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Fine-tuning October trip Athens-Milos-Sifnos-Santorini-Naxos-Athens

Rough sketch: flying to/from NYC, our home

Day 1 Travel: Flight arrives Athens 10am, stretch legs and eat lunch in or near the airport, and depart at 3pm on prop plane to Milos (anybody landed there since they widened the runway?)
Nights 1-4 Stay: Milos Breeze Hotel
Day 5 Travel: Ferry to Sifnos mid-day
Nights 5-7 Stay: Astra Verina Hotel
Day 8 Travel: Morning ferry to Santorini (27 hour layover there)
Night 8 Stay: Impressive One
Day 9 Travel: Ferry to Naxos late afternoon
Nights 9-11 Stay: Villa Naxia
Day 12 Travel: Ferry to Athens late afternoon
Nights 12-13 Stay: Attalos Hotel
Day 14 Travel: Flight leaves Athens at noon

Posted by
2893 posts

Looks like fun, but you don't say what Day One is (Oct 1? Oct 10?) by mid-October Ag. Prokopios beach will be fine for swimming, but many of its cafes & tavernas may well be shuttering, area might have a lonely feeling at night. A lot of Naxos visitors during that time like to stay nearer town -- Ag. Giorgios -- then take the handy bus for 20 mins or so, out to swim at Prokopios. Staying at Ag. Giorgios, you are just a 15-minute stroll to Naxos Town portside, where things still will be humming. Its tavernas will be open & busy, the only difference from high season will be... the people at the next table will mainly be locals; Naxians love to dine out.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks for the input, Janet. Yes, day 1 is October 1. We are celebrating our 25th wedding Anniversary and will be happy to be more alone than among others. We considered more remote spots on Naxos (more like the places we're staying on the other islands) and Agios Prokopios is a compromise. The places in Agios Georgios seemed to be cheek-by-jowl, which would not be our preference. We plan to rent a car. Is there a specific place in Agios Georgios that has space around it, rather than more commercial properties like hotels and restaurants? It's difficult to single one out.

Posted by
2893 posts

Well, I love to go to Ag. Prokopios beach to swim, but not that fond of staying there. Truth is Ag Anna, Plaka & Ag. Prokopios are each really a strip of hotels built at the edge of former farm fields, flat, scrubby, bamboo stands. The hotel you have picked Ag. Pro. Hotel, is a biggie sort of hotel w. pool etc,lots & lots of concrete and if you look closely on the google map of booking.com, it's waaay back from the beach surrounded by ex-farm... to reach the sand, u have to walk downhill on the busy road ... The only place I like much in Ag. P is Liana Studios, because it's almost the only one directly on the beach -- its own website is malfunctioning but TA has some reviews & good traveler photos of the sort of views you get -- https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g805487-d1195023-Reviews-Liana_Hotel-Agios_Prokopios_Naxos_Cyclades_South_Aegean.html

By contrast, Ag Giorgios is well-established, trees & shade, Greenery, no dusty-field feeling. As for a very special place, what I think would be perfect for you IF you can book it, is VILLA NAXIA. http://www.villa-naxia.gr They don't use booking.com or other agencies (they don't need to), you must contact them direct, but since your dates are October, you have a good chance. Just look at their photo gallery and you will see .... at the very far end of Ag. Giorgios, but direct access to beach, building off on its own VERY well-appointed, balconies & terraces w. sea view... frankly if I were on my anniversary trip that's where I'd go.

BTW, I love all the places on your list, but you DO seem to be hopping around a HUGE amount for just 14 days! Well, I'm sure you are well-organized, and you'll be "sampling" for your return visits. Comment on various places:
• SIFNOS - In Artemonas, I always eat at Margaritas (?) on the square, great mezedes.
• MILOS - hope u plan island-rim boat trip; if it's windy I recommend the big catamaran, and the half-round trip.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks for those details. I will take a look at the place you recommend at Ag.G. (For many reasons, I never book anything that is non-refundable unless it's the last minute so a place that avoids aggregators is a bit tricky.) I appreciate that inside take on island spots. We're not much for lying on the beach. Most of our time is spent hiking and biking so beach proximity is more about views from the room/rooftop/infinity pool etc.

Our trip to Italy last year was about the same length and we stayed in Rome, Amalfi, Capri, two different agriturismos in Tuscany, and Venice. The previous year we hit Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Londolozi in the Sabi Sands preserve (a truly once-in-a-lifetime safari that was insanely $$$ but worth every penny if you ever have the chance http://blog.londolozi.com/2017/08/11/the-week-in-pictures-296/ ). This trip, we will hit fewer destinations because of the time it takes to travel between them. The overnight in Santorini was just inspired by the ferry schedule. There is no direct ferry from Sifnos to Naxos anyway. One dinner out on the $$$ island seemed like a layover turned into a mini-visit. I'm feeling a bit chuffed about that idea.

Have you ever flown into Milos? What options will we have for lunch in the airport in Athens in the event that our Delta flight arrives on time and our Olympic flight leaves on time or late? 5 hours seemed like enough buffer not to risk missing the hop to Milos.

We had considered spending the entire time on Crete, then we switched to Naxos, then spoke to a friend who just returned from Milos + Sifnos who raved so much that we nearly scrapped our plan to visit anything but those two. (This was all after a couple of weeks spent trying to plan Zagreb - Plitvice - Split - Dubrovnik, all of which went by the wayside due to weather concerns. The possibility of no swims in the sea was unacceptable to my beloved, thus the move further south.)

Posted by
2893 posts

If you will check listings on booking.com, you will find that at least in Naxos, almost all accommodations provide for cancellation without penalty up til 2 weeks beforehand. There is sometimes a "nonrefundable" at a slightly lower price, but I too never use that.

Posted by
2893 posts

Again about nonrefundable: I think if you will contact Villa Naxia directly you can book without an advance deposit ... I have been to Greece 12 x, and have only ONCE had an advance deposit... what I have usually said when I contact hotels directly to book is: Ifyou have availability for my dates, I'll immediately book, giving you my credit card information to hold the reservation (although I plan to pay in cash for our stay). Frankly this always goes over.

Another thing, smaller Greek hotels, pensions or boutiques are NOT owned by some corporations, they are family-run... and their business is personal to them... it's one of the reasons the experience can be so special. If you'll look on Villa Naxia, there's a photo of the owner & son. THey look for a relationship, not just a booking. When I inquire of a hotel directly, I always write a "personal letter" e-mail - "Owners-Managers" in which I mention that this will be my first visit to ____ Island, but I've wanted to come there for so long, when friends have told me of its beauty and amazing ancient history. I've also heard so much it can make our dream come true. -- I get marvelous warm responses ... and over the course of return visits, I've developed warm friendships -- I'm on Facebook with several of these folks, I've seen children grow into teenagers, Hoteliers greet me at the dock with kisses. Of course, some travelers WANT an impersonal situation -- insert credit card, receive room key, encounter over. I just remember being on my patio on Sifnos, and my "landlady" Nikoleta stopping by and putting 2 still-warm eggs into my hand. It's like that.

BTW, if you write directly to any hotel, it sure doesn't to add: this is a very special trip because we are celebrating 25 years of happy marriage. The Greeks also care about stuff like that. At least a complimentary bottle o' wine, I'll wager.

Posted by
2893 posts

Another PS: The transatlantic flights Always arrive on time, even tho they may be a hour or more late departing (due to runway llines in NY, PHL or Toronto)... that's because they have Alll that Time over the Atlantic to make up any tardiness. And yes, you'll have plenty of time to have lunch ... you'll be thru passport control & baggage pickup and (nonexistent) customs in 45 minutes in Sept. In the airport itself there's a somewhat upscale restaurant up on a mezzanine, Olive Tree, Olive Branch? But as long as you're on an anniversary, go across the street to the Sofitel hotel, and loll around in one of their cafes, soft chairs, drinks with umbrellas etc.

Posted by
29 posts

Janet, I so appreciate having the benefit of your expertise! Villa Naxia responded immediately and we are about to book our room there (so I've edited the OP. A couple of questions:

I am a little nervous about the flights from Athens to Milos and Naxos to Athens. Should I buy these airline tickets now? Are the planes likely to fill up? (That tiny plane has me quaking in my boots.)

Would you take a look at Milos Breeze, which we booked based on a glowing mention in a Milos article in a high-end magazine. It is the most expensive choice we've made. Salt has no rooms for our dates. Do you have experience with something romantic and beautiful (love that infinity pool) on Milos that we should check out? http://www.milosbreeze.gr/en

Also - if we have taken on too much, hubby would drop Naxos. I would drop Sifnos. Wanna weigh in?

Posted by
2893 posts

Yes, I would book the flights... there are 2 levels of price, one is Flylight or some such, but youdon't want that, it's only allows you a small shoulderbag, your regular bag cancost you $$$$ , plus, nonchangeable. At the regular price, ("Semi-flex") your usual baggage (21 or 20" bag, about 44 lbs) included AND if you should have to change your flight, they'll do it.

As for size of plane, this is no piper cub!! Don't get all wimsy-wamsy. These are those EXCELLENT turboprops (flying out of Naxos), and small jets out of Milos ... about 40 seats, but NOT crowded, leather upholstery, 2 seats each side, very good legroom, flights are smooth as silk. They even manage to give you a beverage & a cookie in 50 minutes ! Did u know Aegean has been named Europe's BEST airline about 5 years in a row. Think of yourself as being lucky enough to fly in a corporate plane. First time I flew in one, I was seated next to a young Greek executive that looked like Marcello Maistrianni, with a $$$1000 suit, and talking on a cellphone before any of us even had a cellphone. I figured if he was not worrried why should I be.

Posted by
29 posts

If dropping one destination, which goes: Naxos or Sifnos?

We travel with carry-on sized Osprey backpacks that fit in overhead bins, which integrate tiny backpacks for day use. No traditional bags. (Thanks packing cubes and Rick Steves!)

aaaaaaannnd - I'm wimsy wamsy about flight in general and the Milos flight is Olympic and specifies "propeller plane". (Our Africa trip involved a one hour hop in a four-seater that I was certain I would not live through.)

Posted by
2893 posts

Much as I love Sifnos, I would favor Naxos.

Listen to your Mother. Olympic is owned by Aegean and has been for the past 5-6 years. The planes are almost brand-new. THey are not "propellor" they are in fact turbo-prop. That is, they have propellers, but turbine driven. I have flown in then to Milos AND to Naxos and have enjoyed the flights immensely. These are modern Luxe planes. PLEASE do not give me your African puddle-jumper as an example ... That is like saying I don't want to ride in your Mercedes because once I went downhill in my son's Soapbox Derby car, and it was scary.

Posted by
29 posts

No Milos hotel advice? Artemis looks similarly luxe (another cool pool if the sea is too rough for swimming) at a much lower price point. It's all the way at the other side of the island, which could be good or bad.

On the puddle jumping: Merely an example of my extreme reaction. I wasn't much better in the 40 seater! :-) I will get through it. Just thinking that may be part of my resistance to actually buying the tix.

Posted by
2893 posts

Just got back to computer, after hosting my annual "Moveable Feast" for my block ... BLT NIGHT (It's moveable because it is announced on the week when the ripest tomatoes come in from the Amish farms!) .

Well, Luxe stuff on Milos hmmmm. I'm not a good resource because I'm a budget traveler... I can name a dozen nice places in Pollonia with balcony views of the water, and kitchenettes, and all kinds of modest amenities, for about €40 double -- but I'm not an expert on places with spas, and designer faucets etc. I know where they are, in Naxos & Santorini & Sifnos, but have not researched them in Milos. Don't miss the round-island boat trp - but as I may have said before, do the HALF-Round, and on the catamaran, not a small boat. Also, do NOT do NOT MISS the Mining Museum exhibits v. interesting (as a volcanic island Milos has had Many Minerals excavated ... but the real gem is the video documentary, which tells of the miners' lives, and THEN interviews actual miners, men and women, now in their 80s, about what it was like. It was an unforgettable experience. Very moving.... and by that I don't mean bad ... it's just very very authentic and touching.

Posted by
29 posts

Sounds great, Janet! Pulled the trigger on the Athens to Milos flight.

Thinking we will take the SeaJet2 from Naxos to Piraeus on the afternoon of Day 12. no need to buy any of these ferry tickets in advance, is there?

Got a lower price on the luxe hotel via booking.com saving $$$.

Do you recommend a particular boat trip vendor/skipper on Milos? On Naxos?

Posted by
2893 posts

No of course not book ferries ahead, in October, ferries will be 1/3 full at best.

Particular boat for sail? ... hmmm (humming sound as I search; I keep a small spiral notebook for each trip, w daily expense list & names) got it! Name is Chyrssaovalandou (no wonder I can never remember it!!) ... name is on the sail; during our stay, early May, it was the only catamaran in the boat line-up, with a half-round trip, to the sea-caves of Kleftiko, then back. 3 of us signed on for this, figured it would give us a bit more time for stops in little coves, to swim & have BBQ lunch AND do the rubber kayak thing thru the sea arches. Capacity is 14, but there were just about 8 on our day. Two of our party were old hands at sailing coastal N.E., so they had visions of handling the spinnaker etc, so they instead went on a small sloop, capacity 4, for a circuit of entire island. Actually, the laugh was on them! It was quite windy, but the cat was large enough that it could deal with stiff breeze, so we went under sail for 3/4 of our time, while our "sailor pair" were stuck going with dropped sails, using the motor, no fun. So take that into consideration. Also, if a large boat that holds 12-15 has only 3-4, it may cancel, so think about that too, and maybe hook up with some other tourists; with 7-8 signups, the boat will go. The boats are lined up in Adamas harbor from 6 - 8 pm, so you can board, talk wi skippers, decide.

Posted by
1015 posts

As usual very good information provided by Janet.

I just had a few additional thoughts. Are you planning to rent a car on Mylos? If you do then it really doesn't matter where your hotel is located all the interesting places on Mylos are easily reached by car in a short period of time. Local bus transportation really doesn't work for tourists with early morning and evening routes with quick turn arounds.

It will also be very quiet in Milos as October is off season there.
Here is what you can expect on Milos.
Milos 2011 http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632109429236/
Milos 2013 http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634779985764/

I realize that flying is a concern for you however the ferry you have chosen to get from Naxos to Athens has a reputation for being habitually late and in rough seas it gets tossed like a cork. Much better to look at the slower Blue Star. It is huge and very stable. If it were me I would suck it up and consider flying from Naxos to Athens.

Here is why you are going to love Naxos
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks so much for all the additional info! Looking at Naxos to Athens flights and bigger slower boats today. Very much appreciate the specifics on the Milos coastal boat experience. We are not usually into group tour-ish stuff, especially if that means more contact with Americans, but will see if we encounter folks we'd be interested in hanging with for a day on a boat. It's great to have specific recommendations since Trip Advisor reviews can be so hard to assess. When you don't know if the opinions you're getting are from people who like to travel (as we do) as much like locals as possible, it's hard to know whether the evaluations are likely to reflect a similar standard of what's desirable. We tend to treat other places as we do our own city - using public transportation, walking long distances, eating from grocery stores as opposed to just restaurants that cater to visitors. Obviously, in this case, we are headed toward some touristy spots but we do hope that shoulder season and smaller islands may keep things a bit more Greek.

Posted by
2893 posts

The Milos round-island boat adventures are NOT group tours ... any more than if you get on an intercity bus to go someplace and other tourists decide to take the same bus.

Posted by
29 posts

Thinking we might save some $ by changing our
Sifnos-Santorini-Naxos ferry ride (with Santorini as an overnight layover meaning dinner and a room)
TO
Sifnos-Paros-Naxos (with that night in Paros)
OR
Sifnos-Paros-Naxos (with just a dinner break in Paros - arriving Naxos at 11:30pm)
The ferry tickets run 50+ Euros less and we would skip $$$ Santorini hotel - just add on another night in $ Naxos Hotel.

Friends?

Posted by
974 posts

Just got on this thread:

Day 1 is OK
Day 1-4 may be one day to long on Milos
Day 5-7: I would eliminate one day in Milos and spend the extra time on Sifnos
Day-8-9: May be not worth the effort for just two days on Santorini. Quite possible to add those days to either Milos or Sifnos.
Day 9-11: OK but Naxos deserves a lot more time, maybe more than the time on Santorini
Day 12-13: Attalos is our favorite to-go-to place in Athens. However, Athens deserves more than 2 to days to fully explore, experience and see everything the city has to offer.

If it was me . . . forget Santorini and spend the extra time in either Milos, Sifnos or Athens, probably Athens.

Posted by
2893 posts

I think SIfnos Paros (as a dinner break) Naxos is MUCH better ... dinner break is better -- otherwise u will lose half the next day in the routine of check out/go to pier and wait/ferry ride/find hotel & check in. If you reach Naxos at midnight, You'll be checked in to Villa Naxia by 12:30 -- probably with a nightcap from your landlords! you can wake with the sun on your balcony, have yogurt & honey & start your Naxos day. It will give you a bit more time to explore fascinating Old Town, maybe do a hike, find out about any wine festivals ... on the harborside crescent there is a shop that specializes in selling ONLY Naxian products -- yogurt, cheeses, preserves, olive oil, raki, wine etc. The young clerks there know what's going on, so will Villa Naxia.

Posted by
29 posts

Hi Janet - I thought you would approve of that switch! Also saves about $200! And, yes, Villa Naxia is very accommodating! Thanks for that tip.

Posted by
29 posts

tommyk5 - Thanks. I think we are more likely to make it to Athens another year for a mainly mainland trip so the plan is to maximize island time. Hard to know whether we are going to want more time on one island than another. Trying to sketch out each day a bit but there are so many unknowns (chiefly weather). Every place deserves longer, really! But this is the time we have and the new ferry plan means we skip Santorini crowding and expense, have a dinner break on our big ferry day and add a full day to Naxos. The bottom line is that Athens is just a buffer before the flight home.

Posted by
29 posts

Totally confused. None of the ferry info matches up from website to website.

Ferry hopper says Hellenic Seaways goes Sifnos to Paros in 3 hours at 4pm on Oct 8.

When I look on the Hellenic Seaways site, the main map shows no routes from Sifnos to Paros at all but when I search Sifnos to Paros, the trip is described as occurring 3 days a week and taking 5hors and 25minutes, then it shows a little map with that route drawn in but says the only boat will leave at 10 pm on the 7th and arrive at 1am on the 8th. Ferriesgreece has different information than directferries.

I am baffled and our hotel reservation will become non-refundable before we depart for Greece so I can't make changes once we are there. How can I get reliable info??

Y'all said "of course don't book ferries in advance" but I don't want to reserve hotel rooms based on departure and arrival times that can't happen.
NOTE: Thesaurus Travel will only help if you book hotels through them. Podotas Travel says the ferries I see on Ferryhopper exist and that they can ticket them. Anybody know anything about Podotas or have insight into whether booking them through that agency will mean that they exist once we get there?

Posted by
2893 posts

I suggest you try one of the agencies that have counters at Athens airport -- I think they deal hugely with ferry tickets ...
http://www.pacifictravel.gr/boat.html

also DANAE TRAVEL which is a MAJOR ferry-ticket agency https://www.danae.gr/ferries-greece
also arranges for ticket pick up at its ccooperating agency at Airport Aktina travel (this one is new to me)
https://www.danae.gr/athens-airport
... I know that Danae deals in ferry tickets w.o. also requiring hotel bookings ....

Posted by
5 posts

Enjoying this conversation and photos!! We are on the same flight from New York to Athens arriving Oct 1, connecting from Seattle. Then flying out that afternoon to Santorini on Sky Express. Also ending at the Attalos hotel but about a week later. Our itinerary is somewhat different. Santorini, Folegandros, Naxos, Paros, Athens. I hope the ferry schedule I used to plan this trip is reliable, www.greekferries.gr, or we're in trouble with hotel bookings. Thanks for all the information and pictures.

Posted by
2893 posts

Yes Vickie, that's the most reliable ferry schedule website. And you shouldn't be in trouble with hotel bookings UNLESS you decided to "lowball it" by taking the lowest rate which (1) requires advance deposit and (2) makes it nonrefundable. It's NOT worth it! THe slightly higher room rate -- in almost all Greek hotels/pensions/apts -- does not require payment until arrival, and allows for cancellations/changes withOUT penalty until about 2 weeks beforehand. In actual experience, once you book a hotel on an island, especially outside of High Season, if you have to "tweak" the reservation one way or another, or add/subtract a day, the hoteliers are OK about it... of all people, they know the ups & downs of transport.

Posted by
5 posts

Ah, good. Thank you. No, I didn't book non-refundable, but they did want a 2 week cancellation. Except the wonderful woman in Paros who said, "Just show up, I have you reserved for a very nice room". That's why we're spending the most time in Paros. ;-)

Posted by
29 posts

Ugh. I blew it on the domestic tickets. Olympic has only one seat left on the flight from Naxos to Athens so we will be on the Sea Jet 2 after all. I've been finding boats on ferryhopper, which is nice because it finds all the boats from all the companies. Some of the boats we are taking are not on the greekferries site.

Posted by
29 posts

I envy you, Vickie, having another week. Two weeks is a great luxury for us. Three would be amazing.

Posted by
2 posts

multishmac, i don't know what was the source of confusion in the other websites you have mentioned, but the information ferryhopper provided was correct, the ferry route from Sifnos to Paros on October 8th exists, and indeed it takes approx. 3 hours. By the way, Hellenic Seaways has an e-ticket so you will not have to collect your boarding passes from a travel agency or something. At least that was the case with my Piraeus-Naxos trip (booked via ferryhopper btw, i strongly support and recommend this website).