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Greece May 27-June 6? 2019 - Family Travel

Dear Frequent Greece Posters,

My husband, my parents, my 2 daughters (16, 13) and I are planning a trip to Greece next summer - around Memorial Day - for about 11-12 days. I have been reading all posts and trying to sort through an itinerary that would appeal to everyone, and include some ruins, some vistas and probably in more luxury accommodations (my parents will be married 50 years ). Yes, it's a lot to combine.

Sunday, 5/26: MIA-PHL-ATH
Mon, 5/27: Arrive in Athens 9:15am / Car to Porto Heli
5/27-5/30 (3 nights): Porto Heli (day trips to Nafplio, Epidaurus, Spetses or Hydra)
Thurs, 5/30: Car back to Athens and Fly to Santorini
5/30-6/2 (3 nights): Santorini
Sun, 6/2: Ferry to nearby Cyclades island (? Mykonos, Paros, Naxos)
6/2-6/5 (3 nights): Other island
Wed, 6/5: Fly back to Athens
6/5-6/6 (1 night): Athens sightseeing
Thurs, 6/6: ATH-PHL-MIA

With this itinerary, my questions are
1) what is the easiest way to get to Porto Heli from Athens? I am concerned about the drive being mountainous / treacherous as my younger daughter gets motion sickness? And that being so, is there an area in the Peloponnese that is easy to access by car?

2) If we do not do a few days in the Peloponnese, where do I fill the time? Can I just do islands?
Crete was the other option, but from previous forum posts, it sounds like you need a week just in Crete.

3) Why are Paros and Naxos preferable to Mykonos?

Thank you for all answers.

Posted by
681 posts

I went to Greece the same time this year as you are going next year. Paros happened to be our favorite island. Mykonos was very crowded and touristy, I felt Paros gave us what we wanted a little bit of everything. Can't comment about Naxos as we did not go there. We did not do the Peloponnese but used the ferry system for island hopping which was great. Good luck in planning and enjoy!

Posted by
193 posts

I too was in Greece almost the same dates as you this year May 28-June 5th. We arrived in Athens, spent two nights there. Flew to Paros (half hour flight) due to ferry strike. Worked out well since the ferry would have been a four and a half hour trip via Blue Star ferry. We were able to book on Olympia for only 20 bucks more a ticket vs the ferry. Loved Paros! I just read it is the number one island to visit in 2018 by Travel and Leisure magazine. Beautiful villages and beaches. We stayed in an Airbnb in Parikia which had lots of shops and restaurants in a quaint Greek setting. Spent three nights there. Next ferry ride to Santorini via Blue Star to spend three nights there. We chose to stay in Firostefani which was a 10 minute walk to Fira to avoid the crowds. Highly recommend the sunset cruise on Sunset Oia boat tours. Well run, good food and visited beaches not accessible by car. Flew from Santorini to Madrid then on to US without having to return to Athens.

Posted by
193 posts

We ruled out Mykonos as it is known as an all night party island and that didn't suit us.

Posted by
2492 posts

We went to Greece this same time this year with a family group as well--my husband and I, his brother, our three children and our daughter's husband (younger generation aged 21-31). There was very little I would have changed about our trip and I had many of the same challenges of planning for a variety of interests. You may have the additional challenge of less endurance for your parents.

We flew to Athens, then Santorini (3 nights), ferried to Naxos (4 nights), flew back to Athens, and rented a car. Drove to Nafplio (4 nights), drove back to Athens, took bus into city (3 nights), flew out of Athens back to U.S. We stayed 14 nights and you are talking 10.

I posted a trip report under trip reports if you want more information about what we did. But a few comments.

  1. You are trying to go to four places in 10 days. It is too much. Our pace was about right for us and we did n't have parents with us. It takes much longer than you think to move from one place to another--a half day to 3/4 of day each time. I would delete one place
    or stay longer.

  2. It is an hour from the airport into Athens. You will end up with a 1/2 day in Athens even with a late morning flight (we flew out of Naxos at 11 but there is a 8 something flight I think if you want to get a group moving that quickly-I did not.) I would either spend more time in Athens or take a late day flight to Athens and stay near airport. Save Athens for another trip.

  3. We flew directly to Santorini the day we arrived. I thought it worked well and in my mind was easier than making our way to the Peloponnese. It is mostly the view which is easy on a jet lagged body. We had a car service pick us up at the airport. We stayed in Oia which would have required two buses which noone was up to after three flights (two to Athens, and one to Santorini).

  4. I would not go to both Santorini and Mykonos. They are the most touristed and expensive islands. I also did not want Mykonos because it is a party island and I wasn't about to take my 20 something sons there. I would go to Naxos or Paros instead of Mykonos. We loved Naxos. We were there four nights and more than anywhere else, we wished we would have had more time. There are both beaches and mountains there.

  5. I would take staying in Nafplio over Porto Heli but maybe you want the resort setting for your parents. Nafplio is a charming town to just wander in and your children at least would love climbing the 999 steps to the fortress. We all did it and it was some of our group's favorite activity. I haven't been to Porto Heli but the driving we did in the Peloponnese was not mountainous. If your daughter is prone to motions sickness, I would bring Dramamine from home. My daughter got sick on a ferry. They did not sell anything on board.

If you have only 10 nights:

  1. Santorini 3 nights
  2. Naxos or Paros 4 or 5 nights
  3. Athens 2 or 3 nights

OR

  1. Santorini 3 nights
  2. Peloponese 4 nights
  3. Athens 3 nights

OR
1. Santorini 3 nights
2. Naxos 4 nights
3. Paros 2 nights
4. Athen 1 night by airport

Paros and Naxos are very close to each other. You can see Paros from Naxos so not as far to travel. But honestly, I couldn't imagine spending any less time than we did on Naxos, although those who have been to Paros might feel the same way.

Beth

Posted by
172 posts

Please reconsider driving to Porto Heli. Everyone will be jet lagged, you will need a large car for 5 people plus luggage, and Greek roads are narrow, confusing, and often congested. I would let someone else do the work. Put everyone in a comfortable taxi at the airport and go directly to the ferry terminals at Piraeus where you board a boat to Hydra. No advanced reservation needed and the scenery is beautiful. The girls will love Hydra, it’s full of donkeys and cats, no cars. Also excellent traditional Greek restaurants.

From Hydra you can day trip to Spetses, Poros or even Epidaurus. You could easily spend two nice days in Hydra and do one day trip. The Greek Islands are for relaxing.

Posted by
11136 posts

Why Porto Heli? Napflio is a better chlice, one of the the lovliest places in Greece. We went to Spetses for a day from there which we enjoyed.

Posted by
2492 posts

I just thought I would tell you that you will need a van for 6 people or two smaller cars. We initially reserved a van but after driving two cars on the islands, changed our reservation to two cars for the Peloponnese. Both my husband and I drove a car. The tollway out of Athens is wide enough but in towns the roads are narrow and although everyone only had one small suitcase, it was going to be dicey to get all the luggage in a van.

It can be challenging to stay together on the toll roads and we had some adventures because of that. I actually thought it was much easier on the back roads because you could pull over if you got separated.

I wouldn't want to do that jet lagged.

Beth

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for your prompt and helpful replies.

Nancy and rmk1121
Appreciate the input on Paros. We are passing on Mykonos.

Beth goodorf
We are flying from Athens to Santorini. My mom (btw she is super cute and young for 70!) agrees we will enjoy recuperating from jetlag there and seeing the vistas.
We are adding days at the end to go to Nafplio and stay longer in Athens before we leave.

Suki
We are dropping Porto Heli and going to Nafplio.

I just got to reworking the itinerary.

Arrive Athens 9:15am
Fly to Santorini
3 or 4 nights

Ferry to Paros (I think but will poll the family and decide between this and Naxos)
3 or 4 nights

Fly back to Athens
Car to Nafplio
1 or 2 nights

Athens
2 nights
then home

Posted by
2492 posts

I would spend 3 not 4 nights in santorini. We did similar to what you are proposing and found 3 nights to be adequate. We of course could have spent more time but I think you will appreciate the extra day more in Naxos/Paros or nafplio than santorini. My kids who loved santorini said “Naxos is even better!”

Beth

Posted by
3317 posts

Totally agree with beth/goodorf - Helped plan her trip & now bask in the satisfaction expressed. Also agree on "tweaking" time spent in each place. Have helped many families, & also am yr parents' generation so can speak for both. My "tweaks", based on enjoyment of all parties involved:

• SANTORINI - drop 1 night, add to next island. Get car service from airport. Stay in FIROSTEPHANI . .. it's walkable to Fira Town, so if your daughters want to do a bit of shopping & the 4 grownups want to head back, you don't need to coordinate transport. OIA - catch EARLY bus (8:30?), see it before Cruise Mobs invade, then Scram! Avoid Oia Sunsets! (= Times Square Rush Hour)... yr hotel will advise best local spots for dining + sunsets; I like Aktaion in Firostephani and terrace roof of Stani in FIra town- book ahead; great prices & authentic food. Ruins? ( AKrotiri or Ancient Fira) Do them after you flee Oia... Take bus there, have phone # for taxi(s) to return. Skip beach-time (it's black grit); save swim-time for Isle#2 and/or Nafplio area.
• NAXOS or PAROS - Naxos best for multi-gen family because St. George beach is directly adjacent to town; some can swim, some can do museums, shops etc, walkable. V. Safe family isle for girls to be semi-independent, wit cell-phone to check up with. Good bus system for outer beaches, Then u can do half-day or all-day island tour (latter has a lunchtime swim-break) ... OR, by booking ahead, u can get minivan for a D-I-Y swoop around island (hillside villages! marble mountain!huge ancient statues!).
• NAFPLIO - 2 nights PLEASE ... SO much for family to enjoy: check this NONcommercial site - http://www.visitnafplio.com - great town; whole family will love view f rom Atop Akronafplio... for Palamidi a 3part strategy: (1) whole family drive up back road for FAB view from parapets (2) One parent + kids goes DOWN the 999 steps (3) The others drive to nice cafe by waterfall at foot of steps & enjoy beverages while waiting... for a swim, town beach is fun. With a car, enroute to Nafplio you can stop 1 hour at NEMEA (runner-up to Olympia) & give kids the thrill of racing in ancient stadium. Returning to ATH area, u can stop at EPidaurus en route, thus avoiding backtracking.
• HYDRA - don't be tempted... fine for people who don't want to do anything, or swim. That's not your group.

Posted by
3 posts

Hi again,

I just showed your input to my family and we are weighing in on Paros or Naxos.

Now, we have it firmed up

Santorini 3 nights
Paros or Naxos 4 nights
Nafplio 2 nights
Athens 2 nights

Any recommendations for hotels in Paros / Naxos / Nafplio?

Thank you:)

Posted by
1368 posts

Both Naxos or Paros are good choices and you can't go wrong with either one. Our favourite is Naxos but we are regular visitors to Paros too.
Janet has suggested St George beach are of Naxos. This is also where we stay. St George is part of Naxos town so you get a beach vacation with all the amenities and activities of the town just a 10 minute stroll along the waterfront into Naxos town. In town you can access the local bus system KTEL and can do trips up int the mountain villages.
I have an album of hotels we have visited at St george. Many are small family run studios and some are high end luxury ones. Choice or recommendations depends on your wants and needs.
St George Beach Hotels Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632162394787/
Perhaps this will help your family decide.
Naxos Mountains and Villages http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632110674306/
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/