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1st trip to Greece please help with transfers and tour advice

Hello I will be traveling with my husband and 2 adult children. We will be arriving in Athens August 16th at 9:15 am
8/16-8/18 Athens - Athens Gate Hotel
8/16 Not sure where to start
8/17 We are planning to do a private tour of Acropolis and acropolis museum early morning.
Ferry to Naxos 8/18 7:30 am
8/18 - 8/22 Naxos - Liana Hotel
Day trip to Mykonos or should we do another boat/catamaran tour
Looking at different walks, renting a car to discover Naxos
Ferry to Santorini 8/22 12:30 pm
8/22 - 8/25 Santorini - Nomikos Villas
Hike Fira- Oia, sunset cruise
8/25 flying back to Athens form Santorini 6:35 pm - back to Athens gate for last night
Not sure if we have much time for anything but dinner before returning home
8/26 2:15 pm flight back to Los Angeles
I am booking ferries online through blue star ferries and planning on using taxis to get to and from airport, hotel, Piraeus port.
Will it be difficult to get a taxi from airport to hotel?
What time do we need to leave Athens gate hotel to catch a 7:30 am ferry?
Any suggestions/Advise will be appreciated
Thank you very much
Bernadette

Posted by
3180 posts

Our 1st Greece trip was last year. We got to Athens midday, so went to the Acropolis before it closed, and were about the last people there that day, almost like having it to ourselves. This was early April, so cooler than August.

Since you’ve already got a guided tour of the Acropolis on 8/17, for your first full day on 8/16, how about going to the ancient Agora site, and/or the National Archaeological Museum?

If you ride the Metro subway, do watch out for pickpockets/purse snatchers.

Posted by
2418 posts

Ambitious but do-able ... however, your experience will be best when you keep the realities of WEATHER in mind. This year is setting records for HEAT, and Greeks know best about seeking refuge from extreme temps. Examples:
• MYKONOS day trip -- it arrives 10:30 on DELOS, (v hot, shadeless) u stay 2+ hours, then boat tkes u to MYKONOS. Unless u are a big ancient ruins buff, this may not be for u. On certain days u can stay on boat, skp Delos, go straight to Mykonos. Consider carefully your reasons for going there: Nightlife? (not on daytrip) Beaches?? (Naxos beaches better) Luxury shopping?? (Cartier, Hermes, etc). Also, M-T-W-Th are HUGE cruise ship days; lanes of port town totally clogged w cruise crowds... only lessens at 4 pm on, about same time u'd leave too. Rethink.

• SANTORINI - That's a looong hike in blazing sun; it's mainly featured because its about the ONLY hike on Santorini ... vs. many many hikes in NAXOS you could do either in AM, or late afternoon when sun is low ...
• NAXOS - Here's a link to a local-led hike+lunch that's moderate-price & great adventure: https://travelgreecetraveleurope.com/2017/07/16/hiking-on-naxos/
-- Renting a car for a day is EXCELLENT, you can get an overview of island, go back for hikes
And this liink - http://www.cycladen.be/NaxosEng.htm - is by a sort of OCD Belgian who spends his life hiking in the Cyclades.. most are too ambitious for a hot August trek! but I highly recommend #15 going straight up from harbor to a high-perched (deserted) monastery with stunning view of port & setting sun.. & only about 45 minutes!
• Right near your hotel, http://www.naxossun.gr/tours-adventures.html this place has many day excursions to consider

TAXIS -- (1) airport to hotel is a FLAT-RATE €38 daytime but u are arrving the morning after the BIGGEST Greek holiday of entire Summer, so might be crowds at taxi line, you can do online booking of a car service for SAME price as taxi --either City Cab or Welcome Pick-Up both have excellent reviews (2) to PIRAEUS for 7:30 ferry, u need to pick up ticket at pier, so get there by 7 am, taxi takes about 30 mins, shouldn't be more than €25, have your doorman talk to taxi driver & confirm price in English in front of you & him.

Posted by
1913 posts

You have 1.5 days in Athens. It's not clear when you arrive, and that is important. Nor do you mention what your children are interested in. You say you will do a private tour - is this already arranged?

We were there May 23-25, and then in June 19. We bought the Acropolis Multi-site combo ticket for 30 € each. This got us into a number of things - acropolis, Old Agora, Roman Agora, Temple of Jupiter. Of these, the Old Agora and Temple of Jupiter, along with the Acropolis itself, are high on my list.

The other thing in town is museums. There are a number. I would rank them National Archeology Museum, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Acropolis Museum. The Acropolis Museum is OK, but it's really a big argument with the British Museum to return the Elgin Marbles. If you go to the National Archeology Museum, the Acropolis Museum is duplicative.

On 8/16, you might consider getting the Combo ticket, touring the Old Agora, and having dinner nearby. You'll probably be tired, so a non-taxing start to the visit might be good. You really have just 1.5 days in Athens, so that's where I'd start. Another option is the National Archeology Museum, which really has many amazing treasures.

As Cyn says, watch out on the Metro.

Posted by
1913 posts

As to your travel from the airport to hotel, with 4 people, a taxi might be the best. There are several options:

x95 bus - 6€ each
metro - 10€ each
Taxi - ?

With 4, I bet it's cost-competitive. Plus finding your hotel is sometimes difficult. Note, however, that the airport is a long distance from downtown. Website says the fare is a flat 35€, so I'd go with that.

Posted by
30 posts

I'll respond since I just got back from a trip with my 17 year old daughter and went to the three places you have planned. You will see there are three ways (bus, metro, taxi) to get to the hotel from the airport but with 4 and bags the taxi is cost efficient. if you order at your hotel it is 41. We were overcharged from what I read from airport to hotel. I didn't want to argue, so paid 45.

We had the best luck with Athens Free Walking Tour. The guide was exceptional. Lots of unique stories and excellent stops we would have missed. You could try to book that the first day. My biggest suggestion is to be aware that you will be very hot mid day so try to plan to do sightseeing first thing in the morning and eat late and take a AC break in the afternoon.

With such a short time there I would just plan on the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum and Ancient Agora with the Museum. Unless you add a third site individual tickets is slightly less then the combo ticket. The Acropolis Museum is a separate ticket. Most of the sites you can see from walking around outside the sites. You might add the market, or just walking to one of the less central parts of the city. We did a foot tour and used My Athens free tours to connect with locals.

In Naxos the best thing we did is our private tour with Naxos Discovery. Nicholas has advanced degrees in archaeology, botany, and has spent years developing connections with people and places. It was the best 6 hours we spent on our vacation. If you want to get a catamaran cruise, book now. They were all scheduled the week we were there. We ended up on a sail boat that was nice but a little less comfortable. In Santorini they have dozens of catamarans, in Naxos, there are only a handful. Whatever you do, make sure you visit the entire island, the mountain and central villages.

In Santorini we did both the Walk to Fira, and Sunset cruise. Both were great. On the hike, definitely start as early as possible. It took us 3 hours. The walk is easy and the view amazing. There is one cafe in the middle of the walk, I wish I would have stopped there. There are lots of catamaran companies most seem to follow a similar schedule.

Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
742 posts

Just a few thoughts.
I do not see a 7:30 ferry to Naxos from Piraeus. While the Blue Star is probably the most recommended way to do island hops I see there is a departure at 06:45 that gets to Naxos at 11:55. Thats a 5 hour sailing. It is also the least expensive option. However there is Worldchampionjet sailing at 07:02 that gets into Naxos at 10:25. While it is 10 euros more expensive I would take the fast ferry. Getting to Naxos at 10:25 gives you an extra 2 hours on Naxos which you can use for check in at your hotel. You will be exploring Naxos town or on a beach lounger before the blue Star even arrives.
Blue Star Naxos to Santorini is a good choice as it has lots of deck space to watch the sail in the Caldera as you approach Santorini.

We normally book our ferry tickets when we arrive in Athens. Any travel agent can sell you the tickets. Even if you book on line for Blue Star you have to stop off at the ticket office on the dock to collect your ticket so having a ticket saves you a line up. Purchasing locally means the travel agent has up to the minute information on strikes and weather. Mind you August is high season and when the Greeks have their holidays so booking ahead may be a good idea.

There will be hundreds of taxis at the airport just walk out the arrival door exit and you will find the taxis. It is a set fare of 38 euros. After several trips to Greece using the pickpocket plagued Metro, then uncomfortable crowded buses plus taxi, we now use a private pick up service. The English speaking driver (important) meets you inside the terminal with your name on a sign helps you with your luggage and walks you out to the big Mercedes car in the parking lot. We use them for all our commuting in Athens. Best thing, they charge the same rates as the Taxi 38 euros. check out citycab dot gr

Now for Naxos. You are losing half a day getting to Naxos on whatever ferry you choose. Now you have 3.5 days on Naxos. Naxos honestly take a week to really explore the island. Personally I would not use a day of that short visit by taking the excursion to Mykonos. Sure if you have a week or 2 then thats a nice day trip. In 3.5 days Naxos has plenty to see and do.

The best way to see Naxos is by car rental. Its only 40 kilometers long but its a full day trip to go round the island. Hills curves switchbacks, villages and mountains makes a slow drive.
Here are Naxos images.
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/
Naxos sunsets https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157700728046481

The trip around Naxos album was done on a three day car rental.

Another option would be to take the bus tour around Naxos. That gives you the highlights of the island without you having to drive. While I am not a tour bus kind of guy on our trip we ended up at several sites at the same time as the tour. I can say the guide really knows his stuff.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you to all that have replied to my post. It is very generous of all of you to take the time to read it and respond back with such great detail.
With all your advice we will definitely take a taxi from the airport to our hotel. I have not confirmed my private tour booking with Athens walks. The suggestion about purchasing the combo ticket seems to be what we are hoping to do. Should I book the private tour or try to get in a group tour? I will look on the website of Athens free walks.
We will try the Ancient Agora on the day we arrive Friday the 16th and do a early morning tour of the Acropolis and museum on Saturday the 17th.

On Sunday the 18th Blue star ferries has a depart time at 6:45am on the blue star Naxos arriving at 11:55 and a 7:25 am on the blue star Delos arriving in Naxos at 12:30 pm. I just want to make sure we do not miss the ferry to Naxos.

On Naxos we will skip the day trip to Mykonos.
Thanks to all the links that were sent. So much great info about Naxos. I am printing it out to map out our hikes.
Planning on renting a car and we will book a day trip on a catamaran before we arrive on Naxos.

In Santorini if we don’t hike to Oia what would be the best way to go.

Once again thank you everyone this has been very helpful.

Posted by
1082 posts

We did the hike from Oia to Fira and it was our favorite thing we did on santorini. It is the most beautiful hike I have ever done. But It is hiking not walking so do be sure it really is your cup of tea. The first part from Fira (we did other way) is on sidewalks but second part is not.

Now we did in mid May starting about 10 am not August. If I was to do it in August, I would start at 7 am!

You can also take a bus and that is how you should return.

Posted by
30 posts

I agree to not miss the hike from Fira to Oia. It was also a highlight of the trip for us. On some sections you could see amazing views on both sides of the island at the same time. The only thing that was difficult is the elevation changes and the length. The path, even the part that is not an actual sidewalk is well worn. There is one cafe in the middle of the walk. My daughter didn't want to stop, but in hindsight, we should have stopped and had something to eat and a cold drink and another bottle of water since there are were no other stops along the way.

Posted by
1082 posts

We did stop and enjoyed sitting there watching the hikers come and go. We bought a few waters/ soft drinks and just relaxed. I guess we weren’t as ambitious as previous poster!

Posted by
23366 posts

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