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Honeymoon help - Athens or Istanbul ?


We are looking to spend 14 days in early July visiting the Greek islands. We would also like to visit a large city nearby - I seem to hear mixed reviews about Athens so I was curious if anyone had also visited Istanbul ? I understand that this would alter our flights but we would fly from Athens to Santorini anyway so it isn't a large difference.

Our primary goals are to eat great food, wander around walkable friendly cities, visit some historical/unique sites and have some down time when on the islands.

Will visiting Athens feel very similar to visiting any of the Greek islands or is it a very different experience ?


Posted by
3996 posts

Athens is indeed quite different from an island. Athens is a big city, so a lot of people want the idyllic island experience and skip it. I prefer a more cohesive experience--Greek city, Greek island--but you should choose the one you are more drawn to. I loved seeing the Acropolis, and enjoyed my limited time in the city. I admit I enjoyed Istanbul more, but it is not fair to compare such different places.
Turkish air has some great deals and is a fine airline, so that might cinch it. Once you have your islands selected, see how that affects the itinerary.

Posted by
6113 posts

Athens is very different to the islands. There is enough to keep you occupied for a few days, but it’s not the place to spend a week in July (v hot).

Sorry. Santorini is my least favourite Greek island by a long margin. I prefer my islands to be more Greek and less Disney.

Istanbul has a very different feel, being a muslin culture. There is more to see than in Athens but I didn’t like being hassled by locals everywhere we went to buy things and being elbowed when I dared to walk in front of my husband. July would be too hot for me to spend many days in either city.

Posted by
3080 posts

Both cities have so much to offer. You will enjoy whichever one you choose, but getting to Istanbul from an island is time-consuming and most likely will require a return to Athens for a flight. The exceptions would be Rhodes>Bodrum>Istanbul or Chios>Kusadasi>Izmiir>Istanbul, but again, very time consuming. Save Turkey for another time. It's a wonderful country.

Posted by
2070 posts

Istanbul was one of my favorite places, but it's not for everyone. Both cities will be really hot that time of year though.

Posted by
3258 posts

Istanbul is not particularly a treat for women accustomed to a measure of respect in public, in Western countries. And the best architecture dates from its time as a great Greek metropolis. By contrast, I've always enjoyed strolling around Athens, making new discoveries every time, having great talks in shops, meeting fellow tourists in cafes. I've lived all my adult life in 3 of America's largest cities, and Athens, at least to me, feels safer than the cities I've loved here. In Athens, people are out in cafes, walking the avenues at all hours.. a very sociable feeling.

Posted by
2070 posts

Istanbul is not particularly a treat for women accustomed to a measure of respect in public, in Western countries.

Interesting. I was in my late 20s (female) when I was in Istanbul and never felt this. I understand Greek though and heard some things men said not knowing I understood them...sometimes you just don't know.

Posted by
10338 posts

Visit Athens this trip and save Istanbul for a trip focused on Turkey. And Athens is not like the islands but is filled with incredible history and more Greek culture.
The least Greek place you have on your itinerary is Santorini. It looks Greek but it is so touristy and non Greek feeling. We could not wait to get out of there.

Posted by
15477 posts

note to all. This is the only OP's post on the forum. She never returned. It's been 5 months.

There's no reason to revive it.