I have signed up for the RS Athens and the Heart of Greece tour in October 2023. It's my first RS tour, and I am so excited! Yay!!
Now, I am thinking that I would like to spend the better part of a week before the tour exploring some of the Greek islands. I am figuring I can visit two islands (possibly three). The challenge is to figure out which two islands to visit.
Generally, I like historical sites and photography (and possibly painting or sketching) opportunities --- pretty light, interesting people, and such. I don't care as much about beaches and nightlife. I definitely want to see plenty of whitewashed houses and churches. I hate to rent cars and would much rather rely on boats, taxis, public transportation, or walking.
My game plan is to fly straight to one of the islands, take a ferry to the next island, and then most likely take a ferry back to Athens/Piraeus, arriving at the hotel in Athens the evening before the RS tour begins. (I realize that I could fly back to Athens, but I think the ferry might be a more unique experience. We have plenty of airplanes here in Atlanta, but ferries are a rarity for me.)
After noodling flight schedules and ferry schedules, I have come up with several possible itineraries where I could make decent connections.
1) 2-3 nights Heraklion; 2 nights Santorini
Visit the Minoan ruins and museum on day 1 in Heraklion; possibly take a day trip by bus to Rethymno on day 2. The ferry from Heraklion arrives in Santorini at 10 a.m. Although I would like to visit Santorini, I am somewhat concerned that Santorini will be a Disneyland overrun with Instagram influencers and cruise ship passengers --- not my idea of a pleasant experience. Also, Santorini is more expensive than I would prefer.
2) 2 nights in Heraklion; 1 night in Santorini; 3 nights in Milos
Pretty similar to #1, except that I would skip the second day in Heraklion/Crete and shorten my time in Santorini. Although I would very much like to see the Minoan sites on Crete, I wonder whether Crete might deserve more time than I am willing to spend on this trip.
This itinerary would give me one solid afternoon and one solid morning in Santorini. Maybe that's enough. Then, I could head to Milos for a more relaxing experience.
3) 3 nights in Paros/Antiparos OR Naxos; 3 nights in Sifnos OR Milos
Right now, I am leaning toward flying into Paros and staying in Antiparos. I am not feeling drawn to Naxos yet, but it works well logistically. I can't make up my mind between Sifnos and Milos -- the logistics would be similar for either. I like the idea of being a little off the beaten path.
Originally, I was leaning toward Heraklion/Santorini, but now I am learning more toward Paros and Sifnos or Milos. I would appreciate any suggestions or feedback.