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Skip Nafplio, instead extend Crete and Naxos?

I have an earlier post on another thread (Island decision - Crete only) where I received very valuable information. Activity planning stage, as I've already secured refundable hotel reservations for all 13 nights. However, as I'm planning our outings for each location, I'm beginning to think I should extend our time in Crete and Naxos to do more exploring, in a non-time-crunched manner.

We (mom/dad, daughter 14, son 12) arrive in Athens from Anchorage, Alaska at 17:20, after about a 14 hour journey on May 25 and an 11 hour time change. We have reserved a room at St Thomas B&B near the Athens airport for our first night, just to relax and adjust.

May 26: 8am we are picked up at B&B by PGT Tour Group to provide us with a private tour of Athens, and then drop us off at airport at 15:30 for our 17:00 flight to Crete.

May 26 17:50: Arrive in Crete (chania) and check out Chania town, have dinner and head to our B&B in the mountains. We are staying 30 min drive from Chania in Samonas Traditional Villas...which I realize is out of the way, but I'm hoping it will be a nice place to start and end the day without the tourists.

May 27: free morning and afternoon, maybe visit Terra Creta olive oil company for a 1 hour tour (12:45), and then head to our cooking class in Vamos (20 min from villas) at 16:00.
May 28: Beach day (elefonisi), explore, and then head back to villa to cook a greek dinner ourselves in the outdoor brick oven at our villa, lay by pool, relax. Or we may hire Natour for the private sail/lunch on Balos beach.
May 29: Hike Samari Gorge (we are all in shape)
May 30: Drive to Heraklion for Knossos and a few stops along the way, staying the night at Lato Boutique Hotel that night
May 31: Ferry leaves for Naxos at 9:00, arrives at 12:50. Check in at Hotel Grotta, where we have 2 rooms - 1 is the triple for the balcony and the other is just a double room.
No secured plans in Naxos yet. We want to eat awesome Greek food here and hike, hang at beaches and explore the island.
June 3: Ferry to Piraeus, rent car and drive to Nafplio where we are staying at Hotel Marianna.

June 4: Epiduraus Theatre and Climb the stairs at Palamidi
June 5: Food Tour of Nafplio 3 hours of a tour of Nafplio where they talk about the town and food and we sample along the way (not reserved yet, just an idea)
June 6: Drive to Athens, stopping by Mycenae along the way. Stay the night at St Thomas BB again
June 7: 8am flight home.

Sounds like a lovely trip as I read it!! :-) But, maybe 1 more night in Crete, 1 more night in Naxos, and 1 more night in Athens (ensuring we make it to our flight) with a day trip to Epiduraus or skip it altogether? I like the idea of settling into a place, becoming familiar with our surroundings and doing day exursions from our base location. Any suggestions to this itinerary? Dare I skip Nafplio and just soak up the places we are at? We love the non-tourist locations. I've already skipped Santorini! Which I must say took a couple nights sleep to decide!

Posted by
9 posts

I just read an excellent review of someone who stayed in Naxos and Nafplio and it sounds like I will be happy visiting both these locations. Can anyone tell me if there is a way to fly from Naxos to Athens? I'm not finding it on Aegean Air...other options? And I'd still take any recommendations or comments on my itinerary.

Posted by
3219 posts

Doc, you have picked my 3 favorite destinations (have been to Western Crete 6x, Nafplio 9 x, Naxos 13x!!!). I am trying to figure out a way you can have your cake and eat it too! The best way is not to waste a day in ferry travel ....

I just checked Aegean air, and it shows 3 flights available NAXOS ATH for June 3: 9:25, 1400 (2pm) and 1750 I think. Cannot understand why you did not see these flights!! Did you use this website? Tickets are €87 -- they do have 4 seats from the flight I checked 9:25, arr 10.10. You could be on you way with your rental car by 11 am - and in Nafplio by 1! That would give you an entire extra day in Nafplio.

OR -- Even better (if you can make yourself get up early... you could catch the First flight on SATURDAY JUne 4 -- 7:15 and land at ATH airport by 8 AM... in your car by 8:30....arrive Nafplio by 11 AM Sat Morning. I like this idea even better -- gives you that extra day in NAXOS and still gives you excellent time in Nafplio if you don't over=cram the schedule.

That would give you enough time on after arrival Saturday, to explore the OLD TOWN, and go up Palamidi -- but don't be a dope and climb up 999 steps ... all of you drive up the BACK WAy, take your photos, then 1 of you drives back to the foot of hte steps where there's a lovely cafe with a watermill. She (and I think that would be Smart Mom) can read the Guardian, while the other 3 climb DOWN the steps ... and then you all go to the seafront cafes for ice cream, wine and the sunset. Perfect day one.

Don't worry about a guided tour. Just do some reading beforehand (I do hope you have invested in a guidebook -- I suggest ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE -- a used edition can be as little as $7 on Amazon. So there is no excuse for no guidebook. -- And you don't have to carry the whole clunky thing. Just Pull (carefully) various sections off the backing, and use duct tape to make a spine for each and Voila! 6 litde guidettes! For Crete, Cyclades, Athens, Pelopponese, Language/Phrase, History/Culture/Food

On SUn, June 5, you can do the Epidaurus thing AM, and instead of going to Mycenae, why not just go a few miles out of town (4 KM) and go to TIRYNS?? Another Iliad era fortress, but no crowds, v. close --- then u can go to Tolo beach if you like.

MONDAY June 6, Head back to ATH, but instead of Mycenae, why not take your kids to ANCIENT NEMEA, Just where the Nafplio road hits the big highway (see this map-- click & it gets huuuuge) Nemea is the #2 Sacred Games Site, runner-up to Olympia but it's not highly promoted so NO Crowds... its WONDERFUl... temple, museum, ruins AND a stadium where your kids can race from the ancient starting blocks they will love it a LOT more than Mycenae. (And nearby, there are vineyards where u can buy the yummy Nemean red, Greece's best red wine). TIP: when you get to the Corinth area onthe big intercity highway, if you hop OFF when you see the sign for "Isthmia" (that means Isthmus), in 15 minutes you can be on the OLD bridge looking down at Corinth Canal. A SPLENDID SIGHT and u can't see it from the biggie road. Take pix Then just jump back on Big Road and head for the Airport

This would give you more time In Naxos -- a full day that won't be wasted on ferry travel and the logistic befdore & after (you'd have to be at Ferry dock 9:15 or so, the sial is 9;45-3, then you have to get to hotel.. essential spend a full day). Instead, spend the day at the beach, AND make everybody pack the night before, and pay your hotel, and book a taxi for 6 am. It's worth it.

In Naxos, if you stay in Grotta, you had better rent a car because it's a long darn hike to a beach. ANd after dinner, it's a dark hike up from the waterfront to the hotel... don't forget your flashlights! I stayed up there 2 x, there & next door but I like the St. George beach locale in May.

Posted by
3219 posts

Please -- if this sounds good, DO NOT DITHER on PLANE TIX. BOOK ASAP. These are excellent small jets but only seat 38, and they sell out Months ahead! Remember, logistics first, then hotels. you can always find another hotel.. not another plane.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for the input. I'm going to book my flights ASAP tomorrow...Too tired tonight to focus on it. Maybe why I couldn't find something is I was trying to go direct to Nafplio and then got it stuck in my head that there wasn't a flight back to the mainland from Naxos?? Not really sure...But thanks for this. I'm on it! And happy to not spend 4-5 hours on a boat!!

Posted by
9 posts

Before I book the ferry from Heraklion to Naxos, can you tell me that the port of HERAKLIO is in fact the Crete port by Heraklion? I also saw Iraklio, which turns out is not in Crete. When I narrow it down to Heraklion, there is only one option leaving at 8:40, arriving at 12:15.

Posted by
3219 posts

Don, when they translate a Greek name or word from Cyrillic to Roman alphabet, they have to decide how to express a letter that's not in our alphabet. Thus you may have a place that's spelled 3 or 4 different ways. Heraklion - Iraklion - Iraklia... and Chania Hania Xania and Nauplia, Nafplion Nafplio =--- the list goes on!! Just use common sense. Many of the changes are caused by the letter CHI which is pronounced with an aspirate throat-clearing sound -- like the CH in "Loch Lomond" .. so translators dither between Ch, H or just the X of "chi." Relax, relax. That's a daily fast-ferry ... you don't need to book it waaaay ahead like this. Just buy tickets when you get to Chania, or even Heraklion. There are 450 seats and you are still off-season..

Posted by
9 posts

7:15am flight June 4th has been booked. Thanks. Good call. I feel better about having the 3 full days in Naxos. And really prefer the flying over boating. Although I'm sure we will miss that last relaxing breakfast in Naxos.