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Greece October 2020

I have been trying to preview the travel forum to find advice and have decided to just try a new topic. My husband and I are traveling next October (2020) to Greece for a special anniversary. We can spend 2 weeks. We want to spend 1 week on Santorini and have already booked the Grace Hotel in Imarovigli. That seems to have been a good choice based on what I have read. So what else?

Fly into Athens first? We are thinking 3 days there will be enough. We aren't big city folks but the history calls us to stay and spend some time. Where else should we go? We both don't particularly like to move around too much thus the week on Santarini. We plan to take a couple of day boat trips while there.

Ferry or flight? I can get a bit sea sick if it's rough on the water.

Look forward to all of your expert opinions! I used this forum for 2 months in Italy and France last year. You guys are absolutely
the best!!

Posted by
26 posts

PS) The Hotel Ava looks great in Athens...smaller boutique hotel which I prefer. Anyone personally stayed there?

Posted by
173 posts

Based on our trip last year, I would highly recommend spending a bit more time in Athens, 3 days to us is way to short. You should for sure do a museum and Acropolis and all the other historical sights, you will not regret as each is unique in it's own way. We did 5 nights in Santorini and it was great, we could have done even 4 and spend an extra day in Mykonos which we did for an entire week. If you do a day trip to Delos early in the Morning you can add in Mykonos and walk around Venice and Mykonos Town, both beautiful. You will need at least a few hours at Delos, so take all the snacks and water needed.

In Santorini do the Fira to Oia hike ( we did Oia to Fira), go down to Ammoudi Bay and walk all the way to the cliffs and watch people jump from the Cliffs, not sure how warm the water will be during that time of the year. Visit Kamari Beach (Black Beach) and Red Beach. Akritori is another thing not to miss. Don't forget the sunset in Oia. There is a cafe with a pool that you can buy drinks and watch the sunset, it's worth it.

We did a stop in Syros and I must say it was sooo beautiful.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you. Are there a lot of 'steps/stairs' on the hike? We love to hike and hopefully since it's a year away there will be improvement but having an SI joint issue right now and steps aren't great but inclines are fine.

Posted by
5635 posts

I would spend at least one more day in Athens as it has so much to see. Hire a tour guide. We also like to stay in one place for a while but I wouldn't spend that much time on Santorini, just a few days, and then choose Naxos, Paros or Crete for your island time.
You will have a much more authentic Greek experience than on over touristed, crowded with cruise ship mobs Santorini. Honestly, we couldn't wait to leave Santorini even though it had beautiful views.
On Crete, stay in beautiful, historic Chania. We liked Naoussa on Paros as well.
Then you could also spend time in lovely Nafplio on the Peoponnesean Peninsula, a two hour drive from Athens. I could easily spend a week there.We did a day trip to the island of Spetses nearby.

Posted by
2284 posts

If it works out with the flights you might want to consider going to Athens last. Fly to Santorini first (you will probably stop in Athens, but just as a layover), then after you are done with Santorini go to Athens. Reason for that is that Santorini seems like a better place to rest off jet lag than Athens! Plus then you are in Athens for an easier flight home.
I would fly, I think it's a long ferry.
In both the above cases, it's not a huge deal - do whatever works best logistically, but if it's close then fly and Athens last would be my suggestion.

I think 3 DAYS in Athens is good, but 3 full days is 4 nights - that would be my suggestion.

Posted by
43 posts

My two friends and I took a wonderful tour of the Peloponnese. We started in Athens onto ancient Mycenae and Corinth, Nafplio then onto Olympia and finally Delphi then back to Athens. We booked the tour through Private Greece Tours. We had a fabulous Driver and the owner Nikos found wonderful tour guides for us, because this has really helped me bring my visit to life.

Posted by
11411 posts

A week in santorini would be too long to me - especially if it’s last two weeks on October when it’s not beach weather as much and a few things will
Start to close down .

I’d do 3-4 days santorini - 4-5 days Naxos , and rest of time on mainland finishing in Athens

Posted by
173 posts

The hike from Fira to Oia or vise versa is about 3 hours, you must be able to climb the little hills and walk on paths that are rocky at times. There are steps, so it really isn't an easy hike. I honestly think an entire week in Santorini is way to long. The ferry from Athens to Santorini is long, if you do the fast ferry's I'm not sure how often they run during that season but the seas can get rough. I think if you are doing Athens last, you should fly to Santorini, it's about an hour long. You can do ferry's between the islands but I'm not sure about their schedule.

Posted by
13930 posts

I just finish planning a trip for next month, 10/6-10/20 on islands, then 3.5 days in Athens. Are you interested in ancient sites and museums? From my research there's very little on Santorini. There is a lot on Crete (you'd need a car to see much of it) and Delos is said to be the best ancient site in the islands. The only way to Delos is a day trip by ferry. In season there are at least 3 companies running day tours from Naxos that combine a few hours there and a few in Mykonos. Only one said they might be offering the tour in October, depending on the volume of tourists and the weather conditions at the end of September. The only way to be sure of going to Delos is to stay on Mykonos, which is party central, not at all what you're looking for, though if you get away from the center with the resort hotels and nightlife, you might find something suitable for a couple of nights.

Next month is a very good time for some detailed planning for daily activities - check for tours and opening hours for October 2019 to know what is likely to be available in October 2020. This is the site for ferry routes, schedules and prices.

I'm planning a (for me) very leisurely pace without doing much except wandering around and enjoying the views and the food. Here's my itinerary:
Chania, Crete 5N
Heraklion, Crete 2N (for archaeology museum and day trip to Knosses), 2-hour ferry to
Firostefani, Santorini 3N, 2-hour ferry to
Naxos 4N, fly to
Athens 3N, red-eye flight home. I've been to Athens before, for about 6 days, so I've got a short list of sights, the only one that's a return visit is the National Archaeology Museum (went twice on my first trip).

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks everyone. I have already booked a week in Santorini so that can't be changed. Regardless, the Grace looks so nice we can just stay there and hang out if there aren't other things to do. I'm also thinking it won't be as crazy in October. I appreciate all your remarks and help!

Posted by
1510 posts

I'll second the suggestion of the Peloponnese. Nafplio is a short drive or bus ride from Athens. Four days would be perfect. Plenty of pleasant nature if you don't want to see the many ancient sites concentrated in the region.
Another "wild card," especially if your joint condition improves as the hiking is wonderful, is the Stemnitsa/Dmitsana area. The scenery is stunning and there are monasteries in a gorge. Just bucolic and beautiful, a popular getaway for Athenians.

Posted by
2416 posts

Cathy, why do you say that you booked a week so it cannot be changed? Did you try to save a few bucks by going for the bottom rate (non-refundable) ?? If so what a pennywise/pound-foolish choice as my old mom used to say... However, if you booked the standard rate just a few Euros more, you can adjust your stay dates up to a month beforehand. Please tell us what the requirements were... frankly book SO far ahead, 13 months! I don't understand why you couldn't reason with the hotel... if there's some wiggle-room, I urge you, don't be a wuss, write and inquire. One reason (which research before booking would reveal) is that there are No day boat trips possible from Santorini, because it's too far from any other islands.... in high season there is a boat that take you to the almost uninhabited (and featureless) island of anafi, but otherwise, nada. Please, I implore you, try to do something about this. You say y ou trust this forum and used it before ... so trust us now, and try to see about shortening that stay to 3-4 days. I just went on booking.com and that hotel shows practically NO availability for most of October. Either they are not using an agency, or they are very full (??!!) and would be pleased to have some nights open up.

Posted by
742 posts

I don't understand why you can't cancel your accommodations on Santorini. You booked WAY ahead of time and most accommodations will accept cancellations. If not, it may not be as good as one would think.

Did you book with a third-party website or directly with the accommodations?

A week on Santorini may be far too long. I haven't been to Santorini and there is a reason why. Even going in October will still have the cruise ship crowds storming the island. Check out this website:

https://greece.greekreporter.com/2019/01/18/european-parliament-warns-greece-tourists-overrunning-santorini/

Most people save Athens for the end of their trip. If possible and/or practical do so.

Athens deserves a minimum of 2 days with 3 days even better. There's more to the city than the usual tourist sites.

Day trips from Santorini may not be practical or even cost-effective.

Lots of other options for islands that are far easier to combine and maybe offer a more "Greek" experience than a tourist experience.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you! I do trust and believe in this forum and all you nice people that take the time to help! I will reach out to the hotel and try to adjust the dates...stay tuned!

Posted by
2416 posts

Good for you, Cathy. And BTW, a tip, don't say anything about we've decided not to spend as much time on Santorini (or, visit more islands), nothing like that --- just something along the lines of your schedule has changed and you're forced to cut your Greece trip short ... don't say why. There should be no reason why a stay cannot be shortened, especially SO far in advance.

Posted by
26 posts

The hotel was very gracious and amended our stay. Frankly I told them it was my ignorance and not enough research that caused my booking a week. So...we are now at 4 nights in Santorini. Yay for the Grace Hotel in Santorini..nice folks.

Posted by
13930 posts

Well done, Janet and Cathy! It's lovely that a forum suggestion solved your problem so easily.

Posted by
26 posts

YES!! That's why I love this forum. So onward...need to plan what to do with the rest of those days!

Posted by
1082 posts

Go to Naxos. We liked it even more than Santorini. You can ferry there from Santorini and then fly back to Athens.

Posted by
13930 posts

It's definitely time for you to crack the books. Lonely Planet is usually a good start. I bought the Rough Guide because it was really cheap on sale (maybe that's not a good thing) and it's pretty good, but I may still get the LP.

There is a lot to see and enjoy in Athens. The best reason for leaving it for last is because much in the islands shut down by then, the tail end of the season. The RS guide is excellent for Athens and the Peloponnese. The coastal towns are like being on a island.

Posted by
69 posts

Traveled to Greece for 2 weeks in October then RS Turkey tour stopping in Samos & Athens for a bit more time. Good call reducing time on Santorini. Very crowded even in October. And it was blistering hot for us long time Alaskans. Take a bus tour of island including Akrotiri excavation & Megalochori village. Naxos and Paros easily reached by ferry and next to empty of tourists. Good food, friendly people and interesting sites. We loved both but favored St. George beach on Naxos. Athens overwhelming with history but a lot of it is must see anyway. If schedule permits, rent a car at Athens airport, drive to Nafplio. Much history and sites to see. Recommend Marianna Pension in Nafplio - it's many people's favorite stay.

Posted by
4 posts

Athens is worth a minimum of three days. Spend your time there. You'll be overwhelmed with things to do, places to visit, markets, shops and more tavernas you can count. The best areas of Athens to stay would be Monistiraki and Plaka areas close to everything one goes to Athens for. I strongly recommend that you stay 5 nights at least in Athens and then you head to the islands. October is a great season to explore Athens (not so many tourists) and do some day trips i.e. visit the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, visit Napflio and Mycenae, even visit Meteora. By the way, someone posted this one today https://aktis.taxi/ Good source for choice.
Regarding the islands, Crete will not disappoint you. The weather should be better than the rest of Greece (the sea is typically warm).

Posted by
78 posts

Meteora is great; it is possible but IMO crazy to do as a day trip from Athens (sort of like people that day trip to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix or Vegas and then complain that they spent almost the entire day on a bus).

If you have 2 or 3 days, do go to Meteora. I spent 3 days/nights staying in Trikala, a small city about 20 km away that I found delightful and is less touristy than Kalambaka.

In the Trip Reports subforum, I posted "Three Weeks In Greece", including my time in Santorini, other Cycladic islands, Athens, Trikala/Meteora, Skopelos, and Thessaloniki. With only two weeks, and if you go slower as a couple on an anniversary than I did as a solo traveler, you won't be able to do all of this. Just enjoy and savor whatever you do end up doing.

Posted by
12 posts

I am by no means an expert but can offer some personal experience. Good work shortening your stay on Santorini! I second the suggestion to save Athens until the end. I may have missed your timing but perhaps you can do something like this:

Arrive Athens Airport- rent a car drive to Nafplion (seeing the Corinth Canal on the way) Stay a couple of nights in the area seeing the sites. (Epidavros, Mycenae)
Drive back, fly to Santorini, ferry to Naxos or Paros for a couple of days, then add your Athens at the end.

We followed a similar itinerary in 2017 but we did more of the Peloponnese in addition to Nafplion. (We loved the Peloponnese) In June 2020, we are heading to Milos-Sifnos-Paros then road trip to Meteora-Delphi-Galaxidi

Happy Anniversary and Enjoy your trip.