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Greek island recommendation?

A second question--I need to kill about 3 days in Greece in June between two student trips I'm leading (I know, rough, right? I'm all about taking one for the team). I'm looking for an island that's not the following, either because I want away from the main tourist scene and/or because I want something new...so not Kos, Patmos, Samos, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, or Hydra. My only real goal is to sit in tavernas and on the beach and decompress...if there are things to see, great, but it's not mandatory. "Authentic" trumps sightseeing. The only other requirement is it needs to be accessible to Athens by both ferry (in under 12 hours) and plane (in case one of those strikes I need a way to get back...I'm gambling they won't both shut down at once). Suggestions? Thanks!

Posted by
353 posts

Hi Kim,

Naxos or Paros would be good choices with easy ferry connections to Piraeus (3.5-5 hours by boat, several fast and slow boats daily). There are daily flights between Athens and Paros, but irregular flights between Athens and Naxos. You could also consider either Chios (Ferries 6 days a week to Piraeus, 6-9 hours, easy flights) or Lesvos (at least 1 boat daily from Piraeus, 11-12 hours, several daily flights).

Posted by
2950 posts

Antiparos would be my choice for a 3-day decompression. It's a charming little island that's easily accessed by fast and frequent daily ferry from Paros. Paros has an airport (Olympic Air) and excellent ferry connections to Athens/Piraeus.

Strikes are usually announced a few days in advance here: http://livingingreece.gr/strikes Most strikes last 24-48 hours and occur mid-week.

Posted by
2898 posts

I totally totally agree with Lee on Antiparos. It defines the word Relaxing. I went there for 3 days myself, in early June, exhausted after 16 vigorous days with 4 wonderful but terrifyingly vigorous retirees who wanted to see Everything. I just vegged ... and A-P is the place to do it. Take a look at Hotel DImitra... just across the harbor from the (very small) ferry quay. IT has lovely balconies with canvas canopies, wonderful breezes sweeping through... a budget place, breakfast optional. You can walk along the harborside to the other end, over a slight rise and whoops!! divine sandy beach, just a few sunbeds stacked up under a tree. The "Agora" (a winding maze-like lane) goes from harborside all the way through to the west of the island, where u can sit in a park for a stunning sunset (almost no houses there because in winter apparently FIERCE winds).. ANd when u want a bit of nightlife, just hop over to Paros in a few minutes ... best of both worlds. PS: Antiparos has canoeing & kayaking options as well. PPS: Don't tell anybody else!

Posted by
3 posts

Hi Kim,

If you want to be away from the cheesy tourists, big crowds, and over developed beaches then I'd recommend Crete. Also, despite the bad reputation, Athens is quite a nice city to stay in and see the sites for at least 2 days. Also, you can easily get to Crete via ferry from Athens. I hope this helps!

By the way, I have some photos from my trip in Crete on my travel blog here - http://wp.me/p2R3AI-fg
http://battlemountain.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/photophiles-volume-iv-the-crete-edition/#respond

Thanks,
Jay

Posted by
1316 posts

Kim

Syros might fit the bill. The main town - Ermopoli - is interesting with a lot of good restaurants and 'authentic' atmosphere. It's the capital of the Cyclades and so a genuine working town, but also has a really nice upper town with traditional white buildings and alleys. The town beach isn't great but you can easily get a bus to somewhere smaller and sandier.

We've written up our trip there which will give you an overview.

http://www.greekramblings.org.uk/Syros.html

If you are prepared to take the risk of not being able to fly Andros is a great and little visited island. We've also written that up on our site.

Have a great trip.

Alan

Posted by
60 posts

Thank you so much everyone! This gives me some great jumping off points. Y'all are the best!

Posted by
4 posts

NAXOS! We absolutely loved this mellow beach-vibe island. We stayed in Agios Prokopios at the Naxos Island Hotel. It is an easy taxi ride from the ferry to the village. This is a great boutique hotel, breakfast on the rooftop terrace included. The staff is uber friendly and authentic. We rented scooters so we could see more of the island but certainly not necessary if hanging on the beach is your goal. Great walkable restaurants, beautiful beaches, all without the tourist scene of let's say Santorini.

Posted by
1 posts

We had some similar objectives on a trip last year; we left Kos by sailboat toward Patmos. There are some interesting possibilities along the short route. I recommend Leros. As a metric, this was the island where we found the fewest English-speakers. We ate among locals. We also visited the tavernas on Lipsi, Pserimos, and Kalymnos, and found them wonderful and friendly (I wold go back there tomorrow), but somehow always knew we were tourists there. Enjoy your decompression, wherever you take it!

Posted by
1940 posts

Have you decided yet? We too liked Leros .... Xerocampos beach was absolutely stunning. We enjoyed some of our best meals ever in Greece here.

We also love Lesvos, specifically Hotel Votsala near Mytilene. Private (pebbly) beach, wonderful breakfasts by the sea with classical music playing, free water toys (kayaks, etc.), two tavernas to choose from at the port (ie fresh fish) a short walk down the beach, wonderful owner & staff, very reasonable price. People return here year after year (4 times for us).

Posted by
975 posts

Sifnos! About 4-5 hour ferry ride from Athens, not sure if there is a high-speed boat then. June is still not fully "high season" so you should have a more "Greek" experience and nice weather even for the beaches. Lots of tavernas, lovely small villages with the hilltop village of Kastro overlooking the Aegean and the Church of 7 Martyrs a must. Check out Heronosis, a small sea-side village on a small inlet with bobbing fishing boats at the far north of the island. Almost another world experience with it's stark but beautiful terrain, sea-side cliffs and one of the last old time Greek Potters left on the island. Good bus service around the island, more laid back and good walking from one village to another and in the mountains also. Sifnos was our first Greek Island we went to and is still one of our favorites!

Posted by
120 posts

Question for James - Considering Naxos for a few days after RS Greece tour in September for exactly the same reasons listed above. Have you researched hotels yet? Any recommendations in that department?

Thanks,
Terri

Posted by
31521 posts

Terri,

I also visited Naxos and Santorini after the RS Greece tour, and stayed at Hotel Grotta. It was wonderful and I was wishing I had booked a few more days there.

I used one of the Greek travel agencies listed on Matt Barrett's excellent Greece Travel website to arrange accommodations, transportation, etc. on the islands, and they did a superb job.

Posted by
2898 posts

I still recommend Antiparos, but of course my favorite Islnd is Naxos, just 1 hour farther on Blue Star Ferry (u can also get a 45 min. flight, but just 1x per day so don't delay booking) ... if you want Naxos, of course hotel Grotta is lovely ( i stayed there 2x) but Ken does not mention that it is NOT close to a beach, it's on the coastl,line directly up from the ferry quay ... up a steepish hill at night (and dark, take a flashlight). If you want to walk to closest sandy beach (Ag Giorgios) it's about 1/2 hour. You can get a bus at a bus stop about 500 metres from hotel, but its just hourly in June. Ken probably is speaking from standpoint of a car-renter.

In June, Ag. Giorgios beach is busy but not crowded... I'll be there myself June 6 -13 and I know it from many previous visits. Check budget places (w. balconies and sea views, on or just off the beach) such as Studios Kalergis, Studios Thomas, Sun Beach, Hotel Akrogiali, Hotel Asteria.

I am ALSO a HUGE fan of Sifnos ... I'll be there May 26 - 31 ... and the best places to stay are up in the hill villages... it has a splendid bus network taking you to wonderful beaches like Platy Gialos. My secret Gem there is Geronti Nikoletta Pension -- here's their new website ... units look down on valley, up to mountain villages, out to the sea. http://www.gerontisifnos.gr/en_GB/c/homeen I personally feel that Sifnos, overall, shows the Cycladic architecture at its finest...

Posted by
31521 posts

Janet,

I didn't visit any beaches during the time I was on Naxos, so that wasn't a factor when I chose Hotel Grotta. I didn't have any problem at all getting back and forth to the hotel, even at night. My memory is a bit foggy on that point, but I believe I just followed the road right to the front door. The trail from the main street is not long and the hotel is clearly visible from the road, so on a few occasions I also went that way. With the lights of the city, I never had a problem. One advantage of going via road, is that it passes by a small store where I could buy bottled water (which is necessary on Naxos, according to the hotel staff).

Posted by
2898 posts

You are right Ken, the darkness is mainly when you take the shortcut path To Hotel Grotta, but it's so much shorter! The reason I mentioned the distance to the beach is because the OP specifically said "My only real goal is to sit in tavernas and on the beach ..." so nearness to the beach would seem to be a priority.

Posted by
2898 posts

James, that looks like a lovely place, but it is in the "Grotta" area, probably just yards from the Grotta Hotel. The view of the sea is lovely from there (I've stayed at Grotta AND at Iliada APts just next door). However, the "Grotta Beach" mentioned as being 150 metres away is not really a beach... it is a swimming opportunity, down stone steps, off the causeway that leads to the Islet by the port, where the famous arch is. The nearest actual Beach (sand, etc) is Ag. Giorgios, which is a good hike from Grotta ... or as I said before, a bus ride will get you to Ag. Prokopios, Plaka etc. And the OP did emphasize that lying on a beach was top priority. This good city map will clarify the locations: http://www.naxos-greece.net/villages/TOPOGRAFIKO.HTML (Grotta lodgings are not where the word "grotta" is, on the water (that simply indicates where the ancient walls -- the "grotta" are below on the seabed) ... the #18 is Grotta Hotel & others are beyond that).

Posted by
31521 posts

One of the other reasons I wasn't too concerned about a beach, is that Hotel Grotta has a small pool, which is a great place to cool off after a day of touring.

I had no trouble relaxing at the Tavernas or Restaurants along the waterfront, as they're only about a 5 - 10 minute walk from the hotel.

Posted by
2898 posts

I don't think Kim will have a car, and she is also not a "we" needing an apartment, and also not a Californian, blase about beach time. I'm just trying to think what she would want, in her situation. Note: Ag. Giorgios beach, on the near side, where I stay & named possible lodgings, is also an extremely easy stroll to portside cafes & restaurants... I have always walked in 10-15 minutes.

Posted by
975 posts

We stayed at St. George Beach at the Studios Naxos in Oct. 2013 and it was great. Almost right on the beach with a studio on the third floor, small balcony overlooking the beach and bay . . . and at a very reasonable price for us budget-minded travelers. It's just a short walk to the waterfront and Naxos Town and an even shorter walk to a town square out of the main tourist zone with tavernas, shops and other businesses.

Posted by
120 posts

A wealth of information. Hotel Grotto looks fantastic and so does that that house rental James. And to top it off, both seem very reasonable priced!

Posted by
60 posts

Wow...so I need to either change my notifications or check this more frequently! Thanks for all of your responses...I need to sit down and research your suggestions and then (finally!) make a call.