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Sisters visit Greece

My sisters and spouses are planning trip to Greece mid May for 10 days. We are considering Athens, Mykonos and Santorini.

Your length of stay, “absolute must see/do” and transportation recommendations are much appreciated. Efharisto poli!

Posted by
28471 posts

when planning we tend to think in nights somewhere rather than days, as when planning days can be a bit deceptive if there is any travel involved. We also don't count arrival days or the day you travel home.

Speaking of home, will you be coming transatlantic - from the US or Canada?

Two nights somewhere only gives you one full day of sightseeing.

If you have 10 days for the trip, are you including arrival day and departure day which would only give you 8 nights?

Have you or your sisters or their spouses been to Europe before?

Posted by
1045 posts

So far you have had three responses primarily looking for information. The more information you can provide to us allows us to respond to your specific needs and wants.

For instance what makes you want to do Santorini mykonos and Athens? What are your interests. Beaches, hikes, antiquities Do you have a plan for what order you want to visit each of these places and how long do you plan to sty in each. What is your budget. Are you planning to spend lots of money or are you budget travellers.
Is your 10 days including travel days or is that the number of days you will actually be in Greece. do you have the flexibility to add a couple more days to make the visit 2 weeks.
Help us give you the information you are really looking for.

Posted by
1204 posts

First figure out the best logistics for getting to and from the islands. We wasted 8 hours taking the ferry to Santorini and in hindsight should have flown. If it was me I'd fly to the islands straight after landing in Athens and then do Athens at the end of the trip. Santorini is spectacular! Stay in Oia and rent a car to visit places on the island - we did the archaeological site at Akrotiri as well as the nearby Red Beach. The black sand beach at Perissa is also worth it. Three nights is adequate. I haven't been to Mykonos but would expect 3 nights would be good there as well. That leaves you 4 nights in Athens. Obviously, the Acropolis is the #1 site. You also have the Acropolis Museum, the Agora, and numerous other ruins nearby. The Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods are fun to wander around in - lots of activity including restaurants, churches and touristy stuff. The Syntagma Square area is interesting and the Central Market is worth a walk through. North of the tourist zone is the National Archaeological Museum - definitely go! If you only have 9 nights take 1 from the islands. Enjoy your trip!!!

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for asking! Yes, we have traveled Europe. We will arrive from US. Great point on not counting travel days. Right now we are at 10 nights and could extend a couple nights for best itinerary.

We have varied interests - beaches (picnic not sunbathe), reasonable hikes, antiquities, foodies and just relaxing in the beauty. Prefer walking and discovering. Our budget is moderate. We were thinking Athens fly in, stay a day or two and onto other islands. Possibly Mykonos followed by Santorini. Not sure number of days at each island or if there are others even more magnificent. Considering hydrofoil travel between islands to enjoy the sea even more. A couple of us live in major cities and will enjoy less crowding - the reason we are considering shoulder season. We really appreciate your best advice!

Posted by
2088 posts

Since it’s quite a distance Athens to airport, it makes more time sense to just fly on to an island on your arrival day. It makes that a longer day but it sure is nice to be on the island the next morning and it saves you travel time. Be sure to buy the ticket that allows a free change - that protects you from having to buy a new island flight if your first is late and it also allows you to catch an earlier flight if all goes well.

Where to stay depends on what you want. Each village has its own personality/advantages/disadvantages. I was very happy with my choice of Oia in Santorini and Plaka in Athens, but since I haven’t tried other locations, I can’t compare. (And had no interest in Mykonos, so haven’t been there.) if you have researched and settled on those 3 locations already, then 3/3/4 nights sounds good to me. You probably realize that a group moves more slowly.

You won’t want a car in Athens and what you do elsewhere might depend somewhat on the size and make up of your group. Cars are small. You may decide on hiring a driver with a van (no way would I drive a larger car myself on Santorini.)

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you Travel Mom! We are researching and validating options within next two weeks. So pleased travelers are willing to share experiences ❤️

Posted by
8356 posts

We have been to Mykonos and Santorini , the two most over touristed islands in Greece. We preferred our experience in Mykonos over Santorini. However, visiting Paros was a delight, so much better than the other two. Felt much more local, more Greek. The same for Chania, Crete. Loved Napflion on the Peloponnesean peninsula as well. Try to add more days to your trip.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you very much Suki! This is exactly we trust Rick Steves and his travelers. Have had much success with other travels. Much appreciated.

Posted by
2934 posts

Lucy girl, congrats on choosing a VERY good time of year to visit Greece... most of my 13 trips have started in either mid-or-late May ... the rainy season's over but landscapes are still green, even in the dryer islands, weather is mild, not sweltering, islands are "opening up" but not crowded, locals are sprucing things up, still have time to chat, what is wonderfully warm is the welcome!

I'm glad to see you're listening to others' experience -- you can avoid the rookie mistakes the rest of us learned from, years ago. Your added information will affect our advice, also. On 9 of my trips I've had newcomers along, ages 37 - 73. Here are some observations on trips that worked well for groups like yours -- both along with me and many I've counseled on this forum and others.

• CONSIDER 15-DAYS - u can do a lot/see a lot in 10 days but a tad more allows for impromptu discoveries
• STRATEGIC SEQUENCE - Efficient transport = more fun time. Book flights that r nonstop from US to ATH, because only these arrive by mid-morning. That way u get a flight to Island #1 & have half a day to enjoy, then early night to recover. Ferry to isle #2, then fly back to ATH, for final days (perhaps also with a mainland treat like Nafplio, IF you have 14-15 days
• STUDY YR PRIORITIES - Moderate Costs, Beaches, reasonable hikes, antiquities etc - Then really check yr destinations, and allot time accordingly. Naxos fulfills your "wish list" much more than Mykonos, as others mention.

A POSSIBLE PLAN - DAY 1 - Early aft flight to SANTORINI for 2 nights (3 max) DAY 3 or 4 - Ferry to NAXOS for min. 4 nights DAY 8 (or 9 if u have 15-day trip). Fly AM Back to ATH. for DAY 8-9-10 (if 10 day trip).. 2.5 days for Athens landmarks (if 15 day trip) DAY 9-10-11-12 -- Rent Car & go to NAFPLIO for 3 nights, see town & famous area sites -- Final 3 nights in ATH for ATH landmarks.

SANTORINI TIPS -- I favor staying in FIROSTEPHANI -- like Oia it has hotels on famous Caldera VIew... but Oia is mobbed 10 - 4, 7-9 by cruise mobs & bus-tour throngs. FIrostephani is bypassed by these groups so is serene day &night. You can catch an early bus (or taxi) to OIA @ 8am & beat the crowds. from Firostephani U also can walk along rim path 20 mins to Fira attractions & nightliife. ALSO - since u say you have a Moderate budget, limit stay to 3 days -- SANTO= €€€.

NAXOS TIPS - Many lovely beaches; in May I suggest staying at St. GEorge Beach, directly adjacent to its fascinating port town, SO much to discover. Planning way ahead, smart lady, u can book rooms with seaside-view balconies, half the €€ of Santorini. Excellent bus network to outer beaches AND inland hill villages. A day's car rental enables a swoop around entire island -- ruins, statues, mountains of marble! Also good & moderate day-tours & specialty tours (food/wine).

NAFPLIO TIPS - Unknown to many Americans, 2 hrs from ATH on modern intercity highway, at tip of peninsula, surrounded by sea, Greeks consider it THE most beautiful Old Town of all, Surrounding area is the Most dense area of Ancient Civ landmarks - Nemea, Corinth, Mycenae, Tiryns Epidaurus, Asine etc etc. Besides that! many beaches, gorgeous town architecture (3 castles/forts!), verdant valleys of orchards & vineyards to hike &explore. Here's a (Noncommercial) website :

ATHENS TIP - Stay close to Acropolis as possible: this filter of shows places in this historic (mainly no-cars) district -- NOTE: now also offers pvt apts, often very mod. rates, well-located. Feedback to me reports "finds" that are equal/better than AirBnB, with, importantly, more safeguards for changed dates/cancelling. It's too early to see May listings, but putting in Fall offseason "dummy dates" (i.e. early Oct) can give u an idea of availabilities. PS: the Fall "dummy date" can also help scouting in other locations.

Posted by
2934 posts

A PS to ABOVE (because Steves Forum has a posting limit) -- here are a few SUPER photo Albums by another longtime RS Forum contributor, to save him having to post them -- I wont put up Santorini photos, because they're well represented on Posters, websites, playing cards etc etc, but some views of Naxos, Nafplio & the Landmark area of Athens

NAXOS 2019 -
TRIP around NAXOS -
NAXOS Sunsets -


Many RS Forum contributors have lodgings to recommend, but to avoid wasted effort will wait until you confirm your destinations, and also give indication of your accom budget (double room per-night rate range). Useful to know: Cost range starting w highest -- Santorini, Athens, Nafplio, Naxos (and other nearby islands like Paros & Antiparos). Mykonos is up by Santorini.

Posted by
8 posts

Janet, thank you for sharing a wealth of information as well! So detailed and especially helpful. I hope to “pay it forward” someday to help others! This trip becomes more exciting by the day. My best to you and all the fabulous RS travelers. Can’t wait to share with my sisters!