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Mykonos & Santorini in October (Family Trip)

Hello, we just booked flights to Greece this fall! We fly into Santorini (via LHR) on Sat Oct 7 (arrive 3pm). We fly out of Mykonos (to LHR) on Sun Oct 15 (depart 7pm). So, we have 7-8 full days, with inter-island transit involved. This is a family trip, with kids 11 and 13.

Generally, it seems like evenly splitting our time makes sense. But since this will be the end of the season, I would love any advice that may differ from the usual advice, and cause us to favor one island over the other. I'm thinking about when businesses close, ferry schedules, daytrip options, etc.

Based on an initial search, there is a ferry that runs every day, with flights requiring a stopover in Athens. Are there any other logistics I should keep in mind, given our timing?

If we can follow the "normal" blueprint for a Mykonos / Santorini itinerary even into mid-October, then I can start there and ask questions later. Thank you!

Posted by
23240 posts

I would double check every closing date. About ten, 12 years ago we had planned a trip to Santorini in mid Oct. We bumped into a lot of closures, some hotels, that were shutting down around the 15th of Oct. So much that we cancelled our trip. You may be on the good side of Oct 15 but I would carefully check all your dates and don't make assumptions about what is open. AND -- a lot could have changed in 12 years.

Posted by
79 posts

Sorry, one other question. We’ll pass by Paros and Naxos en route anyway, so I’m wondering if we skip the direct Seajets ferry and island hop instead. For example …

  • Stop in either for a few hours. In such a short time, could we see anything so different from Mykonos that it’s worth the added logistics?
  • Spend a night in either, assuming the ferry schedule allows for a day of exploration.
  • Substitute Naxos or Paros FOR Mykonos (because the general consensus is they are “better”), and just spend one final night in Mykonos—or not, since our flight home from JMK is at 7pm.

My gut says that Santorini and Mykonos in 7-8 days will allow enough time for a leisurely visit on each, while adding a third island would invite more stress at the expense of properly enjoying any island. I don’t want this to feel like a cruise.

If it helps, we aren’t looking for a beach vacation per se (a few hours here and there, sure—but we want to stay in a village and soak up the ambiance).

Posted by
3317 posts

From my considerable experience in both Mykonos & Santorini, I have to tell you that for these 2 isles, your chances of "Staying in a village and soaking up the ambience" is about zero.... they're totally taken over by mass tourism... in Santorini most of your restaurant staff is not even Greek, instead Albanian or some Balkan folk .. Mykonos town is a huge Luxury SHopping Mall - scores (hundreds?) of super $$ shops - Cartier, Fendi, HUgo Boss, Lauren, Hermes etc etc. Why not go to Rodeo Drive LA & Save the airfare?? ANd e ven in October both Islands will have multiple cruise ships, each wiith 2,000-3000 psgers, docking most days.

YOur best bet for ANY "ambience" at all for your kids & self -- Would be to cut Santorini short (there is NOthing, Zero, to interest your kids t here) ... and as for Myknos dont go there until the morning ferry on Oct 15, just to get that flight. IN between -- (From OCt 9 - 14) --go to NAXOS, for your sakes and your family. On Oct 9, take the 3:15pm large Bllue Star Ferry -- you can sit out on on the deck, enjoy the view, have a 2-hour "Minicruise." Book rooms at the kid-friendly beach (Ag Giorgio = St. George) that directly adjoins the Port town. There's tons for kids to explore (a maze of lanes up to a real Castle! a causeway out to a magical islet!), and St. George has water sports like wind-surfing kayaking etc. Rent a car one day nd drive up into the hills -- did you know NAxos has mountains made of Marble??!!!! You can have lunch in genuine villages where real Naxians Live! Where old priests play dominos in the village square. See herds of sheep & goats blocking the road! (instead of huge tour groups a la Santorini/Mykonos) The Naxos vineyards are having harvest festivals ... Enjoy Autumn in a Real Greek Island (not a calendar-poster destination)... And get yourself to Mykonos Oct 15 in time to have one of their $70 per person lunches .. then go to your flight. I'm done here.

Posted by
3317 posts

I Just lost another message I wrote --- a bout Santorini best bets. I recommend looking for rooms NOT In OIA or FIRA< but in Firostefani... on the north edge of FIRA, away from the hubbub... but plenty of hotels right on the view, and ijust a 15 minute stroll down the rimside path to FIRA activities. It is VERY hard to find a unit for parents w young children, but bookin.com has a small apt bulidng Katerina Kafiera, that has 2 BR, balcony, courtyard, window view of sea... for $270 for 2 nights ... wow - that would save u enough for great dinners with a View.

On Naxos for 4 nights oct 10--14, Ag. Giorgios beach, Booking.com shows Hotel Palatia has 2 wonderful rooms (1 w full bed 1 w twins) each with sea view balcony, if you guys can do 2 separate rooms down hall from one another in this wonderful hotel right off the sand, I highly recommend it. Back from the beach house a few blocks, you can get Apenemi BEACH HOUSE -- entire house, 2 br, kitchen, LR for about $450 for 4 nights. Grab it.

I'm not recommending any Mykonos rooms because I don't think an overnight there is worth your time.

Posted by
2123 posts

Great advice from Janet. But since there’s always a chance of ferry cancellations, I’d go to Mykonos on Oct 14 and spend one night there so you’re safely in place for your flights home.

Posted by
3317 posts

If you need to spend that night in Mykonos to be safe, I can recommend a nice small pension on outskirts of Mykonos town... very convenient, lovely surround, walkable to everything but quiet -- and just up from the "bus circle" where u can get bus to beach. It's Angela's Rooms -- you get to the "bus circle" then just walk uphill on main road 100 yards to Hotel Despotiki (sp?), and follow the path beside it .. and you'll find a garden with 2 small whitewashed/blue shutter buildings, surrounded by roses, just about 12-14 rooms total. About $50 per night, per double room - u can get 2 rms side-by-side. Convenient, friendly... (I know Angela personally -- she's an artist from Chicago, married a Mykonian).

Posted by
79 posts

Thank you for the insight. You've given me a lot to think about!

Before I turn my gaze to Naxos, I do want to provide a bit more backstory. In 2018, we took a cruise through the Greek Isles, which included Mykonos (but not Santorini). I immediately fell in love with the town's architecture and winding stone paths. It was unlike anyplace I'd ever been, and I felt like I was in a dream. In fact, when my wife and kids decided they wanted to hit Ornos Beach, I stayed behind so I could keep wandering. I had lunch and a beer by myself (and a stray cat who found me), at some cafe away from the water. Yes, I was part of a large cruise and I saw the high-end boutiques and restaurants, but the town still felt quiet. Despite the glitz, there was no denying the intrinsic beauty. I knew I wanted to return some day, so I could give it more time--but I also knew that was unlikely (life, budget, etc.)

Since then, we've seen more of Europe and while there are other places higher on my list than Greece Round 2, we jumped on a great airfare directly to the islands. This seemed like a great opportunity for that unexpected return visit. So, I would hate to find myself in the same boat as last time, where I finally get to Mykonos and then wish I had more time --especially since the whole point of this trip was to revisit there.

All that said, I don't know what I don't know. Does Naxos offer the same "look" as Mykonos, and allow for endless wandering through tidy, beautiful paths? I love the idea of old men playing dominos and random goats in an inland village, but I'm assuming that's a more rustic experience and I'd want some of that Mykonian feel (authentic or not, it's gorgeous).

Posted by
2123 posts

Jake —
3 nights on Santorini and 3 nights on Naxos leaves you with part of one day and most of the next in Mykonos. So you’ll have some time to wander.

Whether Naxos is as scenic can be partially answered by stanbr’s photos, which are linked in another post on this forum. You’ll find them by scrolling through the Greece section of this forum, to a post titled Santorini, Paros or Naxos.

Hopefully someone who has recently been to both islands can give you more reassurance!

Posted by
3317 posts

Here are some Stanbr Naxos photos (his are SO much better than any of mine, I shameless post his, with his permission thankfully)
BACK to NAXOS 2022 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299940917
TRIP AROUND NAXOS - http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/
NAXOS SUNSETS - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157700728046481
NAXOS TOWN - http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/

Posted by
79 posts

If I may continue to think out loud here (because my wife is over it ; ), here's where my head is. Also, it sounds like mid-October shouldn't really be a factor in all of this, except perhaps less time at the beach.

  • We want to avoid any one-night stays. In addition to the "overhead" of changing hotels and ferries, both of our flights via LHR include very long overnight layovers that allow for a half-day in London. So while that's very exciting, it adds logistics. If we stay in three places in Greece, that's five total hotels in 10 days.
  • We have eight nights. So if we add Naxos, that's 3+3+2 or perhaps 4+2+2.
  • Santorini will depend on the hotel we find. If we find an amazing caldera room we can actually afford, I can see us spending more time and just "being there." Otherwise, it seems like the "non-caldera" aspects of Santorini (beaches, villages, ancient ruins, etc.) aren't as good Naxos, so 3+3+2 could work.
  • In case we can only do two nights on Naxos, would that still be worth the added logistics? Or just save it for another trip when we can spend more time? It seems like we could fit in a few hours of beach time on the ferry days, with an inland road trip on the non-ferry day?
Posted by
254 posts

Jake, if YOU loved Mykonos and vowed to return, that is reason enough to keep to your original plan. As for Santorini, I have only been once for a day, and I can't wait to return in September. I'm prepared for crowds, but I still want the views. If you want to change course once you get to Greece, you could do that. Have a great time.

Posted by
11507 posts

Jake I’m on Mykonos now - having just some from 5 days on Naxos and 4 on Paros .

I have been to Mykonos about 6 times now but last time was 4 yrs ago .

I truly wish I hadn’t wasted a day of this holiday on Mykonos this time .

Go to naxos - at least it’s got year round residents so it won’t be all closed up - and it does have that “ old town “ section with the white washed buildings etc .

However by October you may find it a lot quieter . But at least it won’t be a rip off zone like Mykonos.

Posted by
1157 posts

There are a number of other Greek Islands that can offer the "look" of Mykonos without the high costs and annoying crowds even in October. Ditto for Santorini.

Naxos gets mentioned often as an alternative to those "other" islands and October should be a wonderful there.

I was on Naxos the first half of October and stayed in St. George just a short walk from Naxos Town which was pleasantly busy without getting shoved around by tourists. However that was 10 years ago so things may have changed especially this year as Greece seems to be THE country to go to.

Check out other Cyclades Islands if you want the lovely villages with white washed houses and colorful trim, narrow lanes and maybe more "Greek" than the Big Name Islands.

Here's a good website for Greek Islands, not just the Cyclades but other island groups that will offer beautiful villages, beaches, and possibly a more peaceful atmosphere:

https://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/

However, if you have your heart set on Mykonos/Santorini do what's best for you.

Posted by
6 posts

Hello collaborators/members!
I'm also planning a family trip to Greece in October (starting 20th, up to 27th) so I am really interested in your thoughts about avoiding Mykonos/Santorini in favor of Naxos and other options.
Naxos is already on my list, can you suggest any other? its a lot to pick one from 6000 without experience XD

To give you a picture: it will be my 50th birthday, and we are traveling with two kids of 11 (who love to walk and discover new cultures and historic sites). Good beaches are a must for all the family!

Also, does it really change that much being off-season? (timetables for ferries, restaurants, hotel availability, etc)
thanks!

Posted by
5370 posts

I have traveled to Santorini and Naxos with similarly aged children. We opted for 2 nights in Santorini and 5 nights in Naxos. Honestly, my children were completely bored in Santorini - no good beaches, everything geared towards couples and romance, etc. It is beautiful, but boring unless you like to shop, in my opinion.

We loved Naxos, however. We spent all of our time in a beach house and just went to the beach every day.

Posted by
3317 posts

IF you only have 7 days, you are bonkers to do anything but go straight to Naxos -- spend ONE night in Santorini, just so you can say you saw the Famous Caldera View, and then next afternoon take the 3:15 BLUE STAR ferry for NAXOS, arrives 5:30 pm Stay there as long as you can, and on your last morning, Oct 15 (IF there is a reliable ferry at 8 or 9 am), go to Mykonos. Check your bags at the town dock, walk around (Luxury shopping - Cartier, Hermes, etc ) have an expensive Meal, then go to Mykonos airport.

IF there isn't a good ferry and/or the weather is rough, Find a ferry late afternoon on Oct 14 from Naxos to Mykonos, and stay one night at a convenient place in Mykonos Town. Angela's Rooms (an American artist) has a cute little place, convenient. moderate rates.

An awfully long trip for a cruelly short stay -- I'm guessing you saw a good plane rate & just jumped on it. Santorini has nada for kids - beaches are black grit, it's all shopping, cruise crowds, It is not "real greece" any more. By contrast, Naxos still has some authenticity ... large fertile island (the source of Greece's BEST potatoes - divine french-fries!!), a big permanent population, a fascinating Port Town, and beautiful beaches... the water will still be swimmable, tho you'll need to cover up when you emerge.

Quick QUIck Quick, find accommodations on St. GEorge (Ag GIorgios) beach which is directly adjacent to port town... a 15 minute stroll from ferry pulling your rolling bags. Look At places like Hotel Palatia, Studios Kalergis, Studios Thomais, Hotel Glaros, Villa Naxia -- try https://www.booking.com/district/gr/naxos/agiosgeorgiosbeach.html Many places have what's called "1 BR studios" which have a BR with double bed, & a main room with 2 "daybed" couches, plus kitchenette niche, table & chairs & large balcony. Perfect for your bunch -- u can have breakfast stuff in fridge for late-rising teens, also sandwiches & snacks, then go out to dinner (SO much more reasonable than $$$$ mykonos or Santorini - also plenty of places have burgers/fries, spaghetti etc besides the best traditional Greek cuisine).

Lots to see & do ... if you like there's a handy (small-group) day tour run by local Bus network that takes u all around the island highlights! 9 - 5, inckluding a swim-stop at lunch.. The beach has water sports for kids, town has a mazey winding path to a CASTLE at the top. Much to see/do, and there will be plenty of Greek youngsters around and guess what? Schools start ENglish at age 5, so they can talk to your kids! Get busy... you can have an authentic island experience if you get on it NOW.

A few Pix from Naxophile & ace Photog & contributor "Stanbr" --
NAXOS SUNSETS -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157700728046481
BACK to NAXOS2022 -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299940917
MTS & VILLAGES - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632110674306/

Posted by
3317 posts

Above reply was to original poster Jake.

Marinax - I beg of you -- start your own thread... don't try to "piggyback" on this one. Many people will not open this thread, already having read Jake's thing and responded or not -- your circumstances are different. please post your own and then you will get advice best suited to you.. otherwise not.

Posted by
79 posts

Thanks to everyone for their great feedback. Naxos clearly sounds like a better option--in a vacuum. But the fact remains we're flying to / from Santorini and Mykonos. So we'll already be on those islands--and while not as "Greek" as other islands, they're no slouches. Also, the London overnights (each way) add baked-in logistics. I don't want to invite more stress with one-night stays and same-day ferries, or an overly choppy itinerary.

In addition to the usual wandering around, I want to hike the caldera at least once, take a boat tour of the caldera, and hopefully stay somewhere with a caldera view--an attraction in its own right. And I definitely want to visit Delos. So we need at least a couple of days on each island, and this becomes a math problem.

We haven't booked anything yet (hopefully this weekend), but my current thinking is Naxos makes more sense if we find a great deal to Athens one day. But haven't completely ruled out a 3/3/2 split ...

Posted by
46 posts

We just returned from a family trip to Greece with kids 12 and 13. I can wholeheartedly endorse Naxos as well. We rented a car and one day drove inland and did a fabulous hike up to a ruined mountaintop castle which was the kids #1 memory of the 2 week trip.

Posted by
79 posts

I’ve been working on an itinerary and have booked (refundable) villas in Firostefani for 5 nights, and Mykonos Town (up the hill) for 3 nights. If anyone feels this itinerary is too conservative, I’m open to reconsidering Naxos. Our villas have caldera and/or sunset views, so I’d like to allow time for enjoying that.

Sat, Oct 7: Arrive JTR @ 3pm, low-key evening in Firostefani / Fira with sunset dinner (restaurant or villa).

Sun, Oct 8: Bus to Oia first thing a.m., take all the pics, lunch in Amoudi Bay, then hike back home. (Or in reverse, hitting Oia during late-afternoon before sunset.) If we have the energy, also hike to Skaros Rock--or save for later. Evening is flexible.

Mon, Oct 9: Half-day caldera boat tour to volcanoes and Thirassia, evening in Fira (maybe the corny Greek Wedding Dinner).

Tue, Oct 10: The busiest cruise day, so … rent a car. My to-do list is very long and I need to shorten it, but I at least want to see Akrotiri, Ancient Thera, a couple inland villages, and some visually interesting beaches (for a walk, not a “beach day”).

Wed, Oct 11: This is very TBD … maybe keep the car and continue exploring? I know some places like Pyrgos and Akrotiri are easy bus rides from Fira, but I assume they don't connect to each other--so a car would be more efficient than several "hub and spoke" trips.

Thu, Oct 12: Ferry to Mykonos at 10a or 12p. Explore the town and do a mosaic workshop. Evening is flexible.

Fri, Oct 13: Delos, then the southern beaches (coastal walk and water taxi).

Sat, Oct 14: Daytrip to Tinos (seems doable with a 9:30pm return ferry). Or, based on mood and weather, more beach time. Or, rent a car and do the stuff below.

Sun, Oct 15: Rent a car and explore Ano Mera, a couple farms, and the north beaches. Drop car at airport and catch 7pm flight to LHR.

Posted by
1793 posts

If you keep this itinerary I hope for you that you will have the opportunity to spend a day in Tinos to meet the real Greece

Because between October 7th and 11th there will be 17 cruise ships stopping at Santorini and 12 cruise ships in Mykonos between October 12 and 15, a total of approximately 60,000 passengers.

Posted by
79 posts

JoLui, that was exactly my thought with adding Tinos. Depending on the day, we could have 8-12 hours on Tinos without having to relocate hotels--a big deal with four people (two of them not being very helpful ; ). This seems like a good compromise between seeing "real Greece" and a keeping a simple itinerary.

In fact, I may shorten our stay in Santorini, and spend four nights in Mykonos--not because we need that much time in Mykonos, but because we'll be using it as a base for Delos and Tinos. Based on my plan above, I'm not sure if we'll need Oct 11 in Santorini.

And I understand it would be easy to miss the "real Greece" on Santorini and Mykonos. However, I'm assuming just like Venice, it's possible to find quieter and more authentic areas with some research. And "real Greece" or not, the caldera is a unique spectacle and I don't think we'll grow tired of it.