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Give me your thoughts on this itinerary!!

My wife and I are planning a long vacation to celebrate a huge job promotion and milestone in our lives. We are traveling for 30 days and half of it will be in Croatia.

Here is the itinerary:

Fly to Athens July 7th
Naxos on the 10th
Ferry to Santorini on the 13th
Stay in Santorini until 17th
Fly from from Santorini to Kefaloni
17th to 20th in kefalonia
Fly back to Athens
Athens 20th to 23rd then we fly to Croatia on the 23rd for a sailing adventure.

We like this itinerary because there's very little time wasting while getting a good idea of the cyclades, an ionian island, and Athens.

Any recommendations would be very welcome!

Posted by
15 posts

Bump!

I am thinking of reducing the Santorini days to 2 and using them on naxos instead.

Posted by
418 posts

I can't say much about the Islands because I haven't seen them yet. I was in Athens. Have you considered going to Naxos right after your plane arrives in Athens, and then see Athens in one block of time, rather than dividing your time in Athens into 2-1/2 days at the beginning and 2-1/2 days at the end?

Posted by
2417 posts

absolutely, Rafimondo! Every newbie who goes to the 2 islands says afterwards, I wish I'd spent less time in Santorini & more on Naxos! Maybe 30 years ago Santorini could be enjoyed at length... I was there first 20 years ago & it was OK for 2 nights (Hve been back a number of times but just because I had newbies along for whom it was a must). Now it's SO crowded & tourist-drowned that u just want to view the caldera, and then flee.

I also agree that you can make the most of your time if you don't spllit up Athens... you waste precious hours in the process of going IN to hte city checking into hotel, then checking out etc back out to airport ... waste at least half a day or more. ASAP after arrival (allow 2 hrs layover) fly to NAXOS ... in just 40-45 minutes. I just checked July 7 at the 2 airlines serving Naxos --- and Aegean/Olympic doesn't have anything past 10:30 am (sold out of its 2 other flights i guess.. these are small modern turboprops, only 40 psgrs). But Sky Express has a 10:05, a 12:30 & a 16:15 (3:15) ... it will cost u around $120 or more, but since you are celebrating a big promotion go for it!!

My suggestion is: Spend 5-6days in Naxos, then take the 1pm daily BLUE STAR ferry to Santorini (get economy tickets, sit on upper back deck for the view). Spend 2 nights MAX,. and then proceed to Kefalonia (curious as to why u chose that particular isle), then off to sailing in Croatia.

SInce u will be in Hi season on Naxos, I suggest u stay on PLaka Beach (my friends who are also Naxophiles, praise 3 Brothers hotel there) ... busses every half hour take u to the attractions of port town in 20 minutes, and in July they run until at least midnight. You'll want to rent a car 1 day (or more?) to zoom around the island, up to mountain villages etc. The time will fly by. In my 13 greece trips i've visited 25+ islands, but Naxos is my Must each time, new discoveries. Here, views of Naxos delights, by ace photog "stanbr" --
Trip Around Naxos -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/ -- this shows port town, beaches, dramatic inland landscapes... ruins, the works.
Week in Naxos 2014 -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/ - this shows you Plaka beach, and Agia Anna Beach (crowded, narrow), and the 3 wee offshore islands u cn do on a day's "beach cruise" -- plus the delightful sundown by the harbor ... a Greek isle that has it all.

Santorini in July can be like TImes Square @ Rush Hour.... (or see pictures of a Tokyo shopping street)... hard to bellieve. I've steered many people on this forum to staying FIROSTEPHANI -- it's on the north fringe of FIra, walkable to FIra sights in 15 mins, but out of the hubbub, and the package tours & cruise crowds don't know its there -- their busses zoom right by! Many lovely FIrostephani hotels right on the rimside with caldera-view balconies (but book NOW), none of the mob scene that is engulfing OIA. You can catch an early bus up to OIA, and see the views & take pix before the cruisers & bus tours arrive and cram the lanes. When they arrive by the Thousands, flee elsewhere (one place they never go is the ruins of Ancient Thira on a high high bluff above the sea on the other side of the island). Also, don't try for sunset in OIA -- here are some views of that - http://tinyurl.com/lnquk6h . Even if you'd book dinner seats at THE most pricey restaurants there (€€€), hordes of people would be standing staring at u and your plate. Instead, find a restaurant in FIra town or Firostephani with great views, and enjoy serene sunsets.

Posted by
15 posts

WOW. Amazing post. Thank you so much.

What is amazing is that as you were typing all of that I rearranged the trip and made it very very close to what you suggested.

We will land in athens and hopefuly I can secure a flight to Naxos right away (coming from the USA, the reasonably priced flights all land at 2:45pm, this is on Turkish airlines), but if not we can spend one night in athens in a cheapo hotel and then the next morning first thing fly out to Naxos.

Naxos from 7/8/-7/13
Ferry to Santorini on the blue star you suggested
Santorini 7/13-7:15
Fly to Kefalonia (we wanted to see at least ONE ionian island since they seem to have more vegetatio and myrtos beach looks amazing but we are also entertaining doing Zakynthos instead, recommendation? I realize these islands are to Greeks what Cancun is is to mexico...full of rowdy foriegners but it does look absolutely beautiful in the pictures.)
Spend 7/15-7/18 in Kefalonia
Fly to athens, spend 7/18-7/23 in Athens
Fly to Croatia

Just wanted to say thank you again, your post confirmed a lot of my suspicions. I am booking all the major "framework" of this trip like the international flights tonight and some of the domestic flights and ferries. Over the next few days I'll start booking hotels. Once thats done I will probably be back to ask you in detail what I should do on Naxos :)

Posted by
2417 posts

Glad you switched things around ... I hate it when people lock themselves into bad choices before researching... thankfully you avoided that. You also can do YOUR part by doing some actual homework, about the nature of the places you want to go, what its cultural and scenic highlights are, its ambience & history. You can get some from the internet, but mainly you'll get "eye candy" -- I've known people to choose islands on the basis of a "beauty shot" of a hotel or villa ... which then proves to be in the wrong place, with no transport, or in the midst of the worst kind of "package holiday beer & beach" throngs. Some intenet sites are purely promotional to build traffic -- touting the famous aspects, never mentioning the drawbacks (the beaches are sharp pointy rocks, not soft sand).

Guidebooks SHOULD be better -- mentioning plusses AND minusses, to maintain a reputation for good reporting.... and libraries have shelves full of Guidebooks you can browse free. BUt you need to be aware -- some of them have gone so commercial -- so packed with color photos, logistics on flights, lodgingsm car rental and restaurants - that they've had to chop out all the info on history, culture and atmosphere. ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE has done some of that, but still has considerable chunks of info on ancient sites, historical importance, local foods & nature, festivals, customs etc. Rick Steves Guidebook (And his website) is EXCELLENT for beginners on Athens, and has FREE audio downloads on his website to enable you to D-I-Y Acropolis, Ancient Agora, and Nat. Archeological Museum. Also for the Peloponnese but you're not doing that on your first trip. And he doesn't do the islands at all. I just advise you to take home an armload & browse thru, photocopy pages of interest, then maybe decide to buy one. Then you won't have to come back to the forum and say "tell me where to stay, what to do, where to eat" we're busy folks too, we can't conductd "Greece 101" but happy to help you choose among options you've looked up and are considering.

Posted by
13925 posts

I'm so glad you are taking Janet's advice, as I did for my trip last October. It was all spot-on. My only comment is that if you can't get to Naxos on the 7th, there's nothing really bad about splitting your time in Athens. It's a 40-minute bus ride (line X95) to the heart of the city (Syntagma Square) and there are a number of hotels within 5-10 minutes' walking distance.

Posted by
15 posts

Completely agree.

I think you misunderstood me though. I've actually been planning this for months and I have already read lonely planet and Rick Steve's guides and watched pretty much every YouTube video out there (including my favorite YouTube foodies)

In fact my itinerary has evolved very much since the beginning. Initially, I was planning on going to Crete, specifically for the knossos and Minoans and I spent a lot of time reading and reading. Ultimately, I had to stay within budget and I had to drop Crete in addition to several other island. After all of the researching I knew naxos and Santorini were musts for my wife and I. I've spent countless hours now on ferryhopper and travel guides etc. This isn't my first time planning a big trip and I always felt prepared wherever I went (Thailand, Singapore, Turkey, Lebanon, Malaysia etc). And every before my decision to go to Greece I think you'll find I'm actually very well read and well versed in Greek history. I asked for more because I like to bring things with to read again/during the site seeing.

You asked why I chose Kefalonia and I answered you and thought maybe you had a specific recommendation to make.

Anyways thanks again.

Posted by
1082 posts

It sounds like a wonderful trip! We too went to Naxos and Santorini and although we were very happy to have gone to Santorini, Naxos was the clear favorite.

One idea if you can't get a flight is to take a ferry. There is a ferry at 5:30 pm arriving at 10:45 pm. It would allow you to spend your first night in Naxos and not spend any of your second day traveling. I have not done this (we flew to Santorini upon arrival) but I am sure others can give you information.