My sister and I (active 40 years old, love hiking and nature, not beach people but an hour or two is nice, and we don't want to overdo it with the ruins) are planning a trip to Greece and Turkey next June.
I'm struggling with how do we avoid backtracking to Istanbul to go to Crete? I'd love to squeeze in Ephesus IF that means a more convenient way to get to Crete or even a city on the coast of Turkey? Where can we shave off a day or two? Here's what we have:
After 4 days in Istanbul
3 days Cappadocia
6 days Crete (focusing on the North West part but definitely hiking in Samaria Gorge, not interested in ruins but Elafonissi beach, Kournas Lake, Balos, Day trip to Rethymnon?, Kissamos? all look appealing)
3 days Santorini
3 days Athens (want to see Meteora and Delphi, the Acropolis and its ruins are enough for us, hike for a scenic view of the city, hopefully staying in Plaka).