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Greek island hopping after Best of Turkey Tour

I will be finishing the Best of Turkey Tour October 11 this fall. I am a single 60ish female traveling alone. I am pretty comfortable traveling solo by maintaining situational awareness, but like to do my homework to stay out of trouble. The tour ends in Kusadasi and Samos looks to be an easy ferry ride. Well then, I thought, why not see a few other islands and fly home from Athens. Santorini has always been on my bucket list. Does anyone have advice, experience, recommendations on which islands to visit? Will I be reasonably safe and how is the weather mid October? I do not plan to be renting a car on these travels, so I need locations that have good local transport available. I'm not one to lay on a beach but love walking through quaint towns, historical sites, scenic views and great food. I would have 5-6 days and a moderate budget. I believe in bang for your buck travel so would probably fly some and perhaps take ferries when it makes sense. Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom.

Posted by
11119 posts

You will be safe as Greece is the safest place I ever have visited. Look at the nearby islands of Kos and Rhodes after Samos as they are in the relatively nearby Dodecanese Is. Fly to Athens and then to Santorini, in the Cyclades Is, if you want to visit it as it would be a long ferry ride. Two nights is enough to see the famous caldera view and to visit ancient Akrotiri and Amoudi Bay.

Posted by
3312 posts

Suki is quite right, it would be a loooong ferry ride, and besides, the Ferry links between the N. E. Aegean Island Chain (Samos is one) and ANY island in the the Cyclades chain are very sparse even in Summer. In October the only ferry is T - Th - Sat and since your Steves tour only ends on THursday,you couldn't make it. You are better off getting to Samos, then getting a flight (connect in Athens) to Santorini. Here are the steps involved:

(1) KUSADASI - SAMOS Be sure that you CAN get a Oct 11 ferry from Kusadasi to VATHi port in Samos. Here is a link for info https://turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/Ship/GreekIslandFerries.html -- however, I think you should plan ahead and ask your R Steves group leader to find out about the sailing to SAMOS.... there is a DAILY sailing, and you'd need to know about the time of day, in order t o make it. And that would affect your flight plans. If it is in the afternoon, then y ou could get it on the 11th. ... OR you might decide to spend a day in Samos.... interesting town AND its small museum is SUPERB -- it has the biggest Kouros in the WORLD. Theyfound the body & installed it, and then they found the head... and they had to lift the ceiling to fit it in. Hotel Pythagoras, right along the water about 300 yards west of the pier, is a cute family-run place.

(2) SAMOS - SANTORINI. - In October, there are daily Olympic (owned by Aegean)flights for €83.49 (for the 2 legs). The 7:25 am gets to ATH at 8:20, then you have to hang around until 11:55 dep, arr SANTO 12:40. Airport to a hotel on the "rim side" of the island is a $25 taxi ride; there may be a shuttle t o y our hotel.

(3) SANTORINI - ??? If you only have 5 days, it would be a Rush to squeeze in another island PLUS Athens ... you can't pour a quart into a pint bottle. It all depends on what you want.... a swim? (santorini is N.G. for this, Naxos next over has good beaches)... do you want to See the Parthenon/Acropois? Then save at least 1 full day at the end. If you want another island PLUS a day in Athens, then you'd have to fly again. A ferry ferry from Santorini takes nearly 9 hours -- one from Naxos daily leaves 6pm gets to Pireaus 11:25pm. Reserved-seat ticket about €40. Airplane takes 50 minutes.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you both so much for your great advice. I will save Athens sightseeing for the next trip. I just want a taste of the Greek islands this trip so I'm thinking Samos (thanks for tips on hotel and sites to visit) and Kos and Rhodes, Then I will fly to Athens to fly home.

Posted by
2122 posts

From Kos you can take a great day trip to the nearby island of Nisyros, where you can walk around inside the crater of an active (but not erupting) volcano. It’s an amazing experience, like walking on the moon. It’s perfectly safe, although you do need to wear closed-toe shoes (no sandals) and watch out for smoking fumaroles. It’s one of my most memorable Greek island experiences.

There are also flights back to Athens from Kos, if ferry schedules make the trip from Kusadasi to Rhodes difficult.

Posted by
3312 posts

ah lk, once again you are making itinerary decisions before learning about logistics. You say that you like to do your homework, so have you studied any guidebooks about the Greek Isles, or a map ? Here's a good online one; click to enlarge - http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/greece.gif Book & map show that Samos is in the N.E. Aegean island chain, while Rhodes is in the Dodecanese chain. There are Few and Far-between connections between the two, even during the Summer... and during off-season they dwindle to almost none. In fact, spending a little time (procrastinating on a writing assignment), I discovered that in October ... you really cannot get to Rhodes OR Kos without wasting travels of almost 2 days.

In the past, I successfully managed that link in late May by doing homework on the reliable and comprehensive ferry-scheduling website -- https://www.gtp.gr/RoutesForm.asp -- you can find out almost anything about ferries if willing to put in time. In my case, I already knew, due to guidebooks, that because Patmos (the farthest-north isle in the Dodec) is a favorite "draw" due to its famous Monastery, it has a few links each week to Samos, at least from Spring thru September. Thus, my friend and I took a (lengthy) ferry ride with 4 stops, from about 6pm - 11:30 pm, from Rhodes to Patmos, where we stayed o'night in a weird little pension near the pier (we had to help the aged proprietor put sheets on the bed!). The next AM, we were able to catch a the daily 10 am fast-ferry (about 2 hours) to Samos.

When I just now searched gtp.gr for Samos ferries to Patmos in October, only 4x a week -- a FRIDAY ferry at 15:30 - arr 19:05 And a SAT FErry at 13:45 -- arr Patmos 17:15 (5:15pm) w 2 stops before ... about 3.5 hours. HOWEVER -- the only Patmos-Rhodes ferry is a 1xweek! Blue Star on Tuesday that takes all night. Next try -- find a ferry from Samos to SOME island that will connect to Rhodes! There is only ONE... 2 x week, takes 7+ hours (it's the superslow govt subsidized "survival boat" that makes every stop). Sat 13:45 from Pythagoria Samos. arr KALYMNOS arr 2100. But guess what??? No ferry Kalymnos to RHODES until the next WEDNESDAY.

So ... where CAN you go from Samos by ferry in October?? Go to that Website. Put in the MONTH as "10" and the DATE as "any." THen plug in SAMOS as the departure island ... but put in NO destination island. Click search and a pull-down menu appears. Two islands in the Cyclades will come up - on a SAT 12:45 BLUE STAR (good, big modern ship) Ferry from Vathy, you arr MYKONOS at 18:10 (6:10pm) ... and it goes on to SYROS at 19:15.

From Mykonos, you can either Fly straight to ATH airport for homebound flight, or just do an overnight on Mykonos, get a daily morning fast-ferry (35 minutes) and almost daily afternoon ditto to NAXOS for a day or 2, then fly to ATH from there.

I went down this rabbit-hole and spent 45 minutes just as a demonstration for North Americans that Travel Within Greece is Not Simple. So many of my fellow Americans are used to jumping in a car, hitting the Interstate, and getting somewhere easily. Alas, in GReece, no interstate in the sea. And no substitutes for investigation ... a few thumb-swipes on a smart-phone won't do it. I hope the above enables you to make some good decisions & have a glimpse of beautiful Islands. Best wishes!