I’ll be traveling to Santorini and Naxos this mid April. I’m wondering if anyone who traveled to these islands solo could give me a few suggestions for things to do that a solo traveler could enjoy other than the main attractions? I’m interested in culture, history, nature, and food to name a few. Was it easy to make acquaintances and did you ever feel out of place as a solo traveler in Santorini or Naxos? Also, are there any suggestions for a solo traveler to be safe? Thank you!
i'm not sure what you mean by 'safe' - my experience with Greek men is that they are polite & not importunious altho' you may have to watch out for other Europeans & travellers on Santorini, the 'party island'. on that island i would advise you to stay sober & trust your gut and....not to stay out too late. as for Naxos, i had very pleasant experiences there; i got to know the taverna owners & the staff at my lodgings; they were very helpful. can you speak any Greek at all? .. it helps. i have been travelling solo throughout Greece for many years & have always found Greeks to be hospitable and gracious altho' ....i have met AM tourists who are so demanding that they meet with ....well, what can i say? after all, you ARE a foreigner in THEIR land, a tourist, not a native.
it is well to remember that, that you are a guest.
i do not know which kind of person you are - perhaps you should watch a few Greek movies or read books - but my advice is that the more gracious & modest you are, the best is yours!! you might even find your soul there! Good luck!!
Greece is one of the safest countries in the world as far as violent crime is concerned. In Athens you'll need to take care against pick pockets. Like anywhere you go common sense is your best weapon.
I have traveled to Greece with my wife and as a solo traveler. While I am male and may have less concerns about safety from a woman's point of view I have never seen women accosted, threatened, or any other unsavory behavior against them. In fact females are highly respected in Greek society. Use your head and you'll be fine.
Most Greeks usually don't make the first attempt at socializing but if you learn a few words or phrases in Greek you'll find most Greeks are friendly, polite, courteous and willing to help you.
The only time you may feel out of place is going out to eat but if you have enough wine or Ouzo it will pass (LOL!)
Again . . . common sense is your best weapon. If you are unsure of something don't do it; don't go there or ask your accommodation's owner for advice. They'll be more than happy to help.
You'll be very safe on most islands but again use your head.
Hey everyone! Thanks for the comments so far. Your advice is very helpful and now I am more excited than ever for my trip!
I'm waaaay past your age group, long-retired, but know about solo travel as woman, and have to say -- as someone who spent most of my career in NYC, and has been in most major US cities, and many European ones ... I have never felt safer than in Greece. And also, when alone there, have never felt "out of place." (Maybe that's why I've been there 12 x). THe greeks are marvelously friendly ... and travelling off-season as you will be doing, you will not encounter clannish tour groups, but will encounter mainly independent travelers who ALSO will be friendly and like-minded ... like you, they enjoy finding their own ways. In the islands you can wander without worry -- of course you will be prudent; don't accept drinks from strangers at 2 am in an Athens club... but there won't be masses of nightlife anyway.
A couple of tips about making casual acquaintance ... a Good ploy in Naxos is on your first full day, take a round-the-island all-day bus trip, they'll all be independent traveler, and in the course of the day, you're sure to find at least 1 or 2 interesting people to link up to for future activities, a lunch or a hike etc. That's what I did on my first visit to Naxos. Also, go have dinner in one of the seafront restaurants and just strike up conversations -- with COUPLES. (When On my own, I have always found that couples on their own run out of conversation, and are delighted to talk with someone new). Another thing; stay in a hotel with a manned reception desk, also a breakfast room... another place you meet people. I recommend staying at St. George beach, directly adjacent to Naxos town... too cold for swims of course, but nice beach-walking of a morning & at cocktail hour & again, easy to strike up acquaintance. Flisvos Sports Club, at far end of St. G. beach, has marvy comfy couches for sundown sips, and a friendly crowd in May I know... A convival bar right smack in the middle of Naxos Town seafront crescent gets enthused reviews for friendliness, Scandinavian-style, lots of free snax with drinks, good music, owners-bartenders who add to sociability.
In Santorini, also a good idea to stay in a place where there is communal breakfast, chance to socialize, & on-premises mgr. to ask questions of. I'm not sure that a fulll-day tour there is worth it, one can do OIA & FIRA on your own... might check for a tour of Akrotiri if planning to visit this "dig."
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and making suggestions! It’s reassuring to hear that Greece is a great place for all travelers. I didn’t know about the bus tour on Naxos- I will definitely have to check that out!
Glad to help, leah ... forgot to add the name of the friendly seafront bar, it's PRIME bar. ALso, several of the places that offer tours are Naxos Tours and Sun Tours. THey start about 9 and last until 5pm ... mid-day you're at the top of the island, where they stop for 90 minutes... in warmer weather, one can swim at the small beach there, don't know wht they do in April. Stop in each agency, they both have handy offices... one on the seafront crescent, and another just off it, and ask for details. Here's a "tiny URL" for the 3-D google map which is GOLD, in helping one figure one's way around ... https://tinyurl.com/yaxu9ko4
As far as both islands go, mid-APril is still quite off-season, especially since Orthodox easter this year is not until April 28 I think (that is when islands start opening up more). Therefore, in Naxos as I said, you should stay adjacent to the main port town -- the island has a llarge permanent population (it's the biggest Cycladic, very fertile, farms & vineyards, it could get by without tourism). MOderate hotels that will be up & running, & have sea views = Hotel Asteria, Hotel Kymata, Hotel Palatia, Hotel Akrogiali (in all these, request seaview balcony room). Also Diogenes Studios, Right ON sands, no breakfast, but its own busy cafe.
In Santorini, consider staying in Fira Town. A venerable hotel with THE prime location on the rim right on the promenade next to the cathedral is Hotel Atlantis, IF u can get a seaview balcony room... Hotel Anteliz, on north end of town at rimside, ... also, just a bit farther along (in Firostefani, a 10-minute walk along the rim) Sunset Hotel has a lovely rimside view common terrace, also includes breakfast in diningroom, moderate rates.
Hi Leah, I spent 3 nights each on Santorini and Naxos in 2017, also traveling solo. I enjoyed both islands very much, they are very different. Not being a young woman, I will just say I never felt or noticed any safety issues, other than crazy tourists on Naxos driving off-road vehicles they did not know how to operate very well, maybe a little drunk too. Fortunately that was out on open rural roads, where they only endangered themselves and their passengers. I will leave the safety comments to some of the forum’s experienced woman travelers. I enjoyed poking around the built-up areas of both Santorini and Naxos, I especially enjoyed exploring the more rural and small town parts of each island. On Santorini I signed up for a day long bus tour, which I learned about at my small hotel in Firostefani. I was picked up near my hotel, and toured the ruins at Akrotiri, the small town of Megalochori, some scenic beaches, and a stop and tasting at a scenic winery. 45 or 50 euros, plus an extra 5 euros to continue on to Oia and back for the sunset. Excellent! I especially enjoyed Megalochori, and returned there for the next day by public bus. On Naxos, I arranged for a day with a private guide/driver, and had fun exploring many parts of the large island, various towns, rural mountainous regions, marble quarries, ancient churches, a fine day. Naxos is very different than Santorini, it is a blend local communities with their own businesses, etc. serving their needs, with fewer tourists, but also restaurants, shops, geared toward them. A big difference is that while Naxos has a ferry port and small airport, it has no cruise port, so does not have those very large groups of day trippers arriving every day through the cruise season. It was easy to relate to friendly locals in inns, shops and restaurants, but in passing, and sometimes with other international visitors. Enjoy!