I am planning a surprise trip to Greece for my wife once we're allowed back to traveling. Can anyone suggest a spot in Greece to explore? I know Athens is probably at the top of a lot of peoples lists, and we may end up visiting a few days at the beginning of the journey. I am looking at other places like Corfu, Crete, and or Santorini. For these places I am looking for a place that is near the beach to stay. Can anyone also tell me if its better to stay in a hotel, a resort or an Airbnb while in Greece?
It's best if you save all your time on the mainland for the end of your visit to Greece so you eliminate any chance of missing your flight home. When you first arrive just catch another flight out to whichever island you've chosen. For Santorini focus your beachside village search on Perissa and Kamari. There's no simple answer to your last question. If self-catering is OK then go with vrbo.com or airbnb, For full-service hotels use the filter system on the booking.com website to search for what you want at the price you want to pay..
There are many places near a beach in Greece. So are you looking for some island somewhere or somewhere on the mainland? Large city or small town? What time of the year?
I only thought of Crete because my parents were stationed there many, many years ago. Greece is a place we've always wanted to visit. As long as its by the water, I think I am fine with either the mainland or an island. I am looking for a place to relax, and to take in the sights. We'll fly into Athens and stay there a few days and then I would like to be by the blue water to relax and take the rest of the time as it comes....if that makes sense. I am open to ideas and suggestions.
Agree with Badger: before we put time & thought into recommendations, we need 2 key facts: time of trip, (May? July? etc) & approx length of visit. Places that are wonderful in May-June or September may be very crowded, hot, expensive in July/August. Also, isles that are great to explore when you have 3 weeks, may not be top choices if you only have 10-12 days. Then there's travel time: to visualize that, here's a greek map http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/greece.gif If you are planning on just one isle, fine. But if island-hopping, you need good connections... and Corfu/Crete are at opposite ends of the Aegean, for example.
Your other question also requires knowing your priorities. Do you want to experience Greek life, typical eating places, landscapes, small towns? Or do you want luxury (spa, uniformed staff, big lobbies?). In Greece, the word "resort" is used more by Europeans, and tends to mean more of a purpose-built beach area, often with package-holiday buildings, sometimes all-inclusive, water-parks etc -- more for people who want a beach time on a budget, not caring about discovering Greece. In many islands, a better experience can be had at smaller family-run places -- and these may have better beach-front locations that more modern large hotels.
As for Airbnb, it all depends on your budget & your researching skills. Sometimes you can get a bargain -- at the same time, you may run the risk of a unit that looks wonderful in photos, but proves to be in a very inconvenient location, or with nonrefundable deposit, or risk of landlord changes on short notice. In Athens, more people are looking at alternatives to hotels which offer good locations & prices plus safeguards like free cancellation. Booking.com has become more useful for this, by listing private apts & rooms in addition to hotels; its "map view" also reveals exact locations, unlike other rental sites. Some people like to use Booking.com for browsing & making a "short list" of promising spots; then, if they have ample time before the trip, contacting the places directly with inquiries & reservations.
If you're looking ahead a bit, to September 2021 at the earliest, or Spring 2022, I hope you'll trot over to your local library & check out an armful of guidebooks ... Rick Steves book is great on Athens, (and he has FREE downloadable audio guides) but barely touches on islands -- Lonely Planet v. useful on island logistics; Rough Guide is most comprehensive. Cadogan (tho not updated on hotels/food) is wonderful on atmosphere, ambience. I know that some people deal only with online info, but guides have a role in understanding history & culture, so that ancient sites and landmarks are more meaningful.
I"m cming back in to agree with Lee -- do NOT schedule your Athens time at the beginning of your trip! First of all, you'll be tired from your lengthy journey from N America, and not in condition to cope with a big bustlling national capital -- everything will be a blur. Better to recover & revitalize in the slower pace of an island. Also, a few days in the isles will enable you to figure out Greek ways, so when you get to Athens you'll know how to navigate most efficiently. Finally, with some immersion in Greek landscapes & history, at the end of your stay, the famous Athens landmarks and museum treasures will mean so much more to you.
Sorry, you're correct I forgot to put that in there. Time frame would be 10-23 days and the time of year would be late June into July. We want to experience Greek life and their culture. I like the way you explain that Janet, doing it that way makes sense to me.
You may get some good ideas by perusing a couple of guidebooks. The RS Greece is good if you plan on spending any time in that part of the country, or you could look at Lonely Planet or other guidebooks.
One of the most comprehensive sources of information is Matt Barrett's website - https://www.greecetravel.com/ . Once you've figured out a good Itinerary, you may want to contact one of the Greek travel agencies listed on Matt's site as they can provide hotel bookings at reputable hotels, Ferry tickets, etc. Hopefully the agencies will be operating normally as Greece reopens to tourists.
As I recall, Naxos had some nice beaches, but I'm sure there are lots of other possibilities also - https://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/naxos/beaches.htm .
If you plan on renting a car or whatever in Greece, an International Driver's Permit is essential.
If you have the time and a good budget, you could also have a look at the Rick Steves Greece tour. It covers some famous historic sites and it's nice to have all the hotels, transportation and other logistics taken care of.
Ken gives good advice on doing research ... and he's right about Steves tours being good for people who are newcomers and who want everything taken care of. However, as someone with beaches as a priority, Doogie should be aware that the RS tours focus on the mainland, with minimal beach time or island visits.
On the topic of beaches, the RS Greece tour provides at least one free day and several free afternoons. The Itinerary may have changed but one of the free days was in a town near Kalamata, which I believe had beaches. There was also free time on the island of Hydra. I'd have to check my trip notes for more specific details.
The previous post makes a good point. If you plan to spend the majority of time on beaches, the tour may not be the best option. Once you've figured out all the details, one of the Greek travel agencies that I mentioned earlier would be able to tailor the trip to your specifications.
Adding another vote to Athens at the end.
I adore Crete—studied there in college so I’m biased towards it—but it would be worth asking where your family was stationed. There is a large Greek base on the Akrotiri peninsula which also happens to be one of my favorite places to stay. A 45 drive from Chania, gorgeous beaches including the famous Seitan Limani, a monastery with great olive oil, hiking to Neolithic through Ottomon ruins, still relatively unspoiled. You def would need a car but for whatever it’s worth that’s one of my favorites. We stay at the Kavos Beach Hotel or Blue Beach; the former is slightly nicer but either is great.
Crete actually has some nice resorts to stay at with beach access. I spent a long weekend on Crete once, and I would leave the reset to walk to the beach and relax, and then go out at night for a nice meal and some nightlife. It was a super relaxing trip. If that is the kind of experience you want, Crete is one of the best islands for this. However, there is also a lot to do here. You can visit museums, historical sites, go for a hike, go wine tasting... it's truly a place where you can "choose your own adventure."
I can vouch for the beauty and relaxation of staying in a cave house in Oia on Santorini. Red Beach is a dramatic place with rounded pebbles at the opposite end of the island but an easy drive. Another beach is the black volcanic one at Perissa - again easily reachable via car. Oia, Fira, etc. are at the top of the caldera while the beaches are on the downslope side of the island.
Keep in mind that Santorini is not known for it’s beaches.
On Crete in Heraklion saw Knossos, the archaeology museum - those two are popular and crowded; and the Koules Venetian fortress - it wasn't crowded. I have talent for finding less popular or underappreciated sites and small museums. In Chania- I saw the maritime museum, walked by the harbor where every tourist in the town goes, sawparts of the old city walls, the Venetian fortress, the small archaeology museum - it has parts of at least one Roman mosaic tile floor. I didn't give myself enough time on Crete. You could occupy yourself there for more than a week. Look up the ancient Minoan civilization and see if Minoan ruins are of interest to you. 95% of each Minoan site seems to be missing.
Look at the "Rough guide to Crete" and/or the "Lonely Planet guide to Crete". If you seeing mainland Greece too, see if you can get a room in an overnight ferry, which will take away your need for one or two nights in hotels. I took the ferry from Pireus-. Or see about buying plane tickets to Heraklion or Chania-.