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Advice / opinions Greece itinerary

Long time lurker, first time poster

We (5 of us at present but will probably be 8-10 when we go) are planning a trip 9/7/17 - 9/30. I was planning arrive ATH from PHL 9:15AM on 9/7 then flying to Chania for 5 nights, ferry to Santorini, 3 nights, Ferry Naxos 5 nights, then ferry or fly Athens 2 nights, rent a car to Nafplio 3-4 days, then a longer road trip to Delphi and Meteora for 3 days, then our remaining time in Athens until the 30th. I am trying to avoid driving more then 4 hours in a day. I planned it this way so some in our party that must leave after 15 days would have a couple days in Athens before returning home and the remainder could continue with the mainland trip. We already have our award flight tix from USA 9/6-7 returning 9/30 from ATH

I've already run into a snag, in that we cant get a flight to Chania until late in the day on 9/7, and after a 17 hour trip from the USA this would be a long layover. Thinking I may have to go Santorini first (11:40AM flight) then Naxos then ferry Crete then fly back to ATH. I am trying to keep hotel cost to around $100/night ($50 per person, doubles) except for our 3 nights in Santorini where we may have to pay more to stay up high and get a view. We will rent a car in Chania and on the mainland (except time in Athens)
I would welcome any advice or recommendations. We really aren't museum people but prefer experiences instead, ie. we took a bike tour thru Paris and around the Louvre but never entered. We would enjoy ruins but not 18 of 24 days. Much more into sight seeing and experiencing local food and culture. We are mostly in our mid 50's.

I would welcome any advice and suggestions as we are only locked into our arrival and departure flights at this time.

Thanks for any help.

Posted by
3560 posts

For accommodations on Santorini, check out's listings for the town of Firostefani. There are a number of places, with high ratings, with prices around 100 euros/night for two people.

Posted by
3080 posts

I seriously doubt that the flights you're finding now for Sept. 2017 are the only flights that will be available. Keep checking. I think you'll get what you need earlier in the day on the 7th, but don't hesitate to book them as soon as they're available. You implied that upon arrival in Athens on 9//7 you'd "then buy a flight to Chania for 5 nights". If you're thinking you'll get them when you get to Athens, think again. They'll be gone by then.;jsessionid=0F1A8874967DC4B7202C147F0F190FC2.app10?sid=1&xid=1480110750994

Posted by
25551 posts

Be sure you're dealing with the correct date for your Athens-Chania flight. You leave the US on Sept 6 and arrive in Athens on Sept 7?

On I see non-stop flights for Chania on September 7th departing at 1 PM on Ryanair and 5 PM on Aegean/Olympic.

Aegean/Olympic also has non-stops to Heraklion at 2 PM, 4:05 PM and 7 PM. Heraklion's about a 2-drive from Chania. Not something I'd want to do after flying all night, but Knossos is right outside Heraklion.

Posted by
6166 posts

Yes, if you can't get the Chania flight earlier in the day you could fly to Heraklion for that first night, see the Knossos site (and the excellent archeological museum in the city if you can stand it), then drive to Chania for the next four nights. Heraklion isn't a very attractive city but I expect it has more flights to and from Athens than Chania. And Knossos also makes it worthwhile.

Posted by
1272 posts

Your plan is logical with an excellent sequence of locations. Congratulations on a well thought out research. Hopefully you can find a flight that works for you. Are you actually flying on the 6th and arriving on the 7th?

I do not like your alternative of flying to Santorini then Naxos then all the way back to Heraklion Crete by ferry. This is not a good sequence of hops at all. You won't get back to Heraklion until early evening and then you will still have a 2 hour drive in the dark to get to Chania.

There is an Olympic flight Athens to Naxos on the 7th and 8th that departs 10:40 That is just under an hour and a half which is a bit short. If you travel with cabin baggage only you can probably make that flight.

While flying to Heraklion and renting a car isn't particularly desirable the National highway is a good road and you will be in Chania in the afternoon.

Another alternative is to immediately rent a car at the airport and drive to Nafplio. It is a two hour drive and with lots of coffee you should be able to make it before jet lag catches up to you. We actually did that a couple of years ago with a brief stop in Corinth to visit Ancient Nemia to take some pictures. Nafplio is as good as any island for getting over jet lag. From Nafplio it is easy to get back to the airport for a flight to Chania on another day.

One other thing to consider the ferry to Santorini departs from Heraklion at 8:30 to 9 ish. It will be a long drive in the early morning to get to the ferry. We choose to stay one night in Heraklion near the center so we can get rid of the car and have a short walk to the ferry port. At this point you have not planned a night in Heraklion.

The mainland portion of the trip looks good. One exception is it is pretty much a 5 hour drive Athens to Meteora. So your 4 hour drive limit will have to be exceeded that one time.
Just for fun here are images of the places you will be visiting.
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos
Nafplio and Peloponnese
Olympia Delphi Meteora
Its going to be a great trip

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for all the replies, lots of really good info Stanbr. We do leave PHL on 9/6/17 and arrive ATH on the 7th at 9:15AM.(AA758 departs PHL at 4:20pm). I think I will stay with the original itinerary and immediately go to Chania even if we wind up with an extended layover at ATH airport. I had already planned our last day on Crete as an all day trip from Chania to Heraklion stopping in Rethymon and spending our last night on Crete near the HER departure port.

Will renting a car in Chania and dropping it off in Heraklion at the port bring really high fees?

I still would appreciate any advice on cant miss stuff or restaurants, hotels, things I'm not likely to see here or on TA.

Posted by
1272 posts

Athenscars Crete a local company allows you to pick up in Chania and drop off at the port. Most of the local companies will do that.

Posted by
32106 posts


One important point to mention. Each driver listed on the rental form must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. These are easily available at AAA offices for a small fee and are valid for one year. If you're involved in any "traffic incidents" there and can't produce an I.D.P., you'll find yourself in a dreadful situation that will not be a happy holiday memory.

Posted by
12 posts

I'd be very surprised if there aren't additional flights to Chania added between now and next September, and you don't need to book domestic flights this early anyway. I don't normally recommend them, but Ryanair also has flights from Athens to Chania. If you book Ryanair, pay close attention to their T&Cs.

You can specify the Permit Effective Date for your IDP when you apply, so can have it start up to 6 months after the application. In other words, if you applied now, you could make your IDP begin next June, and it would be effective for another 12 months after that date. Personally I would wait until just before September, and then it would be good until summer 2018. The AAA website has a page for IDPs, and even an application form you can download.

Posted by
6 posts

thanks thrym , great info on the 6 month delay time on the start of the IDP. I do see the Ryanair flight at 1pm to Chania and I will book that if necessary, still hoping Aegean comes up with a flight a little earlier, plus they allow 23kg checked bags and Ryanair a bit less.

Any recommends for favorite hotels in Chania? We would like to stay right in town and keep rooms for 2 around $100/night. Thinking the Theotokopoulou St area looks promising. Any that have balconies or rooftop terraces with views in that price range?

Posted by
1272 posts

We normally go to booking dot com and input our dates and select Chania. They will give you all the hotels in their system that are available in your price range. More importantly read the reviews. Every hotel will have a bad review but in our experience hotels with an 8 rating or better will be fine.
We always stay in the Theotokopoulou street area. It is full of hotels in all price ranges. We are budget travelers and like to keep nightly cost under 50 euros. We also like to have a kitchenette to do breakfast and lunches. Pension Nora has several different kinds of room including two studio suites in a 400 year old house as well as two original Cretan houses. All well below your price range. Just across the alley from Nora is Jason Studios. Same price range. They have a roof top deck with peek a boo sea view. Both are in the album below. Natalies rooms is part of Nora.
Here is what Theo street is like.
Theotokopoulou St area

Posted by
11 posts

This looks like such a fun trip! My husband I just spent 2 weeks in Greece and had a much different itinerary, but I can offer that we spent 2 nights in Nafplio and that felt like PLENTY to us. There isn't too much to see and do there. 1 night in Delphi was completely sufficient. We included Monemvasia and Olympia and were really glad we did, although 1 night in Olympia and 2 in Monemvasia was sufficient. We stayed in the hotel Phidias for one night. It was about $62 for a double, breakfast included. Modern, clean, and centrally located, we really enjoyed it.