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Seattle to Santorini May 2016

I am beginning to plan. Hoping that the economy will not be an issue next year....thoughts?
Anyway, I have no interest in going to Athens. What do you think about flying London-Santorini or Crete? Thinking about possibly staying in London a few days (jet lag) and then continuing on. I will have 2.5-3 weeks. Another islands during that time? Will rent a car in Santorini.

Posted by
2950 posts

British Air and EasyJet both offer direct, non-stop seasonal flights between London and Santorini, although I'm not sure when that 'season' begins. Sometime in late May, I think. If London is on your list you could do a lot worse as long as those flights are available to you. Of course you can also fly to Athens using any other airline and then fly right out to Santorini on the next available flight, but from Seattle that will mean a connecting flight somewhere else in Europe. That's what I do. Effectively that's what you'd be doing by going to London first. Living in Oregon I sometimes fly to Greece from Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, with a stopover in Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt. Just be sure you have at least 2 hours to make the flight to Athens because in that airport you will have to pass through customs and passport control. These flights usually get to Athens by mid-day, so getting a connecting flight to Santorini isn't a problem as long as you book well in advance. It can be a grind to go all the way to Santorini in one long day but to me it's worth it.

2.5-3 weeks is plenty of time to add another island. The closest are Ios, Naxos and Paros, all with easy daily ferry connections to Santorini.

If you're going to rent a car be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required. Bring 2 passport photos with you to save a few dollars.

Posted by
6950 posts

You've got plenty of time to plan any European itinerary for next Spring. Out of Gatwick, you can get to virtually anywhere in Europe really cheap. You just have to travel light.
We flew Gatwick-Pisa last year on EasyJet thru Gatwick. It was quite an experience--kind'a like a bunch of cows being herded into a small place.
Greece will need all the tourists they can get. They seriously need to put some people to work. Hopefully things will settle out in the very near future.

Posted by
75 posts

Great topic
I am scheduled to be on the RS Greece tour on Sept 14th 2015. I plan on starting my trip 2 weeks before then. I will take British air to London, hang out for 3 days, then take a 3 hour British air to Athens, then have a 3 hour lay over and hop on an Aegean air to Santorini. I will stay in Santorini for 4 nights then ferry to IOS to catch a week long sailing charter with Poseidon charters . It ends in Pireaus after visiting a few islands in the Cyclades. Then I will take a ferry to either Aegina or Hydros for 2 nights. Then take the ferry back to Piraeus and metro to Athens to join the RS tour.

I like hanging out in London for the first part of my trip just to get over the jet lag in a great city I have been to many times. I did it last year when I did the RS Italy tour and it worked great.

I will let you know how it all goes but I am sure it will be a wonderful trip
Liam in SF

Posted by
714 posts

I visit friends on Crete regularly, flying to London from Vancouver. From London Heathrow take Aegean Air to Crete -either Chania or Heraklion - you will change flights in Athens. Crete is a fascinating island if you are interested in ancient history; aside from Knossos there are many other sites and I would recommend the Rough Guide to Crete to for ideas. Cretan history is different from that of the mainland and it is well worth finding out more. Definitely rent a car if you plan exploring the island though beware the crazy drivers! If you decide to go to Santorini it is easy enough to get a ferry from Heraklion. .

As well as history, Crete can offer you great beaches, especially on the south side of the island, and wonderful food - it is the home of the Mediterranean diet after all!

IMHO Crete has way more to offer for a longer stay than Santorini; you could easily visit Santorini for three or four days as an add on to Crete.

Posted by
975 posts

I'm not sure why you don't want to spend some time in Athens. Many people think Athens doesn't offer very much but they are terribly mistaken. First of all you have one of the World's foremost archeological site at the Acropolis and the surrounding area is just as special including the Agora, Hadrians Library, Hadrians Arch, Temple to Zeus, Roman Agora, Plaka, Anafiotika, Monistiraki Square and surrounding streets. Then there are the Central Markets on Athinas St. plus all the side streets off of it with Greek specialty shops. Of course there are two of the world best museums, Changing of the Guards and so much more. I think you will be making a mistake if you don't spend a few days exploring Athens. Santorini is one of the most popular but over-touristy and expensive islands in Greece. Spectacular scenery but lacks any real "Greekness" unless you like that sort of thing. Crete is special, especially the western part. There are numerous, smaller, less-touristy Greek Islands like Sifnos, Milos, Naxos, Amorgos & Astypalea that will give you a real Greek experience unlike the "Big Name" islands.

Posted by
5 posts

The recommendation for Crete is a good one - we didnt go there but most of the locals we chatted with are big fans of it and with that much time, its a great add on.
I mentioned in another reply to you about Naxos which was a 40 minute ferry from Santorini. We went to this island on the recommendation of the RS podcast and it was wonderful. The island is much larger than Santorini and Mykonys but maintains a boutique feel. It has all of the beaches, ports, sunsets (as good as Santorini) plus many more friendly locals, they are more invested in the lifestyle there rather than the tourist. It has everything you need and was so friendly and safe, not to mention a fraction of the expense. We stayed on the beach, with a good room, balcony and view for $80/ night. You will find many European tourist there - as they have all discovered this place too.

We ventured away from the Hora (main town) on a 4x4 quad bike (easy to ride and limitless access to all the sights) we rode the circumference of the island and discovered so much more than the beaches. Naxos is known for its cheese, agriculture and olive oil. In the town of Chalki (about 25 mins from town) there is an "walk" around the town that was mesmerizing. steps off the town center, you are greeted with a stone wall lined path that farmers have used for centuries. There you will walk through centuries old farmsteads long out of use as well as active farms, with sheep, darling goats with tinkling bells and active churches from the 1600s that you can walk right into. This walk is really how the country folks live and is like being transported back in time and was such a serendipitous find. As we were returning to town, a spry senior Greek fellow approached us and and was very interested in walking with us and telling us the history of some of the farm houses, how old they were (200 hundred years), showed me how to give a goat a fig treat (yeah) and to tell us about living there, he was charming and it was such a treat.

This island felt safe, welcoming and unspoiled. I highly recommend it.

Posted by
3 posts

Dear flygirl,
2.5-3 weeks is a good enough time for exploring the ins and outs of Greece.
Here are some options for you to consider:

Board a private chartered yacht, the DIONI, traveling to Aegina one of the most chrished islands of the Greek people. The beauty of chartered yachting is that it allows us to discover hidden coves, sea arches, remote ruins and cliff villages known only to the Greek citizens. The island of Aegina is a priceless jewel in the Saronic Gulf, rich with ancient Greek Mythology.

The most energized 'spirit of place' in all of Greece is the ancient ruins of Delphi. take a morning ride to experience what the ancient Greeks regarded as the centre of the world. Built on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos, overlooking the Gulf of Corinth, Delphi's allure lies in its stunning setting and inspirational sites. One cannot visit Delphi without taking in the Sanctuary of Apollo with its steps leading into the Sacred Way that gradually winds up to the foundation of the Temple of Apollo.

Posted by
5697 posts

There are plenty of flights from the UK to the Greek islands and they start on average the first few days of May, which is still early in the season for some places.

Personally, I think Santorini is SO over-rated - full of cruise ships and too many tourists to show you the real Greece - Crete is a much more interesting option.