My wife and I are celebrating her 60th birthday on this trip to Greece. We plan to fly directly to Naxos after we land in Athens. We plan to stay in Naxos for 4 - 5 days and then take a ferry to Santorini where we will stay for 3 - 4 days before flying or taking a ferry back to Athens to spend the last few days . We are both very active and love hiking and exploring new places. I would greatly appreciate any input into our itinerary as well as places to stay.
We took the RS tour several years ago and went to Naxos and Santorini after. Naxos is beautiful and has many beaches. We stayed at the Galaxy hotel (see link below) which is beautiful! It's an easy 1 minute walk to St George beach and 15 min. walk to town. While there are other options closer, we liked the pool and that it is set back from the main thoroughfare a bit and much quieter. We spent all our time on the beach and didn't see much of the island (no regrets), but if we go back I'd rent a car because it's a large island and there's much to see. We then took the ferry to Santorini. We had business class tickets but ended up spending most of our time outside. Choose the Port side for the best views of Santorini. Tickets are easy to get.
When you get to Santorini, there are MANY buses at the ferry port to take you up the hill. Do not worry about not getting a ride. We stayed just outside of Oaia at Nikos Villas, an easy walk to town. The town is overrun with cruise ship passengers during the day, but come 5 pm they leave and it's magical. On our last day, we tagged along with some friends from the RS tour that had hired Kostas. He picked us up at their hotel and drove us all around the island, dropping us at the airport in time for our pm flight back to Athens. He took us to his tiny neighborhood, was our guide in Akrotiri, and knows everything about the island. You won't be disappointed.
Congratulations on such a lovely celebration plan! However, you ARE quite late in booking accommodations for High Season! I gather you're not on a barebones budget, so we can help, if you'll do a couple of things:
• EXACT Dates AND time-of-day of both your arrival AND departure dates -- we cannot give good advice otherwise!! For one thing, the flights to Naxos are QUITE limited ( only 2 per day, planes are modern Small pllanes, seat only 50, often booked months in advance). Unless we know arrival time, we don't know if onward flight is possible; I have alternatives, but only if you give specifics. ALso, if your homebound flight is before 10 AM, that requires strategy for your last athens day as well. Share more please!
• ALLOTTING TIME -- Of Islands, I'd advise The 5 for Naxos & the 3 for Santorini ... in July, the cruise-ship mob scene can be challenging, and you'll want to enjoy the Caldera View mainly. Also, probably Flight back to Athens advisable... ferry can take close to 9 hours, & little scenery to watch. The large open-deck BLUE STAR ferry from Naxos to Santorini will give you a nice 2.5 hour 'mini-cruise" and view of the Famous Caldera on arrival.
• BUDGET - you're facing some Stiff hotel rates - can you tell us the range you are comfortable with? (in Euros please - here's a conversion site: http://www.xe.com/ucc/ NOTE: if you want a "pool hotel" you are talking €€€€€ .
• BACKGROUND - have you done any research at all so far? I would STRONGLy urge one of you to run over to the library or to a bookstore & browse the guidebook shelf... at the libe borrow an armful. Even a bit of homework will save us time & effort in having to do Greece 101 here; that way you'd know what OIA is, and the names of beaches on Naxos, at least, and where the Plaka district of Athens is.