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Honeymoon Advice, Please? Our Goal: 1-2 Quintessential Greek Isles

Hello! My new wife and I are currently planning our European honeymoon this summer from mid-June to early July. The highlight of our honeymoon is expected to be the 6-7 days we plan to spend in the Greek islands the last week of June (roughly June 25-July 1.. dates aren't fixed, but give or take a day). We plan to fly to Greece from Croatia (not sure which departure city yet, still figuring this out) and fly out of Greece to Copenhagen. We would prefer to skip Athens and fly directly to/from the islands, if possible. I have visited Athens previously.

An alternative would be to fly to Greece a week earlier from Barcelona (~June 18), and then visit Croatia after Greece, before continuing on to Copenhagen.

My wife is not very familiar with Greece, but is quite taken with the iconic photographs of Santorini. I have read here that Santorini is expensive and crowded with tourists, especially in the height of summer. At a minimum, I think we will still want to see the island on a day trip, an possibly spend a night or two. We would then look to spend the rest of our visit on another island that is less crowded, less pricey, and more romantic. We would love your advice. Any recommendations?

A little about us.. We are seeking a relaxing, romantic Greek isle getaway with natural beauty, nice beaches, options for nightlife and good restaurants. We aren't foodies, but would love to try some of the local seafood. I love hiking, and while my wife is enjoying the beach or lounging by the pool, I might look to check out some local scenic trails.

I read Janet's reply to another honeymooner recommending Paros. I have seen others suggest Naxos, and Matt at Greektravel seems to highly recommend Sifnos. I have no idea how these islands compare for what we are seeking. I am not very familiar with all the ferry routings, but gather that in summer we could fly directly into and out of Santorini and then catch ferries from there to nearby islands.

Please let us know your thoughts on which 1-2 islands to visit for our honeymoon, your tips on visiting the famous Santorini for a day or two, and any logistical suggestions you can offer (such as flying in/out from Barcelona vs. Croatia, flying in/out of Santorini vs. other options, and how to use the ferry system to our best advantage).

Thank you in advance for sharing your insight and wisdom. We truly appreciate it!

Posted by
1272 posts

Congratulations on your wedding.
You will have to search options on flights direct to a Greek island. I suspect you are going to find that most flights terminate in Athens so you will need to book a connecting flight out to your chosen island.
Santorini is indeed spectacular. To aviod the cruise ship crowds you could get a caldera view hotel in Firaestafain which is just far enough out of Fira to miss the crowds. Santoirni is all about the Caldera views so make sure your hotel says it has caldera views not sea views. I mention Santorini first because there are more daily flight options there than some of the other islands.
If you can find a flight to Naxos that works with you in bound flight then it really does provide you with what you are looking for. The bonus is there are two tourist excursion boats the Alexander and Naxos Star that do day trips to Santorini. That way you get the Santorini experience without the high cost.
Flights to Naxos are limited to 3 a day on 30 passenger Dash 8 turbo prop aircraft. You should check Aegeans web site to determine if there are any seats left on your dates.
You can always fly to Santorini then ferry to Naxos.
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos

Posted by
14661 posts

The most popular and quintessential Greek islands are probably Mykonos and Santorini. They are probably the most visited. With popularity come tourist crowds but in June crowds will be better than July and August. Besides with Athens, both have seasonal flight connections with numerous European destinations, especially Santorini. You can go from Santorini to Mykonos with high speed hydrofoils. Go to Wikipedia, enter Santorini airport (or Mykonos airport) and see all the destinations listed so you get an idea of which airline flies to where from either airport. Another very popular destination is Crete, but of course there are a ton of nice islands.

Posted by
1112 posts

Santorini and Mykonos are two of the most popular and heavily touristed islands. Some people think that's great . . . other's don't.

If you want more traditional Greek Islands then islands like Sifnos, Milos, Naxos, and even Paros would be better. You can fly to all except Sifnos and/or combined Milos & Sifnos. Naxos is one of the best of the Greek Islands with a nice combination of Old & New World Greece. You can do a day cruise to Santorini and experience it without the high costs and escape the crowds and head back to Naxos for a more relaxed and Greek Experience.

Lots of other islands less touristed, cheaper but still Greek.

I think Matt's Greek Guide is one of the best for anything and everything one needs to know about Greece:

Posted by
21 posts

I would recommend Amorgos - it does not have the nightlife you find on Mykonos, and is less crowded than Santorini. And is spectacularly beautiful and romantic.

We were in Santorini last year in mid-June and were shocked to see how many tourists were there, especially in Oia - you could not walk along the commercial part to do some shopping. It was really uncomfortable. Same thing in Thira - traffic was a killer. Not really a setting to put you in a romantic mood.

If you're feeling adventurous, try Crete, but the south west part - we went to a place called Milia , in the middle of the mountains, and spent some marvelous 2 days over there. It is a truly magical place. Here's the link:

Posted by
1112 posts

I would agree with Amorgos. I was there last October and loved it. It was off season so there were very few tourists but most everything still open including lots of tavernas, markets and shops. Obviously that's not the time frame of the original post but I would think Amorgos would still be a good options, probably more tourists but nowhere neaer as Santorini or Mykonos and probably a little more "Greek".

There is a 9 hour ferry so it's a long haul. A good island combination would be Astypalea, even more Greek which you can fly to then take a a short ferry ride to Amorgos. Both islands offer beautiful Choras, beaches, excellent food and probably some decent nightlife that time of year but not over the top. We did that trip last October and it turned out to be our top trip to Greece over the years.

The ferry back from Amorgos to Piraeus is really not that bad as it stops at five other islands along the way which gives you a peek of those islands, at least their waterfronts.

Posted by
3 posts

It is true that Santorini and Mykonos are too mainstream and crowded with tourists.

If you want something more quiet i will agree that the other suggestions are better that Mykonos,Santorini.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you to everyone who replied - We really appreciate your insight and suggestions!

We have no booked our flights and arrive in Santorini June 23rd for two nights, then planning to catch a ferry June 25 to another island for four nights before we return to Santorini for our onward flight June 29th.

Based on the responses, right now we are considering Naxos, Paros, and Amorgos. Mykonos sounds too party centric for us. We're already expecting the crowds in Santorini, so we're looking forward to a less crowded isle for those four nights. Crete is probably too far out of the way for us.

Now that we know our timeframe and arrival / departure point (Santorini), which island would you recommend between Naxos, Paros, and Amorgos? We are seeking less crowds, romantic, active options (hiking, biking, kayaking), nice beaches, and decent restaurant options.

Thanks again!

Posted by
1112 posts

I'm not sure if there is a ferry between Santorini or Amorogs but there'll probably be one between Naxos and Paros. If there is a way to get to Amorgos from Santorini I would highly recommend that island. Even though you'll be there late June-early July it may still be outside the High Season for tourists so it would be ideal for a more traditional and real Greek Island Experience. We were there in October and it was outstanding, few tourists, low prices and great weather along with a more realxed and laid back atmosphere.

We also have been to Naxos in October with the same results but a little more crowded but still not obnoxious.

We have not been to Paros so can't comment on that.

If it was me, I would go to Naxos one of the best of the Greek Islands with a nice combination of Old & New World Greece. I believe there are ferries between Santorini/Naxos.

If I had a choice I would not go to Santorini, but that's me. We prefer the less touristed, smaller and more traditional islands like Amorgos, Astypalea, Naxos, Ikaria, Lemnos, Skyros and a few others.

But if you have your heart on Santorini try to find accommodation out of the main tourist zone and stay for a couple days then head straight to Naxos, Amorgos or even Paros for a more Greek Experience.

My wife and I honeymooned last year in Greece during peak season. we visited Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Crete.

Mykonos was expensive and very commercial and party oriented. Beautiful and stunning, but expensive.

We only did a day trip to Naxos, but we wish we would've planned more time.

Paros was incredible. A small island, we spent 3 days on Paros in the village of Drios on the far side of the island. There is a bus that runs the entirety of the island. Drios was a small village with 3 tavernas and a small market and warm, welcoming people. The main port is "crowded," but it's nothing compared to any other island. The next popular city, Noussa, has some lovely seafood and a relaxed vibe. But we had our best times in Drios and Piso Lavadi. In Piso Lavadi, it was a seaside taverna at night. In Drios, is was a secluded beach with 3 people in sight. Incredible. A small bakery for breakfast started a day of uninterrupted exploration and relaxation. Bonus: Antiparos, an even smaller island with a big cave is a 20 minute ferry away! Prices were cheaper than other islands.

Crete deserves a month of exploration time. We spent time on the North and the east of Crete. Heraklion, Rethymno, Chania were our main city stops. Typical cities well worth exploring. The Samaria Gorge is an incredible hike. Start early, hike down into Agia Roumeli for a stunningly gorgeous black pebble beach. Take a bus back to the top and drive home. An entire day or beauty. And, of course, Elafonisi, the legendary pink sands beach.

It all depends on what you're looking for. If you want relaxed, Paros is a good choice. If you're staying 6-7 days, Crete has everything you want and more. I'd say either Crete for the entire time, or (from what I've experienced) Naxos-Paros. They're closeby, so the ferry ride from one to the other isn't too long and there's an airport on both islands.

All that said, you can't go wrong! Congratulations! Yassou!

Posted by
1272 posts

Good information from the previous poster. It is a two hour ferry trip from Santorini to Heraklion Crete so it takes about the same times as getting to Paros or Naxos. The difference is you can get mid day boats to Paros/Naxos but only evening boats from Santorini to Crete.

If you choose Crete you can stay in Heraklion that first evening see Knossos and the museum then take a bus to Rethymnon for a day to see the old town and the Fortezza then continue to Chania.
Chania 2015

To do this trip any justice you should have about a week.

If you choose Paros the previous poster mentioned Piso Lividi. It is a quiet port village. While you are there you can hike the 2,000 year old Byzantine trail through the mountains.
Piso Lavidi

So many choices. Naxos would still be my number one choice though. Whatever you choose to do you are nearing high season and should get hotels booked.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you all for the excellent advice! We are so excited for our honeymoon in Greece!

Based on your collective advice, we will be spending two days in Santorini and then taking the ferry over to Naxos for four days there. We will keep in mind all the recommendations you have shared.

Thanks again - We really appreciate it!!

Posted by
11503 posts

We are in Mkonos right now.
We flew into Mykonos from london, had two days , went to Naxos for 4 days, and are now back here for last two days before we fly to Spain.

I wish we had spent more time in Naxos!!!

The people in Naxos are SO nice, not as tourist jaded as they are here.
The prices are much better in Naxos, and we found the food better in Naxos, they use more local stuff.

We are past wild nightlife stage but i do recall my first visit here ( in my early twenties) and obvioussly Mykonos has much more party scene than Naxos. For us a good dinner and some time to wander around town in evening, stopping for a drinkmor two is enough now, and N axos was perfect for us.

Posted by
3257 posts

Yes Pat, that's so often the case -- but most people have to learn through experience. The travel agencies, cruise brochures etc have such an unending drumbeat of Santorini-Mykonos, Santorini-Mykonos, that people (mostly Americans & Canadians) "go with the flow." Add to that the "my friend said" factor (usually friends who took one of those 4-daycruises that only visit the 4 places that have deep-enough port for Monster ships, and then they become experts). I'm glad that you were able to spend time on Naxos, and I'm sure it won't be your last visit, either!

Posted by
11503 posts

Janet we will definitely return to Naxos, it's been highlight of our long trip so far !! Next year hoping Naxos and Paros, or maybe with further research Naxos and another island.
I had been to Mykonos almost 35 yrs ago and wanted a revisit, but then I was young, the nightlife appealed, and perhaps it was a little less jet set? I also visited Paros that long ago and recall it being a lot more low key , hopping it has remained like that to some degree .

Posted by
3257 posts

Pat when you get back, you'll have plenty of time t o do rsearch, and I'm guessing for you that's part of the enjoyment. Paros, yes, but have you been to Serifos - Sifnos - Milos? The ferry run right up the western Cyclades about 1 hour between each island, each has a BEAUTIFUL high-town "chora" ... Sifnos is great for hiking, walking (flagstone paths linking all towns), Milos has TWENTY-TWO beaches, PLUS you can get boat day-trips around or half-round the island, that was a high point for me. Serifos -- SO relaxing, staying 2 days is like a week elsewhere.and has a DIVINE place of bungalows to stay on an almost-private beach. Considerations: Serifos has skimpy transit but no place you need to go... Sifnos has good bus network ... Milos rquires car or ATV/Scooter to explore. There are good an candid websites about all 3 and of course, guidebooks.