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Planning a Greece Itinerary

My family and I are planning on taking a vacation to Greece in late August 2020, permitting it will be safe to travel, of course, our goal is to not put ourselves or others at risk during these trying times.

If we are fortunate enough to travel this summer, we are planning in flying to Athens (1 night) then taking a ferry to Mykonos (3 nights)-- Paros or Naxos (2 nights)-- Santorini (3 nights)-- Milos (2 nights)-- Athens (1 night). Then fly home, we have never traveled to Greece before, we are well versed in traveling, but I recognize all places are different. That being said we are completely open to anyone's input, I would love to hear it.

Is this plan feasible, and if it isn't, what changes should be made?

Would you recommend Paros or Naxos?

Are three nights in Mykonos too long? (I have heard mixed reviews in these forums)

A little insight, I am traveling with my husband (52), my two daughters (19 and 20 yrs old), and my mother in law (75) ( but she is more active than any of us, she could outrun me lol), So athletic activities aren't a problem.

If anyone has any input I would greatly appreciate it.

Posted by
8853 posts

Whenever your trip happens, I think you should take time to see Athens.
Using Athens only as an overnight stop on your way to somewhere else is really shortchanging yourselves.

One less destination or more time.

Posted by
3 posts

I understand what you are saying, thank you for your input. We are not going to book this trip in the near future unless it is safe to do so, I did say permitting it will be safe to travel, If it is not, of course, we would not go. My question is regarding the plan itself, as it will be our plan even if we wind up going a year from now.
When I plan a vacation, I like to plan ahead of time, I am not going to act upon these planes until this Pandemic subsides.

Posted by
8007 posts

Paros or Naxos deserve more time than either Santorini or Mykonos. You are allowing more time to the most touristed islands in Greece. Santorini looks Greek but doesn't feel like it, touristy, overcrowded. And Athens needs a minimum of three nights to yield two full days.
My Greek friends are in similar circumstances to what we are dealing with here in the US, lock downs, restrictions in place. Staying home, etc. Allowed to go out to walk the dog, etc.

Posted by
5648 posts

Our trip in April 2018 included Athens and the Peloponnese, but none of the islands you mention. At the southwest corner of the Peloponnese, we had several days and nights on the Mani Peninsula. Even if your itinerary doesn’t include there, treat yourselves in Athens to dinner at Mani Mani, in the neighborhood south of the Acropolis. We stayed in that neighborhood for several nights, and ate at that restaurant twice. Very reasonable, and fabulous food .
Speaking of food, you’ll find that every breakfast will be founded on yogurt, with fruit, nuts, and honey as extras. Cheers to all of you, especially Mom!

Posted by
5719 posts

Two nights means one day there. Your schedule has far too many short stops with not enough time to see places. Your first day or more will be wiped out with jet lag.

Start with 2 nights in Athens. Paros and Naxos deserve more time. Personally, I would drop the Disneyfied Santorini and visit islands less ruined by over tourism. Add a night to Milos too.

August will be very hot. This is a 2021 trip, not this year. You will need to book the best accommodation in January before places get booked up.

Posted by
975 posts

I agree you are trying to see/do too much in the time frame, especially with short stays on an island(s). Every time you move eats up time and time is valuable on holiday, especially short stays.

You may want to eliminate an island and add those days to other islands.

In addition Athens deserves a minimum of 2 days with 3 or more better. There's more to Athens than just the tourist sites.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all so much, going to drop either Santorini or Mykonos from the trip and spend more time in Naxos. I learned a lot from you all.
Stay safe everyone :)

Posted by
5648 posts

Hi ana1919, i just saw that my post said “tougher,” instead of “yogurt.” I revised it, above. Not sure how that happened, maybe a combination of erroneous autocorrect function, and trying to type at 10:30 at night ?!? Have a great trip!

Posted by
23 posts

Hi! I have a trip planned for September for my mother’s 70th birthday. It’s our second time in Greece, and we r also visiting some islands (Rhodes/Crete/Santorini, plus Athens). What I would suggest so you don’t waste time is skipping the first night in Athens and going straight to your fist island. That way you can add that night in Athens to the end of your trip, and that will help you in two ways: you will be able to get a better feel of Athens and in case something happens and you are not able to come back from your last island in time, you will still have time to make your flight home. When we went to Greece for the first time we had a problem in Santorini (rough sea) and lost a day of out itinerary, so this time around not only are we flying to all of the islands but I also added an extra day in Athens (last destination), just in case. You are going to have the time of your life, Greece is a dream, good luck, hopefully everything will be ok by July!!!

Posted by
108 posts

Yes, you got it. Less is more. Naxos is less touristy . Suggest you also consider transportation times between places as a factor in deciding what to cut. That and hotel switching and orientation uses up precious time.. Have a great trip whenever.

Posted by
1204 posts

Agree with the advice to spend more time in Athens and to do so at the end of your trip. We spent 3 nights there in 2016 and could have used a fourth - although we had 2 more nights in Piraeus and 1 in Porto Rafti (cute beach town close to the airport). Also had three nights on Santorini - the only island we visited. We did find non-touristy areas on the island but had a car. I would also fly to your first island to save the time - make it the farthest away and then ferry between the others on your way back to Athens. Probably would only visit 3 rather than 4 islands. We had 14 days planned for Greece at the end of May-early June but it got pushed back to September. We were going to spend most our time on the Peloponnese this trip with our last night in Athens. Apolamváno!

Posted by
7 posts

Paros or Naxos?

I haven't been to Paros but have been to Naxos and have to say it offers one of the best of the Greek Islands with a wonderful combination of Old & New World Greece. It's the largest island in the Cyclades so there's lots to do... touristy and non-touristy.
Beautiful Old Town, archeological/historic sites all over the island, lovely interior villages, spectacular mountains and raod all the way to Appollonas filled with classic Greek scenery.
It doesn't rely solely on tourism so offers a more traditional Greek Island.
My research shows Paros to be very nice, lots to do, see and experience and hopefully I'll get there some day.
I would highly recommend Naxos as a good choice but also feel Paros will give you a good example of a nice Greek Island.
When you go may make a big difference. Naxos is pretty much lively year-round while Paros tends to get very quiet off-season.
Still either island will always have businesses open for locals which may make it more enjoyable than dealing with pushing and shoving tourists during high season.
Mykonos town is the best-suited place for those seeking the nightlife. For accommodation, you can consider Ornos which is about three miles away from town, here you can find many broad ranges of hotels to choose from most luxurious to budget-friendly.
I think if you can arrange mykonos airport taxis to pick you up that is the most hassle-free solution and probably no more expensive than a taxi. From everything I read getting a taxi in Mykonos can be tough and nothing worse than standing around an airport upon arrival with no options. The bus might be okay but again not sure.

Posted by
1022 posts

I think you have received good thoughts and comments and I thought perhaps I could do a recap for your plan.

Your profile does not tell us where you are from so I am going to assume North America. Which means a transatlantic flight. Thats a long day and requires an overnight flight. You will arrive Athens either around 10 am if you take a direct flight and around 5 PM if you connect in Europe first. I do know how tiring that long flight can be however I always find sufficient energy to get out to our first island on day 1.
In fact we had a flight for tomorrow that was to get us into Athens at 7PM and a connecting flight to Crete getting us in at Midnight. All cancelled now.

So on arrival Athens to get a connecting flight ( you need 2 hours for a connection) to either Mykonos or Santorini. None of the other islands you want to see have evening flights.

Since you have already stated you are going to drop Mykonos (I personally feel that is the correct choice, Mykonos is lovely but its marked itself as a high end destination, so is as expensive as Santorini but without the views.) so fly to Santorini that first evening. While Santorini is expensive and crowded the views are spectacular and in my mind a first time visitor probably will want at least 3 nights there especially when you need to get over jet lag.

Here is what you can expect on Santorini.

For the rest of the trip you will be relying on ferrys and that means logistical planning is very important as the ferries take up a big chunk of a day every time you do a hop. I can say that the ferry connecting between Milos to Naxos can eat up to 6 hours of your day as Milos is a bit awkward to get to and from. For that reason I would suggest you also drop Milos and instead concentrate on Naxos. This change in plan eliminates 3 ferry hops and will give you an additional 6 nights which will give you a week on Naxos and three nights back in Athens before your flight home. A week on Naxos is just about right to really explore. We have been to Naxos 15 times and are still finding things and places we have never seen before. Greece is truly a place where doing less means a richer experience.

Here is why Naxos needs a week.
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos
Naxos 2019
A week in Naxos

You can fly back to Athens from Naxos or take the ferry. We prefer to fly in the morning in order to get most of the day in Athens . While ferry hops are a feature of Greece we prefer to keep our hops to no more than one if possible.
Here is why you need 3 days in Athens.

I certainly hope that you will be able to travel this year but if not this plan still works for 2021.

Posted by
5630 posts

You haven't planned much time in Athens. There is much to see in that city. Recommend three days there, also can do day trips to Delphi and Corinth as well as a three island ferry cruise.

Santorini is worth visiting for one day. It is an amazing place, but usually crowded. Mykonos is nice, but three days is much. Doing a tour of nearly Delos is a must if you love history.

Posted by
914 posts

Stanbr, Thank you for sharing you pictures! They’re gorgeous and inspiring. I’m just starting to dream of a Greece itinerary for 2021, so this is very helpful.

Posted by
1022 posts

Thank you travel4fun. I think many of us are hopeful that we can get back to Greece in 2021.

Posted by
11450 posts

Well when you go next year I’ll suggest more time in Naxos than Paros - we have been to both( Naxos 4 times and Paros twice ) and liked both very much , but there is more to do and see in Naxos !