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Spring Break 2018 - Greek Islands

Hello,
We’re planning a trip to the Greek Islands during Spring Break 2018 (late March thru first week of April), we’re a family of 2 adults and 2 teenagers (16, 14). We travelled to Greece back in 2016 during the same time and had an awesome adventure (Meteora, Nafplio, Delphi, Athens and visited both Naxos and Santorini).
We loved it so much, we’re going back but this time we’ll focus on the Greek Islands. Our plan is to stay 4 days in a new to discover island (or Naxos again), 3 days in Santorini for sure, and then the last 2 days in Athens.
We’d like to visit Delos (side trip from Mykonos) but there are no tour operators from Naxos during our travel period, so unfortunately that’s out of the question. Mykonos, we can live without, besides crowded and expensive, I’m certain we can find the same charm in other islands… My question is, what island do you recommend to visit and spend 4 days in our itinerary? We’ve thought of Milos with its unique landscape. There’s still lots to discover in Naxos, our kids loved the freedom to wander on their own in town and buy souvlaki when we stayed in Naxos town… We love to visit ruins and enjoy the weather, maybe the kids will take a quick plunge in the ocean… Also, we’d like to avoid Crete or Rhodes, I’m certain they’re amazing but we just want to relax and not feel we’re in a city… Greek island charm is what we’re after…Any suggestions are appreciated!
Thanks in advance!
Alex

Posted by
840 posts

Naxos is a favorite of mine so I have no probem with you going back. However, Santorini may not be worth another trip, but that's just my opinion.

There are numerous other Greek Islands worthy of a 4 day visit: Sifnos is lovely, Tinos a hidden gem, Astypalea (most beautifil Chora in Greece), Amorgos (another favorite), Chios, Skyros, Ikaria-Fourni or the Small Cyclades which can be reached from Naxos.

Lots of options from over-the-top touristy Santorini to little known and traditional islands most have never heard about.

Check out Matt's Greek Island Guide for lots of options:

http://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/

Posted by
6582 posts

We enjoyed Paros and you can visit Antiparos from there.
We didn't find Mykonos crowded nor expensive, preferred it to Santorini, less crowded.. The boat and day trip to Delos were wonderful.

Posted by
2567 posts

I remember your 2016 planning Alex, and not surprised that you're going back for more .... some thoughts

Of course, there's always something new to discover on Naxos!! When you were there the last time, did you rent a car to drive around the island?? See the ancient Kouros in orchards? the Marble lanes of Apiranthos? Also... when you go just a few miles inland, all the tourism drops away, and you're in farmland -- and it's lambing time!! In early May once, we sat on a fence for half an hour, and watched an old Naxian (with mustachios) shear a couple of sheep. However, I don't think any of you will take a quick plunge ... I'm pretty hardy (have swum in New England in late May), but even May 10 in Greece, I couldn't stay in the water more than 10 secs. If there's sunshine however, beach will be warm enough to sunbathe a bit (no sunbeds provided, though). BTW, there are few islands that have that combo of Naxos; nice beach next to town, for teen freedom. Livadia beach next to Parikia, the port town of Paros, might be closest approximation ... but Parikia, IMHO, not as attractive or interest-filled as Naxos Town.

I think you are mistaken about Crete ... you need to do more reading, an in a guidebook, not just websites. Western Crete is a wonderland of landscapes, and gorgeous with flowers in Spring. Of course Heraklion is a big (kinda ugly) Concrete City ... but Chania is GORGEOUS. You've enjoyed Nafplio .... Chania Old Town much smaller, right on the water, stunning sunsets. After a day there, with car rental you could drive South to explore (Phaistos? The "cave cliff" of Matala?? -- go down IMBROS Gorge, a 4-hour wonder-walk, surrounded by fragrant Thyme bushes)... then up to Heraklion late-day.. just to catch an AM ferry to Santorini.

Milos IS fascinating, and I and my friends loved the chance to board a big catamaran for a day-sail around the edge of half the island. Don't know though whether these sails will be offered so early in the off-season. Also, public transport being SO sparse, you'd have to rent a car for whole of your stay. And it would be frustrating to see so many fine beaches, yet too cold to swim.

Since your trip is cruelly short, your best bet is what we pro's always recommend -- immediately on Arrival, fly to farthest point, then hop your way back. That would mean something like this:
(1) Arrival day fly immediately to CRETE (for 4 days), then ferry to Santorini (2.5 days), then back to Athens (ferry/fly)
(2) Arrival day fly immeditely to MILOS (3 days) ferry to Santorini, (3 days), then back to athens (ferry/fly)
(3) Arrival day fly immediately to SANTORINI (3 days), ferry to Naxos (4 days), ferry/fly to Athens

DO be aware that Easter coming right in the middle, everything will be Fully booked OR closed ... don't count on sites being open Sat Mar 31, Sun Apr 1, Mon Apr 2. Be in place, not traveling during this time, with something to do not involving museums, sites... and try to arrange in advance to take part in some kind of Easter festivity, or you'll feel like the "little Match girl" pressng your face against the window, looking at the fun inside.

Posted by
97 posts

Hello Janet,

A big reason of an amazing past trip was thanks to your tips and suggestions… As you know, we made a “tweak” to your proposed itinerary to go to Meteora, and we’re glad we did… we still talk about it…

Last trip to Naxos we did rent a car for the whole stay and we drove all around, went as far as Apollanas and discovered a small secluded beach in Lionas… no tourists around, just a lady in one of the houses by the shore waving to us to have lunch at her house… but we had already eaten… maybe next time we’ll take her offer…we saw Kouros statues in a couple of different places… we drove nearby Apiranthos, but did not get to see the marble streets… now we have a reason to be back… we went to the beach a short drive from Naxos town and we had a good time, no swimming but it was nice nonetheless… discovered the Demeter ruins somewhere in the middle of the island and were at awe at the marble mountains… some of the marble was used to build the Parthenon (although if I’m not mistaken, most of it came from Paros). We could perhaps hike up to the top of Mount Zas, last time we just climbed up to the cave and back.

I’ve seen some images/video from Chania, and you’re right it does resemble Napflio and a little bit to Venice… But, I don’t know, we feel that Naxos might be the place to go back to… Milos is awesome, yes we couldn’t swim but I’m certain we’d make the best of the opportunity… the trick is that looking at previous’ years ferry itineraries, the ferry from Santorini to Milos arrives at 04:00 AM (leaves at midnight), and the ferry from Milos to Santorini arrives at 03:10 AM… I guess we could fly to but the schedule are not available yet.

And Santorini is very special to us, it’s magical, the walk from Fira to Oia was amazing, kids remember it fondly and we plan to do it again… black and red volcanic beaches, Akrotiri… there are some other ruins we haven’t been to… The little statues built here in Akrotiri, we saw them in the Archaeological Museum in Athens, 7000 BC… it’s just mind blowing, having the privilege to experience all of this…

Thanks you all for your suggestions… I’ll keep researching other possibilities…
Alex

Posted by
12 posts

As you have plenty of time, I suggest that you explore also the non-touristic side of Naxos (villages as Apirathos etc). As you will be travelling in mid-season period, there won't be that much ferries connecting the islands. So you may need indirect connections, especially if you would like to visit Milos. I would propose that you use www.ferryhopper.com to find possible ferry connections and organize your trip.

Cheers,
Panos

Posted by
883 posts

maybe the kids will take a quick plunge in the ocean…

That's going to be a very quick plunge, given the water temperatures in April. :-)

I am not quite sure about Easter. In one online source, they have April 8 as the date for 2018, which would probably be outside of your vacation (except for the preparations). If you actually are going to be in Greece when they celebrate Easter, make sure you visit a church (no matter what religion you are). I am sure it's going to be an unforgettable experience for your whole family. I have never made it to Greece for Easter yet but wish I could! I have experienced a few saints' days celebrations though, and those were pretty memorable.

Since you have been to Santorini before, you don't really need our pro or con advice on that. You can simply judge for yourself if it's worth going again. Same thing goes for Naxos.

Relaxing "Greek island charm", I would think, is basically to be found on almost all of these islands. Paros, Milos, Sifnos are the ones that we have experienced and liked. And your kids will be free to roam in any of those places, the greatest danger being crazy moped riders. :-)

I personally love the smaller islands too and understand your hesitation about Crete and Rhodes, beautiful and worth seeing as those may undoubtedly be.

Posted by
97 posts

Thank you all for your responses!
I've been looking into the ferry schedules, however, these are yet to be updated... going into past years gives me an idea of next year's schedules... This is a challenge though, knowing the different ferry lines and their connection points would be helpful... (Paros seems to be a sort of "hub" for many transfers).

Apparently Naxos has it all, we're inclined to continue discovering that island, lots to discover still, large island, small Greek island feel, great prices too... It'd be a shame to be in Milos and not be able to truly enjoy the beaches, and not be able to truly enjoy a sailboat on the side of the island not reachable by car/foot...

What we'd really like to visit is Delos, but this doesn't seem possible unless we stay in Mykonos... Maybe for a future trip...

Thanks again!