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20 Days in Greece .. Itinerary ?

Hello all,
My partner and I (25 yo - budget under AUD$150 pp per day) are planning on spending about 20 days in Greece next April 2016. I am trying to decide how to split the time. so far I am thinking;

4 Days in Athens (staying at Athens Backpackers maybe) + 4 day tour of ancient sites (Olympia, Delphi, Meteora etc. booked beforehand)

14 Days split between the Islands, I was thinking about Mykonos, Paros and Santorini.

What would be an appropriate split for those three islands?
Is that enough time for Athens?
For island travel in April/May, would you think I should buy ferry tickets before we leave AUS or purchase when we get to Athens or purchase on the day or day before travel?

This is our first time to Europe but have travelled around asia before

Posted by
6113 posts

April and early May is a bit too early for the islands - it's difficult to predict the weather, but c 18 degrees daytime in April is average (13 at night) and the sea will certainly be too cold for swimming. If you are on a budget, Santorini and Mykonos are the two most expensive islands to visit (never mind that they are also the two islands that have been the most ruined by tourism). The islands further south will be the warmest - Crete etc. The season doesn't really start until the second week in May, so consider pushing back your holiday if you want beach weather.

Posted by
1064 posts

You can see most of what people go to Athens for in the days you have alloted. A 4 day tour of the ancient sites you mentioned may require a few more days due to travel considerations, unless you are renting a car. Still a couple extra days may be more enjoyable. As far as the islands you mentioned I have to agree with jennifer about Santorini & Mykonos. They are two of the most heavily touristed, expensive and "less Greek" islands, however April/May may be less expensive and costly but not quite yet beach weather. There are a number of other more authentic Greek islands to visit if you want a more Greek experience. Paros is OK, but Sifnos, Milos, Skyros, Amorgos & Astypalea would be my choices along with Naxos, one of the best Greek Islands with a great combination of Old & New World Greece. Another option would be Lesbos.

It all depends on what you want from a Greek Island experience. Some like the buzz of Big Name Islands while others prefer a more Greek experience from smaller, less touristed islands.

You can buy ferry tickets the day of your travel. You can check out ferry websites but it's too early to get time schedules. Islands like Paros and Naxos will have daily ferries but the smaller islands don't so you would have to juggle your itinerary. As I said it's way to early to get a time frame but you can certainly search now for ferry routes & costs for trips in the next month or two.

Check out Matt's Greek Guide for one of the best websites on all of Greece.

Posted by
388 posts

Athens really only deserves about 2 days. Any more than that can be too much. Try to put those extra days elsewhere. Additionally, with 14 days amongst the islands, you might also consider adding Crete as well. Try to do some flights for the long distances. Look on for flights.

Posted by
50 posts

so looking over my itinerary, we will land in paris around 10th April and then train down (stopping along the way) to Spain and then an organised tour of Morocco then fly into Athens. so it may be mid to late May that we are actually in Greece.

I am pretty keen on Paros but not sure to stay near the port or others had suggested go up to Naousa?
unfortunatley i do want to go to Mykonos .. (to party and i hear there are some great sites to see) So maybe less time in Mykonos compared to the other two places then?

as for a third place to visit, like you said i only picked Santorini cos thats what the talk is, so if someone could suggest one more place to go to round out the islands for me that would be very appreciated. I do want an authentic experience but i will be in the budget traveller category. having a great beach is not all important to me, but i i have heard of Milos, the sea caves at Papafragas, but it is hard to decide between the many options there are pull hair out
i only think not Crete because people have said that it is like a country in itself and you need to give it the time it deserves, so maybe on another trip when i have more time!

the 4 day tour up north is an organised tour, but i can spend the extra athens days on the islands, 14 days does not sound like much if you discount a day each time for travelling between islands and getting to accomodation.

Posted by
3141 posts

IF you stay in Paros, you can "have your cake & eat it too" as far as Santorini is concerned. Unlike most Greek islands, Paros & Naxos are very fortunate in having TWO companies that run day trips (at about 54E) to both Mykonos & Santorini. One company's excursion vessel is NAXOS STAR, the other is MV ALEXANDROS (the latter is preferable, being larger & much more stable if it's a windy day). So you could board the excursion boat at 8:30 am or so on Paros, arrive Santorini 10:30 -- a bus meets you, takes you to the 2 towns (oia & Fira) atop the island, leaves you time to sightsee, and you return to the boat around 4:30 or so. That way, you can see the sights, take photos of the famous Caldera View... then return to an island that's more budget-friendly and also more Authentically Greek.

If you want to party, you'll have to work at it in May, even in Mykonos ... things in town don't get going until late ... and the beach afternoon-party hoohah is only in high season. If you do stay in Mykonos, I advise you to find something in Mykonos town (the Pelican hotels have great views), then bus OUT to the beaches by day. Reason is: if you choose a beach hotel and you are out late at the clubs in town, the busses stop running & the taxis disappear, & you're stranded. In Paros in May-JUne, the club scene is mostly in Parikia, the port town, but there I think you'd have better luck getting a late taxi back to Naoussa.

The thing about Paros is, it's not always easy to get to the best beaches. The bus system fans out from the Port town of Parikia, a different bus route heading for each beach area. And some beaches are not reachable by public transport. An ATV is handy ... and Paros is not as mountainous as some islands, so if you're at all experienced in such vehicles, that's an answer.

Re Mykonos: for "great sites to see," the Big one is the isle of Delos, a 30-minute boat ride. You need a guide OR a good guidebook, to make sense of the ruins there ... advance homework helps. On Mykonos itself, it's mainly about the port town & the beaches. Paros' port town has a TON of history to explore, and the rest of the island too.

Posted by
50 posts

Janet, So would you think that Ios would be better for partying at that time of year?
This would probably be the only time we would party because of the budget style nature to the trip i dont want to waste money on alcohol when it is not necessary

Posted by
3141 posts

Good question Saz, but before I answer, a word of advice ---
When on Forums asking for good free advice from travel vets, it's thoughtful to give all key facts, not make them ask you for them ... i.e., actual dates (which turn out to be mid/late May for Greece, not April) ... and another Must: your budget in EUROS, no your currency. Don't require your helpers to do the math. is an INSTANT conversion site -- and now I know that $150AUD = 98 Euros. Wow! you are lucky! I've been to Greece 12 x since '99 and when sharing a room easily manage on under €60 per day for EVERYTHING except splurges: lodging, meals, transport (ferries etc) entry fees, miscellaneous, and even a sundown glass of wine and 1/2 liter each of house wine at dinner. (NOTE: typical "taverna" dinners in Greece can range from €8 - €17 per person for a hefty main-dish plate w. potatoes & veg + 1/2 liter house red per per person (add €2-3 ea for a shared greek salad or major starter).

After France& Spain and then an organized tour (which always cost you more) you will be THRILLED at Greece prices -- it's the MOST budget-friendly country in Europe. Of course Athens cost more, like all Capitals, but if you can't book ATH Backpackers, another FINE hostel is ATHENSTYLE - - just 200 yards from Monastiraki Metro station (the line for Piraeus). In May budgeteers can find a double r in Santorini ON t he caldera side for under €40, a double right on beach at other islands for €30-40, picnic at lunch for €4 usually ... and while a day-trip to Mykonos could cost €55. a LOT less than staying there! You'll have a good amount left for beer & wine (watch out for $$$ hard stuff).

Now to question: Paros vs. Ios?? Istill say Paros, & Reason I say this is Parikia has good club nightlife in Parikia (in May I hear it going on, on my way back to hotel, around 11), see lots of 18-30 people around. and ASIDE from partying & beach, Paros has lot more to offer. Stay near edge of Parikia; tons of budget places walking distance from ferry going N are on OK beach (Livadia) & you can bus/ATV to the rest. IOS is mainly beach + party which doesn't really rev up until colleges let out. YOu mentioned Milos -- GREAT Island, and has fab round-island sails, but u do need car or ATV, local bus service v sparse & does not go to some of the great beaches.

Now MY question -- to YOU: This is a MAJOR trip costing $$$$$ AUD -- and you seem to want to get ALL info from Internet. News flash: NO CAN DO. These FOrum threads can bring advice from people who've had ONE trip and share very limited experience (i.Santorini FAB, Athens SUCKS etc). And travel websites are often just hypes, not candid about ANY drawbacks. NOTE: one exception is -- tells both the good AND less-good aspects of many many islands.

Solution? Surely you can spare €15-20 for a decent CANDID guide aimed at your age group: try the Let's Go books. Also, my fave overall (& I have 2 shelfs-full) is ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE. No need for big $$ outlay -- Australia has good libraries. go there & browse guidebooks ... photocopy what u need. And/or use Amazon or other similar and order USED copies online (no need to get latest; anything back to 2010 is fine -- you're not seeking 2016 restaurant prices). When you read some CANDID & knowledgeable stuff you'll be able to judge forum advice better. Your comments so far indicate you're relying a lot on "I hear that" but you have no research to be able to assess the value of that hearsay. You've got plenty of TIME... so use it, to fact-find and share your ideas... the trip will be that much more enjoyable. Happy planning!!