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1st time trip to Greece advice

My friend and I (in our 60s) are visiting Greece for 1st time in September. We have 10 days and are overwhelmed with possibilities. We plan to go to Athens, Hydra and 1 other island. This is where we're confused. Should we go to Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, or Milos? I feel like we should probably see Mykonos but am not really into the "party scene". Would it be better to stay on one of the other islands and just take a day trip to see Mykonos? Any help or opinions would be appreciated. Also, ferry to islands or fly to islands?

Posted by
2047 posts

We plan to go to Athens, Hydra

For what specific reason do you want to go to Hydra?

I feel like we should probably see Mykonos but am not really into the
"party scene"

So, why do you want to go to Mykonos? What makes Mykonos interesting is precisely its 24/7 party scene, its celebrities, its LGBT friendly atmosphere and its prices among the highest in Europe. People who know why they go to Mykonos go there for this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMpaksY4sTE

But if it is mainly to see windmills, whitewashed houses and sandy beaches, you will see them everywhere in the Cyclades islands, and in a more authentic version.

Posted by
7 posts

Everything we've seen and read about Hydra makes us want to go there. We want to see all the whitewashed buildings, blue roofs, and windmills in Mykonos, but if we can see that on other islands then we can skip Mykonos. Now to decide between Paros and Naxos. Thoughts?

Posted by
2047 posts

Note that if you go to Hydra you will have to return to Athens to go to a Cyclades island. There are no ferries between Hydra and the Cyclades islands.

Posted by
7 posts

Yes, we know we have to go to Athens to catch a ferry to Hydra. Now we're just trying to chose between spending a few days on Paros, Milos or Tinos.

Posted by
2047 posts

If you don't absolutely need an island with an airport, forget Paros and Milos.

Tinos is a good choice with many traditional villages throughout the island, but you will need to rent a car if you really want to explore the island.

But first of all, look at Sifnos. There you will find lots of white washed houses, blue domes, beautiful beaches, great hikes, the best food in the Cyclades, plus a good bus service.

(From September 19 to 21, like every year, there will be a very popular gastronomy festival where cooks from all the Greek islands are invited) Traditional music, free tastings and entertainment ...

About Sifnos :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VqfRSZp9yY

For accommodation in Sifnos check Rooms In Sifnos, a locally managed non-commercial website

https://www.roomsinsifnos.com/

Posted by
123 posts

If I hadn't seen the other post about food tours this wouldn't have been top of mind, but we did a food tour in Athens through greeking.me, and it was excellent. If I'd known about them earlier I would have booked more of their tours. Website:https://greeking.me/tours/athens

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the advice on the food tour in Athens. We are going to do that when we're in Athens. We've decided to go to Paros and spend 4 nights. We are flying in to Paros. We will not have a car and will rely on buses. We may rent a scooter. We want to take a sightseeing tour, go to the beach, day trip to Antiparos, just see and do all we can. We are trying to decide where to stay. We've narrowed it down to Parikia or Piso Lavida, but are open to any opinions and suggestions.

Posted by
2047 posts

Even when staying more than a week it is not easy to explore the islands without having your own means of transport and relying only on buses. Every time we go to Paros or any other Greek island we rent a car (no more scooters for us!).

As the bus timetable for September 2024 has not yet been published, here is the one for 2022. (early sept)
These timetables do not change or hardly change from one year to the next.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/18MGVHlLGdjq8n0_wIzet2mNJmhMdCkdr/view?usp=sharing

For any other information about buses, the official KTEL Paros website:

https://ktelparou.gr/en/index.html

Parikia being the hub of all buses it can be a good option if you only have buses to get around the island.

Piso Livadi is a nice small village (with mainly tourist accommodation) with a port from which you can take boat trips, but you will only have 6 buses per day on the Parikia-Drios line.

From Piso Livadi you can walk a footpath south along the coast to the Village of Drios.

Aliki in the south of the island is also a nice village/port, the atmosphere there is different than in Piso Livadi, perhaps more family-friendly and less beach addicted. There are about 9 buses per day on the Parikia-Aliki line.
And Aliki is more sheltered from the wind.

Speaking of wind, driving a scooter in the islands is not difficult, but be prepared to be bothered by the wind which can sometimes make driving dangerous. The other main danger comes from other tourists on the roads.

Posted by
44 posts

We vacationed in Sifnos last year (first week or so of June) and will highly recommend it. It’s got gorgeous beaches, Cycladic architecture, absolutely mind blowing gastronomy, over 100 km of hiking/walking paths that go all around the island and the people are absolutely friendly, but that goes for all of Greece, Athena included. We spent 8 days and 9 nights and wished we could’ve stayed a month because there’s that much to see and do.
We can also highly recommend Folegandros, which I rarely see mentioned in these forums and that’s a shame because, while it’s really small and not yet developed (thankfully) it’s really got a lot to offer. Great food, beautiful beaches to rival those on ANY other island. The roads aren’t for everybody as most of them are narrow but we didn’t regret one minute there. The other island we can recommend is Milos where we currently are but fly out tomorrow afternoon, unfortunately. We were only able to see and spend time at 12 beaches out of the more than 75 that Milos has to offer and we spent at least two and up to five hours on those beaches. We also visited a few of the towns here but didn’t do as much walking as we normally do on our trips (we average 20,000+ steps daily on our trips) as it was really hot. Every day was 28+ and today was the hottest at 32. Luckily we spent several hours on Kimolos, a small island near Milos that’s also worth visiting. We walked about 9 or so kilometers there today. It was only 28 (haha). We stayed in Pollonia, which is an old fishing town with numerous restaurants, a number of small supermarkets and many vacation rentals, hotels and suites in all price ranges. Only today did we see that its really starting to get busy. Saturday it was much less visible.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you everyone for your help, opinions and advice. We are going to spend 4 nights in Paros, 3 nights in Hydra and 2 nights in Athens. We have booked all of our planes, ferries and accommodations. What are some things we shouldn't miss doing or seeing in these places, besides the Acropolis while in Athens?

Posted by
2047 posts

In Athens, if you have not already booked a food tour, it is very easy to do your own food tour (at a lower cost) since all the food tours go to the same place, at the Athens central market located on Athinas street within walking distance from Monastiraki Square.

Here:

https://maps.app.goo.gl/7XdKf4Tfo6TDqevh9

You can have lunch in one of two taverns in the outer aisles of the market. Try “Aris Tavern” or “Oinomageireio Epirus”

Since many sites and museums are in the same area in Plaka there is enough to keep you busy for 2 or 3 full days staying in this area. The Panathenaic Stadium is a little out of the way but easy to reach by crossing the National Garden. There is an interesting free audio guide to request at the ticket office.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/wgioX29z5wUZpSom9

The other important museum is the National Archeologic Museum (NAM) located north of Omonia Square.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/yV6KyWBsxtbfr3PB8

Easy to reach in 15 minutes by taxi from the city center or by trolley bus lines 2 or 5 or 11 from Syntagma

In Paros, given that without a car you will be limited in your travel options, apart from going to Antiparos by bus then ferry and without knowing where you will stay it is difficult to recommend other places. If you don't stay in Parikia you will most of the time have to return to Parikia to take another bus to go to other parts of the island.

See bus timetables and lines in September:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NeF84HRdn_uxK02R6FALwcKT5nSATEe0/view?usp=sharing

Problem that you won't have on Hydra since there are no buses or motor vehicles. :))
But there are two or three places accessible within a 30 minute walk.

From the port, the village of Mandraki via the paved path along the coast which leads to the village of Kamini then to the port of Vlichosà (on the way you will see the Leonard Cohen Memorial). There are no or few sandy beaches on Hydra, a few small pebble beaches accessible if you like hiking.

Posted by
7 posts

I have a question about ferries. We are booked on the Seajets - Champion Jet 3 to go from Paros to Piraeus. I am prone to seasickness and thought the faster, the better. Now I'm reading reviews saying the opposite. We're thinking we should change our plan and take the Blue Star. We also would love to sit outside and enjoy the scenery as we travel 4 hours. Your advice has been so helpful as I've planned my trip, so I value your opinion on this subject. Also, when she we arrive at our ferry to board?

Posted by
2047 posts

I am prone to seasickness and thought the faster, the better.

Faster means faster, nothing more.

The Champion Jet 3 is a new 2024 acquisition from Seajets. It is roughly the equivalent of the other Champion Jet, a large catamaran (more than 1000 passengers). You don't have much risk of getting seasick on this one.

But ....

We also would love to sit outside and enjoy the scenery as we travel 4
hours

Forget it with Seajets.
You will have an assigned seat. There is no real "deck", only a large terrace on the bow side with no seating facilities and not sheltered from the wind or sun.
That has nothing to do with the comfort and almost "cruise" atmosphere of a Blue Star ferry, its numerous decks, and places to sit both outside and inside, its bars, restaurants, shops and lounges .

Personally, and for most people used to the Greek islands, the Blue Star ferry, even if it is slower, is THE ferry to take when possible.