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Greece in Septemer 2016

Hello! I really need help with my itinerary! I am half Greek (mother born there 99 years ago!) and want to connect to my heritage. Three friends are coming along. We are all in our 60s but physically like 40s so no problems with mobility problems! My birthday is in September so I really want to celebrate in Greece. As you will see by the tentative itinerary, I fly in and out of Athens. I was told to go straight to Mykonos and work my way back to Athens at the end but please revise if you feel it is necessary. I have no idea about transportation--what to take and how much it is. I also wanted to spend more time around Athens--doing day trips but I have no idea how far places are from each other or what order they should be in.
Day 1 - Fly into Athens and then fly directly to Mykonos
Day 2 - Mykonos
Day 3 - Mykonos
Day 4 - Mykonos to Naxos
Day 5 - Naxos
Day 6 - Naxos to Santorini
Days 7, 8 and 9 - Santorini
Day 10 - Santorini to Athens
Day 11 - Athens (I would like to do day trips while in Athens but I really want to see all the major historical sites
Day 12 - Athens while in Athens itself.)
Day 13 - Athens
Day 14 - Athens
Day 15 - Athens
Day 16 - Fly home to Florida
Thank you so much for any help you can give me.

Posted by
975 posts

September will be a fine time to be in Greece. It's just after the High Season so prices will be lower, the weather still very nice and less tourists. However, Mykonos & Santorini are two of the most heavily touristed and expensive of the Greek Islands. While both are visually stunning you may want to consider some more "real" Greek Islands. Naxos is very nice, one of the best of the Greek Islands with an excellent combination of Old & New World Greece. Sifnos & Milos are still Greek and more family friendly. Islands like Amorgos, Astypalea, Skyros, Lemnos, Thassos, Kythira and several other less touristy islands are also worthy of a visit. If you like the buzz and crowds then Santorini & Mykonos will be OK but if you want a more authentic Greek Island experience then I recommend some of the ones I mentioned.

As for Athens, I think it's a worth a few days to see some of the best World-Class Archeological sites and museums anywhere. There is the Plaka, Monistiraki Sq., Psiri District, the Central Markets on Athinas St., Changing of the Guards, the Greek "Island" of Anafiotika on the North Side of the Acropolis, and numerous tavernas serving real Greek food. Some people feel Athens isn't worth a visit but I disagree. We just returned from Greece and even though we have been to Athens many times we always make sure we spend a few days there.

Check out Matt's Greek Guide on the web for one of the best websites for anything and everything about Greece.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you all for the great advice. I have made some revisions to the locations I want to go--staying closer to Athens and visiting some of the less traveled islands. I want to meet the locals and do things that tourists don't normally do and I want to enjoy the pace--not rushing from one place to another! Again, thanks!

Posted by
5723 posts

Avoid Santorini would be my advice unless you like being over-run every day with cruise liners pulling in. Three islands in 9 days is too much time transferring.

The Pelion is one of the nicest parts of mainland Greece IMO but is best visited with a car, c 4 hours from Athens. However, if you are going mid to late September, the weather can be changeable, so I would head as far south as possible. Crete is a good option and there is plenty here to occupy you for 2 weeks or more.

Posted by
2951 posts

Hi Drshtraub-

On average, the Louvre in Paris saw over 25000 visitors a day pass through its doors in 2014. That's one museum. Consider how many tourists must have passed through Paris last year. By comparison, in 2014 Santorini's arrivals by air during the summer season (May through October) was 310,433. For the sake of argument, If you add to that the exact same count for arrivals by ferry, and again for arrivals by cruise ship (both figures I'm sure being much higher than the actual true number), you get a statistical figure of just over 5100 visitors/day for May through October. That doesn't seem like so many to me. It just seems that way because the villages are small and everyone wants to experience them as well as the jaw-dropping views. Don't let yourself be deterred from visiting one of the most amazing islands in the world.

Posted by
1856 posts

Hi,

You have too many days in Athens.

Here is the trip we did.

  1. Fly to Athens (stay in Plaka)
  2. Athens
  3. Athens
  4. Fly to Santorini (stay in Oia - less touristy and more relaxing)
  5. Santorini
  6. Santorini (day trip to Fira - we walked there and took the bus back)
  7. Fly back to Athens airport, pick up rental car and drive to Meteora (6 hour drive but worth it to see Meteora)
  8. Meteora
  9. Meteora
  10. Drive to Delphi
  11. Delphi
  12. Drive to Napflio (love Napflio)
  13. Napflio (day trip to Corinth and Agrocorinth)
  14. Napflio (Palamidi fortress in Napflio and Epidaurus)
  15. Napflio (day trip to Mycenae)
  16. Home

This was one of our favorite trips to Europe and very relaxing and unrushed. We would do it again in a heartbeat.

Posted by
14 posts

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for your advice but I have to go to Santorini. I have already fallen in love with it and I'm not even there. It looks so beautiful--totally charming. It's not that I don't want to take your advice but there are some things I don't want to change in my agenda and Santorini is one of them. I don't mind the crowds and September is better than mid summer so it shouldn't be too bad. Thanks a lot for your other advice!
Sandra

Posted by
14 posts

Hey Tommy!
Thank you for the suggestions you made on where to go! I have added them to my list!
Sandra

Posted by
14 posts

Lee,
Please read my note to Jennifer! I would never give up Santorini! Besides going to Athens to see where my mother was born, Santorini is one of the main reasons I want to visit Greece. I have looked at photos of that island so much that I feel a strong desire to go there. In fact, I can't wait to get there!
Sandra

Posted by
14 posts

Mary!
Thank you! I think you did the final fine tuning! All I need to do now is figure out how much transportation is going to cost me once I arrive in Athens and leave 16 days later. Is it easy to rent a car in Greece? More importantly, is it easy to drive a car in Greece? LOL! I live in Florida but have driven in New York City a hundred times or more so I guess I can handle Greece! How long do I keep the car? What town should I return it to? Will I be taking ferries or just driving?
Thanks, Mary!

Posted by
3657 posts

Your are correct. Santorini is beautiful!!. While there you might want to go to Oia. If you add back Mykonos, a short trip to Delos might be worthwhile to you. Check them our and see what you think.

Posted by
1856 posts

We booked a car and picked it up at the airport after flying back from Santorini. From there we drove to Meteora which is a long drive. You take the highway from the airport and do not go you through Athens. You do not want to drive in Athens. We had no trouble navigating our way with just maps but I think a Garmin type device would be helpful. Driving in Greece is no different from driving here. We had no trouble deciphering the road signs. The drive from Meteora to Delphi and Delphi to Napflio took us through the mountains. Just drive slow and take your time. And watch out for goats in the road. We had the car from Athens airport to Napflio and returned the car at the Athens airport prior to our flight home. No ferries involved. You will love Greece.

Posted by
1856 posts

Re: Meteora

You will want to check online to see which monasteries are open on which days. They are not always open. If there is one in particular that you want to visit, you may need that extra day in Meteora. It took us about 6 hours to get there from the airport because we hit morning rush hour traffic and stopped for lunch along the way.

We loved Santorini. But be sure to stay in Oia and not Fira. Oia has the famous sunset.

Posted by
14 posts

All of you have been so helpful!
From what I'm getting from people, I might be better off flying to Santorini from Athens instead of going by ferry--just to say time. How would I get to Mykonos? Should I fly from Santorini or go to Mykonos first? I'm thinking of doing the land part first and then visiting Santorini, Mykonos and Hydra by boat or flying. Is it expensive to fly from these islands? I wonder if I should check into an island package for these three.

Posted by
2951 posts

Flying from Santorini to Mykonos means returning to Athens for a connecting flight, an expensive option as well as a time-waster. There is a highspeed ferry between these two islands that takes around 3 hours. Check the Hellenic Seaways website. Avoid the HS FlyingCat4 and the SeaJets SuperJet if the seas are rough. They're small and will bob in the water like corks and everyone will get seasick. You can also check the SkyExpress website but I don't know if they'll be offering flights or not.

Posted by
5267 posts

I don't think you can fly to Hydra. There are day boats out of Piraeus, but if you've been to Santorini or another island you may not want to take the time for Hydra. Ditto to what others have said about Nafplion, one of the highlights of our recent trip. Delphi should be an overnight at least, for the sunset/sunrise views as well as giving enough time to the ruins and museum.

We filled four days in Athens, and Rick Steves has modified his previous negative view of the city. Many of the formerly car-choked streets have been pedestrianized, and the new Metro makes it easy to get around beyond walking distance. If you're interested in ancient Greek and/or Byzantine history or art, there are enough ancient sites and good museums to fill several days. (If you're not interested in those things, might as well skip Athens altogether and go lie on a beach somewhere.)

I didn't drive in Greece, someone else did (including Athens, quite an adventure). You should be OK but you do need to drive defensively, and know that people will pass in the middle as described above on major roads.

Posted by
2901 posts

Hydra is always cited by people who live by R Steves words, and it is the only island that his book covers I believe ... because it can be done as a day trip from Athens for those who have no other time for islands (and because there's not much there, it's OK tojust spend a few hours there). If drsh is already planning to spend time on 2 islands she should certainly skip Hydra.