the islands), as I though this would be a good way to see the islands and the beautiful sea. If anyone has done any of this please let me know your thoughts. I am interested to know the quality of the boats - seating/ food and beverage available/ etc/etc. Also does anyone know any nice small classy boutique hotels to stay in on these islands and in Athens? Also any advice re Crete - to go or not go? To hire a car and drive around the island or not? We plan to fly from Crete back to Athens. Lots of questions I know but lots for me to know and learn. Thank you.

Devizes, United...
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1. Re: Greek Islands

Hi LVL

I can't help with the ferry questions but you ask " any advice re Crete - to go or not to go?"

How long can you spend on Crete? It is a large island by Mediterranean standard at almost 250km long so you'd need an awful lot of time to even scratch the surface. We have travelled to Crete probably 10 times since 1999 and have seen much of the island but there are still many places to see.

If you can give an idea of how much time you will have on Crete, I'd be pleased to offer some suggestions and recommendations. It is without a doubt a stunning island so please do go across to explore.

La Rochelle
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2. Re: Greek Islands

"We are planning to travel from Athens to Mykonas, then to Santorini, then to Crete via fast ferries/catamaran (not the slow ferries, but the ones that take about half the travel time between the islands), as I though this would be a good way to see the islands and the beautiful sea"

The disadvantage of taking a fast ferry/catamaran as opposed to a regular ferry is that there's no deck space on a catamaran. Catamarans are like large airplanes, they have airline style seating and not much room for roaming about. They're also more susceptible to rough seas, so not a great idea if you suffer from motion sickness. By contrast, a modern ferry (i.e. Blue Star) is more like a cruise ship - with shops, cafes, restaurants, lounge-style seating in first class, cabins (at extra cost), and most importantly, plenty of outdoor space.

As regards the timing of your trip, April can be cold and wet, so planning a lot of island hopping may not be such a good idea. Also if you're planning to travel over Easter you should book accommodation and transport well in advance, keeping in mind that travel on certain days (i.e. Easter Sunday) may not be possible.

If I were you, I'd consider combining Athens/mainland with Crete and cutting out the intermediate destinations. There's plenty in Crete to keep you occupied and the weather will be nicer than anywhere else in Greece.

Perth, Western...
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3. Re: Greek Islands

Hi GBfromDevizes

we are thinking about spending 4 days in Crete. I was thinking perhaps a couple days at one end of the island, and then a couple days at the other. Any suggestions re the best place to stay - we prefer sights and sounds of people, markets, etc then lots of monuments. Accomodation advice would be welcome too, eg. a nice place to stay with a view, but quiet spot.

LVL

Devizes, United...
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4. Re: Greek Islands

Hi LVL

With just 4 days to spare you will want to see as much in as short a time as possible. For that reason, you will need to hire a car for sure. The bus service is good but obviously slower than a car and the buses don't necessarily go to some of the places you might want to consider visiting.

You could for starters easily spend two days in Chania. It is quieter than the other large north coast towns. Chania has lots of antiquities like it's Venetian fortress and has lots of decent restaurants surrounding it's harbour. From Chania it's a relatively simple drive to see places like Souda Bay, head SW to Paleochora or drive to the far west for the peace and tranquillity of the Rodpoi and Gramvoussa peninsulas if you enjoy walking and solitude.

After Chania, my advice would be NOT to head to the far east, but maybe head for either Agios Nikolaos or Elounda which are a 2.5 hour drive east from Chania. From either of these,you are well placed to see for example the Lassithi Plateau, the charming inland towns of Kritsa and Neapoli, Spinalonga Island, the southermost town in Europe at Ierapetra, and the Minoan remains at Gournia and Malia Palace.

Of course, on route you will pass close to Heraklion which itself has much to see. If you decided to stop for your second two day stint in or around Heraklion rather than heading further east, then definately visit Knossos which is on the road to Archanes and can be easily reached by car or by taking bus service number 2 from bus station A by the port in Heraklion. After Knossos it's best to head back into the town to the Archaeological museum on Plateia Eleftherias which puts much of what you'll have seen at Knossos into perspective.

Other major sights in Heraklion include the Venetian harbour, hangars and fortress, the old city walls, some of which can be walked, Odos 1866 (Market St), the Morozini Fountain, Agios Titos church and the Loggia and the tomb of Kazantzakis. Also from Heraklion, it's still realtively short drives to see the Lassithi Plateau, Malia Palace or even to Agios Nikolaos which takes an hour.

Needless to say, there's no way you could hope to do all of the above suggestion in 4 days, but I think it gives you alternatives according to how far you want to travel between your two stop offs.

Please let me know if I can help any further.

Perth, Western...
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5. Re: Greek Islands

Dear GBfromDevizes,

thanks for all the information. Is it possible for you to suggest ONE place to stay in Crete, from which we could do day trips by car? The idea of moving from hotel to hotel sounds a bit too tiring to me. If there is one town you'd suggest making a 'base camp' - which would it be, obviously one with plenty of nice resturants to eat in, etc, and could you also recommend any nice hotels to stay in?

Many thanks

LVL

Devizes, United...
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6. Re: Greek Islands

Hi LVL

Many of the best sights are either on, close to or easily reachable from the north coast. The coastal strip from Iraklion to Agios Nikolaos is quite built up so if I were planning what you would like to do, I'd be inclined to stay somewhere like Elounda. It's a relatively peaceful resort a few km's north of Agios Nikolaos but is still handy for sights such as Plaka where you find the best fish restaurants on Crete, Spinalonga Island, Agios Nik itself, and he lovely inland towns of Kritsa and Neapoli.

Elounda attracts the 30 plus age group and has a superb beach, good restaurants and enough night life to be interesting without being noisy or brash. If you like snorkelling, then the sunken old city of Olous sits in no more than 3m of water just by Elounda.

From Neapoli it's a wonderful 45 minute drive up to the Lassithi Plateau, the road leaves at the top of the town square and is well signposted. It's an hour or so to Iraklion on a good fast road. Follow the signs for "kentro" (centre) and there is a cheap car park down a steep slope almost next door to the Archaeological museum. On the way to Iraklion you will pass close to the site of Malia Palace although Malia itself is a tip.

It'll take you 1.5 hours to reach Ierapetra on the south coast and 1.5-2 hours to get to Rethymno. Sissi and Milatos, two lovely small fishing villages are within 30 mins drive.

My wife and I rarely stay in hotels so I can't recommend one in Elounda but I know there are some very good ones in the town. Maybe a further request on the forum here could provide you with a few options?

Best wishes GB

7. Re: Greek Islands

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