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Itinerary help for July Honeymoon

We are planning our honeymoon for this July and I am looking for feedback as we finalize our itinerary.
Our timing (July) and time frame (~17 nights) are fixed. We are thinking 9 nights in Italy and 8 nights in Greece.
For the Greece leg, we are looking at 3 nights in Athens and 5 nights on the islands.
Our hope for Greece is to have some beach time, and then to experience some history and culture (food & drink). Neither of us has been to Greece before. Thanks in advance for your insight!

I'm looking for feedback to these questions and maybe things I haven't thought of:
1) Initially, we were thinking of doing the Italian leg of the trip first, but now am I wondering if we should fly right into the Greek isles to start off with some time to decompress. Thoughts about order of destinations?

2) Santorini has been on my fiancé's wish list. I've seen mixed reviews on the forums, including costs & crowds. What other islands do people recommend for beauty & relaxation? For the ignorant (me), what makes Santorini worth a visit? Any advice if we do end up visiting Santorini?

3) Big picture suggestions to minimize travel time and stress and maximize our experience? (i.e. my idea to fly straight onto the island and then to Athens after that?)

Posted by
43 posts

You probably don't want to hear this but I would focus your honeymoon ( congratulations) on one country. Both countries offer so much and such a variety there is plenty to do and see in either Italy or Greece. And it would make your logistics so much easier. The one time we did two countries in a trip ( France and Greece, and I had been to Greece already a dozen times) , we wished we had just picked one country. By the second country ( France in our case) we were tired and experienced enough without introducing a whole other culture.

Posted by
1397 posts

I would agree with Louis. Greece and the Greek islands are best done slowly.. While it sounds romantic to sail off from one island to another you effectively loose a half day on every ferry hop you do. We figured that out on our first trip. We ferried from Paros to Naxos. That is a one hour ferry ride. We had to be out of our hotel by 10 so we went to the ferry dock for 2 and a half hours, took the ferry 1 hour, and after arrival in Naxos had to get to our hotel and unpack. We were on the beach by 3. That was a short hop, many are much longer.
You will also lose the better part of a day when you change countries.
You probably should just do one country and really have an in depth experience.

Personally I would choose Greece.

Posted by
1667 posts

Santorini was the site of what some call the largest volcanic eruption ever. This eruption left a huge caldera surrounded by rugged cliffs. There are several beautiful villages located on the cliffs overlooking the caldera. The buildings are white and some have beautiful blue domed roofs. The views overlooking the caldera are stunning. Yes, Santorini is very crowded but IMO it is worth visiting at least once.

Janet on this forum is very helpful. Per her recommendation, we stayed at Blue Dolphins Hotel in Firostefani. Firostefani is quieter and less crowded than Oia and Fira. Santorini can be very expensive but you can find more reasonable hotels and restaurants. For example, our room at the Blue Dolphins included a deck overlooking the caldera for about $230 per night, which I think is very reasonable. For an additional 25 euros for two people, we had a delicious and filling breakfast delivered to our room, and we ate on our deck overlooking the caldera. We had delicious meals at some reasonably priced restaurants, such as Aktaion and Restaurant Remvi. We spent 3 nights on Santorini, and one day we rented a car for the day to explore the island, which is well worth it. It was one of the best days of our trip.

Another wonderful island for beauty and relaxation is Naxos. We took the Blue Star Ferry from Santorini to Naxos - a 2-hour ride. Naxos is quieter and more laidback than Santorini. We spent 4 nights here and also rented a car for a day to explore the island. You can't go wrong with either island but I do think Santorini is more unique. And as you say, it is on your fiance's wish list.

I do agree with the poster who suggests visiting only one country especially in a 2-week time frame. I think it would be more enjoyable and relaxing. I haven't been to Italy since the 1970's so can't really comment on Italy.

If you spend 2 weeks in Greece, you could visit Santorini, Naxos, and Athens, and perhaps Nafplio on the Peloponnese Peninsula.

Please remember that it will be very hot in Greece and Italy in July. So make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, hats, and water when you are out sightseeing.

Posted by
5055 posts

Congratulations! May you love long and prosper.

Looking at your other post, it seems that your plan is a bit rushed no matter how young you are. Most weddings have a good bit of stress attached, and you may need time to just decompress. To that end, considerd just one country or the other with just three or four locations. Everytime you change locations you will lose a lot more time than you anticipate. First there is packing up and checking out. Then getting to the train or bus station or airport. Then waiting there for your ride. Followed by the actual travel time from point A to point B. Next is getting to the new hotel, checking in (if possible), unpacking, and acclimating to a new area. I'm really not Debbie Downer, just offering food for thought.

Since Santorini has been on your fiancé's wish list, that should be given a lot of thought.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you all for your best wishes and your advice. This is a great community and I am grateful for all of your insight.

We narrowed our focus and simplified quite a bit. We are still doing both Greece & Italy, but flying straight into Santorini for 3 nights, possibly Naxos for 3 nights, Athens for 3 nights.

Right now, we are leaning towards Naxos for a second island. I reached out to Matt Barrett's recommended Greek travel agency for help, but would love personal insight. We are looking for relaxation, beach time, and maybe a winery tour, hike, or bit of local culture & history. We love to eat & drink, but don't need a cooking class. Is there a different island worth considering?

One excursion which sounds really cool is the overnight trip to Delphi & Meteora. This would probably require cutting a night from the second island create more time. Is this worth including?

Thanks again! :)

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you kmkwoo for the hotel recommendation! What time frame do you recommend for booking hotels? What about restaurants, rental cars, and excursions? We booked our flights and it seems like it's time to move on hotels now as well. I don't know about restaurants, but I could imagine those filling up soon?

Thanks stanbr for the ferry tips. It sounds like the short ferry trip to Naxos is what we are looking for! Anything great on the island you recommend? We are looking for beautiful relaxing beaches, great wine and food, maybe even a short hike/walk or a cool cultural/historical sight!

Posted by
1667 posts

You should book your hotel reservations now because July is the high season. I tend to book my hotels as soon as I have my itinerary firmed up. For last year's trip in May, I booked our hotels the previous November/December. I did make reservations about a week in advance at the Aktaion restaurant. I didn't make any other restaurant reservations but we were there in May which is shoulder season but getting busy. I assume July will be much busier.

Regarding a different island than Naxos, I know that Paros and Antiparos are very popular. We did not go there. I am sure they would be good choices, too. Stanbr, I believe, has been there many times.

You do want to stay within the Cyclades island group because that will be easier to get to via ferry. From what I understand, if you visit an island in a different group, you have to return to Athens, and then fly or ferry to the other island. This is fine if you have a lot of time which you don't have. On this trip you don't want to waste time getting from island to island. Taking the Blue Star Ferry from Santorini to Naxos or Paros is easier. The ferry goes from Santorini to Naxos to Paros, and then I think to Piraeus Port near Athens. At least this was the case for the 3:15pm ferry we took from Santorini to Naxos.

We stayed at the Hotel Palatia in Naxos which we were very happy with. It's located on the edge of Naxos Town and at the beginning of Ag. Georgios Beach.

Posted by
1397 posts

I was helping a friend who was going to Naxos in may this year. I recommended 8 good hotels that we are familiar with and only 2 still had rooms available. You need to make a decision and get a hotel as soon as possible.
I normally suggest people stay at St George beach. Its part of Naxos town so its a great place to stay. You get a beach vacation with all the activities of town and its quiet at night for sleeping.

In July you might want to opt for Plaka beach. Its 7km from Naxos town on a 3km expanse of lovely sand. There is no village there but lots of tavernas and hotels across the road overlooking the beach. A rental car might be a good idea if you stay at Plaka.

Here is why Naxos is the answer to your question.
Around Naxos town 2022 https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299959098
Back to Naxos 2022 https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299940917

Trip around Naxos https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157634605629689
Chalki and Vivlos villages https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299950915

Posted by
883 posts

Best wishes on your marriage, and you will love Greece! I would encourage you to book hotels immediately. Our anniversary stay at Lithies Traditional Homes in Santorini was magical. Maria will ensure that you have memories to last a lifetime. The "Eros" home was just perfect for us. https://www.lithies.com/ I can recommend Aktaion Restaurant in Firostefani, and reservations are a must. https://www.aktaionsantorini.com/ You may want to consider Venetsanos Winery for a tasting and light lunch. We sat on the edge of the caldera for that, and it was wonderful. We took the Seajets ferry from Santorini to Naxos and were very pleased. It's a bit faster than Blue Star. On Naxos, I can highly recommend a private tour with Nicolas at Naxos Discovery Tours. He has several tours to choose from; some are local sites, as well as hiking tours. Nicolas is very responsive to emails requesting more information on the tours themselves and pricing based on your interests. https://www.naxosdiscovery.net/ There was a strike during our trip to Greece and none of the ferries ran for one day. That required us to make alternate transportation plans. We always register our overseas trips with STEP, and they alerted us to the strike. (the ferry companies do not) You may want to consider doing that ahead of your trip. https://step.state.gov/ Have a wonderful honeymoon!

Posted by
254 posts

What a wonderful honeymoon you will have! I get why everyone thinks one country would be better, but I disagree. You don't know when you will be back, see what you want to see now. Santorini is just as spectacular as you expect it to be. We did a private boat charter around the caldera (with wine and lunch) which was fantastic, and so relaxing. I would definitely go to Greece first. I would go to Athens and Santorini. I don't know what you are looking for in the Italy part of the trip, but I would highly recommend Varenna on Lake Como (Hotel du Lac). There is no more beautiful and relaxing place. I would suggest starting in Venice, train to Varenna, train to Milan and leave Italy from there.

Posted by
11368 posts

You mention wanting beaches so you should be aware that Santorini is not known for its beaches. Go to Paros or Naxos for them.
I also recommend only one country for your trip. Eight nights for Greece is way too little time. Same for Italy with only nine nights. I wonder how you think you will get a good feel for Italy in nine days either. Seventeen nights in one country will be wonderful.
Besides the Greek Islands, the Peloponnesean Peninsula has beautiful beaches.
Best wishes on your upcoming marriage.