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One week: Athens and....?

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One week: Athens and....?

I've booked flights to Athens, returning a week later for my husband and I from 20 May. My question is how best to spend this time...

I've always wanted to visit Athens to see the historic sites and museums and really enjoy European city breaks for the different culture and eating & drinking experience... but we'd also like some relaxing time and to make the most of our trip.

At the moment I'm thinking of spending 3 nights in Athens at the start of our week then 3 nights on an island that's not too far away - potentially Hydra or Aegina before spending a final night in Athens the night before our return flight (which is at 2pm). We had originally thought we'd visit Santorini, however I think the travel by boat is too much for our short trip and flying adds too much cost.

Would appreciate views on the optimum itinerary for our short trip!

Devizes, United...
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1. Re: One week: Athens and....?

Hi there

I would firstly sign up to the Aegean Airlines website as they regularly hold seat sales to various islands for as little as €39 one way with all taxes paid. If you were fortunate enough to grab a couple of return flights you would be looking at around €160 or £140. Miles faster than a ferry but of course, you might prefer that option anyway?

If you do decide to fly, I would look at transfering direct to the island as soon as you arrive in Athens, saves loads of time as you are at the airport anyway, gets you to your island on day one where it's way easier to relax than in the bustle of Athens, plus it saves one hotel booking in Athens plus the too-ing and fro-ing from the airport to the city centre. Lump the Athens time into one bit at the end of the week to maximise your time there.

Athens, Greece
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2. Re: One week: Athens and....?

To add another idea, in a similar path:

- Athens has three seaports. Piraeus is the biggest one and serves most destinations.

Rafina seaport is the second biggest, near to the airport ( accessible by bus or taxi ) and offers ferry trips in the 90 minutes ferry time range to Andros island.

Idea: Land in Athens, get the bus to Rafina seaport, ferry to Andros. Then return to Athens for the finale :)

Andros photos here: http://tinyurl.com/anqybd7

Location of airport, Athens, Rafina seaport here: http://goo.gl/maps/eJsv8

Edited: 02 March 2013, 16:33
greece
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3. Re: One week: Athens and....?

Four days in Athens might be too much. As late may is quite early in the season for swimming etc or to experience the real vibe of the cyclades which is an unforgettable experience, I would probably spend:

- 2 days Athens

- 1 day Aegina (try not to miss the Afaia temple) or Poros (or both)

- 1 day Hydra

- 2 days Spetses

The four islands mentioned above are all connected to pireas but also connected to each other with numerous ferries and fast boats(catamarans and hydrofoils) as well. All are very close to Athens and hoping from one to the next at random is very easy with no need to book in advance - just walk to the terminal 10min before departure and get the tickets you require. check openseas or any similar site for ferry schedules.

Car is not needed in any of them (hydra is free from all wheeled vehicles anyway and on spetses only motorbikes are allowed) but renting a scooter is the standard practice to move around.

4. Re: One week: Athens and....?

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5. Re: One week: Athens and....?

Four days in Athens is certainly not "too much".

Perhaps one can race around the principal sights in two days, but anyone who was really interested in them would want to spend a great deal more time: on the Acropolis, in the Agora and its museum, in the Kerameikos and its museum, and on the South Slope, just to give a few examples. Anyone who wanted to see only the three main museums - the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Benaki Museum - would need a couple more days. And anyone who wanted to see Athens's other excellent museums, and explore some of the outdoor possibilities - Philoppapos Hill, the Pnyx, Lykabettos, the National Gardens, the First Cemetery, never mind the rest of this huge, interesting, exciting, and yes, beautiful city - would need a lot longer. A week would be the bare minimum.

It beats me how so many people regard Athens as a penance, a place to rush through as fast as possible before escaping to "the islands". Athens has been one of my two or three favourite cities since my first visit in 1960, and I just don't understand how anyone can say "four days is too much".

End of rant.

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6. Re: One week: Athens and....?

except of visiting Aegina which is the nearest island from Athens another nice option is to visit Nafplio it is not an island but it is next to the sea side and has many places near by for sightseeing, easy accessible by bus from Athens in approximately 3 hours.

Devizes, United...
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7. Re: One week: Athens and....?

Madpan, I re-read the various posts here and I can't see any mention of "4 days in Athens" from anyone, least of all from AE1983. Each to their own but I too have to agree with Alabastron and say that even if if were 4 days, it's not "too much time". The last time we were in Athens, we had 5 full and 2 parts days there and still didn't get to see everything on our list.

AE mentions "3 nights" which is just 2 full days, plus they might return to Athens the evening prior to their homebound flight. I've suggested that they lump the Athens time into one to save time and some commuting to and from the airport. Their flight home is at 2pm so they would be looking to depart the city no later than 10.30-11.00am in which case, they will have little or no time to do any sightseeing on that final morning.

London, United...
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8. Re: One week: Athens and....?

AE1983, I've just re-read your post, and you say you've always wanted to see the historic sites and the museums of Athens. I didn't notice the "museums" bit on my first reading!

You need more than three days. If you want to split the trip up as you describe, starting in Athens and finishing there, I'd suggest four days in Athens, two on Aegina or Hydra, and a final day in Athens. (If you choose Hydra, make sure you get back to the mainland the day before your flight. Ferries from Aegina, which is so much closer to the mainland, are less prone to cancellation.)

If you liked Nick's suggestion of going straight to Andros, the closest of the Cyclades to Athens, or GB's suggestion of flying straight to an island (any number of possibilities) I'd suggest 2-3 days there, and the rest of the time in Athens.

You live in Glasgow, so the Aegean in late May will be warmer than anything you've experienced anywhere in the UK. If you want to swim, it's not too early.

GB, I expect Madpan was adding the three nights plus one night and getting four days - which it could be, given congenial flight times, though it's more likely to be three or less. :-)

Edited: 03 March 2013, 12:43
Athens, Greece
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9. Re: One week: Athens and....?

Too confusing to visit Aegina, Hydra and Spetses, most of the time will be used on commuting from one island to another.

Better to choose one island, enjoy relaxing time there and save Athens, as Nick and Alabastron suggested, last.

Glasgow
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10. Re: One week: Athens and....?

Thanks very much for all for your comments above.

Nick_arch Andros is not an island I would have considered before but looks like it could be a winner and there seem to be a few very affordable accommodation options. Transferring to whichever island we choose on arrival makes sense, we'll definitely do that.

Alabastron your point on Glasgow vs. Aegean weather made me laugh, it's factually accurate anyway :-)