We will be in Greece for a month. We are planning 13 days on our own 3 days Mykonos, 7 days Crete, 3 days Athens - Monasteries. and the other days with Rick Steves. We are flying from the USA to Athens in Sept, then we fly to Mykonos. Do we arrange a flight to Mykonos the same day we arrive in Athens or should we get a hotel for one night and fly out in the am the next day?
Why not book an open jaw ticket and fly direct to Mykonos?
Thank you, that helps us out a lot! We are from Vancouver WA, but now live in the Sun Shine State Arizona. Hope you are staying warm and dry in Seattle! I was hoping it would be doable to fly out the same day, because we hate to stay somewhere just for one night! Thanks again!
I have never heard of a open jaw ticket? Would it help for all of our trip in Greece; USA to Athens,Athens to Mykonos, Mykonos to Crete and Crete to Athens, Athens to USA?
The risk that you assume is not making the second flight for a variety of reason. If you miss the flight you have no recourse. We have done that and have been successful with a five, six hour window to catch the second flight ----- UNTIL ---- Three years ago our US flight was cancelled as we sat on the runway waiting to go. Even an overnight stay would not have saved us as it took three days to re-book the flight. It would be much safer to book an open jaw (multi-city) ticket into Mykonos and home from Athens. And it might be cheaper.
Thanks that is a good reminder about cancelled flights. Cancel flights seem to be happening more often in the USA, these days. It appears I need to learn more about "open jaw" flights and consider booking that for our flights from the USA to Athens, Athens to Mykonos and then Athens back to the USA.
I believe I can book the flights from Mykonos to Crete and Crete back to Athens separately?
An ”open jaw” ticket is usually called a ”multi-city” ticket on airline websites. You would buy a ticket Home airport to Mykonos / Athens to Home Airport (rather than a round trip to Athens).
Thanks for the clarification. Open Jaw is similar to multi city. I get that. Thanks!
It appears I need to learn more about "open jaw" flights and consider
booking that for our flights from the USA to Athens, Athens to Mykonos
and then Athens back to the USA.
It as mentioned called different things by different airlines, such as multi-city https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-jaw_ticket
But you should not be obsessed with flying USA to Athens, Athens to Mykonos, your trip to Greece might just as well be USA to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Mykonos.
We noticed that when we pull up various flight options from the USA to Athens or Mykonos there is a FRA stop. Thanks for the Wikipedia link. I did check it out. :)
Open jaw and multi city are exactly the same thing. And you might not necessarily layover in Athens on your way to Mykonos. For example, in May we flew Boston to Santorini with a layover in Zurich on Swiss air. And then home from Athens to Boston with a layover in Toronto . In between, we took the ferry from Santorini to Naxos, and then flew on a separate ticket from Naxos to Athens. Whether or not separate tickets to Crete and Athens work for you depends on the cost. So you should research a multi city ticket that includes flying from Mykonos to Crete, and then from Crete to Athens and compare the price with separate one-way tickets to crete and then to Athens and compare the costs.
BEWARE!! If your Europe ticket involves a plane-change in Chas De Gaulle, unless the layover is more than 2 hours, change your ticket!! That airport is an absolute nightmare for quick transfers!! The different "wings" are miles and miles apart, (think Octopus, with gates at end of 8 long legs!) served by pokey busses that take foreverr... you cannot stay in secure area, so you must go thru super-slow security lines... and so-called "help desk" staff are specially-trained to mock or ignore N. American passengers. Not my lone opinion ... on Greece forums, countless complaints. Heathrow is super-busy but much better -- frankfort, Switzerland, Spain, even Italy are more bearable choices; avoid Charles de Gaulle or if forced to change there, allow 3 hrs.
Definitely we are comparing the costs. We are in the planning stages for the airline tickets. We hope to have airlines firmed up in January 2023. Thanks for confirming with us on checking out the various options to fly to Crete. At lease we know we are on the right track.
Thanks for the warning on Charles De Gaulle airport!
I guess you want to go to Mykonos to party, and its gay friendly side since that's mainly what this island is famous for.
You will have no difficulty finding an Ath-Mykonos flight on the day of your arrival in Athens. There are around 12 flights a day until quite late in the day.
This connection is served by Aegean/Olympic, Sky Express and in high season Volotea.
Don't bother with that Open Jaw ticket, instead see if you can get a USA-Mykonos flight via Athens in one ticket with airlines like Lufthansa and United that have a codeshare agreement (Star Alliance) with Aegean/ Olympic.
In case you have to stay a first night in Athens, you can spend it in Rafina at the Avra Hotel which is 20 minutes from the airport and which offers a free shuttle.
Moreover, from the port of Rafina there are ferries to Mykonos. At least 5/day until late evening. The crossing takes around 4 hours depending on the type of ferry.
However, be aware that there are practically no direct flights between the Greek islands and to my knowledge and except for something new in 2023 you will not have a direct Mykonos-Crete flight.
By plane the only way is via Athens.
The other way to get from Mykonos to Crete is by ferry. There are one to two ferries a day in September (with Seajets or Minoan Lines) The crossing takes between 5 and 6 hours.
Don't bother with that Open Jaw ticket, instead see if you can get a
USA-Mykonos flight via Athens in one ticket with airlines like
Lufthansa and United that have a codeshare agreement (Star Alliance)
with Aegean/ Olympic.
That would be an open jaw ticket if the return is from Athens.
Thank you about informing us about Mykonos. We are not huge party folks (LOL) and we are not gay, so it sounds like Mykonos will be an adventure for us. Thanks for letting us know about all the flights to Mykonos, that is good to know.
We've decided to fly to the various islands, it will be faster. In Mykonos we plan to go over to Delos, see Little Venice, the museum and walk around the area (chill out from our long flight). Then fly to Crete and stay there for a week. Lots of planning for this trip.
Thank you for the response about a direct flight to Mykonos. I think we will do the same for Crete and Santorini.
That would be an open jaw ticket if the return is from Athens.
Since the OP seems to believe that he will be able to have direct flights between the islands (which will not happen), and also mentions Santorini, we do not really know where he will leave from! :))
Our trip stops are listed below! We are still working out the details.
1. USA to Mykonos (might fly to Athens then onto Mykonos) 3 nights.
2. Crete 7 nights.
3. Athens - Rick Steves tour, I think 14 days.
4. Kalambaka to see the monasteries 3 nights by train.
5. Athens - fly to Santorini for 3 nights.
6. Back to Athens to the USA
I am sorry to rain on your parade, but your intinerary is confusing DId you study a map? Here is one (clilck to enlarge) https://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/greece.gif -- your sequence has you going back & forth like a yoyo!!! That sequence could force you to spend up to 1/3 of your time waiting for planes & ferries... and spending €€€ besides...
Some points: • you cant get from Mykonos to Crete... except lengthily and expensively • It makes snse to do Mykonos & Meteora last, with perhaps Athens just before the Monasteries. • not logical to make special trip to Santorini in the middle
The SENSIBLE sequence -- if you have 10 days before the Steves tour, is:
• Land in ATHENS On an AAM -- allow 2 hrs overlay - FLY to CHANIA CRETE -- 7 days (4-5 w car) ending in HERAKLION
• AM On day 6? 7? - 9:30 am Ferry to SANTORINI -- 48 - 70 hrs (3 nights?) -
• DAY 10 am - fly to ATH - join up with R Steves group for 14 days
• Day 24 - End Steves Tour @ ATHENS ... options for Mykonos (1) have tour drop u at airport, fly to Mykonos (2) Drop u at Rafina or Piraeus, ferry to Mykonos - depending on schedule of ferries/flilghts & your preference... remember, flight is 40 mins
• Day 27 - Return to ATH: catch train to Kalambaka for 3 nights?)
• DAY 30 -- return to ATH go to Airport, fly home.
I Know that the beginning of the Rick Steves tour may give you ONE day in Athens for the major landmarks ... are you sure that will be enough? My preference wouid be to have another day in Athens at the end, to experience world-famous cultural landmarks and museum treasures. To do that might require cutting one day off the Meteora adventure (Seeing Monasteries on top of skinny pinnacles to enable monks to get away from the temptations of women) -- but that's just me I guess.
Thanks for your honesty. Currently our Greece trip is in the planning process, and I agree that it is a bit of a yoyo. We just added Santorini today, but after watching some videos we are rethinking it. We thought about taking a ferry from Mykonos to Crete. That way we wouldn't have to go back to Athens. But, it makes for a long boat ride and we are highly energetic couple. It sounds like we need to review our destinations. Thanks for giving us a sample of an itinerary. We are definitely going to rethink this trip.
Your route from island to island and all these routes via Athens strongly needs to be optimized with suggestions like the one proposed by janet.
Like many people you are too optimistic about the places you can see in just 12 days.
Note that any trip from one island to another or to and from Athens will take at least half a day (or even a full day)
Knowing this I advise you to remove an island. either Mykonos or Santorini.
I will not mention the fact that tourist marketing, instagramers and professional youtubers have made you believe that among the 200 or so Greek islands these are the only ones that can be visited..
Stop looking at these things, do your own research, consult paper guides or non-commercial internet sites.
Just to give you an idea only for the Cyclades islands:
Thank you for reminding us that there are other islands to see. Since this is our 1st trip with Rick Steves and to Greece I think for now we need to simplify our trip. We would luv to see more of the islands ; the ones that are not so much in demand, that might be a trip 2024. So, after much discussion with my hubby, we thought we would make this easier on us.
Fly to Athens, fly to Crete (7 days), ferry to Santorini (3 days) fly back to Athens, Rick Steves tour (14 days), take the train to Kalambaka (3 days), train back Athens, see a bit more of Athens (2 or 3 days) fly home. Then in 2024 look at island hoping, based on the link you sent me. So many islands to see. Thanks again for sending me the information and links about the Greek islands!!!!!!!!
Excellent decision!! You will learn so much, doing this itinerary, that you'll be in a great position to make choices for Trip #2. And this route gives you "air space" to relax and enjoy the culture & scenery without fretting.
Thank you! Your feedback was a bit hard to swallow at 1st, but I didn't want to fly all the way over to Greece to not have a good experience! Your input about our itinerary was VERY helpful. We stayed up late last night discussing our options. We really don't like the big tourist scenes, but thought we needed to see Santorini, just to see it and it worked with going to Create 1st!
We have traveled to Egypt and India, and this trip I don't want the craziness.
I want calm. Thank YOU for your help!
Your new itinerary is much better! And don’t worry too much about the tourist scene in Santorini. I suggest staying in Firostefani which is less crowded and hectic than Oia and Fira. Janet recommended Firostefani to me and she was spot on. You will get away from the crowds if you rent a car for a day and visit the Akrotiri archaeological site, the Akrotiri lighthouse, the red sand beach, and the black sand beach (in Perissa, I think).
For all its crowds, SAntorini is worth seeing at least once in a lifetime, IMO. The caldera views are stunning, and the white villages along the caldera rim are beautiful. Try to get a room with a patio/deck overlooking the caldera. One of my best memories is having breakfast on our deck with beautiful views of the caldera and the white villages.
Thank you sooooooo MUCH! That was very helpful about Santorini!!!! I was going to start looking for a place to stay tonight, for Santorini, Chania and Heraklion. Renting a car sounds like a good idea! Thank you!
This new route plan is much better. Especially since you had no reason to waste your time and money in Mykonos.
Even if you want to escape the big tourist scenes you can then say that you have seen Santorini :))
Regarding the Crete-Santorini ferry, the September timetables will be published in April/May. They can be consulted for example here:
And since you want calm, here is my advice for your future 2024 trip to Greece:
Never go to places like Santorini where you will read too many tips on how to avoid the crowds.
The only real useful advice is : Do not go there :))
Thank you for your help! I very much appreciate all you advice. I definitely will stop watching the youtube videos. I've learned so much in the last day about Greece. Thanks for the info about the ferry schedule, that is good info. Now I get to delete some of the stuff I had and start anew! A cup of tea and away I go on finding places to stay in Santorio and Create!
You don't need to stop watching Youtube videos, just watch the good ones, not the ones with young couples sharing their wedding in Santorini in high definition or the ones showing this "gorgiouuuuuus" terrace with view on the caldera (with the ultra-tanned young girl bathing in the spa)
On the other hand, you can learn more by watching more informative and unpretentious videos like this one:
Which is about Kimolos, one of my favorite islands.
And since they didn't see everything in Kimolos, I'll just add some pictures (in case you're interested)
As you will notice, in terms of crowds, it has nothing to do with Mykonos or Santorini.
That looks like a great place to visit. I will put it on my bucket list for 2024! Thank you again for all your help!!!!!
I just wanted to add that you might be able to find a flight that includes flying to Crete on one ticket. We did this in May and no worries about missing an unconnected flight. We also had a much tighter connection than I would have ever done on separate tickets. It wasn't any more expensive. We purchased on United site, and had parts on Swiss Air and Aegean. Look on goggle flights for possibilities.
Thanks, I looked at airline tickets today, but I went to Skyscanner. My plan is to purchase plane tickets at the 1st of the year. I definitely will look at United. It would be nice to get Crete on the same trip to and from Athens. I believe I was told to give yourself 2 hours to go thru customs. Thanks again! I'm learning sooopo much!
Customs is nothing -- five minutes -- just a walk through the green door -- Nothing to Declare. Immigration is the issue. If you fly directly to Athens from the US you will do immigration (passport control) in Athens. If you change planes somewhere else in Europe you will do immigration at the first landing. I would allow more than two hours. I have gone through immigration is 30 minutes and three hours at another time. It depends and you have little control. Just stand in line shuffle along. I would have a four hour window.
I was hoping to have 3 hours between Athens and Crete, just to be safe!!!! In Egypt we were letting folks cut in front of us so that they would not miss their flight! I want to void that situation! Thanks for the update!
Athens airport is easy to navigate. A single building. One floor for arrivals, the floor above for departures.
Try to find a USA-Crete in one ticket (with Star Alliance member airlines), your Athens-Crete flight will be with Aegean/Olympic,
and when departing from the USA, at baggage check your baggage tag will be HER for Heraklion airport (or CHQ for Chania airport). So you won't need to pick up your bags in Athens and check them in again for the Athens-Crete flight.
Install Aegean app with which you can check in 48 hours in advance and get your boarding passes on your smartphone.
With a USA-Athens flight on time, 2 hours is sufficient for a connection in Athens
In case of delay there are staff at the airport to guide you, so that you can catch your next flight.
And if your USA-Athens flight is extremely delayed, Aegean will find you a place on the next Athens-Crete flight(s)
Thank you for the information for the airport in Athens! Nice to know it's not crazy like some of the ones in the USA! We will have carry on's, travel bags, so it makes it much easier. Less clothes, but easier to manage! Thanks again for your help!
And unless you fly direct to Athens, you will go through immigration at the airport you transfer through. For us, that was Zurich so we had to do was walk to the next flight.
If you have carry on, you likely will have to check it for the flight to Greece as the planes are smaller. We had carry in 2018 when we had two unconnected flights and then checked for flight to Greece. We checked it all the way through this May when we flew to Crete on one ticket.
Your new itinerary looks much better!
My plan is to purchase plane tickets at the 1st of the year. I
definitely will look at United. It would be nice to get Crete on the
same trip to and from Athens.
Don't book home-Athens and Athens-Crete as two separate tickets. Book home-Crete in one ticket.
Good remark from BetFL, even if the planes operating the ATH-Crete flights are not small ATR42 or 72 turboprops like those which go to the other islands but Airbus A320, note that the baggage policy on Aegean / Olympic limits your cabin baggage to 8kg maximum and dimensions up to 56cm X 45cm X 25cm + a small bag that can fit under the seat (Flex Rate)
That said, if your cabin baggage does not exceed the maximum dimensions, you have little risk that its weight will be checked because the weight is not a problem as important as on the "small" ATR planes.
The ConfortFlex fare allows you to have checked baggage up to 23kg in addition to cabin baggage.
Sky Express has roughly the same policy with the possibility of having a cheaper fare if the checked baggage does not weigh more than 15kg
Anyway Greece in September is not a place where you will use a lot of sweaters. Plan light clothing and some windproof clothing for the islands.
Thank you both for the flight information.
1. I plan to book USA to Athens, Athens to Crete and Athens back to USA in multi city arrangement. That way we have it all on one trip. Thanks for confirming flights all in one is the way to go!!!
2. I just looked at Santorini flights to Athens, that is where the luggage had me concerned. It looks like we need to go Business class in order to get our luggage/backpacks on the plane. Thanks for the information about ComfortFlex (a bit less money than Business class) and packing cooler type clothes. I will definitely will be checking the temps before we go. We went to NZ and Australia for a month with our backpacks, so I'm hoping that trip will help me to prepare for this one.
Lots to plan for when you do it yourself. At least if we plan to make another trip in 2024 for Island Hopping in Greece, I will be better prepared.
On Aegean/ Olympic (or even with Sky Express) you absolutely do not need to fly in business class!
Go directly to their website and check the different rates with the corresponding baggage policies
Yes, thank you are correct.
I plan to book USA to Athens, Athens to Crete and Athens back to USA
in multi city arrangement.
Do you plan to spend any time in Athens before going to Crete? If not, book a trip direct to Crete. It might include a stop in Athens, or it might not.
Note that Heraklion airport in Crete being an international airport directly served from several European cities, Athens is not a mandatory stopover. (Aegean Airline either)
Finding a complete multi-city itinerary like the one you're looking for can be tricky.
If this is your case, to simplify your search on Skyscanner or Google Flights (I prefer Google Flights), first try to search for a USA-Heraklion one-way ticket and filter the results in the Airlines section by checking Star Alliance, and select 1 stop max in the stopovers section.
So you will see all the possibilities for a USA-Heraklion trip with a single ticket. Probably with United and another alliance airline: Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Air Canada, etc.
Do the same for the return flight
Okay, I will check flying to Heraklion from the USA.
We meet up with Rick Steves in Athens and then we plan to spend another 2 days in Athens, at the end of the tour in Athens, for a total of 4 days in Athens.
My plan was Athens, Crete 4 nights, Heraklion 2 nights, ferry to Santorini 3 nights, fly to Athens, tour with Rick Steves 14 days, back to Athens take a train to Kalambaka 3 nights and the train back to Athens 2 nights and then home to the USA. Thanks again for your help! I'm learning sooooo much about Greece!
OP, I was offline for a couple of days, during which time you handily figured out the flight situation - i agree with those suggesting the nonstop from US to Athens, rather than a Europe change... just because of some hitches/delays that have occurred in change-over airports; nonstops arrive ATH on schedule 99% of time, even if delayed in take-off (they have aallll that time over Atlantic to make it up). So I can confine myself to Crete route & accom. tips:
CRETE PLANNING - This is my favorite online map - http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/Crete-eot.png (click & it gets huuge - navigate with side-slildes)... it shows not only roads but TERRAIN.. iimportant for understanding how mountains limit your routes! I like this one for Chania https://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/chania-old.jpg -- this one works OK for Heraklion - https://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/iraklion-city-map.gif (tho not indicating confusing 1-way street maze for drivers)
CHANIA HOTELS -- I've been to Crete I think 5? 6? times, and love Chania Old Town... it's worth 1.5 - 2 days just to explore its highlights. What we Chania-fans like best is staying on WEST side of Harbor, just up from harborside - on- Theotokoupolou, a flagstoned no-car lane lined with updated Venetian mansions. A good one with about 12-14 Rooms is Hotel Palazzo ... do book ne f the front rooms with balcony on the lane... there's also a small top-floor terrace. Nice breakfasts in glassed-in lobby. If you want a place with a little Kitchenette, Pension Hera right next door has about 3 units. Both are TOP location, at the sea end of the lane.
PLACES In SOUTH -- with 7 days, probablly after 2 days, lyou'll want to rent a car & drive south, then meander to N. E. to end in HERAKLION where the daily ferry leaves for SANTORINI. There are various places in South... if you want to heaad down to PHaestos & the Libyan sea village of Matala, my recommend there is Dimitris Villa -- about 800 yards inland from beach, nice landscaping surrounds, view of mts, vinecovered patio, nice family-owned place. If u decide instead to go other Libyan sea destinations (Plakias or Sougia) others will have suggestions. From there you head N E toward Heraklion (area)...
HERAKLION & AREA - Lodgings --you may wish to stay outside in authentic Greek village like Archanes ... & go see Knossos from there. KEY THING about Knossos --- big cruise-ship crowds on weekdays about 10 am-2pm then they vanish back to ships & the afternoon not at all crowded. The decision to make is: Museum treasures first? or Ruins first? Many feel if you see the gorgeoous treasures first, then u can appreciate ruins better. In that case, drive in to HERAKLION (hellish traffic!!) in AM and get to a hotel at Seafront (I recommend Hotel Kronos, w. windows/balcony on sea). Find Parking nearby then walk to museum & lunch. U can turn in car down by port (most agencies let u pic up in Chania, drop @ Herak port). Local bus @ port takes you to Knossos in afternoon, & back.. then before dinner wander around Amazing Fortezza & have final Crete Mezedes dinner nearby & back to hotel. Taxi in am to ferry dock from Kronos is about ‹€5-7.
Wow! The information you provided is awesome. A lot for me to absorb! I hadn't booked Crete yet, due not knowing if we will fly directly to Heraklion or make an extra flight to Create from Athens. I planned to rent us a car, and drop it off in Herakleion. Thank you so much for the maps. Looks like I got another day of planning ahead of me for me! But, it's all good! I've learned sooooo much about the area in the last couple of days! I really appreciate the information you provided me! Thank YOU!!!!!
If you appreciate all that you learn from these forums -- imagine what you'll learn if you actually invest in a guide book (gasp!) If you are planning to spend a full month in Greece, then it's worth spending about $10 on a reliable guide book. NOT for hotels, restaurants, busses, car rentals... online (when you provide good specific details) is where you get the most up-to-date info on these. No -- the guidebook is for background, history, atmosphere, insights that make you want to visit certain sights & destinations, and to enrich your understanding & pleasure. This knowledge doesn't come from YouTube, or promotional websites designed to draw tourist crowds. Worthwhile guides are written by people who love a country & have studied it... not marketers.
The R Steves Guidebook is admirable because it's direct, designed to help people self-guide to its selected destinations. It is tops for first-timers in Athens & the Peloponnese - but of course that will be covered on your estimable RS tour group. RS however, does not deal with the islands -- so you might consider a different guide book. I suggest u drop by your local library & browse its travel shelf, to see what appeals; my thoughts below.
The Big "general" names are Fodor's, Lonely Planet, and Rough Guide (the Blue Guides are more detailed on ancient/religious sites than a first-timer wants). Fodor's is for middle-of-road/middle-age, no surprises but also rather bland. Lonely Planet (back in the day) used to be the adventure-book, but more & more it's color photos & VERY heavy on transport, hotels, restaurants -- it cut back sharplly on details of "hidden gems" (years ago, LP helped me find a magical little teeeny 13th C chapel on a Crete hillside - but such info has been chopped in favor of photos) My favorite remains Rough GUide - altho it too has lost text to increase photos. ThE BIG advantage is, it has a special separate guide - ROUGH GUIDE to CRETE On AMazon, the 2021 edition is about $19 on Amazon, & the 2013 edition is $5.95... I recommend the latter since site descriptions & maps will be virtually the same and -- as said -- logistics about busses/dining/tickets/entry fees etc are best found online.
Lucky you! With 10 months before your trip, you can immerse yourself in some reading, which can enrich your experience. The TOP author in page-turner historical fiction (accurate!!) Is Still Mary Renault -- and anyone going to Pelops & Crete should not miss "The King Must Die" (available paperback new/used). For insight into modern Greek outlook/history/culture, I like "Eurydice Street". To make everyone in your group laugh, take along hilarious "GReek Gazette" by 2 Oxford wits, conveys actual history, but in Tabloid style - Front P headline is "NUde Scientist in Bathtub Sensation" -- googling shows its available used paperback for $4 or so. I'm not a big fan of "romance" novels w (fake) island settings.
Outstanding! I've been thinking about purchasing a Greece book. I think I will check out the library and a couple of other places in our area! Thank you so much about the varies books to read!!!! I have jury duty in a couple of weeks, I was told to bring a book to read! Sounds like I can pick out a book from your list to read! Thank you