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Greece in 10 days

We are planning our first trip to Greece in August. I have been watching Youtube channels, reading, etc. and I thought I'd ask all of you the following questions because I feel it is the most informative forum I know of!

These are my thoughts:
- Coming from Chicago, IL to Athens, Greece. Planning on spending 1-2 days in Athens.
- Santorini is a must for me. I would like to spend 5 days there.

- Looks like Mykonos is a must as well. Thinking 3-4 days there.
- Thinking of flying from Mykonos to Athens to catch our flight home.

1). Does my itinerary look correct with number of days?
2). Are there good areas/not so great areas to stay at each location?
3). Is there anything that we "MUST SEE"?

Thank you and I welcome any and all of your wonderful information.

Posted by
294 posts

We are planning our first trip to Greece for this September. Had to reschedule from last September. So I can't give any firsthand advice, but I can tell you what others told me. When you land in Athens, head right out to your island. Santorini and Mykonos are not highly recommended in this group. Save Athens for your last days before flying home, it's easier to get to the airport from Athens than from an island. So based on comments from this group, we decided to fly from Newark to Athens to Santorini (a must for my wife) for 3 nights then Naxos for 4 nights (daytrip to Mykonos). Then fly back to Athens and rent a car to tour the Peloponese. Then back to Athens for our final 3 nights. Have fun, we'll be there a few weeks after you!!!!

Posted by
84 posts

@caldbunch
Thank you so much for the advice.

I will now move Athens to the end of our trip. That makes me feel more comfortable too so we won't miss our flight.

I will look into the other island you mentioned as well.

Yikes...I think we need more time there! Honestly, from what I've seen I think I'd be happy with just Santorini!

Enjoy your trip! Hope we both get to go!
Kim

Posted by
359 posts

Caldbach is right, save Athens for the end of your trip, cuts down on panic re flights home. But you only have a couple of nights there...so much to see. What are your interests? Ruins, museums , beach time? Mykonos is party central, but a good stop if you are interested in visiting Delos for the ruins. Have not been to Santorini, but three nights at most seems recommended on this forum. Visit ruins, the black beach. In August will be wall to wall people as will Mykonos as both are stops on the cruise ship routes.

We all have our favourite Islands and places to stay for all sorts of reasons so tell us a bit more on what your interests are and we will be happy to help.

Posted by
84 posts

@lanlubber

Thank you for your response. I think Mykonos might be out for us. We do not party at all. I'm a photographer. I like sunrises and sunsets and nature drives. I'd say we'd like to visit the most scenic of the islands.

Kim

Posted by
1804 posts

My trip to GR was also cancelled last July and my family and I were going to spend time in Athens visiting extended family members before moving onto Santorini for three nights. My sister’s been to Santorini twice and prefers it over Mykonos, but does like the windmills on Mykonos. She has never been to Naxos, but a lot of people here like it. My sister and brother-in-law love Rhodes, so I was going to go there from Santorini.
Because I did not want to take a flight back to Athens to change planes to get to Rhodes, I bought a ticket on an overnight boat with a cabin so I could get some sleep. Not sure if you’re into doing that but it is another option. Hope your trip is a reality.

Posted by
15 posts

If you're looking for scenic in the Cyclades, definitely consider Milos. The most beautiful Greek island I have been to. I think 5 days in Santorini is too much (I've stayed 3 each time I've been, and it has been plenty). If local food is important to you, Sifnos (also in the region) is widely considered to be the culinary highlight of the Greek islands.

Posted by
787 posts

When I went to Greece, I did not go to Santorini, because there was not time to see everything, but I have a rough idea a of what I missed. If I had more time I would have seen Santorini. It was not my first choice. I had 13 nights. My plane arrived in Athens, I went straight from the airport to the Peloponnese using buses, then to Crete for 3 nights - I could have skipped Crete and seen Olympia in Western Greece. Crete is a marvelous place but 3 days there wasn't quite enough to see it properly. After Crete I took buses to Delphi, spent 1 night there, and buses back to Athens, seeing Athens last. I took overnight ferries to and from Crete. I had a bed in a shared room. The boat was like a floating hotel. Islands are a total of 18% of Greece's territory but it seems like so many tourists want to spend most of their time there. I have no interest in beaches or putting my body in the ocean. I travel to see monuments, ruins, and museums. If I wanted outdoor scenery or nature, I would go to northern Michigan.

Posted by
975 posts

You picked the two most popular and heavily touristed of the Greek Islands.

Did you look at any other alternatives?

Lots of options for Greeks Islands so if you haven't researched other islands I would do so.

You may find many others that offer scenery, vistas, villages, beaches, culture, food without the crowds and high costs.

However, if you have your heart set on Santorini/Mykonos go for it.

Posted by
2764 posts

Just wanted to ditto tommy's excellent advice. With Santorini being a must, I would encourage you to pick a less popular island as a contrast.

Posted by
3477 posts

We visited a couple of the Cyclades Islands after our RS Greece Tour in 2017. We researched ideas from this forum as well as The Rough Guide to Greece. We set aside 10 nights. We chose to spend 6 nights on Naxos (our favorite) then took the ferry to Santorini for 4 nights. We stayed in lovely Firostefani. We felt 3 nights would have been enough to tour the island and enjoy the scenery. Initially we thought about a day tour to Mykonos & Delos but we loved Naxos so much that we didn’t want to leave. To us it felt like an authentic Greek experience. I think Athens deserves at least 2-3 days. We had 4 full days and enjoyed the museums, walking tours & restaurants. I would agree with others that with limited time fly to the Islands first & end in Athens.

Posted by
108 posts

Pick up Rick's "Mediterranean Cruise Ports" guidebook. It will give you a list of major sights in Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, and others. From prior trips to Santorini there is nothing like waking up to the view of the Caldera and experiencing the sunset from Oia. Mykonos has a lovely town center and the day trip to Delos is awesome. Do try to visit the islands on days with no cruise ships so you can roam unencumbered and at your leisure.
Also fly to/from the islands. Ferries are very slow and it is an all day or night affair.

Posted by
84 posts

Thank you all!

I appreciate all of the good information.

We do have the RS Cruise book which we purchase and had Rick sign while he was in Chicago at a Travel Show. I have been referencing that as well.

Looks like I will have to rethink my plans.

For sure I will make Athens at the end of our trip.

Thank you again everyone.

Kim

Posted by
492 posts

We flew from San Francisco to Milan and took Easyjet to Mykonos (September 2019), as we couldn't make the connection in Athens from the west coast. Mykonos was convenient, quick, and pleasant with an easy ferry to Naxos. I recommend ferries over hydrofoils as they are really part of the experience although maybe from Santorini too long. Loved Naxos which has alot more substance for 4 days and wished for more. Then ferried to Naoussa, Paros, our favorite for 4 days. Loved it and wished we had 7 nights .We took boats to little beaches like Kolympithres which has the most warm crystal clear water I have ever seen and striking stone formations. There is a lovely winery, Moraitis, which is a 5 minute walk from Stelia Mare our wonderful romantic affordable boutique hotel. From our hotel we would scamper down marble steps passed the always present cats to the waterfront. We took the ferry back to Athens and enjoyed our 2 days there with great museums and ruins. There are some fun evening roof top bars with views of the lite Acropolis that would be twice the price in the US. Greek people are nice and food and prices good. We also went to Hydra and Naplio but that requires more time and effort. We have been to Santorini before which could be romantic but it was swarming with people and we were happy to leave. One thought if you can visit early September it will not be as crowded, hot or expensive although with Pandemic I don't know. We plan to return 2022 and add Milos and Sifnos .

Posted by
2901 posts

I've been to greece 13 times since 1999, the most recent in May 2019... and have planned literally hundreds of trips for newcomers. You have received some good advice on this thread (which I can't refer to unless I open another browser window, because when one hits 'reply" all previous postings disappear ... grrrr). However, I can give you the basic 10-day recommendation I have for newbies ... especially going in high season.

• LOGISTICS are all-important, and not over-scheduling. Remember it always takes longer to transfer from 1 place to another -- minimum of a half-day. So your max would be 2 short-stop islands, one longer, plus 2-3 days in Athens... and you'll need to fly mostly, just 1-2 ferries.

• TIMING - July is worst timing - hottest month, biggest crowds, highest prices. Unless the adults are required to work 5-day week, It would be smart to fly on WED night or THURSDAY... thus arriving next AM on a Weekday morning not Saturday, which will be overcrowded. It will also get you a (somewhat) cheaper domestic flight. Example itinerary for Thursday July 8 thru Sun July 18 AM.

• JULY 8 - fly CHI to either NY, Newark, PHL or Montreal ... for the only 4 nonstop flights (Delta, UAR, AA and CanadaAir) to Greece. Reason? Shortest trip (9-10 hrs in air); also they all land next day between 9 AM - 10:30AM... this allows you to get a noonish flight to y our first island. IF you take a flight with requires a change in Europe, y ou'll encounter delays, and none will reach Athens befor mid-afternoon even if on time, & hard to get to your first island until dark. When your trip is SO short, ever hour counts. BTW, all the airfares are much the same & since u are in Chi, Canada Air is the best of the 4 economy choices.

DAY 1 (JUly 9) On Arrival, hustle to pick up bags get Euros at ATM & go to Domestic check-in (aegean is best. ISLAND #1 - SANTORINI. Why? Because it has the MOST flights, and is a ferrry "switchboard"... ferries from here to almost all other Cycladic Isles. I recommend staying on Caldera Side (best location - Firostephani). Enjoy sunset at resstaurant in Firat Town.
DAY 2 - Early AM to Oia before tour crowds arrive, then vist rest of Island. Don't bother with beaches (black grit)
DAY 3 (july 11)- Morning ferry to yr 2nd island choice -- NAXOS is ideal.. SO mch to do/see, not mobbed because no cruise ships or jumbo-jets for package tours. Hike, swim, drive thru mountains, visit ancient ruins eetc. its worth 4 days. I recommend staying at Plaka Beach, using frequent local busses to explore port town. Rent a car 1-2 days.
DAY ? if you MUST see another Island, ferry Wed AM to ANTIPAROS. it's ideal, in high season can't get overcrowded... and it's just offshore from Paros, so you explore its port-town of Parikia, then back to peaceful beach on ANTi-P for sleeps. But maybe u wold like to do a day-sailboat trip to ANtiparos, & get back to Naxos for a final sunset.
DAY 7 (Jly 15) - from NAXOS or PAROS airport fly AM to ATHENS, (45 mins); taxi to Plaka area flat-rate around €40. Stay in this hisstoric area, away from big streets, you'll walk everywhere. (Hotel Hera, Phillipos etc is very handy on S side of Acropolis. In late afternoon, tour crowds are gone from Acropolis, light is golden, photo-taking great.
DAY 8-9 Explore the wonders of Athens! Rick Steve website has great tours, also step-by-step FREE downloadable audio guide to Acropolis, Agora, AND the Famou Arch Museum. Study his website borrow guides from Library ... Prepare Prepare -- it will enhance your experience in Athens AND islands.
DAY 10 - off to Airport! Please do NOT book departure at 6 AM... u need to be in line 2 hrs ahaed, trip to airport is 1 hr; you'd have to leave hotel 3 AM - it would ruin your last night. Plenty of flights 10 & 11 get u to US by 4pm, home to chi by dark.

Posted by
2901 posts

A PS to my logistics-heavy advice -- once you've chosen your flights to/from Greece, be very clear about your priorities in other reservations. TOP PRIORITY -- Domestic Air Reservations FIRST. You can always find a substitute hotel.. you can't find an extra plane. #1 priority - outbound flight to first Iland. #2 - Inbound flight back to Athens. #3 Santorini reservation (and as noted I rrecommend Firostephani on the caldera... easy walk to fira, easy bus to/from Oia, bypassed by tour groups & cruise crowds, so it's serene day & nite. #4 Athens hotel ... on sites like Booking.com you can reserve with free cancellation up to 2 weeks before, so no-risk. Do NOT book non-refund hotels before you have logistic nailed down. #5 Naxos hotels.. plenty to choose from... but do not tarry. As for ferries, a few days ahead is fine, pick up ticket at island agencies.

Posted by
3477 posts

Kim L,
Just wanted to give a shout out to Janet who was our go to when planning our Greece journey in 2017. Her knowledge was spot on. We are eternally grateful!!

Posted by
84 posts

Thank you to everyone for all of your information. It seems each post brings new information that I can research and use.

@janis. - You are spot on about @janet! Wow!!! If you are not in the travel industry, you should be! You are SO detailed!
Thank you again!
Kim

Posted by
3477 posts

Kim L,
Thanks for your response. I had inadvertently addressed another poster, I edited! It was meant for you. It was another posting about Greece! Yes, Janet is the best!

Posted by
2901 posts

Thanks for the compliment Kim, but I'm not in the industry... I'm just a retired editor/communications t ype who fell in love with Greece at age 17 -- and longed to go there for more than 40 years before finally making it. In the decades in between, I learned a lot, which made my first month-long trip SO rewarding, I knew I had to return.... and I have, for 12 additional extended visits... on 9 of them taking along 2-3 "travel pals" who were newcomers. Of course, they wanted to make the Major Stops -- but on each trip I had a week on my own at the end, to explore new islands & mainland sites -- I've been to more than 25 isles and nearly a dozen mainland destinations, many of them multiple times. These days, I can travel vicariously, just by using my hard-won experience to help newbies get the best possible experience.

My main objective is to help these people to avoid pitfalls -- either spending too much time or too much money on places or experiences that aren't worth it ... in order to enjoy the best Greece has to offer, in the best circumstances . I'm no help at all to people who want only to loll in 5-star luxe spa settings, or to people who are willing to be surrounded by Americans on tour busses, with cliche-spouting tour directors, rather than doing any advance homework on their own. Not that I'm against tours, not at all-- with short stays, targeted tours in Athens and individual sites can be very worthwhile (If u can afford them) .. I'm just not a big fan of total packages, where u never get away from the "pack" and interact with the wonderful locals. As I wrote after my first trip, I went because of the amazing history and culture of ancient Greece -- and my glorious new discovery was the vibrant fascinating Greeks of today.

Posted by
2 posts

Janet (and all) - we are thinking about doing a trip to Greece this summer as well, and this has been very eye-opening and informative. We will be 5 - 2 parents and 3 adult children (18, 20 and 20). We were thinking about 10 days, split between Athens and islands. Sounds like the best plan would be to go directly to the islands for the first half of the trip, then end in Athens. Does that seem right? And sounds like Naxos may be the place to spend most of the time in the islands. Any insights would be appreciated! Thanks!

Posted by
8007 posts

I can’t imagine being on Santorini for five nights. See the view and Akrotiri and leave for a more Greek experience rather than a mob of international tourists..
Mykonos- we stayed in a lovely resort and there wasn’t any big party scene at all. Look at Paros snd Naxos and beautiful Napflion. on the Peloponnesian Prninsula. There are so many better places to visit in Greece than Santorini.
Why do you want five nights on Santorini?
Naxos and Paros are wonderful.

Posted by
84 posts

Thank you everyone SO much for all of your fantastic information. For now, I am going to turn off commenting so I can try to absorb all of your info.

Thanks again!

Posted by
2901 posts

to dwhall-- yes, with your cruelly short stay pllans, it's best to jump right off your arrival plane and run over to connect to the soonset possible domestic flight to NAXOS. While on Naxos, you should be able to do a day-excursion to Santorin if you MUST. then fly back to ATHENS, stay as close as possible to the Acropolis, because everything worthwhile is within walking distance, and many of the sites are surrounded by no-car lanes, so cars & taxis are a bother anyway.

This is all just an assumption -- how do you know that you evn can GO to Greece this summer?? My friends in Athens are right now in a renewed lock-down because of a Covid-19 surge. Would it not be wise to wait until summer 2022 & not run the risk of a cancellation at worst, or even going somewhere that's on lockdown so the evenings are a washout??

Posted by
2 posts

Janet: That is my fear, which is why I'd only book places where we could cancel with about a month's notice. Not sure we could get all the kids together next summer. I do kind of hate the idea of having to get off a long flight and immediately rush to another flight to Naxos. Contemplating starting in Athens, then Naxos, then spend the last night back in Athens. Thoughts?

Posted by
2901 posts

Answering DWHALL2 -- and from now on, we hope to advise you on your own thread. When you "piggyback" on someone else's thread, as you have with Kim L, It may be confusing to her and her responders. Besides that, DW, people who may have good advice for YOU may not even see your queries, because Kim's headline doesn't interest them so they'll skip this thread entirely. I hope you will to start your own thread. When you do, be Very specific - as to dates, exact # of days you'll be IN GReece -- not the to/from days. (It's also good to do some homework on islands that interest you and not count on forum contributors to provide all the facts. What we do best is to help you choose among places you have learned something about).

Now: regarding qualms about Arrival Day and connecting immediately with a short (40 minute) island flight -- we "old hands" find ourselves explaining why, over and over. I've done it 3 times so far this week. Believe me, we've learned from experience, we want you to benefit from our hard-earned knowledge. Here are the main reasons -- there are others:

• You'll be exhausted at arrival, in no state to cope with a bustling international Capital ... things will literally pass in a blur..
• It's much easier/more fun to recover & revitalize in the slower-paced, relaxing ambience of a beautiful island
• Going into Athens TWICE is very time-inefficient; with your cruelly short stay, every single hour counts.
• Island-first sequence much more efficient. If you land in AM & can get a noonish plane, by 3 pm, you're lying on a beach!
• After a week in Greece, you'll be more attuned to Greek ways, know how to navigate in Athens much more smoothly
• Very importantly, after even a few days immersion in Greece and its ancient culture, the world -famous Athens landmarks and stunning museum treasures will resonate SO much more, and you'll truly appreciate them.

Posted by
2951 posts

Santorini will always be my go-to island. Don't let anyone discourage you from going there. My suggestion is you fly directly out to whichever island offers the most convenient connection departure time at the Athens Airport, since you'll be pretty tired and won't want to sit around any longer than you have to. Waking up with jet lag on a Greek island is so much nicer than waking up in Athens. Allow a minimum of 1.5-2 hours to make that connection. You can save some time by downloading your boarding passes to your first island. And if you limit yourselves to carry-on bags only it will be that much faster. Then take a ferry to your 2nd island. I recommend Naxos, Paros or Ios, since they're all close by to Santorini by sea. Paros is great because you can easily take a daytrip to nearby Antiparos. Then fly or ferry back to Athens for your last days.

Posted by
1022 posts

I am way late on on this thread but if you are still considering another island after Santorini Naxos would be my choice. Here is why.
Naxos town https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632094558042
Trip around Naxos https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157634605629689

Naxos 2019 https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157711294807761

Oh yes I forgot.
Santorini is expensive and touristy but I think its a must see.
Santorini https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632154800782

Posted by
84 posts

@stanbr
Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos!!!

Posted by
1022 posts

Thank you for your kind words. Greece and its people are wonderful.

Posted by
15 posts

You don't need to be a parter to enjoy Mykonos, but honestly it does help. There are other things to do on the island, and not every beach is saturated with those looking for a party. However, if you are looking for a different, unique experience with some great opportunities for photography, Mykonos may not be the best choice. How about Santorini or even Crete? I know that Crete is further away from Athens, but there is so much going on there, you will never run out of things to do or to photograph.

Posted by
67 posts

The suggestion has been made several times to get out of Athens immediately after landing to an island of your choice.....
Questions regarding getting to Hydra to recover from jet lag from long trip from West Coast
1- can you fly to Hydra ?
2- is there enough time to make a ferry after landing in Athens?
3- how long is the ferry?
4- do you book and reserve ferry ticket in advance of the trip?