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Hotel recommendations - travelling solo

I'm travelling solo in June for 3 weeks. (single white female around 50) Haven't decided on my itinerary yet. I know the suggestions are to end in Athens, but haven't decided yet. I usually like to start busy then relax. May start and end with Athens or may stay one night by the airport and then fly to Santorini. Will depend on hotel availability. Athens, Santorini, Milos Naxos so far. Maybe add one more island. I would love recommendations for hotels and tours. I did read quite a few posts so I'm making a list. I love beaches and a bit of hiking. Love to see the ruins, not so big on museums. I'm trying to be on a budget. No hostels but basic hotels where I can feel comfortable walking alone to dinner at night. Love to walk along the beaches, willing to take buses and lots of walking. Don't mind renting a car one day on one of the islands and do 1 tour on each island. I was thinking 3 nights in Santorini, 3 in Athens maybe 5 nights in Naxos. That's all I have so far. First time to Greece, thought I was going for the ruins and history but now it's mostly about island hopping and beaches, where hopefully I can incorporate everything. My flights have been booked to and from Athens. Arrive around 7pm if I make all my connections. Thanks for your help.

Posted by
3135 posts

You need to lets us know what your maximum daily budget will be for hotels. Otherwise we're just guessing. For example, rooms on Santorini range from $40-2000/night. If you don't have the answer yet, when you do you can use the filter system at www.booking.com to see what's available to you on your travel dates.

Posted by
12 posts

It will depend on what I can find. It would be great if I could find hotels for $100 CDN per night or less but I'm going to take what I can get depending on the island. I assume some island will be more expensive than others and location will also affect the price, but it won't be $2,000. I will go on booking.com and look for affordability. I have looked at some of the posts with maps so I can get a better idea. I don't need anything fancy as I don't expect to spend much time in my room. Other than a comfortable bed and a washroom, walking distance to restaurants, I should be good. I'd rather spend my money on exploring.

Posted by
1398 posts

Hi from the west coast.
If you arrive by 7pm there will still be flights available to Santorini later in the evening. I know how long it is to get to Greece from the west but believe me Santorini at night is magical. Staying in Athens at the airport is not. You can be at your Santorini hotel by 10 pm and start your vacation in style.

Your $100 CDN ( now is a good time to start to think in Euros) is not going to get you very far in Santorini particularly if you want a Caldera view. You may have to settle for a stay at one of the beaches, Kamri or Perissa. Santorini is not famous for its beaches as they are coarse pumice grit. You will have to remember to bring sturdy beach shoes because if that grit gets on your feet it can burn you. Having said that Santorini is spectacular and worth it.
Santorini http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632154800782/

Next there are daily ferries from Santorini to Naxos. There are fast ferries which will get you there in less than an hour and a half. As I recall Championjet gets you to Naxos around noon. The blue star ferry is large and takes 2 to 2.5 hours but won't get you to Naxos until later in the afternoon. After 14 trips to Naxos getting there as early as possible is worth paying more for.

I think you might want to consider St George beach in Naxos. Agios Georgios if you are searching for hotels on booking dot com. St George is a kilometer long crescent beach. Good sand and you can have great walks virtually all the way to the airport. St George is part of Naxos town so you get all the activities of the town and a beach vacation in one place. When we want a full beach day we take the KTEL bus to Plaka beach 7KM from town. It has kilometers of beach walking for you.

Hotels at St George tend to be small family run. We are budget travelers too. You might expect to get one of these small hotels for about 45 to 50 euros a night. We get studios so we can have a breakfast and an occasional Greek salad for lunch.
We have stayed at Studios Naxos. They have at least three rooms with sea view. Nearby is Diogenes. They have 5 or 6 room all with direct beach view. Sigma is in the same building as Diogenes and has 4 or 5 rooms on the second floor with beach view.
A bit more expensive but a very nice hotel is Kymata. The second floor rooms all have a nice sea view rove the buildings on the other side of the street. Also in you price range is Hotel Spiros. Its back from the beach about 250 meter walk but its second floor rooms have sea view. Both Kymata and Spiros serve breakfast.

St George Beach Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632113170279/
St George Beach Hotels Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632162394787/

Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/

Naxos needs a minimum of 4 nights a week is ideal to see most of it.

Posted by
1398 posts

Sorry I forgot. Tours.
There is a very good guided tour available from Naxos tours. We stumbled on this tour while driving and the guide was quite knowledgeable. You will get to see all the highlights of the island. Later if you saw something that interests you like a mountain village you can return with a car rental or by the KTEL bus.

There are also two excursion boats. Naxos Star and Alexander. They do day trips to the little Cyclades islands and another one to the ancient site at Delos and on to Mykonos.
Day trip Delos and Mykonos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157637922138466/

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you so much, this is great. I have my doubts on finding hotels for $100 but best affordable will work, (but the other person wanted a number so I gave one ). I figured I'd spend the most money for hotels on Santorini. I'm also playing with the idea of starting in Athens and then head to the islands and come back for one more night in Athens. If any of my flights get delayed or cancelled then I feel safer and get the busy out of the way. I'm also excited to see the Acropolis. I'm sure by the end of June I'm going to want to be on the beaches. Once I research hotels in Santorini, I'll get a better idea of when I should be there depending on availability. I was going to research Delos as well. It's nice to know which islands are good for day trips. I arrive the evening of June 7 and leave on the 28th. I was in Nanaimo once a few years ago. Great place.

Posted by
2455 posts

I got here before Janet, so I will recommend her top pic on Santorini which is Villa Fotini in Firostefani, between Fira and Oia. I had a nice room with an outside deck (no real view) for €70 in late June 2017. Nearby this hotel are restaurants, great ocean sunset views, and a bus stop. It is walking distance into Fira, and a long long walk or modest bus ride into Oia.

Posted by
1398 posts

We lived in Calgary for 14 years. Most of our Greece visits were taken from Calgary. I can say its much easier to get to Greece from Calgary than the island.
I don't want to belabour the point but on our first trip we stopped in Athens first. It is foreign. Hot, dusty, loud and the traffic was appalling. Add jet lag to this scenario plus pickpockets on the metro. We were ready to head back to the airport and fly back home.
We got over it and learned to enjoy everything Athens has to offer. However we always do Athens at the end of the trip because getting over jet lag on an island is just so much better. It allows you to get acclimatized to Greece and how things are done. The islands are relaxed, and beautiful and are a perfect way to immerse yourself into Greek culture.

Posted by
2148 posts

Sorry to pile on but I do agree with the others regarding flying directly to Santorini after landing in Athens. We have done it both ways, and much prefer to push through & keep on flying.

Regarding islands and hotels, you might consider adding Amorgos after Naxos. It’s a just couple of hours on the ferry and will let you have a totally different island experience. There are two ferry ports; you want Katapola. Stay at Porto Katapola, right on the harbor, with a budget price (50-60 euros a couple of years ago) but a million dollar view from your private balcony. Lots of places to walk. Visit the amazing Hozoviotissa monastery carved into the side of a cliff. The island is small, gets few tourists, wonderful people, great food.

Posted by
3364 posts

I also like Amorgos, but I would vote for the Other port, village of Aegali .... it has a charming beach, sandy, not overbuilt, with two lovely hillside towns above it. Just off the opposite end of the beach from the pier is a great place to stay, Askas Pension. http://www.askaspension.gr It's a cute family-run place, that on other other side has a small camping facility. Friendly place, lots of people mixing of an evening. Amorgos is so laid-back that 3 nights are like 5 in a more frenetic place. I went there on impulse the 1st of june, years ago, on my own. On that funny fer ry (Skopoletis?) I met a Londoner who was great fun (worked for BBC, OKing locations for historical dramas!), we hit it off, so decided to join up to spend next days exploring Amorgos.... we actually found Askas on instructions from one of her friends: "JUst go to Katerina's taverna (now a new name - it's the one under the flowering tree), order a wine, and say loudly, I wonder where we can find a nice room, near the beach?" We did that and a British couple walked over and said, follow us, you'll like it, and we did. The next evening, they led us up to one of those towns (you can hike or take a bus) to, a taverna called Nikolas with a STUNNING sunset view, and then caught the last bus down at 9 in the dark. To get that famous monastery built into a cliff at watcer edge, on other side of island, you bus up to CHORA, the snow-white almost-deserted village at very top, then scramble down thru olive groves. pushing aside a herd of goats, to the place; there's a bus back to Aegali. We did visit Katapola, but found it much less attractive than Aegali. To each his own.

Posted by
12 posts

Amorgos looks nice and seems to have lots of hiking trails which I like. So many choices and all the islands look amazing. I had Milos on my list. Some of the tours look nice. Anyone have comments on that? Would I do that one before Naxos or after or is it too similar to Santorini, as someone mentioned in another post. I read some islands are known for their olive oil, others for wine. Is the wine good in Greece? Never had any wine from Greece. If I fly to Santorini, which island is best to finish on? Fly back or Ferry back to Athens? You guys are awesome.

Posted by
186 posts

The wine on Santorini is light and crisp. There are winery tours and tastings and most of the restaurants feature local wines. You will love it!

Posted by
1398 posts

Proper island sequence would be Naxos Santorini Milos. You could do it the other way as well. Of course you can fly to Santorini first with lots more flight option but then Milos is in one direction and Naxos is in the opposite direction from Milos. There used to be a Seajet ferry doing the rum from Milos to Naxos with several stops on the trip. As I recall it ran late and was at least a 5 hour trip. If it is still running its only once or twice a week.

Santorini and Milos are totally different experiences. Santorini has that caldera view, high prices crowds pumice grit beaches and cruise ships. Milos is totally laid back. It is surrounded by sand beaches seldom not visited by large cruise ships so not crowded. It may have been me who said that from Plaka you can get a sunset that rivals Santorinis famous sunset. Plaka is high up on a mountain with views over the sea that would be the only thing that one might suggest is similar to Santorini.

Posted by
2148 posts

Milos is beautiful but you really need a car to see the island. Or you can take a boat trip around the island. We stayed there in 2016 and it was lovely.

But another island I think you might really like is Antiparos. Your itinerary would look like this: fly to Santorini; ferry to Naxos; ferry to Amorgos, if you go there. From either Naxos or Amorgos, you would ferry to Paros, and then take a landing craft ferry to Antiparos (runs every 30 minutes, takes about 12 minutes). We stayed at Mike's Place; not fancy, but spotlessly clean and recently updated, with very comfortable beds. The sweet Lillian was always available for restaurant ideas or any help we might need.

Antiparos is totally walkable. And for such a tiny island, it has a decent amount of things to do: there's a Kastro (castle) in the center of town you can wander through, and a cave with about 400 steps leading down to stalactites and stalagmites. Some great restaurants, including Sale Rosso, run by two ladies from Sicily. But our favorite activity was a full-day boat trip around the island, called a Lazy Day with Captain Ben. He leaves from Antiparos and goes over to Paros to pick up people, then takes you around the island, stopping to swim & snorkle, giving you food and drink all day long. It was one of the highlights of our last trip to Greece.

Posted by
12 posts

sounds amazing. I did have Paros and Antiparos on my list at some point. I saw a tour tour around Milos which attracted me to the island. And the beaches. This is great info!

Posted by
3364 posts

CD, I went off to the gym hoping others would hop in to help you sort out some options, as indeed they did. Now I can add my tweaks, which may help you "have your cake & eat it too."

LOGISTICS and SEQUENCE - Most of us think Milos is a great idea, at least for a short stop but as stanbr notes, it's a outlier geographically, so you'd have to go there First. However, Santorini is the only island where an evening flight is possible when you don't arrive until 7 pm. My thought?? if you DO opt for 1 night by the airport (in a cute little place 10 minutes away), and take an 8 AM flight out to Milos on day 2, all logistics problems would vanish! U could then do ferries MILOS - SANTORINI - AMORGOS - NAXOS with daily sailings that are all short duration. If you use gtp.gr, put in your departure & destination islands in, and specify "6" as month and "any" as day, you'll see the ferry service for all of june. You can cover all these islands, without rushing, in 14 days or so, and have a final week for a last destination (see below), then 3 days in Athens at the end.

CHOICES & WHY - I've visited all the islands llsted, both with companions and solo, with car and without, AND (always) watching a budget, so have learned where best to stay & for how long. Some places have good bus networks, some not. Choice of location and activities also affects "sociability options." Even solo travelers enjoy opportunities to strike up quickie friendships, for drinks or a meal or sightseeing. Herewith some thoughts:

AIRPORT - best close place is ST. THOMAS B& B - http://www.stay-in-athens.com -- a 10 minute taxi-ride from airport, in a lush garden, with a pool. With advance notice, they'd have a light meal brought in ... arriving 7 pm, by 8 you could be in pool for quick dip, a drink and a bite to eat, then sleep by 10. Since the Milos AM flight is 8:30 (check-in 7:30), you'd miss St T's breakfast buffet, but I'm sure they'd pack you a yummy "to-go" parcel. Only 4 rms, but if they're full there are other small places we can suggest nearby

MILOS - (3 days) Without a car, best bet is to stay in port town, ADAMAS. The beach by the pier is n.g., but If you walk 5 minutes to the Left (west) of the pier, there are several nice places on a little sandy cove: Villa Notos, Hotel Eleni, that have balconies with sea view. Suggest Immediate booking! (Important NOTE -- booking is no-risk; almost all Greek hotels have Free-cancellation w. no penalty up until about 2 weeks before arrival -- so you could even book 2 places, decide, then cancel one. Also once u book, if you have to "tweak" your dates a day or so 1 way or another, hoteliers will oblige). ACTIVITIES: Day #1 u can bus up to High town (plaka), explore Adamas. Check weather forecast before dinner book a day-sail for day #2. Pick a large boat, so it can be under sail even if it's windy & we met fun people on board, u could also, perhaps co-rent a car with Day #3 to "beach-hop".

SANTORINI -- (2.5- 3 days). Larry already gave you my lodging gem, Villa Fotini. With advance notice, they'll pick u up at ferry dock & return u there at end of stay. the daily Milos ferry arrives about 12:30 ... by time you check in, wander (15 mins) into Fira town, and have a bite, it will be 3:30 or so -- that's when the Cruise-Ship Mob leaves (thank god!). U can take a bus to OIA & take photos in peace! But don't stay there for sunset (another mob scene). Day 2-3 options: check what tours there are... you dont need one for OIA, may be worth it for Akrotiri & Ancient Thira and wine-tasting. Best local wine? The Assyrtiko dry white with a citrusy tang.

AMORGOS - (2-3 days) See above. Askas Pension, as mentioned, convivial, independent travelers to befriend. Ferry Aegali - Naxos 7 am; u can go to Katapola (there's usually bus or shuttle bus), for a 13:30 ferry ... both r 2 hours.
-- Out of Room -- Continued below --

Posted by
3364 posts

(Continued)
NAXOS - (5 days?) I can only echo stanbr's recommends (because Naxos is where I met him and Mrs. Stanbr, & it's where we all return, year after year.) Amorgos ferries arr 15:30; if you notify hotel, often they'll pick u up On day 1, wander the beach & town, take a photo of arch at sunset. Also might book that round-Naxos tour (offices are open til 9pm or so) for day #2 or #3 -- on my 1st Naxos visit a bus tour is where I met funny Irish folk to do stuff with & share car-rental. At far end of St. George Beach, Flisvos Sports club is a convivial spot for a "sundowner"; lovely couches facing the sea. Time will fly by ...

THEN WHAT? - This list gets you to +/- day 14 and while you've had ruins on Santorini & Naxos, Really Famous Ones still lie undiscovered. So my suggestion = return to Mainland, speedily (50 min flight) or slowly (evening ferry, 6pm- midnight). then spend 3-4 memorable days in the Peloponnese, at the tip of a peninsula surrounded by water, in what's considered THE most beautiful Old Town in All of Greece -- NAFPLIO. Read ALL about it on this fab NONcommercial website - http://www.visitnafplio.com -- transport, hotels, walks etc. Click EVERY Link. Easy trip from Athens by bus, modern highway (2.5 hrs, reserved-seat, a/c €13). first day explore town & surrounds, then rent a car for a day to see amazing sites -- Iliad-era fortress of Mycenae, stunning 15,000 seat theatre at Epidaurus, Medieval fort Palamidi on a Gibralter-high rock... and enchanting walks http://www.visitnafplio.com/volta.html

NAFPLIO BASICS - (3-4 days) If u fly, BOOK NOW! Already Naxos-ATH flights in mid-June 4 selling out! there's a good flight 11:40-12:25 @ €99. From Airport take bus X93 at curb (goes every 20-30 minutes, takes 50 minutes or so) to the KTEL (intercity) KIfissou Street Bus Terminal. Nafplio Busses depart hourly on half-hour, u buy ticket right beside bus, near exit door of terminal. Ask for LH seat for best sea view enroute. If you take 6pm - midnight Blue Star ferry (€40 "reserved economy"), u may as well stay at a Pireaus Hotel (Pireaus dream is well-reviewed) & taxi to bus station next AM.

This online map shows entire route from Athens area to the Peloponnese (click & it gets huuuge) - http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg Good hotels, walkable from bus = Omorfo Poli and Hotel Agammemnon (latter is about the only hotel actually ON seafront). If u arrive noonish Day #1, enjoy exploring the Old Town, then Stunning Sunset from a cushy seat in a canopied cafe on the water. Day #2 OR Day #3 can be a 1-day car-rental for a ruin-a-thon (Mycenae by 9 am to beat the bus-tours, then Epidaurus), ending with a stop at a beach like Tolo or Kastraki/Asine. Alas these days there seems to be no locally-run 1-day bus tour to get to those ancient sites. However, Trip Advisor lists a number of interesting tours https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g319780-Activities-c42-Nafplio_Argolis_Region_Peloponnese.html One of them -- City Bus Tour -- is a hop-on, hop-off hourly thing (new to me) ... not needed to reachmost sites but at €8 gets you up to the entrance of Palamidi without climbing or descending its 999 steps! So worth it!. To return to Athens, bus goes hourly on the hour... and a 11-12€ taxi gets you to any Central Athens plaka-area hotel.

ATHENS -- I Favor another budget gem, Hotel Phaedra, towards the Southern side of Acropolis, away from the traffic, and near the wide pedestrian promenade on that side, where the Acropolis Museum is. Other hotels in that area, more $ but still moderate include Hotel Hera, Hotel Airotel Parthenon, Hotel Phillipos. Also - booking.com lately has some bargain studio apts at good rates in Plaka area -- ALWAYS look at map -- don't take a place more than a km from Acropolis. Basic tip: go up Acropolis 8 am, you'll have 90 minutes before tour throngs arrive.

Posted by
12 posts

So far I've booked a hotel in Santorini at the Ptolemeos Pension in Fira for $340 Euros for 4 nights. I have not booked my flight from Athens yet, there is one for $120 CDN at 9:50pm with Olympic. I arrive at 6:30. As long as I don't miss my one hour connection in Munich. There is a flight at 8:40 with Voletea, but that airlines doesn't have great reviews and if I'm delayed may be best to take a later flight. I'm going to look at all the information provided and see if I make any changes, maybe skip Milos, or change things around.

Posted by
12 posts

I was convinced to keep Athens to the end and fly to Santorini, but since I do want to go to Milos, I've re-arrangement my itinerary after reading your suggestions. Here is what I have so far. Let me know if you think I should drop or add a day here or there.
1 night close to the airport after arrival at 6:30ish. Fly to Milos in the morning. 5 nights (4 full days), Santorini, 3 nights (2 full days) Naxos 5 nights (4 full days), Paros 3 nights (2 full days, maybe check out Anti Paros for one of those days), Athens on a Sunday, 2 days tour to Delphi/Meteora, Wednesday last day to explore Athens and it's monuments. Wonder if I need an extra day in Paros. Am I doing too many islands?

Posted by
3364 posts

Well, your itinerary is in the right direction now. I still think you need to tweak the length-of-stay in a couple of places....
• Take a night off Milos - as a solo person, I think 3 days (4 nights) is enough; first day to explore the town, bus up tp Plaka & back, maybe a swim, check out boats; day 2, an all-day sail, BBQ, Kayak thing & day 3, a car (maybe share w someone u meet on sail) ... you can use that day for the wonders of Athens at the end
• Do you really know a Tour that can do Delphi AND Meteora in just 2 days??? Feels like a rush-rush-get-back-on-bus thing to me; I'd rather take a D-I-Y approach, Solo, KTEL bus to Delphi midday, see museum, ruins next am then back toAthens. But if you simply MUST see Monasteries in the sky, Ok.
• Athens deserves 2 days At Least. By the time y ou've been in Greece awhile, you'll have a feel for history.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks Janet. One of the guys at work is from Greece and he said Meteora is a must. Now he took a 6 day tour to see everything when he went there. There are several 2 days tours departing on Mondays. I was wondering if I would be spending all my time on the bus. I thought everything in Athens (monuments/museums) would be closed on Sunday but now I see there are not. Maybe I'll fly back on Saturday and I'll have Sunday and Wednesday to tour Athens if I do the 2 day tour.

Posted by
12 posts

Janet, maybe you are right. bus and stay overnight in Delphi and visit early and come back. I really did want to see the Monasteries but unless I rent a car, and even then, might be too much travelling.

Posted by
2455 posts

Check out Meteora Thrones at Meteora.com. I took their 2-day tour from Athens to Kalambaka and Meteora. It included a round-trip train ticket, leaving one morning, returning the next evening (about 5.5 hours each way, quite tedious and boring), a nice hotel room with breakfast, a guided sunset tour by small bus, a guided morning tour by small bus, and a few free hours and mealtimes in Kalambaka. It appears the tour leaves every day, as I remember I went up on a Saturday, and was there on Sunday morning which allowed entry into most of the monasteries, which is not true every day.