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First time in Greece (HONEYMOON!) - experts please advise!!

My fiancé and I are honeymooning in Greece in a few weeks (we will be in Greece from 9/6-9-16) and we want to find the perfect balance between planning some must-sees/dos and remaining flexible. Our trip will flow like this:

9/6: fly into Santorini (staying at an airbnb in Oia)
9/7: Santorini
9/8: Santorini
9/9: depart Santorini at 5pm / ferry to Crete (staying at Domes of Elounda Marriott property)
9/10: Crete
9/11: Crete
9/12: Crete
9/13: Crete
9/14: depart Crete at 9am / ferry to Mykonos (staying at an airbnb downtown)
9/15: Mykonos
9/16: depart Mykonos

Off the top, we love:
- food
- wine
- hiking
- water
- history / art / local culture
- amazing hole-in-the-walls

Other context + objectives:
- We will have just spent six days in Italy for our wedding, so I’m sure we won’t want to completely hit the ground running in Santorini, at least on the first day...but we want to get a good feel for the island. We’d love to get out on the water while in Santorini. Some of the wineries look pretty cool, too

  • We are thinking about renting a car in Crete, since it is so spread out

  • We aren’t big partiers, but still managed to find ourselves in Mykonos. We still want to make the most of our time on the island, despite it not totally being our scene (at least with all the reported crazy nightlife)

Thank you very much (in advance) for your insight!!!

Posted by
1795 posts

I wonder if it is worth the trouble and expense of going to Mykonos. If it were me, I would add those two nights to Crete and fly back from Crete.

Beth

Posted by
17 posts

My fiancé booked the travel, already, but I agree...just two nights in Mykonos isn’t much. But three nights in Santorini and five nights in Crete should still give us some solid options, I’d hope. Would just really be helpful to hear some insight from folks on how to maximize our time.

Posted by
1795 posts

If you enjoy hiking, the hike from Fira to oia is the most beautiful I have ever done. We were staying in oia so hiked to Fira. It is a hike on well marked but gravel/dirt trail from oia and then a walk on paved paths at the end. We had lunch in Fira and then took bus back. It took us 4 hours with all the picture taking. Then we went down to Amoudi bay to swim off the rocks. You walk down a large number of steps and then go to the left through some restaurants on to a path. My twenty something children swam out to man made cliff to jump in. I am not much for sensation of falling and just swam in the bay. It is beautiful!

Beth

Posted by
17 posts

Beth - thank you so much for that tip! We will undoubtedly do the same hike. We are big picture-takers, too, so good to know it will take a good 4 hours. Any restaurants or anything else you recommend in the area?

Posted by
1795 posts

Pito gyros traditional grill house has fabulous gyros and other food. We ordered and took back to our air Bnb and ate first night on balcony. Inexpensive. We also ate at Stani in Fira which overlooks caldera.

Generally, oia is expensive for restaurants except for gyros. We ate at an expensive restaurant second night we were there and found it unmemorble. Stani in Fira had better prices, better food, and better views. We rented a car our second day and stopped there after touring the island . We had made reservations the day before after our hike from oia to Fira. There were 7 of us but maybe not necessary for 2.

Beth

Posted by
8007 posts

We did not encounter a party scene in Sept in Mykonos.
Can you change your hotel reservation for Crete and move to Chania for part of it at least? Western Crete is the preferable place to stay.

Posted by
8007 posts

Crete-hiking- Samaria Gorge which ends at the warmer waters on the south side of Crete. Also Imbros Gorge.

Posted by
17 posts

@Beth: great tips...thank you. We will have to check out that spot in Fira, for sure. We will probably get gyros every day in Oia!

@Suki: unfortunately, our accommodations aren’t flexible in Crete. I travel for work and we used points for this property (buy four nights get the fifth free), so we are kind of all-in at Domes of Elounda). With that being the case, what would you suggest? We are definitely planning on renting a car, if that makes a difference.

Posted by
21319 posts

I'm afraid you'll find that few people on this forum have been to eastern Crete. You may need to depend on a guide book to see what your options are, other than the beach.

Posted by
91 posts

A couple of ideas for Eastern Crete. I'm sure you know of Spinalonga, the island just off the coast of Elounda, which has been used for hundreds of years as a prison & more, then latterly as a leper colony. Maybe you know the book The Island by Victoria Hislop. it is a great trip, ideally from one of earlier little boats from Plaka, as you can look around for an hour or so before the larger boats arrive.

A drive up into the hills to the village of Kritsa is good, don't miss the wonderful frescoes at the church of Panayia Kera just before the village. & you could go to Lato, 1 of Crete's ancient sites, way up high & remote.

I like the drive around Mirabello Bay, very beautiful scenery, with a stop at the appropriately named Panorama café. Perhaps lunch at the pretty old-fashioned village of Mochlos.

Posted by
2901 posts

CRETE - Too bad you went for "points" rather than "points of interest" on Crete, because Elounda is largely a resort ... favored by Europeans who use GReece much as Americans use FL or caribbean isles, mainly for sun & sand... Western Crete has more of interest in history & landscapes... however, if you have read in archeology etc, you might be interested in Gournia or Mochlos or Palace of Malia ruins. For a glimpse of how ordinary small-town cretans live, there are many villages in he hills above the resort.

MYKONOS - most of the "crazy nightlife" you mention takes place mainly in High Season (July-Aug), partiers are back at work... in Sept most of the action will be in port town at a few clubs, and later at night. Be aware of one Mykonos hazard -- busses stop about 11:30, and island has few taxis, so sometimes people who booked beach hotels then went to party in port town, can't find a way home.

Posted by
1022 posts

There is lots to do in East Crete and a car is essential.

Two highlights mentioned by jwugg, Spinalonga and the combination of the village of Krista plus ancient Lato are great day trips. Get to Spinalonga early as it gets crowded and hot.
Spinalonga https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157661798099198
Lato and Krista https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157686320042962

We also took a day trip through the mountains to Sitia. Its not necessary to go all the way to Sitia as that makes a very long round trip. I would suggest you plan to go to the the lovely fishing village of Mohlios and stop at some of the Mountain villages and don't miss the very good Minoen site at Gournia.

Images of that day trip. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157687455240561

From Elounda you can drive to Plaka where you can also take the boat to Spinalonga however just before Plaka you can drive way up into the mountains and view Spinalonga and the whole area from that vantage point. Sunset images were from Sissi
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157687423876990

Posted by
1940 posts

Be sure to take a day trip to Delos when you’re on Mykonos.

Posted by
17 posts

@acraven: does renting a car change anything?

@jwugg: that island sounds awesome...i'm familiar with the book - love the history involved. thanks for the tip on the early boat...thank you for the other tips, as well! i am making note of all of them before our trip!

@janet: if you want to contribute to our wanderable account, feel free! :) I just lost my job and we couldn't afford to pay for five more nights of accommodations

@stanbr: thank you so much for the insight and the pictures! my fiance will appreciate this very much!

@charlene: we are looking at booking with mykonosonboard.com for a trip to that exact island! thanks for the tip...anything in particular you liked there?

@anyone: Samaria Gorge looks incredible and seems right up our alley but probably too far for a day trip from Elounda....thoughts? If so, does anyone have any good alternatives that would be more conducive, considering we're staying in Elounda? THANK YOU!

Posted by
21319 posts

A car will be a huge benefit in Crete. On both of my trips I was limited to buses, and you don't get around very fast that way, especually when you head inland. Inland is where you can escape most of your fellow tourists..

Posted by
17 posts

@craven: good to know...we will definitely plan to take advantage of having a car, then....did you have any favorite overall beaches in crete?

Posted by
396 posts

There are gorge walks/hikes sprinkled all over Crete. Here are some ideas: https://www.cretanbeaches.com/en/what-to-do-in-crete/outdoor-activities-and-adventure/trekking-and-hiking-in-crete/best-hiking-gorges-in-crete Click on the Lasithi section for those closest to Elounda.

We added a different dimension to our trip in June by sailing and kayaking. Although we weren't in the Elounda area it looks like you can book those activities in the area based on searching on those terms. Another idea would be a boat trip to a great beach. For example: https://www.rental-center-crete.com/blog/boat-trips-crete/ has a trip from Ierapetra to Chrissi Island. According to Viamichelin website it's about a 50 minute drive to Ierapetra from Elounda. I haven't done these personally so I'm sorry I don't have more specific info. Even getting out on the sea on a ferry was fun for us; the water is so clear and countless shades of blue : )

We had several memorably delicious meals on Crete (we went to the West). The food is so so fresh that even simple dishes can be quite good. If you pick up a Rough Guide or Lonely Planet they will have great suggestions, contrasting with web reviews where some comments may not be 'honest'. Sometimes we just wing it when picking out places to eat, but then we're reminded that if we just picked a restaurant in Columbus by happening to walk by we're not going to experience the most tasty places. We like to balance spontaneity with making sure we have several really good meals. You don't have to spend a lot on Crete to get a fantastic meal; those are the kinds of places we like.

Posted by
2901 posts

oh Matt! So sorry hear about job... what a way to start honeymoon!! I remember that happened when we were on verge of vacation eons ago when my kids were pre-school... my advice, compartmentalize your mind! And hope you are in some hot cyber field where you'll be snapped up at twice the salary!

Posted by
21319 posts

Sorry; I don't do beaches. Though I did once sit on a rock wall somewhere by the sea in Crete for about an hour, reading a book. I forgot to consider the impact of reflected sunlight and got sunburned.