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Greek Islands hopping

Hello,
My husband and I are pretty active, love hiking, architecture and appreciate great food. We would love to have an active schedule but at the end of the trip for a couple of days we would like just to rest and stay on the beach with our friends who will come to visit us from Europe.
We know which islands we want to go visit but not sure in which order to save time traveling. We are arriving in Athens on September 1st.
The islands we wants to visits are Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos/Paros and Milos. It does not mean that we want to visit them all. Planning to travel light. Our flight back to Athens is on September 14, therefore we have about 12 days on our venture.
Here is a simple itinerary:
September 1st fly to Crete from Athens
September 2 Crete
September 3 Crete
September 4 Crete
September 5 take a ferry to Santorini
September 6 Santorini
September 7 Santorini
Sep 8 -13 take a ferry or fly to Milos or Paros and just do a day trip to nearby islands
Sep 14 - fly to Athens
Let me know what you think.
Thanks in advance for your response and advice.

Posted by
2891 posts

There are no flights from Santorini to Milos/Paros, but there are multiple ferries (3 hr) to Paros, and at least 1 per day to Milos.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you for that tip. We will be taking ferry from Santorini to Paros but when I checked it, it was 1 hour 35 min for a trip on a Seajets. Is that true?

Posted by
2891 posts

Seajet is a small passenger-only catamaran (about 400 pass), costs abut 2x as much as "regular" ferry, BLUE STAR, which has 1500+ passenger ... much more comfortable, has outside seats to enjoy the view. but it's your choice.

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

Thanks for your reply but I am confused. I want to reserve the hotels on each island,
Sep 1- 5 Crete
Sep 5 - 8 - Santorini
Sep 8-13 Paros

but it looks like ferries do not go every day. We will need one ferry in the morning from Crete to Santorini on September 5, which is Wednesday, second one we will need is from Santorini to Paros on September 8, which is Saturday, preferably in the morning or early afternoon. Do you have any suggestions, which ferries to take? Do we need to reserve ferries first and then hotel? What do think about high speed ferries? Or the Blue Star better but it does not go between Crete and Santorini ?

Thank you very much.

Posted by
2891 posts

"It looks like ferries do not go every day." What do you mean by this? Do you mean someone told you this ... or that you googled Santorini Ferries & found nothing? Where are you researching?

Fortunately, you are mistaken. The best over-all Ferry infomration site is www.gtp.gr Put in your departure port
(Heraklion = HCR ) and y our destination (Santorini = ATI), and the Day (5) Month (9) and hit "Search." You will find 3 choices on WED Sept 9: @7:30 (the smaller jet catamaran i discouraged) at 8:40 arr @10:30, they have added this year the CHAMPION JET (car-carrying catamaran) - good choice especially since this has back deck to view caldera cliff on arrival, and @9:00- arr 10:45, the one I mentioned before, HEllenic Hi-SPeed -- also good but no back deck.

IF you use GTP.gr for Santorini-Paros you will find a choice of FIVE sailings for Sept 8. If you want one with a back-deck for caldera view, that is CHAMPION JET @ 14:25 - arr 16:40. If you want the BLUE STAR (deck u can sit on for whole trip), its at 15:30 - arr 18:45. Remember, the Catamarans, while faster, cost about 2x the Blue Star fare.

NO, you do NOT need to reserve ferries now, or even until you arrive at your island of choice. On Crete, upon arrival, reserve that Champion sailing to Santorini as it is more in demand. HOtel reservations first.

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

You are wonderful! Do you mind if I ask you couple of more questions regarding hotels in Santorini and Paros?
I did look at a couple of hotels and the contenders are:
Santorini: Sunset Hotel or Andromedia Villas
Paros: Manis Inn or Saint Andrea Resort Hotel.

What do you think? it will be 5 couples, 10 people all together and I am trying to find the best location and a best views.
Maybe you can recommend one as well?

Thank you for awesome tips.
Susan

Posted by
2891 posts

Whoa, whoa, whoa Susan. You can't pull a switcheroo like that! In your original message you talk about your husband & you ... and we're thinking hmm, they want a room for 2 with balcony ... and then mention "stay on the beach" with friends who will visit us from Europe. What in the nelly does that mean? Are you jillionaires & buying a villa somewhere? Then in your last message, you say " it will be 5 couples, 10 people all together and I am trying to find the best location and a best views. " Are you responsible for finding ONE location that will hold you all?? In that case you would have needed to start last year sometime. My feeling is, we can find YOU a place, and you tell the others to find a place near there.

LOCATION - Have you looked at a map? This - http://mapsof.net/map/thira-island-santorini-map - is my fave online map. Now, here's the thing. YOu're going to be social, want to go out at night a bit, also, want to avoid the monster cruise-crowds if possible (which are worst M-F). The towns of OIA and FIRA take the brunt of these day-mobs (9:30-4) the most, so let's look outside.

• FIROSTEPHANI is the "sweet spot." It has lots of places with caldera views (or just a few yards away), it's on the fringe of FIRA Town, but NO day-tourists or tour busses stop there ... and it's only a short walk down the rimside path to the Fira Attractions, day or night, and no hassle for late nite taxis. And on the inland road just behind rim hotels, there's a handy BUS STOP so you can take a quickie ride to OIA, and not have to find parking for a rental car (Impossible!) It also has its share of cute cafes and authentic tavernas.

• IMERVOGLI also has good views and no day-mobs ... but it's far enough that you can't easily walk to FIRA or OIA, certainly not after dark. And if there are 10 of you, that means endless coordination with rental cars several times a day! I think it's OK to rent a car ONE day if you want to zip around the island (to see Akrotiri or Ancient Thira), but otherwise, what a drag... everyone having to agree to go to same place @ same time, and leave at same time. Never works.

LODGINGS -- You cant get best advice when you don't say what your preferred €€ range is per night per room ... and is a balcony w caldera view a must? And is a POOL a must? If you were asking an agency, of course you'd supply these details... so u ought to do so here, as well.

Anyway I do have opinion on the 2 you mentioned. THe "Deluxe" one looks lovely but is in Imervogli (see above). I DO know Sunset, its Firostephani ... entry is from that "inland road" i mentioned, and you walk a few steps up to your room(s) ... and they open onto a lovelly common terace with wicker loveseats and table and glorious view. Once on a ferry to Santorini my friend & I met a couple with no reservations... at our hotel, our desk kindly phoned Sunset. Therefore, that day at Sunset, the 4 of us happily sat on that terrace and enjoyed one of the BEST bottles of white I can remember. (Santo white has a citrusy tang).

FOr an overview of other options (for your visiting Europe friends) check "Firostephani booking.com" for the dates of Sept 5-8 (as your original message says. I just did and saw another favorite of mine, just north of Sunset ... Agnadema Apartments. THey still have several vacancies with caldera views... AND they have a pool! If some of you can book there, others can change in your rooms and enjoy the pool too (he he). My work here is done.

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

Thank you for your input. I am very detail oriented individual, always person in charge to do all of the bookings, reservations and arrangements. My husband has 3 brothers and as soon as there heard about our trip, they decided to join in. That will make 10 of us with other couple from Europe (5 couples all together). They are not incompetent to make their own bookings but they always rely upon me to make all of the arrangements and I always feel responsible for them. Of course each couple will pay for themselves so money is no problem.
I just stumbled upon Villa Maria Damigou in Foristefani and they have 5 rooms available. What do you think? We are willing to pay a little more for a great view. Pool is not important to us, Balcony and Caldera a must, up to $250/night.

Thanks.

Susan

Posted by
23 posts

How many days should we stay in Athens? We were planning to 1-2 days, just sightseeing the antiquities and local food, no museums.

What do you think?

Posted by
2891 posts

Susan SANTORINI - if they have 5 rooms go for it. I know how you like to see things done right but it does seem unfair that others take advantage of your orderly mind, and always lean on you to figure it all out! ATHENS - 2 days OK ... if you have just 1, you'll make a discovery and not be able to get there! Athens has been waiting for you for 4,000 years ... give it 2 days.

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

Thank for that info. Definitely will stay in Athens 2 days.

Can you recommend a place in Paros?

I looked at the Manis Inn or Saint Andrea Resort Hotel. What do you think? What is the best location in Paros as far as a beach and close to all attractions.

Much obliged.

Susan

Posted by
2891 posts

You want my honest opinion? You cannot do what you want in Paros, especially in Mid-september when things are winding down. You cannot be Both ON a great beach and also be "close to all attractions." Naoussa does have good restaurants ... I don't know how the nightlife will be in mid-September. It has a small pebbly beach but you have to drive or taxi to better ones Parikia (the Port Town) has the ancient stuff, the museums, the best shopping, and night clubs ... but its only beach (Livadia) is mediocre, to be kind. And I cant supply many hotel recommendations when you require rooms for 10 (and anyway, some of them are bound to be picky, not wanting the budget gems I know about). I'm not familiar with the 2 places you name, but if they'd have 5 rooms, for your whole group, then there you go. If you stay in Parikia, you can take busses to a number of beaches ... you'd have to study the bus routes. The deal is, the bus routes all radiate from Parikia, like fingers up from a palm, and maybe a beach on the fingertips ... but you cant go from one fingertip to another, you'd have to go back to the palm.

The one place I know about that is just off a lovely sandy beach, with a pool & bar, walkable to all restaurants bars, shopping and the ferry is in ANTIPAROS -- Kouros Village. http://www.kouros-village.gr As of now Booking.com shows it still has enough units to accommodate your group for that Week of Sept 8 -13 ... but not for long. IF you stay on Antiparos you can go to Paros for all its sights & fun, then relax back at Antiparos for the sunset... best of both worlds

As always I advise people to first check reviews on Trip Advisor & booking.com, then contact hotel direct to book rooms, saying that you saw several rooms available at $xxxx and here's what you need. But do not delay! As u are finding ... making arrangement for 10 is like making it for a tour group!!!

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,
I guess we can rent 2 cars to see all of the attractions but they all want to stay near the nice beach in Paros. To stay in Antiparos means we will have to get on a ferry every day and they do not want to do that. What area would you recommend for that?

Thanks a lot.

Susan Bursak.

Posted by
91 posts

Can I suggest you look at the hotel PalioMylos in Naoussa for Paros. Stylish rooms, super friendly service, a cut above a standard Greek apartment hotel but not formal. Next to nice little beach, 5 mins walk into Naoussa town with it's perfect harbour, hordes of restaurants etc. & from the fishing harbour there you can get on small boats to around 4 different beaches around the headland, very pretty & charming.

Posted by
2891 posts

If Jwugg's suggestion has enough room for all of you, sounds like a good answer .... you have a VERY challenging assignment from people who Want what they Want. (Do you get a Gold Star if you accomplish all this???). NOTE: If you find a place like this which has room for 8, but not 10, a solution would be to write the hotelier, saying that you'll book the 4 doubles available, if he can suggest a similar double in a nice hotel next door or a few meters away, for the remaining couple. I guarantee you he'll have an answer -- and there may well be among your friends a couple that will welcome a minor distancing.

Posted by
23 posts

I was able to reserve 5 rooms at Paliomylos Spa Hotel and the owner Chrys even gave us a discount. Thank you very much for that information. Paros lodging is done.
In Santorini, I made couple of reservations for 5 rooms on booking.com and would like know if you can recommend ones over the others. And here is the list:

  • Sunset Hotel
  • Agali Houses
    • Ira Hotel and Spa
    • Andromeda Villas and Spa Resort

Please let me know and again thank you for your input.

Posted by
6 posts

HI

I am travelling with my husband at t he same time that you are, Susan, and intrigued by your itinerary and wished to ask you why are you starting in Crete and where in Crete are you staying.

We a re considering Naxos Santorini and Mykonos and Crete.

As yet just researching and have not made reservations.

Friends spent a month on Crete last year and I am going to ask them for suggestions and what they might recommend.

Thanks for the dialogue.

Suzy

Posted by
2891 posts

Suzyq --- from your question about Crete (why first? where staying) ... I think a look at a map is useful. When you are try ing to do a number of places in a limited time, you want to be efficient in transportation. The usual advice is to go as quickly as you can (by a 1-way flight from ATH) to the farthest point, and then island-hop (or fly) back to the mainland. If you look at a map, y ou will see that Crete is the farthest away. You will also see that there are 2 main centers in the northern part of Crete that attract most people CHANIA (in the WEST) and HERAKLION (in the middle). A little research -- or even just reading this thread will show you that the main way to get to Santorini is via ferry.... and googling ferry schedules wil show you that the only daily service is from Heraklion.

Where next? Your map will show you that after that, Naxos or Paros is next, heading back to mainland. IF you have the same amount of time as susan (14 days minus o'seas travel days = 12), you will see you only have time for 3 islands, and quick stops at that. Are you sure you want to go to Mykonos??? Or is it just because it is so highly publicized? Santorini & Mykonos are the 2 most-promoted and most expensive of all the Greek Islas, and also, the most-invaded by huge cruise ships (up to 5 per weekday = 8-9000 cruisers). So for your 3rd island, you may want to research Paros or Naxos, which are not so commercial, and actually have more real Greeks living their lives, growing crops, harvesting grapes, catching fish etc. It's up to you. Research is the key - and your local library can give you an armful of books to leaf through ... a good addition to whatever you can find online.

Posted by
1940 posts

Susan -- unless I missed something it looks like you have 5 nights on Paros? If so, I'd recommend spending one of those days on a boat trip ... "Lazy Day with Captain Ben." His boat docks on Antiparos but comes to Pounda, on Paros, to pick up passengers around 10 am. Then you sail around Antiparos, stop on a beach, have a great lunch, stop for swimming several times, free drinks all day. He drops you back at Pounda around 4 pm. It was one of the highlights on our island-hopping trip a few years ago. With your group, it would be a good idea to make advance reservations. Check rave reviews on Trip Advisor.

Posted by
23 posts

Suzy,

We are taking this route because my friend went this route last year and she loved it. It was not too rushed and she was able to see most important islands plus Athens. Crete is very different from all of the islands and mainland, she said it was like a different country all together. I have not booked any hotels in Crete, but she stayed in Hotel Kydon - Chania for 2 days and then 2 days in Heraklion at Hotel Galaxy and from Heraklion she took a ferry to Santorini. Do your research and read the reviews.
After Santorini we are going to Paros and while we are there for 5 days, we will explore Naxos and Antiparos. No Mykonos for us, heard it is very party like and expensive. We're already spending a lot of money on lodging in Santorini. After Paros, we are flying back to Athens and staying there for 2.5 days.
Hope it helps.

Posted by
2891 posts

For a Naxos day-trip check https://www.gtp.gr/RoutesForm.asp for ferry schedules... take earliest over, latest back. if you don't see many ferries, (it's VERY early for posting SEpt skeds), use this website - http://www.openseas.gr/en/index.html - it has calender with "rollback" feature -- u can find Sept 2017, and click on a random day Sept 9-12 to see what ferry service there was LAST Sept.

However, regular ferries are not best for day trips -- they are intended for Greeks' usage, not sightseeing tourists. Sometimes the first available regular ferry won't get you to Naxos until nearly noon.

Your best bet is a Dedicated Excursion-vessel company. This company https://visit-cyclades.com operates TWO such boats that stop at both Naxos & Paros. Their day-cruises go to Santorini, Delos-Mykonos, and the small cyclades HOWEVER, I think there's a connection that can work for you. One of their boats I think goes from Paros to Naxos, stops to pickup passengers then goes on to .. wherever.. about 9 AM ... then returns about 5-6. I think you could arrange to just take the outbound, and hop off At Naxos ... and either take the excursion boat back as well, or else a regular ferry. I recommend to use the e-mail on the website and write directly, asking if their day-trips can also just provide "hop-off" transport to Naxos in AM, and ditto in the PM. The manager of this company has been very helpful to me in the past. (and I know that sometimes peple who are having trouble getting to Mykonos have been able to do so by taking the Day-cruise just 1 way).

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you Janet,

I will definitely look into that one. Any other day trips we can take from Paros?

Posted by
2891 posts

THat same website has a list of day trips ... and you can also google Antiparos day activities... there are guys over there who run boat trips, kayaking etc.

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

Our friends from Europe are traveling from Mykonos to Santorini and want to save on the hotel. Therefore, they want to go on the ferry from Mykonos to Santorini overnight, September 4 to the 5th. Is that an option for them?

Thanks.

Susan

Posted by
2891 posts

Susan, I cannot possibly keep in my head (since I also have a life) the details of your group of 10, and where they're coming from and when -- but I think what you are saying is that the Europe couple want somehow to be on a ferry for 7 hours or so, in order to save one night's stay at a somewhat-pricey Santorini hotel. Is that what you mean?

If so, not possible. Any ferry going from Mykonos to Santorini, even with several stops, will be no more than 4 hours... and any ferry will not be the more economical and slower conventional ferry (with corridors and open spaces where "shoestring travelers" can bunk on the floors). That route is only served by so-called "fast ferries" --c atamarans of various sizes, which charge almost 2x the fare of "regular" ferries. . ANd if this couple is trying to budget, what in the world are they doing staying in Mykonos in addition to Santorini? These are the TWO most expensive places in Greece.

I think it's time you abdicated your reign as Queen of Plandom, and let these folks work out their own arrangements! You have done your bit, and then some.

Posted by
2891 posts

PS on Paros/Antiparos -- There was a strong recommend on another forum for a relaxed outing "Lazy Day with Cap'n Ben" in Antiparos http://captainbenantiparos.com -- boat picks u up at Paros" Pounta stop (10 min bus from Port town), for a day of sailing, site-seeing, swims & BBQ. The poster said it was a highlight of their paros stay.

Posted by
23 posts

Hello Janet,
Thank you again and love your sense of humor. Our friends attending wedding in Mykonos, that is why they are there and it is over on the 4th of September and they have 1 more day to themselves. What they were looking for is a ferry from Mykonos to “inexpensive” island that can explore themselves and then from that island take an overnight ferry to Santorini. Unless two ferries will equal to one hotel room in Santorini. Let me know what you think.
Much obliges.
Susan

Posted by
2891 posts

Well, they might find a mid-day ferry from Mykonos to Naxos ... it would be a "fast ferry" and probably cost about €25 ... then they could bargain with people holding up signs at the pier, for a room. (but it could be off in the boondocks, with no transport). OR -- they could do some work on their own, and go on booking.com specifying "Chora" (which means rooms either in the port town or at the directly adjacent Ag, Giorgios beach), and filter for "cheapest first" .... they probably could find a few rooms right at the beach for €50 a night, rather basic (since Sept 4 is still High Season in the Islands). They definitely should use the map on the booking.com website to pinpoint location. They could spend the day exploring the town, have a swim, walk out to the famous Naxos Arch at sunset etc. Next day at 12:30 or so is BLUE STAR conventional ferrry to Santorini, arr 3:15 or so ... economy fare was about €19 3 years ago, probably 20 now, you rush up to top deck to grab seats for the view. So lets see 25 x 2 plus 20 x 2 plus €50 = €140 ... so yes, they probably could do it better, and one day on my beloved Naxos is better than none. But don't YOU do the work for them, they have computers, they have fingers and being in Europe they even can telephone for lodgings. Why should you do all the work, my Queen?

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

Our friend are from Belarus (former Soviet Union). It is first time for them abroad and they are not very savy with a computers. They are our friends from the childhood.
Thank you for your suggestion. I will definitely send it to them.

Posted by
2891 posts

If Naxos appeals to your Belarussians, there are several hotels on Ag. Giorgios beach available on Sept 4 for around €50 == I checked booking.com ... I can recommend Lefkas Studios (top choice), Sigma Studios, Vasilikos Studios, Iliovasilema, SYriano Hotel, Mikes Studios, -- you could reserve for your friends, I would advise booking at the rate that allows free cancellation with no penalty .. all are between 43 - 54€ right now.

As for ferries Mykonos - Naxos, in early September they're super-frequent -- 9:30, 9:40, 9:50, 10, 12:30, 13:30 -- all"fast ferries. NO need to buy ahead, just go to the port, pick one that's a nonstop, takes less than an hour, ones that stop at Paros take 30 minutes longer.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you Janet,
I have another question. While on Crete we are planning to stay 3 nights in Chania and 2 nights in Heraklion.
Our friends told us that it is better to stay in Herssonissos than Heraklion. What do you think?

Posted by
91 posts

Why did they suggest Hersonissos do you know? It wouldn't be my first choice, it's a large built up resort (concrete to be honest) rather than traditional or Cretan, it has many large hotels & a big beach/water park/bar complex etc, which of course does suit many people, but that isn't the impression I got from you of places you like. So tell us what you'd like, both in that area & in or around Chania & we can advise better.

Instinct suggests the old part of Chania, near the Venetian harbour, perhaps in 1 of the many lovely renovated old little hotels. Perhaps, if you don't want to stay within Heraklion city, have a look at a small beach village like Agia Pelagia.

Posted by
23 posts

Dear Jwugg,
You are absolutely right! We do not like made up things, like waterparks or big built up resorts. We adore authentic & traditional. We really don't mind staying in Heraklion since we will be departing from that port. I did tentatively reserve GDM Megaron Hotel, but it is big and expansive, but they said it has the best location!
As far as a Chania, we were not sure if it is better to stay near the port or in the old town. I have also tentatively reserve Porto Veneziano.
Thanks for your reply.

Posted by
2891 posts

Susan, the port in Chania IS part of the old town... did you look at a map? Here's a good one (click & it gets very big) --- http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/chania-old.jpg See the causeway that leads out to the lighthouse?? Porto Veneziano is on or near the seafront, near the Causeway. My own preference, from numerous visits to Chania, is to stay on the other side of the port, on the "no-cars" street that leads up from the seafront park (there's a free parking lot down there). That flagstoned lane, Theotokoupolos (the Real Name of El Greco) is lined with small hotels and Pensions.

My favorite Hotel Palazzo, (in an old Venetian mansion) was long owned by a lovely lady, now sold to a boutique hotel group ... it has GREAT location, right by the sea end of the street, 11 or 12 balconied rooms PLUS a lovely rooftop terrace. Also nearest the sea are other choices ... Hotel Hera (next door) has only about 4 rooms, across the street, Casa Di Pietra (5 rooms, owner has a vineyard, offers free sips), down the street away is Pension Nora, many charming rooms, all with balconies. If you are still having to book for a whole bunch of people, there IS a larger hotel right ac ross the street with some front balconies, Hotel El Greco I think. These are not conventional hotels like Veneziano (big lobbies, uniform staff etc), but are in my mind a more enjoyable Chania experience.

PS: As to Heraklion question -- In the past I would have recommended Ag. Pelagia outside of Heraklion rather than in town ... but not now. Once, you could find a place near a small beach, not crowded, but mega-building has destroyed that enclave. And near the main beach, which is VERY narrow, it is so built-up that it's not a swell experience any more. And hernissos, same deal. If you are planning to drive into the city, see the museum, then stay the night & catch the 9:45 to Santorini, then yes, I'd say a big Heraklion hotel is the least complicated solution. I have used Hotel Kronos, right on the seafront, a number of times... probably not as luxe as your choice, but nice, esp. if you can snag a room with a sea view. And it was convenient, car-wise... we just found a parking place by the hotel, left the keys at the desk for the agency to pick up. For some hire agencies, u keep car until departure, and leave it at designated spot right at the ferry pier.

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

I have booked all of the destinations except a ferry from Santorini to Paros and found couple of options:

Minoan Lines/Santorini Palace – leaves at 11:00 arrives at 12:40 with 1 stop – duration 1:40

Golden Star Ferries Superferry II – leaves at 13:00 arrives at 15:55 with no stops - duration 2:55

Golden Star Ferries Superrunner – leaves at 14:30 arrives at 17:20 with 2 stops – duration 2:50

Blue Star Ferries Blue Star Delos - leaves at 15:30 arrives at 18:45 with 1 stop –duration 3:15

Do you have any recommendations one over the other?

Thanks.

Posted by
153 posts

We just took Blue Star ferry from Paros to Santorini a couple weeks ago. Really comfortable seats ($25 for a reserved airseat.) There are several restaurants on board and a little shopping. Really comfortable ride and smooth operation. I have read that if the sea is rough, the large cats can make some people seasick so we wanted to avoid that.

Posted by
2891 posts

I am most familiar with the Blue Star and normally would say take that. However, when your time is limited and your schedule ambitious, you want to save every hour possible. When you take an afternoon ferry, you tend not to get much done that day -- have breakfast, check out, then wait around.

At the same time, you want a smooth ride, and a small catamaran (400-500 passengers) could be rough if winds play up in September. HOWEVER, there is a NEW (and welcome) option on that list... best of both worlds. That Santorini Palace vessel, in a NEW route from Crete to Santorini & on to neighboring islands is a former HIghspeed 7 from Hellenic Speedways, which I'm familiar with. It is a substantial size catamaran (1,160 psgrs vs about 1400 for Blue Star Delos), and also carries 100 vehicles. So, plenty of heft and good ride. Also, it has a small outer deck where you can stand for the 15 minutes or so as you exit the caldera, for great pix-taking if you didn't do so on the way in. Best of all it's the fastest even with a stop at Naxos ... y ou at least you can get a glimpse of the famous Naxos Arch at the port of my favorite isle. So-- GO for it. This is sure to be popular so buy tix on arrival in Santorini.

Posted by
2211 posts

Hi Susan, I just wanted to say have a great trip and please, please write a trip report when you return! I’m sure Janet and others would love to hear how this goes!

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you very much to everybody who replied. I was thinking of buying tickets on line before we go. Does it make cense since it is 10 of us?

Posted by
2891 posts

Susan do not buy online, you don't save a bit, and there's the hassle of having to pick them up at the port. When you arrive at ATH airport go to the ticket agency there, open 7 days a week, Aktina. buy tickets there, small convenience fee but worth it .. also when you buy in person at an agency, you can request particular seat location (not possible when ordering online) ... this is more important on catamarans where you are inside most of the time, it's nice to be near windows for the view ... from Crete - Santorini, be on RH side if possible.

For Heraklion - Santorini yo u have 2 choices -- one is faster, the other is cheaper:
• 9 am - arr 10:45 -- That same car/cat I recommended for the 2nd "leg" (to Paros) - Santorini Palace - about €60 per person

• 9:30 - arr 12:45 - This is a conventional large ferry (takes like 1200-1400 people, 250 vehicles) -- probably costs about €30 for deck economy (plastic "garden chairs" on deck, first-come-first served, or inside seating along a corridor or in its cafe) ... €35 for reserved inside seating... more for business class (don't waste your € on this). If you get reserved-inside, you do NOT have to sit there all the time, you can sit out on deck wherever you can find a seat -- and then if you want to sit inside, you have a reserved seat, lean-back upholstered roomy aircraft-style seat, foot-rest/tray table.

For Santorini- Paros -- as I recommended, the 10: Santorini Palace

Posted by
23 posts

Janet,

Thank you so much for your advise. I really appreciate your input and help. Definitely will let you know how the trip went.

Regards.

Posted by
396 posts

Probably too late for this, but we just stayed in the Cretan Renaissance in Chania a couple of weeks ago. It's small and family-run so there is a personal touch. In fact we met everyone in the family during our two and a half day stay. The owner served her own homemade jam made the day before from her own fruit trees for breakfast. The interiors are beautiful and it is located right on the old harbor. We booked a room with a balcony and I loved gazing at the view of the harbor and Chania day and night. The included breakfasts were fantastic. It was a bit of a splurge but we really enjoyed it. It's one of those places that makes you say 'aahhh'.

We ate at both Tamam and Well of the Turk while in Chania. Both were very good. Also we took a sail with Orizon Sailing from the Chania harbor, an easy walk from our hotel. We had a captain (the owner) and crewman on a very nice vessel and sailed up and down the coast and to an outlying island for about 6 hours. When you consider that we had exclusive use of the boat and dedicated crew the price was reasonable. We love to sail and wanted to take the opportunity while in Greece/Crete.

Posted by
2891 posts

Lia those tips sound wonderful, and may be helpful for others besides Susan ... however, to be really useful, tips need to include SOME clue as to cost... "a bit of a splurge" may be €100 for some people, €400 for others. Likewise, "reasonable" means very different things to people on different budgets ... so to be most helpful, do include at least a price range.

Posted by
23 posts

Hello Lia,

I looked on line and this hotel is already booked for August 31 - September 3rd. We will be staying at Scala de Faro, where I originally booked. Hopefully it will be ok. We are planning to stay 2 and half day in Chania planning to do the following:
1. Tour the Chania in the morning and go to Elafonissi Beach in the afternoon.
2. Hike Samaria Gorge
3. Traveling from Chania to Heraklion and wondering if you had any suggestions.

Regards,

Susan B.

Posted by
396 posts

We visited Elafonissi. It's about 1 1/2 hours drive from Chania according to Via Michelin, which tends to be pretty accurate. Some maps make it look mostly highway, but once you leave the Kissamos area it is mostly two lane road more typical of Crete with some hairpin turns, blind corners, etc. My husband is a confident driver, so he took it in stride. I believe you can also purchase a bus excursion to Elafonissi in Chania. Elafonissi is a beautiful beach, very clean, and has enough interesting features to be fun even if you'd rather explore than lay in the sun. The water is crystal clear and has a bit of a turquoise to pink tint; it's generally not overtly pink. Typical of European beaches you have phalanxes of chairs w/umbrellas for rent and there are a few beach bars to grab something simple to eat/drink, and toilets. But it's a very big area and can hold a lot of people, so the permanent structure didn't spoil the experience for me. We were there until around 2 PM on a weekday and it was pretty busy w/people still arriving. It was busy enough for me; I wouldn't want to see it at peak. As the guidebooks say, if you want a more 'pristine' beach experience you probably want to arrive early. On the way back to Chania from Elafonissi we stopped in Elos for a late lunch; Elos is just off the highway. http://www.angelfire.com/super2/greece/elos.html We didn't stop at the monastery there because we had seen monasteries and frescoes in the Amari valley, but you might be interested in the frescoes at the church there if you don't have an opportunity elsewhere. We ate at one of the taverna on the main street in Elos; it was good although a tourist bus came in while we were there and the wait staff were flying about practically barking at the tourists and that was a bit unpleasant. (It was the restaurant on the left under the big trees across from the small public parking lot.) I was curious about Milia, and thought of eating there on the way back, http://www.milia.gr/restaurant/ but we were returning the rental car and didn't want to tarry.

We hiked Imbros instead of Samaria. I didn't want to hike for an entire day; Imbros was 3-4 hours. I linked the Imbros hike with an overnight in Loutro so Imbros also fit better into our schedule. The path is mostly the bottom of the creek bed so is strewn with small- to medium-sized rock. It's a pretty easy distance to walk, but threading around the rocks slows you down. If we had hiking poles we would have made faster progress. Even on the Imbros hike we saw some people who were hurting. It's not a trivial walk and if you're hiking around noon (imperfect timing on our part) you aren't shaded much.

We drove part of the highways from Heraklio to Chania, as we had a rental car. it reminded us in places of California, with the sweeping views at some height from the road over the sea. We were always on the highways in the evening and thought it wasn't bad to drive. The roads weren't very busy at that time of day. I don't know what it would be like during the day. You do need to watch out for people who want to pass you and get over, and also just keep an eye out for 'creative' passing coming at you from the other direction as there is generally no lane divider and they may use part of your lane.