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Greek isles tour

We are considering a tour of the isles in May 2020. Has anyone used a tour company? I DO NOT want a cruise. Thanks.

Posted by
2416 posts

Vicki, You'd need to tell us more about yourselves & your interests if you want a useful answer .... for instance, how many days would you expect to spend? It would be very different for a 1 week tour vs 2 weeks. And are you over 55? If so, I think the ROAD SCHOLAR tour is worthwhile because it spends a decent amount of time on the isles it selects. Of course, any tour costs about 2x as mch as independent travel, but if you want everything taken care of for you, that's the price you pay. I suggest you google some tours & compare length and isles covered. Then go look at a guide book about the islands they list. That's a start.

Posted by
13930 posts

Do you mean a guided tour or a DIY tour? DIY is pretty easy if you know more or less where you want to go. You may find a combination of ferries and flights is most efficient, depending on which islands you want to visit and how much time you have.

Posted by
224 posts

We are on a sail boat right now and having an amazing time. We loved the company we booked with and our skipper and hostess.
We booked with yachtsailing.gr. We are on the Casino- it has 4 cabins and we are with friends but they have smaller boats as well. Our experience has been amazing! You will love it. I as well HATE cruising.

Posted by
38 posts

Thanks for the info. We would probably use a tour company. Yes, we are 69 and 71. I recognize that the climbing on the isles can be difficult. We want a somewhat authentic experience but don’t care to drive ourselves. Not sure why Rick doesn’t have a tour.

Posted by
2416 posts

Yes many RS fans wish he did an island tour. I think he likes the Peloponnese, but for some reason , not a big fan of the Greek Isles -- if you see his videos of Turkey and of Italy, he raves about those 2 places (altho people aren't as enthused about Turkey these days, despite Rick). He did a recent video supposedly about islands... but it really was about a cruise visit to the 3 most touricized, overpromoted 3 islands - Santorini, Mykonos & Rhodes. The video showed him talking on a deck, very few other passengers on board, and him hopping off and getting a private guide to avoid the crowds. Not reflective of the experience for the average person.

However, I am not with you in that wish... if he did a tour of many of our favorite islands, they would be even more inundated by large groups of his devotees. I can remember when RC first talked, 20 years ago, about the charming, untouristy walk between Italy's Cinque Terre villages -- and now it's like walking in NYC at rush hour. Let's hope he doesn't tell Steves World about more Greek isles!

Posted by
639 posts

I think the reason you may be having trouble finding a "tour" that is not also a "cruise" of the Greek islands is because they don't really lend themselves to that, nor require it. If you want to see several islands then you obviously need a boat to get between them so "cruise tours" are popular for that reason. In other places if you want to visit several destinations then a "tour" provides you with transportation between them (usually bus) but that makes no sense on Greek islands. While most of the islands have a couple of towns the distances are not far and local buses get you around. Also "tours" are good for people who want to know about the history of places and specific buildings, etc. and are too busy/lazy/incompetent to do any pre trip research. Greek islands, while full of history, don't have tons of "sites" that need a guided tour to see. So, all in all, Greek islands, more than other places, lend themselves to independent travel. Other than Crete, there is really no need to ever rent a car (although some people certainly enjoy doing that to visit out of the way places).

You say you are 69 and 71 which doesn't tell us much. Do you have health or mobility issues? Have you traveled before - in other words can you book hotels (booking.com, etc.) and figure out how to buy ferry tickets? If you can, then you really don't need a "tour". There is tons of information on this and other forums to help decide which islands pair well with each other, etc.

Posted by
13930 posts

Out of curiosity, I looked at the Roads Scholar website and found this land-based tour and this yacht tour that are close to what you want. The first means carting luggage on and off ferries (presumably the public ferries with hundreds of passengers) and sleeping in hotels.

They aren't my style - too little actual touring, geared to people who may have trouble walking/standing more than 3 hours, a lot of day-time lectures, and they aren't cheap.

Posted by
38 posts

Thanks for all the info everyone. Yes, we are in good health and are about to take Rick's tour of Barcelona and Madrid which is listed as "strenuous." Will take into doing the isles "our way."

Posted by
78 posts

You might consider using a Greek travel agent (I used Aegean Thesaurus) to help with choosing islands and with hotels & ferries, if you don't wish to do all of this yourself. They helped me with my Santorini-->Folegandros-->Milos-->Sifnos itinerary this past summer; I was happy with all of my hotels and the agent let me know of a ferry schedule change a few weeks before my trip and gave me alternatives to deal with that change.

You can do all of this yourself, of course, but I found in particular the ferry scheduling to be a bit confusing. The travel agent (and the Greek island vets in the forum) can help with reasonable islands to pair together based on where the ferries actually run, as it's easy to pick islands that look close but aren't directly connected.

Also consider flying directly into your first island (I flew directly into Santorini) and work your way back to Athens.

Posted by
3536 posts

Unless you do a private yacht charter (very expensive$7000 pp and up.)then u have to cruise to get to the islands. I have ferried and flown around the islands and also taken a Celestryl Greek cruise lines. It is no easy task. Schedules and get to and from certain islands is a research task.youi must at least decide which islands u wish to visit. There are a lot of islands. By far the easiest and best for tour led was Celestryl cruise lines. They are much smaller than the Princess, MSC etc major lines.
Perhaps u could give more info on your wishes incl budget, length etc.