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10 day honeymoon Sept 23-Oct 2

Greetings wise ones!

I would love to pick your brains as I scramble to organize a last minute 10 day/9 night honeymoon itinerary for my husband and I. This is both of our first trips to Greece!

We are arriving via Air Canada Sunday Sept 22nd at 9am and I would like to go strait into Island hopping (hoping to do a 3/4 split between two islands) via a domestic flight for a week and then spend the last 2-3 nights finishing up the trip in Athens. We depart at 13:05 on October 2nd.

I'm having a hard time committing to which islands to visit since they all seem so wonderful so I would love some input. Right now I'm leaning towards domestic flight to Santorini for 3 nights, then take the ferry to Crete and hopefully stay in Chania for 4 nights, then fly back to Athens and spend our last two nights there.

I'm drawn to Crete for the postcard perfect beaches like Balos Bay and Elafonissi and because I would like to hike the Samaria gorge.
I'm drawn to Santorini because of it's allure really.... and because I'm interested in the sunset sail there around all the beaches as well as the hike from oia to fira.

Neither island is non negotiable. Over the course of our week in the islands I want to have beach days and hikes and sprinkle in some historical site visits as well.

I admittedly feel torn about Santorini. It seems like reviews are really hit or miss and people can really take it or leave it. I do not like the idea of being shoulder to shoulder with tourist so maybe plan to stay outside of oia? For some reason for our first trip I feel like we HAVE to go to at least one of Santorini/Mykonos...

Paros and Naxos keep coming up as alternatives, I have a hard time keeping them strait and knowing the pros/cons of each as an alternative.

Basically my wish list is to do some swimming at beautiful postcard worthy beaches, shop in local villages, eat as much grilled octopus and amazing greek food as I can stuff myself with, relax with my husband a bit (but not TOO much, I tend to run high strung so naturally don't relax well, ha!), do some scenic hikes... and experience some ancient greek ruins of course!

My husband works in the restaurant industry so while major nightlife isn't necessary (I'd rather be in bed by midnight then hit a club scene), we are however big food/cocktail people. I'm assuming he will connect with people in Athens but if the food scene is better known at one of the islands I've mentioned that would be important to note as well.

Thank you again for any feedback!

Sarah

Posted by
1082 posts

We flew into Athens and took domestic flight to santorini this past May. Frankly, it was a great place to get over jet lag. We stayed three nights like you are proposing and that is the perfect length of time. We did the hike from oia to Fira (because we stayed in oia) and it was the most beautiful hike i have ever done.

It was touristy but not overwhelmingly so in May which I would think would be similar to September. The views are stunning and I am glad we went there.

We then spent four nights on Naxos which we loved even more. I am sure Chania would be lovely too (it is on my bucket list).

Beth

Posted by
186 posts

To avoid the crowds in Santorini, just find out what time(s) the big ships dock and release the hordes and then plan on being at the beach and far away at those times. It is beautiful and you can manage to enjoy it by being proactive with plenty to do, relax, and sightsee.

Unless you are really interested in Crete, I would read up on Paros and Naxos and see if that might be a nice second island to visit (closer, better use of your time). I have not been to them, but people on this forum seem to really love those islands.

Athens at the end for 2-3 days is a good plan as well. Enough time to see the sights, shop, and get ready to go back home.

Hope you have a great trip.

Posted by
5634 posts

Santorini is not known for it’s beaches if they are important to you.

Posted by
16763 posts

I like Crete a lot but think it's better when you have more time available. It's a large island and requires a flight or a long ferry trip to and from. I'd go with Naxos, and I'd spend more time there than on Santorini.

Posted by
1082 posts

Naxos has lovely beaches and we originally decided to go there because if that. Ironically, we were so busy exploring that we ended up only spending a few hours actually at the beach.

Beth

Posted by
742 posts

When island hopping sequence is important. You are going to be better off flying to Chania that first day, then take the ferry from Heraklion to Santorini. Why? Because the ferries depart Heraklion around 9 in the morning. They go to Santorini and arrive around noon. They continue their routes to Naxos and Paros and Mykonos. They then do the return route but do not arrive in Crete until around 7:30 in the evening.
Doing Crete first then Santorini give you extra time in Crete.

The problem with your plan is really you don't have enough time to do Crete. Chania is lovely and I always recommend it but doing west Crete really needs a week particularly if you want to do Elafinissi and Balos. Both are full day trips and Samaria Gorge in total takes about13 or 14 hours before you are back in Chania.
Then there is the problem of having to take the ferry from Herklion which is about 2.5 hours from Chania which means a very early bus ride or an overnight in Heraklion..

My thoughts.
Fly to Santorini. Find a hotel in Firostephani. Caldera view is a splurge that you will remember your whole life. September is still high season in Santorini however you can manage cruise ship crowds by staying in Firostephani. Its essentially an outskirt of Fira the capital. It has the same views but the crowds don't go that far. You can be in Fira in the morning before the crowds arrive and in the evening after they leave. Last September we made reservations each day at cocktail bars perched on the edge of the Caldera. The sunsets were amazing and we had front row seats. The crowds were standing behind us and about 10 deep.
This is what the view from the cocktail bar was like.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/38336305391/in/album-72157632154800782/
When the photo opens use the arrow to the right and you can view about a dozen photos of the sunset.

Take the ferry from Santorini to Naxos. I believe there is a bluestar at about 6am but if you want to sleep in then you can take the championjet around 11. It has an open deck at the rear and you can be outside for the dash through the caldera. Its probably about 30 knots and you only get about 8 minutes but the views are outstanding. The bluestar is a conventional ferry with lots of deck space and because it is slow you get a good 30 minutes in the caldera.

Naxos has great beaches, mountain villages and an old town with a maze of back alleys all topped by a Venetian era Kastro. I think your 4 days are better spent on Naxos than Crete. Logistics are better and it is simply charming. Oh yes Naxos is also a hikers destination. No Samaria Gorge but lots of good hikes.
Naxos Mountains and Villages http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632110674306/
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/

If you can find a flight back to Athens from Naxos book it now. The airport is small and can only take 50 passenger turboprops. Aegean and Sky express both service Naxos.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you so much everyone for all of the valuable advice!

Janet you are so generous with your time and details in everyone's threads, I truly appreciate all of your input!

I've taken all of your feedback and booked the direct flight to Santorini, staying outside of Fira (could not find a place in Firostephanie within budget unfortunately), and then plan to take the ferry directly to Naxos.

We booked the Naxos Island Hotel in Agios Prokopios but now I am second guessing myself, is St George Beach a better area of the two? We have free cancellation until 9/5 so not too late to make a change. We want a lot of relaxing beach time in Naxos, but also plan to do some hiking and ATV exploring of the island. There was a company that did jetski rentals on Crete that I thought my husband would enjoy so will probably look for the same thing on Naxos, is there a better beach for that kind of activity?

Lastly, I would welcome suggestions for where to stay in Athens. With only 36 hours there, we plan to fly directly from Naxos. I have ready that Plaka, Psyri, Syntagma are all good areas? They seem to all be close together too. Budget is Athens is ~$200-$250/nt (does not need to be fancy since we plan to be out most of the day). Would also love recommendations for favorite rooftop bars/restaurants offering great views of the acropolis.

Thank you again!

Sarah

Posted by
1082 posts

You should stay in st George beach. We were in Naxos last week in May and the beach towns were still very quiet. It was fine for lunch and to explore but would not want to stay there.

We stayed south of Acropolis which was ideal for going to Acropolis and Acropolis museum. Plaka area is more central to shopping.

Beth

Posted by
1803 posts

I agree with the others. Visit Naxos rather than Crete, and stay on St. George beach. At the far end (away from town) of St. George Beach is Flisvos Sportscenter, which rents jet skis, wind surfers and all kinds of water toys. You can even stay there -- they have a hotel and nice-looking restaurant.

We stayed on St. George Beach and walked by Flisvos every morning. It wasn't til our last evening that we walked up to the hotel/restaurant building and discovered they have a wonderful "front porch" with comfy couches ... a perfect place for an ouzo at sunset. Since you'll be there in late September, and it sounds important to your husband, I'd suggest contacting them and verifying that the water sports will still be available at that time of year.

Our hotel on St. George was Studios Kalergis. It's right on the beach .... you can get rooms with balcony or a room on the ground floor (which we did) which is about a dozen steps from your room to the sand. There are lots of other great (and inexpensive) hotel options as well.

Congratulations, and have a wonderful time!

Posted by
2416 posts

Sarah, thank you very much for the compliments, but on this particular thread, I blush to admit I contributed nothing -- it was "Stanbr" who gave you all the dope about Naxos... plus his fab photos. You may have confused us because we are infamous as the "Naxos Twins" on these forums -- 12 years ago I met Stanbr & spouse on Naxos, and we've each been returning ever since... and he takes such excellent pix that, lazy me, I just post links to his albums. And he's the fellow Looney so thanks to him this time!

I do agree that in Sept. if you can find a place right next to or on St. George beach, it's the place to be... mainly because end of Sept. the port town is the liveliest part, of an evening, and this way it's just a 15 minute stroll. Ag. Prokopios is a great place to go for swims --- it has a wide long beach, & sea gets deeop about 5 feet rom waterline... but by sepst end some cafes will be closing, & at night it will be empty-feeling. It's very easy to hop a bus to/from. On St. GEorge some of those modest-price places that are right on the sands or a few feet away, all w. balconies with sea view, Include Hotel Asteria, Studios Kalergis, Studios Thomais, Dionysus Studios, Ippokampus, Lefkas Apts, Hotel Palatia, ... and at the far end, just past Flisvos Sport Center, a bit upscale, Villa Naxia. GO to Booking. com and plug in your dates & see what's available.

Posted by
2416 posts

Forgot about Athens ... this is a matter of personal taste... I do like the SOUTH side of the acropolis more... because thee is the lovely pedestrianized promenade all along that side... very little traffic, mainly no-car lanes, it's serene. Two hotels there that may be in your budget are Hotel Phillipos and its upscale Sister hotel, Hotel Herodion, both on upper floors have balconies w. Acropolis view, and Herodion has rooftop terrace & restaurant. However, It's not really clear what your 2 nights are --- Sept 30 & Oct 1? Or Oct 1-2? Another that's very nearby is Airotel parthenon, good hotel but no rooftop terrace. I've heard that if you write you're on y our honey moon hotels may give special consideration maybe a room upgrade & a bottle of wine -- don't by shy, work it!!

Here's my quickie strategy: use booking.com filter "Landmarks/Acropolis) -- which shows hotels that are closest to Acropolis (the link-is superlong so use this "tinyurl" -- http://tinyurl.com/heq6edp -- plug in your dates and then click "Show Prices" a big list of hotels shows up... but in Upper RH corner theres a box, "Map View" CLICK ON THIS -- and you'll immediately see all the hotels surroundign the acropolis, as blue "baloons" the ones with red centers are fully booked, white centers. available. When y ou touch w mouse it shows price for your 2 nights. THere are several hotels -- and ALSO some pvt apartments -- in the $300 - 450 range... The latter are often bargains for last-minute arrangements like yours, just be sure that there will someone to admit you at the time of your arrival. NOTE -- You may ALSO want to shoot a quick e-mail to Herodion, Phillipos, Airotel Hotel Hera with your dates -- because they don't put ALL their rooms online... If you book direct, they don't have to pay the booking.com % Good luck!