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Athens to Istanbul

I'm back. I appreciate all the comments directed at my previous questions for travelling in Greece. I purchased round trip airfare from SFO to Athens because I got a super deal. Unfortunately I didn't plan my trip with that in mind. Does anyone think I can squeeze in a trip to Istanbul from Athens by air? We have ten days total for travel and I am planning on 2-3 in Athens and about the same in Santorini. Or how about Venice instead of Istanbul? We were there in 2011 and could never tire of getting lost in Venice! For some reason my husband is leery about travelling to Istanbul. Not me. I have heard nothing but positive things about the city.
Thanks for any and all input.

Posted by
3333 posts

Dear Labgirl
You are not going to get enthusiastic responses on a GREECE forum advocating a attempt to add a destination in a different country altogether, into a trip-length which is already too short to do justice to one country. You are trying to pour a quart into a pint bottle. Maybe a hypothetical example will make it clearer:
• friend from Europe calls " Got a super deal on a 10-day USA, I want to see Boston, New York and Washington"
• you talk her out of THREE cities, too ambitious, do just NYC and D.C., and say to self, whew! more do-able
• friend calls back, OK, if I do just NYC and Washington, can I squeeze in a Trip to Mexico City?

If we were travel agents, getting paid for our advice, we'd continue doggedly, trying to work out something that would make you happy. But we already tried once, patiently providing information on a do-able and enjoyable 10-day Greece visit and apparently it didn't work. Perhaps you should try a travel agency.

Posted by
33 posts

OKAY I get it. I realized after I posted that it was impossible and a dumb idea. I am going to take your advice and go to Naxos. I already booked a place in Firostefani and will book Athens next. I have been to Italy and if you want any suggestions on where to stay in Venice, Cinque Terre or Florence I have some excellent recommendations.

Posted by
123 posts

To your defense, Labgirl, with budget flights in Europe being so cheap and easy, you certainly could do Athens, Santorini and Istanbul on one 10-day itinerary if that's what you really want to do. At the end of the day, it is your trip and while we try to talk people out of doing too much very often, yours is not an unreasonable itinerary. To do three nights in Athens, three nights in Santorini and hop a flight to Istanbul (check where you spend 4-5 nights is perfectly reasonable. Could you devote more time to Istanbul on a trip solely devoted to Turkey or could you easily see another Greek island in that amount of time instead of Istanbul? Of course. But if you most want to see Istanbul, you should go for it. There are no safety concerns there for tourists right now so that wouldn't be an issue. I hope I have not confused things for you more, I just wanted to reassure you that your thinking is not that far off.

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks Rosie. I know it will be tight to try and go to Istanbul. I met a woman from Istanbul who raved about the city. That's what got me thinking of going there. I'm keeping three days open in the middle of my trip if I decide at the last minute. I appreciate your input.

Posted by
215 posts

I am considering a 7 to 10 day trip to Athens and I love staying in one or two home bases and do day trips or immerse myself into where I am staying. But I too will go to Istanbul but probably on a separate trip. Any information on hotels in Athens or within Greece. I travel solo and prefer quaint and local B&Bs that are a great value so I can stay longer.


Posted by
2120 posts

Are your tickets such that you could pay a $250 or $300 fee to change the itinerary, and could you then fly home from Istanbul instead? (Thinking that would make it more efficient to not have to fly back to Greece afterward, which would take time.)

We've been to both Greece and Istanbul. Totally loved Santorini, and I 'melt' with happy memories every time I see a photo from the island when flipping thru travel brochures, magazines, etc.. We only had one day in Santorini, but if we ever get back, I would want 3-4 days, allowing time to sit still and enjoy the views.

We also loved Istanbul. If you go to Istanbul, I would recommend a minimum of two full days. I would also recommend hiring a guide, just so you can use your time very efficiently (in such a limited amount of time), and so you won't lose time getting oriented.

If you are likely to not return to that part of the world in the next decade, by all means squeeze in Istanbul.

We experienced both on the same trip.....a 7-day cruise thru Silversea. So, I can't advise re: flying from one city to the next, as our experience involved super easy transport with stops at various lovely locations en route. We had two nights and one full day in Istanbul. While we packed a lot into that full day and saw most of the major sites, we missed the Spice Market, which I regret to this day. Had I known how much we would have loved Istanbul, I would have added an extra day on our own at the end. Two days would have been perfect for us. I was truly surprised and delighted with Istanbul....amazingly so!

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks Margaret,
Yes, my air tickets do incur a hefty fee if I make changes. If the dollar stays strong I just might bite the bullet next year and actually go on a cruise that takes in Istanbul like you did. I have hesitated in the past even though I hear great reviews from friends and online. I booked three days in Athens, have nothing booked for the next three ( will decide when I get there!),and three in Sanotorini before I head back to Athens for one night and then home. Thanks for your tips.

Posted by
2144 posts

If you are still seriously thinking of going to Istanbul, your best chance of accomplishing it with minimal cost would be to plan for it as soon as possible.

Normally, most experienced Greek travelers save Athens for the end of their trip. They fly directly out of Athens upon arrival, to their first island. In your case, you could book a flight to Istanbul that leaves a couple of hours after your flight arrives in Athens. Stay there 3 nights. Then, book a flight from Istanbul to Santorini (with a change in Athens) for 3 nights. Then you can fly or ferry back from Santorini to Athens for the last few nights of your trip.

Check out the Aegean Airlines website and see if you can make it work.

Even if you decide just to stay in Greece, I'd suggest rearranging your trip to put Athens at the end, to eliminate that wasted travel day at the end.

Posted by
123 posts

Kathy, Rick's Athens guidebook has a lot of great hotel recommendations: Here are a few to get you started:

**[$$] Hotel Acropolis House was once a wealthy lawyer’s villa, and it still feels homey. You’ll find antiques scattered amid the dark-wood furnishings in its lobby and 23 rooms, offered at what its owners call “realistic prices.” Many have balconies--ask about one when you reserve. Rooms without a bath have a private bathroom across the hall (S-€55, Sb-€70, D-€68, Db-€83, 20 percent less off-season, check website for deals, reserve with credit card but pay in cash, no elevator, free Wi-Fi, Kodrou 6-8, tel. 210-322-2345,, [email protected], charmingly gregarious Jasmine and Andreas).
[$$] Niki Hotel has 23 tight-but-trendy rooms with artistic touches and reasonable rates. Rooms in the back are a bit darker, and, hence, cheaper (back Db-€65, front Db-€75, bigger view Db-€80, €10-20 cheaper off-season, Qb view suite available, no single rooms/rates, elevator, free guest computer and Wi-Fi, café, Nikis 27, tel. 210-322-0913,, [email protected]).
[$$] Hotel Adonis, with 26 retro-simple rooms, stands on the quiet, traffic-free upper reaches of Kodrou, right in the heart of the Plaka. The rooms on the fourth floor have good views of the Acropolis, as does the rooftop bar (Sb-€50, Db-€75, Tb-€75-90, 40 percent cheaper Nov-March, check website for deals, roof-terrace breakfast, elevator, free Wi-Fi, public areas can be smoky, Kodrou 3, tel. 210-324-9737,, [email protected], owner Spiros, assisted by Nikos).
[$$] Pan Hotel is an old-school business hotel centrally located just below Syntagma Square. The 33 rooms are well-maintained, with nicely renovated bathrooms (Sb-€70, Db-€85, Tb-€110, €10 cheaper Oct-April, check online for best deals, elevator, free Wi-Fi, Mitropoleos 11, tel. 210-323-7816,, [email protected]).
[$] Hotel Phaedra is simple but wonderfully located, overlooking a peaceful Plaka square with ancient ruins and a Byzantine church. The very institutional hallways lead to 21 nicely appointed rooms. Rooms without a bath have a private bathroom across the hall (Sb-€60, D-€60, twin Db-€70, Db with balcony-€80, T-€75, Tb-€80-85, 15-20 percent less off-season, breakfast-€5, check website for deals, Acropolis-view rooftop terrace, elevator, free Wi-Fi , 2 blocks from Hadrian’s Arch at Herefondos 16, at intersection with Adrianou, tel. 210-323-8461,, [email protected], brothers Kostas and Stamatis).
[$] Hotel Kimon is a crank-’em-out hotel with little character. However, the 16 rooms are well-maintained, the location--in the Plaka, near the cathedral--is handy, and the prices are affordable (Sb-€30-60, Db-€55-80, 10-20 percent less off-season, breakfast-€8, no elevator, free guest computer and Wi-Fi, top-floor terrace with a corner that looks up at the Acropolis, Apollonos 27, tel. 210-331-4658,, [email protected]).