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Naxos / Paros / Hydra, extra location for first time in Greece, thinking 10-12 days

Hello! First time traveling to Greece, we can't go for two weeks, more likely 10 to 12 days around July 20. Three total, one 18 year old girl. I've been reading the forum for suggestions, and I've seen the recommendations that combine Athens / Santorini / Naxos (or Paros), which looks like a nice mix of history (for me, my wife) and beaches, relaxation (for all of us). This would be a good blend for our family's varied (and some times conflicting!) interests. We don't like to rush through places, so seeing a bit less and thinking of returning is our preferred way to travel.
The main questions here are:
1) The differences between Naxos / Paros / Hydra (Ricks favorite, why?)
2) A roughly 10 day itinerary is below. If it looks OK, what to do if we travel 12 instead of 11 days (what else we shouldn't miss, or should we just add one more day to one of the places below)
3) Itinerary looks reasonable?

Right now, based on what I read, we'd:
1) Arrive and leave Athens the same day. Go to Santorini
2) Day 2 Santorini (one full day, two nights good enough?), so daughter can take the famed pictures/
2) Day 3 go to...Naxos? Paros? Rick seems to favor Hydra. Differences? More beautiful beaches? Why one versus the other? About 4 days there.
3) Days 8-10 back to Athens for the last few days
4) Leave on day 11 from Athens.
So main question would be
What to do if we go for 1 more day (12 versus 11, or 12 versus 10)? I see Delos as highly recommended for history/archeological sites, Rick mentions Nafplio (although it seems he favors staying away from the islands, as that appears to be a more central location), Rhodes (but seems a bit further out).
And finally, are we too late to plan this trip at this time?
Thanks very much!!

Posted by
8832 posts

I believe the RS tour stops at Hydra rather than some other island due to its proximity to Athens to work into a logistically friendly tour routing.

It is the only island I have been to and enjoyed the 2 nights. Being car free makes for a 'charming island experience' in my view.

Given your time limitations I would limit yourself to no more than 2 islands. If you have 12 nights total you could squeeze in Nafplio, your but 4 places in 12 nights is a lot of moving, and runs counter to your "We don't like to rush through places" statement.

Hope you like hot.

Posted by
1015 posts

You have been doing your homework and have already mentioned one of the most popular island hopping plans.

We always plan to get to our first island on day of arrival. Santorini is absolutely spectacular and its views will help you get over jet lag. So fly to Santorini the day you arrive. You will need 2 hours to pick up luggage, passport control,leave arrival area, go upstairs to Departure, get luggage tags from the machine, drop off your bags, and get through security. If you book a flight on Aegean/Olympic you can print your boarding pass 48 hours before departure so you will have that before you board your first flight.
Stay Santorini for 3 nights (three is all my wallet can stand).

Ferry to your next island. Spend 5 nights there.

I am going to recommend Naxos because the Santorini Naxos combination has a lot to offer. You get the spectacular then the laid back Greek experience of Naxos. Naxos has a lovely main town area, amount villages for exploration and hiking and some really good beaches plus a few antiquities. As you have noted Paros is also a good choice. I can say we have been to Paros several times but Naxos just keeps calling us back with 13 visits over the years.

After Naxos you can ferry or fly to Athens for your last 3 nights. If you can afford it flying back can have you in Athens by 10 in the morning while the ferry will eat up about three quarters of the transfer day. I may be wrong but I think Aegean/Olympic has a seat sale on now.

The Hydra option has been explained already. Rick does not do the Cyclades islands.
Perhaps some photos will be helpful
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/72157700728046

Posted by
82 posts

Hello,

Hydra Ricks favorite, why?

I believe joe32F gave you the correct answer

I have no particular remarks to make about your itinerary except that you could perhaps add a night in Santorini where there are other things to do than just imitate the crowds of cruise passengers taking a picture of the sunset. Sun.

The differences between Naxos / Paros?

Naxos and Paros are relatively similar. Naxos being greener and more mountainous than Paros. Naxos is favored by RS, I don't know why. But for a first visit to the Cyclades it is a good choice.

There are beautiful beaches on both islands, traditional villages to see inland, small fishing ports, sporting activities, and of course the Meltemi which blows in the summer.
There are many accommodation options on both islands.

In Naxos the capital Chora and the area of ​​Agios Georgios seem to be RS favourites, I don't see why. It represents barely 10% of the places where it is possible to find accommodation.
Archaeologically speaking Naxos has more things to see than Paros, there is the temple of Demeter which was a kind of precursor and a model to build the Parthenon.

https://www.naxos.gr/naxos/?lang=en

In Paros, the capital is Parikia. The village of Naoussa in the north of the island is more chic, very fashionable, and popular with tourists, but there are many other places by the sea (or not) where you can find accommodation.

https://www.paros.gr/en/

From Paros a daytrip to its neighbor Antiparos is possible.
The crossing takes 30 minutes.
http://aboutparos.gr/en/antiparos/getting-to-antiparos.php

For these two islands a car rental is essential if you want to have autonomy in your visits.
Don't wait until the last moment to book a car.
There are many booking companies, often family run, on Paros and Naxos but in July and August cars are in high demand.
You can also ask the owner of your accommodation to book for you a rental car

Paros is beginning to attract more and more people, year after year property developers are building many more or less luxury villas or resorts facing the sea, often with swimming pool

There is a project to transform the current small airport into international airport, the inhabitants who have not been consulted do not really agree because they see that their island is turning into a new Mykonos.

https://greenparosairport.eu/what-airport-for-a-green-paros/

Sorry it was my "defense of Paros" chapter : )

It is possible to organize a visit to the Delos site from Naxos (or Paros), but in any case this daytrip will pass through the port of Mykonos which is the starting point for the boats going to Delos. If you have the opportunity to do this visit, do not hesitate. (plan the whole day)

https://www.delostours.gr/en/

For ferry timetables in the cyclades see:
https://www.ferryhopper.com/en/

The choice of Rhodes in the Dodecanese islands or Nafplio in the Peloponese cannot be mixed with a 12 days stay in the Cyclades islands unless you want to spend your holidays in transport.

Don't wait to book. Especially for July-August. It's going to be crowded in Greece this year

Posted by
55 posts

Thank you all so much!! This sets up the itinerary then....we will have to return for more another time, but now onto more studying to plan the trip to the last details! Thanks again!

Posted by
1780 posts

This is similar to what we did with our young adult children in 2018--we did have more time than you and went to Nafplio as well.

My two sons ran off as soon as we got to our place in Santorini. When they returned they told us that you would not believe the view. Then we went to Naxos. They told us the first evening at dinner that Naxos was even better than Santorini!

You will have a fabulous time and want to return. In fact, we are going back to Greece this year!

Posted by
82 posts

The differences between Naxos / Paros?

Naxos and Paros are relatively similar. Naxos being greener and more mountainous than Paros. Naxos is favored by RS, I don't know why. But for a first visit to the Cyclades it is a good choice.

There are beautiful beaches on both islands, traditional villages to see inland, small fishing ports, sporting activities, and of course the Meltemi which blows in the summer.
There are many accommodation options on both islands.

In Naxos the capital Chora and the area of Agios Georgios seem to be RS favourites, I don't see why. It represents barely 10% of the places where it is possible to find accommodation.
Archaeologically speaking Naxos has more things to see than Paros, there is the temple of Demeter which was a kind of precursor and a model to build the Parthenon.

In Paros, the capital is Parikia. The village of Naoussa in the north of the island is more chic, very fashionable, and popular with tourists, but there are many other places by the sea (or not) where you can find accommodation.

From Paros a daytrip to its neighbor Antiparos is possible.
The crossing takes 30 minutes.

For these two islands a car rental is essential if you want to have autonomy in your visits.
Don't wait until the last moment to book a car.
There are many booking companies, often family run, on Paros and Naxos but in July and August cars are in high demand.
You can also ask the owner of your accommodation to book for you a rental car

Paros is beginning to attract more and more people, year after year property developers are building many more or less luxury villas or resorts facing the sea, often with swimming pool

There is a project to transform the current small airport into international airport, the inhabitants who have not been consulted do not really agree because they see that their island is turning into a new Mykonos.

https://greenparosairport.eu/what-airport-for-a-green-paros/

Sorry it was my "defense of Paros" chapter : )

It is possible to organize a visit to the archeological site of Delos from Naxos (or Paros), but in any case this daytrip will pass through the port of Mykonos which is the starting point for the boats going to Delos. If you have the opportunity to do this visit, do not hesitate. (plan the whole day)

Don't wait to book. Especially for July-August. It's going to be crowded in Greece this year

Posted by
82 posts

Hello,

The differences between Naxos / Paros?

Naxos and Paros are relatively similar. Naxos being greener and more mountainous than Paros. Naxos is favored by RS, I don't know why. But for a first visit to the Cyclades it is a good choice.
There are beautiful beaches on both islands, traditional villages to see inland, small fishing ports, sporting activities, and of course the Meltemi which blows in the summer.
There are many accommodation options on both islands.

In Naxos the capital Chora and the area of Agios Georgios seem to be RS favourites, I don't see why. It represents barely 10% of the places where it is possible to find accommodation.
Archaeologically speaking Naxos has more things to see than Paros, there is the temple of Demeter which was a kind of precursor and a model to build the Parthenon.

In Paros, the capital is Parikia. The village of Naoussa in the north of the island is more chic, very fashionable, and popular with tourists, but there are many other places by the sea (or not) where you can find accommodation.

From Paros a daytrip to its neighbor Antiparos is possible.
The crossing takes 30 minutes.

For these two islands a car rental is essential if you want to have autonomy in your visits.
Don't wait until the last moment to book a car.
There are many booking companies, often family run, on Paros and Naxos but in July and August cars are in high demand.
You can also ask the owner of your accommodation to book for you a rental car

Paros is beginning to attract more and more people, year after year property developers are building many more or less luxury villas or resorts facing the sea, often with swimming pool

Don't wait to book. Especially for July-August. It's going to be crowded in Greece this year

Posted by
357 posts

The differences between Naxos / Paros?

Naxos and Paros are relatively similar. Naxos being greener and more mountainous than Paros. Naxos is favored by RS, I don't know why. But for a first visit to the Cyclades it is a good choice.

There are beautiful beaches on both islands, traditional villages to see inland, small fishing ports, sporting activities, and of course the Meltemi which blows in the summer.
There are many accommodation options on both islands.

In Naxos the capital Chora and the area of Agios Georgios seem to be RS favourites, I don't see why. It represents barely 10% of the places where it is possible to find accommodation.
Archaeologically speaking Naxos has more things to see than Paros, there is the temple of Demeter which was a kind of precursor and a model to build the Parthenon.

In Paros, the capital is Parikia. The village of Naoussa in the north of the island is more chic, very fashionable, and popular with tourists, but there are many other places by the sea (or not) where you can find accommodation.

From Paros a daytrip to its neighbor Antiparos is possible.
The crossing takes 30 minutes.

For these two islands a car rental is essential if you want to have autonomy in your visits.
Don't wait until the last moment to book a car.
There are many booking companies, often family run, on Paros and Naxos but in July and August cars are in high demand.
You can also ask the owner of your accommodation to book for you a rental car

Paros is beginning to attract more and more people, year after year property developers are building many more or less luxury villas or resorts facing the sea, often with swimming pool

There is a project to transform the current small airport into international airport, the inhabitants who have not been consulted do not really agree because they see that their island is turning into a new Mykonos.

https://greenparosairport.eu/what-airport-for-a-green-paros/

Sorry it was my "defense of Paros" chapter : )

It is possible to organize a visit to the archeological site of Delos from Naxos (or Paros), but in any case this daytrip will pass through the port of Mykonos which is the starting point for the boats going to Delos. If you have the opportunity to do this visit, do not hesitate. (plan the whole day)