Please sign in to post.

Simple itinerary for 2 Greek islands (and possibly Athens) before or after Istanbul


First off, I AM exploring all the various posts on Turkey and Greece and the islands, and will continue to do so, but it's all a bit overwhelming, too. The good thing is that right now, we are almost completely open on everything--timetable, departure/arrival airports, and what to do, where to go.

The only definites are: 1) we want to travel Sept/Oct, 2) seems best to go into or out of Istanbul as--lucky us--we will be staying there for a week or so with a great friend and native Turk who will plan our itinerary for there, and 3) as much as there is to see and do, and as sad as it will be to miss most of it, the trip has to be fairly undemanding, physically. My husband is not disabled, but he will be 78 at that time, tires fairly easily and doesn't sleep well even at home, so destinations have to be kept to a minimum, travel days need to have at least one recovery day afterwards, and ruins/historic sites will have to be narrowed down to only a few. As much as I've always wanted to see the Acropolis, skipping Athens is okay with us unless it makes sense as a departure or entry point.

Rather than seeing a lot, we'd like to have a trip that gives us the 'feel' of the places, with ample time to relax and enjoy food, people, and scenery. I'm pushing for four weeks; husband trying to keep it to three. Best departure/entry airports for us (and they don't have to be the same) are DC, Atlanta, or Boston. As mentioned, we'd like to either start or end the trip with Istanbul. Renting a car at any/various points is certainly doable, but we would rather not, if possible.

Do not necessarily have to do two islands, but it would our preference. Our friend recommended sticking to the Dodecanese, and said her favorites are Patmos and Leros. We definitely want to avoid the most touristy islands and are not looking for late-night nightlife, but certainly want a place with some bars and restaurants to go to. Would like to get a hotel or rental with sea frontage but, in keeping with the non-touristy goal, we don't have an unlimited budget, either. Simple is not only fine, it's preferable, as long as it's clean.

I had booked roundtrip flights from Boston to Santorini, originally, at a great price, with the intention of having just a couple of days there, but British Airways cancelled the third leg, and I (possibly stupidly) just decided to cancel the whole thing and start over. Point being that Cyclades are okay too, for one of the two stops, if that made sense.

Any suggested itineraries/islands would be greatly, greatly appreciated. I know I need to make some reservations fairly soon. Thank you!

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks, Suki. Yes, we've already ruled out Santorini, now that our flight out of there was cancelled. My husband was there almost 50 years ago, and for nostalgia reasons would have liked to see it again, but it wasn't a strong desire. What we would both prefer, is to find an island that is more like Santorini was 50 years ago!

Posted by
15686 posts

My Greek islands experience is limited. I loved Chania (5 nights) on Crete - lots to see and do, varied history, easy walking, pretty tourist shops (un-kitschy). I stayed in a hotel overlooking the Venetian port. Idyllic. I also spent 2N in Heraklion, mostly to see the archaeology museum and the ruins of Knossos. Then I took the ferry to Santorini and I'm glad you've already ruled that out. From there I ferried to Naxos, which was very pleasant. Really nice in a restful sort of way. I had a tiny apartment (3rd floor walk-up) with a balcony overlooking the beach which had just enough room for a little table and 2 chairs. I loved sitting there with a cold glass of local white wine, and some local cheese and watching the sun set over the sea. Chania, Heraklion and Naxos were all mostly flat so walking was easy.

The "problem" with the islands is that there are no flights between them. To get to an island, you need to go by sea or fly connecting through Athens, though Heraklion has int'l flights I don't think there are any from Istanbul.

Posted by
2599 posts

I looked a bit at one point for ways to get to the Greek islands from Istanbul directly but didn’t find any. There are some islands you can reach from Thessaloniki which might be an option to consider. Otherwise you are going to Athens and catching a flight or ferry there.