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Recommended islands for hikers and 2-3 week stay

We're just starting to plan our May-June-July 2019 Europe retirement trip and would welcome any suggestions for an island we can spend a few weeks exploring. Also, is it just too early to start booking hotels on islands like Naxos or are they indeed already fully booked? We're getting the message "no rooms available for your selected dates" for a late May 2019 booking. Thanks for any suggestions, hotel recommendations, and hiking tips.
Mike & Susan

Posted by
1398 posts

Andros is our favourite island partly because it has great walks. It’s also very pretty and doesn’t get a lot of tourists.

We’ve written up some favourite walks which will give you a flavour. (You’ll need a tablet or PC. The site isn’t yet mobile friendly unfortunately!)

The best site for walks in the Cyclades that I know is this

It has lots of good walks and we’ve always found it accurate.

Have a great time.


Posted by
11507 posts

Yes it is far too early to book for 2019. So the messages you are seeing are not important. Its fun to research and figure out which hotels you want.. but you dont need to book till the end of this year or so... they are far too busy with this years bookings to be bothering with next year.

Keep in mind that hiking in some areas is going to be VERY hot going in late june and july.. I would plan on most hiking in May and early June..

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks Pat and Alan for your kind replies. We'll be researching Andros for hikes and accommodations.

Posted by
91 posts

Can I throw Crete into the mix for consideration? As it is a big island, there is plenty to keep you busy for many weeks; in fact 2 or 3 weeks is hardly enough. There are wonderful ancient historic sites, beautiful Venetian cities, mountains, nature, countryside, excellent beaches... plenty of walks in the mountains, or at lower levels, for instance along the South-West coast, or through gorges, or through orange & olive groves ....

The food is superb, & although there are tourist destinations there are also many tiny quiet villages, lovely water for swimming etc etc.

I would council you to try not to be tempted to fit in several islands in your visit, or you can find yourselves rushing & spending a large proportion of your time in travel. Greece is best served slowly & leisurely!

& no, hotels in Greece will not yet be advertising for 2019. However if you have somewhere you are very keen on staying you could always email them. Be aware that most hotels only show a small amount of availability on sites like as the hotels are charged for this service, they often do have availability where none is showing on the big sites, it is always appreciated if you find their email address & approach them directly.

Posted by
1178 posts

It's way to early to book anything but it's not too early to do your research because you can be overwhelmed with choices for Greece:

If you used a third-party agency you'll get the "no rooms available message" but if you deal directly with the accommodations you'll get better results and probably prices and service.

Just about anywhere in Greece will offer wonderful hiking.

Check out these two sites:

Posted by
186 posts

I think it is too early to book; try when it is less than 12 months away.

Since you mentioned enjoying hiking, I thought you might be interested in another region of Greece in the north--Prespa. It is beautiful--mountain hikes, archeological treasures, summer festivals with dancing and music, great food, a bird sanctuary. Beautiful nature and few crowds.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you all for your informative replies and advice. We do have to fight the temptation to rush about and "see it all". I like the idea of Crete if only because of its size and possibilities to get lost. Thanks again!
Mike & Susan

Posted by
1 posts

Just completed a 14 day RS tour of Greece. Look at the island of Hydra. Suggest reviewing Hotel Greco. It's a hundred yards or so from the main waterfront. Quiet. Shady outside areas.

Posted by
106 posts

I just saw your post. Yeap!! Crete would be No1 choice for me too. If you choose Crete you might consider staying at Chania. Great destination for all seasons.... Picturesque well-preserved harbour, stunning beaches in the wider region and in a close distance to the White Mountains with truly captivating landscapes and lovely traditional villages to explore! A good starting point for day trips as well!

Check out the following routes:

b)Chania-Topoliano Gorge-Milia

Posted by
1397 posts

I guess I am just joining the chorus here but Crete certainly will give you exactly what you are looking for. You can take in Ancient Minoeen sites like Knossos, Phastos and several others through the island. The Roman capital of Crete Gortyz is still lying partially buried in an olive grove near Phaastos. You can have an urban experience with old town and Venetian harbours in Heraklion, Rethymnon and Chania. Ancient Aptera is 18 km east of Chania where you can spend 4 hours hiking around 5,000 years of civilization strewn over a mountain top.

There are numerous Gorges to be hiked. The big one is Samaria. It is about 16kim down from a central plateau to the Libyan sea. When you get down to the south coast there is hiking path the E4 that follows the coast and connects to several villages.
Here is a sample of what is in Crete.
Western Crete

Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106
Samaria Gorge hike the easy way.

Crete Libyan Sea villages
Crete Archeological sites
2017 Crete Archeological sites.

And since you specifically mentioned Naxos It too has good hiking opportunities. Not as spectacular as Crete nor anywhere as large but id you are considering another island you can easily add a week for Naxos.
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos
Apologies if I provided too much info.

Posted by
16 posts

Hey, it's Crete by two furlongs! Thank you annie and stan (feel free to pile on more if you think you missed anything), we'll certainly enjoy ourselves doing the research. We may have just decided to extend the island stay to a month. Certainly appears boredom won't be a problem.
Thanks to all of you again,
Mike & Susan

Posted by
1397 posts

Since you asked for more thoughts.
East Crete has Spinalonga an abandoned leper colony. It is vary moving to visit.

You might also want to consider Plakias again on the south coast. You can hike up to nearby mountain villages and along the coast to several different beaches all about 3km or so from Plakias. This is important because when the wind blows and closes Plakias beach at least one of the other beaches will be facing a different direction and you can still have a beach day.
Plakias Crete

And once again Naxos
Naxos Mountains and Villages

Posted by
396 posts

re: Crete, I found Lonely Planet Crete to be by far the best in terms of building an itinerary for a first-time visit. (The 2016 version is even better than the 2012 version.) One of the difficulties I've had with planning a trip to Crete is that some guidebooks provide a huge amount of information but not so much evaluative content, leaving me with a bewildering amount of choice. Lonely Planet Crete is a fairly slim volume and at first I thought I'd wasted my money, but on the contrary it has helped me narrow down our options more quickly. It has more sample itineraries and highlight call outs than the other books. .

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks so much, Lia. We'll pick up the LP Crete and delve into along with RS' Greece.
Mike & Susan