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Scotland & Greece in late August - Islands? Heat? Fringe?

I'm planning a last minute, first time trip to Scotland (Edinburgh and a Rabbies tour (Highland Explorer: Skye & Far North 5 days - this starts on either a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday) and Greece (Athens, Santorini, and not sure where else - help!) in August/September and I'm hoping to get everything booked asap but need some advice on a few things. You all have been so helpful for previous trips!

I would have loved to go in September but it looks like the only time that really works for us is August and our trip dates would be August 17 or 18th (arrive)-September 5th or 6th (fly home). From reading the forum and looking at prices online, I know that August is not ideal because of high hotel prices, limited hotel options since we're running out of time, heat in Greece during August, and the crowds at Fringe festival, but this seems to be the dates that would work best for us.

For reference in case it's helpful, I'll be going with my husband, we're 28 and 30, and we love sightseeing, history, walking tours, eating, drinking, and relaxing at the beach/pool. Renting a scooter in Greece sounds fun! We've been to Rome, Venice, Tuscany, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, San Sebastian, Paris, and Amsterdam and our favorites were Paris, San Sebastian, and Venice.

Here's what I'm wondering:
1) Based on our dates, which would be better to put first, Greece or Scotland?
If we put Greece first, I'm a bit worried about the heat. I have looked online and it looks like we could expect an average of 85F, which doesn't sound terrible but I'm sure it's the sun that makes it hotter? Would going to Greece from August 27th through September 6th make much of a difference with the heat vs. going August 17th through 27th?

If we put Scotland first, are the crowds unbearable in Edinburgh for Fringe festival? I don't foresee us going to any shows (besides possibly a comedy show). If we went to Scotland second, would the crowds have dissipated by August 28th?

2) I have not yet planned out exactly what we'll be doing in Edinburgh, but I'm thinking 2-4 days spent there. Any thoughts? I would be okay with taking a day or so from there to add to Greece if needed.

3) Planning which islands to see, how many days to spend there, and how long it will take to get to/from each is making my head spin! I've spent many hours trying to figure it out. I know for sure we want to go to Athens and Santorini and really would like to go to Naxos as well. These are the places that I was considering picking from: Zakynthos Thessaloniki Crete Corfu Paros Ios Milos. It would be possible, though not ideal for money reasons, to add one or two days to the  beginning of the trip in order to accommodate seeing several areas of Greece. Or I could take a day from Edinburgh.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give! Here's a rough itinerary for each option:

Scotland then Greece

Aug 18 Sunday JFK to EDI arrives 7:55 AM
Aug 19 Monday Edinburgh
Aug 20 Tuesday Edinburgh
Aug 21 Wednesday Edinburgh
Aug 22 Thursday Rabbies tour pickup in Edinburgh
Aug 23 Friday Rabbies tour
Aug 24 Saturday Rabbies tour
Aug 25 Sunday Rabbies tour
Aug 26 Monday Rabbies tour ends - last night spent in Edinburgh
Aug 27 Tuesday Travel to Greece
Aug 28 Wednesday

Aug 29 Thursday

Aug 30 Friday

Aug 31 Saturday

Sept 1 Sunday

Sept 2 Monday

Sept 3 Tuesday
Sept 4 Wednesday

Sept 5 Thursday

Sept 6 Friday fly home

Greece then Scotland

Aug 17 Saturday JFK to Athens arrives 4:30pm
Aug 18 Sunday

Aug 19 Monday

Aug 20 Tuesday
Aug 21 Wednesday

Aug 22 Thursday

Aug 23 Friday

Aug 24 Saturday

Aug 25 Sunday

Aug 26 Monday

Aug 27 Tuesday
Aug 28 Wednesday Edinburgh
Aug 29 Thursday Edinburgh
Aug 30 Friday Edinburgh
Aug 31 Saturday Rabbies tour
Sept 1 Sunday Rabbies tour
Sept 2 Monday Rabbies tour
Sept 3 Tuesday Rabbies tour
Sept 4 Wednesday Rabbies tour - last night spent
Sept 5 Thurs Fly home

Posted by
5648 posts

Duplicate question, but posted in Scotland for Scottish suggestions, and in Greece for Greek ones. We visited Greece last April (cooler and fewer crowds, plus it was Easter- biggest holiday of the year there) for 12 days and 13 nights. If you have a nit less time, you might have to move faster, or not see as much, but we 1) landed in Athens in early evening, 2) rented a at the next day and headed to Napflio, then 3) toured the Peloponnese, clockwise, including Nemea, Mystras, and Olympia, then headed back to Athens by way of Galaxidi and Delphi. Greek drivers don’t necessarily always stay on their side of the road, especially when cutting across curves, so don’t be surprised to see somebody coming towards you, partially in your lane, they eventually get back in their lane, and we didn’t have any game as-on collisions, but it was a little disconcerting at times!

Posted by
186 posts

I would recommend you go to Greece after Scotland. Aug. 14-15 is a major Greek religious holiday and many Greeks are on vacation/traveling home for the week and many for 2-3 weeks during this period. In addition, many northern Europeans vacation in Greece during August as well. You might have a hard time booking places mid August as a result.

Once you fly from Scotland to Athens, I recommend you proceed directly to Santorini. Rent a scooter, stay somewhere fabulous, and relax. Naxos is a good trip from there (see numerous posts on this topic elsewhere in Greece).

After 5-6 days on these islands, fly back to Athens and sightsee there. You could add a short trip to Meteora or Nafplio (again, see other Greece posts for details and recs.) You want to be in Athens the night before your flight back home. This will give you variety and balance without feeling too hectic.

Posted by
1780 posts

It is cooler on the islands than the mainland of Greece so I would take that into account. In my limited experience, Nafplio is not necessarily cooler than Athens (both were high 90s in June). We were in Santorini in May and it was crowded but heard how you can hardly walk for the crowds later. It is gorgeous but I would not stay more than a few days. And it is expensive in season.

We went then to Naxos and loved it but there are lots of other wonderful islands as well. For ease of ferry travel, I would look at other islands in the Cyclades. And then fly back at the end of your island visits and spend whatever time you want in Athens.

Not all places have air conditioning so read listings carefully. The house we rented in Oia, Santorini did not. It was May so ok but I actually did not realize it when I reserved it. So do not assume!

Posted by
2742 posts

Greece after Scotland.

Honestly, I feel that many people here overplay the issues with heat. This totally depends on your personal heat tolerance, and planned activitIes (August in Greece is not good for long distance strenuous hiking!). To me - yes, it's hot but there are strategies to deal with it and unless you are very heat sensitive it won't ruin your trip. Make sure you get a hotel with A/C in Greece. This is more common than it used to be and should be easy enough to find, will cost a bit more but by no means is it limited to luxury places. Just be sure to look. Many hotels will provide fans as well. Wear a hat, go out early and late and avoid being in the full sun in the middle of the day. Midday is a perfect time for indoor museums, a rest in a cafe with a cold drink, or a nap in the hotel. Or under a beach umbrella! See the ruins (usually unshaded and hot) early and late, ditto for any hiking.

I'd save Athens for last - you will want to be there for the flight home. Fly from Scotland to Santorini (will probably stop in Athens, but just for plane change), stay in Santornini for a few days, then go to Nafplio (my suggestion). To get to Nafplio, you would fly back to Athens then get a bus or rental car and go to Nafplio, it's maybe 2-3 hours away. I suggest a rental car as there are plenty of sights that are best connected by car. Stay in Nafplio another few days, then return to Athens and visit it. Looks like you have 10 nights? So maybe 3 - 3 - 4 (Santorini, Nafplio, Athens?)

Posted by
51 posts

Nafplio is pretty nice but for summer there is no meaning to go. The beaches are not nice... Better go little further to Pelopponisos like Kalamata area.
The only reason I would visit Nafplio is to go and watch an Ancient Theater at Epidaurus... Of course this year you can also have this experience in City of Athens... but is not the same with Epidaurus

Even Athens have better beaches.

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks everyone, I think I'm going to cancel my SLC trip so that we can go September 10-30 instead of in August. (I wish it would let me edit this post)

I'm putting together a rough itinerary of where to go in Greece, how does this look as far as time allocated? Should I move days around? I'm probably going to adjust as I research each place more but just want to see if I'm on the right track.

3 days, 3 nights Santorini staying in Firostefani -> What are your thoughts on staying in Firostefani vs. Oia? Any hotel recommendations? I have Agali Houses booked in Firostefani but have free cancellation if we change our mind about the location.
4 days, 4 nights Naxos -> Any hotel/neighborhood recommendations welcome! Is the time allocation here recommended?
2ish days, 2 nights Nafplio -> not sure about this yet, or how to allocate time here yet. I read about wineries near here?
4ish days, 4 nights Athens -> I've read that 3 days here is good, so I would like to take a day out here and put it somewhere else. Where should I put it?

I'm considering either renting a car and going to Napflio for 2 nights and stopping in areas around there along the way, or doing the 2 day Chat Tour. I haven't looked into Napflio yet but I've seen so many recommendations for it! Any thoughts on Napflio? Or somewhere else we should go for a few days?

September 17 Tuesday Arrive Santorini 7:55am

September 18 Wednesday Santorini

September 19 Thursday Santorini

September 20 Friday Travel to Naxos ferry 10:45-12:10 or 12-1:10 or 12:30-2:10 or 3:30-5:30

September 21 Saturday Naxos

September 22 Sunday Naxos

September 23 Monday Naxos

September 24 Tuesday Flight to Athens in the morning then rent car to Napflio or do 2 day Chat tour Mycenae, Nauplia & Epidaurus - Tour #6

September 25 Wednesday Napfio

September 26 Thursday Travel to Athens

September 27 Friday Athens

September 28 Saturday Athens

September 29 Sunday Athens

September 30 Monday Fly home 9:25am


Posted by
65 posts

lekka, hmm that's something to think about. What would you recommend doing in the Kalamata area? I have not done much research on Napflio yet, but was thinking it might be interesting because I see a lot talk about it because of Mycenae, Epidaurus, vineyards, Tiryns. Since I'm going to Naxos, I'm okay with not seeing many beaches at the next location.

Posted by
1780 posts

I would put extra night in Nafplio. It is a charming town and lots of interesting day trips. We were there in early June and it was hot but spent afternoons at beach. Toured in the mornings. The beaches were not as nice as Naxos but we enjoyed them just the same. Town beach is quite fun but you do need water shoes (which we brought).

Posted by
2742 posts

Nafplio is a great town - nice waterfront cafes, streets for walking, a historic square. Also has a Venetian fortress overlooking the town - that’s a great hike up, or you can taxi/drive. It’s also very close to Mycane (less than 30 minutes) as well as smaller ancient sights. If you are willing to go just a bit farther then you have Epidavros and even Corinth. The beaches in Nafplio itself are fine, not perfect but a pleasant break and the walk to them around the end of the peninsula is very pretty. Other towns nearby would have bigger beaches, but beaches aren’t the main reason to visit this area. It’s about ancient sights, scenery, and in Nafplio a charming historic town.

Posted by
5648 posts

And driveable from Napflio, to the northwest, is Nenea, with a good, smallish museum of the ancient site, and an ancient stadium to rival the one at Olympia, but with far fewer crowds

Posted by
3453 posts

We were in Greece September 2017. I would also recommend adding another night in Nafplio. Stunning area to explore. Great base for Epidaurus, Mycenae and nearby wine-producing Nemea region, etc. We also stayed in Firostephani. Loved it. Same amazing view as Oia minus the crowds. Many great restaurants in walking distance. Naxos was our favorite island. We spent 6 nights on St. George beach. Walked or used public transportation around the island. You will find that weather will be more comfortable towards the end of September! Enjoy your planning.

Posted by
65 posts

thanks everyone! Which place would you suggest taking a day from to add to Nafplio?

Janis, what did you do in Naxos? I've been reading up on on Nafplio today, but haven't read much about Naxos yet.