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Back with Flights booked - Itinerary Help

Back in July I was trying to decide what month to go to Greece. (big decision was June or aug/sept). we have decided on August / sept due to lots of reasons. BUT great thing is we have Flights booked!

Now trying to narrow down itinerary and which final islands to pick.

4 of us (two couples in our mid to late 50’s) traveling for our 20th and 10th anniversary to Greece. Never been to Greece before.
We are all NOT sit around and do nothing / relax people. WE will rent a car where we need it/and it is recommended.
Snorkel / fish / hike / activities such as electric bikes to see countryside.
Seeing different beaches with great landscape (example pictures of Milos – but appears not a lot to DO on the island ?)
See local farms
Cute towns/villages
Shopping (NOT high end - local shops/artisans/food etc)
Love seeing things and doing things we can’t do anywhere else.
Love dramatic different landscape / caves (Can’t wait to see the gorges in Crete!)
I know Greece has lots of history and museums/archealogical places – we will see some but won’t focus on it.
No need for club night life (we are old!)

Places we like to stay:
not big resort
prefer small / different places
2 bedroom so we can stay together

Just to lay out our number of days below – I do not have any reservations except air and Athens hotel so even number of days in crete can change.

Roundtrip air direct to Chania, Crete - arrive 5:45pm and home from Athens. 8:10am flight.
We land on the 25th of August and depart on the 12 of Sept. 18 nights / 19 days but that does include travel days.
We know we want to go to Crete and Santorini, and we are fying home from Athens. Struggling on what to do in between. The one island that keeps coming up is Naxos.

August 25th - Arrive Crete - thinking of staying in Chania Town, 5 or 6 nights (as we arrive late on the 25th)

Santorinin 2 or 3 nights? giving us 2 full days. (thinking of staying in Imerovigli for views of sunset and Caldera)

Naxos - TBD number of nights

TBD (Milos? Amogos? Sifnos ? Maybe sail catamaran for 3 nights/4 days to smaller cyclades - Anitparos, Iraklia, Sixoinousa, Koufonisia, Kalandor) or (Sifnos, Kimolos, Polyagos, Folegandros) - Struggling with Mykonos, am I going to regret if we don’t go there? do we just take a day trip there?)

10-Sep Athens Travel to Athens
11-Sep Athens Full Day
12-Sep Fly Home

Janet - in a previous post when I was deciding WHEN to go, and had only 14 days, you had suggested: 4.5 days Crete, 2 nights Santorini, Naxos 4 nights, (day trip to Mykonos), 2 days days Athens.

I have a few more days to fill in! YAY.

Thank you all for your input/recommendations yet to come LOL

Posted by
1015 posts

What a great opportunity to explore Greece.
You are looking at primarily an island hopping experience. The one thing that people often do not recognize is island hopping by ferry eats up at a minimum a half day.
Example depart Heraklion arrive Santorini 11:30 to 12. Given the congestion at the ferry port It could take you 1 to 2 hours to get to your hotel. Each ferry hop will have the same kind of time usage.

Experienced travellers minimize their ferry hops to add time to their vacation.

I said all that, to say, the Chania/ Santorini/Naxos combination probably is the best use of your Island hopping time. Greece is a place where the less hops you do the better the experience. Just an aside, you probably will want to be in Heraklion the night before the hop to Santorini.
For me 3 nights in Santorini give ample time to take in the amazing views maybe visit Oia (early before the cruise ship crowds arrive) plus ancient site at Akrotiri. 3 nights is all my wallet can stand.

Add those extra days to Naxos you will not regret that decision. Of course if you do that sailing trip is likely worth giving up some time in Naxos.

The excursion boats to Delos/Mykonos have not sailed for the past 2 years. They may not be available for that Mykonos experience. I believe there is a ferry between Naxos and Mykonos so you could do a day trip that way. Mykonos is lovely but offers nothing better than Naxos and at twice the price.

For fun this is what you will see
Naxos town
Trip around Naxos

Naxos 2017

Posted by
120 posts

Stanbr - thansk so much especially for the comment on the staying in Heraklion before the hop to Sanotrini. I had not gotten that far yet. So good to know. Just looked up ferries and see there is not a ferry from Chania.

We were planning on renting a car in Crete. and flying in to we would have to return to Chania or see if we can return in Heraklion.

have you had experience with the Sailing multiday trip?

Since I know we are for sure going to do the Crete, Santorini and Naxos (just can't get Naxos off the list HAHAH). Any favorite B&B's with two bedrooms, or whole house. we are ok if not on a beach, but a patio with view would be great.

Posted by
2891 posts

Every car rental agency I know of is fine with rental in one port, drop off in the other. have done it half a doezen times.

Posted by
2891 posts

When you ask for favorite places to stay -- please please -- say which island y ou mean, and what your budget range is ... it is also helpful, if not too much trouble, to give approximate dates -- it is SO Frustratng to give suggestions and then get the response, we jst tried your recommendtation, and that place is fully booked. To avoid wasting your time AND ours, pllease specifics if possible.

In addition, since you are going in high season, you may already have been outbid for ideal accommodations. Sometimes in Naxos you can get adjoining units, or one unit with a BR & big main room, and another unit just a studio, but next door or just down the hall. Wth flexibility u are likeliest to get what you want in the location you want.

Posted by
120 posts

Hi Janet..I guess I should have held my question on places to stay until i firm the itinerary up which is really what this original post was for. Apologies for that.

Trying to firm up with recommendation...

How many days in crete
how many in santorini
how many in Naxos and if going anywhere else :-) (ie Milos, Amogos)

Posted by
111 posts

You will not regret if you miss this that or any island.

You will cherish the time that you do have on any island upon which you find yourself.

You cannot go wrong. Wherever you go, there will be abundant things to do and adventures to have, so figure out how you want your itinerary to move and choose accordingly.

The best island in Greece is the one you're on.

Posted by
120 posts

Everyone, we are taking your advice and keeping the trip to:
Crete, Santorini, Naxos, Athens.

Without knowing everything exactly that we want to do yet, here are my thoughts on number of nights so i can start looking for places to stay. Feedback on the below. (knowing we want a day or two on the water to visit other islands near naxos should we reduce Crete by 1 night or leave it.

CRETE - 6 nights / 7 days
August 25th - Arrive Crete
August 26th to 31st (providing 5 full days)
(thinking of staying in Chania Town, looking at 1 night before ferry in Heraklion as Stanbr suggested)

SANTORINI - 3 Nights / 4 Days
August 31st to Sept 3rd (provides 2 full days)

(thinking of staying in Imerovigli for views of sunset and Caldera)

Naxos - 6 nights / 7 days of nights
Sept 3rd to Sept 9th (provides 5 full days)
Need feedback on locations to stay - seems Plaka keeps coming up but haven't researched this one a bunch yet.

ATHENS - 3 nights / 4 days
Sept 9th to Sept 12th (provides 2 full days Athens)

12-Sep Fly Home
(We have a place in Athens)

We added a day to Athens based on recommendations, but not sure if we need it and if we should keep that on one of the islands.

Posted by
7972 posts

Do not change the amount of time in Athens! You will need all of it. We usually have four full days there.
As far as Santorini, go down to Amoudi Harbor below Oia for lunch at Katina’s and to the archeological site of Akrotiri. We returned to Santorini just to visit Akrotiri after it reopened. Otherwise, explore the rest of the island.
We spent two weeks in Chania so if you have questions I will try to answer them.
Once we get brave enough to travel again, we will return there.

Posted by
1940 posts

I think your trip sounds perfect. And in Naxos, check out Kalergis Studios on St George beach. They offer studios on the ground floor right on the sand, literally steps from the water.

If you can get two adjoining studios, you can sit on your patios together but still have your private rooms.

It’s a perfect location, walkable to town and nearby restaurants, with car rental offices just up the street. You’d probably only need a car for a day or two to explore the island.

You should be able to find day sailing trips at the harbor.

Posted by
1015 posts

For Naxos I suggest you look at St George beach Agios Georgeos. It is a good brown sand beach probably a kilometer in length. The main part of the beach is lined with small to large hotels so lots of choice for accomodation. I know Hotel Kymata has a top floor with two units on a large shared balcony. We have stayed at Kymata and I can confirm the reviews it is a good hotel. Its back from the beach about 100 meters but the top floor rooms have a 180 degree unobstructed view.

The big bonus of staying at St George is that it is part of Naxos town. Its a short 10 minute stroll along the sea front headland into Naxos town waterfront promenade and the maze of back alleys leading up to the Kastro. You get all the activity of town with a beach and quiet at night for sleeping. The main transportation hub is Naxos town.

I had mentioned st George beach is quite long. It is in a horseshoe shape and after the built up area there are a series of small dunes with a minimum of infrastructure and few people.

You mentioned Plaka beach. It is our favourite beach on Naxos. Its 7km from Naxos town and is part of a string of west coast beaches. Plaka is at least about 2 kilometers long.
There is no village and is serviced by a string of Hotels and tavernas across the quaint sand road on the other side of the beach. The further you go the less infrastructure and you can find lots of sections of beach with few people around.
Here are some images of Plaka beach. I took pictures of the hotels and shops from the road and then took pictures of the beach directly across from the buildings.
Plaka Beach Naxos

Posted by
120 posts

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions! will be looking quickly at places to stay.

stanbr you are still recommending st. george vs plaka or either.

Posted by
2891 posts

THanks for filling out your dates! Better info = better advice. NAxos Lodging tip -- if u insist on apt w 2 BR, fewer choices, & not as good seaview, beachfront options. Be flexible; either a BR/mainroom option, or 2 units side-by-side more avialable.

NAXOS LOCALE CHOICES -- Island still will be lively in Early September but the EU Crowds will be gone (getting kids in school). Both St. George & Plaka r good ... some aspects to consider

•  ST GEORGE - so handy/easy to stroll home from port town in late evening, after having a glass o' wine or 3 -- water is shallow at edge, but when u wade out about 75 yards it drops off for a good swim. For a "beach day" you can bus out to PLaka -- plenty of places with sunbeds & umbrellas, that are "rent-free" if you buy bevs & snax from its cafe. I like Aegean Land (u can tell bus to stop by it), besides cafe, it has pool with nice restroom/changing room
• PLAKA - Has a couple of tavernas we love (PEtrino, Nikos & MAria) -- when you want evening & nightlife in Port town, bus runs quite late, at least til 11 pm in Sept.

EArly sept options On -
ST. GEORGE (Ag Giorgios) beach --

KYMATA - back from sands about 50 yards has 2 sept doubles w. balcony/sea view 5nts /$500+
HOTEL PALATIA - 2 units b alconies but not sea view ... more $$
THOMAIS STUDIOS -- directly on seafront .. a quadruple studio/partial sea view $840... worth serious consideration... 2 + rooms -- recommend contacting directly via email for detail

PLAKA Beach --
NIKOS & MARIA - directly on beach across road -- 2 units, dble bds, terrace, garden views
-- many of the other available places are back from the beach, in fields

... i

Posted by
1780 posts

We stayed in Naxos in St Giorgio area at Kymata which others have mentioned. We visited Plaka. The beach is beautiful and if that is your primary interest, stay there. You also may have more luck finding a two bedroom apartment there as there is newer development.

I liked staying more in town but I think that is personal preference. For example, we were able to rent a car easily for a couple of days and yet we found the town itself very interesting. We did eat on the beach at St. Giorgio so had that advantage of being near the beach. The beach itself is attractive but quite shallow and perhaps better for families with young children.

Posted by
1015 posts

stacey I was providing you with what I considered to be good options either St George and Naxos town or Plaka beach. For a first time visitor St George Naxos town is what I would recommend.
On the other hand if your priority is a really good beach then Plaka is your answer. There is regular bus service to Plaka from Naxos town so you can easily enjoy the town atmosphere and still do a day trip to Plaka beach.

Posted by
2891 posts

see, Stacey, stanbr & I, we are a Tag Team ... whichever one comes in with the first punch, the 2nd comes in with the knockout. HE always wins of course, because he has THE best photos on this forum (or any other). I shamelessly steal them!

Posted by
120 posts

Thanks Stanbr! I think St. George it is for us!