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Greece Ferry and Meteora

Hello,
We are traveling to Greece in Aug for 16 days. We are staying in Athens for 5, Mykonos 5 and Santorini 5. First questions is we want to visit Meteora by train in the morning and return to Athens by night. is it worth the 5 hour ride each way. We have our 7 and 5 year old kids. Do i buy the tickets online and where do i buy them or is it better to buy it when we get to Greece. Also, should i purchase first class.

Second is ferry question: we will be using the ferry to travel to Mykanos and Santorini. i want to travel buy the fast ferries. do i purchase tickets online or there. Also i will be purchasing first class tickets for both rides. i read somewhere where you can't print your tickets online. How do i get my tickets if purchased online? which ferry line is the best.

third question: how easy is it travel in mykonos. we don't have a rental car and don't plan on renting it. is there a lot to see and do?

Posted by
1780 posts

I haven't been to Meteora but would love to go. My kids are in their twenties now but I still would never do a day trip involving 10 hours of travel. I would stay a night there or not bother.

Mykonos is a party island. I would not take my children there in August which is the peak of the tourist season. Look at Naxos instead which is much more family friendly.

Five days is a long time to be on Santorini with young children. I have friends and family who have stayed that long and enjoyed it but it was without children.

Consider flying rather than using ferry to Santorini. It is an 8 hour ferry ride. You can then take a ferry from Santorini to other islands in the Cyclades.

Beth

Posted by
173 posts

thanks Beth but we already booked our stay in Mykanos and Santorini for the duration. The ferry i'm referring to is the fast ferries not the slow. Have you been to Greece, is it your experience or?

Posted by
7980 posts

Is it possible to change your reservations on the islands? We were done with Santorini in two nights, crowded and so touristy, beaches are not very good.
We liked Mykonos better, has nice beaches, but Paros and Naxos were the best by far, especially with children.

Posted by
173 posts

reservations are firm and not changable. can we do day trips to naxos and paros from mykonos? how long is the ferry ride?

Posted by
974 posts

From your questions it appears you haven't done much research before you made bookings which is a huge No-No!

Why do day trips from Mykanos to other islands? It's a waste of time and money. You should have done more research before booking two of the most heavily touristed, crowded and expensive of the Greek Islands. August will be super crowded, huge cruise ships docked offshore of each island and hordes of tourists spewing out to make what for many is not a real good Greek Island Experience.

If there is any way to get out of your bookings do so, unless of course you want a Disneyland Experience for Greek Islands.

As far as a day trip to Meteora from Athens it's doable but you'll spend more on the train than at the site. I don't think your kids will have a great time sitting in a train for hours each way with not a whole lot to do.

Again, research is vital before making any decisions!

Posted by
173 posts

These are the islands we wanted to stay at, crowded or not, expensive or not. seems like you did not answer the questions i had. i did research and i'm fine with staying where we are.

Posted by
2354 posts

I was in Greece in June 2017. I did go to Meteora, but I went up one morning, and traveled back to Athens late the next evening. The train ride was closer to 6 hours than 5, and I found it very tedious and boring. I purchased a package from a Meteora group, which included round trip train, nice hotel with breakfast in Kalambaka, a sunset group tour of the monasteries the first evening, then a morning group tour the next day. I got to see all the monasteries and entered several. This did also leave me a little time to explore Kalambaka, where there is also a very ancient Greek Orthodox Church, and have two meals there. For me this was fine, despite the long and boring train rides. Trying to do this in one day would leave you maybe 4 hours total in Kalambaka/Meteora, much of which would need to be spent in transit locally. I would not do this in one day myself, much less with young children.
Others here are more expert concerning islands and ferries. I spent 3 nights on Santorini plus 3 on Naxos. With young kids, I would think access to a pool would be important on Santorini in August. Wandering the crowded streets, full of shops, restaurants, inns and tourists, gets old after a couple days. You can make some interesting excursions around the island, by tour, by rental car, or with a little more difficulty, by public bus. I really enjoyed Naxos more, more local community life, great food, not as crowded or expensive, no cruise port, also a very interesting island beyond Naxos Town. I traveled to Santorini by short plane ride, then to Naxos by ferry of about 2.5 hours, then another short plane ride from Naxis back to Athens.
Note: for the ferry, I bought my ticket online a few days before, and was then told to go by the ferry office in Fira, Santorini, to receive a printed ticket, which I did the day before the ferry ride itself.

Posted by
2950 posts

Buy your ferry tickets at the airport when you first arrive in Greece from the travel kiosk in the Arrivals Hall--Aktina Travel. I believe it's near exit/entry doors 3 or 4. If you buy them online you'll have to fight the crowds at the ferry ports and it will be extremely hot and crowded there in August. Hellenic Seaways and Sea Jets both operate fast ferries between Santorini and Mykonos. I always book HS if it's at all possible. Again, try to book them at the airport, but if you need to book in advance to make sure you get them do so through their websites and give yourselves an hour at the port to retrieve them. There will be taxis and buses to get around Mykonos.

Posted by
173 posts

thank you both for replying to my ferry questions. i was told if i book it online here from the U.S. they will mail me info how to retrieve the tickets in Athens. I guess i'm scared if i don't book it online, then it will be sold out since how busy August is. Ive been to Europe before, some countries are a bit easier to travel with kids then others. Seems like the Greek islands is a bit harder. There will be 5 of us total so i must make sure that we get the ferry tickets before they are sold out. i'm a bit stressed out.

Posted by
1015 posts

Metorea does require an overnight otherwise you will end up with hoards of other tourists for about three hours before you have to start your return trip.
Olympia Delphi Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645469717811/

We used to exclusively use Highspeed but the last couple of years Seajets has introduced Championjet 1 and 2. One of them will be on the Mykonos to Santorini route. Both have open decks on the back so you can be outside for the trip through the caldera. Highspeed does not have this feature. Mind you because they are going around 40 knots you only have about 8 or 9 minutes before Championjet clears the caldera ring.

Posted by
80 posts

I would not make Meteora a day trip. Ten hours of travel in one day, with sight seeing in between, would be too much even for me! After five hours on the train, I doubt your kids are going to want to hike around monasteries for several hours. Meteora is a wonderful place, but it's more of an overnight trip, especially with kids that age.

Are you staying in the main town on Mykonos? If so, you should be able to get where you want to go fairly easily by bus or taxi. If you can, go to Delos for a day. It is another island nearby that is an archaeological site. Check on food options or bring a picnic and let the kids explore! Mykonos is beautiful, but the main things to do are shopping, eating, and hanging out at the beach, all in preparation for partying late into the night. I am not a party person, but I did have a good time exploring and going to the beach. Ask at the TI or your hotel for recommendations for kid fun. There must be playgrounds and things for them to do, too. I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
186 posts

Greece is a great place to travel with kids, busy or not, so don't let others bring you down. The people there love children and they will feel adored, especially if you teach them how to say hello, please, and thank you. My kids have the best memories of many trips to Greece from the time they were toddlers to their current ages (teens). Candy and chocolate are in abundant supply everywhere and will keep them motivated :)

Re Meteora: like the others, I would recommend an overnight there so that you can spend the majority of the next day sightseeing and then travel back to Athens that afternoon/evening. We rented a car from Athens to do this and found it an easy drive, which might be more flexible for you with kids, too. The walks and views on Meteora will be fun for the kids, but hold their hands.

Re the islands: the previous comment about buying ferry tickets at the airport is your best bet. Yes, it can get crowded during some parts of the day (like when the cruise ships disembark with day trippers, etc.), but you will probably be relaxing on the beach then and not even notice. A hotel with a pool will also help with keeping the kids entertained.

Finally, Aug. 15 is a big religious holiday in Greece (many Greeks take the whole week as a vacation) so keep that in mind while making plans. Places may be closed or open and fully booked.

Posted by
173 posts

again, thank you so much with the insight info. with the fast ferry i meant by the ones that get you from Athens port to mykonos port within few hours and not 8 hours long. my little ones speak Greek and i'm sure it will be fun for them. they are used to traveling around the world so i'm not concerned that they will be bored. they love the beach and anything outdoors. in mykonos we are staying close to Ornos beach, in Santorini we are staying at a villa in Oia with amazing view. my kids are looking forward to that. as far as renting a car, i'm a bit unsure for that part now. we are planing to make day trips to other islands from Mykonos since we will have 5 days there and 5 days in Santorini. i have to think about the trip to Meteora now since we are only staying 5 days in Athens. if we do an overnight trip to see Meteora then will we have enough time for all that to see in Athens, such day trip to the 3 islands near by and do a beach day and all the archeological sites. Again, thank you so much to all of you who are making this a bit easier.

Posted by
2950 posts

If you do decide to rent a car you can do so with confidence from Vazeos in Oia. And if you live outside the EU or UK be sure to bring an International Driving Permit. If you live in No. America you can get one from your local CAA/AAA office.

Posted by
24 posts

Try this person for booking ferry tickets; we did so last August, and she was good. She speaks English and will direct you where to pick up your ticket, at Rafina (or Piraeus). Ms. Katerina Klonou: katerina@paleologos.gr. We found 1st class tickets unnecessary; you'll probably want to wander around on the boat anyway. As for Mykonos, don't be put off by the negative comments. It's lovely and exciting. There are buses, but with 2 kids, you'll probably be using taxis, which are plentiful. Bring your cell phone and have your concierge put in the taxis' phone #s. Have you booked your lodging? Again, if I were you, I'd stay at either Agios Stephanos or Agios Ioannis beaches, which are both kid-friendly, protected from the wind, and relatively chill. The former has relatively easy bus access to town, and in the worst case, is a 30 min. walk. On non-windy days, visit a northern beach, either Fokos or Agios Sostis; neither has longers/umbrellas but have superb dining. For one night, go to the open-air movie theater in the middle of town (Manto Theater); check the schedule first thing you get to Mykonos; it's really nice. Finally, try visiting the only other town on the island, Ano Mera, for dinner. The central square is very kid-friendly, with no cars. Very relaxing for families and a good vibe, mostly Greek but with everyone mixing and having a good time. Good luck!

Posted by
173 posts

we are staying in mykanos by ornos beach. we rented something through airbnb. i will contact the person you told me about, but i guess my main concern was to book the ferry tickets online and print them but that is not possible. i still have a ways to go as far as planing and stuff. if you can think of anything else please let me know. much appreciated.

Posted by
24 posts

Yes, there are inefficiencies in the ferry system, but somehow it works out. Ornos is convenient to town by bus and reasonably protected from the wind; it's also the starting point for the caiques (small boats) to the other south-facing beaches. If you go to these beaches in August, however, you'll need to get there early; the loungers fill up fast. Elia (the last one and the longest) is probably the best one for families. You'll have a fabulous time!

Posted by
173 posts

@sati, hellenic sea way is the slow ferri, it takes over four hours, the faster ferries are about 2and half hours.

Posted by
106 posts

Hello! This e-ticket thing with Hellenic Seaways works great! We didn't expect that last summer. It seems that the Greek companies are getting more and more techie :) I always prefer using my smartphone when I have the chance.

Regarding what to do in Mykonos.. Mykonos Chora is lovely.. traditional architecture, picturesque white houses with blue windows and numerous narrow streets with every shop you can imagine!! Walking around Matogiannia is what I remember the most <3 Cafes, bar, restaurants, souvenir shops and haute-couture all around you, believe me it is really difficult to choose the best place... they all look fantastic! You'll love the most romantic spot.. Little Venice! Head there to watch the sunset!! My No1 place for a relaxing cocktail :) The windmills are another great spot for views. They have been restored and have become the trademark of the island.. along with a famous pelican. He is the mascot of Mykonos! I've read there are actually more Pelicans on the island. I am proud to say that I saw the original one about 10 years ago!

If you get bored in Mykonos you could do a day trip to Delos. Delos is a small island, which can be reached by boat from Mykonos Port within 20 minutes. It was a sacred island for the ancient Greeks, as, according to the myth, God Apollo, the God of Sun, was born there. The archaeological findings of Delos are important and have been declared as World Heritage Site, protected by UNESCO. Or you could go island hopping around the rest of the Cyclades.. Some choices could be Tinos, Paros, Naxos, maybe Ios.

Posted by
106 posts

I usually prefer Blue Star Ferries and Hellenic Seaways around the Aegean. I get sea sick easily so, the fast types of ferries are extremely bumpy for my taste. I've been twice on a Flying Cat, bad experience. It was during the end of July and the meltemia winds were blowing hard. The trip was almost cancelled.. we had to wait at the port to leave Amorgos.. they finally said it was ok to travel but I haven't felt worse in my life. After that I try to avoid them, especially during July-August. Meltemia are the strong, dry north winds of the Aegean Sea, which blow from about mid-May to mid-September.. during high-season they are at their best :p I don't think that first class is necessary. 4-5 hours is not that long. The kids will want to play around, you can walk, check the views... the conventional ferries have several cafes and a restaurant area as well. If you get on the ferry early you can get a nice spot for your family. I prefer the normal ferry because it gives you a bit of the cruisefeeling. It is nice to wonder around on the outside decks. Bring along some board games, cards, puzzles, magazines, books etc. The ferry usually leaves around 07.30am arriving at Mykonos at around 12.50pm. Add on this time a 30 minutes metro ride to the port, plus 60 minutes being there before departure.

Also have in mind that flight trip from Athens to Mykonos is 30 min. Just in case you need a back up plan ;)

Posted by
133 posts

If you're travelling to Mykonos around August 15, the ferries may already be booked. That is because the nearby island of Tinos has a pilgrimage on that date and its on the same ferry route to Mykonos.