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Greek Islands Itinerary Questions

I will be traveling solo in Greece in mid-Sept for twelve days, then meeting my friends in Athens for the top Rick recommendations of Athens, Hydra, and Nafplio (with side trips to Epidavros and Mycenae) at the end of Sept for 8 days. I have chosen to spend my solo time in the islands. Even though they are popular and touristy, I do want to to see the biggies of Santorini and Mykonos. I have a flight into Santorini and accommodations on the island for four nights. After that I was planning to travel to Naxos for three nights, Mykonos/Delos for three nights, and back to Athens either early to explore on my own or up to Delphi to see the ruins (which does not look like it will fit into the friends' itinerary.) I love food/wine, history, and learning about the local culture. I enjoy being outside in nature especially hiking and swimming. Not much for shopping, but don't mind splurging on a really nice restaurant. My usual budget is hostels and public transportation (I do not enjoy hiring a rental car in foreign countries) but I already appreciate that this trip will not be as budget friendly and I can live with that.

Here's the plan -
Santorini - 4 nights (booked and not changeable),
Naxos - 3 nights (booked but I can extend),
Mykonos - 3 nights (not booked),
Athens and then bus up to Delphi - 1 night (not booked),
return to Athens to meet friends

My big questions are should I extend my time in Naxos by a day and then visit Mykonos for two nights, or keep my itinerary as is and give Mykonos a fair shot (I would see about hiring a guide and getting as much local knowledge as possible)?

Is spending a day traveling from Mykonos to Delphi too challenging? I would take public transportation. Thank you in advance for any advice!

Posted by
1274 posts

Santorini and Naxos combination is a great choice. Santroini because it is unique and spectacular. Naxos will give you a more realistic version of a Greek island. It has a lot to give high mountain villages, hiking, great beaches a lovely main town topped by a Venetina Kastro.
Mykonos is lovely but has marketed itself as a high end jet set destination. It has Santorini prices but Naxos has more to offer at half the price.

If Delos is a must see then extend your stay in Naxos and take the day excursion boat from Naxos to Delos and 3 hours in Mykonos. That is a great way to see Mykonos without stressing your budget.

The only way you can get to Delphi from Athens without renting a car is by Taxi or KTEL bus. Bus leaves Athens 8:15, 10:30 3:00 and 6PM. Return bus are at 11 ,2, and 5:30.
The only way to leave an island and get to Athens in time to catch a bus is really by flying then getting to the bus station which takes about an hour. The trip to Delphi takes about 3 hours each way.

You probably should rethink that plan.

Here is why Naxos is such a great choice. Stay longer.
Around Naxos town 2022
Back to Naxos 2022
Chalki and Vivlos villages
Naxos sunsets

Posted by
2682 posts

Stanbr and I disagree on Naxos Town where I took a day trip from Santorini. Besides having a picturesque port, one nice curvy sidewalk with a good restaurant that offers a view, Naxos Town was a disappointment. I expected a lot more after reading numerous posts about Naxos.
Castro (the old town) barely exists. Other than a church with an unfinished facade (the one in Montepulciano is better) there’s no reason to visit.
There is a good restaurant that opens at 6p that I did not get to enjoy because my ferry left before then. If you sleep in Naxos Town plan on doing day trips to other places on the island and not a full day exploring the town.

Posted by
3961 posts

Emma, we spent 6 nights on Naxos & felt we had a wonderful Greek experience. We stayed in a resort at the opposite end of old town. We liked Santorini (4 nights) but loved Naxos. Naxos just clicked for us. No regrets! Our time in the Cyclades was following our RS Greece Tour. A special thanks to stanbr who was one of our go to’s from this forum! Agree, 2 great choices. If we would have had more time we would have added Paros and Crete! If interested in great restaurants on Santorini & Naxos, let me know. Enjoy!

Posted by
523 posts

We flew from Milan to Mykonos and spent 3 days there in September. It really feels a lot more commercial than the other islands. We spent 4 days in Naxos (we wished we had more days) which has so much to offer and we found the people much warmer and the prices way less. It has a lot of affordable and fun restaurants and swimming and some nice history walks . Our top favorite was beautiful Naoussa, Paros as the sea for swimming was amazing and the beach so unique. We love Greece

Posted by
15477 posts

MaryPat's Naxos experience is like many who visit a place on a day trip. I spent 4 wonderful nights on Naxos - not nearly as touristy as your other islands and beautiful beaches and sunsets, very good restaurants and cheaper in all respects. Take one or two day tours to see more of the island, it's very interesting and you'll visit real artisans' workshops.

Posted by
1375 posts


Do not listen to the opinions of people who have a very limited experience of a few hours on an island. It's like giving reading advice about a book of which you've only read 5 pages.

I have been going to the Greek islands for over 30 years (including Naxos), and even if I don't have exactly the same preferences as stanbr or janet, I can assure you that they know exactly what they are talking about.

Do not hesitate to add a night in Naxos especially if you enjoy being outside in nature and like swimming, hiking. You can take a day trip to Delos from Naxos. So you will have seen Mykonos for a few hours which is more than enough.

Posted by
1114 posts

I'm another who has to disagree with the day tripper to Naxos and Naxos Town.

Naxos Town has a lot more to offer than the poster said. Lovely with narrow lanes, pretty architecture, shops, museums and tavernas.

Definitely worth wandering around and getting "lost" in its maze of streets.

The rest of the island has something for everyone from touristy to non-touristy.

A number of lovely villages, spectacular mountain road through the middle of the island, beaches, centuries old Byzantine Churches, archeological/historic sites and so much more.

I spent 9 days there and never ran out of things to do, see and experience.

Even did the Delos/Mykonos day cruise with Delos a gem of a archeological island, one of the best sites in Greece.

Mykonos was ho-hum, not my type of island but the main town was pretty but packed with day trippers.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you everyone for these wonderful responses! It's challenging to make decisions when you have no experience with a location, so I value the knowledge you have to offer. I appreciate the contrasting opinions as well!

It sounds like, based on your opinions and my travel preferences, the consensus is I should stay longer in Naxos and not bother with an overnight in Mykonos. At best it is worthy of a day trip to see Delos and sneak in Rick's orientation walk (I do love those self-guided walks!). I should explore Naxos island and use it as a jumping off point to day trip to Mykonos/Delos and maybe Paros. It also seems like the bus network is pretty robust and I should not have a ton of trouble getting around.

Stanbr - your pictures of Naxos are lovely and definitely sell it. Thank you for the feedback on Delphi. It sounds like a day trip from my home base in Athens or a flight from Naxos, taxi ride (maybe with the famous George), and overnight in Delphi with a return by bus are my best options.

MaryPat - I appreciate your opinion, it's worth knowing when somewhere isn't to everyone's liking. It's also the reason I asked about Mykonos because day tripping is a taste and not necessarily the full flavor of a location.

Janis - I would love your restaurant recommendations, thank you!

Karen, Chani, JoLui, and tommyk5 - thank you all for the feedback, it is really useful and helped solidify my decision

New Plan
- Santorini - 4 nights
- Naxos - 5 nights (with plans to day trip to Mykonos/Delos maybe Paros or another closer island)
- Return to Athens and taxi to Delphi, overnight in Delphi, see ruins, bus back to Athens OR stay in Athens before friends' arrivals and join a day excursion to Delphi. I'll price out my options and research a bit more to see which is the best value for me.

Thanks everyone!

Posted by
1114 posts

I would reduce 1 night from Santorini and add it to Naxos.

Lots more to do, see and experience on Naxos.

Posted by
10344 posts

The poster said her days in Santorini are not changeable which is too bad. I would cut one or two days off of Santorini and add it to Naxos if it were possible.

Posted by
1114 posts

Suki: OK if locked into Santorini. Not sure if it's "Not changeable" due to already booked without option to change days or just wanting to stay there for 4 nights.

Another reason for first timers to ask questions before booking a stay based on what the glossy travel magazines and travel agents tell you where to go rather than what you are looking for in a Greece trip.

Posted by
3961 posts

Emma, some restaurant recommendations & other ideas:

Excellent bus service on Naxos! Beautiful Villages. We loved the charming marble village of Apiranthos. The bus dropped us off for about 3 hours and we enjoyed walking and stopping for a delicious lunch.

In Athens- Favorite cuisine was at Mani Mani.
If you go to Hydra, our favorite restaurant is Veranda. Gorgeous view & great food.

Edited to add: Naxos: Restaurants: To Elliniko & Kozi. Both excellent. Kozi has a nice view- lovely at sunset!