A few questions on Naxos and Santorini after RS Greece tour in June/July 2015

I am so excited to have booked our 2nd RS tour--this time to Greece! We are on the June 22-July5 one. Our flight home leaves from Athens early morning July 11 and I already booked the night of July 10 at a hotel near the airport. So, we have 6 days to visit the islands and would like to visit Santorini and Naxos ( it's our 1st trip to Greece and we are 2 50-something's and our kids, 21 and 18).

My first question is, is one order better than the other (i.e., Santorini or Naxos first)? I'd like to get to the first island ASAP Sunday morning (5th) and leave the 2nd island early evening on the 10th to get back to Athens. Was thinking to fly to/from Athens and ferry between Santorini and Naxos. How far in advance should I book flights and ferry?

How far in advance should I book hotels?

And, last question for this post: I was thinking 2 nites on Santorini and 4 nites on Naxos--does this sound right? Am looking at doing an island tour and the hike from Fira to Oia on Santorini and on Naxos to do an island tour, a boat tour/swim day, a day trip to Delos and wander Old Town. Thanks for your thoughts!

Posted by Kathy
Walnut Creek, CA, U.S.
10 posts

I will look forward to the replies too, as we are booked on RS tour of Greece May 25-June7, 2015. We are staying an extra week and going to Santorini and Mykonos. What hotel are you staying in the night before your return flight out of Athens? We have not booked our hotel yet and want to stay near the airport too. Thank you.

Posted by Dawn
Austin, TX, USA
51 posts

I booked the Sofitel right near the Athens airport--mostly because I had points from work travel to use. I didn't investigate other options.

Posted by Dawn
Austin, TX, USA
51 posts

I'd like to find a place to stay in Santorini with caldera/sunset view and one on Naxos within walking distance to Old Town. Since we are 4 adults, will I likely need 2 rooms or are there places that would fit us all? (one double + two single beds would be ideal).

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
668 posts

Its good that you are thinking so far ahead, because it means u do have choices. I'd say, fly both to/from the islands, since your time is so short. The noon Blue Star ferry between islands is an enjoyable 2+hour trip with view of Santorini Caldera on arrival.

SEQUENCE/BOOKING: I'd say, Naxos first, because there's only 1 flight per day, NOT in late aft or early evening. I think it's usually around noon, so you'd be able to have breakfast in Central Ath hotel, then taxi (holds 4 people, crammed together, flat rate @35) to airport. On last day, you'll have choice of several late-day flights from Santo. If you sign up for Aegean "newsletter" (really an e-mail alert to discounts), you should be able to save on the Santorini tickets. Book EARLY for Naxos; modern small jet but holds only 35-40 passengers, sells out popular dates many months ahead, no discounts. No need to book ferry from Naxos-Santorini until you get to Naxos ... you're doing economy (deck) seating for short trip, & those ferries hold 1500-1800 passengers (!)

HOTEL AREAS -- NAXOS -- Since u will be in high season, look at an outer beach (plaka or Ag. Prokopios). For Plaka, I like Aronis Taverna & Apts, http://aronisnaxos.com/index%20en.html Not fancy but ideal location, right on sand, separate from other lodgings, serves food form their organic farms. In Ag Prokopios, I recommend Liana Hotel & studios - http://www.lianahotel.com-- again, ideal location right across from beach (unlike many in Ag-Pro), nice units. Both are well-served by busses running until late. Aronis you could book at easter ... LIana you'd be wise to book in winter, word's gotten around. Check TA reviews on both
SANTORINI -- In high season (hot) a caldera-side hotel, you'd want a pool. Me, I'd suggest looking in Firostephani ... the serene spot between tourist-packeded Fira Town (where cruise crowds come & Leave) & Oia (where those same crowds clog the lanes from 10am to 4 pm and at sunset). Oia is lovely -- go & enjoy, take pictures, but stay in Firostephani, where tour groups never go. It's on the North edge of Fira town, so your collegians can walk in 10-15 minutes along the rim path for nightlife, and can stroll home late without needing cabs. Plenty of wonderful caldera-view hotels with pools, at much lower rates than Oia. I'd suggest booking quite early for best choice, because you're in Honeymoon Season.

YOUR MUST-DO LIST -- Looks awfully crowded; decide when u are on the scene. I agree, July TOO hot for Oia-Fira walk.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
668 posts

I forgot to look at your 2nd message about booking preferences.... altho I did indicate my Santorini recommendations. For Naxos, I always stay in St. George (Ag. Giorgios) beach, directly adjacent to Naxos Town, because of its great convenience ... a 10-15 minute stroll to all the tavernas, cafes, sights, shops of the port & harborside. However I go in May-June. During your dates, the sands can be quite crowded at St. George. However, if you get a hotel on the far end of the beach... and one with a pool ... you can have your cake & eat it too. There are not many "pool hotels" that are on /close to the beach itself. Of the short list, I'd recommend Naxos Resort Beach Hotel. Of the Non-pool smaller family-run lodgings, look at Villa Naxia, Hotel Glaros, Hotel Asteria.

Regarding your booking specs, quads are more a US modern-hotel phenomenon ... and there's not really that much of a savings between a quad room and 2 smaller units. Consider a 1-bedroom "studio Unit" which has separate closed-off bedroom, plus main room with 2 daybeds, kitchenette, and big balcony often with sea view. These are numerous on Naxos, including right on the sands. In St. George, look at Villa Naxia, Sun Beach, Studios Kalergis, Studios Thomais (in latter 2 specify top floor .. patio level often attracts famiies).

Posted by Dawn
Austin, TX, USA
51 posts

Thanks so much, Janet, for your recommendations! I really appreciate the information you shared! Thanks also for the reading recommendations in the other post--I have a nice selection on the way from Amazon now! Do you know about when Aegean will release the flights for early July? Right now they say nothing past March 31.

Thanks to you too, David. Also really appreciate your advice!

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
668 posts

About flights, just keep checking. I'm guessing it won't be until December.

Posted by Julie
Sacramento
45 posts

Hi Dawn,
My husband and I are confirmed on that tour as well. We are thinking the tour, then Santorini for two nights (not sure where, but somewhere with a view of the caldera, and a pool), then either Naxos or Mykonos for four nights. We'll be going to the islands after the tour because our time before is very tight. We still have to figure out the transportation logistics, but it looks pretty easy with all the advice people have given so far. We also hope to visit Delos, and of course some beautiful beaches!

Look forward to meeting you in Athens!
Julie

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8659 posts

Janet has given you a good start. If it turns out that hotels won't take your reservation this early, then everyone is in the same boat and you can wait a bit.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
668 posts

This is for Julie --- please check my above advice. On Naxos, for u, it may differ a bit from what I told Dawn ... since she & spouse have 2 collegians along who probably will relish the Naxos Town nightlife in July.... so I suggested the nearer beach, where u can walk home easily after midnight (busses do go until then). For u, I might suggest Ag. Prokopios beach (deep, gorgeous) IF you can book lodgings right on the sands (many hotels here require walking down the busy highway to reach the beach) -- My choice would be Liana Hotel (that's Liana Hotel NOT Liana Village, latter is inconveniently situated). http://www.lianahotel.com

Plaka beach is absolutely gorgeous, and being farthest out, least impacted by high season crowds. However, some lodgings are shadeless & dusty.... I do like the simple, peaceful accom. Aronis taverna & apts (great lovely shady terrace, 3 buildings, farthest bus stop in Plaka). They serve organic foods from their own inland farm.

Posted by Dawn
Austin, TX, USA
51 posts

Hi Julie,
Look forward to meeting you too!
Dawn

Posted by Kathy
Walnut Creek, CA, U.S.
10 posts

My significant other and I are booked on the May 25-June 7 RS tour of Greece. We are going to Santorini and Mykonos afterward, and will return for a night in Athens prior to flying home on June 16. We will do a day tour to Delos from Mykonos. (I read in the forum you can do that :). Therefore, we have 8 nights on the islands. Do you recommend 4 nights on each Santorini and Mykonos? (I already figured out it is best to do Santorini last since it has more flights back to Athens, to make sure we get there to fly home the next day.)

I read the replies and, thanks to Janet, know where to stay in Santorini---Firostephani! Do you have advice on where to stay on Mykonos? We are in our early 60's and love getting into the culture, people-watching, hiking, the beach, history, & art. We are not big party-folks and also are not crazy about mixing with all those from the cruise ships :).

Thanks!

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1961 posts

Kathy-

I much prefer Oia over Firostefani. I've been staying there since 1985 and would never stay anywhere else. It's the most beautiful and romantic village overlooking the caldera and is also the most architecturally significant and timeless village on the island. Yes, it gets crowded at certain times during the day but the mornings and evenings are spectacular, and if your room has a balcony overlooking the caldera you'll be below the crowds anyway. Firostefani is good if you want to be close to the busline to the beaches. Otherwise you can enjoy plenty of shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes in Oia, same as Firostefani and Fira. Choose carefully.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
668 posts

Firostephani is NOt to be chosen because of the bus line... I specifically recommended it because tour groups do not go there ... ... yes as mentioned, you can easily walk to the center of FIra, but the crowds do not come in the other direction. There are many pool hotels in Firostephani that are directly on the Caldera with wonderful views. And when you do want to visit Oia, you can exit the inland side of these hotels, and walk downhill to the main road where there is a bus stop -- but Firostephani does NOT have a bus depot with busses going to other parts of the island ... the Only bus passing along that road is the one to Oia & back, every hour.

Posted by Kathy
Walnut Creek, CA, U.S.
10 posts

Thank you both so much! Ola sounds like the place to stay. Do you have recommendations on where to stay there?

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1961 posts

What is your maximum daily room budget for Oia and what sort of amenities/services/facilities do you require? (full-service hotel, B&B, self-catering, private villa, bare-bones budget room, caldera view, pool, etc.)

Posted by Kathy
Walnut Creek, CA, U.S.
10 posts

Thanks for replying Lee. Since we haven't really looked at prices yet, I'll just say a medium budget! We do not need a budget hotel, and would like a nice hotel with a pool. Even more important than the pool is the location. We don't want to have to fight crowds but we do love to people watch, and be close to the sights (although we like to walk also!). That may not be much help, but we like to get recommendations from others--so I'd be interested in some people's favorite places to stay on Mykonos (and Santorini too :).

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1961 posts

What do you define as "medium budget"? Accordinly, with rooms on Santorini going for anywhere between €25-1600/night, "medium budget" would be in the €800 range. What is your nightly budget in EURO, not dollars? If you don't know yet, you need to figure it out. Your best chance is to do a hotel search using the filter system on the http://www.booking.com website. You can search village by village or for an island as a whole. Keep in mind that many hotels don't start booking for next summer until after the first of the year, so if you see a message on that website saying something about no availability it means they haven't opend the booking for that one yet.