Signed up for a May 2024 Greek tour. Thinking we would like to either stay 2-3 days before or after the tour to stay on one of the Greek Islands, perhaps Hydra or Santorini. So two questions- stay before or after and which island? Thank you.
If you stay before, then you will ensure you are in Greece in time for your tour. I have not been to Hydra, but I have been to Santorini and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is everything that you want Greece to be!
Is this a Rick Steves tour? If so, then Hydra is included in the itinerary. If not, I would recommend Santorini over Hydra. Hydra is quiet and quaint with no big sights. It was a nice place to relax. Santorini is the quintessential Greek island with its Caldera views and blue dome churches. After our RS tour last year, we spent 4 nights in Mykonos then 4 in Santorini. I have no need to ever go back to Mykonos but Santorini? Definitely yes! Also do all your souvenir shopping in Athens as it was cheaper there than the islands.
There are numerous Greek Islands worthy of a stay other than Santorini which gets overwhelmed with tourists plus the high cost of staying there.
With just 2-3 days I would recommend Aegina, just a short ferry ride from Piraeus which means very little costs to get to and return.
It has everything one would want in a Greek Island including archeological/historic sites, nice main town on the waterfront, seaside villages, ancient old grove, abandoned Byzantine Village in the hills, is the Pistachio Capital of Greece and small villages throughout the island.
Lots of other options for islands other than the Big Name ones!
Just like Tommy, I would recommend to avoid Santorini and prefer Aegina unless you like crowds and Disneyland style theme parks in blue and white with much much more expensive shops and restaurants.
We did the May RS tour this year and flew to Naxos before the trip for 3 nights- it was the perfect place to rest up from flight to Athens! We walked around the town and lovely narrow streets, rented an ATV to visit the beach and ate great food- didn’t try to sightsee/museum at all as the tour has plenty of that. I strongly recommend the Grotta Hotel if you go- it is a charming family run boutique hotel with beautiful views and the breakfast included in the room price is to die for. We hope to return someday.
While it's true that there are many islands from which to choose (I stayed on 5 last summer), if Santorini is a top choice for you, then do stay there! There is plenty to do on the island, no matter your interests.
If your tour will be jam-packed with activities, stay in the islands after the tour, as a vacation from your vacation! However, logistics will play a role in your decision. Where is the tour starting / ending?
For Rochelle- Rochelle, what were your island recommendations? We’ll be starting and ending in Athens with 5 Days in between to wind down.