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Greece Itinerary thoughts and Santorini too 'touristy'?

Greetings all!

I am trying to plan a last minute trip to Greece for myself and my husband, and I find myself going around in circles!

Our dates are September 30th to October 10th. We are both in our early 50's and don't care about nightlife (although it would be great to hear some traditional music) love natural beauty, quirky, off the beaten path, old crumbling ruins, quaint villages, swimming, - dislike crowds and big cities -but I have to admit we also like some degree of comfort- but do not need anything posh or fussy.

I am thinking - fly into Athens Friday (see Acropolis) Then rent a car and do two day trip to Delphi and Meterora (bucket list item of mine) Then Monday go to Milos, then two days Santorini.

I have many questions about the latter part of the trip. Will it be warm enough to swim in Milos and do a boat trip around the island (will winds be a problem?)

Will Santorini be too crowded and too much of a tourist trap? I was there 30 years ago - my husband has never been. We really don't know if we should do a different island (Fologandros perhaps) or just put up with crowds for two days.

We had also considered touring the Peloponnese - but are thinking we should return and do this when we have more time.

On a side note - I understand that Greece has more stray and feral cats than any place in the world. As an animal lover (and long time volunteer with animal rescues) I think I might have a hard time seeing many cats and kittens if they are in a very bad way (going hungry, injured etc) I am wondering if anyone had any thoughts or observations here.

Thank you so very much for any advice or input here!!!

Posted by
32 posts

We just left Santorini and were able to miss a lot of the crowds by staying in Firostefani (thank you, Janet). The sunsets are beautiful snd worth seeing if you haven’t been here before. We spent 3 nights and really enjoyed it.

A lot of people in this group will tell you to arrive in Athens, then immediately connect to a flight to the islands and then see Athens at the end of the trip. We’re glad we listened to that advice. Very easy to do and retuning to Athens for a few days at end makes it easier and you won’t risk getting delayed returning to Athens right before your international flight home.

Finally, there are a lot of cats in Athens. They appear to be okay, even if a bit skinny, and it seems like many were being fed, so it’s not upsetting.

Posted by
1109 posts

To make the most of your time, I also agree with the previous suggestion to fly to your first island immediately upon arriving in Athens. The average water temperature in Milos in October is 72 degrees. From Milos. you can take a ferry to Fologandros.
You wrote that you “dislike crowds”. Santorini, which can see more than 2 million visitors in a year, has a population of 15,000. The town nearest where the cruise ships dock, Thira (Fira), only has 1800 residents. So on days when 4-5 cruise ships with more than 10 x the entire population of Thira are in port— Thira might not be the place to be for you. If you do choose to go to Santorini. you can check and schedule your visit for days with the least number of cruise ships. But since Milos and Fologandros are on your radar, I think you might find Santorini less to your liking. Speedboats and ferries between Milos and Folegandros take between 1-2 hours.
Your concern for the feral cats is understood by any animal-loving person. I found the street cats and dogs concerning while in Turkey and Greece recently. But I found the people in the neighborhoods were putting water and food out for them and, remarkably, I never saw one injured ( or worse) by the roadsides. It is not an optimal situation but likely not as bad as you might fear.
The drive from Athens to Delphi is about 2 hours; Delphi to Meteora takes 3 hours. The drive back to Athens takes 4 hours. You might want 3 nights for those two destinations if you keep them in the plan.
By saving them until the end of your trip, you can stay in Athens the final night or two before returning home.
You can check for schedules between islands and for flights.
Have a great Trip!

Posted by
10323 posts

Only one night in Athens, and you will only visit the Acropolis?
I am not a fan of Santorini but it is a must see for a first trip to Greece.
The Peloponnesean Peninsula deserves a week at a minimum.
Cats: We had cats sitting on the walls of the rear garden of a house we rented in Crete for two weeks and we never fed nor paid attention to them . They never realized we are not fans of stray cats! This drove my spouse nuts; I chose to ignore them and said they were his. In Turkey it was stray dogs. I feared they all carried diseases.

Posted by
2251 posts

We loved Santorini and stayed 3 nights in Firostani before flying to the mainland to meet our tour. It was mid October, the weather was perfect and there were no crowds until the day we visited Oia! About the cats (and dogs)…..On the island of Hydra, where we stayed at the end of our tour, one of our favorite things to do was walk down to the harbor to join the gathering of (I swear) every cat and kitten that lived on the island to watch and wait for the fishing boats arrival. It was a joy watching the cats waiting for the breakfast they knew would come from the fishermen. The cats on that particular island were well cared for by the folks who lived there besides receiving a fish breakfast every morning. That said, overall I have never seen as many stray dogs and cats anywhere I’ve traveled as I saw in Greece. I have two adopted English Setters that were rescued by an American based rescue from two different places in Greece. One was just found roaming the hills and the other was hit by a car and found injured but alive on the side of the road. This is just my own experience with dogs and cats in Greece. That said, we loved Greece and would go back in a heartbeat.

Posted by
2 posts

Wow - thank you everyone - this has already been incredibly helpful! We will definitely plan to go straight to Milos/islands as suggested - We would just have to time this right. So just go straight from the airport to the ferry terminal? Or stay overnight in Athens just to catch our breath?

Then maybe at the end a day trip from Athens to Hydra if we have the energy and time.....

Posted by
4079 posts

Eat at an outside restaurant and feed the cats that show up, although some locals might not like it.

Posted by
3257 posts

As AMAnn said, don't even leave the airport --- allow a 2 hr layover interval, and get on a FLIGHT to one of your MUST islands. I just looked at your dates --- on Arrival in ATH you should find the first convenient FRIDAY flight (on either Aegean or Sky Express) and Fly striaght to SANTORINI Why? Because of aforementioned huge crowds -- you will arrive Fri in ATH and Sat-Sun are days when there are Fewest Cruise ships in Santorini. ALSO -- because there are more flights scheduled to Santorini .. oft only 2-3 daily to to Milos.

Thus: FRI SAT & SUN NIghts on Santorini (DO try to stay FIROSTEPHANI or IMERVOGLI... in latter you may have to rent car, not former). THEN take ferry (2 hrs) AM monday to MILOS for 2 days... THEN fly back to ATH ... I hope you are not still trying to cram METEORA & DELPHI into 10 days ... as my Mother used to say, you can't pour a quart into a pint bottle.

Don't carve out a day at the end just to get to Hydra. It is OVER promoted by the Steves tours -- partily because they only do mainland tours, and for customers who want to see one island, they "tack on" Hydra because one can ferry from Athens. It has a lovely harbor... but then? No beaches really, you swim off rocks. No vehicles... do you really want donkey rides, looking at walls that guard the view of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous? Instead, add that day for Milos which has 22 great beaches (you'll need to rent a car).

Posted by
1354 posts

If your concern is to avoid crowds of tourists, don't go to Santorini.

Since you mentioned Folegandros, it is an island that is almost the opposite of Santorini in terms of tourist numbers. Santorini is an island for "customers", Folegandros an island for "travellers".
In a month it must receive as many visitors as Santorini in a single day
The main advantage of Folegandros is that it has no airport ans is poorly served by ferries (one and sometimes two per day from Piraeus and the ferry trip is rather long, 5 to 10 hours depending on the ferry).
But if you are interested I know someone who rents a family house there by the sea and near the port of Karavostasis.

As I don't think Folegandros will be your choice, go to Milos. It's easier to access. There is an airport and ferries are more frequent.
Take a flight. The day of your arrival
On September 30 there are two flights to Milos in the afternoon, an Olympic/Aegean and a Sky Express.

The capital of Milos, Adamantas is not super pretty but there are beautiful places (the village of Plaka is nice) and nice beaches with sometimes lunar landscapes. The whole western half of Milos is practically uninhabited, it is a protected area but you can go there by car (rental companies often impose a 4 wheel drive because of the poor quality of the roads)

About cats. You will see hundreds of them. In general they don't starve, the inhabitants take care of them and so do associations , (or they search in the trash cans) but it is true that it is sometimes a problem.
For my girlfriend, leaving them is the main problem. I have to say that in Greece we live in houses and as soon as we arrive they all come running to get something to eat. So we go shopping to feed them..
Two years ago, after 5 days we had between 15 and 18 cats to feed...
They take up all the space on the chairs on the terraces, a few more years and they will eat better than me. :))

Posted by
25529 posts

I have read that it is not the Greek custom to have a housecat. You may have one or more cats you consider yours, but they will be outdoor cats. So some of the cat you see have families who look after them, as well as the community support.

There is a lovely, lyrical movie about Istanbul's street cats. I think the title is "Kedi". It used to be available on Kanopy.