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10 nights in Greece Itinerary Help

My husband, my daughter (24), and son (21) will be traveling to Greece for 10 nights mid-May and looking for some advise on the itinerary. We enjoy historic sites, hiking, a little beach, some nightlife, and enjoy walking where have to go.

My original thought was to go to Naxos, Santorini, and Athens. In that order. But in looking at both islands there isn't to much site seeing except for the beaches.

Would Peloponnese be a better option for us, along with Athens? Is there an Island that we could visit that we won't loose 2 complete days of travel back and forth?

We are open to renting a car.

One more thing my son will be arriving a day later, since he will be in Europe already.

Thank you for your advice.

Posted by
3080 posts

Santorini has two excellent archaeological sites that must have escaped your attention. Do a google search for Akrotiri and Ancient Thera. And since you enjoy walking you'll enjoy the hike required to reach Ancient Thera. Visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera as well as the other various museums and shops spread out over the island. Have a meal at one of the fish tavernas in Amoudi Bay below Oia. Take a boat ride out to the volcano in the center of the caldera, which also includes a stop on Thirassia, the small island across the caldera from Santorini. Visit some of the wineries on a wine tasting tour. Go to Greek Night at Dimitris Taverna in Kamari Beach. Experience the White Door Teatro in Fira.

My point is, there's plenty to see and do there.

If you live outside the EU you will need to bring an International Driving Permit with you. If you live in No. America you can get one at your local AAA/CAA office, no test or membership required. Bring 2 passport photos with you to save a few dollars.

Posted by
1457 posts

With 10 nights it seems you will have about 3 nights in each location with one day to spare, which is not very much. Agree with Lee that there's a lot to do on Santorini; we spent 5 nights there and were not bored. We rented a car for one day and explored the villages and visited the archaeological sites. As for Naxos, we also spent 5 nights there. You can take a day trip to the archaeological island of Delos. We took a ferry which stopped at Delos for about 3 hours and then Mykonos (which we could have done without) for 3 hours or so. We also rented a car on Naxos for one day and explored the little villages of the island. If you want to visit Naxos, Santorini, and Athens, you should fly directly to Santorini from Athens. You could spend 3-4 nights there then ferry to Naxos. From there you could fly or ferry to Athens. We spent 3 nights (2.5 days) in Athens and found it to be enough to see the major sights and museums.

The Peloponnese is also a great option. You would need to research and decide which towns you want to visit to see how that plan compares to your island plan.

Have fun with your plans!

Posted by
2061 posts

I agree with Lee and Carol. There are plenty of sights to see on Santorini and Naxos to keep you busy and happy for a week or more. Fly directly to Santorini upon arrival in Athens (give yourself a couple of hours between incoming and outgoing flights). Then ferry to Naxos. Then ferry (about 5 hours) or fly back to Athens (there are limited flights from Naxos so if you choose this option, look into flights quickly).

Your son can join you in Santorini the day after you arrive. Depending on where he is in Europe, he may be able to get a direct flight to Santorini, by-passing the Athens airport.

Posted by
3259 posts

When you have only 10 nights (does that really just mean 9 days??) not only every day, but every HOUR counts. Advice differs depending what exact DATE your plane arrives at ATH airport, AND what TIME Same goes for departure time. If you've settled on the date but not the flight, you know that most flights leave US in late afternoon and the next AM the flights nonstop from US arrive 9 - 10AM, whereas flights changing in Europe don't arrive until at least 2pm, and as late as 6pm. Morning arrivals are pricier, but u need to choose those -- with only 9 days, every hour is precious! Some thoughts based on long (12 trips) experience:

• DO ATHENS LAST - bussing into central athens, checking in/out of hotels TWICE can waste at least 1/2 Day - and u must be in Athens anyway, the night before your homebound flight. Also, don't choose a homebound flight leaving 6-7 am -- you'd have to be at airport at 4-5 am, thus leaving hotel by 3 am or so, thus your last evening would be complete bust.

(On arrival, rent car, head for NAFPLIO in Peloponnese. If you want the BEST historic sites, hikes, beach, nightlife -- it's IDEAL. This superb NONcommercial website -- tells ALL! with PIX! Click on every link! The link ("Really Useful Info") covers=hotel-dining-shops... TRAVEL link has Detailed bus & Car info; saves me giving details here. Here's a splendid Online Map (click & it gets huuuge) BTW this is easy if son arrives next day, he gets X93 bus at airport to KTEL (intercity) Kifissos bus terminal, hourly Nafplio busses.
• NAFPLIO & AREA (3-4 days) -- en route, Stop at NEMEA (sacred games Site!) then 2nd day explore Nafplio Old Town, 3rd, Mycenae & Tiryns? Beach? Asine? 4th go E to see Epidaurus, up coast road, Stop @Corinth Canal, drop car at PIRAEUS port.
• AEGINA & ANGISTR1 (3 days?) (2nd isle is 15-min motorboat ride away) MANY ferries daily (open-deck ones, not hydrofoil) 1 hour; During WEEKDAYS these isles low-key & uncrowded: sites, beaches. Check this "hidden eden"
• ATHENS - (3 days) -- Get hotel/close as poss to Acropolis for busy site-seeing museum going; Do NOT fall for an airbnb that's waaay out in the burbs; check googlemap for location, nothing farther than 1 km from Acropolis, you have too much to see in limited time. (And don't do inconvenient location for sake of swanky decor; you won't be in room much anyway).

This will be MUCH more expensive! because you'll have to FLY to Santorini lots of taxis (€25 min from airport to caldera hotel) or car rentals; then also FLY back from Naxos - even assuming there are flights left for your dates, the Santorini tix will be many hundreds of €€ and Naxos at least €120 ... but since flights are 45 mins vs 8-9 hr ferry to Santorini, 5hr ferry back from Naxos, you hve little choice -- as the old saying goes, you either spend time or money. PLUS by now, the moderate price hotels with the famous Caldera-view locations are pretty well booked by now ... best values will be back some distance from the rimside view.
SANTORINI (2.5 days) arrive aft of Day #1 -- at 3:15pm of DAY #3, take 2-hr Blue Star Ferry to NAXOS (4 days). end of Day 7, either fly to Naxos or take 6pm Blue star (arrive midnight) - ATHENS (2 days) See above.

Posted by
5 posts

Wow, thank you for the great advise. We have a little more homework to do, either itinerary will be good.

Posted by
8 posts

Another Alternative would be Athens and Crete. So you minimise the travel time and costs between 3 different destinations. Personally I have visited more than 20 greek islands, crete, the biggest island in Greece combines all you need historic sites, hiking, beaches, some nightlife while renting a car and travel from side to side can be amazing and adventurus.

I would spend 6-7 days there then 3-4 day in and around Athens, where there is a lot to see. Other than all the classics History etc for us one of our highlights was a walking food tour that we enjoyed a little bit a history walking and tasting called

A very classic 1 day cruise around athens also is the three islands Hydra - Poros - Aigina but compared to crete.... nothing much.

Posted by
3259 posts

LC, now that you have an array of options to consider, your additional "homework" needs 2 aspects:
• ONLINE for LOGISTICS -- for FLIGHTS - OR (tho I find Aegean most reliable, site #2 also lists Ryan air AND allows u to look at options 3 days + or - For FERRIES - -- if you specify only Month (any day), u can see the service for every day, many options.

•IN PRINT for BACKGROUND -- Online sites with Pretty Photos too often are incomplete; show only highlights & attractions, don't give any drawbacks or caveats (re crowds, costs etc). This trip is bound to cost you over $10,000, so why not dig a bit? Your local library has a shelf-full of guides, take home an armload, photocopy relevant pages. If u really like one you can get a used copy cheap online, and just pull out & take sections u want.

One reason I suggest the above is that on forums we constantly see misinformation such as (1) Santorini is a must-see because "it has the unique white houses/blue domes look" (20+ islands have this) or (2) Zakynthos is a must-do (a multi-day detour) because of gorgeous photo of an empty deserted "Shipwreck Beach" (beach actually is jampacked daily, from tour boats). These are honest mistakes, due to information shortfall in internet-only research. Another reason is that Guides are able to include less-obvious "gems" in destinations that may not be purely pictorial. I know the latter is SO true for me -- some of my most memorable discoveries have resulted from a couple of guidebook sentences.

Posted by
1113 posts

Since mid-May is still off season you will have more options at better prices with less tourists getting in your way.

I see Santorini again as a destination. Is there a particular reason you picked Santorini? It does offer spectacular scenary but also crowds even off-season, higher prices and more of a tourist-oriented island rather than a more traditional and laid back island. If you have your heart set on Santorini then a lot more research on your part will make it easier to experience the island, but still expect crowds.

Naxos is lovely, one of my favorite Greek Islands with an excellent combination of Old & New World Greece. You could spend days there and still not see it all. The ride from Naxos Town over the mountains to the small seaside village of Pollonas offers some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere with views and vistas of hillside villages, churches, cliffs, ravines, the ocean, rural areas, goats, sheep and will give you a feel for the Old Greece. The island is filled with centuries-old Byzantine Churches, lovely mountain villages of Chalki, Apiranthos and Filloti and lots more. I would spend my time there rather than Santorini.

Athens is Athens, wild, crazy, millions of people but one of the best bargains in Europe with World-Class archeological sites and museums, plus the Plaka, Central Markets, Anafiotika, Monistiraki Square, Psiri District and lots more. There are the usual tourists spots but Athens also offers many out-of-the-way areas tourists don't go to that still will give you a Greek Experience.

The Peloponnese would be perfect, however, it would help if you have experience in Greece. Nafplio is easy to get to and is one of Greece's loveliest towns and a short distance from Mycenea, Epidavrous and other ancient sites. It would be a good place to base yourself.

The rest of the Peloponnese would need to be explored with a rental car. It's a large area filled with wonderful villages, towns, cities, more archeological and historic sites, beaches, mountains and the Mani area would be another-worldly experience, but again, research is needed.

Lots of options for Greece other than the usual tourist-oriented islands and mainland but it means doing the leg-work to discover why Greece is one of the best bargains in Europe without spending a huge amount of money for the typical travel agent's version of Greece.