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Athens, Santorini & more? Last week of April (6 1/2 days, 7 nights)

Hi all!
Happy to be back on the forums to get all of your brilliant input for my next European vacation. My wife and I have booked a trip to Greece the last week of April 2020. We fly into Athens one Saturday afternoon, leave the next. We always like to end our trip in the city that we fly out of, so we're planning on doing our Athens sightseeing at the end of the trip. Rick's book doesn't seem to advise going to Santorini or Mykonos, but (1) we really want to see one island, (2) we think it'll probably be nice enough at that time to enjoy (last week of April), and (3) it won't be super crowded at that time. We've devised two possible itineraries - with and without Mykonos - and were interested in hearing your thoughts about whether you think it's feasible, and any other suggestions you may have! Thank you in advance!

Option 1 (Santorini/Athens)

Day 1 (Sat) - Arrive Athens mid-afternoon, immediately fly to Santorini (no sightseeing - just sleep!)

Day 2 (Sun) - Santorini

Day 3 (Mon) - Santorini

Day 4 (Tues) - Santorini

Day 5 (Wed) - Fly to Athens midday

Day 6 (Thurs) - Athens

Day 7 (Fri) - Athens

Day 8 (Sat) - Athens in morning, head to airport mid-afternoon for early evening flight home.

Option 2 (Santorini/Mykonos/Athens)

Day 1 (Sat) - Arrive Athens mid-afternoon, immediately fly to Santorini (no sightseeing - just sleep!)

Day 2 (Sun) - Santorini

Day 3 (Mon) - Santorini

Day 4 (Tues) - midday ferry from Santorini to Mykonos (1hr 45mins), afternoon/evening in Mykonos

Day 5 (Wed) - Mykonos

Day 6 (Thurs) - Fly Mykonos to Athens in morning; Athens sightseeing afternoon

Day 7 (Fri) - Athens

Day 8 (Sat) - Athens in morning, head to airport mid-afternoon for early evening flight home.

Posted by
5645 posts

If you are set on going to these islands, the second plan with Mykonos is better. The first plan has way too many nights on Santorini.
Paros and or Naxos would be much better experiences than your plan.

Posted by
99 posts

I prefer the second option too. Mykonos is well worth seeing as well, and you have some time to explore Athens too.
Sounds perfect to me! Have fun!

Posted by
13933 posts

I was just on Santorini - Oct 13-16 3 nights. It was full of tourists. There were 2 large cruise ships tendered there every day and the ferries bring hundreds more. My guess is that late April would be similar, maybe more crowded. I skipped Mykonos (party island), loved my time on quiet, laid back Naxos. Unless you want to rent a vehicle and explore the island, 3 full days on Santorini is too much.

Posted by
2794 posts

It probably won't be a problem by late April, but if you decide to go to Mykonos from Santorini you need to make sure that the ferry system is offering that service. It's a seasonal route that shuts down in October and doesn't re-start until sometime in the early spring, usually in April. Otherwise you'd need to return to Athens by plane or ferry to continue on to Mykonos.

Posted by
173 posts

I like the second option with Mykonos..... Mykonos is well worth seeing. The entire island is not a party scene as someone claimed. If you want to relax stay by Ornos beach and you will have just that. We spend an entire week in Mykonos by Ornos beach, Mykonos Blanc Hotel and it was just perfect. We have small children and we never felt it was a party scene. You will love Mykonos, Mykonos town and Venice are just beautiful. Not sure you will have time for Delos island but it's well worth visiting...

Posted by
1933 posts

I too would vote for the second option. We spent 4 nights in Santorini and 3 nights would have been better. We haven't been to Mykonos so I can't speak to it. We did spend 6 nights on Naxos. It was the Greek experience we were looking for. Athens deserves 3-4 days. In doing our research we found the Rough Guide to Greece to be very helpful in our planning. In addition to the guidebook we gleaned a wealth of information from several RS Forum contributor's. They were spot on.

Posted by
1510 posts

Without knowing what you want to see and do in each place, it is hard to advise, but with a week I'd be inclined toward only two places. That's one day on Santorini for kicking around the caldera and a couple days for hiking.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi all,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. Booked our flight to Santorini and our Rick Steves-recommended hotel there. The group's collective feedback seems to be to go with the second option, and to substitute in Naxos for Mykonos. I looked into ferries and flights, and it's definitely doable. I listed a new itinerary below with those edits. I also had a few other questions for the group's input.

New Itinerary (Santorini/Naxos/Athens)

Day 1 (Sat) - Arrive Athens mid-afternoon, immediately fly to Santorini (no sightseeing - just sleep!)

Day 2 (Sun) - Santorini

Day 3 (Mon) - Santorini

Day 4 (Tues) - midday ferry from Santorini to Naxos (1hr 30mins-ish), afternoon/evening in Naxos

Day 5 (Wed) - Naxos

Day 6 (Thurs) - Fly Naxos to Athens in morning, arrive by 12pm; Athens sightseeing afternoon (alternatively, spend afternoon in Naxos and fly to Athens at 5pm)

Day 7 (Fri) - Athens

Day 8 (Sat) - Athens in morning, head to airport mid-afternoon for early evening flight home.

  • The three ferry options I'm seeing from Naxos to Athens are the Superrunner, Champion Jet 2, and Worldchampion Jet, all of which are about the same price. The Worldchamption Jet is the fastest (1 hr 10 min). Have any of you taken these before? It'll just be me and my wife and our suitcases. I'd like to limit the chance I'm going to get seasick, so I'm thinking a bigger boat may be better. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

  • Do you think I should try to get an early flight out of Naxos to Athens on Thursday, or should we spend most of the day in Naxos and take an early evening flight to Athens? As of now, we're only spending one full day in Athens (Friday), and another half-day on Saturday before we head to the airport for our flight back on Saturday night. Taking an earlier flight to Athens on Thursday would give us an entire afternoon/evening in Athens, but would take away from our time in Naxos, where we're also only spending one full day (Wednesday). I've never been to Athens before and am excited to see all of the history there, but I've heard universally bad things about the city; the people I've spoken to about Athens really don't seem to have enjoyed it, which is the opposite of what I've heard with Naxos. Any input related to this decision would be much appreciated!

  • Any restaurant/activity recommendations for any of the 3 places we're going? My wife and I would love to hear your favorite things to do! We love having more authentic food experiences, and aren't afraid to splurge for them. I'll search the forums as well, as I'm sure there are a million threads about that.

Thanks in advance all!

Posted by
2416 posts

Frankly, if you really do want a genuine Greek experience, you should limit your stay in Santorini to 48 hours .... leave for Naxos Monday afternoon 3 pm on the Blue Star... get economy tix, sit on deck & enjoy the ride. BTW the Blue Star ferries are actually like small ocean liners, capacity of 1200 - 1800 passengers 250 vehicles... so smooth u do not know u are afloat. Then youo'd have 2 FULL days in Naxos, --Tuesday & WED -- which is an authentic Greek island (unlike what Santorini & Mykonos have become). For reasons u should limit tme on santorini, here are photos of "cruise day" crowds - http://tinyurl.com/lnquk6h -- not just in high season, but from April thru October.

On NAXOS, with just 2 days, I advise stayng on St. George Beach --- look at google maps, it's directly adjacent to Naxos Port Town, an easy 10-15 minute stroll, so you have the sea view & serene nights, with easy access to a fascinating port town. Some small family-run places with great sea views includ Villa Naxia, Hotel Palatia or Hotel Glaros (ask for upper floor on these 2),
On MONDAY - 5 - 8, stroll the town, take a photo of the "portara" arch at sunset, if weather's fair, go up to TO KASTRO restaurant overlooking port & sea. OR try the newest highly-acclaimed NOSTRIMON HELLAS -- modern take on Greek Cuisine (even in April u may need a reservation for this one; ask your hotelier to call). These are restaurants owned-run-served by local chefs who often own the farms that supply their tables ... (unlike Santorini, your waiters are all Albanian or Romanian, and all the food is from somewhere else). After Dinner, FLamingo Club patio area has lively Greek music that makes u want to get up & dance.
TUESDAY & WED -- explore upper part of town, the "maze" of lanes up to the Kastro (fortress) AND the tiny Museum ... with the world's MOST extensive collection of mysterious prehistoric Marble cycladic "statuettes". If you want a quick "look-see" at the rest of the island, you can take a public bus up to Appollonas & back for a few Euros... the corkscrew roads in the hills, and the views, will amaze. Or u can rent a car, or hire a taxi to take you around, or do a half-day tour with NAXOS SUN tours.

THURSDAY -- take an 8 am flight to ATHENS & flat-rate taxi to central-area hotel. 48 hours is little enough to spend with the famous landmarks & museums ... but then this is just your FIRST trip to Greece .,.. it can be addicting!

Posted by
350 posts

Santorini is beautiful, and IMO not to be missed. If you want to just relax and enjoy the sunsets, then I would just spend two nights there and then ferry to Naxos on Monday morning and not waste time by waiting for the afternoon Blue Star. I too am prone to seasickness; we took Seajets Champion Jet 2, and it is large enough that I had no problems with it. (the sea was not super calm that day) Consider spending M, T, W nights on Naxos. Our stay at Hotel Grotta was wonderful with amazing Greek hospitality. It's a short walk to Naxos town; our sea view room provided gorgeous nightly sunsets enjoyed with a glass of wine. They will provide complimentary transportation from the port and to the airport. I booked a half day private tour with Nicolas at Naxos Discovery Tours and it was phenomenal! He is passionate about the island and extremely engaging and knowledgeable; it was a highlight of our our three and a half week trip to Greece. Worth every penny! https://www.naxosdiscovery.net/ Athens was our least favorite part of Greece, however the historical sights are numerous and worth experiencing, so I would book a morning flight out of Naxos. While in Athens, we enjoyed the sunset over the Acropolis with drinks at the Electra Metropolis Hotel's rooftop bar. Originally we had gone to the rooftop bar at A for Athens; however, the manager was so incredibly rude and condescending that we left. I would avoid that place at all costs. We stayed at InnAthens Hotel and were very pleased with our accommodations, service and price point. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
1933 posts

bdw629,
Looking at your updated itinerary I would concur with Janet's suggestions. Especially would limit your stay in Santorini to 48 hours! Since Janet helped us with our itinerary 2 years ago,
I would also second her restaurant recommendations. Our favorite in Naxos was Nostimon Hellas. We ate their twice. Weather permitting they have a lovely courtyard. To Kastro was also great. Gorgeous view at Sunset.

In Athens our favorite restaurant was Manh Manh. Unique Greek food with a "twist." We ate their 3 times. Our RS tour group ate there on our last night. We especially enjoyed their own labeled wine. Do make reservations.

Enjoy your Greek experience!