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10 days on islands

First trip to Greece! April 29-May 18
We are fairly active seniors who did Tuscany, Rome, and Amalfi on our own with 1 rolling carry-on and 1 backpack each. We are not athletic but we like to explore. Do you think we can do the islands on our own?
Any suggestions ?
Day 1 Fly SFO to Greece
Day 2 Arrive Crete(Heraklion), 10:30 PM..YIkes! Where to stay?
Day 3 another night in Heraklion or other place?
Day 4 Same place as Day 3? Where?
Day 5 Ferry to Santorini
Day 6 Santorini
Day 7 Santorini
Day 8 Ferry to Naxos
Day 9 Naxos
Day 10 Ferry to Mykonos
Day 11 Mykonos
Day 12 Ferry to Athens
Day 13 Join 5 hour Keytour for Athens City tour and Acropolis and Acropolis museum
Day 14 Exploring Athens DIY
Day 15 Start 5 day Keytours Greek Classics--Corinth Canal, Mycaene, to Nafplion hotel
Day 16 Nafplion, Olympia, Olympia Hotel
Day 17 Dephi, Delphi Hotel
Day 18 Kalambaka
Day 19 Meteora and then back to Athens, end
Day 20 Fly Athens to SFO

Need Heraklion hotel upon late night arrival, transportation?
Need Athens hotel on Day 19 so we can get to airport early on Day 20.

Any ideas for Crete itinerary?

thanks for your experience and generous sharing with details.

Posted by
61 posts

I should add that we budget an average of $75-100 per night for hotel depending if there is brkfst inc.
The first night in Heraklion, we can't be too particular, but after that we prefer rustic, Greek-type lodging in a quiet but central neighborhood. Hope we can have that experience on the islands.

Thanks.

Posted by
5637 posts

Stay in Heraklion just one night. In the morning visit Knossos and then move to Chania, one of Greece's two most beautiful towns, for two nights.

Posted by
61 posts

Thank you. That sounds good. Do you recommend a hotel that is easy to get to after our 10:30 p.m. arrival at Heraklion? Moderate price.

Posted by
2416 posts

Here u are with bookings made before askin for feedback, so if we have a tweak to suggest, it's not possible. You say arrive Heraklion 10:30 pm. I assume you are flying there. You must LEAVE from Heraklion, so why not fly in to Chania?... that way no backtracking. As it is, you don't have time to even glimpse Chania, the 2nd-most-beautiful Old Town in Greece (next to Nafplio). You really only have TWO days in Crete -- (and the first day you'll be fairly jet-lagged) ,,,and you can't wander far from Heraklion, if you are going to make that 9:45 AM ferry to Santorini. SO...

DAY 2 (night really - it's 10:30pm at airport -- Taxi from there but you won't get checked in until 11:30-12) Try for a room at Hotel Kronos, on the seafront ( ... Hotel or Lato, a boutique hotel if you like fancy, but y ou'll be too conked out to notice).

DAY 3 (which actually is day #1 of your actual time in Greece)... Drag yourself out of bed & go at AM to Heraklion MUSEUM... and in afternoon go to Knossos -- the cruise-ship & package-tour crowds leave by about 3pm. There's a public bus right by the ferry pier that takes u right to the Knossos gate, in 30 mins; no need to rent a car in the madness of Heraklion traffic. Go back for a nap, walk out on the causeway to the Stunning Fortezza, then have a nice dinner right at the foot of the causeway, at Ippocampus or Ligo Krasi ... of "mezedes" (small plates), which are the Cretan specialty... you'll each get 3-4, lots of variety, at a bargain.

DAY 4 -- Rent a car for the day??? (you need a Intl Driver License for this; go to any AAA office, get one in 20 mins). There are several options (1) --- drive WEST on the big north road, just for the scenery.. a sfar as Panormos, then go inland about 10 miles to MELIDONI CAVE -- beautiful insides, hauntng & poignant tragic memorial (A turkish massacre in 1825) (2) Drive south to Scenic (and restored) Epano Arhanes & town of Peza in heart of Wine country, & visit a couple of vineyards. Either one would get you out of Heraklion -- if you were going later in the year, you could do a bus excursion but I doubt any would be offered in April. I suggest you ask Hotel desk about a vineyard & village they'd recommend. That way, you'll be in Heraklion hotel that night & the next AM, right near the dock for your ferry.

... as for the rest, I see you are limiting Naxos in effect to 1 day in favor of the Mykonos shopping experience, so I'm done here.

Posted by
61 posts

Thanks for the honest feedback. Very helpful. I have work to do here.

Unfortunately, our tickets cannot be changed, so we will be flying into Crete, yes, arriving very late. So, I guess we have to get hotel in Heraklion. We'll try Kronos Hotel and follow your tips for the first day. Then we'll need to get over to Chiana for two nights. Did realize how early the ferry takes off from Heraklion. What is best way to get there from Chiana?

Posted by
61 posts

Ugh, Mykonos shopping.... not my thing. How about cutting the one free day in Athens and stay on Naxos for three nights?

Posted by
2416 posts

Why not skip Mykonos & you'd have TWO extra days on Naxos .... as I think I mentioned before, there is a daily excursion boat to Mykonos from Naxos .... It stops at Delos for 2 hours first, but if you have no interest in Delos, you can just not disembark & go on to Mykonos arrive about 10:30 --- have until 4:30pm before vessel heads back to Naxos. Thus get your Mykonos fix, if you really need it, w.o. staying there.

As for Chania, you are not counting right! You get in at midnight of your Day 2... that doesn't count... that is NOT a Greece day it is a travel day, You just have TWO Crete days (Day 3 & 4), and realistically, you need to be in a hotel near the port for the night of day 4. To get to Santorini on Day 5, you must be checked out of hotel and at dock no later than 9:15 for 9:45 departure... thus you cannot be in Chania, which is 2 1/2 hours away IF there is no traffic. The only intercity bus that would get you to the dock on time leaves Chania at 6 am. If you drove you would get completely lost on Heraklion's nutty 1-way streets.. and rush-hour traffic (this is a city of 300,000). I would guess that a taxi would cost you well over $100 -- maybe $200 (because remember, he'd have to drive back empty & lose much of his day's business). This is a lesson for next time ... then you can spend a whole week in Western Crete.

Posted by
61 posts

Oh........
will need to look at details when I'm more awake.

Thanks a bunch, really.

Posted by
1082 posts

Are you flying to Crete on one ticket? If you bought a separate ticket for Athens to Herarklon you might consider buying a different one from Athens to Chania. That would be worth the money you would lose. Of course, if you are routed on one ticket from SFO to Herarklon, it is far too costly to change the ticket.

Posted by
16766 posts

Just echoing the others: It's a shame to go to Crete for just two days. It's a large island.

Posted by
61 posts

We are going on ☝️ ticket from SFO to Crete@. We have three nights at Heraklion . Arriving very late first night. Then go to museum and palace second day. Then rent a car to explore beyond Heraklion so we can sleep in Heraklion do we can be right there to catch early ferry to Santorini. (Thanks for this advice).

Help needed to book a hotel in Athens for last night after we finish five day tour of the classics . We depart Athens to SFO VERY early next morning. ANY RECOMMENDATIONS for Athens hotel for last night near airport? Hi

Posted by
483 posts

We were in Mykonos and Naxos in September. Mykonos Town is tiny with some nice views and lots of stores and restaurants. Naxos has more substance and is a pleasant size to explore. The tiny museum is great up by the castle and then enjoy the many layers of history as you walk down the maze back to the water . I would give the extra days to Naxos and cut Mykonos and the extra travel time as Janet advises. We took the Blue Star Ferry from Paros, the stop after Naxos, back to Athens and really enjoyed the trip. We did spend a few more euros to travel in Business Class and sit at the top and front of the ferry in a nice lounge with great views. We stayed at the RS recommended Central Hotel which was nice enough with a lovely rooftop bar looking at the Acropolis all lite up. They also have a tasty breakfast with serveral options before the dreaded airplane food. They arranged a taxi for us to the airport and it was a a fair price and made it easy for us. We love Greece

Posted by
1082 posts

Where does your tour leave you? There is an airport hotel but it is pricey (Sofitel). If the tour ends in Athens proper, you could just stay there and take an early morning taxi.

There also have been some other suggestions on forum of places a shuttle ride or shorter taxi ride from the airport that you might search for.

Posted by
2416 posts

I agree that if the tour ends right in central athens the best thing to do is have a hotel room right there, and order a taxi for the early morning (taxi costs about €55 flat rate if arriving at destination before 6 am). ... it will take 45-55 minutes to reach airport & you must be in line 2 hours ahead (stupid Iknow) so if you have a 6 AM flight you will hve to leave central athens at 3 am. If u have a hotel a block or 2 from Syntagma square, you can get an X 95 express bus that runs all night long, costs €3 for seniors, & lets you out at Airport building. The Sofitel is the ONLY hotel on the airport premises, & it can cost $200+ for a room (greed is good). A much more modestly priced hotel is AVRA http://www.hotelavra.gr -- 25 mins away by free 24/hr shuttle ... only requirement is that at time of reservation you must request shuttle & specific what time in morning.