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Prospective Itinerary for a last minute trip

My husband and I are planning our trip to Greece (our official honeymoon, 30 years late), and we're leaving in 2 weeks. Sounds crazy, I know, but we're airline crewmembers with free, albeit standby flight privileges; we travel spontaneously where where the flights have open seats, etc. That's how we roll! Sounds great in theory, but...we don't always get a seat! Of all of the last minute trips I've planned, Greece has been the most challenging, it's just so...overwhelming. Two weeks is insufficient, to say the least. Anyway, assuming all goes well with flights, I'd love some thoughts on this itinerary. My husband and I do like some milder hiking, and we're very healthy. We definitely like snorkeling and beaches (even nude ones!). Not surprisingly, we're not late night partiers, but we really don't mind the noise of it (we live across from a large university campus among students).
Question:

Both islands, Naxos and Paros look amazing in different aspects: we love to dine, the boutique--y style and plethora of dining looks marvelous, as do some of its historical sites. We also like the idea of the less, "ritzy, touristy", nature of Naxos". Everyone seems to rave about Naxos, and I take a huge consensus as good advice. So time split, + 1 Naxos, - 1 Paros?

Please give me you thoughts on this itinerary, if you'd be so kind:

9/24 - 25: Arrive Santorini by air, pickup car
9/26 - 28: Santorini - 3 full days
2/29 - 10/1: Naxos - 2 full days + 2 half days(fly?)
10/2 - 10/4 Paros - “ “ " “

10/5 - 10/8. Athens - 3 full days + half day
10/9 Fly Home

Thanks to all of you Greece adventure pros!

Posted by
2068 posts

After being up all night take a taxi to where you are sleeping and rent a car the next day. Besides renting a car in town is cheaper than renting at the airport and you can even have it delivered to you, that's what my sister did.
The day you visit Oia make sure you're there by 9a and out by eleven before you're walking shoulder to shoulder with cruise ship passengers; furthermore, you'll never find a place to park if you don't.
I visited Naxos Town as a day trip from Santorini and the caldera views were stunning if sitting on the right. As you are approaching Naxos grab your belongings and walk towards the exit as soon as you hear the first announcement; ferry stops are brief. You need to be at the door before the ferry stops.
I was disappointed with Naxos Town. Castro, the historic castle district does not have a castle and has one nice white-washed winding narrow street where a few merchants sold homemade jewelry, souvenirs, a TripAdvisor recommended restaurant where I drank a good sangria, a cheap boutique, an art shop and that was it. Not far from there was a nice restaurant that opened at 6p but my ferry left at 5:50p. I settled for dinner near the port with a menu that featured foods that were grown and produced on Naxos and it was the worst meal I had on my two-week vacation. My understanding is to appreciate Naxos you need to explore the island instead.
My favorite place in GR was Athens but don’t rely on taxis to get around. Some drivers claim you gave them five euro when it was 20, jump out of the car if this happens. Athens has the best archaeological museum I’ve visited plus much more.

Posted by
1937 posts

We were one of the ones who loved Naxos but have not yet been to Paros which people also seem to like. But I do think you should stay on one or the other. I would not try to see both in the time you have.

Posted by
3711 posts

Like BethFl we are fans of Naxos. We spent 6 nights and felt we got the “real Greek experience.” We used public transportation to tour the island. Enjoyed everything Naxos had to offer. We spent 4 nights on Santorini. We felt 3 nights would have been fine. We visited the Cyclades after our RS Greece tour. We missed Paros. Next time! Happy anniversary!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks so much for both replies and input. No matter where we spend our time, I'm sure that it will be marvelous. I can honestly say that we've never had a bad trip anywhere. Thanks also for the happy anniversary wishes!

Posted by
521 posts

During these 2 weeks you have time to do much better than what you planned.

First, stay one night less in Santorini, this night will be more useful elsewhere.

From Santorini you don't have to believe that the only possibility is to go to Naxos.
This is the specific choice of R Steves, which is good, and which 90% of the users of this forum follow to the letter, but which is far from being the only one possible

There are other possibilities!

For example, before going to Naxos, you can go to Amorgos, the island where the movie "The big blue" was shot. There is a daily ferry at 1.35pm (75 minute crossing).

This choice is much more judicious than the Naxos-Paros couple. (and it's a Paros addict who writes this!)

In Amorgos you will find everything you are looking for: fewer tourists, authenticity, white and blue villages surrounded by windmills (without the dozens of souvenir shops), easy hiking activities with fantastic landscapes, scuba diving, beaches, coves with turquoise sea, all kinds of accommodation, and even guess what? beautiful sunsets!

In Amorgos there are two ports, the ferry from Santorini arrives at the port of Katapola in the south, but personally I prefer the northern part where the port of Aegiali is.

See for yourself.
The link below shows you a live streaming view on Aegiali:

https://www.skylinewebcams.com/en/webcam/ellada/naigaio/kyklades/amorgos.html

Other links about Amorgos:

https://travelthegreekway.com/amorgos-island/

https://realgreekexperiences.com/how-to-get-to-amorgos-island-in-greece-a-locals-guide

https://www.e-kyklades.gr/travel/tourism/amorgos?lang=en

There are also daily ferries from the two ports of Amorgos to Naxos. (Blue Star, Seajets or Small Cyclades Lines)

So, after Santorini it is quite possible to divide the days left between September 28/29 and October 8 between Amorgos and Naxos before returning to Athens.

Posted by
1063 posts

You probably do not need a car the whole time in Santorini. Get to your hotel and enjoy how special Santorini is. Hopefully you can get a hotel with Caldera view. If you are in any of the main towns you will be walking not driving. When you want to see the island then rent the car for a day. Our hotel owner arranged a car rental for us when we decided we wanted to see more of the island.

Santorini and Naxos are two good choices for a first time visitor. Santorini for the views and Naxos for its beaches, (even nude ones) hiking, Mountain villages, some antiquities and its lovely main town with a maze of back alleys all topped by the Kastro area where the Venetians lived when they controlled the island.You really need a week to fully explore Naxos

Paros is also a good choice but our go to place is Naxos.
Three nights in Athens at the end of the trip is perfect.

Here are some images of Naxos.
Chalki to Vivlos villages hike https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72177720299950915

Naxos town https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632094558042
Trip around Naxos https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157634605629689

Posted by
1960 posts

I agree with JoLui to add a stop in Amorgos but we loved the first port, Katapola. We stayed in a pension with huge balconies right on the harbor, Porto Katapola. We took a bus to Hozoviotissa Monastery and then walked back through Chora. Wonderful place. Then move on to Naxos and back to Athens.

We’re in Crete right now. It’s a good choice for a future trip.