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Oia or Fira?

I have a couple of questions....

First time going to Greece (August 2016) and I am planning 3 nights Athens, 4 nights Santorini, 3 nights Mykonos. Does this sound like a good plan? 4 nights in Santorini too much?

Also, getting from Athens to Santorini. Would like to take Hellenic Fast Ferry, but worried about high winds and getting cancelled. How hard is it to just head to the airport that day and catch a flight if it is cancelled? Or should I just not risk it and go to the airport from Athens to get to Santorini?

Last question! Santorini...Oia or Fira? Would like to stay in Oia but worried not enough nightlife for me and hubby (we like to have drinks in evening and listen to music, nothing crazy). How hard is it to get to back from Fira late at night?


Posted by
2246 posts

As we found out on our trip to Santorini, when there are high winds nothing will get you there. No ferries and no flights. We flew to Santorini a day late as there were high winds and an airport workers strike. It's much quicker to fly. We preferred Oia to Fira. You can still visit Fira from Oia as there is a bus or you can take a nice long walk there (a little bit will be on the road) and then take the bus back to Oia. Oia has the famous sunset. Have a great time.

Posted by
3079 posts

Your days in each location is fine. Save Athens for the end instead of at the beginning so you aren't stranded out on an island just before you're supposed to go back to the mainland for your flight home. This gives you those extra days to make that flight in case of a cancellation due to a mechanical breakdown or high winds/rough seas. There is next to NO chance you'll find last-minute space on a flight to Santorini in August.

For mellow nightlife, including some music, Oia is fine. Fira is great for a very lively nighttime scene and will be extremely busy in August, day and night, because of all the cruise ship passengers and because it's the island's social/commercial center.

Posted by
3257 posts

Hi Erin!
Just from curiosity, clicked your name and saw that you'd done a lot of independent travel in Portugal, Spain, italy & South of France, always in August, and your postings indicated you'd done homework about those destinations. That's why it surprised me to see you'd picked the 2 most over-touricized isles, and at a time when both will be not just thronged but Heaving with jillions of tourists (with added influx weekdays of up to 3 cruise ships daily, adding 8,000+ cruise crowds lurching around following the Guide with the Umbrella). There are ways to strategize around this, but you should plan with this knowledge... and it Does involve using some candid guides, not just promotional websites. For both the isles and Athens, and Greece in general, I recommend ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE (any edition -- you can pick up cheap on Amazon, & pull out separate "guide-ettes" on destinations, language, food, history etc). On the 2 isles this website is straightforward:

ITINERARY: for such a short visit, the most time-efficient strategy is, immediately on arrival, FLY to farthest destination, then take ferry to #2, leave Athens for LAST 3 days. That way, no panic about a last-minute glitch in transport. If your homebound flight is at a sane hour (9 AM, in-line no earlier than 7AM), your last night can be enjoyed in Central Athens, & taxi in AM to airport. If really early, then there are 3-4 places to stay near the airport. I suggest fly to Santorini, fast-ferry to Mykonos, then fly/ferry to Mainland.

SANTORINI: Yes, 4 days may be too much;try 3. Re your Oia-Fira conflicts, there's a 3rd Answer that works best of all! Firostephani, also right on the same fab "rim view". It's the northern fringe of Fira. NO bus tours/cruise crowds stop here ... so even at Height of hi season it's relaxed day & Night, AND it's walkable to/from the Fira Nightlife... nice flagstoned path parallel to main road. Also, a handy bus stop on Main Road to get to Oia (so u don't have to go to the Fira-town Zoo of a bus-yard). U can take early AM bus, 8 or 8:30, and have a couple hours in Oia before the throngs pour in... then leave & do something else -- wine tour? Akrotiri ruins? Your choice. It will be hothothot, the beaches are on the non-view side of the island, and gritty, black, volcanic... so you'll want a pool. FIrostephani pool-hotels are still available if your budget permits.

MYKONOS: Again, that UK website is straightforward: Mykonos in August is all about party-time with beach-boozers starting in afternoon, plus clubs at night. Beaches can be VERY windy -- not sheltered from fierce "meltemi" (umbrellas are thatched, set in concrete footings). It's at least as expensive as Santorini, maybe more. You might want to consider an alternative -- NAXOS (my choice) or PAROS. These isles have much more to offer (ruins, scenery) AND the plus that you can ALSO see Mykonos... there's an excursion vessel 2 days a week. In August, Naxos nightlife in Port Town is vibrant, several busy clubs, good music bars -- and you can stay at upscale hotels at beach just adjoining the port town walkable to/fro. In addition, a car rental (or bus) can take you to far beaches, just comfortably busy but not packed ... and inland from beaches there are mountain villages, Hills of Marble, farms, ancient ruins etc. Another plus: NO cruise ships, no charter-flight package-hol crowds (airport takes only smaller planes).

ATHENS: Here I say, find hotel close to Acropolis, easy walk to all sights. I like the SOUTH side of Acrop, just off the scenic no-cars pedestrian walkway. Look at Hotel Herodion or Phillipos, high floors, for balconies w. view. Mid-August the moon rises right at sunset, and on Full Moon Night (8/18) the famous landmarks (Acropolis, Roman Forum, etc etc) are open late & free, for musical & dance performances... a magical night.

Posted by
136 posts

Wow, thanks everyone for your replies! I am flying from Mykonos directly to home, so that is why I am staying in Athens first (thinking one day Accropolis and the other day to Delphi?).

Definitely thinking Naxos for a 3-4 night stay instead of Mykonos (take day trip to Mykonos...but will I have time to see Delos and the town??? in one day?) and cutting Santorini down to 3 nights. Best area to stay in Naxos?

Posted by
3257 posts

Here's the link for the excursion vessels, there are 2; Most of us recommend MV Alexander as a larger boat, smoother ride, Naxos Star small & can get bumpy on windy days. In August, book the day before. Check carefully the options for various days; the usual ride is first pickup Naxos, then Paros, then 45 minutes to Delos. You have 2 hours there roughly then they take you to Mykonos, time for lunch and to wander about the mazey town lanes, take plenty of pix, then back on the boat about ?4:30-5? back to home base in time to relax, change, watch sunset & dine.

However, if you fly from Mykonos, why go there 2x? You can talk to the Excursion trip people & get a 1-way if you like, and then just not come back to Naxos... simpler. Theyll stash your big bags in the boat, you take your daybag with important stuff in it.

Where to stay in Naxos? : a Judgment call. St. George (Ag. Giorgios) beach is directly adjacent to Town. PLUSSES: It's SO easy to walk in to port-town attractions... cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping AND museums, landmarks, Castle (Kastro) etc. No need to rent car unless you want to do a 1-day swoop around island. Minus: The beach is shallow (wade out 100 yards to swim) & can be crowded in August (but never for AM or sunset strolls). But you can always take a bus 20-25 minutes to outer Beaches THose -- Plaka & Ag. Prokopios especially -- are beautiful long beaches. However, they're not really little villages, just hotel & pension "strips" along the sand, not as much Greenery/shade IMHO. And if you come in to Naxos town for nightlife, then there's the drag of bus back or, after midnight, taxi.
In St. George there are 3 upscale hotels w. pools, I like Naxos Resort Beach Hotel best... set back from beach a little but clear view and nice landscaping around pool & grounds. Galaxy similar building but fronts on a busy road. Nissaki Beach is closest to town -- but the beach area in front doesn't really have sand, u have to go down the beach a way, and its pool is jammed between 2 wings of hotel, so all concrete. Try Naxos Resort Beach hotel first ... but all 3 may be booked solid by this time...

You need to be aware that GReece's Biggest holiday besides Easter is right Spang in the middle of your trip -- August 15 a Monday -- so booking on that weekend and indeed the week before and after will be VERY difficult. I'd suggest going on and seeing what's available --- anything that says "1 mile" or "1.5 miles" from xxx beach is probably inland on former farmland... will maybe have a pool, but you'd have to rent a car for your full stay. I don't know if that matters. PS: I just went on and a smaller hotel VERY nice Hotel Naxos Beach is just 2 minutes walk to beach, pool, LOVELY grounds, only 2 rooms left -- I suggest you book immediately! For a little more $, you can book refundable so NO RISK. do not dither, & good luck!