My Sis and I are going for about 3 weeks 1. Where to stay on Santorini, Kamari or Caldera side 2. Where to stay on Naxos 3. Should we stay on Paros or just ferry from Naxos 3. Is adding Crete to the line up crazy?
You have three weeks so I would think you could add Crete. If you do, I would fly there first, and spend at least a week. You then would ferry to Santorini .
Kamari is much cheaper than the caldera side but caldera is what people come to santorini for. You would have to take buses or rent a car to see the main attractions. Personally, I would stay three nights on caldera side and then move on to Naxos which is far less expensive.
We stayed on St. George beach which adjoins the town. I would recommend that area as it was easy walking distance to the beach and to the town.
Paros is very close to Naxos but I have have not been there but I would think it would be worth your while to stay there. We debated between Naxos and Paros and chose Naxos. We absolutely loved Naxos. We stayed four nights but would have loved to have stayed at least one more night. We stayed 3 in santorini and were happy with that.
You can Manage Crete & even have a Taste of Paros if you have an itinerary w. no backtracking & efficient transit ploys. Ideas:
• ARRIVE by midday or early Afternoon - connect w. domestic flight to CHANIA CRETE (allow 2 hrs layover time)
• CRETE - 5 days? 1-2 days CHANIA area, drive S to ?beach/ Phaistos palace for a night, then N.E. to HERAKLION area, see Knossos, & superb museum in HERAKLION (last night there near Ferry Pier)
• SANTORINI - 9:45 AM ferry arr noon - 3 nights? Stay Caldera side Not in FIRA, NOT in OIA, but in "goldilocks spot" on N. Fringe of Fira -- Firostephani - on the Caldera view, but bypassed by cruise crowds. 3:15 Blue Star Ferry to Naxos = 2 hr "mini-cruise" with view of cliffs on departure, & on-deck sea-gazing.
• NAXOS - 5/6 Days? SO much to see/do ... Can't advise where to stay with no dates (Why Why do people ask advice w.o. KEY info?) - if May-June or Sept: St. George beach next to Port town, if busy JUly-Aug, look at Plaka or Ag. Prokopios beach rms.
• PAROS - with 20-21 days, you have time to ferry to PAROS (1 hr) Stay 2-3 days either in Parikia OR in ANTIPAROS & explore Paros by day. There's a daily 7pm ferry that arrives Piraeus @ 11:30-midnight.
• ATHENS - 4 days for all the famous Landmarks ancient treasures, museums, sights.
I have to go with Beth here. Fly to Crete on Arrival in Athens. Getting over jet lag is far better on an island than it is in Athens. We always stay in Chania. While it is a city it has an excellent old town and Venetian era harbour where you feel as if you have stepped back into the past. Chania is also well situated for day trips to places like Elafonissi beach and the boat excursion to the beaches at Balos and Gramovossa.
There are lots of mountain villages and on the south coast there is a string of tiny villages that are all connected by daily ferry. You get peace and Mountain/Sea views that are just spectacular.
With three weeks I would add 3 days to Crete, you won't regret it.
Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632115757899/
Gramovossa, Balos and Elafonissi https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157698932695812
Ancient Aptera, Melidoni Cave and village. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157672118379637
Santorini actually only needs about three nights. After than the high cost and the cruise ship crowds begin to wear me down. Thats where you can get the extra days for Crete. For sure get the caldera view. Thats why people go to Santorini. That view will cost you big time so a short stay is in order.
While Paros and Naxos are similar everyone seems to have a favourite but everyone likes them both. We return to Naxos every year for a minimum of a week.
We stay at St George beach because it is part of Naxos town so you get a beach holiday with all the activities of town just a 10 minute stroll away.
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
This leaves you with a few days in Athens at the end of your trip. You need to be back in /Athens at least a night before your return flight.