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First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

So. California
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First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

Hello!

We are just starting to plan our trip to Greece in Sept and I have questions on our time frame and how to schedule.

We are coming from Los Angeles and will have 12 days including flight time.

We’d like to spend 3 nights in Athens then perhaps an overnight somewhere…perhaps Delphi. Or maybe we’ll be done with Greek Ruins by the time we see most of Athens.??

(we’d do this part by bus or maybe renting a car).

The part I’m confused about is this:

Husband and I don’t particularly like to cruise. We’ve only done one and that was in Alaska where there really isn’t a choice. In the past we have always traveled independently, making our own reservations for hotels, guides etc., renting a car and driving or flying from place to place.

I get sea sick so boat travel isn’t my favorite. I wore a patch for the Alaska cruise which seemed to work. I also don’t care for having to rush through a place perhaps having to leave when I’m not ready.

That being said I think cruising would be an easy way to see more of the islands, the idea of not having to pack and unpack is appealing and I like the idea of the approach to Santorini on a boat.

We thought about the ferries but I have a feeling I’d have a worse time with seasickness on them as their slower and smaller. (is there a super fast ferry?)

I haven’t looked into the flights but it seems that that would take a lot of time, getting to the airport, waiting for your flight, etc.

We’d like to see Santorini and maybe one or 2 other islands. I heard in Crete you can snorkel over a sunken city…sounds cool.!

I’m sorry if I seem so unsure about everything…I’ve looked at several guide books and read the various travel forums but there nothing like the “real thing”,,, the trip advisor forum folks to set you straight.

What itinerary would you follow if it was your first trip to Greece?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Raleigh, NC
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1. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

I am planning to visit Greece and I've just seen a short IMAX documentary called Greece: Secrets of the Past. It is only about 45 minutes and describes the Golden and Bronze ages of Athens and Santorini, in a very visually stunning way. Santorini is well preserved and dates back to 1600 B.C. ; Athens to 500 B.C. My friends tell me that there is an awful lot to see and do in Greece so you should not be bored in your 12 days. There are three islands that are only about an hour by ferry from Athens from the PIRAEUS port. It sounds like you won't want to take a boat to the farther islands because it takes 10 hours and people do get sick. The flights are reasonably priced and quick. You might want to plan to stay overnight on an island or two nights so you are not rushing back and forth from the airport. Be careful with your luggage size if you might be taking a small plane. One friend suggested taking a bus to Corinth and she also suggested the town of Nafplio. I would suggest watching tourism films so you get an idea of what you want to see. Some islands are historic and preserved while others are more resort like, some have sandy beaches; it depends on what you want to do. I want to see the museums and ruins in Athens, learn about the mathematicians, pick up some European languages, sit out on patios, and take long walks on the nearer islands. It is my first trip to Greece and I wanted to stay in one place and get a feel for the country before I try to see everything. But I have a lot of chances to go to beaches already like you may also. I might change my mind once I am there, and try to do more. If you are going to rent a car, be sure to learn to drive stick shift. Remember to give yourself a little time to recover from jetlag, so you don't miss the highlights of Athens.

Exeter, United...
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2. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

Hi there,

You really have ten days, first day jet lag and also day packing etc. it tends to be suggests quite often on TA that you get to athens airport, and then fly out to an island, have your nights on the islands you wish to see, then go back to Athens and have your athens nights.

The flights to santorini are quite cheap, and to check the box of approaching by sea there are lots of commanders that do half day sailing tours to out of the way beaches and then you come up to the island at the main port.

I'm a well known Athens nerd so I'd say three full days would be a minimum to see all the awesome stuff in a relaxing manner (not walking full speed 8 hours out of the day!) if you wanted to go to Delphi (which is incredible and I highly recommend seeing) its another two days and an overnight (bus there, see stuff, sleep, head back to Athens).

Assuming you decide not to include Delphi, you then have seven full days left. Considering you say you don't like to rush I'd say santorini plus another island would be a tight schedule but doable and enjoyable (depending on which island you decide upon) I would also think that santorini plus Crete would be far too little time to really enjoy Crete which is huge.

A rundown of how I would plan this would be

Day 00 arrive in santorini

Day 01 santorini

Day 02 santorini

Day 03 ferry to other island (perhaps Naxos?)

Day 04 Naxos

Day 05 Naxos

Day 06 Naxos

Day 07 ferry to Athens

Day 08 Athens

Day 09 Athens

Day 10 Athens

Day 00 depart athens

Keep in mind even the quick ferries take a while and the quicker to ship (the hydrofoils etc) the rougher the ride. but an island expert will have to help you out on this - also keep in mind that in September the ferry timetables cut back.

You might want to consider splitting your time between santorini and more of mainland greece (see Meteroa, Thessaloniki, Olympia)

Exeter, United...
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3. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

And just because I'm a classics nerd: re 01s post. Athens dates back far beyond 500BC. There is evidence that it was inhabited from the Neolithic era onwards, and there are Mycenaean staircases from 1412BC still in existence on the acropolis. After the ancient dark ages there is evidence showing that athens was a powerful leadership element in Greek matters from around 900BC onwards. Athens reached the peak of its power in the Fifth Century BC, which may be to what 01's doco was referring.

Sorry, I'm a history geek and I couldn't let it go!

Hope I helped your plans some!

Edited: 06 April 2014, 05:40
Athens, Greece
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4. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

Υοu can easily avoid the ferries (and the tremendously long hours of traveling) by simply FLYING to most major Greek islands in 30 minutes ,go to the the AEGEAN airways flights for CHEAP flights (sometimes cheaper than ferries) if you book early,I have just booked a flight to Lemnos for 35 euros!!!!

Maryland
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5. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

I second Littlerunners suggested itinerary of two islands plus Athens. Santorini and Naxos make a great pairing: Santorini has the breathtaking views but is more touristy (and expensive); Naxos is more laid back, has some of the best beaches in Greece and a charming/interesting port town to explore. If you can, try to fly straight through from the US to your first island (e.g., Santorini). The islands are a good place to 'de-lag' and you want to make sure you spend your final night in Athens for the return flight (ferries and even flights from the islands can be delayed or cancelled due to weather or other unforseen reasons). With four nights in Athens, you will have enough time to explore this fascinating city and perhaps arrange a day trip to Delphi or Napflio, both wonderful places to visit on the mainland. Meteora was also suggested (which I think is a totally unique and stunning place to visit on the mainland) but will require an overnight at the least. Have a great trip!

Newmarket, United...
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6. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

Since you get seasick, there isn't much point in taking a cruise to visit the islands. You would spend most of your time aboard ship, maybe getting 6-8 hours ashore at each port call. That doesn't give you much time to explore the individual islands.

LittleRunner's suggestion of Santorini and Naxos is a good one, as they both have airports for flights from/to Athens. The two islands are close together, so you would need to spend only about two hours on a ferry between Santorini and Naxos. Take Blue Star, a large conventional ferry, rather than a fast boat, which will allow you to stand on the outside deck.

So. California
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7. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

I can't thank you enough for this and think I'll follow this itinerary.

\We would then fly back to Athens from Naxos correct? I could get the patch for seasickness for the ferry between islands.

Is it possible to do an overnighter to see Delphi and Meteora or would it be to rushed?

Should we rent a car or leave the driving to someone else? Don't love buses but it might be a little

more relaxing...but then we couldn;t stop along the way if we see something of interest.

Decisions to be made....but you guys make it so much easier and more fun too!

Exeter, United...
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8. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

Yeah you can fly back from Naxos .

You *can* do tours that are an overnighter from Athens, through Delphi to Meteora and back. But they are quite rushed, and there's a lot of driving involved. The time at Delphi is usually fairly limited, and you only go to two of the six monasteries. ( keytours.gr/tours/athens/two_day_meteora_tou… for example) but overnight isn't long enough to do it on public transit, if you're comfortable driving on mountain roads in a feoreign country then go for it :-)

So. California
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9. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

as far as driving....Is any of the signage in English?

I'm also a little worried about getting burned out on ruins and antiquities after Athens. Litttle runner; I know that you love, love, love the history etc and that's so cool, but it may be too much for me/us.

"Seen one column" see em all...." Just kidding but you know what I mean.

10. Re: First trip to Greece and I'm confused...suggestions please

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