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Santorini/Naxos/Athens in June - travel questions

In mid-June I am traveling to Greece with my daughter for 10 nights/11 days. I have a few questions about each of our destinations. Also, because our time is limited and to minimize frustration from traveling with a teen, I'm willing to pay a bit more for convenience.

Santorini (3 nights/2.5 days - lodging in Firostefani)
We arrive very late the first night. We want to hike to Oia, visit Aktori (or other ruins), and a sailing/swimming trip. Do I need to book the sailing trip ahead of time? Is it worth hiring a guide? It seems like getting to Aktori is not easy and I do not want to rent a car. We have a short time in Santorini, especially since we will take it easy the first day. Seems like a guide might help us be more efficient. And do I need to book in advance ferry tickets to Naxos? I'd rather stay flexible on our departure time.

Naxos (4 nights/4.5 days lodging at Kalergis Studios, Naxos Town)
We want to spend time at the beach (St George but maybe others), in Naxos Town, and hike Zas mountain. What is the best way to get around Naxos? Should I consider renting a car for a day or two? Or should we consider hiring a guide?

Athens (3 nights/2.5 days)
Is it worth doing any kind of tour? We're going to do the standard Athens stuff: Acropolis, museums, Agora, etc. Also should I book transfers through the hotel? We are arriving in Athens at 2 pm, departing at 1 pm.

Posted by
1413 posts

We rented a car and drove to Akrotiri but I think that there also are tours. Or you could take the bus.

The hike to Oia is gorgeous! We did it the other way as we were staying in Oia. You then take a bus back. We did it the day after we arrived and frankly there is no better way to get over jet lag!

We also hiked to summit of Mt Zas. I don’t know how you could do this without a car. We found driving on Naxos to be easier than santorini.

Posted by
2860 posts

SANTORINI: If you want a lot of specific details about Akrotiri and someone to answer any questions you might have you can hire a guide at the entrance. There's also an audio guide you can download off the internet. http://www.akrotiriaudioguide.com

It couldn't be easier to get to Akrotiri. Either take a taxi or walk 15 minutes to Fira to the bus terminal to take the next bus going there. The earlier you get there the better, as after 9am it starts to fill up because of all the various bus tours.

In June it's best to hike from Firostefani to Oia so you don't have the sun in your face the whole way. Leave early in the morning to avoid the heat. Bring water, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, water, a snack and your camera.

Booking a sailing trip in advance isn't necessary. In fact, it's best to wait so you can assess the weather. If it's too windy it won't be very pleasant.

Posted by
2567 posts

You are going to have a wonderful time, and your schedule looks do-able; let me just add a few "tweaks":
SANTORINI

• HIKE - I would advise not to commit to the full-length OIA-FIRA; you can get plenty of great views of Caldera just walking to/from Fira town to Firostephani; that gives u more time for other activities.. u can find many hiking options on Naxos.
• GETTING AROUND - no need for car; plan bus rides strategically, get a taxi phone # from hotel & use it if need to, for return.
• FERRY TICKET - You don't need to buy before arrival on island, just pick up economy ticket at agency the day before.
• SAILING/SWIM TRIP - 5 hr sunset/swim trip = $120 each. I'd book in advance.
• AKROTIRI - Yes DO download audioguide lee recommends, then not tied to a guide. NOT hard to get there.. Get a bus from the Fira Town "Bus Yard" just about 200 yard downhill from town square.

SANTORINI SCENARIO?
• DAY #1 (10 am on) - Stroll Rim Path to Fira Town; do Arch Museum (1 hr) Get Gyro in Main Square; book Sailing Trip? Check Taverna for dinner? Bus to Akrotiri Visit & return to hotel by taxi? (2 hrs). Rest! Sunset dinner (Roof terrace STANI taverna in Fira? OR good-view Taverna in Firostephani? NOT OIA).
• DAY #2 - 8 am bus to OIA, enjoy until 10 am or when Cruise Crowds invade... 2pm - 9 pm Sailing/Swim/Sunset tour.
• DAY #3 - check out... take 10:45 ChampionJet to NAXOS ( reserved seats, open back deck for view of Caldera on departure)

NAXOS SCENARIO?
Day #1 - Noon on -- Explore Port Town, book bus trip, Quick dip St. G Beach, Portara Arch @ sunset, Taverna dinner @ seafront
DAY #2 - 8 hr tour (Sun Tours/Naxos tours)... excellent overview, take swimsuits for noonday swim-stop @ Apollonia beach ... Dinner at beach taverna OR many other town choices (To Kastro, Nostimon Hellas, Maros) - teen hangout = Waffle House.
DAY #3 - Day #4 ... MORNINGS - If you hike, or attempt Mt Zas (whew!) start early in AM -- Bus to a village & hike around, then bus back OR call taxi. AFTERNOONS - BEach!! My Fave outer beach: Plaka -- Bus will stop all along, at request. Good place = Aegean Palace/Aegean Land... beach sunbeds/pool/ shaded cafe Nice Evening adventure = go to PETRINO for late afternoon swim, change into clothes, stay for swell sunset-view dinner on beach.
ADD-ONS - (1) Check if evening concert/traditional dances performance. (2) Great shopping in maze-like lanes, at half the price of Cruise-Crowd Santorini.

Posted by
2567 posts

Continued --

ATHENS -- No need to book "transfers" -- either just get in Taxi line (FLAT FEE €38 to central athens) or book ahead online for company that charges SAME €38; Welcome Pickups or City Cab are 2 that have good reviews. If booked in advance, there will be driver waiting at designated place with a card w. your name. "Transfers" add €10 for no extra service.

PLANNING -- YES, do book a good tour to get the most from a short stay; Read and compare these 2
- https://www.athenswalkingtours.gr/athens-tours/16-acropolis-city-tour-acropolis-museum-tour.html
- https://www.athens-walks.com/tour-item/ancient-athens-tour-acropolis-museum/
.... 1st is longer, involves "city walk" up to acrop, a lunch break, then museum ... 2nd is 4 hrs straight; acrop then museum. I recommend the 2nd because you'll be in hotel by 3pm, can do your Own orientation in afternoon ... either a FREE walk-around at https://www.athensfreewalkingtour.com/faq/ if there's one in the afternoon, or by following Rick Steves' FREE audio download to orient yourself -- https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/greece/athens ... do just as much as u want.

ATHENS SCENARIO?
Day #1 - check in... orientation self-walk or free walk-tour
DAY #2 - 9AM - 1 PM? Acropolis - Acropolis Museum (GOOD lunch cafe there -- terrace w. parthenon view, good prices
DAY #3 - Nat. ARCH MUSEUM?? (R. Steves link above has FREE Download of 10 Top things to See) -- Consider going to DORA STRATOU Dance Theatre - https://www.gtp.gr/TDirectoryDetails.asp?ID=35023 Amazing!!! Note - taxi to theatre, a long walk & arrange for pick-up afterwards.
DAY #4 - everything you didn't do before, PLUS souvenir-shopping & a last festive dinner.

Posted by
51 posts

All above replies are perfect
I would just suggest that there is no need to have a tour in Santorini. Do visit Akrori but just take a taxi or bus. Go to Imba and Theros beach bars for swimming and food.

In Athens just do not eat at Plaka... Extremely touristic and try to watch an Ancient Drama performance. First year that is taking place in City center of Athens woth subtitles.... Maybe fimonoitheater.com

Have good time

Posted by
2798 posts

Looks like a great itinerary! We did a guided bus tour that included Akrotiri. The tour stopped at Perissa Beach and Red Beach. Stopping in Oia was optional. We chose to visit Oia the next morning to avoid the cruise ship crowd. Our favorite restaurant in Athens was Mani Mani. Conveniently located south of the Acropolis. **Janet suggested our itinerary and everything was spot on!

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks for the replies. Janet, do you recommend any sailing companies? I've read to visit Aktori early in the day to avoid crowds. Will we avoid crowds if we go late in the day? We will only be able to manage one early morning in Santorini unless we try do something the day we depart for Naxos.

Posted by
2860 posts

There will be crowds at Akrotiri from about 9:30am until closing time. Be there right when they open at 8am if you want to avoid them.

Posted by
1948 posts

We did a one day tour of Naxos with Naxos Discovery Tours: https://www.naxosdiscovery.net. Nicolas owns this small business and runs the tours himself. He was extremely fun to tour with. He's quite young and a French transplant to Naxos. He's been there for quite a few years and knows everyone. He picked us up at our hotel and then basically drove us around all day, taking us to sites we never would have seen on our own. We saw the basic towns people talk about visiting: Chalki and Apiranthos and that was nice but the way cooler part was the discussion about life on Naxos and information about the cultural differences between the villages.

Nicolas will do hiking-focused tours, town focused tours...anything you want.

And this part blew our minds: he drove us to a house owned by a really old Naxian woman. She came out and greeted us. And then she gave him a ancient-looking skeleton key to her family's private chapel. We walked about 300 yards out into the farm and we came upon an 800-year-old chapel that's been privately-owned all this time. We got to go in, look around, see the original frescoes in there. It was really spectacular.

A day with Nicolas is worth the money.

Here's reviews from TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g580192-d12415248-Reviews-Naxos_Discovery_Private_Guided_Tours-Naxos_Town_Naxos_Cyclades_South_Aegean.html

Posted by
2567 posts

Valerie should add that her wonderful private tour for 2 cost either $160 or €160 for 6 hours... there are several companies that offer 7 hour tours (in June usually about 15-18 people) to all the major island highlights for about $23... including a 90=min stop at Appollon, the village at north tip of island, for a lunchtime swim. Your choice.

Posted by
2284 posts

Wow Valerie - Nicolas sounds like a terrific guide, and if Janet's comments about the price are accurate, it's a great deal for a couple.

Posted by
1948 posts

Janet is fairly accurate on pricing. I don't have the exact amount in my notes because Nicolas was a last minute addition to our trip when we realized that it would be hard to get around much using the bus we had planned on using. And for us, while the group minibus tour would be cheaper, we've started shying away from them. We've done 12, 15, 18 person tours where we are packed tight on buses and if I can't see the road ahead of me, I get debilitatingly dizzy. And then there's the back pain that comes from being packed sardine tight.

So while I think Janet was trying to point out - correctly - that there are less expensive ways to tour around, for us, Nicolas offered a fair price for comfort and vertigo-avoidance. I was far more willing to save money at the expense of comfort when I was younger.