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If you could pick one island

We are planning our second trip to Greece this summer. We will start our trip in Chania, Crete. We have been there before and loved it, but want to explore a bit more of Crete this time. We would also like to see one or two other islands but would like to keep it as easy as possible so that it’s a somewhat relaxing trip. There will most likely be 5 of us - my husband and I, 25 year old and 17 year old daughters and my mom 82 (she is pretty active).
If you could pick just one other island to go to from Crete which would you pick? I have been researching and there just are so many places that sound good it’s hard to decide. If it helps a place that isn’t too crowded (we know tourists will be everywhere so can’t avoid that), easy to get to from Crete - open to ferry or plane. We are planning to be gone for 2 weeks.
Also, if you can suggest any type of food/olive oil/wine tour on Crete that would be fun too!
Flying home through Athens (probably stay 1 or 2 nights there).
Thanks!

Posted by
1796 posts

“I have been researching and there are just so many places.”

There are not that many islands with direct access.

From Crete your can only flight to Rhodes with Sky Express.

By ferry from Heraklion:

  • To the Cyclades islands:

The Fast Ferries "Thunder" ferry follows this route 3 times a week: Santorini, Ios, Paros, Mykonos, Syros, Piraeus.

Seajets "Power Jet" ferry follows roughly the same route every day in summer, with an additional stop at Naxos after Santorini

3 times a week the "Santorini Palace" ferry from Minoan Lines also takes approximately the same route with once a week a stop at Tinos after Mykonos and before Syros.

Basically if you don't stop in Santorini you won't be able to go to any islands other than those mentioned.

These islands with direct ferry access will all be super crowded in summer apart from Tinos (and Kasos & Kythira, see below)

If you want to avoid the crowds you can take a morning ferry to Santorini. Wait at the port of Santorini and take a Seajets to Amorgos (1h30 ferry between Santorini and Amorgos)

https://amorgos.gr/

  • To the Dodecanese Islands:

Blue Star Ferries' "Blue Star Chios" goes once a week to Kasos, Karpathos and **Rhodes

  • To Kythira (Ionian Islands)

Blue Star Ferries' "Aqua Jewel" goes to Kythira 3 times a week from the port of Kissamos (Chania)

Posted by
1366 posts

Check out wanderlust tours in Chania. We had a great tour with them a while back. We took the olive and wine tasting tour.
If you like Crete you will likely enjoy Naxos. It is sometimes called mini Crete as it has mountain villages, great beaches a nice main town topped by a Venetian era Kastro. It has become quite popular for good reason`

To get to Naxos by ferry you probably will have to get to Heraklion as most of the ferries depart from there. They go to
Santorini and then Naxos. As I recall we were in Naxos by Noon.

Here is Naxos
Naxos town https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632094558042
Trip around Naxos https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157634605629689
Naxos sunsets https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157700728046481

Posted by
11136 posts

For high quality tours on Crete contact Maria at Diktynna-travel.gr. They are the best on Crete and I am guessing that they can answer all the questions in your post.

Posted by
138 posts

JoLui - Thank you for all this information on getting from place to place, so much detail and I really appreciate it! This will help us with planning - I am guessing I’ll need to get tickets ahead for which ever boat we go on. Also sounds like we will need to stop in Santorini almost no matter what.

Posted by
138 posts

Stanbr- thank you so much! Naxos was one that was at the top of my list and if it’s similar to Crete then we will love it. The tour recommendation is great! Even if we don’t stay on Santorini stopping by and seeing it from the water will be nice. From what I’ve read it’s especially crowded and not sure if we want to stay if it’s that full of people.
I loved seeing your pictures, it sure looks pretty there! Seeing pictures is making me more anxious to go!

Suki - Thank you! I will reach out to her. It’s so nice to get recommendations rather than just hope that whatever tour you pick is a good one.

Posted by
1796 posts

FYI, The ranking of the number of visitors to the Cyclades for the year 2022 was (excluding cruise passengers):

1/ Santorini 700,000 visitors

2/ Mykonos 650,000 visitors

3/ Paros & Naxos 150,000 visitors each

5/ Milos - 50,000 visitors

The 2023 data from January to July indicates an overall increase of around 22% compared to 2022.
Note that the largest increase is that of arrivals from the USA which increased by 43.5%. in 2023.
Congratulations! :-))

From Santorini, apart from Amorgos you can also go to the western Cyclades. There are ferries daily to Milos, Folegandros and Sifnos, and 2 or 3 times a week to Serifos, Kythnos and Kimolos.

My favorites being Sifnos which benefits from many beaches, beautiful villages, lots of hikes, the best cuisine in the Cyclades and an excellent bus service.

Sifnos website:

https://sifnos.e-sifnos.com/

Sifnos:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/xtYyFSTUMsKrjoLLA

And Kimolos, much more confidential, less accessible except from Milos where a ferry departs several times a day from the port of Pollonia

https://www.kimolos.gr/en

https://photos.app.goo.gl/SbQcP4ZaxWNbDU8D8

Posted by
1157 posts

One island that is overlooked by most tourists is Kythira.

I was there this past October and found it to be a gem of an island. Beautiful villages, archeological/historic sites, mountains, lovely beaches, great food and still not hyped like some of the Big Name Islands.

May be a bit more crowded during summer but no where near as many of the more "popular" islands.

It's just a bit north of Crete and you can reach it via ferry.

It has an airport so makes it quick to get back to Athens.

If interested read my trip report with photos from another travel forum

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g319777-i11468-k14565904-Kythira_Trip_Report_Sept_28_Oct_3-Kythira_Attica.html

Posted by
138 posts

JoLui - you have so much great information!! I so appreciate it! It seems like everyone wants to go to Greece lately, and I can see why. The number of visitors to Santorini is crazy!! I would love to visit, but that just sounds like too many people.
I haven’t even heard of some of these islands - Sifnos sound amazing, especially the part about their cuisine. Thanks so much for all of the info!!

Tommyk5 - another island I hadn’t heard of and the added bonus of an airport! That would make getting back to Athens much easier! I wish we had time to stay on several of these islands. I’m going to read your trip report. Thank you!

Posted by
1796 posts

I agree with Tommy's advice regarding Kythira, I was there this year in May/June. The island is splendid with very diverse landscapes, beautiful villages and beaches, and above all, off the radar screen of tourism marketing.
Renting a car is essential.

There are one or two flights per day from Kythira to Athens with Sky Express or Olympic (cheap, from €40 to €70 in August).
Also 2 ferries per week to Piraeus (6h30 crossing time)

From Khytira you can also quickly reach the Peloponnese by ferry, but that's another story...

Posted by
207 posts

If you want easy then just go to Karpathos and then Rhodes. Easily reached by ferry from all Crete ferry ports.