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Suggestions for best islands to visit in November

Hi Everyone,
My daughter and I are traveling to Greece for a little over two and a half weeks in November of this year. I am planning to spend the first week in Athens, Delphi and Meteora. The second week we would like to see two or three islands. We are not into night life or shopping but both love to hike and be outdoors. I have looked at the island of Kea and seem to find mixed reviews where some people love it and others find it too quiet with not much to do. There is also the issue that the ferry appears to leave from the port of Lavrio and then ferries leaving from Kea to other islands are fairly limited. Has anyone visited Kea recently or been there in November? The other islands I am considering are Santorini since I was there 30 years ago and Naxos but Santorini seems to be quite expensive and touristy. Our travel budget is fairly conservative where we prefer to find overnight accommodations around $75 a night or less. We are open to flying to one island, catching ferries to one or two others and then flying back to Athens or even taking a night ferry from Athens. Obviously I am in the first stages of planning and research but any feedback or suggestions people have would be helpful in trying to decide which islands I should focus on and start researching. Thanks.

Posted by
2813 posts

I"ve been to KEA and it's waaay quiet in JUNE ... so absolutely DEAD in November. The ferry runs seldom and is hard to get to. The islnd transport is almost NIL. The port has about 4 tavernas, tried them all can recommend none. The islnd has some great walks, and a high-town view that's quite something,.... but all in all, NOT worth it.

By contrast, Naxos (largest most fertile Island in Cyclades) has large permanent population, so always something going on. You can stay right at the Edge of Port Town, on St. Georges Beach... you can have a balcony w. beach/sea view, yet walk to the portside crescent of tavernas, cafes, shops in 10=15 minutes. Fascinating town "maze" of lanes leading up to high Fortress "Kastro" and a remarkable tiny museum -- with the world's finest collection of PRE-Minoan marble statuettes. You can easily find a lovely room for about $50 a night or less, including breakfast... go on Booking.com and see what's on offer. NOTE: of course I'm sure u are used to booking.com and similar websites and know this... but to see ALL the availabe lodgings, you search for "St. George BEach Naxos" then put in your dates (or put in "dummy dates" of 2 nights just for a look-see) and 2 people 1 room ... and up will come a list. Go to top of page and Click on the "MAP VIEW" -- and you'll get the google map showing all available hotels (shown as blue balloons) & exact location; and beside each balloon the cost for your stay. Choose hotels close to town and Right on the beach.

NAXOS has a good bus system, you don't need to rent a car ... and several agencies offer a half-day or full-day bus tour of the island... you can see hillside vilalges, mountains made of marbles, ruins, beaches etc. In Nov. Naxos mayon ly have 1 flight per day.

Posted by
5486 posts

November isn’t a great time to be visiting the islands, as many places will have shut for the winter, particularly on the smaller islands. I hope you are a good sailor as the waters can be choppy!

Head to Crete or Corfu, where more will be open and there are plenty historical sites to see.

Posted by
935 posts

Some of the larger islands like Naxos, Crete, & Lesvos will have more options.

Just because it's off season doesn't mean a Greek Island shuts down . . . they'll always be shops, markets, and tavernas open for locals which in the end will give you a more "Greek" experience rather than a tourist experience. In addition it will be a lot less expensive for accommodations.

You may want to check out the below link for off-season travel to Greece:

https://www.greektravel.com/winter/

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you for the feedback everyone and keep the suggestions coming! One reason I have been considering Corfu is both because it is a larger island with more of a year-round population and also because it seemed like if I was in Meteoro that I could go from there to the port where the ferry leaves to go to Corfu without having to go back again to Athens. My thought was that after leaving Corfu if I had a car I could then travel the Peloponnese Peninsula on my way back to Athens. It seems to work on a map but....I need to do research as the reality may be much different. Any thoughts?

Posted by
2813 posts

pet, the problem with you wanting to get a car somewhere (Corfu? Meteora?) and using it then dropping it off is that you can't. Greece is not the USA. It does not have large fleets of cars all over the place that are part of a large national network (hertz, avis etc), so you can pick one up & drop it elsewhere. Most car agencies are locally owned ... even a Hertz or Budget may be an independent franchise. What this means is, if you rent a car in Athens and want to drop it in say Delphi, the agency has to send ANOTHER car, with TWO drivers, to pick it up & bring it back, taking a full day (and if farther, evben overnight). So the drop-off fees are understandably, VERY high. I'm talking many Hundred$. There are now a few-- very few -- who have lesser drop-off fees between Athens and a very large city, Thessaloniki. Also, if you have a rental car on the mainland, usually you can't take it on a ferry. Greece is complicated. It helps to look at a comprehensive Guide book tthat deals seriously with logistics. Have u been able to do this yet? I can tell you from experience, it is a big help!

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks for the heads up. I knew I had not done my research yet and clearly things are very different in Greece than in the US or other countries I have traveled in. Generally I try to stick with local transport as much as possible. I will do much more work before I post again. Thanks everyone for all of your input.

Posted by
20855 posts

Ioannina is on the probable bus route from Meteora to Igoumenitsa (for Corfu). Ioannina is an interesting place with a Turkish vibe--or at least it was when I visited there in the mid-1990s.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks again for everyone who has given me suggestions for islands to visit in mid-to-late November. Originally I wanted to visit Naxos, Santorini and Crete since those are the islands I visited about 30 years ago when I traveled with my mom (my daughter is now returning with me so a bit of re-creating the trip!). I am now considering the idea of traveling to Thessaloniki since I plan to see Meteora and flying from there to one of the islands. That seems to make more sense to me than doubling back to Athens to catch a ferry or fly. So my questions are:

Has anyone been to Thessaloniki, particularly in November? It looks to me like it is just another big city.
I am considering either Rhodes or Crete since they are larger islands with more of a year-round population and therefore may have more to do. The other option would be Naxos or Santorini.

We are not into shopping or nightlife but want to find islands where there is hiking and outdoor activities. Any agroculture type of tours such as picking grapes, going with truffle hunting dogs to find truffles, etc would be a big bonus. We walk a lot and although we would love to have good weather we are realistic given the time of year that it is likely to be cooler and rainy at times.

I really appreciate everyone's feedback as planning an off-season trip to Greece is a little more challenging.

Posted by
935 posts

I have never been to Thessaloniki but have considered it a number of times as it's close to the port of Kavala where you can get ferries to some of the norther Aegean Islands you can't get to from Piraeus.

It does look like an interesting city . . . check out this website for some info:

https://www.greecetravel.com/thessaloniki/